Our Epic Guide to Milan’s Treasures From Morning to Midnight

The best tip we can give in a Milan travel guide? Don’t skip over this tapestry of world-class designers, cultural wonders, and fine dining.

While many travelers prioritize time in Rome, Venice, and Florence, underestimating the thriving metropolis of Milan would mean missing out on an unmatched sense of flair. As one of the world’s fashion epicenters, this urban landscape is home to cutting-edge design houses, chic cafes, and a rich culinary scene. Since the infrastructure of this northern city does not depend on tourism in the way its stylish siblings like Florence and Rome do, Milan is heavy on art and architecture, and light on overtouristed spots. Even visits to the famed Duomo di Milano and the Teatro alla Scala will allow you to feel like you’re a discerning traveler who’s sinking into la dolce vita as opposed to rushing to mainstays to check the boxes. Without further ado, let’s dive into how to make the most of your Milanese escape.

How to prep for a trip to Milan

Milan is easily accessible from nearly any major city around the world thanks to its three international airports: Malpensa (MXP), Linate (LIN), and Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY). There are also high-speed trains connecting Milan to other major hubs in Italy and Europe, making it a popular crossroads for a multistop European itinerary. While private car is our favorite way of getting around this urban gem, the city is easily traversable on foot and by buses, trams, and subways. Biking is also a breeze when traveling from one neighborhood to the next thanks to the city’s various sustainability initiatives. And while this Milan travel guide highlights our SmartFlyer-approved spots, be open to wandering off the beaten path. History is to be found around every corner, from towering 17th-century Gothic cathedrals to contemporary art installations.

Where to stay in Milan

For a home base that blends Milan’s rich history seamlessly with modern-day comforts, we recommend a stay at the newly-opened Portrait Milano. This hotel is located in one of the oldest Archiepiscopal seminaries in Europe at the heart of Milan’s fashion district. Reimagined by the Ferragamo family as a part of the Lungarno Collection, this slice of Italian history was transformed into a contemporary and fresh-faced property. The decade-long restoration project also preserved the historical masterpieces found around the property, beginning the moment you step through its Baroque entrance for check-in. The vaulted colonnades of the new pedestrian Piazza del Quadrilatero are also a contemporary marvel, now neighbored by modern restaurants, bars, and boutiques.

Portrait Milano is home to seventy-three suites decorated in an iconic Milanese fashion that blends the elegance of 50s and 60s fashion with chic modern-day cues. After check-in, you’ll enter your apartment-style living area furnished with Tuscan details including leather handles door and Breccia marble-outfitted bathrooms. The accommodations’ tasteful splashes of red and green add fun pops of color. Many rooms boast private sitting areas in the loggia – a private gallery area –  fitted with views overlooking the hotel’s Piazza del Quadrilatero. The Portrait Suite is a particularly well-appointed accommodation, featuring a living room with a curated library of art and lifestyle books, a walk-in wardrobe, and an oversized shower.

The hotel grounds also serve as a hub for locals and visitors alike thanks to the welcoming setting in Piazza del Quadrilatero. This public space connecting Corso Venezia with Via Sant’Andrea hosts an elevated mix of comfort food and refined Italian cuisine by Chef Alberto Quadrio at 10_11 Bar Giardino Ristorante. Meanwhile, Beefbar serves up eclectic and international delights like New-Meat Baos from Korea. Guests can also discover Antonia’s curated selection of established brands and avant-garde names, or take a guided tour through SO-LE STUDIO with founder Maria Sole Ferragamo where she’ll teach you how she repurposes recycled leather and brass into one-of-a-kind accessories. Portrait Milano also neighbors the city’s premiere fashion districts, making this an ideal hub for your Milan travel guide.

An overview of the Milan shopping scene

Window (and actual) shopping across Milan’s vibrant collection of fashion, art, and home decor stores is an essential component of any itinerary curated by your SmartFlyer travel advisor. From the runways of Fashion Week to the city’s sleek storefronts, Milanese fashion exudes sophistication and elegance. The city’s prestigious designers continue to captivate audiences with staples like Prada, Versace, and Armani. There’s also a long list of boutique designers to explore that have found their home in Milan; whether you’re on the hunt for the sleek lines of an Italian leather chair or the intricate details of a couture gown, you can find it in Milan.

On top of ready-to-wear pieces, Milan is also known for its artisans that continue to craft handmade items based on your individual taste. And for those who prefer to shop sustainably, Milan is also a city made for vintage shoppers. Milanese flea markets such as Milano East Market and Mercatino Penelope are renowned by locals for containing soulful, pre-loved gems that you can take home and make your own.

Our top recommendations for where to shop in Milan

How to experience Milanese culture

Learn about the city’s significant stokes on Western culture and civilization.

Filled with secret courtyards and landmark art pieces, Milan is replete with opportunities to dive deep into the city’s rich history. From the Roman Empire and Renaissance Era to its rise as a European industrial hub in the 20th century, locals and visitors alike have a myriad of ways to learn about the city’s significant stokes on Western culture and civilization. Each of the stops listed in this Milan travel guide can be enhanced with a VIP private tour, all accessible with the help of your SmartFlyer travel advisor.

Where to explore modern Milanese architecture and design

While Da Vinci and Michelangelo sparked a cultural revolution, it was contemporary architects and designers who began to shape modern-day Milan. Now, the city is a reflection of its reverence for artisanal craftsmanship and its ever-evolving creative landscape. From reimagined workers’ villages to hyper-modern vertical greenscapes, we’ve rounded up our recommendations for where to go on this Milan travel guide for the best Milanese architecture and design.

Where to eat and drink in Milan

Much like its art and design offerings, the Milanese scene is teeming with authentic options, so long as you know where to look. Northern Italy is best known for its risotto in the culinary world, as well as one key ingredient that sets Milanese dishes apart from its sister cities: saffron. Often found in harmony, the history of risotto dates back to the 16th century and has inspired countless other dishes (even the ever-refreshing gelato).

Much like the rest of the city though, Milan is a cultural melting pot filled with cuisines that pepper each of the aforementioned neighborhoods. Whether it’s classic comfort food or Michelin-starred dining, the city has restaurants suited for every palette. And as always, working with your SmartFlyer travel advisor guarantees you the best seat in the house while you feast on the local delights featured in this Milan travel guide.

Our top recommendations for where to eat and drink in Milan



Ready to make this Milan travel guide a reality? Contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor now to begin planning your trip.

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