The five best gelaterie in Milan

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When you are a day or a weekend in Milan you definitely have to eat at least one gelato, or ice cream. In this article we list what we consider the best gelateria in Milan. Especially when you’ve done a bike tour through Milan with us, you deserve one!

The best gelateria in the centre of Milan: Ciacco

The ice cream shop Ciacco is just a stone’s throw away from Piazza the Duomo. It is situated in Via Spadari, the street that is known for the famous store Peck, a historic gastronomical heaven. By the way, Peck is worth a visit, even more when you do love good food or like to bring back home a great bottle of wine. However, consider that the prices at Peck are in the higher range.

Ok, back to Ciacco. We consider this the best ice cream shop in the centre of Milan. The flavors that Ciacco offers are delicious and very original. As are the names. Order for example a cone with Principe Bugré (salted caramel) or a Quasi Cheesecake (quasi=almost). Stefano, the founder and ice cream maker is (one of) the first that created a seasoned ice cream (gelato barricato): ice cream that stayed in wooden barrels (the ones they use in the wine making process) for some time. Maybe this all makes sense when we tell you that the gelataio Stefano studied chemistry….

The different flavors are all made with high-quality ingredients and without additives. And more good news: they always have a wide-range of flavors that are made without lactose or products that derive from animals. So this is also the place to be when you are intolerant for lactose or when you follow a vegan diet.

Ciacco, gelato senz’altro

Via Spadari 13
https://www.ciaccolab.it/

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Artico, delicious ice cream in the Brera district

Artico is slowly becoming an institute in Milan. They’ve opened their first store in Isola, the district that also hosts the Artico Academy. A few years later they opened a second store in Via Dogana (we cross this street during our bike tours through Milan), only one minute away from the Piazza del Duomo. The store in Brera has opened in Spring 2021.

You can choose here between different varieties of chocolate-flavored ice cream as for example dark chocolate, bacio (milk chocolate with hazelnuts), salted chocolate, and so on. These flavors go well in combination with pistacchio di Bronte, salted caramel or almond. However, if you prefer fruit flavored ice cream, then be prepared to have more ‘heavy’ choices like red fruits or mango. Are you in difficulty choosing? Then just ask to try a teaspoon of one or two of the flavors. It might help you to make a decision.

Artico Gelateria – Brera

Via Brera 29
https://www.gruppoartico.com/le-gelaterie/

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Toldo, ice cream with a view (on Bosco Verticale)

Toldo is the oldest ice cream shop in this list of five best gelaterie in Milan. They have two stores, the first one opened in the fifties of the last century in Brera. The second one, in Isola, opened only a few years ago, when this neighborhood became more popular by both Milanese and tourists.

Besides ice cream, Toldo also offers coffee and sweet pastries. Meaning that you can go here all day. In the (early) morning one enjoys a breakfast with a cappuccino and a delicious homemade brioche. Later in the morning or half-way the afternoon it is the place to have a piece of cake or a coppetta di gelato. Like the gelateria named above, also Toldo is specialised in ice cream made with chocolate flavors in combination with different ingredients.

In the gelateria in Isola you can choose from 10 flavors. It might sound limited, but it means that you always eat fresh ice cream as the turnover is quick. What are you waiting for?

Toldo
Via Pietro Borsieri 7

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In the Porta Venezia district? Go out-of-the-box!

In the upcoming area of Porta Venezia, next to the beautiful Liberty facade of Casa Galimberti, the ice cream store Out-of-the-box. Also this one is relatively new. The laboratorio, where the ice cream is prepared, is visible to the clients so that everyone can enjoy the production process.

The flavors change here every day and are very original. Have you ever tried an ice cream made from raw chocolate? Or icecream with salted cshews? If you can’t make a choice, then order a ‘box’ with six small containers of ice cream. This is also very useful for take-away ice cream and can be enjoyed while walking.

If you want to take a souvenir from this ice cream experience, then don’t hesitate to take some of the postcards that do not only explain the flavors but also the ingredients that have been used to make this cold delicacy. It might inspire you for some home-cooking….

Via Malpighi 7
https://www.facebook.com/outofthebox.gelato

Stroll along the Navigli with an ice cream from Latteneve

The area around the Naviglio Grande is one of the most popular areas in the centre of Milan. It is just a 10 minutes walk from the endpoint of our bike tours through Milan and definitely worth a visit! Along the canal are cool boutiques and lot’s of bars and restaurants. However, if you want to eat a good ice cream you need to move-away a little from the water. To be more precise, you have to go to Via Vigevano. Don’t worry, it is close-by and it will take you only a few minutes to get back to the Naviglio area.

Latteneve produces ice cream with original and qualitative products, preferably organic and local. The flavors are made for example with single-origin chocolate, liquorice from Calabria and PGI hazelnuts from Piemonte. Order a cono or coppetta, ask for it to be filled with the flavors of your choice and enjoy it while strolling along the Naviglio.

Latteneve

Via Vigevano 27
https://www.facebook.com/Gelateria-Latteneve-783293678378154

What to do in Milan in 2 days

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This is the perfect city for a weekend getaway. Or the perfect addition to your Italian vacation. With 2 days in Milan, you’ll be able to enjoy the main sights of the city -and to find a few hidden spots.

Your weekend getaway should be packed with fun things to do, to see it all from a different perspective.

What to do in Milan in 2 days: the highlights

You might already have a list of activities and sites, but here are a few that you just can’t miss.

  • Get on the saddle with our bike tour through the main sights of Milan
  • Grab a cocktail at the Walden, in the Ticinese neighborhood
  • Visit Milan’s very own Sistine Chapel
  • Time to discover vineyard of Da Vinci. Yes, you read that right.
  • Grab breakfast at the Pasticceria Marchesi
  • Try something different at Panzarotto Luini
  • Time for lunch at Peck
  • Enjoy an evening in Corso Como and Garibaldi

Sounds fun? Well, these are just the highlights.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Leonardo Da Vinci Vineyard

What to see in milan in 2 days, Day 1

Stretch your legs and get ready: this day is filled with fun!

