The 10 Very Best Things to Do in Milan with Kids
This guide was created with a single mission: entertain the whole family
So you’re considering visiting Milan with the kids. Not a bad option at all. The city brims with churches, art galleries and archaeological sites. Yet, we bet that your kids’ most amusing moment at each one of these will be terrorizing the flocks of pigeons that peacefully sunbathe at the piazzas where the most famous historical landmarks lie. And while we occasionally share the same feeling about sightseeing, we believe that your trip to Milan should be equally fun for the family’s younger and older members. This diverse list is a good place to start, because here at Plum Guide, we will only offer you the very best advice. After all, we are experts at this holiday lark. We're going to list activities that will not only become strong negotiating cards for you to push your family trip to Milan agenda during the next family dinner, but also keep boredom levels at a minimum when you finally get there. Here are the very best things to do in Milan with kids.
- Visit the National Museum for Science and Technology
- Take a trip to the Civic Planetarium
- Explore the Natural History Museum
- Enjoy the entertainment at Idroscalo Lake
- Spend a day at Leolandia
- Let them loose at Indro Montanelli Public Gardens
- Watch some football at the San Siro
- Visit the Duomo
- Take a family trip to the Civic Aquarium
- Walk along the Naviglio Grande
1. Visit the National Museum for Science and Technology
The name of the museum may scare your little ones off if their inner geek side hasn’t surfaced yet, but a walk around the various exhibition areas will change their mind instantly (and inevitably accelerate the process). The museum’s exhibits run the gamut from an ‘Air and Water Transport’ building and a telecommunications department to a Leonardo da Vinci gallery and an Energy System room. One of these is bound to make the grade, spark up their interest and become one of the best things to do with kids in Milan.
2. Take a trip to the Civic Planetarium
The Civic Planetarium “Ulrico Hoepli” of Milan is the largest planetarium in Italy and if your youngsters are fascinated by space, galaxies and solar systems, this visit will do wonders in sparing you from having to answer obscure back-to-back questions regarding the mysterious ways of the universe. At least for a while. Here you’ll see a reproduction of the starry night sky while learning about several astronomical phenomena. Several educational and entertaining activities for the kids and the whole family take place. Once you’re back to your Plum Guide apartment, you can stare at Italy’s night sky from your balcony and test whether your kids have actually learned something with a couple of questions. Feel proud if they answer correctly, set an early bedtime if they don’t. It’s a win-win situation. The planetarium is located at the Giardini Publici square and if you get there it will be a shame not to visit the Natural history Museum which is located just a stone’s throw away.
3. Explore the Natural History Museum
Plan a visit to the Natural History Museum and fuel your kids’ imagination with real dinosaur skeletons and huge reconstructions of extinct animals. The colossal exhibits will either give them nightmares for weeks or a lifelong fascination for science and anthropology. Parenting decisions are sometimes as simple as flipping a coin. Before heading inside, spend some time to admire the extraordinary 19th-century building that features elements of the neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic architecture styles (and to unleash hell upon the pigeons of course). Pack snacks and be prepared to roam around 6 areas with exhibits that cover the evolution of mankind. You may be able to pinpoint the stage your young ones are currently at as well.
4. Enjoy the entertainment at Idroscalo Lake
Just when you thought we’re set on turning your family vacation to Milan into an educational field trip. Worry not our beloved reader. We are well versed in the ancient tactic of tiring the kids out on a family trip in favour of some alone time after sundown. Plus, we like the great outdoors as much as a museum’s exhibition hall and when it comes to a list with the best things to do in Milan with kids, not including both would be an oversight. The artificial lake-turned-park called Idroscalo offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as horse riding, canoeing and sailing on dragon boats. Spend the day chasing around the little ones and when exhaustion takes over, it’s time for the final blow. There’s a daily event taking place at Idroscalo Lake every evening. Before getting to your Plum Guide home, the kids will get the chance to see a show that might involve a dance performance, a live orchestra performing a musical or an opera play depending on how lucky (or rather unlucky) your kids are.
5. Spend a day at Leolandia
Leolandia Italy is a theme park with 40 attractions and rides, gardens and fountains where cartoon characters stroll around. Located just outside Milan, Leolandia is one of those places that we could urge you to hide from your kids unless you want to spend an afternoon chasing second-rate cartoon characters for a photo or boarding Thomas the tank engine for a ridiculously slow ride. However, we bet that your inner voice wouldn’t allow you to deprive your youngsters of the joy to visit Italy’s most popular amusement park. And then brag about it to their friends. Aside from several vertiginous rides, Leolandia features an educational farm, an aquarium and (luckily for you) several restaurants and cafes serving traditional Italian delicacies.
