Our Favourite Things to Do in Milan

In Italy's darling of fashion and finance, there's so much to explore. Here we're sharing some of our top choices of things to do during your next city break.

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Milan skyline at sunset

If you're heading to Italy's darling of fashion and finance, you've chosen a fine place indeed. Wondering how to spend your time in the city wisely, though? Well, luckily for you, we here at Plum Guide are rather clued up on the best things to do in Milan. Here we're walking you through the best things to do from one neighbourhood to the next.

Be bohemian in Brera

Street with motorcycle, tram and cars in Brera

Street with motorcycle, tram and cars in Brera

Artsy-wealthy district Brera is a chic area in the city centre. If you want the Milan of the movies, then Brera is the place that epitomises all of those wild, carefree European fantasies. With its elegant apartment buildings (in which you'll find some equally elegant Plum Guide homes), world-class art galleries, and cobbled streets, Brera echoes its Bohemian history without the noise and chaos of neighbouring Duomo. Even though it was once the low-rent place-to-be for those on a pilgrimage to Milan, these days it's filled with fashionable galleries and clothing stores for some of the best shopping in Milan. Rent here is high, and its residents are some of the wealthiest in the city.

Make it modern in Porta Nuova Isola

Bridge at nighttime in Porta Nuova Isola

Bridge at nighttime in Porta Nuova Isola

High end rollers on the vacation scene will find their best selves on Porta Nuova Isola. Made up of the Garibaldi, Isola, and Varesine districts, this is the new business district. Full of futuristic and modernist bars and restaurants, high rises, skyscrapers, and other towers dominate the neighbourhood’s skyline. Its pedestrian district, during the daytime, is awash with locals doing their designer shops for the night ahead. When the sun goes down, it’s all about happy hours, dancing, and the excellent club scene.

Unwind in Navigli

Reflection on the river at nighttime in Navigli

Reflection on the river at nighttime in Navigli

Formed around Milan's group of canals, Navigli, in the southwest section of the city, dates back to the 12th century. These same canals you see today were once used for trade, though now their banks and pavements have been taken over by bustling bars and cafés. The streets around the canals resemble Copenhagen more than they do the rest of Milano. Navigli is a relaxed and quaint neighbourhood with narrow passages and green courtyards full of plenty of things to do in Milan if you like a more leisurely way of life (you are on holiday after all).

See the sights in Corso Magenta

Santa Maria delle Grazie in Corso Magenta

Santa Maria delle Grazie in Corso Magenta

The stunning Chiesa di Sant'Ambrogio - a Romanesque church dedicated to Milan's Patron Saint - and the University campus are the cornerstones of Corso Magenta. Quiet cafés serving exquisite coffees and beautiful shops are all over the place, but Corso Magenta's Holy Grail is Santa Maria delle Grazie. A Renaissance church that's home to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper is a must-see which should be on everyone's list of things to do in Milan. This glorious and timeless piece of art is a must-see, but also a difficult one to if you're running on a short amount of time at high tourist season. Make sure you book your tickets in advance.

Explore the old meets new of Porta Venezia

Busy street in Porta Venezia

Busy street in Porta Venezia

Old Milan meets new Milan in Porta Venezia. Milan’s longest commercial shopping strip, Corso Buenos Aires cuts right through the middle of the neighbourhood. The rest of the neighbourhood is made up of smaller streets which have everything from second-hand designer jewelry and vintage shops to immersive art galleries - the Giò Marconi Gallery and Spazzio Maiocchi are here. Porta Venezia is also home to Milan’s most romantic park, Pubblici Indro Montanelli, which leads to the museum of modern art.

Come alive in Ticinese

Family with dog walking past a colourful building facade in Milan

Family with dog walking past a colourful building facade in Milan

Ticinese, at the start of the Navigli, is a booming, exciting district full of young intellectuals and creatives, the rich and the struggling, and everyone else. It's also hipster central - so if you enjoy places like Williamsburg, Silver Lake, or Shoreditch - this is the Milanese neighbourhood that was made for you. You'll rediscover your youth as you explore the neighbourhood's creativity from one street to the next.

So there we have it – our favourite things to do in Milan no matter how you like to spend your time in a city. If you're planning a long weekend, make sure to read our Milan 3 day itinerary next.

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