Short plan for the day: start the morning with a coffee and a croissant, watch Da Vinci’s Last Supper and take selfies with the Duomo as a backdrop, in the afternoon gaze at the fashionistas in the business districts and plunge into the frenzied rhythm of the metropolis with an Italian flavor, in the evening watch a game of Inter or Milan soccer teams, and then join the Italians for an aperitif-promenade through the bohemian Brera district. Milan is so different that no one will be bored.
Gothic Duomo (Duomo di Milano)
If you haven’t seen the Duomo, you haven’t been to Milan. The snow-white cathedral in the flaming Gothic style on the central square Piazza del Duomo was built over several centuries — it was laid in 1386, and until 1965 the finishing works on the facade were carried out. The columns and walls are decorated with 3,400 statues depicting historical and biblical characters. In the cathedral you can view all 45 stained glass windows, see the mausoleum of Giacomo Medici and the statue of St. Bartholomew. Opposite the cathedral, palm trees were planted in 2018. Climbing up to the Duomo’s terrace is a must.
- The cathedral is open from 8:00 to 19:00, admission is 3 €.
- The observation deck is open from 9:00 to 19:00, tickets from 10 €.
This museum dedicated to 20th century art is one of the first modern art museums in the world. It exhibits paintings by Kandinsky, Picasso and Modigliani. It stands to the right of the Duomo, and from the top floor you have a mesmerizing view of the cathedral with the statue of the Madonna.
- Open from 9:30am, Mondays from 2:30pm.
- Tickets: 3—5 €
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II)
The Galleria Victor Emmanuel II, one of the oldest shopping arcades in Europe and the world, connects the square in front of the Duomo and in front of the Teatro alla Scala. Built in the shape of a cross with an octagonal center, the building is decorated inside with mosaics depicting continents and allegorical images that symbolize agriculture, industry, science and art. The attraction of the gallery is the 47-meter high glass dome. The coats of arms of Milan, Turin, Rome and Florence are laid out on the mosaic floor in different parts of the passage. The Gallery houses Milan’s most expensive boutiques, including the world’s first Prada boutique, located in the center under the dome.
According to legend, if you stand on the genitals of the Turin bull and turn around once, any wish will come true.
- The gallery is open 24 hours a day, with boutiques open from 10:00 to 22:00.
- On the first floor is the Camparino Bar (formerly called Zucca) — this is where the Campari liqueur was created.
La Scala Opera
La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, where Verdi staged his works and Pavarotti performed. The theater offers chic interiors and international stars in the repertoire. The cheapest tickets for the gallery start at 20 € and sell out instantly, while tickets for the opening of the season cost over 200 €.
On non-premiere days it is possible to get to the performance for only 10 €. On the day of the performance at 13:00 you have to leave your details at the theater box office, after 17:00 you are called to the box office by lists and tickets are sold for 10 €.
For 9 € you can visit the theater museum. The box office is to the left of the main entrance.
- Opera’s website
The most picturesque and bohemian neighborhood of the city. It has been compared to Paris’s Montmartre, with its many small coffee shops and vintage stores.
The block is pedestrianized — only local residents are allowed to enter by vehicle.
The most visited place in the quarter is the Palazzo di Brera. Empress Maria Theresa founded the Accademia di belle Arti di Brera here. In the courtyard there is a statue of Napoleon as the god of war. The Pinacoteca di Brera has 38 rooms with paintings by Italian artists. Nearby are a botanical garden and an observatory.
- The Pinakothek is open daily from 8:30 to 19:15, except Mondays, tickets are 12 € and an audio guide is included.
- The Botanical Gardens are open April through October from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and November through March from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Botanical Gardens are open to the public.
Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle)
The towers and fortress walls of the castle are reminiscent of the Moscow Kremlin — the architects took the Milanese castle as a basis for their design. Sforza was built in the middle of the 14th century and has had many owners, each of whom contributed to the development of the castle. One of the halls is decorated with frescoes by Leonardo da Vinci, several fragments of which have survived to this day.
- Entrance to the castle grounds is free.
- Open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The castle houses libraries and several museums — ancient Egypt, ancient art, archaeological, musical instruments, tableware. Michelangelo’s last unfinished work, the Pieta Rondanini, stands here.
- The museums are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with Mondays off.
- Ticket — 10 €, valid for all museums of the castle.
Parco Sempione (Parco Sempione)
The Sempione Park next to the castle is always quiet and peaceful, with ducks and turtles swimming in the ponds and free wi-fi available throughout the park. The park is home to the La Triennale di Milano Museum, which hosts exhibitions on design and art, the openwork Torre Branca, and the Palazzo dell’Arte. The park ends with the Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace), built by Napoleon.