  • Get to the main sights right away with our bike tour. We will pedal through the highlights of Milan. Gorgeous indeed.
  • The Walden is the perfect place to grab a drink or espresso. It’s a bar and a bookstore, a bistrot and a cocktail lab. This hotspot is trendy and eco-friendly. What’s better?
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Walden

 

  • At San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, you will find Milan’s Sistine Chapel. Painted by Bernardino Luini, between 1522 and 1529.
  • So Leonardo Da Vinci had a vineyard. He was Italian, after all. In the Casa degli Atellani you will find a secret garden and an oasis in the chaotic metropolis. It was gifted to the artist in 1498 so this is an ancient vineyard. Surrounded by art and whispers.
  • In your 2-days in Milan itinerary, you have to enjoy an aperitif or dinner at the Darsena or Navigli neighborhoods. We especially recommend the RITA for a drink. For dinner, the choices are endless. This part of town is full of fun and relaxing vibes. And of different gastronomies.

Dance the night away. This Italian city is unique and should make the most of your two days.

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San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

What to do in milan for 2 days, Day 2

This is your last morning in the city. Ditch the hotel’s buffet breakfast and instead…

  • Enjoy breakfast at Pasticceria Marchesi. This is a historic and delicious bakery, where you can fuel up for your day. Founded in 1824, you will enjoy a vintage vibe while sipping cappuccino and eating a perfect Italian pastry.
  • You have seen the city from the bike. Time to see from the high ground. Or the high terrace of the Dome, where history surrounds. While the city winks at you from below.
  • If all the exploring has made you hungry, you can try a panzerotto at the world-famous Luini. A family from Puglia founded it in 1949. It’s the gastronomic and hopeful history Italy after World War II.
  • Looking for more art? Check out the Ambrosiana Cartone by the artist Raffaello and Leonardo. Or perhaps you are looking for a souvenir. Do some shopping. You are in the city of fashion, it’s time to see what that’s all about!
  • In the list of things to do in Milan in 2 days, you can’t miss lunch at the Peck. It’s an elegant restaurant and the menu focuses on traditional dishes. You can also grab brunch, with specialty food such as hamburgers, bagels, and omelettes.
  • Full tummy? Unwind with a relaxing stroll around the Quadrilatero of Silence. Or explore the Liberty style and architecture in the neighborhood of Porta Venezia.
  • It’s your last night in Milan. There is no better way to spend than with a cocktail and dinner in Corso Como and in Garibaldi area. You are in the chic and hip part of town. Time to celebrate your Italian getaway.
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Duomo Terrace – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

 

So, discovering Milan is doable in two days. There are many things to do, even away from the beaten path. Get that itinerary ready!

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Things to do in Milan for couples.

What to do in Milan in 3 days

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Do you need all this time to explore the city? Yes, here there are more things to see than the Dome. With 3 days in Milan, you will discover every aspect of it. From the rooftop aperitifs to the relaxing SPAs. Not to mention the art and history.

This modern city has something for every type of traveler. It’s time to uncover its secrets.

What to do in Milan in 3 days, the highlights

These are the sights and activities you can’t miss.

  • Our bike tour to explore the main attractions of the city. From a new perspective
  • Take your lunch break in the Ticinese neighborhood, full of gardens and courtyards
  • See Milan up high from the Dome’s terrace and the Gallery’s Highline
  • Enjoy the original aperitif at Camparino
  • Have a special dinner or night at the Arco della Pace
  • Find glamour at the Quadrilatero della Moda
  • Liven your evening at the Navigli
  • Have you ever heard of the Silence quadrilatero?
  • Discover the Liberty heritage
  • 10 Corso Como is an address you can’t miss
  • A cocktail and snack at Moscova

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Highlight of Milan Bike Tour

What to do in Milan in 3 days – Day 1

The first day in a new place is the day of exploring. This is when you see the main sights, while looking for alternative activities. And we know the best way to combine both.

  • Join our bike tour, aka The Highlights of Milan. We will ride through the main sites while enjoying the city on a different, fun angle.
  • Hungry after all the biking? The Ticinese neighborhood is filled with delicious restaurants with gardens and tiny oasis. For a taste of Japanese cuisine, try Tenoha, while Trattoria Madonnina offers traditional gastronomy.
  • Talking about different perspectives, you can head up to the Dome’s terrace. There, you are surrounded by history. For more unforgettable views, you can also head up to the Highline of the Galleria.
  • Play the game of the broken telephone in Mercanti Square, which has a very particular acoustics. In your 3 days in Milan, you won’t miss peculiar things. Like the Stretta of Via Bagnera, the city’s tinies street with a tragic past.
  • The Camparino is more than a bar. It’s a historic place, founded in 1915. Here, you can try the innovative concept of Cocktail & Food Pairing, like the delicious risotto with Campari. Bottoms up, indeed!
  • There is no better way to end your first day in Milan with a chic dinner in a stunning location. Like the Arco della Pace, the Arch of Peace with the six bronze sculptures of horses turning away from France. In the book of Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, there is a reference about the belief that the statues of Arco della Pace are aligned with those of the Arco di Trionfo of Carrousel and the Arco di Trionfo of the Etoile of Paris. Legend has it that the Sestiga (the horses statues) was originally facing France but then the Ausburg turned it facing Milan to mock the French. This legend doesn’t consider that the Sestiga is not from the same age of the Arco della Pace, because it was put there in 1837 during the Ausburg kingdom. Still, its current position, turned to the city, symbolizes Peace entering Milan.

