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Combining the sleek and modern with ancient beauty, Milan is a proper working city which has not rested on its laurels, but has taken steps to establish itself as a current and vibrant place to be. Creative, contemporary architecture sits side by side with relics of former glory. Famous throughout the world as both Italy’s financial centre and its fashion capital, Milan is appropriately bustling and energised, but always impeccably tailored. The city’s proximity to snow-capped mountains and vast, shimmering lakes also gives it an edge in day trips, so whether exploring Milan or its surrounding area, there is plenty on offer.
Our top five sights
Smack in the middle of the historical centre of Milan is this stunning cathedral which took over five centuries to build and is the fourth largest in the world. Take the elevator up to the top for views of the city and the nearby Alps – mornings are your best chance of a clear view.
Da Vinci’s The Last Supper
Found in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Da Vinci’s 15th-century masterpiece is incredibly popular and your visit must be booked in advance.
La Scala Museum
If you don’t have the time or inclination to see a full opera, a visit to the famous opera house’s museum will give you a taste of the institution’s long history, as well as a glimpse of the famous stage.
Pinacoteca di Brera
It’s not just about Da Vinci; have a wander around Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera which houses some of Italy’s finest art, including masterpieces by Caravaggio, Raphael and Tintoretto.
One of Milan’s few green, peaceful spaces, conveniently Wi-Fi enabled. Don’t miss the 14th-century Castello Sforzesco at the main gate, or the ugly Torre Branca which was commissioned by Mussolini and offers lovely views from the top.
Our top five activities
Football at San Siro Stadium
See A.C. or Inter Milan in action at this monster-sized stadium seating over 80,000 people. Book tickets in advance, and don’t forget your ID.
Opera at La Scala
Not one of the most famous opera houses in the world for nothing, if you’re a fan of opera then you must try to get tickets for a performance at La Scala. The opulent, ostentatious interior will transport you to another era.
Shopping in the Quadrilateral d’Oro
Milan’s Golden Square is heavenly for those who love high-end designer labels. All major Italian designers have their flagship stores here. Browse the Armani and Versace and shop until you drop. Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Borgospesso, Via della Spiga
For a break from the city, there are some extremely picturesque golf courses nestled in the mountains, including Kastelruth in the Dolomites and Monte San Pietro’s Golf Club Petersburg in South Tyrol.
Milan is within easy reach of the Italian Alps which offer great skiing in the winter season. Try Bormio for hot springs as well as snow, or the Aosta Valley for the vibrant and popular Cervinia.
Our top five events
February: Milan Fashion Week
Several fashion weeks are held throughout the year, attracting huge crowds and names, but the most important and popular is the women’s fashion week in late February.
February: Carnevale Ambrosiano
Held annually in February, this is the longest carnival in Italy, ending the Saturday following Ash Wednesday with a procession to the Duomo in the historical centre.
June: Festa del Naviglio
Milan’s canal district has its festival every year in early June, with all sorts of markets, events and artists performing in the streets.
December: Opera Season Begins
La Scala opens for opera season in December, and Milan dresses itself up to the nines to attend the first night. Brush off your black tie.
December: Oh bej! Oh bej! Christmas Fair
Translated as “Oh so nice! Oh so nice!”, Milan’s traditional Christmas fair is a bright, colourful occasion full of stalls selling decorations, handicrafts and sweets. Dating back hundreds of years, the fair is held in early December.
The most famous and high-end shopping area in Milan is the Quadrilatero d’Oro, outlined by the Vias della Spiga, Montenapoleone, Borgospesso and Sant’Andrea. The Brera district is good for fresh, young fashion, while Porta Ticinese offers alternative, arty clothing. For cheaper labels, outlet shopping is practically a sport here, a particular favourite within the city being Il Salvagente (Via Fratelli Bronzetti 16, 02 7611 0328). The best markets include the Saturday flea market Fiere di Senigallia (Viale d’Annuzio) and the Mercato di Via Lorenzini for an open-air maze of stalls (Via Lorenzini). Don’t forget to make a stop at local favourite 10 Como Corso (10 Como Corso, 02 654 831) for an arty concept store full of clothes, cafés and art.
Food & Drink
As with the rest of Italy, food is an obsession in Milan, with many excellent restaurants serving traditional dishes such as osso buco (braised veal shank) with risotto alla Milanese (saffron-infused risotto) or polenta. Try the Naviglio Grande canal area for local restaurants, great cuisine and a young, laid-back atmosphere. If you’re searching for a special dining experience, try Sapori Solari (Via Andrea Solari 48, 347 755 9993), or 13 Guigno (Piazza Mirabello 1, 02 2900 3300). If you’re looking for somewhere to hold a business meeting, try the Mercure Milano Solari café-restaurant (Via Pietro Orseolo 1, 02 581 7801) for a bright, relaxed atmosphere and great food.
Milan nightlife covers a range of options: for trendy bars try the Brera district, such as Bar Brera (Via Brera 23, 02 877 091); for relaxed, late-night bars head for the Naviglio Grande area, where you’ll find bars like Rita (Via Fumagalli 1, 02 837 2865); or for a bit of glamour try Corso Sempione where you can view the Arco della Pace from the terrace of Deseo (Corso Sempione 2, 02 315 164). For more cultural nightlife, procuring tickets for a performance at the world famous opera house La Scala is well worth the effort.
Accommodation in Milan
Milan offers a wealth of accommodation options, from homey B&Bs to luxury boutique hotels. For convenience, staying near the Duomo is very handy; more local with great restaurants is the Corso di Porta area. The central train station area is convenient for travel but not picturesque, while the Corso Como area is perfect for glamorous nightlife. For top-class luxury, try the Bulgari Hotel (Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b, 02 805 8051); if you’re on a more moderate budget, try the London Hotel Milano (Via Ravello 3, 02 7202 0166). A popular and convenient hotel for business travellers is the Gran Duca di York (Via Moneta 1, 02 874 863).
Milan Linate is a small, efficient airport 8km east of central Milan. You can get a public bus into the centre, a dedicated bus that runs straight in, a shuttle to the central train station or an official taxi which is convenient and inexpensive. Journeys in are quick: from 15 minutes for a smooth run in a taxi to half an hour on public transport.
Milan Linate International Airport Information
CityJet Flight Routes