Bars, boutiques and cutting-edge design: welcome to Milano
Situated right at the foot of the magnificent Alps, the city of Milan is renowned as a cosmopolitan world capital of fashion and design. Although it’s often underrated as a tourist destination, don’t be fooled into crossing this bustling, vibrant Italian city off your travel list. Bursting with beautiful architecture, galleries, museums and churches and with a vast artisanal and couture shopping scene, this eclectic, characterful metropolis is well worth visiting. What’s more, its incredible location right next to the mountains and close by the border with Switzerland makes it the perfect base for longer trips.
As well as boasting countless quirky boutiques, artisanal workshops, contemporary galleries and secret churches, the dining and nightlife scene in Milan is one of Italy’s most vibrant and eclectic. To help you navigate your way through this vast metropolis, filled with endless possibilities, we’ve put together a handy guide, featuring some of our all-time favourite spots in the city. Still spoilt for choice? Our trusty Travel Advisors can craft you a personalised itinerary, ensuring you get a taste of everything this incredible city has to offer. Meaning all you need to focus on is relaxing.
What to see
The gothic Duomo di Milano has to be first on any visitor’s list. This monumental building took over 600 years to construct, the intricate white facade, with its endless towers, statues and stained glass windows, looking like something out of a fairytale. Make sure you take the climb up to the rooftop, upon which you can enjoy sweeping views over the city. Next stop: head to the beautiful Santa Maria delle Grazie convent and gaze upon Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’. One of the most famous paintings in the world, you’ll find this masterpiece fresco on the wall of the convent’s refectory, painted during Da Vinci’s 20-year-long residence in the city.
Finally, the prestigious Pinacoteca di Brera is a must-visit for any art lovers in the group. Housing an incredible array of masterpieces, you’ll find some of the most important works of art in the world within. Located in the Palazzo Brera, which also hosts the Brera Library, the Botanical Garden and the Astronomic Observatory, there’s plenty to do and see around this area.
Where to shop
The epicentre of fashion and design, the shopping opportunities in Milan are endless. Visiting the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II should definitely be on the cards, even if you’re not a keen shopper. Italy's oldest active shopping mall, this gorgeous 19th-century four-story arcade is replete with ornate pillars, domed glass ceilings and polished marble floors. Nicknamed ‘the drawing room of Milan' this is the ideal spot to spend a relaxing afternoon browsing the boutiques and admiring the architecture.
Those looking to splash out on some high-end fashion pieces should head to the ‘Quadrilatero della Moda’ (Fashion Quadrilateral). Formed by Milan’s most elegant shopping streets, you’ll find an array of sleek boutiques and renowned designer labels here. For a more alternative experience, head over to 10 Corso Como, one of the world’s first concept stores. Established by gallerist and publisher Carla Sozzani, the plant-filled complex houses an incredibly-curated collection of outlets, including a boutique, art-book store, café and gallery.
Where to eat
The dining scene of Milan is just as vast, varied and surprising as the city itself. From delicate Michelin-star masterpieces to delicious no-frills dishes from street vendors, foodies will love eating their way through this city. Even with plenty of fantastic fine-dining spots to pick from, d’O still manages to stand out from the crowd. Serving creative ‘pop cuisine’, invented by chef Davide Oldani, the excellence of the food, service and experience at d’O speak for themselves, with the reservations waiting list stretching out long into the distant future.
Another Milanese hotspot headed up by a cutting-edge chef, VUN is another must-visit for any fine dining fans. With Neapolitan chef Andrea Aprea at the helm, this elegant two Michelin star restaurant serves up imaginative gastronomy in a historical setting.
With just 28 seats, this Navigli-side restaurant is the perfect place for a calm and relaxing lunch. The pared-back interiors, laidback staff and creative, contemporary menu at 28 Posti offer a refreshing alternative to traditional Italian dining without forfeiting any of the flavour.
Where to drink
When the clock strikes 4 pm, it’s time to pay homage to a much-loved Italian tradition: aperitivo. Head down to Milan’s famous Naviligi canals, said to have been designed by Da Vinci himself, and take your pick from the bustling bars which line the banks. Were we choosing, we’d go for a Rita & Cocktails, a stalwart favourite amongst tourists and locals alike. Cosy up in the pretty patio area with an expertly crafted Gin Zen - a refreshing blend of gin, freshly crushed ginger, lime and soda.
Owned by a fashion house and furnished by Dimore Studio, Ceresio 7 is one of the most stylish watering holes in the entire city. Set in the penthouse of a skyscraper, this chic spot embodies all the elements which make Milan such a special city: glamorous fashion, eclectic culture, stunning architecture, sleek design and, of course, expertly-crafted aperitivos.
Set in a 16th-century refectory, originally housing the Agostinian Friars, N’Ombra de Vin is an atmospheric spot to enjoy a glass of vino. Soak up the dramatic vaulted ceilings, illuminated by the flickering candlelight, and work your way through their incredible selection of local wines. If you’re lucky, there might even be some live music on.