Many travel guides to Milan, Italy always include all things related to lifestyle, fashion, shopping, food, and culture. It’s no surprise since Milan is the center of fashion and business. Milan is also the perfect destination in Italy to explore different neighborhoods, explore the attractions and museums, and eat some delicious Italian cuisine.
However, when we planned to travel to Milan with a kid, we wanted to make Milan fun for the whole family. We noticed that most of the travel guides to Milan didn’t have much information about the things to do in Milan with kids. We dug deeper than ever before and in our research, we found some brilliant things to do in Milan with kids for the whole family to enjoy.
We’ve compiled all the information we learned into this family travel guide to Milan and used it for our own Milan adventure. It includes some must-know items like what to expect, where to eat, where to stay, day trips, and 8 things to do in Milan with kids to help you plan your trip.
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Complete Family Travel Guide to Milan
Why Visit Milan
Milan is a city full of art, fashion, and history with some hidden gems the whole family can enjoy. It houses one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world, the Duomo Cathedral, and a magnificent high-fashion shopping arcade completed in 1878 known as the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. For art history buffs, Milan also houses “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci located at the Santa Maria Delle Grazie, a 15th-century Renaissance convent.
And what about the reasons to visit Milan with the kids? Trust us, the kids will love to explore the rooftop of the Duomo Cathedral, spin their heels in the Galleria, and enter the world of Leonardo Da Vinci.
To prepare our kid before our visit to Milan, we bought her a book about Leonardo Da Vinci and all of his works. We wanted her to understand and appreciate all things DaVinci. The book made her enthusiastic about the trip, and she also recognized some of the works in the places we visited.
There’s also Italian cuisine and dishes to try. If you’re a foodie, then you’re in for a treat with local dishes, including the Minestrone Alla Milanese, Polenta, and Risotto Alla Milanese. Plus, the whole family can have the opportunity to learn how to make pizza and gelato if they want. And for those who love photography, Milan has some great spots to capture your family travel memories.
Milan Travel Information and COVID Restrictions
Milan is a city located in Italy, so US citizens need a passport that must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the departure date. Also, if you’re a US citizen and you will not stay beyond 90 days in Milan, you won’t require an Italy Tourist Visa.
COVID entry measurements have been lifted since June 1st, 2022 in Milan, so there’s no need to provide any required COVID-related documents upon entry to Italy. You can find more up-to-date information at the Ministerio della Salute site. However, always check with your airline in case they have any COVID-related measurements before boarding your flight.
What to Expect in Milan
- City Tax: There are multiple cities in Italy that require a tourist city tax payment. You can pay the Italy city tax directly to the hotel before the end of your stay. The total amount is charged separately from your hotel booking. In Milan, the current tourist city tax is between 2 to 5 euros per night. Children who are 18 years old or younger are exempt from the tourist city tax. We stayed 4 days and 3 nights in Milan, so we paid around 24 euros for the tourist city tax for two adults.
- Language: Italian is the official language of Italy. During our stay, we were able to communicate in English at restaurants, hotels, and some attractions. We also did some shopping and some spoke a little bit of English, so you should be able to get by. We also found that many Italians in the area spoke Spanish. Spanish is the primary language in our household, so we were able to use it to communicate.
- Italian Phrases: It’s a good idea to learn some phrases that will be useful during your stay.
- Hello/bye = Ciao
- Good morning = Buongiorno
- Good evening = Buonasera
- Please = Per favore
- Thank you = Grazie
- You’re welcome = Prego
- Sorry/excuse me = Scusi
- Yes = Si
- No = No
- Do you speak English? = Parla inglese?
- I don’t understand = Non capisco
- Currency = Euro
- Credit Cards and Cash = we found that restaurants accepted both debit/credit cards and cash. We also had no trouble paying with a card when we got the Milano metro cards for the train.
- Climate = Summer months in Milan include June, July, and August and it has a mix of high temperatures that are sometimes above 85° Fahrenheit. Winter months in Milan include December, January, and February with average lows of 30° Fahrenheit. We visited in October, so the average temperature during the day was around 60° Fahrenheit.
- Power Plug and Socket = In Italy, they use the EU standard plug type C, but you may also find power plugs and sockets type F and L. These have long round filaments which do not accept American-style plugs with flat filaments. These also correspond to the type of electricity that goes through it as American-style and European-style appliances/electronics use different currents. We recommend you check that any electronics you bring are dual voltage; otherwise, you can use a step-down converter. If any electronics are dual voltage, then a simple travel plug will do.
