leisure in Milan
Updated 9 months ago

Famous for being one of the biggest fashion and design capitals in the world, Milan has so much more to offer expats than shopping. It is brimming with renowned museums, prestigious institutions, contemporary art galleries, home to one of Italy’s best football teams, and full of vibrant bars and nightlife.

 Good to know:

An excellent resource for discovering Milan is the Milan Tourist Board. While it is intended for tourists, it also provides a useful starting point for expats keen to learn about their local area.

Museums and galleries in Milan

Milan has long been a hotbed of creativity and is still reaping the results from the medieval period. Head to the Brera Pinoteca for Bellini and Caravaffio, the Triennale di Milano for design and applied arts, and the Basilica di Santa Maria Delle Grazie for Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Parks and green spaces

Milan has a network of 54 parks, covering approximately 14,681,400 metres sq. Most parks, like the Parco Sempione, feature cycle paths, sporting fields, exercise courses, and gazebos. Milan is also home to a number of reclaimed farmhouses (cascine) such as Casino Caldera, which dates back to the 16th century and offers a riding school, stables, a pig breeding unit, and poultry.

Sports in Milan

Milan offers facilities for everyone from beginners to competitors. The Palalido in Piazza Stuparich and the Lppodromo di San Siro are infamous, while the city also boasts the Stadio Meazza at San Siro, known as ‘La Scala’ of football. The Gianni Brera provides space for 30,000 spectators and hosts sports events, concerts, and other types of entertainment.

For swimmers, there are unique opportunities to enjoy water sports in a city which does not border the sea. There are plenty of places to practice water skiing, canoeing, rowing, and sailing, and even land sports such as beach volleyball. The Idroscalo is also a great spot to relax on warmer days as it hosts major music festivals including ‘Evolution Festival’ and the ‘Rock in Idro’. In the summer the structure is adorned with beach chairs, umbrellas, and entertainers.

Shopping in Milan

As one of the fashion capitals of the world, fashion is one of the city’s biggest draws. For big names, expats can head to Via della Spiga, home to D&G, Prada, and Marni, or explore Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II, the glass-roofed arcade located on the piazza della Duomo. For alternative brands, expats can head to Corso di Porta Ticinese and Corso Vercelli, or for high street shops, head to Corso Buenos Aires. Traditionally, shops are open from Tuesday to Saturday.

Theatres and music

Milan has plenty of theatres and music venues, including the major architectural masterpiece, the Teatro alla Scala. This is one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and has seen some of the best opera singers, composers, and musicians perform here. The Brera neighbourhood also houses a number of intimate venues, putting on performances ranging from opera to cabaret. Other respected theatres include the Teatro Sala Fontana which is set in the cloisters of Santa Maria alla Fontana, and Teatro Manzoni.


Aperitivo time kicks off at around 6 pm, with all bars offering light bites to accompany drinks before dinner or ‘apericena’, buffet style spreads which cost under €10 and replace dinner all together. Milan has a plethora of bars and nightclubs in all of the city’s districts, catering to all sorts of tastes. Particular hubs for nightlife include:

  • Navigli - best known for being the site of Milan’s ancient network of canals, the district is a popular spot for young revellers looking for cocktails, music, and discos
  • Brera - Milan’s artsy, bohemian district is a popular go-to for well-heeled, chic partygoers.
  • The Columns of San Lorenzo caters to a young, alternative crowd
  • Isola - a vibrant district with good music venues, notably The Temple of Jazz

Around Milan

Just one hour away from Milan is Lake Como, renowned for its stunning scenery. It’s also close to other stunning towns and cities. Head to the area around Genova for the beach or head to the breathtaking mountain chain boasting Valchiavenna, Valtellina, and the Camonica Valley. Winter enthusiasts will be blown away by the world-class skiing opportunities on their doorstep, at Piano di Bobbio, Valsassina and Tinale, and Bormio and Livigno.

 Useful links:

Teatro alla Scala
Teatro Piccolo
Teatro Manzoni
Milan Tourist Board
Brera Pinoteca
Lppodromo di San Siro

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