Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome.
The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million while its metropolitan city has 3.26 million in the wider area surrounding central Milan.
At first sight, Milan looks like a bustling and relatively stylish (with its shiny display windows and elegant shops) metropolis, with a good number of grand palaces and fine churches in the centre, but might seem like a slightly prosaic,
soulless and business-oriented place.
The best times to visit Milan are April to May or September to October. These spring and fall months straddle the city’s manic peak tourism season, and they also escape the summer’s sweltering temperatures.
Today Milan offers a sublime mix of historical architecture, modern high-rise skyscrapers, all mingled together with a dash of Italian life. The city is particularly known for its abundance of high end fashion retailers and the beautiful Duomo Cathedral.
Best Things to Do in Milan:
1. Milan Cathedral or “Duomo di Milano”
The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete: construction began in 1386, and the final details were completed in 1965. It is the largest church in Italy.
The interior is just as decorative and features some beautiful stained glass windows bursting with colour; furthermore in-between the central columns, there is a fantastic display of artwork and some finely detailed statues.
This immense structure is truly the heart of Milan and no trip to this city is complete without steeping foot inside its huge doors.
2. Navigli District
Constructed over hundreds of years, with input from da Vinci himself, Milan’s system of navigable and interconnected canals granted the landlocked city more access to the outside world. Today, the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese are
some of the only canals still visible, and around them have sprung up a torrent of bars, restaurants and cafés that thrum with activity on weekend nights. For astonishing views at a leisurely pace, join a boat tour and relax as you’re
swept around the city sights.
If you are looking for something truly unique, check out Backdoor 43 at Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43. Located right on the canals, the owners of this miniscule bar claim it is the smallest in the world. There’s a tiny takeout window where
masked bartenders provide drinks to go or you can reserve a time slot to enjoy your cocktails in the four-square-metre indoor space that’s home to few stools and a bathroom.
3. La Scala de Milan
Leaving from the Piazza del Duomo, along the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, you will arrive directly on Piazza della Scala.
As the name suggests, it’s where La Scala, the famous Milan Opera house is located. Along with the San Carlo Theater in Naples and the Fenice in Venice, it’s one of Italy’s 3 most prestigious operas.
Masterpieces of Italian opera have been created here, such as “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini or “Otello” by Verdi. Also, one of the greatest classical singers of all time, Maria Callas, has performed in La Scala.
So you should really go if you can! The exterior facade however, is quite simple.
On the left of the building you can visit the Museum of La Scala and its collection of musical instruments, opera costumes and historical documents.
4. San Bernardino alle Ossa
This church is just a 5-minute-walk away from the Duomo, and the reason that makes it worth visiting might also be the very reason why you might not want to visit it at all. You see, in this area there used to be a cemetery, which ran out of space. So the remains of the dead (the bones) were stored in a room specifically built for this purpose.
5. Escape to the Lake District
For something completely different from the urban feel of Milan, consider a trip to the Lake District, only 30 minutes or so north of the city. Consisting of five alpine lakes that nestle up against the Alps, you will find charming towns, breathtaking views, and a low-key vibe that has enchanted travelers for hundreds of years.
The largest town, Como, was once a rival of Milan’s for supremacy in the region. Now it’s a pretty lakeside community filled with stores, museums, and theaters. Other recommended towns to visit in the area include the elegant, veranda-filled town of Varenna, and sleepy, romantic Lovere, along Lake Iseo. For a bird’s eye view of the area, visit Brunate, a tiny little village accessible from a funicular
lift that leaves from Como.
6. Go for a night out in Brera District
Once this area of Milan was the creative hub of the entire city, filled with inspired writers, painters, and sculptures hoping to make a name for themselves. Now, it’s been transformed into the center of Milan’s fashion and design industries, housing many high-end shops and design boutiques. It also just so happens to be one of the most exciting and luxurious places to go to in Milan at night. World-class restaurants and bars spill out onto the sidewalk underneath some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. Have an afternoon spritz in the incredibly stylish Emporio Armani Caffe, located on the 7th floor of the Armani Hotel. Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm, and dress code is smart. You could also enjoy some amazing aperitivo in Fioraio Bianchi Caffe on Via Montebello, a part restaurant part flower shop that’s one of the most unique places to eat in the city.
7. Must Eat Foods In Milan
Italy has long had one of the most iconic food cultures anywhere on the planet, and northern city Milan has developed some of the country’s best loved dishes. Like most places in Italy it has a vibrant and exciting food scene, and exploring the huge range of restaurants in the city is definitely one the top things to do in Milan.
You must trie:
Gorgonzola – One of Milan’s greatest gifts to the world; Gorgonzola. It is one of the oldest blue cheeses in the world and its origin is shrouded in mystery.
Risotto takes the first place for the most famous Italian food in Milan. It is a meal that is eaten all around the world and has become a true icon of the city. It is debatable as to where it was invented and many believe that it actually originated in Southern Italy long before Milan began to produce it.
Cotoletta was and still is commonly served in the traditional Italian osteria and is essentially just a breaded cut of meat similar to an Austrian Schnitzel.
Ossobuco – If you really want to eat like a local in Milan then you have to try ossobuco. It is essentially a hearty stew with meat and vegetables and a perfect winter warmer! The meat used is nearly always veal, which is always left on the bone. The bone marrow is considered a real delicacy in Italy if you’re brave enough to try it.
May your holidays be full of warmth and cheer.