Milan is a city in Lombardy that is famous all over the world. It is famous for its fashion and design, but it is impossible to summarize Milan in this sector alone. As with most Italian cities, the religious and historical heritage is extraordinary. In addition, there is a wide range of museums and outings.
Are you planning to visit Milan soon? I’ll save you the work and prepare your trip. In this article, I list the 26 best activities to discover in Milan.
The Cathedral of Milan – Duomo Milan
The Duomo di Milano is an incredibly impressive gothic cathedral located in Piazza del Duomo, in the heart of Milan.
Its construction began in 1386 and continued for nearly six centuries. Indeed, its official completion is 1965.
Tourists love to visit the Duomo for its remarkable architecture, rich history and religious significance. With nearly 3,400 statues, the Duomo is a gem of Gothic art that promises hours of sightseeing.
I also recommend climbing up to the roof terrace for an incredible view of the city of Milan. When the horizon is clear, you get one of the most beautiful views of the city.
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazzie
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is famous for housing The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s mural depicting Christ’s last meal. I’ll tell you more about it right after this part.
The church itself was built between 1463 and 1497 by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and was designed by the architect Guiniforte Solari.
Its architecture is a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles, with a unique marble facade dating from the 16th century.
In addition to the Last Supper, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie houses several other important works of art. The adjacent convent can also be visited.
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper is an iconic mural painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498 in the refectory of the adjacent convent of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
The fresco is over eight meters wide and depicts the last meal of Christ with his disciples as described in the Gospels.
The characters have been painted with breathtaking realism. The facial expressions and gestures suggest their emotional state and their relationship with each other.
For a fee, you can have an hour’s viewing of The Last Supper. This is not too much. The more you look at the fresco, the more important details you will see.
Visits must be booked in advance and the number of visitors is limited to avoid damage caused by the influx of tourists and light.
A boat trip on the canals of Milan
When you visit Milan, you can explore the city in a different way by taking a boat ride on its canals.
The canals, although relatively unknown, are an important aspect of Milan’s history. In the 15th century, they were dug to connect the city to the sea, allowing the import of goods across Europe. They are therefore artificial canals. Italians call them “Navigli”.
During the tour, passengers will discover unique views of Milan that cannot be seen from the ground. For example, the tour may include a stop at the charming House of the Waves, a small garden cottage that is said to have inspired a famous novel by Giuseppe Verdi.
As a couple, it is an extraordinary romantic moment.
The art gallery of Brera
The Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the most important art museums in Milan and houses a vast collection of Italian and European works of art.
The collection of the Pinacoteca consists of paintings, sculptures and drawings from all periods of art history, from the Middle Ages to the present.
The museum is located in the Palazzo di Brera, a historic eighteenth-century building in the Brera district of Milan.
The palace itself is impressive with its neoclassical architecture and spectacular inner courtyard.
Visitors to the art gallery can admire works by famous artists such as Raphael, Andrea Mantegna, Caravaggio, Hayez and Correggio.
Before or after the visit to the Pinacoteca, I recommend that you take the time to visit the neighborhood. Brera is very pretty.
La Scala di Milano is one of the most famous sites in Milan, as well as one of the most famous opera houses in the world. This theater is now a symbol of the cultural identity of the city of Milan.
Founded in 1778, La Scala has quickly become a major destination for opera lovers.
The opera house is known for its impressive architecture, decorated with crystal chandeliers, golden brocades and golden mirrors, and its large stage, which has seen productions of famous operas such as “La Boheme” and “Lohengrin”.
The acoustics of La Scala are also known to be excellent. The atmosphere, the historical context and the heritage of this place make it absolutely unique in the world.
Apart from the opera performances, it is possible to visit the backstage and the interior museums of the opera house.
Villa Necchi Campiglio
Villa Necchi Campiglio is a 20th century patrician villa typical of the Milanese style.
The villa is a wonderful combination of history, art, design and architecture, as well as an extraordinary example of the life of wealthy Argentines in Lombardy in the early 20th century.
Designed and built by Piero Portaluppi, the Villa is considered one of the finest examples of the Milanese architect’s house.
