Milan is one of those cities in Italy that’s often overlooked. Everyone told me I wouldn’t like Milan- too industrial, and not enough like other places in Italy. Milan reminded me of Berlin in comparison to other German towns and cities. Different, but in a good way. A stark contrast to Venice, Florence and Rome, but no less beautiful.
Milan wasn’t high on my list of European cities to visit, but I found myself there for a day and a half during a bank holiday weekend when I also visited Venice. Why? An airfare deal that was too good to pass up.
With only a day and a half in Milan, I focused on seeing some of the city’s well known sights. On a return trip, I’m interested in leaving the city to explore the surrounding area, including Lake Como.
Milan, although only two hours from Venice by train is like another world. As the fashion and business capital of Italy, it feels a lot more like a modern city. However, there are pockets of charm to be found in elegant shopping malls, art collections and Gothic architecture.
5 Things to do in Milan
Linger at The Duomo
The Duomo is one of those places that takes your breath away. Made entirely of marble, it’s one of the world’s largest churches, and took six centuries to complete. The white Gothic cathedral is also home to more statues than anywhere else in the world.
Normally not one for eating at touristy places, I was insistent on grabbing a spritz at one of the restaurants on the piazza beside the Duomo- solely to spend more time admiring its facade.
On the day we visited the Duomo to go inside, it was raining, so we didn’t go up to the roof- but, next time for sure.
Stroll Through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Duomo is right next to one of the world’s oldest shopping emporiums. Built in 1867, it’s four stories of luxury stores like Prada and Gucci. If you can’t afford to shop here, it’s still worth a visit. The building’s marble floors and glass domed ceilings are spectacular.
Wander the Brea Neighborhood
Our morning walk through the Brea district was one of my favourite parts of the trip. It’s a different side of Milan and well worth wandering- think gorgeous facades, grand entryways and lovely cafes, like vecchia brea.
Walk the Navigli Canal
Since we got to Milan on a Sunday, we headed straight to the canal for the Sunday antique market. The market is known as one of the best in Europe- very cool seeing the range of goods up for sale.
The Navigli district is also one of the hubs of Milanese nightlife. We were there on a Sunday, and were surprised by how late some of the spots were open. If you find yourself in the area, I recommend Rita.
Is it any surprise spritzing is on my list of things to do in an Italian city? Obvi. My favourite way to enjoy an Aperol spritz is at a cafe sidewalk on a side street, relaxing and people watching.
Although it’s a bit touristy, we also enjoyed the Terazza Aperol, an Aperol sponsored bar inside a small market next to the Piazza Duomo. From the terrace, there’s a great view of the Duomo, and the spritzes we had here were some of the best on our trip.
A Few More Things…
We didn’t have much time to check out the food scene, but did really enjoy:
- Luini Panzerotti: Milan’s best panzerroti. What’s panzerroti, you ask? A deep-fried half-moon shaped pastry similar to a calzone, stuffed with cheese and tomato. So good.
- Spontini: Delicious, cheap pizza. Great for a quick meal if you’re short on time
- Bulgari Lounge: Gorgeous garden drinks inside a stunning hotel. Cocktails here are definitely a splurge, but you’re also given a bunch of snacks to enjoy while you sip
- Amorino: Loved their gelato when I lived in NYC, so I was happy to indulge in some when I spotted a location along the canal. Highly recommend the stracciatella.
And, because we were so short on time, we didn’t have a chance to check out Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. It’s located at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, and should come as no surprise visitors regard it as magnificent.