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Best attractions in Milan: Top 25

After reading this review, you will learn about the sights of Milan that every tourist must see. With them your trip to the hospitable Italian city will be unforgettable. If you do not know what to see in Milan, take into account our recommendations when compiling your sightseeing itinerary.

What to see in Milan first

In compiling our rating “the most interesting places in Milan”, we took into account the reviews of experienced guides and Italians themselves. In our general opinion, the best attractions in Milan are:

1. Milan Cathedral

Milano Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Milan

The beautiful Milanese temple is on all the lists of “major attractions in Italy“. You can compare it to a graceful and at the same time monumental marble rock, towering over the whole city. The architectural style of the building, which took five centuries to build, is Gothic. The cathedral can accommodate up to 40,000 guests inside at one time. You can see medieval stained glass windows, powerful columns and unusually high ceilings. If you do not want to see the “eighth wonder of the world” from the inside, come and admire its majestic exterior: the walls of white marble are decorated with thousands of sculptures depicting biblical scenes. On the central spire of the cathedral is a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. Such excursions in Milan cannot be overlooked.

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2. Piazza Duomo

Piazza del Duomo, Milan's main square

If you do not know what to visit in Milan, come to its main and most famous Piazza del Duomo. It is the historical, social and geographical center of the city and is home to many key landmarks. Including the monument to Victor Emmanuel the Second, the first ruler of the state. You can stroll among the ancient buildings, as well as purchase memorable souvenirs.

3. Sforza Castle

Castello Sforzesco or Sforza Castle in Milan Fishponds1981

The most famous palace of the city, erected in the 15th century. You can compare its appearance with that of the capital’s Kremlin: the shape of the battlements on the walls and towers is similar. How can one explain such a striking similarity? Because the Kremlin of Moscow was created in the image of this Milanese castle. Inside Castello Sforzesco there are priceless objects: rare musical instruments, unique sculptures and paintings (including paintings by Da Vinci) and busts of famous Italians.

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4. Santa Maria delle Grazie

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie Dominican Monastery in Milan

A 15th-century temple, inside which is The Last Supper, a legendary fresco by Da Vinci, more than 4.5 meters high and about 9 meters long. The illustrious genius depicted Christ and the apostles at full height. Because the fresco was displayed in the monastery refectory, the monks who gathered around the table for meals had the feeling that the heroes of the Supper were right there with them.

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5. Victor Emmanuel II Gallery

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

A beautiful tunnel that connects the Cathedral Square and the Piazza Teatro La Scala. The passage was officially opened at the end of the 19th century. The gallery was named after the first king of Italy, who was present at the celebration. The structure, richly decorated with sculptures and mosaics, is shaped like a cross, each end of which has its own entrance.

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See the beautiful places of Milan in this wonderful video!

6. Royal Palace

The Royal Palace (Royal Palace) in Milan Studios

What to visit in Milan for fans of architecture and history? This residence of kings: it now houses the temple of the Royal Palace, a cathedral museum with rare exhibits and a cultural center. Everyone can stroll through the sumptuous halls and view the rare interiors. Even the best hotels in Milan can’t boast the same luxurious views.

7. Branca Tower

Branca Tower (Torre Branca) in Milan

A 1933 structure made entirely of shining metal pipes and located in the central part of the city. An interesting fact that all the guides in Milan love to tell about the structure is that it took only 3 months to build the steel tower, which is a little less than 110 meters high. We recommend you to see this object even if your trip to Italy is short.

8. Civica Arena

Arena Civica "Gianni Brera" Stadium in Milan

The very first stadium in the country, which was erected in the early 19th century at the behest of Napoleon. Civica’s architect took the amphitheaters of ancient Rome as his model. The construction took only two years. If you like sports, then you should visit these sights of Milan.

