Core of Centro Storico Walking Tour, Milan (Self Guided)

Milan is a city that boasts both historic and modern architecture. It is also a strategic economic center for Italy and is home to the country's stock exchange. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the city's striking historic sites like the La Scala opera house and the famous Duomo, as well as designer shops and other great places to explore.
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Core of Centro Storico Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Core of Centro Storico Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Milan (See other walking tours in Milan)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Author: karen
Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

1) Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) (must see)

Milan Cathedral, also called Duomo, is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan and the largest church in Italy (third largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world) covering an area of 12,000 sqm and weighing 325,000 tons.

The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mary Nascent and has been a central part of the city's life since 1386. Its foundation was laid by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who died in 1402, when only half of the structure was completed, upon which construction came to a standstill for almost 80 years due to the lack of both funds and ideas. It resumed in 1500 and by 1510 the octagonal dome was completed and embellished with four series of 15 statues representing different characters from the Bible. In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte forced completion of the façade which overall took another seven years. In honor of his efforts, a statue of Napoleon was erected at the top of one of the spires. Later, Duomo also saw his crowning ceremony.

Only in the 20th century was the Duomo fully completed. Inaugurated on January 6, 1965, the completion of the last gate marked the very end of the centuries-long process. A visit to the roof and the Paleo Christian baptistery beneath the west end are part of the Duomo attraction. The rooftop offers a closer look at the intricate details of the spires and the gargoyles which adorn it. You have to climb a huge 201 stairs to reach the top. However, those who wish to avoid the stairs can use an elevator. The view from the top, about 70 meters high, is spectacular with myriads of statues, pinnacles, tracery and flying buttresses. Climbing all the way up through winding narrow passageways is rewarded with a wonderful and breathtaking panorama of the city!

Why You Should Visit:
The Duomo is Milan's one and only must-see sight – its exterior a vast riot of ornate religious sculpture, its interior sublimely huge.

Buy the online skip-the-line tickets that include the church entry and access to the elevator to view the rooftop.
The experience of the surrounding piazza is at its finest at night when the whole facade is lit by white lights.

Opening Hours:
[Cathedral] Daily: 8am-7pm (last ticket: 6pm; last entry: 6:10pm)
[Rooftops] Daily: 9am-7pm (last ticket: 6pm; last entry: 6:10pm)
Royal Palace of Milan

2) Royal Palace of Milan

The Royal Palace of Milan, a historical building in Milan, had been the seat of government of the city for centuries. Afterwards it became the residence of the Spanish and of the Austrian governors. Charles III of Bourbon became Palazzo Reale's first permanent resident. The present day appearance of the palace is the work of the architect Giuseppe Piermarini who transformed it during 1771 to 1778.

Bombings of World War II resulted in losing its marvelous neoclassical interiors. Of many splendid halls, only the most beautiful the Sala delle Cariatidi were left and that too was half destroyed. This hall today serves as a grave reminder of the aftermaths of war. This remarkable hall often becomes a part of the great exhibitions that are set up in this palace.

Thirty rooms of the palace, on the second floor, have been restored to their original splendid 18th and 19th century decor with the same glory. One of the masterpieces of art known as “Pièce de résistance” is also housed here. It is a skillfully crafted centerpiece made of onyx, marble, semiprecious stones and gold plated bronze. It is a miniature of a Roman hippodrome with temples, columns and statues and is the main attraction of the palace. The palace's highlights include the Court Theatre, the Room of the Ambassadors, the Great Captain's Room, Flemish Hall, Hercules Hall, the Palatine Chapel and the largest library in southern Italy, the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III.

Royal Palace features one of the most beautiful architectures of the 18th century Milanese. It is also home to the City Council’s Contemporary Art Museum. Today, it a cultural center and serves as one of the biggest and most elegant place for housing various expositions and exhibitions.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo del Duomo

3) Museo del Duomo (must see)

The Museum del Duomo preserves artifacts and works of art that used to be located in the Duomo itself, as many items in the collections require special preservation and restoration. With its total 26 rooms spread across an area of 2000 sqm, the museum exhibits the items in chronological order, allowing one to follow on the cathedral's path since its founding in 1386 until the twentieth century.