Enjoy your sleep, because in the morning, the city awaits.

Cenacolo Vinciano

What to see in milan in 3 days – Day 2

It’s time to wake up and get a filling and delicious breakfast to start the day.

  • Breakfast at the bakery Pasticceria Marchesi in Corso Magenta. Pair your favorite coffee with your favorite croissant. Make it two, since there’s lots to do today.
  • If you love art, you can’t miss Milan’s very own Sistine Chapel in San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. The colors and details will leave your speechless.
  • You’ve heard of Leonardo Da Vinci. Now, watch his genius in person at the museum Cenacolo Vinciano. Here, you can admire the painting “The Last Supper.” From there, you can visit Leonardo’s ancient vineyard in the Casa degli Atellani. It dates back to 1498.
  • For lunch, head to the artsy neighborhood of Brera for traditional food. Reviewers especially love the Ristorante Nabucco.
  • After your Italian lunch, you can take a relaxing stroll through the Quadrilatero della Moda, the rectangle of fashion. Take a walk through Via Montenapoleone, the street with the fifth highest rents, worldwide.
  • Before dinner, get an aperitif or a drink at the Navigli. If you are looking for a cocktail, try the RITA. This neighborhood has an authentic vibe. It reflects the city’s past on water, through glamorous canals.

You can spend all night at the Navigli but don’t stay up too late. There is still one more day of exploring.

Quadrilatero della Moda

3 days in Milan, an itinerary – Day 3

It’s the last day. A bit nostalgic, but still: there is much to do. Time to get moving!

  • Get breakfast at Villa Necchi Campiglio, where you can also stroll around the garden and park. It’s a good warm up before your day.
  • During your 3 days in Milan, you can’t miss the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, the rectangle of silence. This is a quirky and curious part of town, where you can admire pink flamingos and heritage from the Austro Hungarian past. You will discover hidden gardens and weird sculptures, like the ones from Adolfo Wildt.
  • Move up through the architecture and arts eras by exploring the Liberty at Porta Venezia. You can’t miss the Art Decò and beauty. Since you are here, head to Panino Giusto, to try a 100% Italian sandwich.
  • What’s a last day without some shopping? Head to the BAM shopping area in the modern Gae Aulenti square. You will be surrounded by innovative architecture and trendy boutiques.
  • For your 3 day-itinerary in Milan, note this address: 10 Corso Como. You will find an innovative space with a courtyard, boutiques, a bar, a bookstore -and much more.
  • If you want to work up your appetite, take a stroll through Corso Garibaldi.
  • Then, for an aperitif head to Moscova district, in particular to Radetzky and Princi.
  • Close your last day in Milan with a typical dinner in the Isola neighborhood, full of traditional spots.

With this three-day itinerary in Milan, you will see every face of this city. It’s artsy, foodie, and trendy. It’s surprising, for sure.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Things to do in Milan for couples.

Things to do in Milan for couples

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Milan might not have the reputation of being a romantic city. An Italian honeymoon includes Venice, the Amalfi Coast, and perhaps Rome. But Milan? Is it romantic?

The answer is yes. This can be a city for lovebirds. You only need to look deep enough, with big, loving eyes. Like the emoji.

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Sunset Bike Tour

Things to do in Millan for couples: the highlights

  • Our Sunset bike tour
  • Hop on a tram for the ATMosfera dinner and a tour
  • Dance as close as you want at the Balera
  • Is there anything sexier than clandestine Tango?
  • Admire love at the Pinacoteca di Brera
  • Two romantic Villas, two romantic activities
  • Buy a gift at the antique market of the
  • Romantic picnic at Sempione Park
  • Dress fancy for an evening at the Scala Theater
  • Shopping at the elegant fashion Quadrilatero

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Villa Necchi

Things to do in Milan for young couples: the morning

After a strong espresso and a chocolate croissant, it’s time to wear comfortable shoes and discover the city.

  • At the Pinacoteca di Brera, you can find two romantic paintings. One is the Kiss by Francesco Hayez, which portrays two lovers kissing. The other is the Sposalizio della Vergine (The Virgin’s Wedding) by Raffaello, which depicts Mary and Joseph.
  • The city has two antique mansions: the Villa Necchi and the Villa Invernizzi. The former has a gorgeous dehor, a perfect setting for a snack or lunch. At the latter, you can see the flamingos.
  • Every last Sunday of the month at the Navigli, there is an Antiques Fair. There are over 380 sellers in two kilometers of stands. Here, you can find a unique gift for your partner.
  • How about giving up on hotel breakfast for once? One of the fun things to do in Milan for young couples is a picnic in Sempione Park. Lay a blanket next to the Sirenette Bridge and enjoy the day.
  • The Quadrilatero is the rectangle of streets dedicated to fashion. Here, you can find luxury stores and boutiques, for a morning of shopping.
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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Romantic things to do in Milan: the afternoon

After a morning of exploring, it’s time for lunch and to relax, before getting ready for dinner and an evening out.

  • Hungry after all that shopping? Grab a slice of pizza by Davide Longoni at the Santa Maria del Suffragio. If you prefer something sweeter, grab a bite at the Knam in Anfossi Street. After, stroll through the colorful neighborhood in Lincoln Street.
  • Take a romantic stroll with your partner in the artistic Brera neighborhood.
  • Do you need to relax in Milan? The QC Terme SPA is a great destination for couples. You can get treatments all in one unique place: on a tram.
  • One of the fun things to do for couples in Milan is visiting the Villa Reale. Here, you can enjoy a break at the LùBar, which is both an art gallery and a bistro.
  • Welcome the evening with our Sunset Bike Tour. We will pedal through wineries, cocktail bars, and through the city’s highlights.
Darsena

Fun things to do in Milan for couples: alternative dinner & aperitif

After our Sunset bike tour, why not enjoy more of Milan’s nightlife? You can get another aperitivo while you wait for dinner and a night of fun activities.

