Milan, notoriously known as the fashion capital of the world, boasts one of the most cosmopolitan cultures in Europe. Rich artistic history, fashion and design, endless shopping, infamous eateries, and an impressive nightlife scene all make this city a top destination worldwide.
See the Da Vinci’s Last Supper, sip an espresso in the sun at the Duomo, lunch like a local Lombardy and shop til you can’t carry another bag… With so many highlights, hotspots and have-to’s, we divided this article into 3 segments: shopping, food & drink, and sightseeing. Here is our list of milan’s finest places.
Shopping in milan
If you’re a fashionista, this is your Mecca. Style is literally woven into the fabric of this city. The headquarters of just about every Italian designer from Armani to Zegna is located here. From flagships and boutiques, to department stores and outlets, the city has something for everyone.
Quadrilatero Della Moda – literally the “fashion square” is the area of Via Montenapoleone, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. These four streets are considered to be the most important shopping streets in Milan, home to dozens of high-fashion and ready-to-wear shops, Italian and foreign.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – built in 1860, this is one of the oldest malls in the world, and a beautiful expression of Italian architecture. It’s home to luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Versace just to name a few. Located next to the Duomo, it also offers plenty of great cafes and restaurants.
Corso Buenos Aires – Milan’s main high street for shopping, this neighborhood has the highest concentration of shops in Europe, with over 1 km worth of big name shops like Muji, Nike, Zara, H&M etc. These mainstream shops may not be the most culturally stimulating attraction, but it’s very convenient to find them all concentrated in one district.
Brera District – this elegant central area features centuries worth of art collections, the fresco filled Santa Maria del Carmine church, upscale fashion boutiques, stylish cafes, glamorous restaurants, and the city’s botanical gardens… Brera is also worth a visit at night, when the streets really come alive.
Food & Drink in milan
Between osteria, trattoria and ristorante, you’ll find an abundant diversity of restaurants that cater to every palate and budget. Milano offers everything from street snacks to traditional Italian cuisine and modern chef restaurants. The areas of Buenos Aires and Porta Nuova encompass some of the finest Milanese kitchens, although there are many other pearls hiding around the city.
The aperitivo– this pre-dinner ritual is nearly a religion. Basically an assortment of different alcoholic beverages intended to stimulate your appetite before supper. On many occasions it will be accompanied by small starters. Catch this just about anywhere, usually between 7pm-9pm. Tip: have an aperitivo at one place and then carry on to dinner at another.
Navigli district– this beautiful system of canals is home to some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and cafes. You can take a boat tour of the canals, but we prefer picking a spot and watching the city wind down while sipping on a Bellini before sunset.
Ratanà– though pizza & pasta are great all over Italy, the Milanese cuisine relies more on heartier dishes of meat and rice. Try this great restaurant for contemporary takes on classic dishes. We recommend getting there early and building an appetite by walking around the neighborhood of Isola in search of authentic street art.
Nobu– for a special experience, try the impeccable Japanese fusion restaurant designed by Giorgio Armani, located inside the Armani Hotel.
Wine not – Since wine runs through every Italian’s veins, you’ll find quality wines just about anywhere you’ll go. Our recommendation is to taste the locally grown specialty of the region known as Franciacorta. It’s a sophisticated sparkling (usually white) wine that pairs perfectly with the local dishes such as risotto with saffron and ossobuco, a plate of cold cuts, or even a simple slice of pizza!
N’Ombra de Vin-When it comes to wine in Milan, this is the holy grail. A beautiful hall with giant columns and stone walls and floors that is entirely devoted to one drink (though they do have a fantastic kitchen as well). Their prestigious selection is probably the best in the city, and the place is very chic with a young vibe, a great place to see and be seen.
Beer? – Yeah ok, Italy=wine, but they also have a booming craft beer scene that shouldn’t go overlooked. Be sure to check out Birrificio Lambrate to taste a few local brews.
Sightseeing in milan
Piazza del Duomo
this square is located in the beating heart of the city and hosts enough attractions for one to easily spend an entire day. The most prominent would be the Duomo cathedral, Milan’s biggest church, you literally can’t miss it.
Surrounding it are many other attractions such as the Royal Palace, La Scala opera house, and the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping center.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
whether you’re into art or not, this is one sight you cannot miss. This church contains the mural painting of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper”. Experts say it is deteriorating and won’t be there forever, so get the chance to see this piece of history before it’s too late.
Milan’s opera house has been hosting the world’s greatest singers and musicians for over 250 years! Even if you don’t catch a performance, go just to be awed by the architecture…
this shrine to football (soccer for the North Americans) seats over 80,000, making it the largest stadium in Italy, and home to both clubs AC Milan and Inter. It’s also a prime spot for concerts, so make sure to check out who’s playing during your visit.
a beautiful green heart of the city that is a must see on any visit to Milan. Breathe in the fresh air, catch the autumn colors, take your coffee to a bench, or simply stroll through on a sunny day. A visit is not complete without admiring the beauty of the Arco della Pace.
Corso Garibaldi & Corso Como
these 2 streets which connect at their ends have more of a modern feel, rather than historic and touristy. Head on there in the evening, walk the beautiful streets, sit down for an aperitivo, and remember to pay a visit to 10 Corso Como. This micro-world of lifestyle features a restaurant and café, a gallery and shop, and a breathtaking terrace and garden. Many people flock to Milan especially to visit this institution which has gained international acclaim, with franchises opened in New York, Shanghai and Seoul.
With all the recommendations mentioned above, we have one more important one: get lost! That’s right, sometimes the most authentic and amazing places are tucked away in some corner that you’ll never remember how you got there. What you will remember is the aroma of the most perfect coffee you ever drank, the most mouthwatering panini you bit into, or the shop you bought those shoes you can’t stop wearing…
So get out there and discover what marvels Milano has to offer!