Why You Should Visit:
Entry here is included in the Duomo ticket and the cool dark rooms also offer some respite from the heat of the city while you take in the beautiful pieces that make up the church's history. One of the major interest here is the magnificent 1:22 wooden scale model of the Duomo – a feat in itself!

If you want more info in English you can also rent an audio guide.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 10am-6pm (last ticket: 5pm; last entry: 5:10pm)
San Gottardo in Corte

4) San Gottardo in Corte

San Gottardo is a church in Milan dedicated to Virgin Mary, designed by Francesco Pecorari from Cremona. In 1330, Azzone Visconti started the construction of the church which took six years to complete. After Azzone got sick with gout, the dedication was changed to St. Gotthard of Hildesheim who was the benefactor of gout sufferers.

The church has octagonal bell tower and the first public clock was placed there. In the 14th century Europe, when the mechanical clock was invented, tower clock building was at its climax. These clocks struck the bell multiple times to count out the hours. A clock known as the clock of the Beata Vergine was built around 1330. Later known as the clock of San Gottardo, it was one of the earliest clocks that struck the hours. That clock became famous with man of every age. In 1335, Galvano Fiamma wrote that wonderful clock has a huge clapper which strikes a bell 24 times according to the 24 hours of the day and night which is of great use to man of every degree.

Giocondo Albertolli restored the interior in the Neoclassical style. A section of the Giottesque Crucifixion, a canvas with St. Charles Borromeo, and the tomb of Azzone Visconti are still present from the original church.

San Gottardo in Corte is absolutely wonderful and is packed with heritage information about the city's past. Your visit to the church will enlarge your vision of Milan’s spectacular churches and cathedrals.
Sight description based on wikipedia
San Gottardo Bell Tower

5) San Gottardo Bell Tower

San Gottardo is a church in Milan dedicated to Virgin Mary, designed by Francesco Pecorari from Cremona. In 1330, Azzone Visconti started the construction of the church which took six years to complete. After Azzone got sick with gout, the dedication was changed to St. Gotthard of Hildesheim who was the benefactor of gout sufferers.

The church has octagonal bell tower and the first public clock was placed there. In the 14th century Europe, when the mechanical clock was invented, tower clock building was at its climax. These clocks struck the bell multiple times to count out the hours. A clock known as the clock of the Beata Vergine was built around 1330. Later known as the clock of San Gottardo, it was one of the earliest clocks that struck the hours. That clock became famous with man of every age. In 1335, Galvano Fiamma wrote that wonderful clock has a huge clapper which strikes a bell 24 times according to the 24 hours of the day and night which is of great use to man of every degree.

Giocondo Albertolli restored the interior in the Neoclassical style. A section of the Giottesque Crucifixion, a canvas with St. Charles Borromeo, and the tomb of Azzone Visconti are still present from the original church.

San Gottardo in Corte is absolutely wonderful and is packed with heritage information about the city's past. Your visit to the church will enlarge your vision of Milan’s spectacular churches and cathedrals.
Santa Maria presso San Satiro

6) Santa Maria presso San Satiro (must see)

Commonly known as San Satiro, this Italian Renaissance structure (1476-1482) just south of the Duomo in Milan houses the early-medieval shrine to Satyrus, brother of Saint Ambrose. The church is known for its false apse, an early example of trompe l'œil, attributed to Donato Bramante.

Dating back to the 800s, the structure was renovated in the second half of the 1400s by Donato Bramante, after Duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza commissioned a new church for his city. The Duke wanted to build a huge church but the location available to him was very small due to the busy street. The choir, the space behind the altar, had to be reduced, making the church awkwardly short.

Many famous architects and painters participated in designing a church in such a way that it would fit on a tiny plot. In order to solve this problem, Bramante devised an ingenious solution by painting an optical illusion. Though architectural optical illusion was popular in the late Renaissance and Baroque, Bramante gave it an entirely new dimension. If you stand at the entrance of the edifice you will have an impression of a much deeper space giving the illusion of the altar far behind than is physically possible. Special lightings inside the church were used to help create this effect. The illusion, however, quickly disappears when you step aside from the main axis of the church. The magic reappears when you step back.

