Some people say that Milan is a city to skip during an Italy trip, but I totally disagree and think that Milano is definitely worth a stop over for two to three days. Milan’s attractions are well worth a visit, and I’m so glad we went to this cosmopolitan city. Here’s a list of the top things to do in Milan, and the top Milan attractions that you can’t miss!
MILAN ATTRACTIONS: TOP 12 THINGS TO SEE IN MILAN
1. The Duomo. The Duomo in Milan is absolutely a must-see. From the outside, it is just stunning and right up there with Notre Dame in Paris. I actually think the exterior of the Duomo is even more beautiful than Notre Dame, because of its incredibly intricate details. You’ll definitely want to get tickets ahead of time to climb the stairs up to the top of the Milan Cathedral (you can get skip the line tickets here).
Give yourself plenty of time for this visit. Once we climbed the stairs to the top of the Duomo, I could have stayed up there for hours admiring the details and the architecture, taking photos, and sitting on the roof enjoying the views. The only reason we didn’t stay up there for hours was it started pouring while we were there, but fortunately we had enough time to walk around and see everything before the rain came.
2. The Last Supper. The other absolute must-see in Milan is The Last Supper. One of the most widely-recognized paintings in the world, the Last Supper is a mural that Leonardo da Vinci painted on one of the walls inside of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. da Vinci started working on The Last Supper in the late 15th century, and the painting portrays Jesus’ 12 apostles and their reactions to Jesus saying one of them would betray him (looking at you, Judas 👀). The mural (it’s not technically a fresco due to the way da Vinci painted it) is really impressive and even bigger than I thought it would be in person (unlike the Mona Lisa, ha!).
The Last Supper is really awesome to see, and it’d be a shame to visit Milan and not be able to see this masterpiece. Getting tickets to see it is not exactly easy, and they sell out months in advance. Ticket scalping is a total art in Milan, so the easiest way to see the Last Supper is to do a guided tour like this one.
3. Sforzesco Castle. Originally a fortress, Castello Sforzesco was built in the 15th century and is definitely worth strolling through. Walking through is free, but there are also a few museums and collections inside that you may want to check out. Musei d’Arte Antica (Museum of Ancient Art), is displayed in the ducal apartments, some of which have frescoes in them by Leonardo da Vinci. After visiting Sforza Castle, be sure to take some time to walk around the adjacent Parco Sempione, the beautiful park surrounding the castle.
5. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This shopping mall is known for being Italy’s oldest shopping mall, and also extremely beautiful. The high arches and natural light that floods through give it an airy vibe, and of course you’ll find designer stores like Prada and Chanel here. Even if you’re not looking to pick up a new Boy Bag, definitely visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to walk through and admire it. On several occasions when we walked through, there was an opera singer and orchestra playing in the center, and it was absolutely lovely to stop for a while to listen.
6. Teatro alla Scala. La Scala is the opera house in Milan, centrally located at Piazza della Scala, and it’s known for being one of the leading opera and ballet theaters in the world. Performances run from December to July, and if a three hour opera show in a language you don’t understand isn’t your thing, you can also see a ballet or classical-music concert here.
7. San Bernardino alle Ossa. San Bernardino is a small church that’s known for its small side chapel that is decorated with human skulls and bones. It was originally built next to a cemetery to house bones, because the cemetery was full. While it’s definitely a bit morbid to see designs made of human bones decorating the ossuary, it’s also undeniably interesting to see.
8. Monumental Cemetery. This huge cemetery is known for being really beautiful, and is decorated with classical Italian sculptures, Greek temples, and intricate obelisks. Many people call it an open air museum. You can stroll around Cimitero Monumentale yourself, or book a walking tour to learn some interesting history about the cemetery.
9. Naviglio Grande. Naviglio Grande is a canal in Milan, and along it you’ll find cute little outdoor bars where locals like to hang out. It’s a lively area and fun spot to grab a drink and snacks before heading out for the night.
10. Arco della Pace. The Arch of Peace is a landmark that marks Porta Sempione, a city gate of Milan. The arch dates back to the 19th century and looks very similar to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. It marks the beginning of the main road that connects Milan to Paris and was supposed to have reliefs on the facade portraying Napoleon’s victories. Because of Napoleon’s fall in 1814, the arch ironically has scenes of his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig on it.
11. San Maurizio Church. This 16th-century chapel in Milan is covered in beautiful frescoes. The chapel was originally attached to an important female convent, Monastero Maggiore, which now houses the Civic Archaeological Museum. Be sure to head through through a small doorway to the left of the altar to enter the convent hall.
12. Day trip to Lake Como. Ok, fully aware that Lake Como is not one of Milan’s top tourist attractions, but if you’re heading to Milan you absolutely must visit Lake Como too! So I’m adding in an 11th, bonus item. It’s super easy to do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como, and it’s honestly one of the best day trips I’ve ever done while traveling. I wrote all about how to do it and where to go around Lake Como in this post.
There you have it—the top Milan attractions that you can’t miss! Like I said, Milan is perfect for two to three full days, and it’s totally doable to see everything on this list in that time frame.