  • Have dinner at the ATMosfera. You will enjoy a meal on a city’s tram. But it’s not just dinner. It’s a tour of Milan too, passing by the Dome, the Castle, and the Navigli.
  • For another alternative dinner spot, you can choose The Small. It’s a tiny bistrot with Italian cuisine and a very intimate vibe.
  • If you are in a pizza mood, try the original (and different) chef Cracco restaurant by the Dome. Central and delicious.
  • Grab a drink at the Highline Galleria, where you can enjoy a rooftop view and a cocktail.
  • Not afraid of heights? Head to Rooftop Terrazza Martini to enjoy a typical Italian aperitif or a snack before dinner.
  • The Darsena is the city old harbor. It’s a gorgeous location that beams with lights at night. Your choices of bars and restaurants are endless. It’s definitely a fun thing to do for couples.
  • The Nottingham Forest is a cocktail bar in Milan where you can enjoy the after dinner with your partner. After your drink, you are ready for your last activity of the day.
Navigli

Romantic things to do in Milan: the after dinner

If you are looking for a different way to spend your night, here are the best activities for couples.

  • The Balera of the Ortica neighborhood has tons of fun things to do. Here, you can dine, play bowls, and enjoy the dance sessions. Hug your partner close during ballroom dancing or dance the worries away with Boogie Woogie.
  • Tango is sexy, isn’t it? Immagine it if its is illegal. Even sexier. In Piazza Affari, a secret mailing list gathers to dance the night away. They are the tangueros of the Guerrilla Tanguera, a group of passion.
  • Enjoy a show at the classical Scala Theater. Dress up and enjoy a night in one of the most popular and famous Italian theaters.

Milan is a city for lovebirds. Are you convinced yet? The list of fun things to do for couples in Milan is endless. And they are all romantic.
More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Fun Things To Do In Milan.

Fun Things To Do In Milan

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Traveling is about fun. You are discovering a new place and it’s all exciting. Milan is a city where you can have fun – not just in the nightclubs.

It’s the enjoyment of trying something you’ve never tried before. It’s time to enjoy this city through a different light.

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Piazza Mercanti

Fun things to do in Milan: the highlights

If your time is limited, these are the activities you can’t miss:

  • Our bike tour to see the city from a different perspective
  • Play the broken telephone at Mercanti Square
  • Are you afraid of the tiny Stretta Bagnera?
  • Experience the Fuorisalone of the Milano Design Week
  • Face vertigo at the Branca Tower or at the Lombardy Palace
  • Experience the street food and beer of the Darsena
  • Stroll around the East Market
  • The Critical Mass, aka cyclists on the loose
  • Have you ever heard of aerogravity?
  • Check out the street art at Ortica and the Navigli
  • Discover Sempione Park on a rickshaw
  • Shopping time at CityLife

 

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Stretta Bagnera – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

A boost of adrenaline: fun things to do in Milan

Traveling is about experimenting. It’s time to experience new activities, to bring home unforgettable memories and weird pictures.

  • Our bike tour takes you through the highlights of the city.
  • The Stretta Bagnera has a dark history, so walking through this tiny street isn’t fair to the faint of heart. In the 1800s murderer Antonio Boggia lived here and here, he found his victims. Do you have the courage to walk though the Bagnera?
  • Perhaps you are brave enough for the Stretta, but heights are another story. The Branca Tower is 100-meters high and you can go up, overcoming the breath-taking vertigo.
  • Mark your calendar: every Thursday evening from the Piazza Mercanti, you will experience one of the funniest things to do in Milan. It’s the Critical Mass, a wave of people that take over the city. There are only two rules: no engines and no walking.
  • The Aero Gravity is the “the largest vertical wind tunnel in the world and the only one in Italy.” You will actually fly in an 8-metre tall crystal cylinder.
  • Is there a better souvenir than a tattoo? Gianmaurizio Fercioni is the most long-lived tattoo artist in town. In his studio, he has also created a museum for all the lovers.
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Torre Branca

Fun things to do in Milan for the foodies

Nothing screams of Italian vacation more than delicious food in an Instagrammable spot. Here are the top experiences for all the foodies out there.

  • At the Darsena, the old city’s harbor, you can enjoy the best street food next to a glass of beer, with the added bonus of a gorgeous view. At the butcher’s shop Popolare di Zen you will find hamburgers and the lampredotto, a sandwich with the stomach of the cow. If you prefer seafood, you can try the fried options at the Pescheria Il Kiosko.
  • There is nothing more Milan than the cotoletta, a veal breaded cutlet, although it looks like an elephant’s ear. The best restaurant to try is the Ratanà, nestled in a historic home.
  • Before dinner, you need an aperitif, in perfect Italian style. Time to head to the Navigli neighborhood to grab a cocktail at the Rita, the MAG, or the 1930 speakeasy.
  • For dinner, join a flashmob. Once a year, crowds dressed in total white and total black enjoy a secret dinner.
  • If you are looking for an alternative place for dinner or cocktails, you can head to these neighborhoods: Isola, Garibaldi, and Arco della Pace. Here, you’ll find the trendiest spots in town.
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Fuorisalone

Fun things to do in Milan for the fashionistas

You are in the city of fashion. It’s time to turn the streets into your catwalk.

  • The Fuorisalone of the Milano Design Week includes events and special collections. During the Vogue Fashion Night, every store and boutique of the city is open and the streets become a party.
  • At the East Market, you can find it all. It’s a space dedicated to hobbyists and private vendors who sell their crafts.
  • The CityLife is a shopping district with modern skyscrapers and endless shopping opportunities.
  • Need more shopping? Every corner of the city is trendy and glamorous. Is your wallet ready?
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Ortica street art – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

Having fun in Milan: the things even grandma will enjoy

If you are traveling with your family, it’s important to find activities that everyone can enjoy. With this list, the kids won’t be bored and grandma won’t complain.

