The Duomo, the Scala and the beautiful Sempione Park are the first places that will come up in your mind when thinking about Milan. Most people limit their visit to see just the centre area where these main hotspots are located, which is a shame as Milan has so much to offer!
In this post, you could already read about my top 15 highlights to checkout when in Milan but there is so much more. Unique places visited by locals, which will make your city trip to Milan much more fun and dynamic! Milan is always moving forward, new places are opening every day and every weekend there are new exhibitions. Areas which some years ago weren’t that recommended are turned into the new hotspots. The Milan of the beaten track has so much to offer!
Read further to check seven times unexpected Milan!
1. Art and culture in the new Prada Foundation!
The Fondazione Prada is the new headquarter of the Prada Foundation. It is a cultural institution and not a museum, “a continuation of intellectual process in which doubt is being investigated” said Miuccia Prada, who founded this foundation in 1993.
These 120.000 square feet of space has become a major destination for arts. Beside temporary exhibitions, there is a theatre for films and live performances and an old-fashion bar, café Luce, created by Wes Anderson, a famous director. In café Luce you can eat fine sandwiches’ and good Italian coffee. You will find vintage furniture and very gentle bartenders! The major attraction is the Haunted House, this four floor building is covered with gold leaf.
You can visit the Fondazione Prada during the week from Tuesday to Sunday between 10.00 and 20.00. You can walk around free but if you would like to enter the different buildings you have to pay an admission of 10€.
2. Enjoy an amazing view over the city!
Milan is surrounded by mountains in the North but the city itself is very flat. Luckily there are several locations where you can still enjoy an amazing view over the city! Beside the view of the Duomo, you can go all the way to the top where you will be stunned by the view, you can also go to a few different locations!
Foto: Francesco Negri, Flickr.com
The Palazzo Lombardia is one of them. Every Sunday between 10.00 and 18.00 you can go to the top for free. A guard will bring you to the 39th floor from where you have a beautiful view over the city, and if you’re lucky with the weather you will even see the Alps!
The Pirelli tower is not only worth visiting for the beautiful view but it is also an important architecture building and was the first building that was taller than the Duomo. By that time, the Municipal of Milan had a rule that no other building could exceed the Madonna on top of the Duomo, therefore the designers of the Pirelli Tower needed to add a reproduction of the Madonnina on top of the tower! Click here to read more about the Pirelli Tower!
3. Milan’s latest trendy area Isola
The area Isola, literally called Island, is an area behind the Garibaldi station. This area was famous for the 19th century labour houses, ad Isola was the place where the fabric workers lived.
Isola was part of the Porta Nuova project that requalified the areas Garibaldi and Varesine. Thanks to this project, Isola changed drastically and became trendier than ever! You will find trendy bars, coffee spots and many shops. If you like vintage, then you should definitely go to Le Vintage, Via Garigliano 4, you will find clothes and accessories from the beginning of 1940. While if you are looking from something from the early 1960th you should go to Miss Ghinting (Via Pepe 20).
4. Discover the Navigli by bike
The Navigli are canals where both passengers and goods were transported from and to the city centre. From the originally five Navigli, nowadays only two are left, the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese. The other three canals have been closed for streets and houses. A true shame as the navigli are now one of my favourite places in Milan and knowing that we could have 5 of these amazing navigli is just so sad!
The Navigli are full of bars and restaurants and it is a must see when you are in Milan. You will find many locals during the day and evening wandering around with friends or family or just passing by. The canals are going all the way out of the city centre into the countryside. You can walk or even better, ride a bike along the canal and before you know it you are in the countryside far away from the city noises and traffic. You can bike all the way to the city of Abbiategrasso or Pavia! If you want to go to Abbiategrasso you should follow the Naviglio Grande while if you are planning to go to Pavia you should take the Naviglio Pavese. From Pavia and Abbiategrasso you can take public transport back to Milan, so you don’t have to ride all the way back to the city! From Pavia you can take the train and Abbiategrasso has a metro connection to the city centre!
5. Romantic diner on an authentic tram!
Milan still has those authentic little trams passing through the city. These trams are the perfect way to discover the city, especially tram 1, is taking a beautiful route and passes by most of Milan’s places of interest. But did you know that you can even dine on this authentic tram?!
ATMosfera is a restaurant on wheels! You will leave from the Sforzesco castel and across the city while dining romantically. A chef will cook you a fine diner. The tram restaurant is open daily and leaves at 20.00.
Diner costs 70€ per person and includes a four course menu (fish or meat) 1 bottle of Italian wine for every 2 persons a bottle of water and coffee. You can make a reservation via the following link.
Foto: ATM website
6. Relax in the term baths of Milan!
Are you looking to relax and enjoy the calm in the middle of the city? Then you should definitely go to the QC Terms of Milan. This wellness centre has different baths, sauna and massage facilities and even has a nice courtyard surrounded by old Roman walls. In the garden, you have different baths and a sauna in an authentic tram.
The terms are located in the centre at Porta Romana (yellow metro line). Piazzale Medaglie D’Oro, 2.
Foto: QC Termen
The terms are open every day of the week from Monday to Thursday and Sunday from 09.30 to 00.00 and in the weekends until 00.30! Prices are from 42€.
For more information, go to the official website of the Terms.
7. Walk around in the Cimitero Monumentale
Ok, maybe it is not the first place that will pass your mind when visiting a city, but the Cimitero Monumentale, one of Milan’s cemeteries, is really worth a visit! This cemetery is very special and defined as an open-air museum thanks to the beautiful sculptures and family tombs. Every tomb has an unique style and sculptures are made by famous Italian artist.