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Panorama of the historic center with the Duomo cathedral in Milan, Lombardy, Italy.

- © Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock
Milan
Milan

Capital of elegance

Milan in short

Milan is not the first image that springs to mind when you think of Italy, yet it has a lot to offer. Don't expect to fall under its spell at first glance, as you would in Florence, Venice or Rome. The eclectic architecture of the capital of Lombardy has a certain tendency to favour imposing buildings. And the city's not entirely undeserved reputation as a foggy city with haughty inhabitants doesn't help matters. The gateway to the avant-garde in Italy, the undisputed capital of fashion and design, and home to the country's biggest fortunes, the city that Italians say is neurotic nevertheless hides its game well.

Aerial view of Castello Sforzesco, the residence of the Dukes of Milan of the Sforza dynasty in Milan, Lombardy, Italy.

- © Andrea Berg / Shutterstock

Over the centuries, Milan has been the most successful in Italy at assimilating and absorbing the influences of so-called modern Europe. This desire to be always in fashion and the constant desire to renovate has gradually contributed to the upheaval of its historic urban heritage. Rich Milan, Italy's economic capital, diffuser of styles and fashions, blinged out and projected into the future, has specialised in daring mixes, including in architecture. So, of course, a visit to the city has to start in Piazza del Duomo, with Milan's splendid Gothic cathedral, witness to six centuries of history, and then move on to the grandiose Victor Emmanuel II Gallery, built in the second half of the 19th century and leading to the La Scala theatre. Then, a little further north, you come to the quadrilateral of gold, the quadrilatero della moda, home to all the great Italian luxury brands.

La galerie Vittorio Emanuele II de Milan, Lombardie, Italie.

- © Georgios Tsichlis / Shutterstock

But Milan is a big city, and its magnificence doesn't stop here. Its museums house marvels, and despite the passage of time, it has managed to preserve some of its treasures. Take, for example, the church of Santa Maria near San Satiro, renovated in 1478 by Bramante, who added a trompe-l'œil presbytery. Here, the superb Art Nouveau facade of a building in Via Spadari, and here again a 9th-century chapel, wedged between two streets, one of which leads to a perfect example of Fascist architecture... As you move away from the city centre, diversity flourishes, in some places abandoning ostentatious wealth for more popular buildings. Towards Porta Genova, the Navigli, the canal district and new stronghold of young designers, is the trendiest example. There's something for everyone in Milan, from the most unlikely of looks to the best of events, avant-garde nightlife and an exciting dynamism.

As proof, its most recent district, Porta Nuova, with its skyscrapers signed by the most prominent architects - of course - is perhaps one of the most beautiful and interesting. Take a look at César Pelli's Unicredit tower, which backs onto the spires of the Duomo, or the Bosco Verticale project currently under construction, covered in exotictrees and plants... The avant-garde capital is already living to the rhythm of the next season.

Bosco Verticale, le complexe architectural moderne de la Porta Nuova, Milan, Lombardie, Italie.

- © Ivan Kurmyshov / Shutterstock

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

When it comes to transport, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to getting to the capital of fashion. Several flights depart from major England cities every day and serve Milan's three airports: Bergamo, Linate and Malpensa. As Linate is the furthest away (45km from the city), it is mainly used by low-cost airlines. As Malpensa is the largest, Linate is the closest to the centre of the capital of the Lombardy region. The railway station, right in the heart of Milan, is well served if you prefer to take the train. Finally, the city is also accessible by car, but the streets are narrow, so we recommend you travel by public transport.

Where to stay?

There's no shortage of accommodation at the city of fasion, and despite its notoriety, it's always possible to find somewhere to stay, even if you arrive a little late. But at what price? We can only recommend booking in advance to take advantage of low rates before visiting the capital of Lombardy. We have selected a few affordable places to stay.

