Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Milano is the capital of shopping and fashion. Not necessarily the most touristy city, but certainly glamorous and interesting if you like to hang out in nice cafes, restaurants, hotels, fashion boutiques or just love food and people watching.
Last week I revisited Milano in order to fine-tune the to-do list for you. So below are my top 10 revised, fresh tips from the capital of fashion:
1. The Duomo
The most recognizable landmark of Milano – you simply cannot miss its beautiful Gothic architecture. Milan cathedral is the largest church in Italy and third largest in the world (and took 6 centuries to complete!). Make sure to get a good spot on the square and take this memorable photo to keep / post on Instagram.
The Duomo is very conveniently located in the very center of Milano, which means you’ll see it many times and it’s useful to treat it as a central point of your trip – also in case you get lost. If the weather is good, it’s a good idea to climb the top – the view is especially wonderful during sunset.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI, Italy & www.duomomilano.it/
2. Negroni Sbagliato at Bar Basso & Pizza at Al Basilico Fresco
I went to Al Basilico Fresco in November 2012 and since then I couldn’t stop thinking about their pizza. I remember the day as it was yesterday – I was in Milano with my close friend (he already encouraged me to create a blog back then) and when we found this place by coincidence, sat down…and tried the pizza…we just had this inexplicable expression on our faces, both delighted and promoting our chosen pizzas – they were both scrumptious! It felt as if we never had pizza before in our lives. This pizza is worth going to Milano just for that. (Yes, having visited it again, it is still so good! And even the restaurant staff is the same!)
A really nice way to compliment the evening is actually going for aperitif at Bar Basso – the place where “aperitif” was born and one of the best bars in the world. Their Negroni is served in a gigantic glass, which makes it a lot of fun and also picture-worthy material…:) Bar Basso is famous for Negroni Sbagliato though – which is my preferred option – make sure to try it! Perfect evening.
Address: Viale Abruzzi, 21, 20131 Milano MI, Italy & http://www.albasilicofresco.com/en/index.html | Bar Basso: Via Plinio, 39, 20020 Milano MI, Italy barbasso.com/
3. Via Montenapoleone
Via Montenapoleone is one of the leading upscale shopping streets in the world. It is packed with world’s best luxury brands and boutiques. The street is inspiring and beautifully designed. Beautiful people all around, making it a bit packed during high season. Via della Spiga is actually less touristy and equally, if not more, impressive. It has some of the best Porsche Design as well as D&G stores I’ve seen in the world. The luxury and beauty comes with a price tag, but nothing stops anyone from a little window-shopping and people watching.
Address: Via Montenapoleone, 20121 Milano & www.viamontenapoleone.org/
4. Brera District & Castello Sforzesco
Brera is Milano’s central neighbourhood filled with lovely cafes, restaurants, museums, Art Academy and many other gems. The Pinacoteca Museum is beautiful, comprising mostly Italian painters, with Mantegna and even one Caravaggio work. Stroll around and get inspired. When you get out of Brera you will see the Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) in front of you. Take a tour inside and visit the musuem and the wonderful Sale delle asse painted by Leonardo (currently in renovation). At the end of the museum, there is the Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo. To finish off, have a peak at Parco Sempione at the end of the Castle and admire the big arch “Arco della Pace”.
Address: Brera and Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy & https://www.milanocastello.it/en
5. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The stroll around Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II is another must-do. Its beautiful design is absolutely breathtaking and very recognisable – the Galleria is considered the city drawing room and constitutes an elegant meeting point – as it is conveniently located next to the Duomo, making it a very pleasant, true-Milano-style area.
Interestingly, it is the oldest shopping mall in the world and all the shop signs at the Gallery must have the same gold-letters on black-background colours. The arcade is home to numerous luxury retailers; selling haute couture (Prada, Versace etc.), jewelry, books and paintings; as well as restaurants (e.g. famous Savini) cafes, and bars.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI & www.ingalleria.com/
6. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper, the masterpiece by Leaonardo da Vinci, can be seen in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Although it can be seen, I have never managed to actually book the tickets even though I tried months in advance, also using 5 star hotel concierges.
I hear that one of the options is to queue around 7:30am at Santa Maria delle Grazie to try to get the ticket for the day. If any of you were lucky to see it, please leave the comment below! This item makes me come back to Milano – I’m sure I will see it one day…:)
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI, Italy & https://legraziemilano.it/
7. Luxury Hotels
Being the capital of fashion, it is no surprise that Milano has some of the best hotels in the world on offer. From Bulgari, Armani, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt and many other 5-star options, everyone will find something unique for themselves. Many of these hotels have excellent bars and restaurants as well – perfect for enjoying the Milan glamour.
I personally like Chateau Monfort, which is a part of Relais & Chateaux, for more boutique feel with beautiful design (and great swimming pool!) or Principe de Savoia for bigger groups of people – which is now part of Dorchester Collection and has been host to numerous notable guests, including Mr Clooney 😉
8. La Scala
Teatro alla Scala is one of the most famous opera houses and ballet theaters in the world. Most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The tickets for the show are easier to get than the ones to Last Supper, as long as you are flexible with the seat.
Guided Tours are also available if you wish to admire the opulent décor of the Opera House, but I would strongly recommend a show if you can make it – truly unforgettable experience.
Address: Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy & www.teatroallascala.org/en/index.html
Something of an institution in Milano – having probably the longest queues of all the items on the list. What is it? Well, Luini is actually a famous bakery serving Panzerotto (originally from Puglia) – a culinary treat of dough parcels stuffed with mozzarella and tomato sauce that’s hard to even describe to anyone who hasn’t been to Italy. Not necessarily the healthiest option, but a must-try for everyone visiting Milano. It’s actually perfect for a quick snack on the go and also will save some cash for the evening drinks 🙂
Address: Via Santa Radegonda, 16, 20121 Milano MI, Italy & www.luini.it/eng/storia.html
10. Trip to Bergamo
Milano is superbly located allowing you to travel on to many wonderful destinations, from Modena and Marenello to Bologna, Lake Garda and many others. I chose Bergamo as some of you may actually fly there (thinking you’re flying to Milano with Ryanair). Bergamo is actually beautiful and you must visit Citta Alta (upper city) to enjoy the superb views and charming little town (it takes 1-2 hours to visit).
If you have the time for lunch / dinner – I strongly recommend the wonderful Roof Garden restaurant – at the top of Hotel Excelsior San Marco. The views are just breathtaking – see for yourself below. The kitchen and service is also of the highest caliber. Just wonderful.
Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 6, 24122 Bergamo BG, Italy & https://www.hotelsanmarco.com/en/restaurants-and-bar/roof-garden-bergamo.htm
In summary, Milano is the perfect place for glamour, fashion, luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, art and people watching. It is extremely easy to get to (especially in Europe) and also constitutes a great base for further travel. I would recommend visiting Milano for 2 days in total, dressing up a bit and enjoying it to the fullest 🙂
Have you been to Milano? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
PS. Get 10% back on your hotel/apartment booking on booking.com using my code https://www.booking.com/s/57_6/7793bab0