1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Milan Travel Guide

Visiting Italy's City of Fashion, the Last Supper, and Gothic Cathedral

By

Italy, Lombardy, Milan, Teatro Alla Scala
Vincenzo Lombardo/Photodisc/Getty Images
milan duomo pictures, milan cathedral photos

Milan Duomo and street view

by James Martin, Europe Travel
milan galleria, picture, detail

Galleria in Milan

Picture of Milan ©2006 by James Martin, Europe for Visitors

Milan, Italy:

Milan is one of Italy's most fashionable cities and one of the richest cities in Europe but it also holds several historic and artistic attractions, including the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Last Supper painting, and the famous La Scala Opera House. Travelers to Milan will find a fast-paced, glamorous city with a thriving cultural scene and a top city for shopping. Although the city was heavily bombed during World War II, much of it was rebuilt.

Milan Location:

Milan is in northwest Italy in the Lombardy region, about 30 miles south of the Alps. It is very near the Lake district, including Lakes Como and Maggiore. See Lombardy Map. From Milan, Rome is reachable on a fast train in as little as 3 hours and Venice in less than 3 hours. See our Milan to Venice Train Itinerary for suggested stops enroute.

Transportation to Milan:

Milan has 2 airports. Malpensa, to the northwest, is a big international airport. The Malpensa Express train connects the airport to the stations of Centrale and Cadorna, near the historic center. The smaller Linate airport to the east serves flights from Europe and within Italy and is connected to the city by bus service.

The main train station, Milano Centrale at Piazza Duca d' Aosta, links to major cities in Italy and western Europe. Domestic and international bus lines arrive in Piazza Castello.

Public Transportation in Milan:

Milan has very good public transportation, including buses, trams, and an extensive metro system. For a map of the public transportation routes in central Milan and how to use them, see our Milan Transportation Map.

Milan Weather - When to Go:

The city can be very hot and humid in summer but winters are not too severe. Find out more about Milan's average monthly temperatures and rainfall on Milan Weather and Climate.

Milan Food and Hotels:

Two famous traditional Milanese dishes are risotto alla milanese (a rice dish made with saffron) and cotoletta alla milanese (breaded veal). Milan has many fashionable restaurants serving modern Italian cuisine as well. Milanese bars often serve snacks with your before-dinner drink in the evening. A typical trattoria that I recommend in Milan is Trattoria Toscana di Giovanni.

If you want to stay near La Scala, the duomo, and shopping district, check these top rated historic center hotels.  One of the most luxurious hotels is the Four Seasons Hotel Milano, right in the fashion shopping district. Here are more Milan guest-rated and reviewed hotels on Venere.

Nightlife in Milan:

Milan is a good city for nightlife with many popular nightclubs, cinemas, and cultural events, including opera, ballet, concerts, and theater. The main theater and concert season starts in October but there are performances in summer, too. Check with one of the tourist offices or your hotel for the latest information.

Festivals in Milan:

Milan's biggest feast day for its patron saint, Saint Ambrose's Day, is December 7 with religious celebrations and a street fair. The Festa del Naviglio with parades, music, and other performances, is the first ten days of June. There are many fashion fairs, especially in fall.

Shopping in Milan:

Milan is a fashion lovers paradise so you will easily find top quality clothing, footwear, and accessories. Try Corso Vittorio Emanuele II near Piazza della Scala, via Monte Napoleone near the Duomo, or Via Dante between the Duomo and Castle. For exclusive fashions, try the area around via della Spiga called the Quadrilatero d'Oro. Corso Buenos Aires has many chain stores. Many shops are even open on Sunday on Corso Buenos Aires and Via Dante. Markets are held around the canals.

Milan Tourist Information Offices:

The main office is in Piazza del Duomo at Via Marconi 1. There is also a branch in the Central train station. The Milan City Council operates an information office in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, near the Piazza del Duomo, with information about cultural events.

What to See in Milan:

The small historic center is primarily between the Duomo and Castello. See also Top Milan Attractions and Picture Gallery

  • The Duomo is the world's largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in Europe. Building began in 1386 and lasted nearly 500 years! Its marble facade is magnificent and its roof has 135 spires and 3200 statues. Inside, the crucifix is said to contain a nail from the cross of Christ. Its piazza is the hub of Milan. There is also a museum. Be sure to climb the stairs or take the elevator to the top for views of Milan and the Duomo's spires. See pictures from the duomo rooftop.
  • La Scala is a very famous opera house seating over 2000 people. Built in 1778 it has a very opulent interior. You can also visit the museum.
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a huge glass-roofed shopping arcade lined with expensive shops, bars, and restaurants. Built in 1867, it links the squares of the Duomo and La Scala and has mosaics with the symbols of the cities forming the newly united Italy. Some people consider it good luck to stand on the testicles of the bull of Turin.
  • Castello Sforzesco was originally built in the 15th century by the ruling Visconti but was destroyed and rebuilt by the Sforzas soon afterward. It became a museum complex in the 19th century and and is one of Milan's major landmarks.
  • Santa Maria della Grazie contains Da Vinci's famous fresco, the Last Supper. Although the building was bombed in 1943, the fresco survived. To visit, it is necessary to book in advance. How to Book Tickets to see The Last Supper.
  • National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci is housed in what was once a 16th century monastary . The museum has a vast collection showing the history of science and technology starting from Leonardo da Vinci's machines.
  • Sant'Ambrogio is the fourth-century church of Milan's patron saint. Inside are many relics, carvings, and mosaics.
  • Pinacoteca di Brera, originally started by Napolean, is Milan's most prestigious art gallery. It holds a huge collection of over 600 works in 40 rooms.
  • Milan makes a convenient base for day trips to the Lakes, Pavia, and the hill town of Bergamo. See Milan Day Trips for details and more day trip suggestions.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.