Milan on a Budget
It is possible to visit Milan on a budget by using the Milan Pass and the Milano Card. The Milan Pass provides you with free entry to some of the museums, including the Duomo Cathedral Rooftop terrace, La Scala Museum and Theatre, Museum of Science and Technology, and Leonardo 3 to name a few.
The Milan Pass also offers you free transport options, one using the Cityseightseeing Hop On Hop Off Ticket and the other the ATM public transport ticket which includes five metro lines. You can visit the Milan Pass site for more information.
Another option is to use the Milano Card for public transportation. You can buy it for a validity of one, two, or three days. The Milano Card also offers ticket options to the Duomo, Hop on Hop off tours, La Scala Museum, and airport transport. We decided to use the Milano Card that included the Duomo tickets during our stay. We found it convenient.
Plus, it turns out that children under 10 years old can use public transportation for free in Milan, so learn from us and don’t buy a Milano Card for your little ones under 10.
For more information about traveling on a budget, you can visit the Budget Your Trip site. It’s a good travel resource to help you get an idea of the country’s average travel costs, hotel prices, and free things to do in the country.
How to Get to Milan, Italy
No travel guide to Milan is complete without knowing how to get there! Thankfully, there are a few options. Milan is served by three airports, including Malpensa (MXP), Linate (LIN), and Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY).
It’s a good idea to check flight prices servicing all three airports to see which one would be the cheaper option to fly into. We live in Germany, so we left from Frankfurt International (FRA) to Linate Airport as it was cheaper on our end.
Linate Airport is relatively small and it’s about 9 km (5.5 miles) from Milan Central Station. Linate doesn’t have a train station, but it has a bus station right across the arrival exit that can take you to Milan Central Station.
From there, you can walk or take the metro to your hotel. It took us about 30-40 minutes on the bus to arrive at the central station from the airport. It should have been shorter, but we faced the local morning commute. We paid with a debit card right in front of the bus door prior to boarding. It was about 17 euros for two adults and one child.
The Malpensa Airport is about 45 km (27 miles) from Milan center and Terminals 1 and 2 have the Malpensa Express, a train that can take you to the Cardona or Central Station. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Cardona Station and 60 minutes to Central Station. You can purchase the Malpensa Express tickets online or at the ticket office.
Malpensa also has three bus companies that service Central Station FS from Terminals 1 and 2 with a connection with the metro (lines M2 and M3). The three buses are Malpensa Shuttle, Terravision, and Autostradale. It takes about 50 minutes and you can buy the tickets directly on board the bus.
Bergamo Orio al Serio is about 50 km (31 miles) from Milan center. You can use the bus to reach the Central Station FS with a metro connection (lines M2 and M3). It takes about one hour of travel time to reach the Milan center. You can purchase the bus tickets on board. You can use Terravision and Autostradale buses (mentioned above), or the Orio Shuttle.
Is renting a car worth it? We wouldn’t advise renting a car to drive within Milan city center as traffic is horrible, congested, and some streets are small. Plus, vehicles entering Milan center from Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm are subject to Area C congestion charge.
In addition, parking is a challenge. If you have any plans to do any day trips from Milan, you can rent a car outside of the Milan city center for the day and brave the streets of Italy. We’ll probably do this the next time we visit to head out to Cinque Terre or Venice.
For Milan, our go-to mode of transportation was using the bus to arrive from Linate Airport to Central Station FS. From there, we got a metro card valid for three days with unlimited public transportation use. Plus, kids under 10 travel free in the metro which is convenient to stay within budget.
Milan Metro Information
The Milan Metro has four lines, including M1 (red line), M2 (green line), M3 (yellow line), and M4 (purple line). We found the metro easy to navigate and used Google Maps to figure out which metro line and location we needed for our destination.
One single ticket for the metro line will cost you about 2 euros, but it is valid for 90 minutes. It’s better to get the Milan City Pass which is available for one or three days 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.
When to Visit Milan, Italy
During our travel guide to Milan and trip research, we learned that the best time to visit Mian is from April to June and then September to October. The weather is mild during these months and it is considered to be the low season, so there are fewer crowds.
We visited Milan in October during the school fall break. The weather was perfect, not going higher than 60° F with no rain. The crowds were fewer in the metro and at the attractions we visited, so it was a good time to visit Milan.
It’s understandable that these dates may not correlate with school breaks in the US, so late June to early July would be a good time to visit if traveling from the US.
