Not sure why you should add Milan to your itinerary in Italy? Let me show you Milan in photos and inspire you to visit the Italian fashion capital.
Well known as one of the world’s fashion capitals and a longstanding business hub in Europe, there still are only a limited number of foreign tourists who visit Milan, especially if it’s their first trip to Italy.
The land of “La Dolce Vita” is one of the most fantasized destinations in the world, but while Rome, Florence, Venice, the Cinque Terre, and the Amalfi Coast captivate everyone’s imagination, Milan is hardly on the radar.
Even when I suggest to friends to come and visit Milan and discover my city, they often pull a face unless they’re keen to go shopping. In a way, I understand. As some of you know, although I was born in Italy, I grew up in a small mountain village in Switzerland, and I came back to Milan when I was 18.
Showing you the beauty of Milan in photos
It took me a long time to get used to city life and even longer to appreciate Milan. I did what most people do. I compared it to Venice, Rome, Florence, and other European cities like Barcelona, Paris, and London. It didn’t make any sense, but it took me a while before I discovered Milan’s unique charm.
There are many reasons to spend a couple of days in Milan. One of them is that it’s the capital city of the Lombardy region, an area of extreme beauty too often overlooked. Also, Milan enjoys a privileged geographical location. It’s close to beautiful lakes, the mountains, the sea and other charming cities and towns. Thus, you can have plenty of exciting day trips from Milan. Whether it’s romantic Lake Como, a little gem like Bergamo, or the mountains, you’ll be amazed by how much beauty surrounds Milan.
That’s why I decided to show you Milan in photos, sharing the spots I love. Hopefully, I’ll convince you that Milan is worth visiting.
The iconic Milan cathedral and its surroundings
The capital of Lombardy – a beautiful, if overlooked, Italian region – is not immediately eye-catching. Milan has many hidden treasures, though, but you have to know where to go and what to look for. There’s more than meets the eye, but you must be willing to let the city unveil its beauty.
The cathedral (Duomo di Milano) is undoubtedly the most famous and iconic landmark. If you only have a few hours to spend in Milan, this is THE place to go. And a must-do in Milan is to visit the cathedral and walk on the Duomo rooftop, possibly closer to sunset time. If you visit Milan during the peak season or when the city hosts significant events like Fashion Week or Milan Design Week, I suggest you book your entry to the cathedral and the Duomo terrace in advance to avoid long queues.
I have seen Milan Cathedral more times than I can remember, but every time I get there, its beauty takes my breath away. With its unique shape, countless statues, and iridescent shades of marble, the Duomo of Milan is one of the most striking buildings in the city. The architecture inside is as magnificent as it is outside, and the darkness makes a sharp contrast with the glittering white facade. You can get close-up views of the spires and pinnacles from the rooftop, and on a bright day, you can even get a glimpse of the Alps.
TIP: The Duomo encompasses so much history and so many works of art that you may want to take a guided tour of Milan Cathedral to discover all the secrets of this unique landmark.
Lined by magnificent buildings and elegant arcades, Piazza del Duomo is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. There’s always something going on: special events or street performers, and it’s an excellent spot for people-watching.
Adjacent to the cathedral is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. With its cast-iron and vaulted glass roof, it hosts many famous luxury brands. The passageway connects Piazza del Duomo to La Scala, one of the most prestigious Opera houses in the world, which you can also visit inside.
San Lorenzo-Ticinese, and its lively vibe
Ancient Roman columns, a beautiful basilica, a small park, and a myriad of shops and trendy cafés make San Lorenzo-Ticinese one of the city’s liveliest areas. It is also one of my favorites.
In this neighborhood, you’ll also see some colorful and beautiful graffiti on the walls and the shutters of many shops.
While you visit Milan, you can’t miss a stroll and a drink along the Navigli, the two canals lined by countless bars and restaurants. This is one of the main areas for Milan nightlife, and I suggest you have a stroll during day time and also at night to see how different the streets bordering the canals are at different moments. The Milan Navigli neighborhood has become rather touristy, so restaurants and bars are often pricey and don’t always offer top-quality food and drinks. But you’ll indeed have fun!
TIP: If you want to visit Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, book in advance. To preserve this unique masterpiece, only a limited number of people are allowed at the same time, and finding last-minute tickets is challenging, and you might miss out.
Brera, pretty cobblestones alleys, and antique shops
Another nice neighborhood to have a stroll in Milan is the Brera district. The beautiful Palazzo Brera, with its elegant courtyard, houses the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the most significant museums in Milan.
Brera is one of the city’s wealthiest areas, punctuated by magnificent buildings and opulent antique shops.
Parco Sempione and the Arch of Peace
A majestic arch, a pretty park, and, in perfect symmetry on the opposite side, the Sforza castle.
The area around Parco Sempione has many beautiful buildings, and the park is a perfect spot to relax sitting on the grass or on one of the many benches dotting the alleys. People playing football, hikers and runners, families with kids, and couples tenderly kissing. Apart from tourists, you can see a lot of local life here.
Milan architecture and its hidden beauty
With its modern skyscrapers, the newly built Porta Nuova district is another point of interest in Milan. Here you can see the Unicredit Tower, the Diamond Tower, and Bosco Verticale, the residential buildings designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri and housing trees on their balconies that won prestigious international awards.
Nearby, the recently refurbished Central Station is now back to its ancient splendor and magnificence.
And then, there are gems you don’t expect, like the Stock Exchange, with the controversial L.O.V.E. sculpture by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Or Piazza Sant’Alessandro, a charming little square bordered by magnificent baroque palaces.
Without knowing, you’ll walk by churches that look unassuming from the outside but house impressive frescoes. And if you glance inside historic buildings, you’ll spot charming courtyards.
So yes, Milan might not be unique as Venice, nor does the city boast as many ancient monuments as Florence or Rome. But it is worth visiting Milan and spending a few days in a city which has indeed a lot to offer. I hope that showing you Milan in photos inspired you to visit this beautiful city.
Some of the best guided tours in Milan and day trips
Pin for later!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.