  • Do you remember the game of the broken telephone? You form a line. The first says something and then whisper’s into the one nearby and so on, until the last one says the words out lout. It’s never the correct one, is it? You can play it in Mercanti Square thanks to the particular acoustics.
  • Is it the apse of San Satiro church really there?
  • If grandma drags you to the museum, drag her to the street art of the neighborhoods of Ortica and Navigli. You will find some of the most colorful graffiti of Milan.
  • At the Bar Bianco in Sempione Park, you can rent rickshaws to explore the grounds. The shop has three of them that fit six people. Time to race!
  • In summer, life in the city is outdoors. One of the fun things to do in Milan are live concerts. The most popular venues are Carroponte and the Magnolia, in the Idroscalo neighborhood.
  • After a day of shopping, one of the fun things to do is getting a drink at the Spirit de Milan, which also features a restaurant, and a quirky store. It’s a club, where grandma can show off her moves.

“I love Milan. It’s a city that gives me a great sense of euphoria. I feel a special energy there”, said Shawn Mendez. Feel the euphoria with these fun things to do in Milan.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Unique things to do in Milan.

Unique things to do in Milan

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Milan, the city of fashion, of the Duomo, and of the Scala. It’s also, the city of the unusual. You’ve seen pictures of the Sforza Castle, but have you seen pictures of the church of bones? There are many unique things to do in Milan beside the classic landmarks: do you know them?

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Fountain of Bagni Misteriosi – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

Unique things to do in Milan

  • De Chirico’s mystery
  • The secret of San Satiro church
  • A horned Virgin
  • The ear intercom
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • The Walk of Fame
  • Admire Milan’s OTHER dome
  • The neighborhood of cheese makers
  • Our bike tour, pedaling through the highlights of the city
  • Dialogue in the dark
  • The Dramatram
  • The 1930 Speakeasy
  • Relax at the SPA, inside a tram

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Horned Virgin – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

Unusual things to do in Milan: for the arts lovers

  • The shirtless swimmers of the Fountain of Bagni Misteriosi aren’t everyone’s type. The Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico recreated a swimming pool setting at the Triennale. There is even a floating and colorful swan, the ancestor of Instagram’s floating flamingo.
  • The famous Pietà (Piety) of Michelangelo is at the Vatican Museums. A lesser known version is at the Sforza Castle. Officially known as the “Pietà Rondanini”, this unfinished sculpture is one of the last masterpieces of the artist.
  • Even the masters have to make drafts. At the Ambrosiana, you can admire Raffaello’s drawing of the “The School of Athens,” created between 1509 and 1511. Raffaello died nine years later and rumor has it, the Pope kissed his hand before the burial in Rome’s Pantheon.
  • Milan was the city of artists. Donato Bramante was the architect of the San Satiro church and he put an optic illusion. Is the apse truly there?
  • One church with an illusion, another that is all too real. At San Bernardino delle Ossa, the walls are covered in bones and skulls because the priests ran out of space.
  • The Horned Virgin with scary hornes a unique character in the fresco at the Sant’Eustorgio Cathedral. A ghost might reveal the reasons. Her name is Guglielmina la Boema and, after her death, she was labeled heretic. Obviously, she didn’t take it too well.

These are some of the most unusual things to do in Milan. Let’s jump to the quirky ones.

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Ear intercom

Quirky things to do in Milan: the weirdness even kids will enjoy

  • The first Italian intercom was created in Milan in 1930 and it’s shaped like an ear. It’s a bronze sculpture located in the “Ca ‘de l’Oreggia” (House of the Ear). At least it’s coherent.
  • Milan is quirky, like the naked statues of the “cà di ciapp” in Palazzo Castiglioni. It’s a sexy couple on a balcony. *wink wink*
  • The Statue of Liberty in New York City has a twin and it lives in the facade of the Dome. While there is a whole debate on the inspiration, the Italian twin is 70 years younger than the American sibling.
  • Forget the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In Milan, celebrities have left their mark in Corso Vittorio Emanuele. You will find the prints of Patrick Swayzer, Sylvester Stallone, and Sharon Stone.
  • The Omenoni statues, or big men, are worth a picture. If you are looking for the specific civic number, beware. The palace still retains the old, sculpted Augsburg numeration in the thousands.
  • Whoever told that there is only one Dome in Milan was lying. In Via Pitteri you will find the replica of the Cathedral’s interior. And it’s a gorgeous 23 meter-high murales.
  • If you are looking for an Instagrammable spot, you can’t miss the colorful houses of Via Lincoln, the Italian Notting Hill.
  • You’ve never experienced anything like “Dialogue in the dark.” For one hour, you will be guided through different rooms that will experience only with touch, smell, hearing, and taste. The Italian Association of Blind People organizes this activity to bring awareness.
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Statue of Liberty – Photo by Andrea Cherchi

Unusual things to do in Milan: travel back in time

  • In 1848, the Augsburg Empire ruled the city. In march, a five-day rebellion ensued. Centuries later, you can still see the signs of the cannonballs in Via della Spiga.
  • When World War II broke, no city was safe. You can visit the underground anti-aircraft shelters and the Tower of Mermaids, an above-ground refuge. Here, the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini hid before fleeing.
  • Morning baths became a trend in the 1910s, long before SPAs were glamorous. In a hidden Milan, you will find the underground Albergo Diurno with Art Deco style.
  • The “Burg dè furmagiatt” translates to the neighborhood of the cheesemakers. The name dates back to the era of trade on the river when cheese was one of the top imports. Does the Navigli still smell of gorgonzola?
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Omenoni

