Are you touring around Italy and debating whether to stop in Milan too? You probably just know it to be the “capital of fashion” and don’t know what to do in Milan in one day. Well, I’ll give you seven reasons to stop by and fully live the Milanese experience!
What To Do In Milan: Get a fantastic view from the top of Duomo
Coming out of the metro station and directly facing the façade of the cathedral (Duomo) is in itself already a breathtaking experience, but the view can get even better. After taking some pictures in the square, you can enter the church (paying 2€) for a quick visit. What I recommend, though, especially on a sunny day, is to climb to the top of the Duomo to admire the whole city, both with a comprehensive guided tour or just on your own. Climbing to the top requires a ticket that can be booked or purchased at the moment (beware of long queues!). Then, you can choose between using the stairs (it could be a good workout to burn that extra gelato you had ;)) or paying a bit more and taking the lift to enjoy the incredible view on the top.
The golden statue on top of Duomo, called “la Madonnina”, represents the Virgin Mary. When the cathedral was built, the statue was taller than any other building in the city. Nowadays, the tradition still follows this rule. This is why many skyscrapers built in the past, all taller than Duomo, have a copy of the statue on top of them. In this way, nothing will ever be taller than the Madonnina.
What To Do In Milan: Get lucky in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
After leaving the top of Duomo, enjoy an elegant stroll in the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, right next to the cathedral. Take a glimpse at some of the most prestigious stores and restaurants and take pictures of the beautiful vault. If you want to see the square from an unusual perspective, go on top of the gallery (the Highline Galleria) and explore the dome that inspired the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Ah, by the way, do you wish to come back to Milan? Then just go under the dome, step on the mosaic bull’s testicles and rotate on them with your eyes closed. Even though the legend says it only brings good luck if done at midnight on New Year’s Eve, plenty of tourists do it every day. So why not try it? You might get lucky!
At the end of the gallery, you’ll be in Piazza Della Scala where the famous theatre is located…which brings us to the next activity to do!
What To Do In Milan: See a ballet in the La Scala theatre
No matter if you are not a fan of operas or ballets, seeing a show in La Scala is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although prices are pretty high, excellent offers are available, especially for students and young people. The theatre season is always inaugurated on 7th December, on Milan’s Patron day (Sant’Ambrogio), in the presence, among many others, of the President of the Republic.
A definite must-see, though, is a ballet with Roberto Bolle, the first ballet dancer in the world to be at the same time both étoile of La Scala and Principal Dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in New York. Any idea who he is? Well, I can tell you he looks like a living Greek statue, but I guess you’ll just have to see him dancing to understand what I mean.
What To Do In Milan: Go shopping in Via Montenapoleone
The so-called fashion square (Quadrilatero Della Moda) is between Via Montenapoleone, via Manzoni, Via Della Spiga and Corso Venezia. Here the most famous high-end fashion brands have their stores. Even though it’s probably recommended to win the lottery before shopping in any of these streets, a little bit of window shopping never killed anybody.
And if your boyfriend/husband couldn’t care less of Prada, Gucci, Armani, Dior, Hugo Boss, Valentino or Dolce & Gabbana, don’t worry. Along the streets, it’s easy to spot a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Porsche or any other luxury car he can dream of.
What To Do In Milan: Explore the Sforzesco Castle and the Sempione Park
By walking along Dante Street, you’ll end up right in front of the Sforzesco Castle. It’s the city’s only castle, built-in 1400 by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. Take a tour inside to admire the masterpieces of some of the most famous Italian artists, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Alternatively, you can just walk around, choosing to relax in Sempione Park, right outside the castle, on the opposite side of the entrance. The park is delightful in spring and summer, with lakes, workout circuits, playgrounds and benches. Then, cross it entirely and look at the Peace Arch, built-in 1838 to celebrate the peace agreement of 1815 among all European countries.
What To Do In Milan: Go for an Aperitivo in the Navigli area
From Duomo square, walk along with Via Torino, where you can do plenty of (this time affordable!) shopping. Next, pass in front of the San Lorenzo Columns, remains of the Roman age, and arrive at the PiazzaXIV Maggio. Here all the navigable canals of Milan meet: you have come in Navigli!
Why can’t you miss out on this area? Simply because among the multiple things someone could do in the evening in Milan, going for an Aperitivo is definitely on top of the list. If you have already tried an aperitivo in Italy, forget about that: it’s way more than a drink with some crisps and olives in Milan. Here you can get a drink and eat as much as you like of an Italian buffet for just 10€, and Navigli offers plenty of lovely places!
The aperitivo in Milan can also be called an aperi-Cena (aperitivo + dinner). Why? Because you can eat as many dishes of pasta, risotto, meat, vegetables, salumi and cheese, dessert and fruit as you want! Of course, not all places offer the same variety and quantity, but I recommend you eat at Maya in the Naviglio piccolo (small naviglio). No booking is allowed, so be sure to go there around 7 pm to avoid too much queueing!
That’s all for one day! If you have any more suggestions of what to do in Milan feel free to share!