The MilanoCard (www.milanocard.it) offers a great deal on sightseeing at just 8€ for 24 hours, 13€ for 2 days, or 19€ for 3 days. You get a lot for your buck, including free travel on all public transportation, discounts in some stores and restaurants, and free or reduced entry to more than 20 museums and galleries. Each card is valid for one adult and a child under 10.
Remember to dress modestly when visiting Milan’s churches; no short shorts for either sex, women must have their shoulders covered, and skirts must be below the knee. The dress code at the Duomo is particularly strict.
Strolling Through Milan
The prime spot for a passeggiata (stroll) is the Piazza Duomo and the adjoining Galleria, but many of the neighborhoods that fan out from the center are ideal for wandering and looking into the life of the Milanese. The Golden Quadrilateral (the city's center for high fashion), just north of the Piazza Duomo on and around Via Montenapoleone, is known for window shopping and trendy cafes and bars; Magenta is an old residential quarter, filled with some of the city's most venerable churches, west of Piazza Duomo (follow Via Orifici and its extension, Via Dante, toward the Castello Sforzesco); the Brera, a parcel of once-seedy, now-gentrified Milan, filled with bars and inexpensive restaurants along the streets clustered around the Pinacoteca Brera (follow Via Brera from the Teatro alla Scala); and the popular Navigli neighborhood, at the southern edge of the center city, a series of narrow towpaths running alongside the remaining navigli (canals) that once laced the city, the former warehouse entrances along them now housing hopping and unpretentious bars, birrerie (pubs), restaurants, and small clubs in the city (take the Metro to Porta Genova). A stroll in Milan almost always includes a stop at a cafe or gelateria.
Milan from On High
Take the trip up to the roof of the Duomo (www.duomomilano.it) for spine-tingling views across the rooftops of Milan and, on a clear day, to the Alps beyond. Atop the Duomo, surrounded by Gothic pinnacles, saintly statues, and flying buttresses, you even get a close-up view of the spire-top gold statue of “La Madonnina” (the little Madonna), the city’s beloved good-luck charm. You can either ascend by elevator (13€; go to the church’s northeast corner, almost to the back of the Duomo) or climb the stairs (9€; stairs are on the church’s north flank). A pass combining a roof-top visit with entrance to the cathedral and the Museo del Duomo costs 12€ if you take the stairs, 16€ if you opt for the elevator. The pass is good for 72 hours and there are discounts for children and seniors. The elevator is open daily 9am to 6:30pm (last ticket sold at 6pm).
Other sneaky viewpoints over the Duomo include the food market on the top floor of department store La Rinascente and the posh Restaurant Giacomo Arengario at the Museo del Novecento.
Milan’s Shut-Down Mondays
Don’t get caught out when planning your trip to Milan; bear in mind that almost the whole city closes down on Monday. Most popular attractions, churches, and state-owned museums, with the exception of the Duomo and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, which has Tuesday off instead, are closed all day. Around half the stores shut in the morning too, with most reopening around 3:30 to 7:30pm.
In a city as well dressed as Milan, it only stands to reason that some great-looking cast-offs are bound to turn up at street markets. Milan's largest street market is the one held on Via Papiniano in the Ticinese/Navigli district (Metro: Sant'Agostino) on Tuesday mornings from 8am to 1pm and on Saturday from 9am to 7:30pm; some stalls sell designer seconds as well as barely used high-fashion duds, though most offer basic staples like underwear and belts, usually cheaper than in department stores. There's an antiques market on Via Fiori Chiari in the Brera district (Metro: Moscova) the third Saturday of each month, from 9am to about 7:30pm, but not in August, and another the last Sunday of each month on the quays along the Canale Grande in the Navigli district, from 9am to about 7:30pm (tel. 02-8940-9971; Metro: Porta Genova). The city's largest food market is at Piazza Wagner, just outside the city center due west of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (follow Corso Magenta and its extension, Corso Vercelli, to Piazza Piemonte; the market is 1 block north; Metro: Piazza Wagner). It's held Monday through Saturday from 8am to 1pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 7:30pm; the displays of mouthwatering foodstuffs fill an indoor market space and stalls that surround it.
Flea markets spring up on Saturdays along the Alzaia Naviglio Grande (Metro: Porta Genova) and Fiera di Sinigaglia (Metro: Porta Genova), and on Sundays at San Donato Metro stop. During the Christmas season, holiday markets (complete with ice skating) pop up in different parts of the city, from Piazza Gae Aulenti (Metro: Garibaldi) to the Castello Sforzesco (Metro: Cairoli) to the area behind the Museum of Natural History (Metro: Palestro) in the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.