9. Santa Maria della Passione

Church of Santa Maria della Passione in Milan Allan Parsons

The temple, created at the behest of Bishop Birago, is located in the central part of the city, and can be compared in size to the Cathedral. Originally, the majestic building was to have the shape of a Greek cross. Subsequently, however, several fine naves were added to the center of the site. The most remarkable element of della Passione is usually considered to be the huge dome with a polygon at its base. The facade of the structure was decorated with sculptural groups, the interior is decorated with paintings by famous artists and ancient frescoes. This cathedral is one of the best options for what to see in Milan in 1 day.

10. Royal Villa of Monza

The Royal Villa (Villa Reale di Monza) of Monza

Construction of the historic villa lasted for three years, starting in 1777. The building is located in the region of Lombardy and was originally meant to be a symbol of Habsburg greatness and home to the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand. Today it is one of the city’s most visited and beautiful architectural landmarks.

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Milan sights: what else to visit in Milan?

We have told you about the main attractions of Milan in brief. In addition to them, we recommend you to visit such interesting places and objects of the Italian city as:

11. Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology

The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology Jakub Hałun

Once you visit this original museum complex, you will learn about many unusual technical inventions and scientific discoveries. The center is divided into several thematic departments: with working samples based on Da Vinci’s drawings, with sketches and projects of the genius master. Examples of the museum’s exhibits are a robot knight that can move, a cart that walks on its own, a tank with 8 seats and a pyramidal parachute. As you know, some of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions were ahead of their time - you can see examples of them here. The interactive laboratories deserve a special mention - you’ll be invited to brew beer, make ink and soap bubbles that can’t burst.

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12. St. Ambrose Basilica

Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio in Milan

An architectural masterpiece of the 4th century that researchers believe was created with St. Ambrose’s participation. The building has been speculated to have been built in the area where the first followers of Christianity died in torture. The site received its present Romanesque appearance in the 11th century. Over its long history, the basilica has been demolished many times, but its medieval elements have been able to survive.

13. Monumental Cemetery

Monumental Cemetery (Cimitero Monumentale) in Milan

The complex is a sculpture park in an open area and the burial of famous personalities of Italy. Artists, composers and writers have found their last resting place here. For example. Giuseppe Verdi, one of the country’s greatest musicians, rests here. The tombstones and crypts can confidently be called works of art - they are graceful and beautiful.

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14. Piazza Mercanti

Piazza Mercanti, Piazza dei Mercanti in Milan pedrik

What will be interesting to see in Milan for everyone? This shopping “true Italian” square, arranged many years ago. You will see ancient castles, the facades of which are decorated with sculptures of D. P. Lasagna, a statue of a boar and the Palace of the Soviets with its monuments.

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15. Church of San Bernardino alle Ossa

Church of San Bernardino-Alle Ossa in Milan MarkusMark

Every ceiling and every wall of this temple is decorated with human bones. It is safe to say that this landmark is one of the darkest in all the world. The date of construction of the building is the 11th century. The history of the unusual “decor” is simple: not far from the church was a cemetery and a hospital. In the 13th century, Milan needed a new place to bury its citizens, as the cemetery was overcrowded. The authorities decided to open up the old graves, and store the bones from them in the church. A visit to this church is not the best choice of where to go in Milan with children. However, for an adult, a visit here seems interesting.

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16. La Scala Opera House

The world-famous opera house in La Scala Square in Milan

After exploring the sights of Rome, which has a fantastic cultural heritage, you can complete the experience in Milan with a trip to the La Scala Opera House, the world-famous center of opera culture. It was built in 1778 on a small square on the site of an ancient church, from which it takes its name. The theater building is decorated in the strict neoclassical style, and inside there is a stunning acoustics, which became a real legend. It is all about the design of the hall, which is made in the form of a huge horseshoe, so the sound reaches the audience from all sides equally beautiful and clear, no matter which seat they choose - the gallery or the stalls. After the recent renovation, the theater was further transformed with the creation of a unique acoustic floor, restoration of the decorations and paintings, and the addition of two more towers. The 2015-seat opera hall is decorated in a noble red and gold palette, creating an impression of wealth and luxury.

