Milan bucket list ideas | The best 19 attractions
Milan is a lively metropolitan hub often compared as just another city like London, Paris or New York but I think Not! The City of Milan is unique. Milan has Piazzas!! Milan has gelato! The city has Milanese Ossobuco! The city has all of the 19 attractions listed in this Milan bucket list ideas which makes it incomparable to other metropolises. I am working through the list as I shall be returning to Milan on many future occasions and I share them here with you.
About Milan bucket list ideas
I have included a Google MyMap towards the end of the post so, you too can use it to design your visit to Milan. Along with this map, there are some suggested tours which you can book to maximise your experiences. To have an authentic experience like a Milanese, get around Milan on their public transport! Everything you need for your Milan bucket list experience is right here, in this post. Scroll all the way down to see all related posts. So, grab yourself a cuppa or an aperitivo – here is the ultimate 19 ideas on Milan bucket list for exploring the best the city has to offer.
1 | Milan Cathedral | An absolute Milan bucket list experience
A combination of Gothic and Romanesque style, this pink and white facade is made of special marble from Val D’Ossola. The front facade is magnificent and is decorated with countless statues, spires and numerous carvings. A symbol of international effort by the many architects, sculptors and artists, this monument is top on Milan bucket list ideas.
Ways to experience the Milan Cathedral
Then, to top off your experience at Milan Cathedral, with the same skip-the line ticket, go up to the terraces, either via lift or stairs at just before sundown to catch the golden hues turning into the velvety night sky.
Recommended read: Best of Milan – Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo
Located in the centre of Milan, at Piazza del Duomo, Milan Cathedral is the symbol of Milan. No visit to this fashion capital is complete without stepping foot into its grand doors.
Piazza del Duomo | Milan Cathedral opening hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Recommended activity: Fast-track Milan Cathedral & Terraces Guided Tour
2 | Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Milan bucket list
Sitting just steps away from Milan Cathedral is the opulent and grandest of shopping mall! Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was designed by Guiseppe Mengoni and completed in 1877. With over 160 years of history, the Galleria Vittorio is one of the oldest shopping mall in the world.
The cross shaped mall covered via four glass panelled arms allows the sunlight in perfectly. So bright and airy! The walls and shop fronts are decorated with ornate panelling and beautiful stucco artwork. The Galleria exudes an air of luxury. There are a string of high-end designer names such as Prada, Versace and Louis Vuitton that line the mall.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza del Duomo | Accessible at all hours | Shops are typically open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Recommended read: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Why you should visit
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3 | La Scala Opera | Milan bucket list
Also known as “Temple of Opera”, the La Scala dates back to 1778. This historical opera theatre is one of its kind to have hosted as many great artists and composers in her time and continue to do so. One of the finest in the world, La Scala is renowned for its acoustic qualities, opulence and grandeur of the seating.
Experiencing a show, seating in one of the 6-tiers of seats or individual boxes that frame the stage in a semi-circle amidst full of red velvet drapes and gold furnishings is surely a memorable occasion. This makes one of Milan bucket list ideas for many, me included. To experience the show, get your tickets from the official La Scala website here.
La Scala is located in the small town square of Piazza della Scala, north of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, accessible from Piazza del Duomo.
Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy | Guided tours available at specific times.
Recommended activity for best experience: Join a tour of La Scala, learn about its history and visit the museums
4 | Castello Sforzesco | Milan bucket list
This 14th century building is one of the most famous landmarks in Milan. It looks very much like a castle and is set in extensive grounds and gardens. The original design had been modified over the years but still retains its elegance and status of power. It was home to the Dukes of Milan, the Sforza family.
These days, the castle is home to a number of small museums and collections containing a myriad of interesting artefacts and historical information about the castle and Milan.
There are a number of guided tours available where you can learn more of medieval Milan and the Dukes who once ruled this city. The 2-hour guided tour of Sforza Castle and the museum comes with skip-the-line priority giving you access to the grounds and all of the museums. The tours are timed for 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Ensure that you pre-book to secure your tour as soon as you work out your itinerary for Milan.
Castello Sforzesco | Piazza Castello, 3, 20121 Milan Italy | Opening times: Castle grounds free entry – 7.00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ; Museums – 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through to Sunday.
Recommended read: Sforza Castle and Museums
Recommended experience: Sforza Castle express guided tour
5 | Parco Sempione | Milan bucket list
Parco Sempione is a large public space that sits behind Sforzesco Castle. This beautifully landscaped park covers about 38 hectares (95 acres) and offers a myriad of footpaths, bike trails, shaded areas, sculptures and ornate fountains. Flora and fauna abound here.