«The Last Supper» (L’Ultima Cena).
The Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco of the Last Supper. The monumental painting can be studied for 20 minutes as part of a group tour. It is worth studying the history and symbolism of the work before visiting.
- Open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Entry inside is 12 €, free of charge to the basilica grounds.
Monumental Cemetery (Cimitero monumentale)
The Milan Cemetery is a huge open-air museum. It’s quiet and majestic, and walking along the family tombs and unusual tombstones is a peaceful experience. Along the Wall of Fame (Famiedo) you can study the history and famous citizens who are buried in this cemetery — from Giuseppe Verdi to Albert Einstein’s father.
- Open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with Mondays off.
- Admission is free
Green Skyscrapers (Bosco Verticale)
The Vertical Forest residential complex — towers of 110 m and 76 m — has been erected in the Porta Nuova neighborhood. In 2014, they were recognized as the best skyscrapers. The terraces of both towers are planted with trees and shrubs: about 6000 plants improve the ecological situation in the city. Nearby, the UniCredit Tower is the tallest building in the whole of Italy, the Torre Solari is the country’s tallest residential building, and the Diamante Tower is square-shaped and looks like a diamond.
Porta Venezia and Montanelli Park (Porta Venezia, Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli)
The gate used to serve as a border post at the entrance to the city. The two massive buildings on either side of the road are decorated with statues of Roman gods and goddesses and bas-reliefs.
Nearby is Milan’s main historical park, the Montanelli Garden. Earlier it was called Parco Porta Venezia, but in 2002 it was renamed in honor of the journalist Indro Montanelli. The gardens are arranged in the manner of French parks — geometric flower beds, long tree-lined alleys.
The Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano is located here. The most memorable exhibits of the museum are the jaw of a spinosaurus, the world’s largest sulfur crystal and a 19-meter-long whale skeleton.
- The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 17:30, ticket is 5 €.
Villa Necchi Campiglio (Villa Necchi Campiglio)
Hidden in the center of the city is an unremarkable villa with luxurious but not flashy interiors — the mansion of the Necchi family. The villa was built in 1935—37 in Art Deco style. The architect’s imagination was not limited by anything — the villa was plumbed, which was a rarity at that time in Milan, built the first in the city outdoor swimming pool with permanent water heating, as well as a garage for four cars and elevators for servants. Since 2008 the villa has been open to the public.
- Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Entrance to the park is free, tickets to the museum are 14 €.
- The Italian movie «Io sono l’amore» (I am love) with Tilda Swinton was filmed in the interiors of the villa.
It has the feeling of a quiet suburb, even though the street is practically in the center of Milan. The picturesque via Abramo Lincoln is an oasis of silence and two-storey colorful houses. It’s like a place created for photo shoots and leisurely strolls.
Velasca Tower (Torre Velasca)
Italians consider one of Italy’s first skyscrapers to be the ugliest building in Italy, and City Hall regularly lists the tower as one of the city’s symbols. The 106-meter-tall tower was built in the late 1950s and is inspired by medieval defensive armaments. The building resembles a mushroom — the top is much wider than the bottom and is supported by concrete beams all around. At night, the tower is illuminated with red lighting. The lower part of the skyscraper is occupied by offices, the extended part of the tower is reserved for apartments.
- You can only visit the tower during special events.
The Navigli district is located among the canals that Leonardo da Vinci himself designed. In the Middle Ages, the area was the center of commercial life in the region; today the canals attract bars and an active nightlife. This is where people come for aperitifs: you order a drink and a selection of appetizers is served with it. On weekends, there is a flea market along the canal.
- Aperitifs are ordered from about 18:30 to 21:00, depending on the establishment.
In Milan you should definitely try Italian gelato — the flavors are absolutely different, from traditional raspberry to unusual licorice and sesame.
- One of the most popular places is La Gelateria della musica. The locals are always crowded here. The gelateria offers unusual handmade gelato: flavored with bread, butter and jam.
Milan is home to two soccer teams, Inter and AC Milan. Both play their games at the San Siro stadium — if you want, you can buy a ticket to one of the teams' matches and experience the atmosphere of Italian soccer. Or you can go to the soccer museum at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele near the Duomo.
- The museum is located on the 4th floor, opposite the entrance to the Urban Center, open from 9:30 to 22:30, tickets are 12 €.
Milan is a cosmopolitan city where history and modernity coexist seamlessly. Fashion week and soccer matches take place here, you can see medieval frescoes and modern art masterpieces, think about the eternal in the monumental cemetery and have fun in the Navigli district.