Milan effortlessly oozes style and sophistication; it is one of the world’s most fashionable cities after all. Forget the picture-perfect palaces and side streets of Florence and Rome, this Italian city offers a slightly different vibe, with something to offer everyone. It’s a forward-thinking, urban gem, that acts as Italy’s industrial powerhouse. Despite this, the city still manages to remain romantic and exciting, with a much smaller amount of tourists than other Italian holiday destinations. Business and fashion are the driving forces behind Milan, but you’ll discover that the city has a fascinating history, with plenty to satisfy culture vultures and art history buffs. The iconic gothic cathedral in the centre of town is a must-see, but that’s certainly not all. The city’s churches and art galleries house some of the world’s most famous art works that have impressed visitors for centuries. Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend away or a family holiday with a difference, a holiday spent in Milan in 2017 certainly won’t disappoint.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Italian
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 1h 55m
When to go
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Once you’ve located the city’s incredible cathedral, the more energetic holiday maker might like to consider climbing to the top of it, where amazing views of the city await. If you’d prefer to stay at ground level, make time for one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Head to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and inside the monastery you’ll be stunned by Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting; The Last Supper. When you’ve had your cultural fill, there’s only one thing left to do in Milan, and that’s shop. For some people, shopping is the only reason they come to the city, so the shops are unlikely to leave you wanting more. The best place to indulge yourself is the well-known Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle shopping Mall. You’ll feel like a celebrity as you float from luxury boutique to luxury boutique. After all, everyone needs a holiday souvenir or two, don’t they?
Wine and Dine
Due to its fashion-centric identity, there’s a definite air of exclusivity in some areas of Milan. If you’re looking to try somewhere a bit special, you won’t have trouble finding a restaurant with top-quality food and romantic atmosphere. Aside from the fancier spots, there are still plenty of other options to suit everyone’s budget. One Italian tradition is to sit down for an “aperitivo.” Between the hours of about 6pm and 10pm many of the bars lay out a buffet of food that you are welcome to help yourself to, if you buy a drink. What better accompaniment to an Aperol Spritz, than a plate filled with mozzarella, salami, and pasta? Keep an eye out for specific dishes that originate from Milan too; if you spot Cotoletta on the menu, give it a go. It’s not for the faint-hearted (or vegetarians) though, you’ll be given a fairly thick veal cutlet on the bone, fried in butter. Don’t forget that during a holiday in Milan it would be criminal not to try some of the country’s delicious wine with every meal if you can.
A holiday in Milan is perfect for all types of families. Get the kids excited about exploring Italian culture by giving them a taste of the city’s amazing museums. They’ll be captivated by the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, with plenty of interactive displays to keep them occupied. If that’s not enough, there’s even a museum specifically designed for kids; Museo dei Bambini. Together you can get stuck into the various artistic activities on offer using mainly recycled goods. After a busy morning of activities, settle into a family-friendly restaurant of which there are many in Milan. What kids don’t like pizza, pasta and ice cream? Not many! Watch them enjoy their first taste of authentic Italian food in the beautiful setting of Milan. If the family want a break from city life then kids will love taking the train through the Italian countryside to one of the lakes north of the city – perfect for a day trip to remember.
Action and Adventure
Sightseeing in any Italian city is an amazing experience, but there’s something particularly special about sightseeing in Milan, if you have enough of a sense of adventure. Walking around is an option, and taking an open-top bus tour is another option. But what if there was something even more fun on offer? Well, there is: a segway tour! Why not hop on one and take a 3-hour tour around the city instead of tiring your legs out? You’ll be able to see the city from a whole new perspective and cover much more ground. If segways aren’t for you, don’t forget Milan’s proximity to the Alps and Dolomites. Within a couple of hours you’ll find yourself on the slopes, ski poles in hand, ready to slalom to your heart’s content. For the non-skiers still looking for an injection of clean mountain air, there are plenty of hiking routes a reasonable distance from Milan too.
Life's a Beach
A holiday to Milan doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay in the city the whole time. The city itself may not be near a beach but that doesn’t mean you won’t find beautiful bodies of water nearby. In under two hours you’ll reach the stunning Lake Como, where George Clooney famously has a holiday home. It’s easy to see why, with its exclusive restaurants and truly beautiful scenery. Hop in the car or take the train if you fancy some delicious Italian white wine over lunch. It’s the perfect distance for a day trip from Milan. Also nearby is Lake Lugano. It’s much smaller than Como and attracts fewer tourists, so if you’re looking for a quieter day out then Lugano is the one for you. Most of the lake is actually in Switzerland but towns such as Porlezza and Valsola are on the Italian side and make an idyllic pit-stop for a spot of lunch.
After all that shopping and culture, it’s time to let your hair down. After indulging at one of Milan’s fantastic restaurants you might fancy taking things further and heading to a local bar. You’ll be pleased to hear that Milan certainly knows what it’s doing in terms of nightlife. All the fashionistas come out at night, and so do the city’s University students, so you’re sure to find a spot to suit your mood. To kick off the night, head down to the Navigli district. It sits along Milan’s canals and is home to some of the best bars and cafes. Think cosy wine bars and funky cocktails bars; whether you’re in search of a romantic evening or wild night out, Navigli will provide the goods. Once the night out properly gets going most people head to the Brera area, which is regarded as the bohemian district. Here you’ll find even more lively bars and nightclubs where you can party on until dawn.
For the couple looking for a romantic weekend away just under two hours from the UK, a holiday in Milan could be the answer. Start the weekend with a coffee at a local bar to get the holiday started in true Italian style. Then, spend the day wandering the city streets and getting lost in the art galleries, before trying out some of Milan’s top restaurants to mark a special occasion. You’ll be able to spend some real quality time together sampling some delicious Italian food and sipping on some local wine as the sun goes down. It’s not all about the food though. The city has so much to offer in terms of glitz and glamour. Head to the Fashion District and browse the flagship stores of Armani and Gucci, followed by a stroll through the elegant arcades of shops. Whether you intend on splashing some cash or simply window shopping, you’ll come home feeling far more glamorous than when you arrived.
No Italian city is lacking in culture, and Milan is no different. A holiday in Milan could easily be spent inside art galleries and churches, there are definitely enough of them! For those into contemporary art specifically, the best offering is the Trienalle Design Museum. It hosts frequent exhibitions although they aren’t usually heavily advertised. You'll spot the building easily; it has a spectacular bridge entrance, leading you into the stylish gallery. After you’ve seen what Italian contemporary art has to offer, step a bit further back in time at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology. This is the largest of its kind in Italy and well worth a visit. You’ll only need to spend a couple of hours walking around Milan and you’ll stumble upon numerous churches from varying time periods. Pop your head into as many as possible (most are free) and be dazzled by the beautiful architecture and art work that hangs inside.