Top 5 Things to Do in Milan

February 18, 2015
Enrico Catani

The city of Milan is an absolutely unique place in the world: considered the economic and industrial capital of Italy, it’s a modern and avant-garde city rich inhistorical sites, artdesign and high fashion.
This modern city offers a lot of things to see and do, and if you’re going there for the first time you might want to know what the real top sights in Milan are, so that you don’t miss anything, especially if you only have a short time to spend in the city and you want to avoid being tricked into some kind of tourist trap.
So, here is a list, brought you by ItalyXP, of the top 5 things to do in Milan. In other words, below you’ll find all the must-do experiences that will help you to immerse yourself into the authentic Milanese atmosphere.

1. Visit the major sights of the historic centre

Don’t miss the opportunity to get lost in the historic centre of Milan, exploring its beautiful streets and alleys. By wandering around, you can find Milan’s charming squares, churches and monuments, which testify the incredible historic heritage of the city.
The very heart of Milan is represented by the magnificent Piazza Duomo, a monumental square that has been for centuries the centre of the social and cultural life of the city. At the centre of it stands the Cathedral (also known as Duomo), one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, a masterpiece of Gothic and neo-classical architecture. Among the several attractions not-to-be-missed is the Sforza Castle, a former military building surrounded by a remarkable massive walls and towers, which is also a direct access to the Sempione Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. And in the evening, you can’t miss a stroll along the Navigli, the water-canals around which are lots of trendy bars, boutiques and traditional restaurants.
But beside the world-known attractions of Milan you will be able to find a lot of other interesting sights, wandering around the hidden corners of the historic centre. And there is no better way to do it than with a guided tour with a professional accredited guide.

2. Enjoy a drink or two at the aperitivo time

If you visit Milan, make sure to take part at the “aperitivo”, the beloved Milanese tradition of pre-dinner drinks accompanied by complimentary food. Instead of the modest finger-foods – served in most Italian cities – the Milan’s aperitivo is accompanied by overwhelming all-you-can-eat buffets that include pasta, pizza slices, meats, sea-food and sautéed vegetables.
The best aperitivo bars in the historic centre overflow with people and a convivial atmosphere. The drinks may be a bit more expensive than they normally would be, but the buffets are free. The aperitivo time is an awesome opportunity for tourists to hang out, get to know the locals, have a cocktail or two, and eat dinner buffet-style with the best Italian cuisine. 

3. Indulge in some stylish shopping

Milan is undoubtedly one of the world’s fashion capitals: the city hosts all the major Italian high-fashion agencies, and it is considered the best shopping destination in Italy, as you can find all the most important brands. Also, each very year, in Milan are held the most illustrious fashion events in the world.
The heart of fashion, in Milan, is in the Gallery of Vittorio Emanuele II, an astonishing shopping gallery that hosts many prestigious labels and brand shops, and within the Fashion District, also known as the Fashion Quadrilateral: a neighborhood bounded by four streets - Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia and Via della Spiga - where are all the main fashion boutiques. In particular, Via Monte Napoleone is considered one of the most exclusive streets in the world, while Via della Spiga is a delightful pedestrian street with a myriad of trendy stores.
With our shopping tours, with image consulting services, you will have the opportunity to thoroughly explore this area, looking for the most exclusive shops and experiencing the atmosphere of this famous district of Milan at best.

View of Vittorio Emanuele II

4. Discover some magnificent art spread over the city

There are lots of amazing destinations to admire the best art in Milan: among those, you cannot certainly miss the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, where is housed The Last Supper, the 15th century fresco made by the genius Leonardo da Vinci, undoubtedly among the greatest Italian painters (but also engineers and scientists) of all time. You can visit this incredible masterpiece through a guided tour!
Another must for art lovers is the Pinacoteca di Brera, which contains an important art collection including the harshly realistic Dead Christ by Mantegna, and Supper At Emmaus by Caravaggio. Smaller but with works every bit as important, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana houses The Musician, an early painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
But beside the ancient classical art, Milan is famous for contemporary creativity, and so we’d recommend visiting also the Museo del Novecento and Gallerie d’Italia, both recently inaugurated: the first one houses 20th-century Italian and international artworks, by the greatest artists of that century; the Gallerie d’Italia displays masterpieces by artists such as Canova and Hayez in a sumptuous series of frescoed palaces, close to the La Scala Theatre.  

View of Last Supper in Milan

5. Marvel at the futuristic skyscrapers of Porta Nuova district

Milan has always been the most advanced cities in Italy: the centre which collects the best impressions of art and design. In the early years of the new millennium, Milan has also taken up this challenge from an architectural point of view, giving rise to new areas and new neighborhoods that full bear the modernity of this city.
The symbol of this transformation is undoubtedly the ​​Porta Nuova district, built near the Porta Garibaldi Station. If you visit Milan, you cannot miss a stroll around this district to truly breathe the atmosphere of the incredible city: you can admire the charming Piazza Gae Aulenti, with its play of light and fountains; or walk around the base of the Unicredit Tower, the tallest building in Italy; or even a visit to the parks and green areas arisen in this futuristic district. The skyline of Milan has changed, and today is an integral part of the city.
In addition to this neighborhood, the EXPO which will take place in 2015 in Milan will also bring a general restyling of the city, such as those around Rho Station: here are built pavilions that will host the stands of the various States, in what is a real event of worldwide importance.

Skycrapers in Milan

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