Where to Stay in Milan
Milan has many neighborhoods (we believe about 80 of them) where you can choose to find a family-friendly hotel. The neighborhoods we recommend include Duomo, Brera, Quadrilatero, San Babila, Navigli, Darsena, Sempione, and Centrale.
We decided to stay in the Centrale neighborhood because it was conveniently located near the Central Station FS to take the metro, the Centrale Food Market with a diversity of cuisines, and the bus to the airport. We stayed at the Spice Hotel Milan due to its location, price, rooms, and services.
Other family-friendly hotels we recommend include the Imperiale Suites Milano, Style Homes Brera San Marco 29, and The Corner Duomo Hotel.
Where to Eat in Milan
We enjoyed all the food and gelatos we tried during our stay in Milan. For breakfast, a simple cappuccino with a croissant does the trick, but for a hearty breakfast meal, we recommend going to Pasticceria Gelsomina.
We had the most delicious Lorraine Quiche. It had the softest and buttery crust that melted in your mouth filled with scrambled eggs and bacon. We also tried toast with cream cheese, salmon, and boiled egg. You needed to break the boiled egg and let the egg yolk drip down so you can take a bite with all the ingredients together.
For lunch, we recommend going to the top floor above La Rinascente which houses the Obica Mozzarella Bar, Pizza, and Kitchen. You can eat on their rooftop patio with views of the Duomo Cathedral right next door. The Gnocchi with caramelized pear and the cacio e pepe pasta were top notch and the margarita pizza was light and filling at the same time.
For dinner options, there are multiple restaurants you can try in the Brera and Navigli neighborhoods. The Centrale Food Market has also a variety of fresh foods and restaurants that were worth a try for any meal for the day. Our favorite place for dinner was Hostaria La Baita in the Centrale neighborhood. The Risotto alla Milanese had the perfect blend of saffron, white white, and butter we tasted. It’s also one of the must-try dishes in Milan so make sure to give it a try.
8 Things to do in Milan with Kids
Explore the Piazza Duomo and Cathedral
Piazza Duomo is the primary city square in Milan housing the Duomo Cathedral and the Galleria. We had a great time during our time at the Duomo, we started with a visit to the Duomo Cathedral rooftop via the lift. The lift is a tiny elevator that we believe may hold up to six people.
It’s fun exploring the city of Milan from between the spires and exploring the details in the architecture. There are also some guided tours to the Duomo Cathedral geared for kids with cute names. For example, there are the Little Duomo Detectives where kids look for the hidden treasures of the Cathedral.
Another guided tour is the Treasure Hunting among the Spires tour where everyone searches for the hidden details among the sculptures in the spires, including tennis rackets, boxing gloves, and an artichoke. Then there is the archaeological tour titled “In the Footsteps of Indiana Jones” where the little ones investigate the ancient use of artifacts used for the cathedral’s construction.
Spin your Heel on the Bull at the Galleria
Don’t be surprised if you see people spinning in a circle at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Sounds weird because it is! Inside the Galleria, there is a section of the floor that has a mosaic depicting a bull with its hind legs.
As part of the tradition, people put their right heel on the bull’s nether region (it’s worm up so it doesn’t show anything). Once your right heel is situated, you proceed to turn yourself three times counterclockwise. Tradition states that it will bring you good luck. Our daughter loved it…we did too!
Visit the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci
The National Museum of Science and Technology is impressive and it felt never-ending. Plan to spend some time at the museum as it took us almost five hours to go through the exhibitions and play with some of the interactive games available.
The permanent exhibitions included the technology mosaic which highlighted objects and how they evolved. For example, we saw a Nintendo, GameBoys, and even the G1 phone (which we owned back in 2009, so we feel old!).
Another exhibition we enjoyed was the telecommunication section with all of its telegraphy, radio, and televisions. Our daughter learned to spell her name in morse code with the telegraph. We finished our exploration through the air and naval transport exhibitions boasting life-size planes, ships, and boats. There was even a catamaran hanging from the ceiling.
Another museum worth a visit was the Leonardo3 located at one of the exits of the Galleria and the Duomo Museum located next to the cathedral.
Learn How to Make Pizza and Gelato
Pizza has a long history that could date back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, but there is no doubt that Italy could be considered the home of pizza-making. We decided to take a pizza and gelato-making class. It was the one activity our daughter was literally dreaming about for the trip.
We decided to take the class in the evening so we could make and eat our own pizzas. We learned about the four basic ingredients for the dough and how to prepare it. We also learned how to shape the dough in Neapolitan style with a chef from Naples. No rolling pin is necessary!
