We don’t need to tell you to add Duomo di Milano to your things to do in Milan list. You’ll already have your top ten all picked out. Instead, we’ll clue you in to what to do in Milan when you’ve ticked off your must sees. You’ll need to know where to grab the best pizza for an on–brand Milanese refuel between sights, which cafe was designed by Wes Anderson and which day it’s best to drop in on the bustling banks of the Naviglio Grande Canal.
Search for the Duomo dinosaur
Countless artists, architects and sculptors contributed to Milan’s Cathedral. Building of the behemoth lasted over five centuries and the magnificent marble still wows visitors today – just as much as the initial foundations would have done in 1386. Drop by for the overall wow factor, but train your eyes on the gargoyles, reliefs and frescos to spy something a little unusual. Hidden amongst the flower petals, leaves and intricate work, there’s a strange dinosaur-like creature writhing in the foliage.
Grab a pizza at Marghe
The best restaurants in Milan have seen Italian classics ousted by more cosmopolitan fare. Yes sushi sometimes trumps spaghetti in this city, but that doesn’t mean you should miss a slice of Marghe pizza. Made to a tried and tested recipe that sees dough stretched and proved over 48 hours, this is the crispiest crust you’ll find outside of Naples. The simple margherita pairs Agerola mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes perfectly. But, if you’re feeling a little daring, spoil your foodie self with the courgette flower and cetara anchovies combo.
Experience the electric atmosphere of the San Siro Stadium
Football fans need no convincing when it comes to adding the San Siro Stadium to their things to do in Milan list. Home to both the AC Milan and Inter Milan teams, the football rivals have brought home their fair share of trophies to this pitch. Well worth trying to get a ticket to a match then. If your calendars don’t sync, still drop in to the ‘temple of football’, also known as the San Siro Museum. You’ll take a tour of the stadium, walk in the footsteps of footballing greats as you wander through the tunnel and get a player’s eye view of the field. A must for fans of the beautiful game.
Shop ’til you drop in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
We don’t suggest a trip to this Milan shopping centre lightly. A queen among retail venues, it’s safe to say the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade is jaw dropping. So much so, that we’d recommend a stroll around it just to feast your eyes on the four storeys of belle époque wonder. That’s right, this is no ordinary shopping mall. Yes, you can fill your (chic) bag for life with Louis Vuitton, Prada and Versace pieces but you’re far more likely to be distracted by the arcade’s gorgeous 19th century glass architecture, mosaics and its place in Milan’s history.
Play pinball, Wes Anderson style
If you’ve already done a little digging into Milan, you’re likely to have stumbled on Bar Luce. It reels in its fair share of headlines thanks to a little help from film director, Wes Anderson. He’s put his unmistakable mark on this 1950s style cafe, designing everything from floor to ceiling. Originally planned as a place for writers to sit, grab a coffee and let inspiration land – you’re now far more likely to find tourists snapping at the interior design for their Insta stories. Don’t let that put you off though. Pop in, play pinball and picture yourself in an Anderson film set.
Get a look at the Last Supper
We’ve all seen Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in some form. Derivatives find their way into internet memes and prints of the original pitch up everywhere from Etsy to eBay. But to see the original painting, you’ll have to head to Santa Maria delle Grazie convent in Milan, as this is one artwork that definitely can’t go on tour. The huge fresco has suffered at the hands of well meaning restorers over the centuries but a light retouch in 1999 and ongoing preservation work restricts access to 15 minute viewings with no more than 25 people present. Tickets, queuing and a little bit of admin required then, but worth the effort to see one of the world’s most famous paintings.
Take a walking tour of Milan’s urban art
For wall coverings of an entirely different kind, book a place on a walking tour of Milan’s street art. Over two hours, you’ll comb the streets with your urban art guide, mingling a little Milan sightseeing with colourful murals, elaborate portraits and hidden gems. You’ll peer at established pieces by well–known artists from the scene, but will also get a chance to see unapproved works that are next on the list for a pressure wash. The tour takes places in the Ticinese district and while the focus is very much in the here and now, you’ll uncover how historic murals in San Lorenzo are linking the past art world with the present.
Browse antique stalls along the Naviglio Grande Canal
Schlepping along the banks of the Naviglio Grande Canal is always time well spent. But heading here on a Sunday adds a little browsing to the mix. As well as the canal’s famous strip of cafes and restaurants, row after row of market stalls battle for you bargain hunting attention. Pick up something chic for the downstairs cloak room, bag a bargain for your loft conversion or muse over Milan’s take on collectables. To keep the olde world vibe rolling, pop in to Sacrestia Farmacia Alcolica for a cocktail surrounded by vintage goods that reflect the bar’s intriguing history.
Get cultural at La Scala Opera House
Think opera and you instantly pair it with Italy, and Milan. And, while the majestic La Scala Opera House is THE place to immerse yourself in an intensely glamourous night at the opera, ballet, concerts and performances tailored to the under 30 crowd are making the opera house a little more accessible. Of course, if you’re here for the opera, there are plenty of performances to book tickets to. From the classic Rigoletto to the Tempest, an opera making its La Scala debut, there’s so much in the calendar to delight opera lovers. Don’t miss La Scala’s museum, where exhibits and artefacts explore the lives and works of opera’s great composers.
Stroll through the 95 acres of Sempione Park
Take time away from Milan’s urban playground to regroup, recharge and do a little sunbathing at Sempione Park. 95 acres of English-style gardens are your respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Trotting into the park with a picnic is a must, but while you’re here, there’s a little history on offer too. The 14th century fortress Castello Sforzesco, keeps you from any architecture and sightseeing FOMO, while the Palazzo dell’Arte is the perfect spot for shade-seekers looking to combine getting out of the sun with a little contemporary art.