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17. The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore

Monument to Constantine the Great in front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Milan

In Milan, one of the most modern cities in Italy, there are still places that testify to its rich history. One of them is the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, built at the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries. It is the second largest temple in Milan, consecrated in the name of St. Lawrence, and the ancient colonnade, which decorated the Roman city of Mediolanum in times immemorial, testifies to the solid age of the structure. All the restorations that have affected the building have not greatly altered the classical Byzantine architecture; even the early Christian mosaics in the southern part of the basilica have survived. A “Last Supper” fresco meets the entrance, the dome is decorated with paintings of evangelists, and the altar reliquary holds the relics of Saints Lawrence and Hypollite. Just in front of the basilica rises a statue of Emperor Constantine - it is believed that it was here that he declared the freedom of religion of Christianity in the 4th century.

18. Ambrosian Pinacoteca

Facade of Europe's oldest public library in Milan Elekhh
Exhibits in the hall of the art museum - Ambrosian Pinacoteca in Milan Riccardo Ortelli
The interior of the Ambrosian Pinacoteca in Milan Alejandro

Almost in the heart of Milan is the Palazzo Ambrosiana, inside which is a museum and the ancient library of St. Ambrosius, where 700,000 unique manuscripts and priceless books are stored. Contrary to the association of the Pinacoteca with a dull room where paintings are dusted, the Ambrosiana is a major museum, where you can see not only remarkable works of painting, but also other masterpieces of art. Founded in the early 17th century by the Archbishop of Borromeo, the Pinacoteca is housed in an earlier palace and is named in honor of the city’s patron saint, St. Ambrosius. The collection is housed on two floors of the palace in its 24 rooms and contains a treasure trove of works of sculpture and painting. One of the most recent pieces collected is a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, painted for the monastery. The historic structure also has halls that are used today for celebrations and business events.

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19. The Pinacoteca Brera

Milano Pinacoteca Brera in the 16th century palace Paolo da Reggio
Artistic paintings by Italian and European masters in the halls of the Pinacoteca Brera

Milan is a cultural city of Italy that preserves great works of art, and one of the largest repositories of paintings is located here - the Pinacoteca Brera. Brera name itself reflects the location of the institution in the historical district of Milan with the same name. The ground floor of this ancient institution today houses the study rooms of the Academy of Fine Arts for practical classes. The second floor is occupied by the gallery of the Pinacoteca, which was officially opened in 1809. The main theme of most of the presented paintings is religious, because the institution once housed a monastery of the Order of the Lowly. However, in the 38 halls of the gallery are presented landscapes of Venice, portraits, and the most valuable frescoes and sculptures, and, of course, ancient icons - each of the works represents a particular school of painting.

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20. Poldi Pezzoli Museum

Large collection of weapons and armor at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli Museo Poldi pezzoli

A visit to the museums will diversify and add to the experience of any vacation spent in such a wonderful city of Italy as Milan. The city’s museums represent masterpieces of Italian and world culture from the Renaissance to the modern avant-garde. Poldi Pezzoli Museum is one of the richest galleries in Europe with a private collection of art, antique weapons, jewelry and various antiques. The collection once belonged to a noble member of the Poldi Pezzoli family, who traveled and collected a lot. In the mid-19th century, he inherited the family home, where he decided to set up a museum. All the exhibits are presented in several rooms - the Armory with armor and weapons, the Dante’s Gallery, the Black Room in the Northern Renaissance style, the Yellow Room in the Rococo style, and the Golden Room in the Renaissance style deserve attention.

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21. Villa Reale

Villa Reale in neoclassical style among a landscape park in Milan Sailko

Italian villas, like jewels, adorn her magnificent cities. They are all unique in their own way and have their own atmosphere. When choosing what to see in Milan and its surroundings, it’s worth stopping at one of the villas, such as Villa Reale. It is a beautiful palace and park ensemble of the Classical era, attracting fans of walks and fans of picturesque architecture. This complex is especially appreciated for its English-style landscape park, with romantic bridges and beautiful pavilions in the shade of sprawling trees, neat paths and well-groomed flowerbeds. The villa repeatedly attracted famous European personalities with its beauty, among whom was Napoleon himself, who wanted the place to be his residence. Later in the halls of the palace appeared museum exhibitions - today you can see the works of Van Gogh, Picasso, Manet and other famous masters.

