Is Milan Worth Visiting? Honest Pros and Cons!

is milan worth visiting

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Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering if Milan is worth visiting? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of choosing Milan as your next destination so you can decide if it’s the best choice for your next holiday.

Unlike other widely loved cities in Northern Italy, Milan seems to be more divisive. While everyone agrees that the main attractions are stunning, it isn’t regarded as a ‘bucket list’ destination like Rome, Florence or Venice.


Accommodation: / Hostelworld

Getting there: flight / bus / train

Getting around: foot / metro / bus

Activities: GetYourGuide / Viator

Food experiences: EatWith

So, in this post, I’m keen to investigate why that is, so that future travellers know whether Milan is worth visiting.

Despite any reservations you might have about coming to Milan, there are plenty of pros of visiting. Milan is a well-connected city so many visitors – like me – agree that it would be a shame to miss it on your North Italy itinerary. There are certainly enough Milan attractions to keep you busy for a day or two!

is milan good to visit
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With stunning architecture, a world-famous fashion scene, delicious foodie spots and a fascinating history, I’m here to share all the reasons to visit Milan including the fact it’s a safe city for solo travel in Italy.

Gelato is milan worth visiting
Gelato is always worth visiting Italy for

That said, if you only have a couple of days in Italy, there are more iconic places to visit instead. So, to help you decide whether to add Milan to your Italy must-sees, I’ll also share my honest thoughts on why some people might prefer to skip Milan. 

Here’s everything you need to know before booking your ticket to Milan… 

Read next: the perfect 2 day Milan itinerary

Is Milan worth visiting? Six reasons why it is

Starting with the positives, I hope these points give you an idea of what Milan is like to visit and what you can expect from the city…

A cultural hub with amazing architecture

Duomo cathedral carvings
Details on the Duomo

Modern Milan is best known as one of the world’s fashion capitals, but ancient Milan was a cultural hub too! This becomes apparent when you take to the streets and are met with some of the world’s most stunning architecture. 

Milan’s most iconic building has to be the majestic Duomo Cathedral (Il Duomo di Milano). This cathedral took 600 years to complete and is adorned with 3500 statues, so it’s safe to say it’s as impressive in real life as in the photos. Even if you’re only in Milan on a layover, it’s still worth popping out to see the Duomo! Buy your skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid the queues.

I also enjoyed Sforzesco Castle, a large citadel initially built in the 1300s and later rebuilt. Although the onsite museums are ticketed, the castle is free to explore from the outside.

Sforzesco Castle reasons to visit milan
Sforzesco Castle

If art is more your thing, Milan is worth visiting because one of the world’s most famous paintings can be found here: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie church.

The masterpiece was painted on a wall of the church in 1495 and many say the fact it’s survived the many events in Milan’s turbulent history (including being relentlessly bombed during the war) is a miracle!

You need to buy tickets in advance; browse guided Last Supper tours here.

Other iconic Milan pastimes include visiting the Pinacoteca di Brera, soaking up the displays at the Francesco Messina Museum and spending an evening listening to music at the Milan Opera or La Scala Opera House. 

All that said, if you’re after a real, quaint historic Italian town, then Milan isn’t that. It’s a true mix of old and new buildings so expect to see as many skyscrapers as you do charming, medieval buildings!

Isola skyscraper trees
Isola neighbourhood’s futuristic buildings

Delicious food

Italian food is one of the world’s top cuisines and, although the food in the south is widely regarded as the best, Milan has tasty cuisine when you know where to look… And strong apéritif culture meaning you can enjoy Aperol Spritz with delicious small plates.

If you’re on a budget, find cafes and restaurants a short walk from the main squares to save some cash. At ALDENTE Pastabar, you can get pasta, a dessert, soft drink and coffee for just over €10. Panzerotti Luini has great snacky foods and All’Antico Vinaio serve famous sandwiches for €7.

Fine dining enthusiasts can enjoy a meal at Rosa, Seta and L’Alchimia.

pasta making class milan is it worth visiting
Dinner in Milan

Famous Milanese dishes to try include:

  • Risotto alla Milanese – this creamy risotto made with Arborio rice and saffron is a simple but classic recipe, making for an earthy and delicious dinner
  • Cotoletta alla Milanese – this breaded veal cutlet fried in butter is one of the city’s oldest signature foods, first mentioned in a document back in 1146
  • Ossobuco alla Milanese – a cut of braised veal, usually laid in a bed of Risotto alla Milanese or Polenta
  • Polenta – this staple dish made from coarsely ground cornmeal is a common side dish. Along with Minestrone Milanese (veggie soup), it’s a good traditional option for vegetarians to try
  • Panettone – this sweet bread loaf originated in Milan in the 15th century and was typically eaten during the Christmas season, but is now enjoyed year-round. It’s filled with candied fruits, raisins and citrus zest. A must-try if you visit Milan in winter!

Oh, and don’t miss the gelato! Terra Gelato and Il Massimo del Gelato are delicious places to try it. 

All’Antico Vinaio worth visiting milan for
Foodies wondering why to visit Milan can come for All’Antico Vinaio sandwiches!

Milan is a decent winter destination

During the festive season, Milan is decorated with festive lights and Christmas trees, making it prettier than ever. Although the weather is cold, it’s milder than in Northern Europe with fewer crowds due to the low season. Just know it’ll probably rain!

Don’t miss the Christmas market in Piazza Duomo for yummy traditional food, handmade gift ideas and a Santa’s grotto for the kids. The Duomo also holds a free Christmas concert, subject to availability, that you can reserve tickets for in advance.

