If Milan is on your Italy itinerary, chances are good it’s an entry or departure point and not much more. You may decide to spend a day there at the start or end of your trip, simply to avoid rushing to or from the airport, and you might think you aren’t missing anything by staying in an airport hotel and avoiding Milan’s city center altogether. It’s your vacation, of course, but we’d like to offer 14 things you probably didn’t know about Milan that may make you change your mind about this busy city. Who knows, you might just enjoy yourself in Milan.
The most famous painting in Milan is, without question, Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco of “The Last Supper” painted on the wall of a former dining hall. But art lovers visiting Milan don’t need to stop with a 15-minute viewing of that fresco – spend a few hours in the spectacular Pinacoteca di Brera to see Milan’s great collection of Italian paintings.
If you’re visiting Milan for more than a day or two, you may be interested in some excursions outside the city. There are certainly plenty of things to keep you entertained in Milan for a few days, but there are also some extremely appealing places to visit a short distance from the city – and the city of Bergamo is one of the most popular places to go for a day from Milan.
Milan is rightly known as a shopper’s paradise, but some think that it’s only for the wealthiest fashionistas. On average, the Milanese do spend quite a bit on clothing each year – but most of them aren’t about to pay full price for designer labels. Instead, they shop in the same places fashion-conscious bargain hunters should shop – the designer outlets around Milan.
New Year’s Eve falls near the end of a month of holidays in Milan, but that doesn’t mean the locals are tired of the festivities. The Milanese love New Year’s Eve – they love going to night clubs even when they’re not ringing in a new year. There are plenty of options for how to spend New Year’s Eve, and thankfully for visitors those activities are varied enough that there’s something for every taste – and budget.
Christmas is a lovely time to be in Italy, but most people probably don’t think of Milan as a cozy or festive place to spend the holiday. Milan has a few things going for it in the winter, however, not least is the fact that the holidays last for nearly a solid month.
Milan is home to one of the world’s great opera houses, La Scala. Opera is something of an acquired taste, however, and if it doesn’t quite suit your palate – or if tickets to see a performance at La Scala are too expensive or difficult to come by – you can still enjoy a visit to the theater with a tour of its museum.
Venice is well-known for its canals, but it’s not the only city in Italy with canals. The busy banking and fashion capital of Milan once had a network of more than 93 miles of canals connecting the city center with nearby rivers. Today, there are two canals you can still see, and the neighborhood around them – the Navigli district – is worth exploring for other reasons, too.
In the autumn, when Milan is coming out of its summer holidays, it’s one of the best times to visit the city. Even if your itinerary only includes a day or two in the city on your way in or out of Italy, it’s worth looking into what’s going on when you’re in town to see if there’s a reason to extend your autumn visit.
There are plenty of places to find suggestions on what to do in Milan. Sometimes, however, what you need to hear about are the things you should not do in a city. Here, then, is what not to do in Milan.