From the best restaurants and boutiques to the most Instagrammable spots in the city, discover our guide to the perfect weekend in Milan, Italy’s capital of style
Milan is Italy’s second largest city and also the nation’s undisputed fashion capital, making it a must-visit destination for anyone wanting to sample Italian life and culture. The city is home to some of the nation’s best restaurants and bars, as well as striking classical architecture and, of course, some of the best shopping streets and luxury boutiques to be found anywhere in the world.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite cultural, foodie and fashion destinations in the city to make sure your short stay in Milan leaves you feeling indulged and fashionable, with some envy-inducing Instagram photos to boot.
Stay in style
First things first: choose a hotel, and choose well. Milan is home to many of the world’s finest, so treat yourself to a stay somewhere truly luxurious. The Bulgari Hotel is set in a beautifully renovated 18th-century palazzo in the heart of the city. This five-star venue from the renowned Roman jewellery house boasts some of the finest suites in the city as well as a spacious private garden. Other five-star rated spaces include the Mandarin Oriental, which seamlessly fuses Milanese design with peerless luxury, and the Park Hyatt, which is home to Michelin-starred restaurant Vun Andrea Aprea.
Discover the Duomo
Milan’s Duomo (cathedral) is the focal point of the city: a stunning gothic structure that took nearly six centuries to complete, it’s the perfect place to start your tour of the city. The third largest church in the world offers endless Instagram opportunities: both its façade and its interiors are completely beautiful. You can also buy a ticket to take the lift (or brave the stairs!) up to the roof, where you’ll not only be able to see the intricate carvings and gargoyles up close, but also be treated to panoramic views across Milan.
Sights and culture
The Duomo is not the only Insta-worthy sight in the city. Be sure to pay a visit to Santa Maria delle Grazie, the church that is home to one of the world’s most famous artworks: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Booking is absolutely essential, and (at the time of writing) they do allow photography, just not with flash. Da Vinci fans will also enjoy the national museum of science and technology, which is named after the artist and is home to an impressive collection that charts his skills as an inventor.
Milan really is a photographer’s dream, offering a mix of old and new at every turn. Look out for classic buildings updated with eye-catching graffiti, pay a visit to the canals of the Navigli district, explore the beautiful and moving Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, stroll around the charming Brera district … Keep your eyes open and the photo opportunities are endless.
Don’t visit Milan without indulging in a delicious aperitivo. A typically dry drink served before a meal to stimulate the appetite, it is an Italian institution.
Bar Basso is said to have introduced the aperitivo to Milan, and its charming old-world feel is accompanied by great cocktails and light bites. Rita, in the Navigli area, serves a mean Negroni. But our favourite has to be the Terrazza Aperol. Serving the iconic Italian spritz that has taken the world by storm, this terrace bar offers incredible views across the Duomo, and the home-cooked crisps are out of this world. If you’re a light eater, bear in mind that drinks almost always come accompanied by a selection of snacks that could risk ruining your appetite for dinner.
Pizza and pasta
Italy is known for its food, and in particular for pizza and pasta. But while almost every restaurant you’ll pass will serve both, not all pizzas or pastas are created equal. Be sure to do your research before dining. A Santa Lucia, just off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, is a charming old-fashioned ristorante that’s fantastic at both. We particularly enjoyed the spaghetti alle vongole, a simple yet perfectly balanced dish of spaghetti and clams. For a more modern atmosphere, head to Dry Milano on Viale Vittorio Veneto, a pizzeria that blends traditional Neapolitan tastes and traditions with the spirit of a New York cocktail bar. The pizzas and drinks are outstanding, as are the desserts: the tiramisu and the doughnut filled with pistachio ice cream are particular highlights.
Milan is also home to a plethora of fine-dining restaurants. Combine food with fashion at the stylish Ristorante Trussardi alla Scala, located in the Italian lifestyle brand’s flagship boutique. Or sample Michelin-starred Italian fare at Alice Ristorante, located in the Milan outpost of Eataly. For something different, try Wicky’s, a Japanese restaurant of the highest standard. Book a place at the chef’s table for the most intimate and delicious experience.
Of course, no trip to Italy’s fashion capital would be complete without indulging in some serious shopping. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world’s oldest active shopping gallery and is a must-see sight as well as the home of boutiques of leading Italian brands. Visit the stores of Luisa Spagnoli, Prada, Versace and more, and don’t forget to look up: the stunning domed roof and 19th-century architecture make for a beautiful photo. 10 Corso Como is another must-visit for lovers of luxury. Here you can browse a selection of fashion, art, music, design and more, and drink and dine at the restaurant and bar.
Milan is one of the most important shopping destinations in the world, and brands are keen to offer something new and exciting with each new opening, so keep your eyes peeled. Earlier this year, Woolrich unveiled its first standalone store in the city, which guides visitors through the 200-year history of the brand, as well as offering all of its latest collections. Customers can test items in the Extreme Weather Experience Room before purchase, or browse a curated selection of plants in the Green Area.
Offering one of the highest concentrations of luxury brands anywhere in the world, the Via Montenapoleone area is an experience unique to Milan. Behind the traditional façades lie extravagant and contemporary fashion and jewellery boutiques from leading Italian and international brands: Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, Valentino, Buccellati … the list goes on. Expect the finest craftsmanship, the latest trends and, above all, fantastic service.
While here, be sure to pay a visit to the Global Blue Lounge on Via Santo Spirito, where our expert staff will guide you through the tax refund service, as well as giving you helpful tips on local brands to discover, airport information and more.