Milan is not a tourist wonderland like Rome, but the city is attractive, extremely rich in art collections, and has a good selection of tourist sights to keep you busy.
Milan tourist highlights begin with the magnificent, gleaming white Duomo.This immense Gothic cathedral took 500 years to complete, and reflects the change of fashions in a surreal mixture of architectural styles. A trip up to the roof is an unmissable experience; you can sunbathe among the marble pinnacles and enjoy a spectacular view as far as the Alps.
Next to Piazza del Duomo is the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an elegant nineteenth century glass-covered shopping arcade, where you can enjoy a coffee while watching the stylish Milanese parade by. (Rub your feet on the genitals of the bull in the central mosaic for good luck). A tragic story is attached to the Galleria; the architect Giuseppe Mengoni died the day before it was opened, falling from the roof.
Milan is rich in art galleries, and highlights include the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Raphael), and the superb Pinacoteca di Brera, which contains works by Italy’s greatest masters. Highlights include Mantegna’s foreshortened Christ.
Other notable sights of Milan include Leonardo’s Last Supper, in the church of Santa Maria della Grazie (you must book in advance), the row of Roman columns outside the church of San Lorenzo and the mighty Castello Sforzesco. As well as a nice grassy courtyard where you can rest, this business-like fortress now contains a number of museums, one of which (the Museo d’Arte Antica) contains Michaelangelo’s strange last work, Rondanini Pieta, which he worked on for nine years without completing.
> Church of Sant’Ambrogio
Depending on your interests, you may also want to pay a visit to the most famous opera house in the world, La Scala, or to one of the most famous footall stadia, the mighty San Siro, home to both AC Milan and Internazionale.
For designer shopping (or window shopping), the best area is the Quadrilatero, around Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. For an interesting ramble, try the Navigli, the shabby but fascinating canal district, or the Brera, a picturesque quarter with a trendy, arty vibe. These last two are also good areas for evening promenades and nightlife.
> Shopping in Milan
Note that we don’t usually give precise opening hours, as these are liable to frequent change. As a rule of thumb, most museums in Milan are closed on Mondays, and many attractions (such as churches) close for a lunch break somewhere between midday and 3pm. The tourist information office publishes a booklet with the latest opening times – ask for this when you arrive.
- Milan – an intro
- Tourist attractions
- Milan airports
- Day trips
Useful external links