The Milan Cathedral is the fifth-largest in the entire world, and is considered by many to be the most spectacular. Having taken over five centuries to build, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beloved of the Milanese people. You can look around inside or simply admire its facades from the exterior. If you do go inside, be sure to climb to the roof and enjoy the view - it is probably the most stunning thing to see in Milan. It's just a shame you can’t see the cathedral from up there!
Just along the road from the Duomo di Milano is the grand castle in which the Sforzesco family ruled Milan. Inside are various museums, but the castle also provides access to the beautiful Sempione park - another reason to visit! The museums boast fine works of art, but even if you don’t go inside it’s worth visit just to gape at the stunning castle!
Opera at Teatro alla Scala
Many call La Scala the finest opera house in the entire world thanks to its unrivalled acoustics and constant showing of masterful operas. The opera season runs from December to May in Milan, but you need to work hard to come by any tickets as it's an incredibly popular event. However, even a quick visit to see the opera is worth your time, as it is a stunning building in its own right. You can get a short tour if there are no rehearsals going on inside.
This world-famous fresco decorates an entire wall in the dining hall at the monastery adjoining the church. It attracts so many visitors every day that you need to book a ticket in advance to ever see it. It was painted in the late 15th century, and has undergone substantial renovations over time - however, it is still a gorgeous piece of art, and well worth the short visit out of the city.
This is one of the oldest, grandest shopping centres in the world. It is named after the first monarch of the Kingdom of Italy, and is a four storey behemoth of luxury fashion and boutique stores. Selling everything in the world of jewelry, clothing and art, it is obviously expensive and upmarket, but even students are allowed inside for a browse!
Milan is associated with the latest fashion and finest art in the world. Combined with its sublime architecture, it gives off a very opulent and unaffordable vibe - however, there are plenty of bars and eateries around Milan which are perfect for students. Eating cheap and delicious food is one of the best things to do in Milan, and these places have a great atmosphere to boot!
Of course there’s a pizza place on the list; even in Milan they aren’t immune to the most popular dish in Italy! Big pizzas for only €5 is a great deal anywhere, but these are hot out a traditional pizza oven and made from the freshest ingredients. The staff are super chill and local artwork lines all of the walls which is really cool.
A mediterranean bistro restaurant which looks a bit more like a bar, this is an unexpected delight in the middle of Milan. You can go tapas style, with 10 different small plates, wine, dessert and coffee for €20 - unbelievable value. The larger meals are all well-presented, traditional Italian dishes which taste superb despite the modest price.
Not to be confused with the luxury fashion brand Versace, this gorgeous little place is just off the Piazzale Loreto near central Milan. The food is simple and inventive - cheeseburger inside a pitta bread, for instance. Gorgeous meatballs and freshly baked pizzas make up a large part of the menu, and you won’t go hungry with the portion sizes either!
No one really knows why this luxury cocktail bar in Milan is named after a 2nd-tier football team from England, but that’s the way it is! Nottingham Forest is a specialist mixologist which doesn’t conform to any of the rules. It’s small, so you might have to wait a bit to get in, but the atmosphere is so relaxed and cosy inside that it’ll be worth it.
Most bars in Milan have a strict dress code (namely smart as hell) but in Union Club they don’t care about that at all. The staff want to enjoy themselves as much as the punters who are there for a good drink and a laugh with their mates. Even better, it’s often full of internationals and students, so you’ll meet loads of people away from the more pretentious, almost aristocratic bars in the city.
The nightlife in Milan is probably just about as well-known as its fashion, so a little word about it here wouldn’t be out of place. The first thing to know is about aperitivo. Starting around 6pm and in full flow by 7pm, aperitivo is like the "pre drinks" or “warm up” to the night, but the entire city is involved!
It’s a time to mix and mingle, get fancy drinks in and shed the stress of the working week. Then it’s club time. They normally run from 10pm (though you’re not seriously going to arrive at 10pm, are you?) until 4am, when things finally die down and it’s time to admit defeat and go home. You’ll need to dress very well to get in anywhere decent, and expect to pay hefty door fees if you’re hitting a famous or elitist club.
The clubs are great, varied and always alive. If you like clubbing, you’ll love the Milan scene as much as that of Berlin or other big party cities.
There are loads of big things to do in Milan, but this is certainly the highest profile: twice per year (once in Spring, then again in the Fall) Milan Fashion Week comes to the city, and with it thousands of spectators, admirers and celebrities. The other three Fashion Weeks are in London, New York and Paris - it’s a pretty exclusive club! It’s essentially a series of some 40 shows around the city, each featuring the latest and most creative fashion items from the world’s finest designers.
You might not think of a "furniture fair" as a must-see event, but as the biggest event of its kind in the world, this is actually one of the best things to do in Milan. With nearly 3,000 exhibitors at the show every year, there are almost countless designs and pieces of furniture which, even if you don’t invest in anything, will inspire you to redesign your entire house back home! It’s really eye-opening and very enjoyable, so you should definitely check it out.
From December to May, every year, Milan hosts the most celebrated Opera Season in the world at the globally-renowned Teatro alla Scala (aka La Scala to most) with sublime performances taking place almost repeatedly. The Opera house is a grand one, and the Italian President usually attends the opening night of the season. If you can get tickets to any of the shows, you’re in for a real treat.
This is the most important christmas market in the whole of milan and runs from December 7th for approximately one week. It is held around the Sforzesco Castle, and you can’t imagine a better setting for a traditional market. There are sweets, hand-crafted toys and ornaments, souvenirs and a thousands other bits and pieces. Unless you’re only spending your summer term in Milan, you have to visit Oh Bej! Oh Bej!.
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