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Guide to Milan

Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region at the northern edge of Italy, is synonymous with haute couture as the home of many of Italy’s most desirable designer brands (think Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and so many more). Its stylish reputation goes back centuries—in the Middle Ages, Lombardy’s position at the base of Europe made it a convenient location for trade, and the flow of money and cross-cultural ideas entering the city inspired incredible artistic innovation. The city was the home of Leonardo da Vinci, whose ideas on art and science revolutionized the world. Today, Milan’s grand architecture still draws visitors from around the world; the Duomo, which took six centuries to complete, is a jaw-dropping wonder that must be seen to be believed.

Today, Milan is the country’s financial center, as well as a cultural hub. Modern skyscrapers share the skyline with neoclassical marble buildings like the La Scala opera house and the medieval Castello Sforzesco. In keeping with their history, Milanese love creativity and innovation in all fields, and some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants are decidedly avant-garde. Not surprisingly, it’s a shopper’s paradise, with an incredible selection of vintage shops that collect truly unforgettable designer pieces from years past. From the historic city center to artsy Brera to hip young Navigli, there’s a place in Milan for everyone.

Getting Around

Milan is home to Italy’s second largest international airport after Rome, Malpensa (MXP). You can find direct flights here from most major cities on the East Coast, as well as easy connections from most European hubs. The Malpensa Express train will take you from the airport to Milano Centrale station in about an hour, and it’s easily accessed from within the international terminal. From Centrale, it’s easy to grab a taxi at the stand outside to get to your hotel. 

Milan’s public transportation system, known as ATM, covers the whole city and comprises a metro, buses, and adorable old-fashioned trams. (Don’t get confused if you see signs marked “ATM” around the city—they’re not bank machines!) Metro stops are conveniently located near most of the major tourist attractions, so it’s an easy way to make the most of the city if you have limited time to see the sights. You can buy one-way or unlimited-ride tickets in metro stations or at newsstands. Be sure to hang on to your ticket once you’ve entered a metro station, because you’ll need to swipe it again to exit. Uber is also available and is widely used here, though prices may be higher than what you’re used to at home.

Eat

   10 Corso Como

10 Corso Como Milan Italy

For the perfect encapsulation of Milan’s fashionable spirit, this upscale concept store features beautiful clothes, gorgeous homewares, and stunning art installations—and delicious food! The plant-filled in-store café is a wonderful spot for a light lunch or just an afternoon espresso and tiramisu.

Corso Como 10
+390229013581

   Al Porto

Al Porto Milan Italy

This traditional seafood restaurant has been serving specialties from Versilia, on the Tuscan coast, for more than 50 years. It’s located at the end of the Darsena reservoir in the Navigli neighborhood and overlooks a stunning garden in spring and summer.

Piazzale Antonio Cantore
+390289407425

   Caffe Camparino

Caffe Camparino Milan Italy

The vibe at this historic bar feels right out of an old movie—the bartenders all wear white suits and bowties, and the back bar is lined with ruby-red bottles of Campari, Milan’s most famous invention. It’s virtually unchanged since the 1860s, when the Milano-Torino cocktail, a predecessor of the negroni, was invented here.

Piazza Duomo 21
+390286464435

   Ceresio 7

On the rooftop of the designer brand Dsquared2’s headquarters, this unique spot with amazing views of the city features two sparkling swimming pools, a world-class cocktail bar, and an airy restaurant for indoor or outdoor dining.

Via Ceresio 7
+390231039221

   Cracco

Routinely on the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants, this Michelin-starred temple to Milanese innovation is luxury itself, with hand-painted wallpaper, gilded fixtures, and antique mirrors inside the city’s oldest shopping center. If a dinner here is too pricy, come during the day to experience its sister café for coffee and pastries, a casual pizza, or an aperitivo at the bar.

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II
+3902876774

   Da Giacomo

For a taste of the south of Italy when you’re in the north, this seafood-centric restaurant is a must. The zuppa di pesce has the most flavorful broth we’ve tasted, and pasta favorites like spaghetti con vongole and gnocchi were all perfection. The tiramisu is excellent, too!