6. Let them loose at Indro Montanelli Public Gardens
When scouting Milan for the weirdest flavours of gelato becomes unendurable, head for the Indro Montanelli public gardens, a vast park in the Porta Venezia district in northeastern Milan. There you’ll find lush green gardens and numerous playgrounds that make up the oldest park in Milan, inaugurated in 1784. On weekends and sunny afternoons, the gardens teem with the laughter of berserk children running through the trees. Bear in mind that these kids are Italian and don’t be alarmed by the frantic hand gestures, war cries and combative shrieks. They just want to play. Do allow your kids to get in touch with local culture at the
battlegrounds playgrounds while you kick back with a picnic basket full of wine. Now doesn't that sound like one of the best things to do in Milan with kids for everyone involved?
7. Watch some football at the San Siro
If football is a bit of an obsession in your household, or if you just fancy experiencing some traditional Italian tribalism, a trip to the San Siro is a must. Home to two of the country’s best teams (AC Milan and Inter), this arena is probably better suited to slightly older children, but the atmosphere and passion really is something to savour. Ticket prices vary depending on the opposition, so prepare to spend slightly more if one of Italy’s other footballing giants are coming to town, such as Juventus or Napoli. One thing doesn’t change depending on opposition though, and that’s the noise generated from the 80,000 fans that fill the stadium week in week out - perhaps consider some headphones for the youngsters.
8. Visit the Duomo
The Duomo truly is one of those monuments that just takes your breath away, so you can’t plan a visit to Milan without stopping by. Completed in 1965, this famous cathedral was actually a work in progress for six centuries, with initial construction believed to have begun back in 1386 - there’s long term goals, and then there’s this. While its size and proportion is a cause for fierce debate, the Duomo di Milano is possibly the second largest church in the world, behind only St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. With Vatican City being a sovereign state however, the Duomo is officially the largest church in the Italian Republic - which won’t surprise you when you stand at its feet. Bring the kids here to blow their minds, and maybe even get them into architecture. Perhaps it will even be their buildings you're visiting in the future.
9. Take a family trip to the Civic Aquarium
When you’re deciding on activities that the whole family will enjoy, you never need to look further than an aquarium. And when you’re right around the corner from the third oldest aquarium in the world, you don’t even have a choice. We’ll see you there. As well as all the expected perks of the venue, with fish, starfish, a walk-through tunnel, and much more, this aquarium is also teeming with historical significance. It is the only surviving building from the 1906 Milan International, and features a statue of Neptune above the entrance (in case you had forgotten what an aquarium was). With a focus on the marine life of Italy’s coasts, this makes for a perfect day trip with the family - both educational and endlessly fascinating. What more could you want?
10. Walk along the Naviglio Grande
Maybe you don’t need to walk the full 31 miles along this scenic canal, but a stroll along even some of it promises some excellent family time. Amble along at your own pace in the Milan sunshine, listening to the wind in the trees and watching the water gently roll alongside you as you make your way to the end point at Porta Ticinese dock. And as serene and peaceful as this walk is, it isn’t the only appeal - this is Milan after all. Just like everything else in this renowned city, the Naviglio Grange is steeped in history, allegedly dating back to 1157. It started out as a simple ditch to allow for the development of transport and agriculture, and reached Milan in 1258, becoming fully functional in 1272. Head out for your walk to catch the sunset, where the rows of buildings will be gently lit, and capture the perfect picture. Oh, and maybe get one of the kids, too.
11. Catch a children’s opera show at the Teatro alla Scala
Amusingly, adults over the age of 18 are not allowed into one of the Teatro alla Scala’s special children's shows unless they are accompanied by a youngster. A handful of times a year, this famous opera house puts on a show specifically for kids, so timing your trip for one of these will definitely go down as one of your better ideas. The kids will find themselves mesmerised by the impressive performance, and with the shows only lasting one hour, it’s the perfect duration for a casual opera fan. On top of this, the opera house itself is a fascinating building, founded after the home of opera in Milan had been burned to the ground in 1776. It’s regarded as one of the world’s most famous opera houses, with numerous high-profile names taking to the stage over the last 250 years, so a trip here is simply a must, especially with kids in tow.
12. Spend a day at Museo dei Bambini Milano
Finally, rounding off this expert guide to your family trip to Milan, we have the MUBA Museo dei Bambini Milano, or the Milan Children’s Museum. This is one for kids of all ages, with an array of workshops, activities, and exhibitions for the children to get stuck into. Watch them experience the importance of theatre, or observe nature in a unique and memorable way. The museum will also cater for you while the kids are busy, with a food hall and a picturesque garden for you to explore. It’s worth noting that a lot of the workshops on offer are held in Italian, but your child will still enjoy an unforgettable day - and who knows, maybe they’ll even learn a new language.