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First Timer's Guide To Milan, Italy

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Hew Lee Yee

Klook Travel Curator

A first-timer’s guide to Milan


A busy metropolis in Italy's Lombardy region is more known as the capital of fashion of Italy. Aside from getting your shopping frenzy on, there’s also plenty of attractions in Milan dedicated to art and history. Did you know, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper is here in Milan?

Without further ado, here are some highlights of Milan from activities to landmarks and local delicacies that’ll make your trip an unforgettable one.

Klook activities in Milan


Milan Guided Tour with Fast Track Entry to Duomo di Milano

  • Admire one of the world's most beautiful churches, Duomo di Milano, with its 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and around 700 figures
  • Go underground and discover the remains of the Basilica Nuova, which was completed in 355
  • Enjoy panoramic views over Milan, and take in breathtaking views from the terrace of the church
  • Learn about the history of the cathedral, which took almost 600 years to build
  • Perfect for history and architecture buffs

Tour starts: 2:30pm (meet-up time should be ideally 10 mins before the start of tour)

Tour ends: 5pm

Meet-up location: Outside Football Team Store in Piazza del Duomo. You can get there by taking the Light Railway to P.Za Fontana Station and walk 5 for minutes.

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Tasting Milan: Beer & Snacks Walking Tours

  • Get the chance to taste no less than 4 craft beers made right in Milan!
  • Get a taste of the local snacks in this region, which is famous for its fine ingredients and delicacies
  • Taste local Italian panzerotti, some delicious fried local fish, and cold cuts and cheese for nibbles!
  • Learn about the local beer companies and discover more about how their craft beers have been brewed
  • Explore the beautiful Navigli district and learn about the locals' everyday life
  • Learn the history of the Vicolo dei Lavandai, where women would wash clothes in the olden days

Tour starts: 5:30pm (meet-up time should be ideally 10 mins before the start of tour)

Tour ends: 7:30pm

Meet-up location: In front of the GELATERIA GROM, Corso di Porta Ticinese 51, Milan. You can get there by taking bus 3 to Colonne Di S. Lorenzo station and walk North for 75 meters.

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Da Vinci Guided Walking Tour with Fast Track Entry to The Last Supper

  • Learn about the painter's life and times with a guided tour of Da Vinci's work scattered all over Milan
  • See Leonardo Da Vinci's beloved masterpieces with your own eyes
  • Skip the line to an intimate viewing of world famous The Last Supper
  • Take a peek into the incredible collection of Da Vinci's studies covering mathematics, anatomy, botany and more

Tour is inclusive of:

  • Tour of Da Vinci's masterpieces
  • Fast track admission ticket to The Last Supper
  • Pinacoteca Ambrosiana admission ticket
  • English speaking guide

Tour starts: 4pm (meet-up time should be ideally 10 mins before the start of tour)

Tour ends: 7pm

Meet-up location: Main entrance of Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. You can get there by taking the Light Railway to Duomo Station and walk for 5 minutes.

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Milan highlights


1. Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)

Located at the heart of Milan in Piazza del Duomo is the grand Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano. The front of this Gothic-style church is embellished with numerous towers, statues and designs. It’s said to be one of the most decorated churches in the world.

With an even more stunning interior of stained glass windows, intricate designs, detailed artwork and more, it’s truly a wonder. Make sure to go up to the terrace where you’ll get a magnificent view of the city below.

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2. The Last Supper

Easily one of the world’s most recognizable paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper can be found in Milan at the unassuming Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This mural has been reproduced into every form imaginable but nothing beats seeing it in person.

As you can expect, it can get very crowded and visitors are only allowed to enter for 15-minutes. To make sure you’re getting the best look and experience of The Last Supper, you can join a tour which allows for a fast track entry. Not only will you skip the extremely long line, you’ll also gain extra insights and a chance to take a look at other Da Vinci's work all over Milan.

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3. Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

As the fashion capital of Italy and one of the Big Four of fashion in the world, it’s only fitting that Milan has a shopping gallery to match that title. The Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an opulent and extravagant complex which also happens to be Italy’s oldest active shopping mall.

You can find stores of high-end Italian designers to luxury brands and even mid to lower end brands in this 19th century shopping complex. Even if you can’t afford any Prada or Armani, you should still make a stop there to marvel at the stunning architecture, intricate design and detailed artwork.

Photo Credit: http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2015-3-4/Salotto-Milano

4. Milan’s Golden Triangle

The shopping (or window shopping) quest doesn’t stop at just Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II when you’re in Milan, of course! The city’s famous shopping streets that make up the Golden Triangle mainly comprises of Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Monte Napoleon, with several streets running between them.

You can find Italian and foreign luxury brands, famous designer stores and many more. One thing’s for sure, the interiors and window displays alone are worth a trip to Milan’s Golden Triangle. It surely takes window shopping to a whole new level there!

Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/427208714625318665/?lp=true

5. La Scala Opera

One of the most celebrated operas in not just Italy but Europe as a whole is Milan’s La Scala Opera, also referred to as Teatro alla Scala. The classic crimson-and-gold interior and glittering chandelier are as grand and elegant as you’d expect them to be.

Even if you can’t buy tickets to watch the opera, you can still join a guided tour of the La Scala Opera. Skip the line with a fast track entry privilege for the best experience. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch a rehearsal!

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6. Sforza Castle

Also recognised as Castello Sforzesco, this 15th-century castle occupies a wide area in the center of Milan. With towering brick walls and impressive towers, the Sforza Castle is a fortress built in request by the first Duke of Milan.

Now, it houses number of museums and collections of artifacts belonging to the history of Milan. You can find Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini sculpture and the works of Leonardo da Vinci on the Sala delle Asse.

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sforza_Castle_Museums_-_Joy_of_Museums.jpg

7. Piazza Mercanti

This picturesque square is located near the Milan Cathedral and is surrounded by buildings preserved from the Medieval times. Some of the buildings you should explore in that piazza include Palazzo della Ragione, Loggia degli Osii, Casa dei Panigarola and more.

This piazza was once a hub for trading and governmental activities back in the Middle Ages! Stepping into this area certainly feels like going back in time to centuries ago.

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mag_GK6V7013_piazza_mercanti01.jpg

8. Navigli District

Many might not know this but Milan is actually home to two canals, namely the Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Grande which stretches from Porta Ticinese to Ticino River. One of it was actually designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself! Around the canals, bars and restaurants have emerged and filled up the streets.

An excellent place for a night out, it’s also great for discovering some charming hole-in-the-wall establishments from galleries and shops to eateries. You can also get a taste of Milan in a beer & snacks walking tour where you’ll get to try unforgettable local delights.

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Navigli_(6722611641).jpg

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9. San Siro Stadium

For the football fans out there, the San Siro Stadium is your church! Built since 1926, it’s a world-famous stadium that have held countless monumental matches including ones from World Cup in the past.

With a capacity of 85,000 people, stepping into the stadium is a remarkable feeling. About 30 mins away from the heart of Milan, the most convenient way to visit the stadium is by the sightseeing bus. Make sure to stop by the museum as well!

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10. QC Termemilano

A spa that’s like unlike any other you’ll ever experience, the QC Termemilano is as much fun as it is relaxing! The location of the spa was previously a tram depot and when you go underground, you can find a hideaway of warm and cold baths, relaxation rooms, sensory waterfalls, salt rooms and more.

If you prefer an outdoor experience, there’s also warm pools around the area and as well as the tram sauna. As you soak in the warm, healing waters, you can also enjoy the view of the Roman ruins surrounding you.

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/Termemilano/

Dining in Milan


Although one would think that pasta and pizza are dominant throughout Italy, the same could not be said in Milan. Not as famous as its Roman and Neapolitan counterparts, Milanese cuisine deserves a mention and is often described as rich in flavour.

One thing you might notice in Milan is groups of friends enjoying pre-meal drinks around the city. It’s none other than the Italian ‘aperitivo’ tradition akin to American’s happy hour where friends enjoy a drink or light meal before dinner!

Once those drinks have already whet your appetite, here are some Milanese dishes that you must try.

Photo Credit: http://www.hotelwindsormilan.com/en/where-to-have-an-open-air-happy-hour-in-milan/

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Ossobuco

This signature Milanese dish translates to ‘bone with a hole’ is made up of braised veal shank served as either an accompaniment or a main dish. Tender, flavourful and rich, it’s no wonder that it well-loved by Italians and visitors alike.

Aside from the meat, the marrow in the bone is also the main star of the dish. You can usually find ossobuco served alongside Risotto alla Milanese, another must-try dish in Milan.

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/vwjipu

Risotto alla Milanese

This Milanese-style risotto is another one that you should try before leaving Milan! Getting its golden hue from the saffron, certain variations of this dish also includes the addition of beef marrow and white wine.

Creamy and distinct in it’s flavour, this is one risotto you’ll never forget. Although one of the main ingredients in this dish is saffron, it shouldn’t be confused with saffron risotto!

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/9CE6WS

Panettone

This historic Milanese dessert is also a traditional Christmas delicacy is consumed each in Italy and all around the world especially during Christmas time! A brioche bread baked typically with candied fruits and raisins, it’s best enjoyed during the holiday season with wine or coffee.

It’s been said the best one that you can get in Milan is at Pasticceria Cova, where they’ve been handcrafting the panettone for over 200 years. If you ever stop by Milan, you’ll be glad to know that it’s sold all year round and you don’t need to wait till Christmas time!

Photo Credit: http://milan2016.glp.eu/2016/06/26/pastries-with-history/