The Lombard capital is always in motion, a dynamic city on both the creative and cultural fronts. Here’s a list of 33 things to see and do in Milan.
Constantly-evolving with highly dynamic creative and cultural scenes, Milan is, of course, easy on the eyes and boasts plenty to see. Just a few years ago, it would have been a challenge to fill all 33 slots on this list. However, the Lombard capital today can stand its ground alongside big cities like London, Berlin and Paris. Therefore 33 things aren’t nearly enough to provide a full picture of everything to see and do in the Lombard capital, but they’re a good place to start.
The Classics (and a few gems)
1. The Duomo is the ultimate emblem of Milan! Visit inside and then take a stroll among the rooftops spires.
2. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a spectacle of lights, colors and allegorical decor. During summer, watch a movie on the outdoor panoramic highline.
3. Sforza Castle is one of the city’s most massive and beautiful monuments, a popular venue for exhibitions and events. The verdant Parco Sempione sits behind the castle.
4. Located inside the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is arguably the artist’s most famous work.
5. Leonardo’s vineyard at Casa degli Atellani is a haven tucked away behind a massive doorway on Corso Magenta. Da Vinci resided here while painting The Last Supper, during which the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, gifted him a vineyard. The vines were replanted prior to Expo 2015 with the intention of making the same wine.
6. Milan’s land-locked canal harbor, the Darsena, was restored to its former glory. Its carefree, beachside mood enlivens the days and nights of locals and visitors alike.
7. Villa Necchi Campiglio is an elegant house museum in the heart of Milan. Cinephiles will recognize it as the backdrop for Luca Guadagnino’s film Io Sono L’Amore (I am Love).
8. The action and sights surrounding the canals of the Navigli district make for a picture-perfect backdrop.
9. The Roman-era columns of San Lorenzo are one of the most popular student hangouts.
10. The permanent collection of Mudec–the Museum of Design and Culture located in the former Ansaldo factory space–includes treasures from Africa, Oceania, Asia and South America. Temporary exhibitions tend to be thought-provoking and experimental.
11. Fondazione Prada is known for exciting contemporary art. The recently inaugurated Torre Prada features new exhibition spaces, a restaurant and a panoramic bar. Not to be missed: the Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce.
12. The House Museums of Milan include the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum and the Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano in addition to the aforementioned Villa Necchi Campiglio. These hidden neighborhood treasures house valuable art collections.
13. Teatro La Scala is the iconic opera house where history, art and entertainment meet.
14. Santa Maria presso San Satiro is a small church on Via Torino where architect Bramante painted a trompe-l’œil. Contrary to what the eye believes, the apse is a magical optical illusion.
15. Also located in the former Ansaldo Factory, BASE hosts events and concerts year round as well as festivals such as Book City.
16. A cultural center in a former slaughterhouse, Macao bounces with electronic music until sunrise.
17. Magnolia is a cultural center that hosts rock, indie and electronic concerts featuring both international and Italian performers.
18. Lacerba is a futurism-inspired bar in Crocetta with distinct cocktails as well as vintage furnishings and posters that add an idiosyncratic touch.
19. Lecco is one of the most popular bars for LGBTQ nightlife in the Porta Venezia district. Unwind during an aperitivo. And if the bar owner happens to improvise a DJ set, dance.
20. When Lecco calls it a night, it’s time to carry on at La Boum in the NoLo district where you can boogie down to a lively mix of Italian and international music.
21. Il Tempio del Futuro Perduto is an existential name that translates to The Temple of the Lost Future. Here, visitors can donate a piece of clothing or a book in lieu of an entrance fee, and the lineup has a tendency to be intriguing.
22. Frida is a bar-resto with murals, veranda seating and distinctive atmosphere in the Isola neighborhood.
23. Bivio is a Mecca for fashionmongers on a tight budget. Specializing in second-hand clothing and accessories, the two locations in Porta Venezia and near the columns of San Lorenzo are often well-stocked with plenty of designer gems.
24. Wait & See offers trendy seasonal apparel with collections by emerging designers.
25. A bohemian market featuring trinkets, ethnic fashion, vinyl and much more, Fiera di Senigallia takes place every Saturday on the Naviglio Grande Canal.
26. Libreria del Mondo Offeso in the Brera is a delightful spot for lunch, snacks and book-shopping.
27. Verso on Corso di Porta Ticenese features a rich selection of titles from indie publishers set amongst fantastic aperitivo vibes and an intriguing program of talks.
28. In addition to its large selection of titles, Gogol & Company offers an impressive cultural program, livening up the Tortona district with parties and events during the summer. It’s also a co-working space perfect for grabbing a bite at any point through the day (open until 10pm).
Where to eat
29. Valà’s menu of homemade Italian fare specializes in classics that have a sophisticated touch.
30. Miscusi is a pasta lover’s paradise. The newly-opened successful locale specializes in fresh house-made pasta topped with a variety of inventive sauces.
31. Pavè, one of our favorite pastry shops in Milan, is the perfect breakfast spot with unforgettable brioche as well as with an equally impressive lunch menu. During the holiday season, reserve a panettone in advance!
32. Cascina Cuccagna is an actual farmstead in the city with vegetable gardens and a delicious farm-to-table restaurant called Un Posto a Milano.
33. Mare Culturale Urbano: a concept similar to Cascina Cuccagna but with more earthy vibes. Its cultural program includes open-air cinema during summer, and at night, an ethnic cuisine based on a theme to foster cultural integration.