Why You Should Visit:
There aren't many places like this in Milan: small, half-hidden, and ready to reveal themselves only to those who know how to discover them.
Entry is free and photos are allowed, so you can easily have a look at the views of its interior. The perspective effect at the end is simply stunning.

As in other churches in town, volunteers will offer you a short explanation about the history and art of the building, so be sure to take advantage.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-12pm / 2:30-6pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
San Sepolcro

7) San Sepolcro

Founded shortly after the thousand years by Benedict Ronzone and rebuilt in 1100 by his grandson with the shapes of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. The church represents a mix of styles, the two towers were added in the 12th century, the facade was remodeled and the interior was radically renovated in the Baroque key by Frederick Borromeo. The last renovation in 19th century, was to rebuild the entire facade in Romanesque-Lombard.
Biblioteca Ambrosiana

8) Biblioteca Ambrosiana (must see)

Biblioteca Ambrosiana is a historic library in Milan. Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, it kept and organized the great databases of European culture. The famous Pinacoteca Ambrosiana – or the Ambrosian art gallery – is also present in the library.

Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, the library was founded in 1609 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, whose agents scoured Western Europe and even Greece and Syria for books and manuscripts. Some major acquisitions of complete libraries were the manuscripts of the Benedictine monastery of Bobbio (1606) and the library of the Paduan Vincenzo Pinelli, whose more than 800 manuscripts filled 70 cases when they were sent to Milan and included the famous Iliad, the 'Ilias Picta'.

One innovation was that its books were housed in cases ranged along the walls, rather than chained to reading tables, the latter a medieval practice seen still today in the Laurentian Library of Florence. A printing press was attached to the library, and a school for instruction in the classical languages.

In 1603, a building was constructed to house the cardinal's 15,000 manuscripts and printed books who gave his collection of paintings and drawings to the library. Shortly after the cardinal's death, his library acquired twelve manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, including the 'Codex Atlanticus'. The library now contains some 12,000 drawings by European artists, from the 14th through the 19th centuries, which have come from the collections of a wide range of patrons and artists, academicians, collectors, art dealers, and architects. Prized manuscripts, including the Leonardo codices, were requisitioned by the French during the Napoleonic occupation, and only partly returned after 1815.

The library also houses Christian and Islamic Arabic manuscripts, 11th-century diwan of poets and the oldest copy of the 'Kitab Sibawahaihi'. The building was damaged in World War II, with the loss of the archives of opera libretti of La Scala, but was restored in 1952 and underwent major restorations in 1990–97.

Artwork at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana includes da Vinci's "Portrait of a Musician", Caravaggio's "Basket of Fruit", and Raffaello's natural-size sketch of the "The School of Athens" that you normally visit at the Vatican in full color (here you can see it in pencil and carbon).

Why You Should Visit:
Overlooked by most tourists, on a weekday you'll have this incredible library/gallery nearly to yourself.
You'll get to see art restorers at work, peculiar Renaissance masterpieces and a brilliant building.

The map/guide given out is clear, with all main highlights identified, but if you're pressed for time, a guided tour of the highlights is advisable.
Apparently, there's also a paid audio guide (English/Italian) which gives some interesting insights about each room and many artworks.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Pasticceria Giovanni Galli

9) Pasticceria Giovanni Galli

Have you ever thought of combining tomatoes with chocolate and liqueur? Well, no matter how far-fetched it sounds, Pasticceria Giovanni Galli has combined these ingredients into a simply delicious product. Its clients say that "heaven can be purchased and it comes in a pack of 6". Come and try Pasticceria Giovanni Galli's variety of candied chestnuts as well.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

10) Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (must see)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a fashionable five-storey mall covered in curved glass, topped with iron roof and lavishly decorated with patriotic mosaics and statues – legacy of the chaotic era of Italian unification, manifesting the country's newly-acquired self-confidence.

