Milan often gets overlooked in favor of other European cities when it comes to sightseeing, but there is enough to see there to merit a stop on any Italian tour.
To prove it, here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Milan:
1. Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of Milan’s most famous landmarks, particularly because it is the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper. Make sure to plan your visit in advance, as the painting is only on display at certain times.
Milan is famous for its Aperitivo (happy hour) scene, which involves plenty of food in addition to beverages. Aperitivo in Milan generally runs from 7 to 9pm, and bars offer cocktail specials along with a complimentary all-you-can-eat appetizer buffet. Many of Milan’s high fashion stores are famous for their lavish Aperitivo spreads. If you do Aperitivo, keep in mind that etiquette dictates that you get one round at the buffet for each drink you buy.
3. Quadrilatero d’Oro
If you like shopping (or window shopping, anyway), the Triangle of Gold, or Quadrilatero d’Oro, in Milan is the perfect place to spend a day. Encompassing Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Montenapoleone, and Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II, the Quadrilatero d’Oro is home to every Italian and international high fashion house from Prada to Gucci, Armani, and many more.
4. Velasca Tower
Metro: Italia Missori
The Velasca Tower (Torre Velasca) is one of Milan’s most famous Modern buildings. Built in 1954, the Velasca Tower’s top-heavy shape reminds some people of a mushroom. The design is meant to emulate the fortress towers of medieval Lombardy, but its construction and materials are pure Modernism.
5. San Lorenzo Maggiore
Metro: Italia Missori
Built in the 4th century, the Church of San Lorenzo Maggiore (Chiesa di San Lorenzo Maggiore) is the oldest church in Milan. The church was built when Milan was the capital of the Roman Empire, and is stunning for its Roman design and its ability to survive throughout the centuries.
6. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a stunning work of architecture and is not to be missed on a visit to Milan. Right off the Piazza del Duomo, the galleria is a covered arcade with high-end shops and restaurants. Designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and completed in 1877, its use of steel and glass was revolutionary in its time and is still awe-inspiring today.
7. Gelato at Bianco Latte
Some of the best gelato in Milan is served up at Bianco Latte. Don’t miss the unique flavors like chili chocolate and pine nut.
8. Sforza Castle
Metro: Cairoli Castello
The Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is one of Milan’s major landmarks. Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, the castle now houses an art museum.
9. La Scala
See an opera at La Scala (Teatro alla Scala), Milan’s famous opera house. It has one of the largest stages in Italy and hosts performances of the best known operas. If you can’t go for a show, make sure to check out La Scala Museum, which has art and costumes as well as information on the history of the theater.
10. The Duomo
Milan’s Duomo cathedral is perhaps the city’s best known landmark. With its bright white facade and intricate Gothic design, the Duomo is a breathtaking sight. When you arrive at the Duomo, walk through the interior then up the stairs (or elevator) to the roof, where you will have great views of Milan below.