18 amazing things to see in Milan

We went on a 4-day city trip to Milan, Italy in April 2023. In this blog post we will write our recommendations on what to see and do in Milan. The most popular and beautiful sights of Milan will be named, but also the less popular beautiful places in Milan.

#1 Duomo di Milano (Duomo Milan Cathedral)

The Milan Cathedral, the Duomo Santa Maria Nascente, is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in Italy and one of the largest in the world. It was designed in Gothic style. The start of construction of this cathedral was in the 14th century and its construction was finally completed in the 20th century. In short, several artists worked on it, resulting in a wonderful cathedral of 157 meters long and 92 meters wide. This cathedral does not have a bell tower, but it has 135 spires. There are approximately 2,000 statues in between these spires. 

It is definitely worth visiting this cathedral! The outside is very beautiful, but it is also possible to pay for going on the roof terrace of this cathedral. The Milan Cathedral is located on the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) in the center of Milan, so basically you will definitely see the cathedral during your city trip to Milan!

#2 Castello Sforzesco (Sforzesco Castle)

Castello Sforzesco, Milan’s Sforzesco Castle, also has a central location in Milan. It is originally a medieval castle located behind Parco Sempione (read more about the park below, #4). It is a beautiful castle and has a fascinating history. Admission to the castle and grounds is free. You can visit the beautiful courtyard for free. There are also a number of museums on the estate, such as the museum of art and antiques, where works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo can be admired. There are also museums of furniture and lignee statues with Egyptian finds and a collection of musical instruments. For a small entrance fee, you can visit all these museums.

#3 Parco Sempione (Park Sempione, Simplon Park)

Parco Sempione is a large city park located in the center of Milan. This park is located behind Castello Sforzesco, so from certain spots you have a great view of this beautiful castle. You can enjoy walking, picnicking and sunbathing here. In this park you can also admire Arco della Pace (read more about this at #19) and you can go up the observation tower Torre Branca for a beautiful view of Milan (read more about this at #8).

#4 Chinatown

Milan’s Chinatown is an incredibly nice place to go shopping or simply look around. It is a special neighborhood with a combination of Italian and Chinese influences. It is bustling in Chinatown and the crowds in these pedestrian streets are very pleasant. Here you can buy traditional Asian products such as Chinese books, newspapers and magazines, as well as enjoy an oriental massage. For the lovers among us, here you will also find the best Chinese restaurants and eateries for sushi, noodles, bubble tea or more. During annual festivals, such as Chinese New Year, the streets are filled with partying people in dragon costumes.

#5 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

This building is known for Italian fashion. It is the most famous covered street in Milan. Here you can store from famous luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Ferrari and more. This mall is the oldest in Italy, finished in 1878. There are beautiful mosaics to admire in this building. The building is covered with glass and in the middle these come together in a transparent dome 47 meters high. The window frames are beautiful and detailed. You can easily walk through it to take a look, because that alone is worth it. If you walk through one of the four corridors, you’ll end up in Piazza Duomo (see #1 for Milan Cathedral).

#6 Stadium San Siro

This stadium is one of the most famous soccer stadiums in the world with a capacity of about 75,000 spectators. Milan’s two soccer clubs, Internazionale and AC Milan (each other’s eternal rivals), both play in this stadium. So one weekend this stadium is home to Internazionale and colors it blue-black, and the following weekend AC Milan plays at home and colors the stadium red-black. So every weekend there is something going on at the stadium and it is definitely worth visiting a game! Buy your shirt at a local stall next to the stadium and feel like a real Italian soccer fan.

San Siro will soon be replaced by a new stadium, so be quick if you want to visit this monument to soccer!

#7 Teatro alla Scala

This theater is located in the center of Milan, near the cathedral. It is one of the most famous opera houses in the world and seats about 2,800 people. Tickets often sell out months in advance, so unfortunately it is difficult to attend a performance. However, the outside is also very beautiful and it is absolutely worth taking a look here and taking some great pictures!

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#8 Torre Branca

This tower is located in the Parco Sempione mentioned above. It is almost 109 meters high and at the top of the tower there is a panoramic viewpoint. From this viewpoint you have a great view of the whole city. On a clear day, it is also possible to see the Alps from here!

#9 Cimitero Monumentale di Milano

This is one of the largest cemeteries in Milan and is known for its beautiful architecture. You may be thinking; how strange to visit a cemetery. Of course, that’s kind of true, but you can of course choose to visit only the outside!

#10 Santa Maria Church delle Grazie

Santa Maria Church is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The reason the church obtained this status is the fresco painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the cloister. This fresco depicts the Last Supper. You can see the church both inside and out for free, which is definitely recommended.

#11 Palace Royale de Milano

Until 1919, the Royal Palace was owned by the royal family. After that, the building was purchased by the state and is mainly used for exhibitions. The palace was originally a lot larger, but some parts were demolished to give more space for the construction of the Cathedral. It is possible to visit the palace, just keep in mind that it is very crowded inside.

#12 Navigli (neighborhood)

Navigli is a slightly less known place among many tourists, in part because it is a bit away from the center of Milan. This district reminds a little bit of Venice, because of the bridges and canals. Here you will find lots of nice stores and restaurants, definitely worth an afternoon visit!

#13 Brera district

Brera is an artists’ district close to the real center of Milan. One of the attractions in this district is the Pinacoteca di Brera, which is a museum with a collection of classical and modern art. You will also find many colorful houses and cozy streets in this district.

#14 Piazza affari, L.O.V.E.

On this square you will find a large statue of a middle finger. Although it has never been made clear exactly what the artist intended with this statue, it is assumed that it was a statement against the economic system. The statue was unveiled in 2010, at the time of the economic crisis in Europe. It is a funny statue to visit, but don’t plan too much time for it! This is because there are no restaurants or stores in this square, so you’ll soon be bored with the statue.

#15 San Bernardino alle Ossa

Located close to the Cathedral, this church is mainly known for its side chapel decorated with human skulls and bones. It may be a strange and eerie sight to see countless skulls on the wall of this chapel, but it is a unique sight. Definitely worth a short visit.

#16 Basilica Sant Ambrogio

This basilica is located in the center and was built in the 4th century. In the 12th century, the church was thoroughly rebuilt, giving it a Romanesque style. This basilica has a beautiful courtyard worth visiting and the inside of the basilica is also impressive.

#17 Colonne di San Lorenzo

Close to the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore, is Colonne di San Lorenzo. This is a group of beautiful Roman columns that you can admire right in the center. They are sixteen marble columns that originally came from an ancient bathhouse or mainly a temple. The columns have not always stood here and were placed at the edge of the square when the church was rebuilt after fire and collapse of the main chapel.

#18 Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace)

This arch represents the peace brought about by Napoleon in 1815. This monument was designed by architect Luigi Cagnola. This triumphal arch borders Park Sempione (read #3) and is located in Piazza Sempione. It is designed in neoclassical style and decorated with bas-reliefs, statues and capitals of marble, bronze, wood and stucco. The bas-reliefs depict historical events, for example, the Battle of Leipzig and the Congress of Vienna.