Via Pasquale Sottocorno angolo Via Benvenuto Cellini
+390276023313

   Giacomo Bistrot

Around the corner from Da Giacomo is its more casual little sister, with a lively atmosphere that feels like a little bit of Paris in Milan. Decked out like an old-fashioned club with plush red banquettes and walls of books, the bistro serves more meat-focused dishes. If you want a steak, this is the place to go!

Via Pasquale Sottocorno 6
+390276022653

   Il Cavallino

Il Cavallino Milan Pizza

On the outer edges of the city, this modern pizzeria is worth the Metro ride, offering creative, delicious combinations like the Cielo e Terra (bresaola, arugula, and shaved grana padano) and the Positano (sausage and friarelli, also known as broccoli rabe).

Via Don Carrera 1, Pioltello
+390292100597

   Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia

Il Luogo di Amio e Nadia

With two Michelin stars, this 60-year-old institution offering impeccably updated classics via tasting menu feels fresh and modern. Run by the daughter of the original owners, Aimo and Nadia, the dining room been updated to a clean, contemporary space that lets dishes like ossobuco-stuffed tortelli, tomatoes with wild strawberries, and cuttlefish ravioli shine.

Via Privata Raimondo Montecuccoli, 6
+3902416886

   La Briciola

La Briciola Milan Italy

At night, the dining room of this romantic local favorite is lit up with twinkling lights among faux trees and floral garlands, giving the magical feeling of dining under the stars even in the worst weather. Be sure to try one of the many carpaccios, as well as traditional Milanese dishes like risotto and cutlet alla Milanese.

Via Marsala 1
+39026551012

   La Libera

La Libera Milan Italy

In the artsy Brera district in the city’s historic center, this brewery-turned-trattoria serves delicious traditional dishes like risotto al salto, a crispy rice dish Giada’s mom used to make, and housemade buckwheat pasta with veal ragu. It’s worth a visit alone for the irresistibly thin Sicilian crackers they serve before the meal!

Via Palermo 21
+39028053603

   Pavè

This café and bakery is a wonderful spot for a quick breakfast on the go, with top-notch espresso and gorgeously layered croissants stuffed with apricot jam, chocolate, or ham and cheese.

Via Felice Casati 27

   Sadler

For 30 years, Chef Claudio Sadler has been reimagining traditional Milanese cuisine through his extremely creative personal lens. Pro tip: for a more affordable taste of this Michelin-starred gourmet experience, join the local business crowd here at lunchtime.

Via dell’Annunciata 14 (inside Casa Baglioni)
+390258104451

   Trattoria del Nuovo Macello

If you’re looking for Milanese classics, this rustic trattoria offers a 50-Euro set menu of the city’s greatest hits, covering typical antipasti, saffron-tinted risotto, and a perfectly crisp cutlet alla Milanese, plus coffee and dessert!

Via Cesare Lombroso 20
+390259902122

   Trattoria la Pesa 1902

For traditional Milanese dishes like mondeghili (fried meatballs), cutlet alla Milanese, and the rustic tripe stew called busecca, you can’t do better than this comfortable 120-year-old neighborhood trattoria.

Via Giovanni Fantoni 26
+390236514525

   White Rabbit

White Rabbit

To get into this fun speakeasy, you’ll need to submit a request on their website to receive the password, then ring the bell by an anonymous shop window when the light is on. Inside, you’ll find live music, a throwback Prohibition-era vibe, and well-made, creative cocktails.

Via Garigliano 4
+393402781263

   Zero Milano

For a different kind of Milanese experience, this sushi restaurant blends impeccable Japanese technique with western flavors for delectable dishes like tuna carpaccio with foie gras, figs, and fig vinegar. Put yourself in ultra-creative chef Hide Shinohara’s hands for an omakase experience to remember!

Corso Magenta 87
+390245474733

Do

   Corso Garibaldi

Stroll this narrow street near the Brera neighborhood to get a laid-back taste of Milan’s culture without the big-city hustle and bustle. Local designers’ boutiques, trattorias, and art galleries line the half-mile stretch where you’ll also catch a glimpse of ancient architecture in the Basilica di San Simpliciano, which has existed here in various forms since the 4th century.

