Visiting Milan & Lake Como

This is your free Milan City Guide! It’s Italy’s fashion capital and there’s lots to see in the city before heading to nearby Lake Como for some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen. Here are our personal recommendations of what to see…

WHAT TO DO IN MILAN

Milan Duomo Front Features

Milan Duomo – This sacred cathedral is the striking centre-piece of Milan, standing proudly in the main city Piazza, and as you get closer you’ll realise just how much work has gone into carving the marble to create it. There’s lots of the Duomo to see too, so don’t skimp on your visit by only paying for one or two things – buy the full ticket and you’ll get to see inside, visit the crypt, see the archaeological excavations and best of all, ascend the to roof to see the carved pillars up close and get a terrific view of Milan.
Milan Duomo: Read More, Full Review & Ticket Prices…

Milan Last Supper

The Last Supper – Leonardo Da Vinci’s second most famous painting (after the Mona Lisa), is preserved on a refectory wall in a convent in Milan. The convent is part of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is in itself a place of worship not to miss. After careful restorations, the room in which you’ll find the painting is carefully climate controlled and visitors can only have a strict 15 minutes in its presence. You’ll need to book well in advance too, or take a guided tour which includes a visit to see the painting.
The Last Supper: Full Review, Ticket Prices & Map…

Milan Galleria Through

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Technically this is a shopping centre, but it’s like no other you have ever seen. More accurately, it’s a truly beautiful historic building which happens to have designer shops in it. Recent restorations have brought the building’s huge glass dome and glass covered walkways back to life. Look out for the artwork painted on the walls and the carved features in the stone. If you’re into designer shopping, all the big names are here, but we just loved looking up! The Galleria is in the main square in Milan, next to the Duomo.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Read More, Opening Times & Map…

Milan Castello Sforzesco interior

Castello Sforzesco – This huge brick castle dates back to the 1300s and although it was once a stately home to a the Sforza and Visconti families, it now houses several of Milan’s museums. If you choose to visit them, the highlight is the sculpture that Michaelangelo was working on when he died – and it remains unfinished. If you’re not interested in the museums, it’s still worth a visit to the castle as walking through the grounds is free and the bleak surrounds of the building disguise the attractive buildings inside.
Castello Sforzesco: Full Review, Opening Times & Ticket Prices…

Milan La Scala Auditorium

La Scala – Milan’s opera house is renowned as one of the world’s leading opera theatres and since the current building’s birth in 1778 most of Italy’s operatic greats have performed here. The best way to experience it is to get tickets for the opera, but you’ll need to book in advance. If you’re short on time, there is an alternative. You’d expect a theatre with such history to make the most of it and a visit to the museum (Museo Teatrale Alla Scala) doesn’t disappoint. You’ll get to see how palatial it is inside the auditorium, but you’ll also see exhibits over two floors including costumes, the library and props.
La Scala: Full Review, Opening Times & Ticket Prices…

Milan Public Garden

The Natural History Museum in Milan’s Public Gardens

Milan’s Parks – If you want to relax on your city-break in Milan, there are two parks that are worth spending time in. The largest, Park Sempione, is located behind the castle and is packed on a sunny Sunday afternoon with people walking dogs, sunbathing, cycling and playing sports. Highlights here include the giant Arch of Peace, meandering walkways, bridges, wildlife ponds and a public arena built in 1805. The other park we’d recommend is Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli which is in the Porta Venezia district. The gardens are named after a prominent journalist whose statue you’ll find inside. Also here is the Planetarium and the huge, beautiful building which houses the Natural History Museum.
Milan’s Parks: Full Review, Pictures & Map…

WHAT TO DO AT LAKE COMO

Whilst there’s lots to do on a break in Milan, it would be a shame to stay in the city and miss out on the proximity of beautiful Lake Como. Trains to Como take only an hour from the city’s Cadorna Station and boat services can then take you all over the lake. Alternatively, you can take the highly-rated Lake Como Day Trip From Milan. Here are our recommendations of what to see at Lake Como…

Como From Above

Como – The city of Como boasts a stunning Duomo, which is free to visit. Inside, make your way to the edge of the altar and then look up into the domed roof – it’s incredible! Another highlight in the city is Villa Olmo, which sits resplendent on the banks of the lake. The public gardens are free and on occasions the villa is also open to the public and its painted ceilings are amazing. Finally, take a trip on the somewhat crowded Funicular for a terrific view of the city from the hillside above…
What To Do In Como: Read More, Pictures & Map…

Como Bellagio steps

Bellagio – This pretty town on the fork in the lake, has a bit of everything and as such is a tourist hot-spot! The stepped walkways which link the main streets are packed with boutique shops to browse around and there’s an attractive church to see too. Down on the lakeside there are terrific views, there’s Gelato to eat and formal gardens to walk around or you can walk in the other direction to the mini-harbour where you can see the other lake shore. Another highlight here are the stunning gardens of Villa Melzi which stretch further down the lakeside.
What To Do In Bellagio: Read More, Pictures & Map…