Walk through the park to see the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace). There is also a little museum and Torre Branca, a huge watch tower that offers panoramic views of the city.
Parco Sempione is a perfect place to rest your feet if you have been on a walking-tour of the city or simply just to relax.
Address: Address: Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milano MI, Italy
|Sunday(Assumption of Mary)||6:30am–9pmHours might differ|
Recommended read: Parco Sempione – 5 must-see attractions
6 | Arch of Peace | Milan bucket list
The Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace) is one of the symbols of Milan and marks one of the city’s historical gates. This 18th century Neoclassical triumphal monument is a 23 metre marble structure at one end of the Simplon Road, Parco Sempione. This was the strategic route through the Alps taken by Napolean when he invaded northern Italy in 1800. Napolean later commissioned the arch to commemorate his victories.
Construction began in 1806 but was not completed until 1838, years after Napoleon’s death.
Address: Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milano MI, Italy
Recommended read: Arco della Pace – An unmissable monument in Milan
7 | Torre Branca | Milan bucket list
Torre Branca is a panoramic tower situated in Sempione Park. At 108.6 metres, Torre Branca is the 6th tallest structure in Milan after Unicredit Tower, Palazzo Lombardia, Pirellone or Pirelli Tower and the Breda Tower.
Address: Viale Luigi Camoens, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
8 | Pinacoteca di Brera | Milan bucket list
The Pinacoteca di Brera, otherwise known as Breara Picture Gallery is housed in Palazzo di Brera, an 18th century Neoclassical structure. Pinacoteca is an art museum. Founded in 1809 by Napoleon I and is one of the most important of Italian museums. It is home to a large collection of Italian art.
The museum’s exhibits consist some of the greatest masterpieces of Italian paintings from the 15th century to the 20th century. It has especially rich collections of Venetian and Lombard paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. There are works such as the Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Pieta by Bellini, the Last Supper by Rubens and the Adoration of the Magi by Correggio. The works are displayed on the first floor of the building, where the Academy of Fine Arts is also located.
This amazing historical museum is conveniently located in close proximity to both the Sforzesco Castle and the Piazza del Duomo and warrants a spot on Milan bucket list ideas.
Address: Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
There is a two hour guided walking tour available for you, combining a visit to Pinacoteca, with a fascinating walk through Milan’s popular Brera district.
Recommended activity: Walking tour of Brera District and a visit to Pinacoteca museum
9 | Brera District | Milan bucket list
Brera is a charming and rather enchanting area of Milan that has many hidden gems to explore. A distinct Bohemian beauty and simple old-school charm, Brera often finds itself in the top of Milan bucket list ideas of many visitors.
The main attraction in Brera is the area itself. The district is full of art academies, galleries, a number of antique shops and well-to-do restaurants and bars. It is a good area to eat like a local, from traditional pasta to pizza and have your Italian beer along with your meal.
You can also go on a little high-end retail therapy, wander through its picturesque cobbled streets, explore the many hidden gems, perhaps stopping for a coffee or an aperitivo in one of its squares.
The vibe here is fantastic and is an experience that should not be missed.
Location: To the north of the Duomo di Milano, in-between Borgonuovo and Broletta. | 20121 Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy |
Recommended activity: Discover Milan in 48 hours with Milan’s City Card
10 | Biblioteca Braidense – Brera Library
The Braidense National Library is in the same building as the Pinacoteca di Brera museum and the Brera Academy, making it a perfect stop for a visit. It is a public library, which was created in 1770 by Maria Theresa of Austria.The library was open in 1786. I included the Brera Library as one of Milan bucket list attraction because of its historical significance and contribution towards promoting the book as an object of art.
Furthermore, the Biblioteca Braidense is the third largest library in Milan. This Neo-classical library is home to a collection of 1,500,000 books, including 2,000 manuscripts, 350 of which date back to medieval times, and 25,000 sixteenth-century editions. The collection also includes catalogues, religious books housed in the reading room, a rare collection of letters and first editions by Alessandro Manzoni.
The reading rooms feature the library’s original wooden shelves and furnishings, crystal chandeliers, frescoed ceilings and a collection of antique paintings. A spot in Milan bucket list is highly merited, I think.
Address: Via Brera, 28, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
11 | Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie | Milan bucket list
Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) is located in the heart of Milan. An outstanding architecture, with a certain charm and grace, is an emblem to the Catholic religion.
The Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1466 and 1490 to a design by architect Guiniforte Solari. The church features a Gothic style using red bricks and a large rear basilica.