Corso Garibaldi

   Duomo di Milano

Giada de Laurentiis at Duomo di Milano Milan Italy

One of the most iconic buildings in Italy, this 600-year-old masterpiece of gothic architecture is made of a rare pink-streaked marble found only in the Alps. Its more than 3,000 statues, intricate arches, and pointed spires are impossible to miss if you’re walking through Milan’s historic city center. You can tour the interior for a small fee, but to really appreciate this layer cake of a building, pay the extra fee to climb the 250 steps up to the rooftop.

Piazza del Duomo
+390272023375

   Guido Gobino

Giada de Laurentiis at Guido Gobino Store Milan Italy

This outpost of the famous artisan chocolate shop from Turin has plenty of incredible souvenirs to choose from, but the real draw is something you must experience there: a cup of their extra-dark hot chocolate. So thick and rich you can eat it with a spoon, this decadent drink is made with ground chocolate instead of just cocoa powder, making it a decadent treat.

Corso Magenta 36
+39028057463

   Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Italy’s first shopping mall, this stunning building with mosaic tiling and a vaulted cast iron and glass roof is a Milan icon. Nicknamed il salotto di Milano (Milan’s sitting room), it’s been a meeting place for Milanese for nearly 150 years. It’s home to the first Prada store ever, which opened in 1913, along with boutiques for basically every high-end Italian designer. Dining options range from casual cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants, making sure there’s something for every taste.

Piazza del Duomo

   Milano Centrale Station

If you’re traveling through Italy by train, you’ll end up at this grand 1934 building that’s the second-largest station in the country, after Rome. Its imposing fascist-era architecture of marble, glass, and steel is impressive, but the real draw is the Bistrot Centrale, a large marketplace with food stalls serving panini, pastries, and other on-the-go goodies plus locally produced foods that make great souvenirs.

Piazza Duca d’Aosta 1

   Seletti

The flagship location of this funky shop stocks incredible surrealist homewares that blur the line between art and utility. Browsing here is like walking through a modern art gallery—except you can also bring the art home, like gold-plated espresso cups or ancient art-inspired placemats, for a uniquely Milan souvenir.

Corso Garibaldi 117
+3902653466

   Tearose

This gorgeous concept shop combines flowers, clothing, accessories, and fragrances for a retail experience unlike any other. It’s always fun to browse the hand-picked selection of clothes from local designers and international brands surrounded by pretty floral arrangements and home décor items. They also plan stunning private events, if you’re lucky enough to be throwing a party in Milan!

Via Croce Rossa 2
+390286998767

   The Last Supper at Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Renaissance-era Dominican convent and church is famous as the home of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, located in the refectory just to the left of the church entrance. The fragile artwork is managed by a separate museum authority, so be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure you can get in. And don’t skip a visit to the rest of the church, which has more stunning frescoes from other artists of the period.

Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie 2
+390292800360

Stay

   Casa Baglioni

In the stylish Brera district, this midcentury-inspired boutique hotel in a 1913 townhouse will have you feeling like a Milanese local circa 1960. Wood paneling, sleek brass, and muted navy accents all make the rooms cool and comfortable, while the hotel is also now the home of the beloved Michelin-starred restaurant Sadler.

Via dei Giardini 21
+390236661960

   Portrait Milano

The latest opening from the Ferragamo family, this new boutique hotel is as stylish as you could hope. Built in a converted former seminary from the 16th century, it has a timeless modern feeling with crisp linens, Carrera marble bathrooms, and bold accent colors. Sip a morning cappuccino or evening aperitivo on the piazza, and take a dip in the pool in the ancient vaults. 

Corso Venezia 11
+390250043661

   Principe di Savoia

For some classic Milan charm, the city’s long-standing premier luxury hotel doesn’t disappoint. With jewel-toned velvet upholstery, damask wallpapers, and mahogany furnishings, the rooms exude a bygone glamour that feels like a step back in time. Don’t miss breakfast in the sunny restaurant overlooking the lush gardens.

Piazza della Repubblica 17
+390291387010
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