Como Varenna boats

Varenna – This town on the east shore of the lake has a labyrinth of interlinking cobbled walkways along with a pretty square and several historic churches. Down by the lakeside, there are cafes and a cliff-hugging walkway to the main harbour where there are good connections to other towns on Lake Como. Although Varenna is much less busy than nearby Bellagio, it’s just as pretty, but there are fewer shops to wander around.
What To Do In Varenna: Read More, Pictures & Map…

Como Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta – This villa in Tremezzo is definitely worth a visit, especially if you love botanic gardens. The house itself is open to look around too and has spacious, ornate rooms to enjoy, but it’s the landscaped gardens that the villa is renowned for. They were planted by Carlotta’s husband who was fascinated with plants and set out to create a series of interlinked gardens which celebrated them. Look out for the turtles in the water fountain too!
Villa Carlotta: Read More, Opening Times & Ticket Prices…

Como Mennagio night

Mennagio – Another picturesque town on Lake Como, with an attractive square surrounded by restaurants and a well-used walkway along the shore line. There’s a small harbour here too where you can watch the small boats bobbing up and down and the enjoy the view in the distance of Bellagio. There’s a nice atmosphere here at night when the restaurants are busy and look out too for the regular market that sets along the lake walkway.
What To Do In Mennagio: Read More, Pictures & Map…

OUR TOP TIP IN MILAN & LAKE COMO

Como Villa Del Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello – This villa is the ultimate lakeside retreat which explains why it has been so sought after during its life. It also explains why film-makers like it so much as it’s been featured in Star Wars Episode 2 and Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale. For us, this was the highlight of our trip to the Lake Como and if you only visit one villa on your trip, it should be this one! Part of the charm is that you can see inside the villa too, whereas most of the lake’s villas only open their gardens. This is a historic house, and it’s been preserved as such, but the thing you’ll never forget are the beautiful gardens and the amazing views.
Villa Del Balbianello: Read More, Opening Times, Ticket Prices & Directions…

MORE THINGS TO DO IN MILAN

There are lots of organised tours to enhance your visit to Milan. Getting great reviews at the moment are…
Da Vinci Walking Tour including the ‘Last Supper’
Milan Segway Tour
Milan Bike Tour
Verona & Lake Garda Day Trip From Milan

To see the latest options and prices for all tours available in Milan, click here…
More Things To Do In Milan

RECOMMENDED HOTELS

Milan UNA Hotel Cusani

In Milan, we stayed at the 4* UNA Hotel Cusani which is located next to Via Dante – the main pedestrianised walkway between the Duomo and the castle. As such it’s a great location and we were able to walk pretty much everywhere. It’s also within walking distance of the Cadorna station which is where trains from Malpensa Airport arrive and trains to Lake Como leave. The hotel was equally suited to business and pleasure travellers with stylish, spotless rooms and a tasty hot and cold buffet breakfast.

Como Residence Lenno view

At Lake Como we stayed at Residence Lenno, a block of modern apartments, many with a lake view. The block has decently equipped rooms each with a kitchen and there’s also a small communal swimming pool and parking. The room decor is modern rather than classic Italian and we found Lenno to be a great base to explore the Lake as it boat services to everywhere. It’s also within walking distance of Villa del Balbianello. We paid for breakfast to be included at the Hotel Lenno, 2 minutes walk away.

GETTING AROUND MILAN & LAKE COMO

The tourist parts of Milan are easy to explore on foot, but there is a metro system if you want to go further afield. We also used the Milan Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour to get to places like the San Siro Stadium and the racecourse. Trains from Malpensa airport run every 30 minutes into Milan Cardorna station. You can get a train from the airport to Como by changing at Soronno. This map shows Soronno and its proximity to Milan and Lake Como, but you can move it around and zoom in and out to see specific locations…

Lake Como is an hour long train journey from Milan at the Cadorna station. The fare is only 4.80 Euros (2015 prices) but make sure you validate your ticket with the machine on the platform before boarding trains or you could face a fine. Getting around the lake is simple with the many boat services that zig-zag across it. Timetables and route maps are available at all the boat docks. Alternatively, you can rent a car which we found to be very cheap through Opodo. Bear in mind that the roads around the lake are narrow in places and driving can sometimes be a bit of a scary experience!

MORE ON MILAN & LAKE COMO

More Things To Do In Milan
Turismo Milano – Official Milan tourism website
Milan Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour – A great way to see Milan
Hotels in Milan – We recommend Hotels.com for the best prices
Milan Pass – Includes free entry to the Duomo, La Scala & more