Since it is conveniently close to Zurich, I already spent a couple of weekends in Milan. I will never get enough of this city. It’s such a great place to explore by foot – or other modes of transport as you will see. You can also do some fine dining and drinking in Milan, and there are some decent shopping opportunities. There are many things to do and see in Milan. So, I compiled a little list of things you should not miss. Also, find some places to stay towards the end of the post.
1. Explore the city by tram
Milan has a quite extensive net of public transport, taking a cab is quite affordable and it’s a very bicycle friendly town. My favourite mode of transportation however are the old and noisy trams that rumble through the city. Forget the Wes Anderson café at the Fondazione Prada. To me, this is the place where I have the feeling to be inside one of his film sets.
2. Drink lots of Campari based drinks
Milan is the home of Campari, and the “aperitivo” tradition is part of the city’s DNA. So before heading out to dinner, I suggest you kick off your weekend in Milan with a Negroni, an Americano or a Campari Soda at one of these bars.
Bar Basso – Via Plinio, 39
Bar Basso is an old-school bar perfect for your first aperitif in Milan. The interior with its velvet curtains and armchairs does not seem to have changed in ages and also the waiters feel somewhat old-school but in a very charming way. The Negroni Sbagliato, a variation of the Negroni which includes Spumante instead of gin, was invented here and it comes in glasses as big as your head. So, I suggest you make this your order. Also, expect quite a broad spread of nibbles to come with your drink!
Camparino in Galleria – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele at the corner of Piazza Duomo
Located in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele this place could easily be a tourist trap and the prices do point to that fact. Yet sipping your aperitif and watching the masses stroll through this magnificent building is worth the price. The drinks are flawless and similar to Bar Basso they are served alongside an extensive spread of snacks.
Corso Como – Corso Como, 10
A more elegant choice for drinks is Corso Como, a microcosm that opens up as soon as you pass through those tall doors at the front street. Dive into the fashion store, skip through the bookshop and have an aperitif in the garden. Make sure you get a table with a view on the entrance as this place is perfect to do some people watching.
3. Stand on the roof of the Duomo
Did you know you could climb up the roof of the Duomo? Lazy people can even take an elevator which results in quite large masses of people up there. Nevertheless, the experience is breathtaking – and scary at times. I loved how we gained an entirely new perspective on the building and seeing all the architectural details like the elaborate gargoyles up close. Furthermore, you have a great view of the city and even the Alps.
4. Order the Chefs Menu
Milan’s chefs know how to cook, and the list of great restaurants is quite extensive. If you are looking for an exceptional experience, make a reservation at Rebelot (Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 55) in the Navigli area. Arriving there we ordered the chefs menu. Have you ever eaten raw squid with white chocolate, passion fruit, and bell pepper? Well, I have, and I have to admit that it was the dish that turned this dinner into a little adventure. The duck carpaccio with artichokes and the sirloin with panettone, however, were just flawless, so was the selection of wines. Sorry for the missing picture but my mouth was faster than my camera!
5. Take a stroll through the Quadrilatero del Silencio
Since my first visit to Milan, the area around the via dei Cappuccini and via Mozart is my favorite part of the city. The buildings are pompous and hailing from the beginning of the 20th century they sport beautiful art deco details. Just take a stroll through the area, but don’t forget to look up and try to get a little lost, otherwise, you might miss the flamingos, the ear in the wall – a former interphone system – or the building hiding under a thick blanket of greenery. If you need a little break from all the walking head for the Villa Necchi Campiglio, where you can rest your legs by the swimming pool and enjoy some refreshments.
A Weekend in Milan – Where to Stay
There is quite a good selection of hotels and Airbnbs in Milan. If you want to explore the city by foot, I suggest you stay close to the city center, even though prices get exponentially higher the closer you get to the Duomo. Some beautifully designed Airbnb apartments I can wholeheartedly recommend for your weekend in Milan are those by Costanza. She’s a great host and has some great recommendations for the city herself.
Another option that is a bit further out of the center is B&B di Porta Tosa, a charming and unique bed and breakfast. The rooms are spacious and beautiful and the host is very nice as well. There is a lovely back garden where you can have your breakfast, as well.