The city-break-blues have hit me, hard. I’ve just returned from a spectacular weekend in the wonderful Italian city of Milan. It was fun-filled, food-filled, wine-filled, and excitement-filled, and I couldn’t be more sad that it is over. However, instead of moving on, I am re-living my adventures through this blog post, offering inspiration and advice to those who many be looking to visit Milan in the future!
I couldn’t possibly narrow down all of my photos and adventures into one blog post (unless it were to be classed as a book), and so this post is about some of the main tourist attractions that you must visit. My next post will include a lot more food and wine…
Side note: thank goodness that you can now use data roaming abroad with no extra charge, I don’t know how we would have coped without Google Maps!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Having only landed a few hours ago, we literally stumbled across the oldest active shopping mall in the world (officially), on our way to somewhere else we were going to explore. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was certainly on our agenda, but it was a lovely surprise to look up from Google Maps and be greeted by the most beautiful rows of shops I have ever seen. I had seen so many pictures of it before, but it was even more spectacular in person.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is home to some of the biggest designer brands and the most well-kept shop-fronts. It is made up of two ‘arcades’ that meet in the middle below a spectacular glass and iron dome.
To explain its grandeur and beauty – it is the only shopping centre where I have been more interested in the building than the shops themselves, and that is saying something. The whole Galleria is under a beautiful iron and glass roof, which on a day like it was, shines magnificently with the sun.
Whether you’re a high-end shopper, or a high-end admirer, the Galleria is not to be missed. From Versace to Louis Vuitton, Chanel to Gucci, the shopping mall houses some of the biggest names in fashion. And as Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, all of these brands belong exactly where they are placed.
There’s an intriguing mix of tourists (like myself), and stylish Italian men and women dressed in head to toe designer labels. It seems like the place to see as a tourist, and the place to be as a fashionista. And among the wonderful shop windows are a few lovely restaurants. Some are among the oldest in Milan! But be careful, some of these are on the pricey-side, so be sure to take a look at the menu outside each of the establishments before committing.
As you walk through the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II (depending on which of the four exits you leave by), you are met by another Italian masterpiece, the Cathedral. I was sort of half-looking at the map, trying to work out how to get to the cathedral, only to look up and it be right there!
In front of the cathedral is a square, the Piazza Del Duomo, which is filled with tourists (and pigeons), locals, and people trying to sell you things (it’s okay to say no). It’s the type of spot where you are definitely in the background of a million and one photos, but nothing draws away from the huge and beautiful duomo.
The cathedral is free to go in and see, but there are also various tours that you can book onto, including access to the terrace at the top of it! Whether you are interested in seeing inside it or not, it’s definitely a piece of Milan’s history that is worth visiting.
Stairway to Heaven
We couldn’t visit Milan without climbing to the top of the Cathedral to see the view it had to offer. But oh boy, getting tickets was even harder than climbing the flipping steps! We saw people queuing for both the stairs and lift to get up, but both queues said to buy tickets beforehand. But where from?! We must have circled the cathedral about 5 times, no joke, looking for a kiosk or someone to help us – anything. We failed miserably, so much so that we had to take a coffee break to Google how to find bloody tickets.
Turns out, there are usually places open that weren’t open on the day we were there (a little bizarre as it was a Saturday at peak time). But there was a Museum for the Duomo to the right of the cathedral itself, which we discovered you can buy tickets to the Duomo from. The tickets were only €9.50 each to take the stairs up (we thought this would ‘add to the experience’), but there is an option to take the lift. It was a Saturday and there had been huge queues all morning, however, we waited until about 2 o’clock and there was no queue at all. I definitely suggest spending a few hours elsewhere if the queues are ridiculously long!
As soon as you walk in the entrance, the steps appear and they just keep on coming. If you’re claustrophobic, I would definitely recommend getting the lift. Or asthmatic, for that matter! They seem to go on forever but it is certainly worth the walk.
Getting a 360° view of Milan is incredible and you can see for miles, particularly if it’s a clear day. It’s a view that you won’t forget! And luckily, walking down the steps is a lot easier than walking up…
Piazza Gae Aulenti
A more recent addition to Milan (just slightly – a few centuries or so) is a complex connecting the main railway in Milan to the wonderful city itself. The Piazza Gae Aulenti includes a gorgeous water feature surrounded by modern and trendy shops and cafes. The complex has been extremely well designed with impressive water features, sculptures, and contemporary seating areas. It was nice to be able to go from the old Milan to the metropolitan Milan. Both sides are extremely stylish, fashionable, and beautiful!
From here, you can also see the famous ‘Vertical Forest‘; award-winning residential towers helping to improve Milan’s eco-system. The towers contain hundreds of trees, shrubs, and plants, and has become a tourist spot in itself!
If you’re venturing to here from the cathedral, the Piazza Gae Aplenti is about a half an hour walk away. Not for the faint-hearted if you’ve just climbed to the top of the Duomo, let me tell you. But you get to walk down some beautiful Italian streets, so it is worthwhile. Leading up to the complex is Corso Como, a street home to various food establishments and cool shops, which is also worth exploring if you’re on this side of town!
If this hasn’t made you want to add Milan to your wish list, then I have truly failed. However, keep your eyes (and stomachs) peeled for my upcoming food and drink in Milan post. This will be sure to change your mind!
For some sneak peaks of what is to come in the next Milan-related blog post, head over to my insta.