Inside the church, more precisely the refectory, on the wall is one of the greatest artistic masterpieces in the world – The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The mural depicts the scene of the Last Supper as described in the Bible. Throughout the years, this piece of artwork has been scrutinised and analysed for its hidden meanings and content. It only seems fitting that Santa Maria delle Grazie is included in Milan bucket list of ideas.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI,
Pro tip: This is a top rated attraction and tickets are sold out months ahead of time. Pre-book your tickets to secure your visit.
Secure your visit and pre-book one of the following 3 ways to visit to see this miraculous piece of art
12 | Sant Ambrogio Milan
Sant Ambrogio (Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is a church in the centre of Milan. This ancient building is one of Milan’s most important churches. Named after the city’s patron saint, Saint Ambrosius (Ambrose) who consecrated the church in 386 AD during his tenure as bishop of Milan. The church was built in 379 AD and was a focal point for the people, as the city of Milan was built around it.
The architecture is of a simple Romanesque style. Two large towers frame the front facade. The central courtyard is pretty, decorated with a series of ornate arches. The interior of the church features beautiful mosaics and artwork including the ceiling of the Oratory and the delightful depiction of Christ on one of the domes.
A visit to this church is highly recommended, meriting a spot on Milan bucket list ideas as it will provide an insight into the history of Milan and its religious importance.
Address: Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, 15, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
13 | San Bernadino alle Ossa
San Bernardino alle Ossa is a church but a very different kind of church from the rest of the churches in Milan. The church walls are completely covered in bones and skulls! Even the door knobs! Therefore a visit to San Bernardino may not be suitable for everyone.
According to its history, in 1145, a hospital was built near the Santo Stefano Maggiore Church, Milan. The graveyard,became overfilled with bodies from the new hospital, so in 1210 a little chamber was built to collect the bones from the hospital. In 1269 a small church was added near the bone chamber.
Today, you will find San Bernardino alle Ossa located at the end of a short corridor to the the right of the church’s entrance. The vault is decorated with frescos from Sebastiano Ricci, dating from 1695.
If you are interested in visiting an unusual church, visit the San Bernardino. Entrance is free.
Location: Piazza Santo Stefano, Milan, 20122 Italy | Entrance is Free | Closed on Sundays
14 | Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology
Leonardo da Vinci was a legendary man of true genius and amongst the most influential artists in history. He left a significant legacy not only in the realm of art but in science as well, each discipline informing his mastery of the other.a painter, an architect, an engineer, a theatrical producer. Therefore, it stands to reason that a museum named after him contains many of his works and a huge collection of other important scientific and technological displays.
As one of the most important museums in the world, one can expect to find collections of model cars created from da Vinci drawings, reconstructions of his flying machines, and a plethora of his drawings, blueprints and sketches.
Address: Via San Vittore, 21, 20123 Milan MI, Italy
15 | Archaeological Museum Milan
The Archaeological Museum of Milan is housed in the former convent of the Monastero Maggiore and the Church of San Maurizio. Both buildings were founded in 8th and 9th century. Dedicated to the history of ancient Milan, the museum features archaeological finds from several periods. This includes the Middle Ages, influences from the Etruscan civilization and also the ancient Greeks.
Address: Corso Magenta, 15, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
16 | Naviglio Grande
Navigli is fast becoming one of Milan’s most popular neighbourhoods, but there’s more to do here than seeing the canals.
The Naviglio Grande is one of the two canals in Milan. It stretches from the Porta Ticinese to the Ticino river some 50km to the west. Constructed in 1177, the canal was worked on for many years and continued to expand into what it is today.
The canals are busy, especially during the summer months where tourists are ferried up and down the water. The boat tours depart every hour from Alzaia Naviglio Grande. For a bucket list experience, you can choose to cruise the canal on Milan’s first (and only) Venetian Gondola, owned by the Canottieri San Cristoforo – they even offer gondolier lessons. Or you can just grab an aperitivo and sit along the harbour banks and soak in the lively vibe.
The Navigli area is popular as well for good bars and restaurants.
Address: 21015 Milan Italy
17 | Piazza dei Mercanti
Piazza Mercanti (Merchants Square) was once the heart of the city in the Middle Ages, a hub for many merchant activities and trade markets.
It is one of the most picturesque squares in Milan that still preserves an authentic Medieval atmosphere. Notable buildings are Pallazo della Ragione, the Pallazo delle Scuole Palatine and the Loggia degli Osii. There are some important statues and monuments here, some of which have Roman origins.
Pro tip: The loggia dei mercanti, an open air space beneath Pallazo della Ragione is a whispering gallery, Speak softly to some of its columns, and its archways will whisk your whispers to a well-placed listener on the opposite side of the portico.