It was built between 1865 and 1877 by architect Giuseppe Mengoni – also credited with the monumental design of the whole area between the Milan Cathedral and La Scala Opera – and is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy. Officially inaugurated on September 15, 1867, the Galleria's completion took another ten years of continuous work. Tragically, just a day before it was complete, in December 1877, Giuseppe Mengoni died in an accident, falling down from the top of the triumphal arch.

Formed like a Latin cross, the gallery comprises two glass-vaulted covered passages – with a longer one being 196 meters and the shorter 105.5 meters long – crossing in an octagonal central piazza below an impressive 47 meter high, 36-meter wide glass dome. Incorporating iron and arching glass, the Galleria's architectural design proved groundbreaking for the creation of enclosed shopping malls in the 19th century. The use of iron structure inspired the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

An interesting feature of the gallery is the floor featuring rare marble mosaic depicting emblems of main Italian cities. Spinning on the picture of the bull with the heel of a right foot is supposed to bring good luck. The locals duly observe this tradition thanks to which there's now a hole in the pavement.

Why You Should Visit:
Like walking in the best picture of 19th-century Milan – with lights, colors, windows and landscaping views that will never leave your memory.
There are a few restaurants (incidentally not very expensive considering the mall) where you can relax, eat, and watch the crowds go by.
There's also a very nice Leonardo Museum at the end of the mall, bang opposite the statue of Leonardo da Vinci.

Visit the gallery late at night or early in the morning when there aren't too many people yet.
Don't forget to find the "bull" on the floor in the middle of the Galleria and have fun!
The Palazzo Clerici

11) The Palazzo Clerici

The Palazzo Clerici is located in the heart of old Milan. The palace which rose in an urban fact of small houses, belonged to one of the oldest historic houses in Milan, the Visconti family. Despite being one of the most prestigious historic buildings in Milan and has played a crucial role in the events of art and history of this city, Palazzo Clerici is still little known to the general public.
La Scala

12) La Scala (must see)

This world-renowned opera house in Milan, inaugurated in 1778, has witnessed the performance of most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra.

After a fire destroyed the previous theatre, the Teatro Regio Ducale, in 1776, a new theatre was built on the former location of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, from which the theatre gets its name. Building expenses were covered by the sale of boxes, which were lavishly decorated by their owners, impressing observers such as Stendhal. La Scala soon became the preeminent meeting place for noble and wealthy Milanese people. In the tradition of the times, the main floor had no chairs and spectators watched the shows standing up. The orchestra was in full sight, as the orchestra pit had not yet been built.

La Scala was originally illuminated with 84 oil lamps mounted on the stage and another thousand in the rest of theatre. To prevent the risks of fire, several rooms were filled with hundreds of water buckets. In time, oil lamps were replaced by gas lamps, these in turn were replaced by electric lights in 1883. After the renovation of the original structure in 1907, the theater was given its current layout with 1,987 seats.

During World War II bombing, La Scala was badly damaged. After renovation, it was reopened in 1946. To mark the occasion, Arturo Toscanini arranged an unforgettable concert in La Scala with a sensational solo performance by Renata Tebaldi. In 2002-2004 the theatre underwent another major renovation.

La Scala Orchestra, with 135 musicians, is considered to be one of the world’s best orchestra for opera productions. The main characteristic of the Orchestra is its ability to obtain a uniform and distinguished sound. The theater has also attained an impressive international position for its symphony activity.

The theater’s collection is currently one of the richest and most envied collections in the world. You will surely cherish your visit to the theater.

Why You Should Visit:
While the outside of La Scala is rather plain, the inside is exquisite. The opera house is beautifully traditional and far more intimate than its counterparts in NY and London. The attached museum is purposefully intimate as well – it was designed to look as if you were visiting a grand house. The tour gives visitors a very good idea of the theatre, along with the opportunity to sit down in the most prominent box and take pictures.