Alternative activities: time to have fun

  • Our Bike Tour Highlights of Milan, to explore from the saddle. We will ride through the city’s eras.
  • If you are a dramamama, you will love the DramaTram. It’s a theater inside a city tour, onboard a 1920s tram. Note that the show is every last Wednesday of the month.
  • Have you ever wished to travel back in time? At the 1930 bar, you are in a Speakeasy during the era of Prohibition. The 1930 has the same jazz vibes, low lights, and shelves of bottles.
  • The Navigli of the city speak to the past of Milan. You can hop on a ferry in the “Itinerario delle Conche” to discover the city by water.
  • Take a look behind the scenes of the Teatro La Scala. Thanks to the alternative experience “Laboratori Scala Ansaldo,” you will see the theater’s labs. It’s a whole world behind the heavy, red curtains.
  • If you need a break after a day of exploring, you can head to the QC Terme, a SPA inside a tram. You will be surrounded by the Spanish walls of the 1500s and by the Liberty style of the complex. The SPA takes inspiration from the ancient Roman baths.

Like a true metropolis, Milan hides secrets and it’s your time to reveal them: enjoy to find all the unique things to do in Milan.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Milan’s Porta Nuova District.

Milan’s Porta Nuova District

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Literally meaning new gate, the Porta Nuova district of Milan is the main business area in the city. This part of Milan was still farmland in the 19th century, only becoming truly popular after an urban regeneration project launched in 2004 to put a new face on the districts of Garibaldi, Isola, and Varesine.

It is a main hub for transport lines in Milan, having been the location of the first train stations in the city. The district now covers an area from the Porta Garibaldi train station to the Piazza della Repubblica and from Porta Nuova to the Palazzo Lombardia.

After 16 years of construction in an area rife with urban decay, the new Porta Nuova district is now a high-tech, affluent zone, converting Milan into the city with the highest GDP in Europe. This industrialization initiative resuscitated a declining part of the city by bringing in various international companies such as Alfa Romeo, Pirelli, and Techint, as well as other significant fashion manufacturers.

Some of Milan’s more modern tourist attractions can be found in this area as well as places loved by the Milanese locals too. These include the country’s tallest skyscraper: the Unicredit Tower and the city’s green lung: the Biblioteca degli Alberi public park.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Piazza Gae Aulenti

On December 8, 2012, Milan stood still for a moment during the inauguration of the futuristic Piazza Gae Aulenti. Designed by the architect Cesar Pelli, this square has since been named one of the most beautiful in the world by the Landscape Institute. In the heart of the business district, connecting the newest additions to the historic center, the piazza aims to serve as a symbol of Milan as a city of innovation and modernity.

One of the liveliest places in Milan, the piazza offers visitors and locals an array of restaurants, clubs, bars, shops, and the city’s most prestigious events. The square comes to life after dark with a light spectacle on the fountain accompanied by music.

The ‘Egg’ installation is a permanent artwork by Alberto Garutti at the base of the Unicredit Tower. It consists of 23 brass tubes vertically aligned, extending four floors up, to allow passers-by to consider the voices and sounds of the city.

The square was created with an elevated circular structure, from which visitors can view many of the elements of the city skyline including the Garibaldi towers and get a sense of this fresh, pioneering metropolis.

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Bosco Verticale

One of the more curious sights in the Porta Nuova district is the Bosco Verticale or vertical forest. Admired greatly by tourists, these two towers were completed in 2014 as VIP residences with a difference. Covered with a total of 800 trees, 5000 bushes, and 15,000 smaller plants, the Bosco Verticale towers, of 80 and 112 meters, are examples of what designer Stefano Boeri refers to as Urban Forestry. The towers represent another innovative idea in the modern district working toward sustainable constructions for city centers.

The Bosco Verticale has won awards since its inauguration including the International Highrise Award in 2014 and two in 2015: the Best European Architecture Award and The Best Tall Building Worldwide from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats of Chicago. In 2019 the CTBUHC listed the Bosco Verticale in the top 50 most iconic skyscrapers in the world.

An extravagant natural oasis in the middle of a grey jungle, the Bosco Verticale is tended to by flying arboriculturists. These acrobatic gardeners keep the plants and trees in order and take care of the wildlife that has made the two towers their home.

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Palazzo Lombardia

At 161 meters tall, the Palazzo Lombardia is another of the high-rise icons of the city in the Porta Nuova district. Visitors can take a trip up to the 39th floor and gaze out on incredible views of Milan and the surrounding areas.

At the foot of this towering construction, visitors can find the Piazza Città di Lombardia, the largest covered square in Europe, where popular festivals and events takes place each year.

As one of the most recent buildings added to the area, it won awards for design, sustainability and innovation, being named the Best Skyscraper in Europe in 2012 from the prestigious Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Chicago.

With so many reputable architectural and artistic marvels in the city, it is no surprise that Milan is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: The Bridges of Verona.

Roman Milan

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Milan is a city that oozes history. Around every corner something can be discovered with thousands of years of stories to tell. Some of the city’s most famous attractions include Il Duomo and La Scala Theatre, but none go back quite as far as the Roman elements.

Founded by Gauls in 590 BC Milan was then known as Medhelan. Some time later, the Romans came to know this ancient city as Mediolanum in Latin. Milan was then as it is today, a vibrant metropolis of political, religious and social life.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Timeline of Mediolanum

It began as simply a Roman occupied area inhabited by Insubres, a fused population made up of Celts, Ligures, and Gauls. But shortly after it became one of the most important cities in the empire. It was conquered in 222 BC and incorporated as part of the region of Gallia Cisalpina.

Under the reign of Julius Cesar, from 100 BC – 44 BC, the city was made a municipal, which gave them a certain amount of autonomy under Roman ruling. Citizens were obliged to pay taxes and perform military service but were not given Roman citizenship and thus did not have the right to vote.

