Land-locked Milan wouldn’t seem like a natural place for an aquarium, and yet there it is — the little Civic Aquarium of Milan, sitting at one corner of the Parco Sempione. It’s not going to be the focus of a Milan visit, to be sure, but it’s free to enter and can be a brief diversion from all the art galleries and churches on your must-see list.
The Milan Aquarium opened in 1906 as part of the World Expo held in Milan that year. It’s the only building constructed specifically for the Expo that remains standing in Milan today. It’s a relatively small Art Nouveau structure, with — fittingly for an aquarium — a statue of Neptune on the front. The aquarium is inside the grounds of Parco Sempione, Milan’s large city center park behind the Castello Sforzesco, and it sits near the corner of Viale Gadio and Via Legnano in the eastern part of the park.
There are several large tanks in the Acquario Civico, and while there are species representing bodies of water all over the world on display, there is a special focus on fish and water plants from around Italy — both from the seas surrounding the country and the lakes and rivers that run through it. The aquarium also houses an extensive marine biology library, which is open to the public. The aquarium can be a nice thing to do in Milan for families traveling with children, either as a simple change of scenery or to duck out of the sun or rain for a little while. And it’s just one of the sights in Parco Sempione to check out.
The Milan Aquarium is free to enter, and it’s open from Tuesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and again from 2 – 5:30 p.m. It’s closed on Mondays and public holidays. The aquarium’s library is open Monday – Friday from 9am-12:30pm and again from 2 – 4 p.m. The closest Metro stop is the Lanza stop on the green M2 line.