I’ve been to Milan five times for work; in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013 and during the Covid period in 2020, so I’m fairly familiar with the city. I have mixed feelings about it. Taken at face value, it’s not particularly beautiful, particularly the area around Statzione Centrale, but there are lots of individually amazing buildings. You also have the fashion industry of course, as well as lots of fabulous bars and restaurants, so won’t be short of things to see and do.
Generally my posts are organised geographically, according to the city’s famous ‘starburst’ Zone System where zones are arranged clockwise around the historic city centre. Most people will spend time in Zone One, which is the Centro Historico, and Zone Two which includes Centrale. For logistical reasons, my employer usually puts us up at a hotel in Porta Garibaldi in Zone Nine, or in the past in Porta Venezia in Zone Three (both either side of Zone Two). Personally I’d rather spend my free time in Navigli and other nearby neighbourhoods in Zone Six on the other side of the city.
Below is another index of my posts by subject to make them a bit more accessible, and ending with my own personal top tips for a stay in Milan. Obviously personal tastes can differ but I hope it will give you some good suggestions.
You’ll find everywhere I mention, and much more, on my Google map of Milan. There’s a key in the top left corner.
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTSEEING
Milan – Centro Storico – Duomo di Milano (post here).
Milan – Centro Storico – a walk round Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (post here).
Milan – an architecture walk around Porta Venezia – Part One (post here).
Milan – an architecture walk around Porta Venezia – Part Two (post here).
Milan – modern architecture in Porta Nuova (post here).
Milan – street art & graffiti (post here).
Milan – Stazione di Milano Centrale (post here).
FOOD & DRINK
Milan – places to eat in the Centro Storico (post here).
Milan – Navigli – Sunday lunch by the Grand Canal (post here).
Milan – eating, drinking, staying and shopping around Porta Garibaldi (post here).
Milan – places to eat around Porta Venezia (post here).
Milan – a night in Navigli (obsolete post here).
In terms of stuff to see, the Duomo di Milano and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are pretty much essential and right next to each other. Stazione di Milano Centrale is another great building but it’s fairly inevitable you’ll see it when you arrrive and depart. If you are a fan of Stile Liberty architecture (Italian Art Nouveau), I can suggest you see Casa Guazzoni and Casa Galimberti, which are opposite each other, and Casa Berri Meregallìs. A lot of people really like the Bosco Verticale, a tower block with trees, which could be the blueprint for high-rise living in our cities in the future. A nice place for a walk or a jog is the park around Castello Sforzesco but I lost my photos for that sadly so I haven’t blogged it. If you want to see The Last Supper, put your name down as soon as you can. I’ve never managed to see it despite trying many times.
Milan is of course the fashion capital of the world, so the shopping along Via Monte Napoleone in the Quadrilatero d’Oro (generally considered to be the world’s most famous shopping district) is hard to beat, but it won’t be cheap. Rather than clothes, my favourite shops are the homeware stores Tenoha, Alessi and Cargo & High-Tech, and also the Slow Food supermarket, Eataly Milano Smeraldo.
Have fun! 🙂