5 Free Things to See In Milan

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Milan is Italy’s fashion, business and “elite” capital.  It also has the reputation of being an expensive city.  Take it from someone who doesn’t have much disposable income to spend, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

 

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There are many things to do in Milan that do not cost a penny, even with kids and EVEN IN THE RAIN!!

 

 

Here are my top 5 suggestions if you find yourself in this international Italian city without a Euro in your pocket!

These can all be see if your are in Milan for just 24 hours, or even 48 hours.  Perfect if you are visiting the city for EXPO2015 and also want to get in some sightseeing!

 

#1 – The Castello Sforzesco

 

Entry on to the grounds of the Castello Sforzesco, Milan’s Medieval Castle is FREE!  You can wander into this 14th Century Castle at no cost and enjoy a look around the walls, or do as the Milanese  (people of Milan!) do, hang out in the Castle’s gardens!  On a beautiful spring or summer day the gardens are filled with locals, business people on their lunch and families.  After 5 pm you’ll find students and people killing time and catching some rays before an aperitivo, I’ve written before about the Italian ritual of having an aperitivo here.

 

On a rainy day, which is what we caught while there, you can still enjoy the outside of the Castle for free, or decide to pay the admission price of only 5 euros and enter the Castle’s vast museums and interior spaces.

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The Sforzesco Castle With Kids:

 

Visiting Milan in the following months leading up to the Expo 2015 is a great time because there are actually a lot of free events in the city for kids hosted by the EXPO organization.  Just as the rain really started to come down, we wandered into this Dome that was hosting a full day kids workshop.  This is part of Childrenshare organized by the MUBA, Children’s Museum of Milan in collaboration with the EXPO.

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The activity was to create an international place setting, using stickers and images from a basket representing a specific nation.  Don’t touch the baskets though or you’ll get yelled at!!  My son had a great time, with the helpers making his place setting, and my husband and I got to enjoy the interesting exhibit all about the Expo and different topics that will be covered!

 

 

#2 – The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

One of the poshest spots in all of Milan, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a luxury interior shopping mall  that connects various historic buildings.  It is also where you will find some of Milan’s top Fashion houses including the VERY FIRST STORE EVER OPENED BY PRADA!!! Plus, it is one of the oldest shopping malls in the World and is named after Italy’s first King!

 

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This is the birthplace of modern Italian luxury goods, and although I have never actually set foot in any of the stores, I still love going here!  It is beautiful during the day and at night.

 

If you are lucky enough to be in Milan in December don’t miss this Galleria at night when the ceiling turns into a glowing, blue cavalcade of lights, just stunning (and free!).

If you are caught in the rain in Milan, with a stroller and no rain cover, and you look a little “ghetto” walking around with your umbrella covering your poor child, I recommend pulling yourself together before going into the Galleria!! Let’s keep it classy, people.

 

 

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II With Kids:

 

On rainy days its gets really crowded in here, since it is protected from the elements.  By advice would be to keep young kids in their strollers, or make sure you have enough enough around to hold their hands!

 

When the kids need some space to run and play  I recommend site number 3!

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#3 – The Duomo of Milan

 

Built in the 1300’s  and under constant maintenance and cleaning, Milan’s Duomo is the quintessential symbol of the city.  Head inside to marvel at its interior or do as the Milanese do….hang outside chatting and facing in its direction!

The Piazza is massive and beautiful and if you have a euro in your pocket you can buy bird seed from the illegal sellers who will help create a flock of birds large enough to keep any child (or adult) entertained!!

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#4 – Le Colonne di San Lorenzo

 

I’ve written before about Le Colonne di San Lorenzo here.  When I was living in Milan this was one of my favorite hangout spots and is home to some of the city’s cheapest aperitivos and buffets.  Not to mention the vintage shopping along Corso Di Porta Ticinese!

 

These columns are one of the best known Roman ruins in Milan, but you’ll find that they are a more important hangout spot than cultural spot.  On sunny days you’ll find them filled with hipsters, sleek milanese business types and street kids alike.

 

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# 5 – La Zona Navigli

This is one of Milan’s vibrant nightspots, filled with bars for 20/30 somethings, looking to have a drink and make eye contact.  If you are visiting Milan with no kids  I recommend stopping by after dinner for a drink and to hang out like locals.

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We visited one evening with our son for an after dinner stroll.

Note: Italian drunks are not like North American drunks and are all very educated.  I’ve written about this before here.  The only issue with this area is that there are also a lot of tourists …you catch my drift.

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Another great time to visit the Navigli area is on the last Sunday of every month for one of the greatest vintage markets in Milan!

 

In any event this is an interesting area of Milan to explore.  I like the street Viccolo Lavandai and the area of shops just behind it!

 

Milan is very easy to navigate using public transit including the metro, buses and trams.  To make your way around the centre you are better off hoping on a bus or the vintage tram line instead of the subway.  I’ve written about Milan’s beautiful vintage tram here.

 

If you only have a day of sightseeing in Milan you can use this list as an itinerary starting at the Castle Sforzesco in the morning and walking your walk all the way to the Navigli canal area.

 

Here is a map to help you find all of these spots.

