Welcome to Milan
Post Updated February, 2016 – for touristsbychance.com.
*Do not miss the new addition at the end of the post – The Best Free Things to see in Milan*
Milan is known for the Duomo, the various ‘fiere’ (i.e. fashion week and Expo in 2015), Cenacolo Vinciano, The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the oldest shopping mall in world), La Scala Theatre, Fashion, AC Milan and the Navigli. Milan is often looked as only a ‘stop over’ destination and as the financial hub of Italy. Do not let stereotypes fool you. Milan is a vibrant city with a lot to see and do – even for tourists.
We personally LOVE this city. For starters, for those that love to walk, the main sites in the city center can all be done on foot and unlike most parts of Italy, public transport works really well (i.e. trams, metro lines and buses – find ticket prices and info – Here). Secondly, something is always going on in Milan and it is the real trend setter in Italy so you will find a variety of restaurants which will go from classical cuisine to new age. For those that do not know, what gets launched in Milan and succeeds, is than adopted from the rest of the country.
Sometimes all you need is a local to really show the true value of a city. We are also pleased to have had the contribution of two friends of tourstsbychance.com, Giuseppe and Paola for this post!
Cenacolo Vinciano (link) & Santa Maria delle Grazie
As a blog on things to do in Italy and useful information – we could not leave out one of the most popular tourist sites in Milan. Everyone must try to visit the Cenacolo Viniciano (tickets are tough to get by) known in English as The Last Supper.
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie at the behest of Ludovico il Moro, in a span of time ranging from 1494 to 1497. It is regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian art.
Both are truly amazing and a must visit. Certainly not an undiscovered site but certainly a treasure for all those interested in religious and cultural tourism.
We found an interesting read: 10 things you didn’t know about The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, from Swide.com.
Brera (map link)
Ah, Brera. This is the part of town where you are very likely to bump in to some very famous football players (eye candy for Giulia) and top models (some eye candy for Valter), found behind the La Scala theatre.
Of course, while we probably would not recommend to eat here if you are on a budget, we would say to try one of the many bars in the area. If you do have a bit a money to splurge on a good meal, enjoying a delicious Italian wine, in one the most ‘in’ areas of Milan, then do not hesitate to walk the cobble streets and pick the right place for you. You will find high end restaurants through to your Osteria – you should expect to pay no less than 40.00EUR per person on an ‘antipasto’ and first/or main course.
Each restaurant is unique and provides an insight to what real Milanese life is like. High fashion, beautiful people and ‘cool’ restaurants and bars.
While you are in the area and you love Italian art, do not miss the Brera Art Gallery (Pinoteca di Brera – link ). You will also love the history of the building itself and the beautiful interiors (besides the art). A whole world to discover.
Address: Via Brera, 28. Price: 10.00EUR Opening: Mondays closed. Tuesday-Sunday 8:30am-7:15am. Google Map Here
Navigli (map link)
The direct translations of Navigli is ‘canals’ and they are an interconnected system of navigable canals. There are currently works in place to have these canals navigable again. This will sure add to the beauty of this part of Milan.
Welcome to the ‘younger’ part of town, where you will find the ‘second hand’ stores, the antique shops, the small bars to watch the football and of course good restaurants (not great and many are tourists traps) and worth the visit for a quick aperitivo. Here you will also find clubs, bars and even old sand transporter boats that have become bars! So if you do not mind being surrounded by a younger crowd, a glass of wine and even a bargain purchase at one of the second hand stores, then this is certainly the place for you.
Connected to the Navigli area is where you will find the Porta Romana area. Here you have a good choice of restaurants to choose from and you can be sure it will not be a tourist trap, as many places on the Navigli. But you never know, you might come across a hidden gem of your own and we would love to hear about it!
Sempione Park (Parco Sempione map link)
Tired of shopping, going to the theatre or eating out lunch and dinner? Well take a stroll through the beautiful ‘Central Park’ of Milan. Here you will be able to enjoy a pleasant walk which covers approximately 5kms and even here, monuments to enjoy and you can even use many of the grassed areas for picnics with some fresh bread, wine, cheeses and salumi.
While here you can also visit the Sforza Castle if you are looking for things to do. Keep in mind that there are always a large number of tourists between Spring and Summer, however, we would not put this on the top 10 things to do.
Sforza Castle (link) is open daily 7.00 a.m-6.00 p.m. (in winter) and 7.00 a.m-7.00 p.m. (in summer). Free admission. The museums open from 9:30a.m-5:30p.m. Price: 5€ (except for castle museums). Google Map Here
Royal Palace of Milan (Palazzo Reale website)
Located next to the Duomo of Milan (Piazza del Duomo, 12), this is a great and inexpensive experience. The history of the building speaks for itself and there are times that you can expect a bit of a line up but what is great is the fact that you can always expect at least two (2) exhibitions at a time. Last year we visited the Bob Dylan art exhibition and even Rodin, as just some examples of the variety you can find.