The status of Milan changed drastically when it became home to Maximian. As a friend to the superior Roman emperor Diocletian, who in 286 AD decided to split the empire into East and West, Maximian named Mediolanum capital of the West Roman Empire, which it remained until 402 AD.

In 306 AD, both Maximian and Diocletian renounced their respective positions of power. Mediolanum, modern-day Milan, then fell victim to a series of wars of succession to the throne.

Finally, in the 5th century AD, as the Roman empire was falling, Mediolanum was besieged first by the Visigoths and later the Huns.

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Roman Sites Still Standing in the City of Milan

In 390 AD, Decimo Magno Ausonio, the poet, wrote famously of the Roman city of Mediolanum that it was grand and noble and there were many sites to be seen. Several of these can still be visited today, nearly two millennia later. Exploring Milan gives tourists an opportunity to experience a true adventure through time.

San Lorenzo Basilica

The stunning Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is one of the oldest churches, dating between the 4th and the 5th century AD. It is a Catholic church built with materials from other Roman constructions in the area and frequented by Emperors, most likely due to its proximity to the Imperial Palace and amphitheatre.

Over the centuries, the church suffered numerous disasters including fires and earthquakes that destroyed various of the origin elements. Some parts were rebuilt throughout the medieval era.

In front of the church, there are the remains of an earlier Roman construction from the 2nd/3rd century. Known as the Colonne di San Lorenzo, there are 16 Corinthian columns standing within what is now a park. It is believed that they were moved here when the Basilica di San Lorenzo was built from a previous pagan temple or public baths.

Via Brisa and the Palazzo Imperiale

Close to the bustling street of Corso Magenta, the quieter zone of Via Brisa hides a significant part of Milan’s past beneath what was until recently a decaying area used mainly for parking. Due to the World War 2 bombings in Milan, an area of Imperial Palace ruins was discovered under the street. In the post-war period, archaeologists began studying the structures that had survived. The excavation took place from 1951 to 1962.

Next to a refurbished medieval tower, there is now an area where visitors can take a look at the remains of the foundations of part of this once enormous aristocratic residence.

Built for Maximian during the city’s reign as capital of the West Roman Empire, the house included administrative, military, and political offices, private baths and lodgings, as well as a direct access to the Circo Romano. It took up a large portion of the city of Mediolanum.

Sant’Ambrogio Basilica

Another of the remarkable Roman churches still standing in modern Milan is the Sant’Ambrogio Basilica. Build by St. Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, it is known as a church of martyrs due to the high number of persecuted Catholic converts who were buried here.

St. Ambrose was one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century AD who constructed several churches in the area to give a Christian mark to the city. It was transformed into a nucleus for religious life and ended up hosting two separate religious communities, Christian monks and Canons Regular.

This basilica was later restored in the 12th century in Romanesque style.

Other sites from Roman Mediolanum include the Roman walls, forum, amphitheatre and the remains of the Terme Erculee, public baths named after Maximian. Taking a Roman tour through Milan, it is clear to see that the city was a thriving hub of commerce, celebration and entertainment, similar to the Milan of today.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Turin: The Road to Egypt.

Curious Symbols of Milan

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Every city has a few peculiar traditions, places of mystery, and conflicted legends. Milan, with such a long and turbulent history, is no exception. Some of the most famous symbols for the city have developed from troubling backgrounds and are very much open to interpretation.

In spite of the ambiguity or troubling backgrounds, these elements now represent the Milanese people and have become synonymous with the city itself as well as other regional organisations. Similar to il Duomo, it is common for people from Milan to feel a sense of pride towards these emblems of the city, although they may spark a puzzling feeling in visitors who learn their histories.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

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Il Castello Sforzesco

The Sforza Castle, as it is known in English, was built originally by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, in the 15th century upon the remains of an earlier fortification. It was at the time one of the largest citadels in Europe. The three large courts were decorated by various artists including Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante.

The castle has a huge and supremely interesting historic significance for the city of Milan. It represented a symbol of foreign oppression due to the years of varying rulers that invaded the area. Throughout the centuries, the very same Milanese people have attacked, ransacked, and even tried to demolish it.

The Sforza Castle Timeline

When the castle was in the hands of the French, they used the Torre del Filarete (the Central Tower named after the architect) as a weapons storage facility. This unfortunately caused an explosion in 1521 provoking the first damages to the walls.

Later, Francesco II Sforza returned to be married in the castle in 1534 but is the last of the Sforza family to leave, thus giving way to its decline.

In 1706, Eugenio di Savoia conquered Milan and the castle fell into Austrian hands. It continues to deteriorate.

The castle was understocked in military equipment and the French were fast approaching. At this time, a group of pro-French Milanese citizens attacked the castle. Although unsuccessful in their attempt, the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria abandoned Milan and it was taken by the Napoleonic army. This once stately home was then employed to house around 4000 troops and many of the frescoed rooms were converted to stables.

Finally in 1893, after Italian unification, Luca Beltrami was commissioned by the city to restore the castle to its former glory under Sforza rule. The citizens actively participated in the reconstruction. The re-emergence of a renaissance, gothic-style Torre del Filarete, fragments of frescoes, terracotta windows, and a golden chapel helped to capture the heart of the Milanese, who had previously felt resentful of the castle’s role in the city’s persecution.

The castle and grounds became a cultural destination that breached the fractured hearts of the Milanese population. It now holds several museums and unique art collections that make it a beloved tourist attraction.

Curious Symbols of Milan filarete tower bike tour

Unique Castle Characteristics

There are several components of the castle that are of particular interest. When visiting the Castello Sforzesco, tourists should look out for these intriguing elements.