It's possible to stay in Milan without breaking the bank! Here is a selection of 10 places to stay
Milan
It's possible to stay in Milan without breaking the bank! Here is a selection of 10 places to stay
When you think of Milan, the first image that comes to mind is certainly that of its famous cathedral, used systematically as a landmark. The Duomo cathedral is an architectural feat...

Practical information

When is the best time to go?

Spring is the ideal season to visit Milan. During this period, the days are longer, the raini s less frequent and the temperatures are pleasant for visiting the city and its monuments. A tourist destination, the fashion capital is nevertheless much less crowded in spring, making for a more pleasant trip.

A true world reference in terms of gastronomy, you will discover a cuisine that is both traditional and cosmopolitan. Coming to Milan for a few days in spring is also an opportunity to discover Milano Restaurant Week. Thanks to the YesMilano platform, Milanese and visitors alike can get discounts on their bill.

Currency

The currency used to pay for purchases in Milan is the Euro.

Electrical outlet

The eternal question of which adaptor to use when travelling always comes up. You do need an adaptater in Milan as the frequency and voltage are different.

Safety

As the city is alive day and night, there are plenty of people on the move, so it's not a dangerous destination. On the other hand, tourists can be targeted by pickpockets in the main tourist areas such as the Duomo, so it's best to keep an eye on your belongings while you're exploring.

Transport

The capital of Lombardy has an extensive transport network that is perfectly suited to visitors. Buses, trains, trams, bicycles... there are plenty of options for getting around the city, but also for getting out and visiting the surrounding area for a day. Lake Como is easily reached by train from the central station in just 1 hour.

For more information, visit the city's public transport network website.

Milan: what to do

Milan is as lively by day as it is by night, so make the most of the opportunity to go out in one of the city's many restaurants, bars and nightclubs. You'll be spoilt for choice! In the afternoon, take a stroll through the pretty, picturesque streets and stop off at an ice cream parlour for a real Italian-style ice cream. A must-see in the capital of fashion: the Quadrilatère, bounded by four streets, is home to some of the biggest names in haute couture.

You can't claim to have visited Milan without seeing the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. More commonly known as the Duomo of Milan, it rises to a height of 108 metres with the statue that has become the symbol of the city: the Madonnina in gilded copper. You can even visit the roofs! La Scala theatre, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is also a must-see. Take a detour to Piazza Mercanti (or Merchants' Square), the last vestige of medieval Milan.

Don't miss

Don't think of Milan the way so many others do: it's not just the capital of luxury. This city is full of historical, gastronomic and architectural treasures that are yours to discover! A few recommendations: the Porta Nuova district is a futuristic nugget that's a must-see.

Milan: what to eat

Milan is the city par excellence where you can sample typical Lombardy specialities. Try a real osso buco, accompanied by a Milanese risotto flavoured with saffron. And don't hesitate to order Cotalletta alla milanese, a breaded schnitzel of pork, veal or chicken. Finally, to end on a sweet note, try a Panettone, a tasty brioche typical in Lombardy, topped with sultanas and other candied fruits.

Milan: what to bring back?

You can take home a pretty piece of jewellery from a jeweller's, a silk scarf... If luxury is not your cup of tea, you can take home sweets, chocolates, Panettone and other sweets from one of the city's famous pastry shops...

Reminder

Milan can be visited at any time of year, because it's always on the move. If you go in December, you can have fun in the aisles of the great Christmas market, during the celebration of the Festa di Sant'Ambrogio, Saint Ambrose, patron saint of the city of Milan. Every year in January, the procession of the Three Wise Men marches from Piazza del Duomo to the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on the occasion of the Epiphany. But it's especially in April, during Design Week, that the city is abuzz with activity. The Navigli are transformed into a giant gallery by young designers from all over the world. Not to be missed!

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

We recommend that you make early bookings for the historic monuments and restaurants that are in vogue, because it's not just foreign tourists who are attracted to Milan. Many Italians come for a weekend to enjoy the city's culinary and architectural delights.

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