Milan is best-known as a major fashion hub filled with designers, photographers, and models. While this popular shopping destination seems effortlessly chic, gliding along two steps ahead of the next big trend, Milan retains its historic elegance as well. A well-rounded visit to the second-biggest city in Italy will include everything from medieval masterpieces to the latest styles. Check out these destinations to sample it all.
The Duomo Cathedral – For Milan From Above
Also known as Milan Cathedral, the Duomo Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with the capacity to hold 40,000 people. The stunning exterior of the cathedral was two centuries in the making. Constructed of pink, white, and green marble with 135 spires and a massive dome, the elaborate building has been compared to an over-the-top birthday cake. The best way to experience the Duomo Cathedral is from the roof where you can see some of the building’s 3,600 statues as well as views that stretch beyond the city to the snow-peaked Alps.
Admission to the Duomo is free for worshippers. Visitors are admitted from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets to the Duomo and Museo are just €2.00. Access to the terraces on the roof is €8.00 for those ascending the 150 steps or €13.00 for the elevator.
Address: Via Arcivescovado, 1, 20122 Milano
The Last Supper – For 15 Minutes With a Masterpiece
Viewings of Da Vinci’s famous painting are limited to a memorable 15 minutes, and tickets are difficult to get so you should plan ahead for this highlight. The Last Supper is housed in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie. It’s open to visitors from Tuesday through Sunday, 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can view the masterpiece as part of many tour packages, or you can purchase tickets along with admission to the Brera Picture Gallery. Prices vary but are typically around €26.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano
The Brera Art Gallery – For Incomparable Italian Artwork
Known to Italians as the Pinacoteca di Brera, this fine art collection features pieces by major Italian artists from the 13th to 20th centuries. Some of the gallery’s highlights include Caravaggio’s “Supper at Emmaus,” Piero della Francesca’s “Virgin and Child with Saints,” Andrea Mantegna’s “Dead Christ,” and Raphael’s “Sposalizio della Vergine.” With nearly 40 rooms arranged chronologically, this is an ideal choice for taking in some of the best art in the city.
The gallery is closed on Mondays, open from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays, and open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. all other days. Admission is €10.00.
Address: Via Brera, 20, 20121 Milano
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – For Designer Shopping
This five-story glass-covered shopping arcade stretches from the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Scala in front of the Scala Opera House. After its completion in 1867, the area was soon dubbed ‘Il Salotto di Milano’, or the living room of Milan, because residents so enjoyed gathering here.
From the mosaics on the floor to the statues adorning the facades, this is a stunning destination for its architecture alone. Stores housed within the Galleria include Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Prada, Valentino, and more. Book your Milan hotel in this area and you can stop in often to browse a few stores at a time.
Address: Piazza Duomo, 20123 Milano
The Villa Necchi Campiglio – For a Peek at the Past
The Necchi Campiglio Villa, constructed between 1932 and 1935, is completely intact from the landscaped yard to the facilities in the bathrooms. Guests here can also view Alighiero de Micheli’s 18th-century art collection and Claudia Gian Ferrari’s 20th-century art collection. This carefully preserved home is an essential stop for visitors who want a historic glimpse of upper-middle-class Italian life.
The home is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is €9.00.
Address: Via Mozart, 14, 20122 Milano
10 Corso Como – For Fun Finds
10 Corso Como is far more than just an address. This destination is home to the ultra-hip emporium owned by Carla Sozzani, a former editor of Italian Vogue and curator of all things chic and trending. You’ll find shoes, bags, accessories, housewares, and clothing for both men and women. The prices are predictably steep, but you don’t have to buy anything to enjoy an afternoon browsing this Milan hot spot.
10 Corso Como is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. the rest of the week.
Address: Corso Como, 10, 20154 Milano
The Church of Sant’Ambrogio – For Medieval Relics
The Church of Sant’Ambrogio was consecrated by Bishop Ambrose himself in 386 CE. He was later buried here in 397 CE, and his skeleton is on display in the crypt. In the 11th century, the church was rebuilt, becoming the model for all Lombard Romanesque churches. In the nave, you can view the 9th-century Golden Altar with the Life of Christ depicted in gold leaf and the Life of Ambrose in gilded silver. Other highlights include the Sarcophagus of Stilicho, Apse Mosaic, and Serpent Column.
The church is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 2:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Address: Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 15, 20123 Milano
Monumental Cemetery – For Stunning Sculpture
The Cimitero Monumentale offers a stunning stroll. You’ll find beautiful sculptures and monuments alongside the graves of famous citizens like cellist Arturo Toscanini, Nobel prize winner Salvatore Quasimodo, poet Alessandro Manzoni, and architect Luca Beltrami. Throughout the cemetery, you’ll find architectural styles ranging from Egyptian to Art Nouveau. Artists including Giannino Castiglioni, Medardo Rosso, Ernesto Bazzaro, Leonardo Bistolfi, and more have created works for the cemetery.
The cemetery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Address: Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale, 20100 Milano
Whether you have a taste for high fashion or a fascination with architecture, Milan is a prime choice for your next European vacation. While it’s impossible to see it all in one visit, these destinations will give you a well-rounded look at all this city has to offer.