  • The carving of a woman combing or shaving her pubic hair: Now placed in one of the rooms of the castle, previously it was a mould on the Tosa door, currently known as the Porta Vittoria. Tosa, in regional dialect meant ‘girl’. It is suggested that this girl could be a prostitute who is combing out lice, as was common in medieval times. Shaving, however, was used as a punishment. Therefore, others believe that this girl could represent either Beatrice di Borgogna, the wife of hated Federico Barbarossa, who set fire to the city in 1162. Or possibly, Leobissa, the Empress of Constantinople, who refused to help the city rebuild after the fire.
  • The room of treasure and the Headless fresco: Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan from 1494 to 1499 used this room for his treasure. A fortune that funded his ambitious conquests in northern Italy. Inside this room there is a fresco thought to have been created by Bramantino in the Renaissance period, there is a body without a head in one of the images. It is believed to be Argo, a mythological giant who never slept and therefore guards the treasure.
  • Underground tunnel: A narrow secret underground passageway leads from the castle to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The entrance can be seen but it is blocked by a landslide of rocks which has never been removed. It was possibly used as an escape route, or some say as a path for Ludovico Sforza to go to mourn his wife, who died prematurely, in her tomb at the sanctuary.

If not to enjoy the architecture and beauty of the restored castle, these curiosities certainly make for an interesting visit. The Sforza castle is a significant landmark that allows tourists and locals alike to learn about a conflicting heritage.

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The Legend of the Biscione

The biscione di Milano is a key symbol of the city used to represent the Inter Milan team, Canale 5, il Comune, and even the Alfa Romeo automobile company. There are differences to each image but the base is the same and it has been employed for centuries after first being used by the Visconti family as a coat of arms.

The legend states that in 1100, during the second crusade, Ottone Visconti drove an army of Milanese soldiers to the siege of Jerusalem. He faced a fierce saracen called Voluce. Voluce carried the symbol of a snake eating a man when he fought. Having killed him, Ottone took the symbol and his adversary’s weapon back to Milan, where he decided to adopt the symbol for himself. Throughout the years, the man in the snake’s mouth was replaced first with a saracen, then a baby. The latter is supposed to indicate the good nature of the Visconti family.

There are variations of this story and even other legends to tell the tale of the Biscione, but it is clear that it is a powerful symbol for Milan and if you keep your eyes open, you can find it all over the city.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Church of the Gran Madre di Dio.

Visit Bohemian Brera

Brera is a picturesque neighbourhood in Milan where the laid-back, artistic style mixes with classic Italian history. It is impossible not to be charmed by the small artisan workshops in a labyrinth of streets dotted with well conserved period Milanese houses and buildings.

It is a fascinating paradox that allows this elegant quarter of one of the most sophisticated tourist destinations in the world to take its name from the word ‘braida’, meaning an uncultivated field of grass, similar to the term ‘broad’ in English.

Despite its humble beginnings, Brera is now hugely popular among tourists and locals alike as an area brimming with life, especially at night. The streets are filled with bars, restaurants, and shops that make Brera an idyllic place to explore at a leisurely pace.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Palazzo Brera

At the heart of Brera, we find the Palazzo Brera. Housed in what was once an Humiliati monastery and then a Jesuit college, it is a lively cultural hub, home to several highly regarded establishments. These institutions include the prestigious Accademia di Belle Arti (Fine Art Academy), the Pinacoteca (Brera Art Gallery), the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Braidense National Library), the Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere, the Osservatorio Astronomico (Brera Observatory), and the Orto Botanico (botanical gardens).

This dynamic centre of culture is a grand palace, it became a state property in 1776 and it was the home of these many cultural, scientific and artistic institutions.

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Pinacoteca

One of the main attractions of Brera in Milan is the Pinacoteca. This is the name given to the Brera Art Gallery, one of Italy’s most important public art galleries with collections from Italian masters dating back to the Middle Age. Thanks in part to the Napoleonic-era movements of many European works of art, the Pinacoteca evolved to make Milan a cultural capital in Italy.

Beginning the collection with Raphael’s Sposalizio (Marriage of the Virgin), the gallery now houses over 500 paintings and sculptures by the likes of Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Mantegna, Veronese, Rubens, van Dyck, and many more. Taking a peaceful stroll through the Pinacoteca allows visitors to admire the impressive masterpieces of renowned painters and artists throughout history.

No visit to the Pinacoteca would be complete without a meander through the glorious courtyard. Standing tall in the middle is a bronze statue of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker. It is a cast of the original marble structure by Antonio Canova which is currently housed in the home of the Duke of Wellington in London.

This piece was created by Francesco Righetti and his son in Rome in 1811 after being commissioned by Eugène de Beauharnais, the Viceroy of Italy. They used bronze from the cannons of Castel Sant’Angelo to produce the cast replica. The base, which was initially temporary, was replaced in 1864, with one made of granite and Carrara marble with bronze decorations. This statue marks a pivotal era in Italian history and is such a masterful work of art that it demands the attention of any who gaze upon it.

Curiously, Napoleon was not a fan of the original as he had wanted a statue to demonstrate his skills as a powerful strategist. Whereas Canova, in silent protest some say, produced the piece with a more artistic flair.

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Montmartre in Milan

Often referred to as Milan’s Montmartre, Brera is a romantic, bohemian district just next to the centre of the city. It is overflowing with bistro bars and beloved boutiques. With a reputation for being the artist’s quarter, it comes as no shock that Brera is also full of quaint art galleries.

What does come as a pleasant surprise, however, is the large number of antique stores around. For a collector, Brera is paradise. Seek out top quality, vintage clothes, shoes, jewelry, and antiques as you tour this trendy corner of Milan. Visitors can also browse the bohemian street markets, stop for an evening aperitivo, and even have their fortunes told in the atmospheric streets of Brera.

More info on our bike tour in Milan.

Read also: Parco del Valentino.

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