Other Italian cities, like Rome, Venice, and Florence have the beauty, the history, and the romance, but while Milan may lack a great dose of all of that, it beats them all in shopping. In fact, Milan just may be the world's greatest shopping city, and that's mainly what attracts millions of visitors each year to its streets.
Via Montenapoleone together with Via della Spiga and Via Sant'Andrea nearby reunite all the big brands, and if they're not enough, step into the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The huge Duomo is right outside, from where you can then walk to another center of design and fashion, or to the opera at La Scala.
This being the city of affluence and attitude, the restaurants and clubs also appeal to those who come for the Milan Fashion Week, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture show, or the Milan Triennale. Milan is one long catwalk for the elegant and sophisticated Milanese, and joining them at their most glamorous venues is the city's main attraction.
What to See and Do in Milan
Decide what you really want to see in Milan based on your interests -- whether that's art, architecture, street life or simply snapping a few photos by the main landmarks. We highlight the best attractions in different categories and, to help you plan, link you to their location on Google Maps () or to their official website or tour options ().
- The Landmarks, Icons, and Instagram Spots
- Modern and Contemporary Art
- Classic Art and Top Museums
- Striking Architecture and Major Monuments
- Ancient Site
- City Life and Main Streets
- Eating and Drinking
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - ©UCityGuides.com
Milan's 14th-century Duomo is one of the world's largest cathedrals. This huge Gothic building has more than 100 spires and thousands of statues, all of which have been cleaned up in the last few years. Facing it is the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade, with some of Europe's most elegant and chic shops under its domed roof.
Nearby is the 18th-century La Scala Theater, one of the world's most famous opera houses. It includes a theatrical museum and library which you may visit before returning in the evening for an opera or ballet performance.
As Italy's most stylish and design-conscious city, it's only natural that Milan has the country's first museum dedicated to design. The Triennale Design Museum opened in late 2007 and is the site of exhibitions showcasing the best of Italian design.
More contemporary works are found in the Museo del Novecento, presenting the history of 20th-century Italian art together with works by international names like Picasso and Matisse.
Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie Church is one of the world's most reproduced and recognizable paintings. Seeing it is a matter of luck, as only a few visitors are allowed per day, and it's usually fully booked.
Some of the best Italian art is also found in the Pinacoteca di Brera, a museum with masterpieces by Caravaggio, Tintoretto, and Raphael among others.
The iconic Pirelli Tower is Milan's most famous skyscraper. It was completed in 1959 and refurbished in 2002 after a small plane crashed into it.
Sforzesco Castle is Milan's biggest icon after the cathedral. The original construction is from the 14th century, with restoration works in the 19th century and again following WWII. Today it houses a number of museums, including a gallery showing Michelangelo's last sculpture and the Ancient Art Museum.
Also worth a look is the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, one of the city's oldest churches. It was first built in the 4th century, although what you see today is an 11th-century Romanesque reconstruction.
Even older is San Lorenzo Maggiore Church, an early-Christian structure from the 4th century, with a large dome added centuries later. Inside you can take a look at 5th-century mosaics decorating one of the chapels.
Via della Spiga - ©UCityGuides.com
Since shopping is Milan's number-one activity, a walk around the so-called "Golden Triangle" is a must. That name comes from the fashionable streets Via della Spiga, Via Sant'Andrea, and Via Montenapoleone, where you'll find the chic shops of all of the great Italian designers.
You'll eat very well in Milan, and we mean eat in style. The city has a variety of restaurants, and their Italian or international menus are presented in elegantly-designed spaces, to match the city's fashionable crowds. Join the smartly-attired Milanese for pre-dinner aperitivi and enjoy the Milan life.