The interior of the Villa is an incredible example of the Art Deco style, with precise geometric patterns and refined colors contributing to the impression of elegance.
Visitors can admire the bedrooms and beautiful rooms, including the library, study and dining room, as well as the collection of Italian and international works of art assembled by the former owners.
The Sforza castle
Built at the end of the 14th century by the Viscontis, the Sforza Castle is a spectacular castle located in the heart of Milan.
The castle was conceived as a residence and fortress for the ruling families of the city. Over the centuries, it underwent several renovations, including during the reign of the Sforza family, and became an art museum in the 1800s.
Today, the Sforza Castle houses a vast collection of art and historical artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, Renaissance jewelry and Etruscan archaeological objects.
Visitors will also be able to see pieces from Leonardo da Vinci’s personal collection, as well as works by famous Italian artists such as Andrea Mantegna and Bramante.
In addition to the exhibits, visitors have the opportunity to explore the towers and walls surrounding the castle, as well as the picturesque gardens and fountains in the courtyard.
The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the most important fashion and shopping areas in Milan.
Opened in 1867, this magnificent place is still considered one of the most luxurious and elegant shopping malls in the world.
The Gallery is spread over four floors. It houses high-end designer boutiques. With its white marble tiles and glass roof, the gallery is a work of Italian architecture not to be missed.
Visitors can stroll through the sculpture-rich inner garden or visit the National Museum inside the building. The latter has a collection of bronze objects from the 17th century.
The galleries are also known for their nightly interactive shows that combine theater, video and traditional Italian music.
Nestled in the heart of Milan, Piazza Aurora is one of the most lively and active squares in the city.
Surrounded by magnificent buildings dating back to the 16th century, it is the focal point of the historic center of Milan.
Piazza Aurora is home to buildings such as the Oratorio di San Bernardino and the Manzoni Theater, as well as monuments such as a bronze statue dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi.
Of course, such a square is perfect for taking a break from sightseeing. A short break in the bars and restaurants of the square will give you energy.
The royal villa of Milan and its gardens
Located just outside of downtown Milan, the Royal Villa of Milan (often referred to as Villa Reale in Italian) and its gardens offer visitors a peaceful retreat from the noise and lights of the city.
Built in the early 18th century on the banks of a small river, the property is spread over a huge plot of land that includes formal gardens with fountains, towering statues and winding cobblestone walkways.
Visitors can also admire at the main entrance a great portal named Palazzina delle Meraviglie.
The Novecento Museum
The Novecento Museum is a museum of modern and contemporary art in Milan.
Nestled inside the former convent of San Carpoforo, it has a wide variety of works of the Italian twentieth century, the most famous of which are those of Giorgio de Chirico, Umberto Boccioni and Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo.
The museum also houses works by recent Italian artists as well as temporary exhibitions that highlight the work of lesser-known artists.
An excursion to Lake Como
A visit to Lake Como is an unforgettable experience. Located an hour and a half from Milan, the lake offers visitors a quiet place and beautiful views of the Alps.
You have the choice between taking a tour from Milan with a guide and renting a car. Not being a fan of driving in the big Italian cities, I would prefer the guide…
Take a walk along the shores of the lake, admiring the mountains that practically surround the landscape. Along the way, stop in charming towns like Bellagio or Varenna.
Complete your day with a visit to Villa Carlotta, a private estate built on the shore of the lake.
The San Siro stadium (Giuseppe-Meazza stadium)
The San Siro stadium is a soccer stadium located in Milan, Italy. It is also known as Giuseppe Meazza.
The stadium is used by the two Milanese Serie A clubs: AC Milan and Inter Milan. The first one is the most supported by the inhabitants of Milan.
With a capacity of over 80,000 spectators, San Siro is a must-see attraction for sports enthusiasts. If you are in the city, try to see a match by buying seats in a suitable area. For example, if you are a family, it is better to choose a side stand than the Tifosi stand behind the goal.
The Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Milan
The Basilica of San Lorenzo in Milan has served as a place of worship for the people of Milan for over 1000 years. Although it is not as impressive as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it is still an imposing building.
The baroque building was built in honor of the martyr St. Lawrence. The main structure consists of a large rectangular interior space framed by four half-domes topped by a magnificent central dome.
