When you think of Milan, you might think about the famous expensive fashion and shopping. But you might be surprised that there is much to do and see on a budget!
*The below list contains ideas and suggestions for your visit. Please note that these activities are not part of the ESO Conference nor is the Conference responsible for organising any of the mentioned activities.
Strolling the Streets
Taking a walking tour is a great introduction to the city and its main sights. There are several free city tours on offer!
"Milan Free Tour" offers daily 3,5-hour guided tours of the city's main attractions. Another free option is the "Frog Walking Tour", which will show you Milan through the eyes of a local.
Explore the Canals
Did you know there is an entire network of canals in Milan? Head to the Navigli & Porta Ticinese areas to walk by the water and see a different side of the city. Both locals and visitors enjoy the lively scene at night, as there are many restaurants and bars by the waterfront. Every Saturday there's a flea market along the canals, and on the last Sunday of every month, there is a famous vintage and antiques market.
Museums & Galleries
- Milan is bustling with art and culture, and most of the city's museums offer free entrance from 16:30 each day (for the last opening hour), and on Tuesdays from 14:00. View the list of the museums that offer this perk here.
- The Carla Sozzani Gallery, one of the most significant photography galleries in Italy is a must-see. Entrance is free on weekdays, and aside from exclusive work by Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber, the location of the gallery is something to admire. The gallery is set in a beautiful courtyard that includes a great shop and a place to enjoy a cup of coffee.
- Castello Sforzesco was built in the 15th century for the Duke of Milan. It is a beautiful castle, and in addition, it hosts seven different museums! You can stroll around the castle grounds for free, but for entrance to the museums, you will need to buy a ticket. However, purchasing just 1 ticket gives you access to all seven! Furthermore, admission is free every first and third Tuesday of the month from 14:00, and every first Sunday of the month.
- The famous Duomo is a must-see, and the cathedral itself can be visited for free. You do need to pay admission to the museum and crypt that can be found inside the cathedral. The same goes for a visit to the top of the Duomo, which might be worth the ticket price, as it offers some of the most stunning views of Milan.
- Aside from the Duomo, there are many city churches with rich architecture and works of art that can be visited without a ticket. Have a look at this route of churches you need to discover.
You might not think to visit a cemetery, but the Cimiterio Monumentale is more than just a graveyard. The name of the cemetery says it all - it's monumental. This impressive open-air museum has tombs of famous sculptors, architects, and features constructions the rich and famous of the early 1900s had designed for themselves in Egyptian, art nouveau and neo-Roman styles. It is accessible for free every day, and there are readings, concerts and tours on a regular basis.
Parco Sempione & the Botanical Gardens
- The Parco Sempione is the green heart of Milan. Located near the Sforza Castle, the Parco Sempione is a charming place to go to if you're looking for a relaxing time in an otherwise busy city.
- The Palazzo Brera, which hosts the famous Pinacoteca di Brera museum, also has an eighteenth-century botanical garden. The paths and lawns, large trees, a small stream and lake, and all sorts of plants, make this a truly peaceful location. Entrance to the botanical garden is free, and you can also visit the adjacent Astronomy Museum free of charge.
One true Milanese tradition is the aperitivo. An aperitivo isn't just a drink after work, it is the northern Italian version of "happy hour". The cost of your drink might not be so cheap (wine or cocktails can go for 8 – 12 euros), but for a fixed price of one drink, you will get access to a buffet of snacks and hors-d'oeuvres. The food offers differ from olives and chips, to more elaborate snacks such as spreads, bread, pasta and pizza. As the Milanese typically eat late, the snacks are meant to make them last until dinner time, but you can easily fill up on just the aperitivo!
You'll find the aperitivo all around the city, but the hottest places can be found in the Navigli and Porta Ticinese areas.