22. Velasca Tower

Cityscape with the 106-meter Velasca Tower against the blue sky in Milan

In Italy, skyscrapers are not welcome - they do not fit in the traditional historical buildings of most cities, but in Milan, progress has affected the urban architecture. Where are skyscrapers in Milan? Most of them are located in the historic center - here, for example, you can see a unique complex “Vertical Forests”, the first high-rise of Milan - the Pirelli Tower, as well as the Velasca Tower, which caused the greatest resonance in the society. Velasca was built in the 1950s in the Art Nouveau style, its architects, inspired by industrial architecture, tried to combine its features with the design traditions of ancient fortresses. The result was a creation with controversial architecture that attracted a lot of criticism and even ranked among the most gloomy and ugly buildings. But this does not diminish the demand for the Velasca Tower - today the lower floors are occupied by offices and stores, while the upper floors are occupied by residential units.

23. Middle Finger Monument

The Monument to the Middle Finger in Piazza Affari in the historic center of Milan Paolobon140

While the sights of Venice, where watery streets are gently cut by gondolas and cathedral domes shine in the sunset rays, are the lot of lofty and romantic souls, Milan sometimes surprises with truly scandalous objects, such as the monument to the Middle Finger, located in the historic center. Yes, this monument depicts the very same, indecent gesture. The unusual landmark appeared in 2010 in front of the Stock Exchange building, and the main idea of this creation was supposedly a protest against the financial stratification of society. Initially, a huge fist with a thumbscrew was supposed to stand there for two days, but apparently, the residents of the city liked the idea of sending the stockbrokers away, and the monument is still in its original place. The shocking sculpture has truly gigantic dimensions - the height of the fist with the finger is 4 meters, the pedestal is 7 meters.

24. Park Sempione

Resting in the famous picturesque Parco Sempione in Milan

The Parco Sempione, created in the late 19th century on the site of the former Sforza Castle square, is modeled after English landscape parks and occupies an impressive area of nearly 400,000 square meters. In late spring, when the well-tended lawns are still pleasantly green, it’s particularly pleasant to enjoy a picnic in the warm sunshine on one of them. May vegetation, walking paths, shady places to relax, a lake and fountains, flowerbeds and majestic plane trees - in short, it’s perfect to see what to see in Milan in May. Especially loved by tourists Sempione, because there are museums of decorative and ancient art, a gallery of musical instruments. Also eye-catching are the architectural creations, such as the cast-iron Mermaid Bridge with four figures of sea maidens, openwork steel tower Branca. The park is not far from the central Duomo Square, Milan, and the road to the park passes through Sforza Castle.

25. Canal Naviglio Grande

Canal Naviglio Grande or Grand Canal in Milan in the evening

Naviglio is the most romantic and beautiful neighborhood of Milan, steeped in the spirit of creativity. Naviglio is Milan’s most romantic and beautiful neighborhood, filled with creativity. Once there were plans to build a network of canals and turn the city into a second Venice, but only three canals remain of this vast waterway network, the most picturesque of which is the Naviglio Grande. Along it are many pedestrian bridges, churches, antique shops, artists’ studios, and the atmospheric Prachek alley. The suburban part of the canal is topped by magnificent villas with flowering gardens. During the warmer months there are sightseeing streetcars on the water, so a boat trip along the Naviglio Grande Canal is an ideal way to build a route to Milan’s most beautiful places, when the city opens up from a new angle, in all its splendor.

We hope that the sights of Milan, pictures with names and descriptions of which we have given, you will want to see for yourself. Read also about sights of Naples and get inspired for your further trip to Italy.

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