The basilica houses works and sculptures such as the bronze statue Lello da Siena, statues of St. Paul and St. Peter, and a crypt containing the tomb of Pope Pius IV.
In addition, the inner courtyard contains a sculpture of the Tree of Life, while the outer garden is filled with brightly colored flowers that give the whole a splendid look.
The Torre Branca
The Torre Branca is an emblematic monument of Milan’s skyline. Located on the hills of the city, it was built in 1932 by the architect Gino Pollini and rises to an impressive height of 108 meters.
The stairs that go up to the top allow tourists to have a complete panoramic view of the main tourist sites and the surrounding hills.
Once up there, you can admire the rooftops of Milan, the Duomo di Milano and the neighboring towers that form a magnificent urban landscape.
Of course, the visit is quick, but the view is so beautiful that I can only recommend it.
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is an ancient 15th-century residence located in the heart of Milan.
The museum was founded by the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi and has been transformed into an art museum that presents its visitors with a wide range of paintings, sculptures and antiques.
You will find major artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Lotto, Bernini and Tintoretto.
The Prada Foundation
The Prada Foundation in Milan is one of the city’s main centers of creativity and culture.
Opened in 2015, the complex consists of several separate buildings spread over a plot of land in Cinque Giornate, the neighborhood where the Santa Maria delle Grazie church is located.
The complex includes a permanent exhibition of modern and contemporary art.
Muba is a children’s museum in Milan. Founded in 2005, it was created to promote the learning and development of children of all ages.
Muba is distinguished by its interactive approach to education. Innovative thematic exhibits offer children an opportunity to interact with different artistic and scientific media.
Little explorers can also take advantage of the permanent exhibition “City of Children” which houses more than 1000 objects from all over the world designed to introduce them to other cultures.
With the family, this is a great activity to do in Milan.
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology celebrates the work and vision of the inventor and scientist.
Opened in 1953, it is considered one of the first technological museums in the world.
The museum displays the works of Leonardo da Vinci, including models produced from his original sketches. Visitors can also discover interactive exhibits on the use of machines and the physical foundations that run our daily lives.
The Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions offers a variety of games, experiments and optical illusions that will delight young and old.
The museum was designed to encourage the public to explore different optical effects and visual illusion.
Visitors can discover a multitude of unusual experiences such as mirror mazes, artistic optical illusions, animated holograms and three-dimensional illusions.
The Museum of Illusions also organizes various interactive workshops for children so that they can discover the scientific world while having fun.
The Ambrosian Library
The Ambrosian Library is one of the most important libraries in the world.
Founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1609, it now houses more than four million books, files and historical documents. Visitors can consult documents dating back to the Middle Ages that trace Italian history.
If you are looking for a place rich in history and culture, the Ambrosian Library is your ideal destination!
The Mondo Milan Museum
The Mondo Milan Museum is a museum of the AC Milan soccer club.
In this museum, you can learn about the history and the trophies won by the Rossoneri. All the big soccer clubs have such museums, but the rich history of the Milanese club makes this one unique.
Acquaworld is not in Milan, but in Concorezzo. This park is one of the largest water parks in Italy.
Slides, pools and water attractions await you. You will have hours of fun.
If you want a change from cultural activities, this is the place to be. But, in summer, the park attracts both locals and tourists, and the fun diminishes when you have trouble bathing without touching other bathers…
Minitalia Leolandia Park
Minitalia Leolandia Park is a theme park located in Bergamo. This city is less than an hour’s drive from Milan.
This park is one of the best places for families in Italy. It offers a variety of attractions and activities, as well as comedy and musical shows.
Of course, don’t expect to see a park worthy of Disneyworld, but with children, it is an activity to do.
Body Worlds Milan
Body Worlds Milan explores the mysteries of the human anatomy. With Amélie, we visited a similar museum in Las Vegas.
The museum features authentic anatomical specimens, including human bodies on display. The aim is to learn more about the human body, but also to see the negative effects of obesity, smoking or pollution.
Museums of this type are very successful in the world. Personally, I don’t like them, and I get bored. But my opinion is not shared by many visitors.