Milan is the fashion capital of Italy, and the city can get jam-packed with tourists, especially during the peak seasons. The prices of things in the city centre can go up for those who book last minute. So for those who are visiting the city on a tight budget, this list will guide you to the best free things to do in Milan. These spots are some of the best places to visit, sights to see, and things to do in the city. So let’s dive in!
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano is the crown jewel when it comes to attractions in Milan. This marvel of architecture is located in the Piazza del Duomo and is one of the most beautiful sights to behold. The facade contains statues and carvings ranging from gargoyles, saints, and monsters. To enter the Duomo you will have to pay a small fee but it is certainly worth it. If not you can enjoy the beautiful facade from the Piazza and take in the beauty of the gothic style architecture for free. This is one of the best free things to do in Milan.
Book a skip-the-line ticket to the Duomo rooftop here.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the most sought-after galleria or shopping spot in Milan. It is an architectural and stylistic symbol by itself. You can browse through the numerous world-class brands that have opened up shop in the gallery. The immense beauty of the gallery itself is reason enough for you to visit the galleria. The glass ceiling is astounding to look at and the bull mosaic in the middle of the galleria is said to be auspicious as it grants good luck to people who spin on top of it.
For a similar experience, you can also visit Quadrilatero d’Oro. The best thing to do is to walk around, explore the shopper’s hub and people-watch.
Parco Sempione is an English-style park that is now the green hub of Milan. You can stroll through the lush green lawns of the Parco and enjoy the view of the many artificial ponds and monuments around. If you are fond of architecture, you can find monuments with different architectural styles here. You can also have a nice picnic in the park and enjoy the day relaxing in the park. The Castello Sforzesco is also a feature of the park that you must visit. This is definitely the free thing to do in Milan for those looking to relax and unwind during their time in the city.
The Castello Sforzesco is a living example of the changes that the city of Milan has gone through over the centuries. Once the royal residence of the Sforza family, this castle is now a monument that houses museums where you can take a deep dive into the history of the region. There are frescoes made by the great Leonardo Da Vinci which are from the time he stayed at the Castello. The castle lies within the grounds of the Parco Sempione and is a tourist hub. The castle is free to explore on the first and third Tuesdays of every month after 2 PM.
Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
If you want an eerie but enthralling experience, you should visit the Cimitero Monumentale di, Milano. This cemetery houses over 15,000 statues and monuments dedicated to some of the most famous individuals that lived in the city. You can take a walk around the 65-acre cemetery and admire the artistic expression on the monuments and statues. The cemetery also houses the famous Famedio or the Pantheon, where the tombs of some of Milan’s most influential individuals can be found.
Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is dedicated to the patron saint of Milan, Saint Ambrose. This beautiful red-bricked basilica is at the centre of Milan’s religious and spiritual culture. You can explore the basilica and admire the mosaics and architectural intricacies. The exterior of the basilica is also a sight to behold and can be enjoyed from the courtyard where you will find the columns that hold up the structure. You also have the option to take a guided tour for a minimal charge and get to know more about the history and cultural importance of the basilica. This is certainly one of the free things to do in Milan that should not be missed.
Piazza Gae Aulenti
To experience a more modern part of Milan you should visit Piazza Gae Aulenti. This piazza lets you immerse yourself in the essence of modern elements. You can admire the sky-high buildings and the water features at the three main fountains. It is a great spot for architecture lovers.
Near the Piazza Gae Aulenti, you can find some skyscrapers with lush green gardens. These buildings are over 100 meters tall and have numerous trees and shrubs on each balcony of the building. These towers are also known as the vertical forest and they are a sight to behold. This should definitely be a part of your tour of the free things to do in Milan.
Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie
This basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its beauty speaks for itself. The basilica showcases prominent renaissance architecture on the exterior. The interior of the basilica houses the famous ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci. This free thing to do in Milan should not be missed by art lovers.
Visit the Acquario
The Acquario is not just on this list for the marine life it harbors, but for the actual building that it’s located in. The exterior of the aquarium is an attraction in itself as it is built extraordinarily. The detail of the carvings and statues is just too good to be missed. These overshadowed the aquarium itself. There are various representations of aquatic life on the walls that are beautifully carved into the facade.