Piazza Mercanti is located between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Corduiso | Address: Piazza dei Mercanti, 20123 Milan MI, Italy
Visit this easily accessible square (just 3 minutes walk from Piazza del Duomo) to admire its ancient origins and beautiful architecture.
18 | Porta Nuova
Porta Nuova is the modern face of Milan, making it one of Milan’s most contemporary and trendiest places to visit. The area is characterised by flagship stores, boutiques, residential skyscrapers and landmarks such as Gae Aulenti Square, the towering UniCredit Tower and Bosco Verticale.
Porta Nuova literally means “new gate” and is one of the six main gates to the city of Milan. It was originally built between 1810 and 1813 during the Napoleon era. Today, the Porta Nuova district is a popular attraction for commercial investments, tourists and locals.
A vibrant, futuristic, “must-see” district that stand their own ground alongside to the more famous of the historical attractions like the Duomo or La Scala masterpieces.
Address: Piazzale Principessa Clotilde, 37, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
19 | Ride the Historical Tram #1
This is completely different from a modern tram! In Tram #1, wooden benches are placed along the sides, wooden steps to get onboard, folding doors and sash windows. How cool is that! What is really special about this tram is that it is a vehicle with over 100 years of history, which means that there were many generations of Milanese who rode this tram to and from from work, shop or everywhere else.
Discover Milan by tram – join a two-and-half hour tour that will take you through the city of Milan. Some of the highlights include:
1 | Learn the history of the Dukes of Milan at Sforza Castle;
2 | Enjoy panoramic views of Napoleon’s Arch of Peace;
3 | Explore Milan’s longest shopping street;
4 | See the Duomo and La Scala Opera House;
5 | Climb aboard a streetcar from the 1930s;
Reserve your place on Milan City tour onboard the city’s tram and ride the historic tram #1
Practical information for planning your Milan bucket list experience
Here are some practical information to support your planning and visit to Milan.
1 | Map as a guide
Firstly, using a map as a guide – from the map below, you will note that most of the attractions are all within a cluster of walkable distance. Experiencing all 19 attractions on Milan bucket list idea may take more than a day and/or more than one visit depending on how long your vacation is for. The information in this post along with the map will support you in designing your itinerary and how best to experience these attractions.
How to use googlemymaps above: Click on the arrow at the top left corner of the map. You will see the places next to numbered markers of 1-19. Click on the individual places to learn more through information provided by google. Enlarge the map by clicking on the + for better views and reduce it by clicking – when not needed.
2 | Culturally beautiful places to stay in Milan
Select your accommodation from this carefully curated list >> Places to stay in Milan according to neighbourhoods
3 | Things to do in Milan
Below is a summary of suggested tours that you can participate in to learn more of the Milanese culture and the city’s history. Some has been mentioned above and also listed here for purposes of completion. Pre-book your tickets to secure your visit as some of these attractions are sold out months ahead of time. As bucket list attractions. you wouldn’t want to miss them! Stay flexible with easy cancellation up to 24 hours before the activity commences. Get your tickets downloaded to your phone for seamless skip-the-line visits.
Things to do suggestions:
Do a tour of Brera District – explore options here.
4 | Getting around Milan
To navigate around Milan, you may want to purchase the 48-Hour City Pass: Discover Milan With One Card, giving you free access to museums, transport options and discounts with affiliate restaurants. Just so you know, if you are selecting this 48-hour pass and wish to use the dining options, you need to plan ahead and pre-book your favourite restaurants. Milan is a tourist hotspot, and the best restaurants along with the best time slots are usually taken at least a month ahead of time.
For a detailed guide to Milan’s transport system and ticket options – a complete resource to everything you need to know about getting around Milan like a local – navigate to > Getting around Milan like a local.
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On a final note about Milan bucket list
Having a Milan bucket list is a good way to compile all the things you want to do and experience in this city. My bucket list comprises of 19 attractions and places to visit to learn more of Milan’s rich history and culture. My visits these days are not geared towards ticking off a list anymore. I spend more time in the moment and enjoy what I see and experience. By doing so, I have a more meaningful takeaway. I have left off food experiences in Milan as it warrants a whole post in itself. My sincere hope is that you have enjoyed reading this post and some of the attractions will find its way to your bucket list as well.
How about you 🙂
So, what do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to accomplish your Milan bucket list ideas? Would you add a few more to the list? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Your suggestions may be added as ‘Reader recommendations’ so readers could be aware of greater choices.
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Have a splendid time exploring the beautiful city of Milan.
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Milan bucket list ideas | The best 19 attractions first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update August 15, 2021