Have a few hours in the afternoon before you go out for an aperitivo in Brera, make sure to visit the Royal Palace of Milan.
Opening: Monday: 2:30pm-7:30pm. Tuesday to Sunday: 9:30am-7:30pm Thursday and Saturday: 9:30am-10:30pm. Ticket: 9€. Google Map Here
Quadrilatero della moda (district shop directory)
The fact that this district has its own website, you can gather that it is a big deal. But what does the name mean? ‘Quadrilateral of fashion’ in the Via Montenapoleone fashion district (link to map). Wallets beware! If you love shopping, major fashion houses, boutiques and all that relates to the world of high-class shopping, then this is the part of town you will want to visit and splurge some Euros.
Industry experts (i.e. Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire etc) and fashion guru’s regard Via Montenapoleone as the most important fashion district in the world! The quadrilateral is formed by via Montenapoleone, via della Spiga, via S. Andrea and via S. Spirito.
Needless to say, if you take anybody that goes crazy for shopping, you will remain in their good books for a long long time 😉
10 Corso Como (link to site)
Unlike Via Montenapoleone, 10 Corso Como, offers such a variety of shopping experiences and it is not reserved only to clothing. Here you will find art, books, music, culture, particular restaurants and design. You could say Corso Como is the ‘alternative’ to Via Montenapoleone. If you like design and concept stores, then this is the perfect place. It is also the mecca of fashion and luxury brands.
10 Corso Como is great for shopping during the day and bars at night. A shopping retreat and what else would you expect to do in one of the fashion capitals of the world?
Easily accessible by Metro (Garibaldi FS), tram (line 33) and bus (line 37). See out Google Map Link – Here.
Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore (link to tourism site)
When you will visit the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore (link to tourism site) the first words that will come out of your mouth is – WOW. While in recent years it has been getting a lot of tourist attention, Italians had not been aware of this church until recently! It really is an amazing architectural diamond of the 1500’s and once attached to the most important female convent of the Benedictines, decorated with hundreds of breathtaking frescoes.
Believe it or not, the frescos are not the only highlight! In the hall of Nuns there is an organ of 1554 by Gian Giacomo Antegnati entirely by mechanical transmission, consisting of a keyboard of 50 notes and a pedal 20, constantly united to the keyboard.
The hall of the nuns and to the right the organ by Gian Giacomo Antegnati
Regarded as the Sistine Chapel of the North, the church was renovated in 2015 and has reopened to the public. This does mean that there are lines ups every now and then but this is still a somewhat ‘secret’.
Address: Corso Magenta, 15 – 20123 Milano (Google Map Link). Timetable: Tue-Sat: 09:30am-5:30pm. Ticket: Free entrance. Reservations are required for groups: phone to 0039.02.20404175.
Cooking Class with La Cucina Italiana (link to site)
I signed up to the ‘Cooking with Couples’ course – when the site was known as Tourists by Chance. Our chef for the night was Davide Neri – a very funny guy who explains the process and take us through each dish, for a total of 3 hours.
(Piazza Aspromonte, 15 – easily accessible in Metro from the Duomo to Loreto (red line or Line 1).
The experience was fantastic! We really enjoyed the night (the Chef was also very entertaining) and it really is a unique way to spend an evening with your partner or friends. English courses are available (see website above) and our Valentines day course was 90.00EUR per person and included 3 course meal, beer and champagne. Did we mention that this cooking school is the most renowned one in Milan with many celebrity Chefs also providing courses? A must try for anybody visiting Milan – after all it is an experience you will bring back home with you and you even learn a couple of dishes to try once you are back home!
Porta Nuova (map link)
Welcome to the new part of Milan, where the tallest building in Italy, the Unicredit Tower, stands at 231 meters high. Built around the Garibaldi train station, known as the Porta Nuova District.
It is the place to be for the locals, with new restaurants, bars, apartments, a new park and a number of metro stops in the area. Its very highly sought after due to its proximity to the city center.
A must visit as it is Italy’s skyscraper and on special occasions, the buildings can take on different colours depending on the occasion (for example the Italian flag on our National Day, 2 June).
I have had the pleasure to virtually meet Luca from Luca Travels Around and saw this great post he did on Milano and the free things to see, while visiting the city. I thought it complimented nicely with my post on Milan and I highly recommend you guys note his recommendations as well, when planning your next trip!
Like me Luca is Italian, however, he covers Italy and other cities around the world, so you will want to make sure to follow him and do not miss out on his (mis)adventure to Perù or his awkward yet funny experience in Japan, just to name a few
Have you been to Milan? What were your thoughts and experiences during your visit? Please make sure to tell me your story and what you discovered on your trip by leaving a comment below.
Getting Around (ATM website)
Getting around Milan is easy and one of the best cities for public transport, with many means available, including bike hire (link to BikeMi)! Find metro ticket prices and info – Here and the metro network map Here
About.com (link) – provides a great page on Getting Around Milan and Milan Airports, Train Stations, and Public Transportation Information.
For information on Weather (link) we found this useful guide.