The city of Milan, Italy is known as the fashion capital of the world. But most of the best things to see and do in Milan have nothing to do with its thriving fashion industry. It’s Milan’s historical and cultural sites that tend to take center stage for tourists.
Photo courtesy of Alejandro
From magnificent opera houses to centuries-old castles, Milan’s cultural and historical offerings are seemingly endless, much like other Italian cities like Rome, Venice, and Florence. Add its signature Milanese cuisine and you have a recipe for the perfect travel destination! These are the top 10 things to see and do in Milan, Italy.
Visit Milan Cathedral
No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano. It’s the largest Gothic complex in Italy and was built between 1386 and 1965. This architectural masterpiece is easily one of the best things to see and do in Milan!
Photo courtesy of Naval S
Visit at 8 a.m. to avoid the biggest crowds. View the 2,300 statues carved into the church’s exterior before marveling at its equally spectacular interior. Don’t miss the roof, where you can see the cathedral’s spires and buttresses up close!
Visit Sforza Castle
Located in the center of Milan is Sforza Castle, a fortress that was built in 1358 as a defense against Venice and was destroyed and rebuilt several times in its history. Visiting is one of the best things to see and do in Milan to learn about the city’s history.
Photo courtesy of Philip Bouchard
Today, it serves as a campus for some of Milan’s top museums and art galleries, including The Egyptian Museum, Archaeological Museum of Milan, and the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco. The Oreficerie is home to one of Europe’s largest collection of musical instruments.
Check out the Places You Must Visit in Italy
Catch a Show at Teatro alla Scala
At Piazza della Scala, you’ll find one of Milan’s most important cultural sites, Teatro alla Scala. This historic opera house is one of Italy’s most prestigious operas and is where Verdi and Bellini created some of their most notable work.
Photo courtesy of Geoff Young
Teatro alla Scala’s interior is a stunning red-and-gold chamber. Guided tours are available and tickets to shows can be bought on its website. Seeing a show is one of the best things to see and do in Milan!
Explore Parco Sempione
A short walk from Sforza Castle will take you to Parco Sempione, Milan’s largest public park. It was established in 1888 and consists of beautiful gardens, bike and walking trails, and more. Visiting is one of the best things to see and do in Milan if you need to unwind while sightseeing.
Photo courtesy of Paolo Margari
The park also is home to the Arena Civica stadium, Torre Branca watch tower, Acquario Civico aquarium, the Palazzo dell’Arte, and the gorgeous symbol of peace, the Arco della Pace.
Eat Authentic Milanese Food
Italy has long been considered one of the greatest culinary epicenters in the world. Milan is no exception. Meat and butter are among the staples in this landlocked region of Italy, making the cuisine quite rich in flavor.
Photo courtesy of Ahmad Alnusif
One of the top things to see and do in Milan is try its signature dish, risotto alla Milanese. This buttery saffron rice is known for its golden hue. Cotoletta alla Milanese, which is veal pan-fried in clarified butter, is another local favorite!
Visit Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci
Another of Milan’s must-see attractions is Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci, a museum dedicated to technology, science, and innovation. The museum includes a section dedicated to the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Photo courtesy of sylvar
Some of Da Vinci’s blueprints, sketches, and drawings and recreations of his flying machines are among the items on display. As one of the top things to see and do in Milan, lines are often long, so visit early to avoid the largest crowds.
Check out my main travel website, David’s Been Here!
Visit Brera Art Gallery
Located in the Palazzo Brera is the Brera Art Gallery, or Pinacoteca di Brera. It’s built in a former monastery that also served as a cultural center featuring a school, library, and astronomical observatory.
Photo courtesy of Marco Assini
Today, Pinacoteca di Brera contains one of the most important artwork in Italy. Pieces on display include Caravaggio’s “Last Supper to Emmaus” and Francesco Guardi’s “View of the Grand Canal.” It’s one of the best things to see and do in Milan for any art buff!
Santa Maria delle Grazie Church
One of the best things to see and do in Milan is visit Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. This 15th-century church, built in 1497, is the home of one of the most famous works of art in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
Photo courtesy of mitko_denev
The amount of detail in this masterpiece has made “The Last Supper” one of the most scrutinized paintings in the world. Because of its undeniable contribution to history, Santa Maria delle Grazie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Shop at La Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Tourists shouldn’t miss an opportunity to visit La Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. Also known as The Galleria, this opulent, cross-shaped mall has an extravagant, steel-and-glass arcade and is home to some of Italy’s high-end boutiques.
Photo courtesy of paul bica
Prada, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton and Versace are just a few of the shops at The Galleria, which was completed in 1877. Its architecture and beautiful artwork make it one of the top things to see and do in Milan even if you don’t buy anything!
Visit Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
Cimitero Monumentale di Milano is one of the most interesting things to see and do in Milan. This decorative 19th-century cemetery doubles as an outdoor museum with its Greek temples, stunning sculptures, and obelisks.
Photo courtesy of Marco
The cemetery is also the resting place of many of Milan’s elite families. Among the extravagant tombs are the names of some of Italy’s most important citizens from the past!
Check out the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Barcelona, Spain
Between its bewitching architecture, gorgeous cultural sites, and wonderful food, Milan is a city that cannot be missed. Book a trip to Milan today to experience its magic for yourself!
Photo courtesy of Paolo Margari
If you need to check the visa requirements of a particular country, click here. To apply for a visa, find up-to-date visa information for different countries, and calculate the cost of a particular visa, click here!
Have you ever been to Milan? Is it a place you’ve always wanted to visit? If so, tell us about it in the comments below!