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Best things to do in Milan

best things to do in Milan Italy

It can be overwhelming planning your first trip to Italy, but planning the best things to do in Milan doesn’t have to be. Milan is less of a tourist city, and more of a city where many Italians live. As a result, there aren’t as many “must do” tourist attractions like there are in cities like Florence. And, while you are still able to take day trips from Milan, there are fewer places to take day trips too than other cities like Florence. Milan is filled with great food, great spas and great shopping. In Milan, you can also visit the iconic Duomo di Milano and see “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Here are the best things to do in Milan. No matter what things you decide to do when you’re visiting Milan, Milan promises to be a memorable trip.

Milan Quick Links

Milan Things to do: Tips and Advice

  • One or two days: With limited time, focus on the highlights. Prioritize visiting iconic landmarks such as the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, seeing “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci’s and spending some time at a spa.
  • Three days: Take additional time exploring the highlights, spend an afternoon shopping and overall relax more in the city. Add a leisurely stroll through the historic city center, and go to Navigli to enjoy a pre-dinner drink alongside the canal.
  • Four or more days: See all of the highlights, plus add day trips. Lake Como is the closest day trip from Milan, but you can also take a 2 hour high speed train each way to Florence.
  • The best tour/ excursions: QC Terme Milano Spa. It is an incredible spa experience with many steam rooms and saunas, unique water experiences including the storm room and outdoor pools to relax in and around.
  • Best day trip: The best day trip from Milan is visiting Lake Como. Como Town is the closest and accessible by train, but you can also rent a car and drive up to Bellagio and back in a day.
  • Most important tip: Plan ahead, especially if you are going during the busy months of July and August. You can admire the Duomo from the outside, but if you want to go inside you’ll have to book tickets in advance.

Duomo di Milano / Milan Cathedral

best things to do in Milan Duomo di Milano

The Duomo di Milano, also known as the Milan Cathedral is a top thing to do when you’re visiting Milan for the first time. It is a magnificent Gothic masterpiece that dominates the city’s skyline and is a popular place to take pictures in front of. Visitors can go inside the Duomo di Milano, but it’s important to book tickets early as they do sell out. When you’re inside you also have the opportunity to climb to the rooftop terraces of the cathedral and enjoy panoramic views of Milan’s cityscape. Sometimes, on clear days, you can even see the Alps in the distance. The Duomo also has several restaurants nearby boasting views of the Duomo, though they tend to charge more for the view. If you want to see a great view of the Duomo, you can go to the Terrace at Rinascente Milano next door, which is a department store, to grab a drink during happy hour.

Navigli (Canals)

best things to do in Milan happy hour in Navigli

The Navigli district in Milan is a beautiful area known for it’s historic canals, vibrant nightlife and a beautiful place to grab a pre-dinner drink. It’s a trendy neighborhood filled with cozy cafes, trendy bars and boutiques. There is also a flea market some days of the week. In Navigli, you have the opportunity to stroll along the tree-lined canal banks and sit at a café and people watch. While many of the restaurants are cocktail bars, we found ZOG cocktail bar had a great selection of coffees, even late in the afternoon.

QC Terme Milano Spa

best spa in Milan QC Termemilano

The QC Terme Milano Spa was one of the best, most unique spas we’ve gone to and we highly recommend spending a few hours at QC Terme when you are in Milan. We did the Escape Package, which provided a few hours of enjoying the spa facilities for a very reasonable price. You can also add massage packages and a lunch package but we didn’t find either necessary to have a great morning at QC Terme. They have lots of pools, steam rooms, sauna, even a nap room but what is most unique at QC Terme is their storm room. QC Terme books up early, so make sure to book your spa package ahead of time.

Shopping in Milan at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

best things to do in Milan shopping at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

There is a lot of great shopping in Milan, and one of the top two places to go is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, this is a gorgeous area to explore and take pictures. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located right next to the Duomo di Milano and is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. It is a true architectural gem that is filled with luxury shopping, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and gelato.

Shopping in Milan in Quadrilatero della Moda

Shopping in Milan  in Quadrilatero della Moda

Quadrilatero della Moda is the prestigious fashion district in Milan. Here, you can find iconic brands like Prada, Gucci and Versace. You’ll also find brands like Aqua di Parma, and snacks / coffee at Coya.

Visit the Top Floor at Rinascente Milano

Rinascente Milano food hall

Rinascente Milano is a department store located near the Duomo. The best part is to go to the terrace and enjoy a happy hour overlooking the Duomo. You can also enjoy their food hall (which looks similar to Eataly in Chicago) which is on the top floor.

“The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci

Whether you’re into art or not, it is worth it to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” once when you are in Milan. It is located is in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and is the main draw here so expect crowds around the painting. You are not allowed to take pictures of “The Last Supper” but it is cool to experience once in person. Tickets sell out fast, especially during the busy summer months, so be sure to book your tickets ahead of time.

Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion Week occurs twice a year, usually in February and September. Fashion Week in Milan is a highly anticipated event in the fashion industry and attracts many designers, fashion enthusiasts and celebrities from around the world. While the Milan Fashion Week shows are invite only, there are ways to participate. Sometimes tickets are auctioned off and then the proceeds donated to charity.

Best things to do in Milan Conclusion

In conclusion, Milan, Italy offers many unforgettable experiences. The best things to do in Milan will depend on your personal preferences but frequent activities include visiting the Duomo, going to a spa and going shopping. Milan also offers the opportunity to do a day trip or extended stay in Lake Como, which is one of the most stunningly beautiful places you will ever see.

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