Did you know you can make a pizza in 90 seconds in the oven? You just have to make sure that the oven temperature is around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. (Now we just need to figure out the time/heat equivalency for our tiny oven at home!).
For dessert, we had Gelato made with three basic ingredients, including heavy heavy cream, milk, and powdered sugar. No other flavor is required! Once made, you can add a topping, such as cherry or any flavor you love. We chose cherry for our gelato. We took the class in English at the Central Food Market and the experience was truly unique.
Visit the Sforzesco Castle and Walk around the Sempione Park
Sforzesco Castle was the first stop we explored upon arrival in Milan. We arrived in Milan on a Wednesday morning, left the airport via bus, got our metro cards, and arrived at Sforzesco Castle with our backpacks.
The Sforzesco used to be a fortress built in the 14th century and today, it houses museums with art from Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. We were unable to explore the museums. Instead, we explored the defenses, tower, inner courtyard, ravelins in the front gates, and the outer wall (Ghirlanda or Garland).
The Sempione park is behind the Sforzesco castle. You can literally spend all day exploring the park and visiting the Triennale, Aquarium (kids will love this one!), and the Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace). While we roamed the park, we ate some toasted chestnuts and everywhere we walked, we could see them littering the ground.
Listen to Opera at the Teatro Alla Scala
La Scala is a famous opera house in Milan inaugurated in 1778. It is a few steps away from the Galleria. During our visit, there was a rehearsal so we couldn’t explore inside the theatre, only the museum. The exhibitions included preserved concert advertisements for different operas, such as La Boheme, La Traviata, Carmen, Otello, and Rigoletto.
We saw different instruments preserved in glass, porcelain figurines, costumes, paintings of famous opera singers, and sculptures of composers like Rossini. All while listening to opera music in the background.
Even though we were unable to explore the theatre, we had the opportunity to watch a bit of the rehearsal from a box seat. It was our daughter’s favorite part of the self-guided tour. She saw the stage along with the orchestra box and loved the red and gold decor of the seats and balcony seats. She is learning to play an instrument too, which she saw during rehearsal and was mind blown that people can work as musicians.
Walk Around Leonardo DaVinci’s Vineyard
Some people will say that Da Vinci’s vineyard is one of the hidden places to visit in Milan. It is right next door to the Santa Maria delle Grazie where “The Last Supper” lives on. The vineyard was a gift da Vinci received from the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Maria Sforza.
We took an audio-guided tour and explored the Portaluppi’s courtyard, Zodiac Hall, Atellani House, Garden of Delights, and the Vineyard. It’s a great spot to take some family photos and practice your travel photography skills. We advise going as early as possible to avoid crowds. When we visited, we were there along with another couple around 10 am, so we had the place to ourselves.
You can even purchase a bottle of the vineyard’s wine, the Malvasia di Milano to enjoy back at the hotel after the little ones go to sleep.
Take a Look at The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie
One of da Vinci’s masterpieces is “The Last Supper” which lives on at the Santa Maria delle Grazie. It requires optimal environmental conditions, treated air, and special procedures for the conservation of the painting. It is also a must-visit location, so ticket reservations are mandatory and should be purchased in advance. Learn from us! We failed to reserve our tickets for our travel dates and they were sold out.
For more information about visiting “The Last Supper” in Milan, you can visit Cenacolo Vinciano website. Another option is to book your tickets with a third-party tour guide, such as Get Your Guide. It is an expensive but viable option.
3 Day Trips Options from Milan
No travel guide to Milan is complete without day trip options! If your time in Milan allows you to explore outside of the city, there are few places you can visit as day trips.
Lake Como is in northern Italy close to the Switzerland border and it takes about 40 minutes by train to reach. You would leave from Milan Central Station to Como San Giovanni.
You can get around Lake Como by ferry so you can visit places like Menaggio, Bellagio, and Varenna.
Arrival in Venice from Milan will take longer, but it is connected by road and railway, so you have two options for travel. You can take a high-speed train from Milan Central Station to Venezia Santa Lucia train station.
It will take about two and a half hours to arrive. Tickets will be expensive, so plan ahead and check out the tickets with TrenItalia and ItaloTreno for the best ticket prices.
Lake Garde is the largest lake located in Italy and a direct train can take around one hour to arrive from Milan Central Station. You can explore the Sirmione and Castello Scaligeri or the ruins of a Roman villa.