City Highlight: Milan

Published on: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Famous for fashion and football, Milan also features a magnificent mix of traditional and modern architecture, making it an essential Italian destination

A bustling metropolis in northern Italy, Milan has a reputation for high-end fashion and cutting-edge design. People flock to Milan to experience its opulent shopping districts and extravagant showrooms while keeping their eyes peeled for the occasional celebrity. Don’t worry if shopping isn’t your thing; the city has an impressive selection of fun bars to explore, delicious foods to try and gorgeous art to admire.

When to go

Spring (March to May) temperatures are mild, ranging between 10C (50F) to 19C (66F). This is an excellent time to visit as the city is not yet sweltering and the peak tourist season has not yet begun.

Summer (June to August) is Milan’s peak season, with tourists flocking to the city to enjoy the sunny weather, which can reach a high of around 29C (84F).

Autumn (September to November) is one of the best times to visit as the warm weather lingers until October and fewer tourists line the streets.

Winter (December to February) can get quite cold, with temperatures dropping to an average of 4C (39F) in December. However, Milan during the Christmas season is well-worth visiting.

Getting around

Milan has an efficient public transport system that incorporates the metro, bus, tram and trolleybus. You can purchase tickets from several places including newsagents, tobacconists and ticket machines at major metro and bus stops. Remember to validate your ticket by punching it in the SITAM machines found on board buses or at metro stations. For more information about the best ways of travelling around the city, see our Getting Around Milan guide.

Must-see attractions

Duomo (Milan Cathedral)
Taking over 500 years to complete, the Milan Cathedral is among the world’s largest Gothic cathedrals and it’s the city’s crowning glory. As the sun shines through the stained-glass windows, this peaceful sanctuary is transformed with colour and makes for a spectacular sight.

Santa Maria delle Grazie
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, covers one of this monastery’s refectory walls. After years of damage and subsequent restoration, the thousands of people who visit it each year can finally admire the illustrious mural in all its splendour.

Castello Sforzesco
Once one of Europe’s largest citadels, this 15th-century castle is now home to a collection of museums that boast some of Italy’s most impressive artworks. Don’t miss the Rondanini Pietà – Michelangelo’s last, and unfinished, sculpture of Mary cradling the body of Christ after his crucifixion.

Check out our Things to see in Milan guide for more must-see attractions.

Quirky & offbeat

Embrace your love of football at the San Siro Stadium
Soak up the atmosphere of a live game at the San Siro Stadium, home to the Inter Milan and AC Milan football clubs. Take part in a tour to see off-limit areas like the changing rooms, and walk in the footsteps of football legends through the famous tunnel of Champions.

See the city from new heights
Head to the roof of the impressive Milan Cathedral for breath-taking views and the chance to inspect this striking religious building’s 135 spires and 3,600 statues up close.

For more offbeat adventures, see our Things to do in Milan guide.

Travel tips

Must-try foods in Milan

  • Ossobuco – a regional speciality, veal shanks are braised in white wine with vegetables to form a rich and delicious stew.
  • Risotto alla Milanese – this popular Milanese dish incorporates risotto rice with white wine, Parmesan and saffron for a hearty meal.
  • Panettone – traditionally eaten throughout Italy during the Christmas period, this sweet bread loaf originated in Milan. The fluffy bread is stuffed with candied fruits and raisins and then served in wedges.
  • Campari – a liqueur made from herbs and fruit that is typically used in cocktails or as a spritz.

Check out our Milan Food & Drink Guide: Top 10 things to try in Milan, Italy for some more delicious recommendations. To find out where to eat, see our Restaurants in Milan guide.

Tipping: Service charge is typically added to bills. However, if the service is exceptional, you can give up to 10% extra.

Hotels in Milan

It’s easy to see where Milan gets its sophisticated and stylish reputation: luxury accommodation such as Hotel Principe Di Savoia is a favourite among celebrities, while 5-star TownHouse Galleria boasts Europe’s first 7-star suites. For a more budget-friendly option, stay at the Hotel Lancaster, a clean and simply furnished hotel situated in Milan’s city centre. Take a look at our Milan Hotel guide for some more accommodation recommendations.

Nightlife in Milan

Milan has a vibrant nightlife to rival any European city, with enough bars, clubs and theatres to keep everyone happy. Most bars and restaurants serve free antipasti dishes with drink orders until 9pm, and many clubs have the music blaring till the early hours. Start the evening with an aperitivo at Le Biciclette, a relaxed and super chic bar with fairy light-wrapped bikes hanging from the ceiling. Then head to Tunnel, a club under Milan Central station’s railway tracks, for a techno treat that’ll see you dancing the night away. For more exciting nightlife options, see our Milan Nightlife guide.

Shopping in Milan

Milan is a haven for the fashion conscious, with designers such as Armani, Gucci and Versace all taking centre stage in this effortlessly elegant city. Milan is not all high-end fashion, though. For the budget hunters, Viale Papiniano street market is a diamond in the rough where you can find quality leather jackets and fresh produce all at excellent prices. For some more retail therapy inspiration, check out our Shopping in Milan guide.

Visa requirements to Milan, Italy

American, Canadian and Australian nationals do not require a visa to enter Italy and can remain in the country for up to 90 days. However, passports must be valid for six months beyond the day of departure. British and EU nationals can remain in Italy for an unlimited period and can use either a passport or ID, which must be valid for the duration of stay, to travel into the country. For more information on the documents you need before you travel to Milan, check out our Italy Visa and Passport Requirements page.

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