Milan is one of the most beautiful and historically-rich European cities, and visiting the Duomo Cathedral is an absolute must for any travel itinerary. The majestic Gothic cathedral is the largest in Italy serving as a symbol of the city and its history. It is an awe-inspiring experience for both adults and children.
If you’re planning a visit to Milan with your family, this comprehensive guide will help you make the most of your experience at the Duomo. From the most convenient ways to get there to the best times to visit and the fascinating history of the cathedral and its surroundings, this guide will give you all the information you need to make your visit to the Duomo cathedral enjoyable and memorable for the whole family.
Guide to Visiting the Duomo Cathedral in Milan with Kids
Getting to the Duomo Cathedral
The Duomo Cathedral is in the heart of Milan’s historic city center – Piazza del Duomo. It is the city’s most iconic square and is easily accessible via the Milan metro.
The Milan Metro has four lines, and they are classified as follows: M1 (red line), M2 (green line), M3 (yellow line), and M4 (purple line). We found the metro easy to navigate during our time in Milan, and along with Google Maps, it was easy to figure out the metro line and the stop we needed to arrive at the Duomo.
During our time in Milan, we stayed in the Milan Central district, so we boarded the M3 line from the Centrale FS Station towards the Duomo. However, the M1 and M3 metro lines run through the Duomo Milan.
When we visited Milan, one single ticket for the metro line was about 2 euros with a 90-minute validity. It’s better to get the Milan City Pass which is available for one or three days and provides travelers with unlimited access to the metro. The Milan City Pass ticket for the metro is 12,50 euros for one day, 17,50 for two days, and 19,50 euros for three days. Kids up to 10 years old travel free of charge.
Best times to visit the Duomo Cathedral
Any time in a year is a good time to visit the Duomo Cathedral, but the best times to explore will vary, depending on your interests. We decided to visit the Duomo Cathedral on a weekday (a Thursday in October) as soon as they opened to avoid the crowds, and it worked. There was no line to enter via the elevator, but we noticed that closer to lunchtime, the crowds started to grow.
The cathedral has different sections to visit, including the cathedral itself, the crypt of St. Charles, the terraces, and the archaeological site. The cathedral is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm, while the rooftop terraces and archaeological sites are open between 9 am and 7 pm.
Given the cathedral’s popularity, visiting during off-peak hours is recommended, as you’ll be able to enter the cathedral faster and with fewer people inside.
How and Where to Get the Duomo Cathedral Tickets
The official Duomo di Milano site is one of the locations where visitors can obtain their tickets and schedule a guided tour. There are different types of tickets available, some allow visitors to skip the line while others provide rooftop access via the lift or the stairs.
We opted to buy the MilanoCard combined with a Duomo pass ticket. The Duomo Pass provided us access to the cathedral, rooftop terraces, the archaeological site, and the museum. It was a great deal at the time.
The Duomo Cathedral also offers private tours geared with kids in mind that parents will also enjoy. The Duomo for kids tours have different themes, including Little Duomo Detectives, In the Footsteps of Indiana Jones, Let’s Climb the Duomo, Treasure Hunting among the Spires, and How to…Build a Cathedral.
Exploring the Duomo Cathedral History and Architecture
Before exploring the cathedral’s interior and terraces, take a few minutes to look at the exterior and find the details in the sculptures. The cathedral’s facade is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, with its multitude of arches, sculptures, and stained-glass windows.
The construction probably started around 1386 using multiple architects and engineers throughout its history. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the cathedral received most of its spires on the roof. The exterior of the cathedral is also home to many beautiful sculptures and reliefs, including the Madonnina at the top of the main spire, statues, and gargoyles.
Fun Tips for Visiting with Kids
As a traveling mom, one of my worries is doing activities where my daughter can potentially get bored, such as exploring a cathedral. My trick is to teach my daughter about the places we will visit a few months in advance, if possible. For example, I gave her a book for kids to learn about Leonardo Da Vinci and showed her videos about the Duomo Cathedral.
Because she knew beforehand, she looked forward to visiting these monuments and landmarks in Milan.
Another best way for kids to enjoy sightseeing is to do guided tours geared with kids in mind. It makes it fun to explore and learn while avoiding boredom. It is also a good idea to book activities geared towards kids in combination with adults. For example, we completed a tour of the Duomo Cathedral Milan during most of our day but ended the evening by taking a pizza-making class. The key is to find a balance between the two, so adults (especially those history buffs) don’t miss out.
Lastly, we love taking photos, so I share my phone or camera with my daughter to take her photos. It is her favorite part because she will start searching for the details in the architecture to capture them. Plus, she does a great job when she takes photos of her parents.
Where to Eat Near the Duomo Cathedral
If you’re looking for a great place to eat near the Duomo Cathedral, we recommend going to the top floor above La Rinascente. There are multiple places to eat with rooftop restaurants showing views of the Duomo Cathedral right next door.
If you’re looking for something casual, via Brera is about a 10-minute walk from the Piazza Duomo, and it is a great location filled with restaurants with outdoor seating offering a variety of pizzas and pasta menus.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit
The Duomo Cathedral is a Catholic church, and a sacred place of worship, as such, proper clothing will be required. No shorts, hats, short skirts or dresses, or flip-flops. During our visit, we saw a few people wearing what I can only describe as a “plastic dress” used to cover up. It’s not appealing and will ruin any photos you take of yourself during your visit.
Other items not allowed include:
- Weapons or sharp objects
- Food and drinks
- Luggage or large bags
- Pets (assistance dogs are allowed)
- Sleeveless shirts
- Non-folding strollers
- Sprays or Aerosols
- Glass objects
- Wearing a costume
- See-through clothing
Note that security will also check bags before entry to the Duomo Cathedral (with your consent).
Wear comfortable shoes since there will be a lot of walking as you explore the Duomo. When we explored the rooftop, we accessed it via the lift but ended up taking multiple flights of stairs to reach the inside of the cathedral.
The interior of the cathedral will be full of tourists and worshippers, so it is best to keep voices down and whisper to avoid disruption. Don’t forget to put phones in silent mode.
For more information, you can read the Rules of Conduct and Access Regulations.
A Place to Remember
The Duomo Cathedral is one of the most beautiful and historically significant cathedrals in the world. For many, it is the highlight of their trip to Milan, and visiting is an absolute must for any Milan travel itinerary.
The cathedral is in the heart of the city center near the Galleria and Teatro Scala and is easily accessible using the metro system.