Do not buy second-row balcony tickets unless you are very tall.
After 6pm, they sell out same-day tickets at a huge discount.
San Fedele

13) San Fedele

The title is a canon of the church Santa Maria della Scala in San Fedele. After a decade near the church was built a great college that until 1763 was the main house of Lombardy of the Jesuits. Here stands the old image once called Madonna of the dancers and singers. The particular advance of the Baroque of the first altar on the right flanked by two angels who gracefully detach from their capitals and columns hold up the slant, giving an impression of fragility and lightness.
Manzoni Museum

14) Manzoni Museum

Situated in the heart of Milan, Casa del Manzoni (Manzoni Museum) is a magnificently elaborated ex-residence of an Italian author and poet Alessandro Manzoni. Born in 1785, he was second in Italian literature only to Dante. Manzoni died a tragic death when he fell down the steps of San Fedele in 1873.

Inside the house where Manzoni once lived, everything seems to be frozen in time. There is an evocative atmosphere inside the rooms. All Italian schoolchildren study “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed) and “Il Cinque Maggio”. Author’s desk is still present in the very room where the author wrote some of the most significant works in Italian literature and where Manzoni met Garibaldi in 1862 and Verdi in 1868. Pictures, prints and souvenirs donated by collectors such as Pietro Brambilla are on display here.

Many important people visited Manzoni house including Garibaldi, Verdi and author Tommaso Grossi. The interior of the house is very well preserved. National Centre for Manzoni Studies has been opened here along with a large library including over 40,000 books and the complete work of Manzoni. The building also hosts the National Manzoni Studies Centre and the Manzoni Museum.

Manzoni’s hobbies included botany and gardening and the presence of beautiful gardens here was one of the reasons of him buying the house. Tommaso Grossi also had a studio in the Manzoni home and he lived happily there for a long time. 

Casa del Manzoni is not just an outdoor museum; rather it is a masterpiece of architecture. Alive and stunning, it is an integral part of the monumental wealth of the city and treasure chest of great artistic significance.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Friday: 10 am - 6pm; Saturday: 2 pm - 6 pm.
Museo Poldi Pezzoli

15) Museo Poldi Pezzoli (must see)

Founded in 1881, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum was originally a private collection of Poldi Pezzoli and his mother, Rosa Trivulzio, and featured 19th-century Northern Italian and Flemish paintings along with a number of decorative art pieces including textiles, porcelain, glass, clocks, jewelry, and metal works.

In 1818, Poldi Pezzoli inherited great wealth from his uncle Giuseppe Pezzoli which included the beautiful palace and the garden filled with statues and fountains. He then spent his entire life decorating the house with paintings (spanning the 14th through 18th centuries) and eventually garnered 3,000 pieces of art.

During WWII, heavy bombings in one night destroyed all the main Milan museums. The Poldi Pezzoli palace was also severely damaged, yet the works of art – previously moved to a safer place – remained unharmed. From the 1950s onwards, the Association of Friends of the Museum and private Milanese donators replenished the collection further, making it one of the finest in Europe.

Why You Should Visit:
If you like to see what a man (and his mother) personally collected and kept in their home, this is a wonderful collection.
The building itself is gorgeous and you could spend much time observing the architecture and decoration of each exhibiting room.

This museum is one of the very few places open on a Monday and is certainly inexpensive, so spending just a little extra for the audio guide is surely worth it.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm

Walking Tours in Milan, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Milan

Create Your Own Walk in Milan

Creating your own self-guided walk in Milan is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Shopping Streets and Spots

Shopping Streets and Spots

Milan is a world-renown fashion and design capital. Here, you can find most of the world's top fashion brands, from Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana to Levi's and Diesel. Fashion is the second religion in Milan and this self-guided tour will take you to the worship places of the fashionistas and shopaholics.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

Throughout its 2,000+ year-long history Milan has accumulated an impressive collection of architectural monuments, thanks to some of the best artists and architects this world had ever seen who blessed the city with their presence. Masterpieces like the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s mural “The Last Supper,” vividly...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Centro Museums and Galleries

Centro Museums and Galleries

Milan is not only the business and fashion center of Italy, it also a cultural center. The city of Milan offers numerous cultural activities, as well as countless art galleries and museums that exhibit some of the world's most famous and imposing artworks and artifacts. Most of these cultural centers are located in the very heart of Milan and within a pleasant walk.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Central Milan Souvenir Shopping

Central Milan Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Milan without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Milan, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
West Centro Walking Tour

