They say there is nothing to do in Milan if you don’t want to shop. Don’t believe that! Milan is indeed a bustling financial and fashion capital of Italy, but it’s also full of culture and tourist attractions. The main cathedral (Duomo di Milano) might be the most well-known of them, but certainly not the only one. In this article, you will find a list of interesting things to do and see in Milan instead of spending all your money in boutiques.
Of course, we could not but start with the main tourist attraction of Milan! The Duomo is a huge Gothic cathedral in the very heart of the city. It’s the largest church in Italy and the fifth biggest in the world, so you really should not miss a chance to visit it! With the admission ticket (costs 2€) you can go inside to admire the stunning stained glass and see the excavations in the crypt. The most exciting experience though is to climb the roof of the cathedral for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. In case you are too lazy to conquer the stairs, there is an elevator available. It will cost you 13€ instead of 9€, but will definitely save you some energy. And don’t forget that you can book your tickets online to avoid queues!
Royal Palace of Milan
The next stop of our city tour – Palazzo Reale – is right beside the Duomo. The fancy royal palace was built in the 13th century and served as the seat of city government for many years. Currently, it hosts regular exhibitions, so if you feel like imbibing even more culture after visiting the cathedral, cross the square and enter the regal building on your left. You can find more information about current exhibitions here.
Now let’s leave the city center and go by metro to the stop called “Monumentale”. It is named after the oldest Milan cemetery – Cimitero Monumentale (“monumental cemetery”) – located nearby. The cemetery, now more than two hundred years old, reminds one of a city sprawling over the space of about 250 000 square meters. Like a city, the cemetery is divided into districts in which followers of different religions are buried. Some of the people interred here are very famous. A lot of tombs are of real artistic value and some of them look more like houses than tombs (Have we creeped you out yet?). The cemetery might not be the most obvious choice for a tourist, but it is well worth visiting if you want to trace the history of Milan nobility in the 19th century and admire sculptures and architecture adorning the place.
After a relaxing walk at the cemetery, you can head to the skyscraper district for a gulp of future after the mosses of the past. Walk out of the main entrance of Cimitero Monumentale and you will see the huge buildings it in front of you. No chance to get lost :) There are two particularly interesting structures to see in this district. The first is the highest building in Italy, property of Unicredit bank. It’s 231 meters high and there is a lookout point at the top of it! The panorama is gorgeous, but make sure to check the weather beforehand! Also, keep an eye on their website for special tours, like this one. The second exciting structure is called Bosco Verticale – “vertical forest”. It is a very peculiar residential complex with trees hanging from each of its facades. There are approximately 900 of these trees! Trust us, it’s impressive!
When you’re done admiring modern architecture, you can head directly to another interesting Milan district – Chinatown. It is located in walking distance (15-20 mins) from the skyscrapers quarter. If you are in doubts about its location, find the 8th district on the map – that’s it! The area is like a small capsule China in the heart of Milan! Everything is in Chinese: advertisements in shop windows, restaurant names, and posters. Needless to say, that Chinese food here is also authentic and very tasty! Chinese quarter is a perfect place for lunch or dinner, so make sure to arrive hungry!
Let’s conclude our Milan trip with the most monumental and massive building of the city – Castello Sforzesco. It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, has survived a lot of turmoils and now houses art collections. The castle is especially beautiful after dark, brightly lit and looking like something from a fairy-tale. For information about admissions, check out this web page. Keep in mind that the castle is closed on Monday.
Once you are done with the castle, have a relaxing walk in the park right in front of it. There, you can sunbathe, feed pigeons, or admire Arco della Pace (“Peace Arch”) at the far end of the park. The arch dates back to the 19th century and is really beautiful. Besides, the view of Castello Sforzesco from the arch is amazing!
We hope we’ve been convincing and have managed to show you that there are other things to do in Milan apart from shopping. It’s a huge and lively city with lots of things going on and a lot of historical monuments to enjoy. So don’t hesitate if you get a chance to go there – arm yourself with our guide and have an awesome time! You will love Milan!
Written by Olya