 

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https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z7CzvH_tn10Q.kerjwBPg_IQE

If you have a Gluten Sensitivity or have Celiac Disease and will be attending the EXPO2015 in Milan or are traveling to Milan in general, please feel free to check out my new ongoing series “Gluten Free in Milan”! So far I’ve reviewed the 4 * Gluten Free breakfast at the Enterprise Hotel, and one of my FAVORITE Italian street food spots in Milan, “Tigella’s” here, a CHEAP, FAST and YUMMY dinner spot! And in a few days I’ll be sharing one of the BEST restaurants in the heart of Milan!

If you are looking for other free Milan things to do I recommend reading this post by The Crowded Planet, Milan locals who are currently doing a Mondays in Milan series! Enjoy!

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So, if you would like to participate in being a co-host of this linkup please email me at reasonstodress [at] gmail [dot] com.  So far, I have three other great bloggers lined up as co-hosts and I would love to have a few more, especially if you are active on TWITTER!  This linkup will be all about getting lots of twitter action for your travel posts from all bloggers involved.  Stay tuned and thank you for reading along!

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  • I’ve never been to Milan but its definitely on my list of European cities to visit.

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    • Milan is incredible, but I also realize that it’s not for everyone. I love the city so much more now that I don’t live there! Thank you for coming by!

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  • I absolutely loved visiting Milan! I didn’t visit your #4 or #5 though. They both look incredible – noting it for a future re-visit 🙂

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    • You know, both 4 and 5 are hardly visited by tourists, which is why I really wanted to mention them! What did you like / dislike about milan?

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      • I was surprised by how much I absolutely loved Milan. There were so many free parks and book stores with a huge selection of English books. It was also convenient to get to both Cinque Terre and Venice!

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  • Anna

    Love the Navigli area! When I visited Milan our hotel was nearby and really enjoyed going out in the canals. It was summer though and full of mosquitoes which was the downside of the area!

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    • Ha! Yes, that is the downside of anywhere in Italy North of Rome…the mosquitos are HUNGRY in the summer…actually they are also around in the spring and fall!

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  • You Baby Me Mummy

    Wow it looks like such a great place. Fab post lovely and thanks for linking up to #TheList x

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  • Its so great that in a place like Milan that there can be FREEBIES. I mean I think of Milan and think $$$…well Euro, but you get my point.

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    • Surprisingly there are a lot of super cheap options including dinners and aperitivos because there is such a large student population. thank god for students! And thank you for your email!!! I love all of your suggestions and will properly reply today!

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  • I was just in Milan last October, my family from Milan took my boyfriend, best friend and I around and they took us to all these places. My favorite was the Duomo and the castle, if you go farther down there’s the smaller version of the arc de triump and we got to hang out during dusk and it was awesome. Loved the post, makes me miss Milan!

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    • YES. Great suggestion to add to the list Yvonne, thank you for reminding me! And that is so great that you took a family vacation. I REALLY want to go on a big trip with my whole family, I think it would be so much fun! (If we don’t hurt eachother!!)

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  • The Crowded Planet

    Hey Angie! Thanks for the awesome work you’re doing promoting Milan… let’s tell the world it’s not expensive and it’s an amazing place to visit! Hope Zeno liked the workshop! Speak soon my dear xxx

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  • While I have been to Italy before I have never visited Milan – this is making me want to go.

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  • I went once to MIlan in one of those whirlwind Europe tours. Even though I didn’t stayed long,the city made an impact of me. i was impressed with all the beautiful and elegant sights. I went to your first three recommendations.

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  • Jay

    I too didnt see 4 or 5, however you missed the most amazing free art museum right outside vittorio emanuele. http://www.gallerieditalia.com/ is in an amazing historic bank, which had incredible painted architectural details, then it’s filled with a variety of historic italian painters which have painted the history if milan and the surrounding areas, as well as modern art, impressionistic art, and it’s all free free free!

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    • Jay thank you SO MUCH for this GREAT suggestion. This weekend I will try to update this article, because I went to the website and it looks incredible. I only wish someone had told me about it when I was living in Milan and will definitely make an effort to go the next time I am visiting the city!

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      • MSF

        If you’re looking for more free sights, a few years ago I went to the Museo del Novecento with my mom– it was fantastic and free, although we might have paid for the audio guides I don’t think we did. The art was modern, but I thought it was very accessible and well-presented. We also ate at the museum’s restaurant, which was not outrageously expensive and was very good (I say this as someone who had been in Italy for several months at that point, and could discern very good from good)– and it had the most gorgeous view of the Duomo! One of my favorite things from Milan!

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        • YES!!! I’m always looking for more free things to do in Milan and this was another great suggestions i didn’t know existed. By the way I totally laughed at the fact that you recognize there is “good” for tourist and then there is “good” after you’ve lived here for a while! If I get enough of reader’s suggestions I will try to turn them into another post, perhaps arts/culture based. THANK YOU!

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  • pahuljica 90

    Coming to Milan for New Year’s Eve. So looking forward to see all this. Do you have any suggestions where to drink coffee?

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  • pahuljica 90

    Coming to Milan for New Year. So looking forward to see all of this and more. Do you have suggestions for where to drink fine coffee?

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