Why You Shouldn’t Skip Milan During Your Trip to Italy

Without the stunning cliffs and enticing lemon groves of the Amalfi, without the towering Colosseum of Rome nor the Renaissance allure of Florence, is Milan worth visiting? Yes, it definitely is worth a visit. Yet, unfortunately, Milan is often an afterthought for travelers visiting Italy. 

Milan is often misunderstood as solely an industrial or business hub. While it is true in some ways, that doesn’t mean you’ll be walking into a city of factories and banks. Yes, you’ll pass by plenty of commuters in suits rushing to start the workday, but you’ll also meet an incredible community of creatives.

A city that has found an incredible fusion of historic charm and vibrant international modernity, Milan has so much to offer. Today, we’re putting misconceptions about Milan behind us and taking you to unravel all the layers that make Milan worth a visit on your next trip to Italy.

Large white building with several spires
Milan might be an afterthought to some, but we highly recommend visiting it. Photo credit: Steffen Schmitz

Lots of reasons why Milan is worth visiting

Present-day Milan is Italy’s second-largest city, a hub of industry, finance, commerce, fashion, and design. But below the skyscrapers and concrete, this city has a rich history that shapes its character today.

Milan is filled with iconic landmarks that share the story not only of the city but of greater Italy. Here are a few you can’t miss:

  • Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano): A Gothic masterpiece, the cathedral is a symbol of Milan and took nearly 500 years to complete. The intricate architecture alone is a reason to visit Milan. You can take in the masterpiece from the outside, but it is well worth a peek inside, and a trip to the roof to see the statues up close and personal.
  • La Scala: This historic opera house is renowned worldwide for its performances and stunning architecture. It is also regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres globally. Some travelers come to enjoy an opera, others come to have a look and soak up its historical significance.
  • Sforza Castle: Built in the 1500s, this castle was once a powerful fortress in Europe and residence of Milan’s leading families. Surrounded by Parco Sempione, today visitors can wander the renovated halls to enjoy a collection of Milan’s civic museum collections.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this church houses Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural, “The Last Supper”, an iconic piece that alone makes Milan worth visiting! It is a cultural gem that attracts art enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
  • Navigli Canals: While not necessarily a monument, these canals are integral to Milan’s story. Originally designed by Leonardo da Vinci, these canals connected Milan to rivers for commercial transportation. Today, visitors can stroll along the waterways, and enjoy the district’s romantic charm.
The outside of a castle
The Sforzesco Castle in Milan houses one of da Vinci’s most famous painted murals. Photo credit: Dimitris Kilymis

Modern reasons to love Milan

If history isn’t your thing, is Milan worth visiting? Definitely. Milan is known throughout all of Italy for its international and modern edge. Standing out from other Italian cities, Milan highlights its modern innovations first, and its heritage second. 

Today, Milan is a global business and financial capital, but it isn’t as dull as it sounds. This is the financial hub of Italy which makes way for dynamic energy, and innovation around every corner. This can especially be seen in Milan’s creative output, as Italy’s fashion and design capital. 

As – some may argue- the center of Italian fashion and design, Milan sets trends that take off internationally. Home to renowned fashion houses like Versace, Prada, and Armani, the city’s influence on style is unparalleled. We’ll tell you more about it soon. 

Milan's buildings and blue skies
Milan’s skyline displays remnants of its vast history mixed in with the city’s modern architecture. Photo credit: Federico Lancellotti

If you’ve had your fill of Renaissance architecture and ancient ruins, Milan will be a refreshing sight. Milan’s skyline highlights architectural sites designed by the world’s best architects over centuries. The a blend of contemporary, post-war, art-nouveau, gothic, and ancient blend together in a visually captivating environment

Top modern architectural sites to see in Milan

  1. Velasca Tower – Built in the 1950s, this tower dominates Milan’s skyline and is an example of modern Italian architecture. Its bold, brutalist style is still a controversial topic locally.
  2. Fondazione Prada – This modern building is a center for contemporary art and culture.
  3. MUDEC – The Museo delle Culture di Milano is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of world cultures.
  4. San Siro Stadium – A major landmark for sports fanatics, a tour of this quirky stadium is a must. Built in 1925, it’s one of the largest stadiums in Europe.
  5. Bosco Verticale – Inaugurated in 2014, these two residential towers are clad in over ninety plant species. Its green design has won various awards.