West Centro Walking Tour

Milan is a city steeped in history, but also a strategic economic center for Italy, as well as an international fashion hub. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the city's striking historic sites, as well as designer shops and other great places to explore. Take this tour and visit the main sites in Milan's Centro Storico.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Religious Sights Walking Tour

Religious Sights Walking Tour

Milan may be a world fashion capital and an European financial capital, but religion, and "the church" in particular, remain a major part of Milanese life. Many of the churches that you see today have undergone reconstruction or renovation, as preserving historic and religious heritage is one of the city's priorities. Take this tour to visit some of the most notable places of...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Milan's Fashion Restaurants & Bars

Milan's Fashion Restaurants & Bars

Milan is a city well known for luxurious fashion and shopping. With this guide your designer experience doesn't have to end at the stores and boutiques. Almost every major Italian fashion house (as well as a few foreign ones) has entered the food, beverage, or hospitality businesses in Milan,...
Milan's Best Aperitivo Venues

Milan's Best Aperitivo Venues

Apéritifs usually are alcoholic drinks that are normally served before a meal. But in Milan the Aperitivo can actually become a fun, cheap (but not unchic) dinner with friends or (in a romantic venue) with a date. The all-you-can-eat formula allows you to buy just one drink and serve yourself with...
12 Cafes To Visit in Milan

12 Cafes To Visit in Milan

The industrial capital of Italy and one of the world's fashion and business centers, today's Milan is teeming with chaotic urban rush on a daily basis. Although it can't compete with Rome in terms of history, art and architecture, there are hidden gems in Milan well worth searching...
Sweet Shops of Milan

Sweet Shops of Milan

This guide will undoubtably make your trip to Milan a sweet one. Most locations are in the city centre, whilst others are set in older headquarters, that boast incredible landmarks and hidden beauties. Milan is habitually associated to fashion and business but has some exquisite examples of art...
16 Best Pastry Shops in Milan Italy

16 Best Pastry Shops in Milan Italy

Are you looking to satisfy your sweet tooth with genuine, locally-made Italian pastries and drink real “espresso”? This guide covers the best pastry shops/cafes in Milan, the capital of fashion and excellent northern Italian food. Places where one can drink coffee or tea and eat some of the...
Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Italian Goods Worth Buying in Milan

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Italian Goods Worth Buying in Milan

Needless to say much about Milan and the things the city is famous for. From fashion and luxury to football and Berlusconi, the list is long. Still, some of the distinctively Milanese items may pass unnoticed to the eye of a stranger, if not caringly pointed in the right direction by a knowledgeable...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Milan for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Milan has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Milan's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Milan Pass and Milano Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Milan's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Milan hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: TownHouse Galleria, Room Mate Giulia, Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Milan, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Milan typically costs from around US$25 up to US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Milan from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the three interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for all three).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Milan on a bike tour (3 to 3.5 hours) visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Enjoy a day of art, food, wine and sightseeing on a 3-hour tour of Milan following in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci! A great combination of the Renaissance, appetizers, and wines to help one unwind in a true Milanese style at one of the city's most fascinating spots.

- Take a walk deeper “under the skin” of Italy’s fashion capital. Skip lines to Milan's Duomo and Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” to save more time for visiting other iconic local attractions and experiencing the true spirit of Milan.

- Spend 3 hours sightseeing the center of Milan led by a knowledgeable local guide, exploring the city's most notable attractions like the Duomo, Piazza de’ Mercanti, the Loggia, via Dante, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Scala Theatre and many other prominent locations.

- Enjoy exclusive access “behind the scenes” of the Milanese Fashion District on the one and only Milano fashion tour visiting a number of the city's top ateliers and fashion stores. The tour guides have worked there for years themselves, so they know the fashion industry inside out to ensure you see only the best boutiques.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Milan, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Venice, the Cinque Terre, a combo of Genoa and Portofino, Lake Como, or Lake Maggiore. For as little as circa US$80 to US$150 per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including breathtaking Venice, small piece of paradise in the form of five little villages hanging from cliffs over the sea, glamorous coastal towns of the Italian Riviera, and the scenic Italian Lake District. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Milan, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.