The aquarium is free to enter every first and third Tuesday of every month from 2 PM onwards.
Piazza Affari and L.O.V.E
This site is an eminent example of anti-institutional representation. The sculpture named L.O.V.E. is located in the Piazza Affari. It’s a sculpture of a middle finger pointed at the Milan stock market. A very unique and iconic site that should definitely be a part of your tour of the free things to do in Milan.
You can actually see something that was designed by the great Leonardo Da Vinci without making advanced bookings, queuing up in long lines, and for absolutely free. The Gran Cavallo or Leonardo’s Horse is a 24 feet tall bronze statue. Even though Da Vinci himself just modelled the horse out of clay, his designs were later immortalized in bronze by a Japanese artist. The statue is located near the Hippodrome, not too far from the San Siro stadium.
Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano
Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano is an open private collection of art that is exhibited from the former home of its owners. This museum is a little offbeat and something that you should definitely experience in Milan. It’s absolutely free to explore and houses some amazing 20th-century art. It is perfect for those art lovers on a budget.
The Palazzo Morando is a fashion museum that gives you a taste of the current fashion trend of Milan as well as the history of Milanese fashion over the centuries. There are two levels of the exhibit. On the lower level, you can admire local and temporary pieces set up for exhibitions. On the upper level, you can find dresses and clothing dating as far back as the early or mid 19th century. You should definitely visit this museum when you are in the fashion capital of Europe.
This is definitely one of the best free things to do in Milan for fashion lovers.
Milan has always been a center of cultural and political uprising and that can be evidently seen in the underground form of expression through graffiti and street art around the city. The walls around the city are the canvas for the ones who are anti-establishment or the ones trying to make their voice heard through street art. You can admire these impromptu masterpieces all over Milan and they are a sight to behold.
Pirelli Hangar Bicocca
The open-air art space of Hangar Bicocca is located in the old area of Pirelli factories. The permanent installation of the Bicocca is the seven heavenly palaces which is a marvel in itself and you can also explore many edgy and modern temporary exhibitions that are thought-provoking.
Orto Botanico di Brera
The botanical garden of Milan is the best place to spend a quiet and peaceful afternoon. Just a little walk from the Duomo, this 18th-century garden houses flora that helps educate the students of medicine. You can enjoy the shade of the big trees and learn a bit about different plants as you take a refreshing stroll around the garden or just park yourself on a bench and breath in the fresh air.
If you feel like taking a stroll or riding a bike, the Naviglio Grande is the best place to do that. You can take a walk on the bank of the city’s main canal or take a ride down the roads. If you are in Milan on the last Sunday of a month, you can explore a very unique flea market here as well.
Chiesa di San Murizio
You have to be inside this chapel to know what you might have missed out on if you just judged this book by its cover. This chapel has some of the best interiors in Milan. The extraordinary frescos and interior design are just splendid and not to be missed.
Chiesa di San Bernardino alle Ossa
If you are into the creepy and supernatural vibe, this chapel is the place to visit. Ossa means bones and you can find numerous of them inside the chapel. The on-display skeletal remains are centuries old and are a result of cemeteries overflowing.
San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore Church
This church is also known as the Sistine Chapel of Milan. The reason is the amazing frescos inside the church made by Berardino Luini and his sons. The attention to detail in the paintings and frescos will stun you so keep your eyes peeled.
This amazing design event takes place in April and you can experience different designers and enthusiasts turning the city into a party. The best part is that it is completely free! You can enjoy art installations, parties, and exhibitions throughout the event.
San Lorenzo Columns
This piece of roman architecture is a treat to the eyes. You can admire these columns and imagine the city during the Roman era. As you admire these columns, you can get a drink to go along with it from a shop nearby.
If you want to experience some roman and gothic architecture, you can visit the abbeys just on the outskirts of Milan. You can explore the paths of the abbeys and get lost in the aura of the spirituality of these old structures.
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