Beyond the city itself, Milan is truly the gateway to Northern Italy. It is well connected to all corners of Italy, and Switzerland. It’s a great spot to consider as a base if you are looking to explore the north. From day trips to Lake Como or Verona to venturing into the Alps or Dolomites for outdoor adventures, Milan offers convenient access to many Italian experiences.

Milan’s skyline pays homage to its long history, but the city is also displaying a new-found love for unique and modern architecture. Photo credit: Mattia Spotti

Milan’s fashion and design scene

Chances are when you hear Milan, you’ve thought of the word fashion. Milan is considered Italy’s fashion capital, but not only, it’s a huge hub for design as well.

The famous Milan Fashion Week, which debuted in 1958, locked down the city’s status on the global fashion stage, leading to its recognition as one of the Big Four fashion capitals alongside Paris, New York, and London. Today, Milan is still a vibrant center for fashion and design, home to names like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Prada, and many more.

The Quadrilatero della Moda is the place to buy Italian luxury brands. But if your funds don’t allow such expenses, window shopping in the area is just as fun. Photo credit: Dimitris Kamaras

If you are traveling for the fashion scene, you won’t want to miss the Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion Quarter) in Milan. This is a renowned hub showcasing the city’s style with high-end shops and boutiques. If you are into designer names, Via Monte Napoleone is a go-to. But if you want quality independent boutiques, check out the Brera area. Here you will find artisanal goods and vintage items for a different shopping experience.

These boutiques aren’t only for clothes. You’ll find plenty filled with creative interior design elements – from bedroom and bathroom designs to lighting and kitchenware. The real highlight for design lovers is the annual Salone del Mobile. Held every April this event is a chance for designers to show off the latest in bathroom or kitchen design. But it’s become much more than this.

The the annual Salone del Mobile is an vibrant event that draws visitors from all over the world. Photo credit: youngrobv

While the event focuses on furniture design, it’s become a 5-day event to highlight creativity across all industries. No matter the industry, if you love seeing new ideas and innovative perspectives on our everyday items, you will love Salone del Mobile, don’t miss it!

Milan’s vibrant aperitivo and nightlife

If you are a traveler who loves to stay out into the early morning mingling with locals and internationals alike, then Milan is definitely worth visiting. 

Milan’s nightlife starts from the moment the sun starts to dip, with the social tradition of aperitivo or apericena. But your night won’t end there, after dinner you’ll find Milan lit up with trendy clubs, chic bars, and often late-night entertainment from concerts to plays. 

When it comes to apericena, Navigli is our go-to. There’s nothing like watching the sunset on the canals with the buzz of people around you. After, if you are looking for an intimate evening with a glass of wine, Brera might be your destination.

Wherever you go in Milan, you can’t miss a night out on the town starting in Navigli. Photo credit: harmishhk

Suppose you are looking for more of an upscale evening head to Corso Como and Garibaldi, known for their fashionable discos with celebrity clientele. Instead if you are looking for an alternative night, you might love Isola with its thriving art scene and hipster hangouts.

So, is Milan worth visiting?

Short answer: yes, we promise it is! Of course, each traveler has their own style, and their own destination in their heart, Milan may not be for everyone. But don’t write it off too quickly.

Aperitivo in Milan
After exploring the city, an aperitivo in Milan is a must. Photo credit: PickPik

While many regions and cities hold strong to the past and tradition, Milan has broken the mold. Milan loves to embrace cultures, cuisines, and traditions from all over the world – all while remaining uniquely Italian at heart. It is an artful blend that only this city can pull off.

If a visit to Milan piques your curiosity, then we think it’s high time you book a flight—and a tour! From the Last Supper and the Castello Sforzesco to the Duomo, our Milan walking tours will take you to see the best of Milan. We’ll see you there!

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