During the colder months, Milan is worth visiting for the warming Milanese traditional dishes. Alongside the hearty meals above, you can also enjoy cassoeula, a pork and cabbage stew that pops up on menus around Christmas. Milanese Christmas lunches usually include antipasti and ravioli or a roast dinner. You’ll see LOTS of panettone at this time of year, too. 

frittole italian food
Wait til lent and tasty frittole come out

As for day trips, Bolanzo or Trento are ideal if you’re visiting in December due to their traditional Christmas markets. 

Milan is a walkable city with a ton of green spaces

One of my favourite things about Milan is that many of the main attractions are easily visited on foot. 

Wondering around the cobbled streets, getting lost down alleyways and finding the best local coffee spots are all part of the fun of walkable European cities. It’s great to walk out of your hotel and stroll to iconic sights like the Duomo!

Despite the crowds, Milan is worth visiting for its peaceful green spaces, such as the 38-hectare Sempione Park

Sempione Park

In the evening, wander along the canals in the Navigli district for a change of scene and a glass of wine or spritz.

It’s easy to find your way around but City Walkers tours are great for anyone who gets overwhelmed in a new city. The tour is full of fascinating insights from local guides including historical facts, funny stories and delicious food recommendations. 

For neighbourhoods further afield, the metro is efficient and budget-friendly. Trams and buses are also available. 

Milan is well-connected, with cheap flights

Did you know there are three airports in Milan

That means there’s a heck of a lot of flight options, and you have a good chance of snapping up a budget deal, especially if you use Skyscanner’s ‘search by month’ filter to see the cheapest dates for travel.

It’s also well-connected to other Italian cities so – even if you want to see more of the country, Milan is worth visiting as a starter and departure location.

Trainline is the ideal platform to search for cheap trains from Milan. However, you could also consider using Flixbus if you’re on a backpacker budget, especially for longer cross-country journeys (I ended my Slovenia itinerary by taking the Flixbus to Northern Italy). 

Since Milan is so well-connected, it’s also a great base for day trips. Take a direct train from the main train station to historic cities including the cultural and foodie cities of Verona and Bologna, the peaceful and medieval towns of Cremona or Pavia, or colourful and coastal Camogli.

For nature lovers, the garden city of Varese is just an hour from Milan, where you can hike to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sacro Monte. Alternatively, the iconic Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are all within easy reach of Milan.

Lake como near milan worth visiting

A (rich) shopper’s paradise…

You can’t think of Milan without thinking of fashion. The Quadrilatero della Moda (Golden Quadrangle) is an area of Milan best known for its designer boutiques, though you’ll find upmarket fashionista favourites all around the city.

For vintage shopping, popular spots include Cavalli e Nastri and Bivio.

If you’re a budget traveller, Milan’s upmarket shopping scene might be more of a con than a pro. There are a few pretty shopping areas, like the 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, that are worth visiting Milan for. But you’ll want to keep your credit card securely locked up to avoid blowing your budget on a single item!

Designer shops Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II milan italy

Is Milan worth it? Five reasons why it might not be: 

  • If you only have a couple of days in Italy, there are better city breaks. If you’ve never been to Florence, Rome or Venice, then you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who tells you to prioritise Milan first. Milan is best enjoyed by those who’ve already visited key Italy destinations or as a stop on a longer road trip itinerary. 
  • For fashionistas, many travellers agree that other ‘fashion capitals’ like Paris, London or New York City are more interesting, though you’re still likely to enjoy Milan if you’re big on its fashion history or visit in September for Milan Fashion Week.
  • Many travellers who don’t rate Milan say it’s because the city has a more ‘business’ or commercial vibe than other European destinations. It’s home to the Italian stock exchange, after all. With flashy designer shops and expensive restaurants, I can understand why they feel that way. If you’re looking for a cute and quaint European city, Milan may not be it. 
  • Milan is expensive, though that can be said for many well-known European cities. Although you can save cash by enjoying the free, walkable attractions, it’s hard to find a decent budget hostel or hotel (Yellow Square Hostel in the Porta Romana neighbourhood isn’t cheap but I do recommend it). True budget travellers might prefer smaller, lesser-known Italian towns. On the plus side, luxury travellers will love the opportunities for fine dining, shopping and a relaxing stop at the QC Terme Spa. 
  • Like any major city, Milan can get crowded. For sights like the Last Supper, you absolutely MUST book tickets in advance – especially at high season.
Just a couple of hours away, Venice is undeniably more iconic!

Conclusion: Should I visit Milan?

Yes, Milan is absolutely worth visiting for a day or two. However… there are a few caveats! 

There’s no question as to whether or not Milan is beautiful (it truly is), only as to whether it should be included on your Italy itinerary with so many great contending destinations.

While the Milan attractions are stunning in their own right, they’re simply not as iconic as those in other famous Italian destinations. That’s not to say you should knock Milan for a city break. But if you’ve never been to Italy before, you might prefer to spend your weekend in Florence, Rome or Lake Como instead. 

Even if you’re not sure if Milan is your cup of tea, I still suggest flying via the city if you find a cheap flight. Milan is super well connected to other Italian and European cities so you can easily explore further afield, while also spending a day or two in Milan to see the main sights.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you have a better idea of whether Milan is worth visiting based on what you’re looking for.

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Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.

Driving in Europe – use to compare car rentals in Italy (and all around the world).

For trains, both RailEurope and Trainline offer excellent service in Italy. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.

For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys from €1! Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy!

For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use

To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.

Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s some of the most affordable insurance out there but still covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.

For other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.

For Italian food experiences from cooking classes to market visits hosted by locals, use EatWith.

Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!

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