Milan Travel Guide

Introduction to Milan

Widely regarded as the fashion capital of the world, Milan is Italy’s most modern city and arguably its most frenetic. The pace of life here is faster than elsewhere in Italy, and the city is noted for its glamour and sophistication. Having been extensively bombed during the Second World War, its architecture is characterised in many places by modern buildings interspersed with surviving historical gems such as its magnificent cathedral. Despite its prominent position on the fashion and football scenes, Milan is by no means lacking in culture, boasting an abundance of art galleries and museums which broaden the city’s appeal and make it an ideal city break destination.

The Duomo

The Duomo

This Gothic cathedral which is one of the world’s largest has fabulous views from the roof.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

Da Vinci’s masterpiece, housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie convent.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco

Medieval castle with several extensive museums and pleasant grounds.

Other things to do in Milan

Milan is rich in culture, with a multitude of museums, art galleries and fascinating historical sites waiting to be discovered. The Brera Art Gallery is one such treasure, opened by Napoleon in 1809 and housing a splendid collection of notable works by renowned artists including Bellini, Tintoretto and Raphael.

Opera lovers are in for a treat at La Scala, one of the world’s most famous opera houses. Founded in 1778, its illustrious stage has played host to such operatic megastars as Pavarotti, and was the venue for the debut performance of soprano Maria Callas. Even if you don’t go to the opera there, it’s still worthy of a visit on account of its fascinating array of operatic mementos, including two exhibitions dedicated to a composer much-loved in Milan, Giuseppe Verdi.

Adjacent to the mighty Duomo is the vast Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an impressive 19th shopping mall home to numerous exclusive shops, restaurants and bars. Milan is a shopaholic’s dream come true, with designers including Versace and Gucci having flagship stores here. Head to the ‘Quadrilatero d’Oro’ or Golden Quad, between Piazza Duomo, Piazza Cavour and Piazza San Babila, for the high-end designer shops. With so much to see, why not book a hotel in Milan and enjoy a glamorous long weekend!

Eating and drinking in Milan

Milan is noted in Italy for its emphasis on the aperitivo, the extended happy hour at many bars during which you can sip a glass of sparkling wine and enjoy complimentary bar snacks and appetisers. As with any large city there is a vast choice of international cuisine, but if it’s traditional Italian cooking you’re after, you’re well provided for. While the pricey, tourist-oriented eateries in the Duomo area are best avoided, there are plenty of Milanese restaurants serving hearty local food in the Brera and Navigli areas. Be sure to try the risotto alla Milanese, a delicious risotto infused with saffron.

Milan climate

Milan experiences extremes of temperature during the course of the year, with uncomfortably hot and humid summers and very cold winters characterised by plentiful rain and fog. Spring and autumn are considerably more pleasant, with warm, sunny days and temperatures averaging around 20 degrees Celsius.

When to go to Milan

Visit in spring or autumn for the most comfortable temperatures, or at Christmas to see the city beautifully decorated for the festive season. August is best avoided because locals flee to the lakes to avoid the stifling heat and humidity, and many shops and restaurants will be closed.

Flying to Milan

Milan’s primary airport, Malpensa has an efficient train connection with central Milan as well as a regular bus service, which is the best way to travel from terminal 2. Some European and Italian flights to Milan arrive at the smaller Linate Airport which is close to central Milan and on the cheap city bus network.

 Milan Deals

Hotels in Milan

Car hire in Milan

Images by Flickr/Ulf Luljankoshi