Milan is a city that is rich in history and culture. There are many things to see and do in this fantastic city, but sometimes it can be expensive to do them all.
Milan can get expensive real quick so you know we had to find some free things to do in Milan because around here we like to save a little here so we can splurge a little there.
Lucky for us Milan didn't disappoint, and we found tons of free things to do in Milan. So here is our list of the top 21 free things to do in Milan.
Free things to do in Milan Italy
1. Piazza del Duomo
The Piazza del Duomo is the first stop on our list of free things to do in Milan. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, and rightfully so. The Duomo di Milano is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, surrounded by beautiful buildings and sculptures.
While there is a fee to actually enter the cathedral, you can explore the exterior and enjoy the view from the steps for free. This is a great place to people-watch, soak up the atmosphere, and get some great photos.
Insider Tip: Get up early and visit during sunrise. Not only is the light amazing, but you will avoid the crowds and have the piazza primarily to yourself.
Another option to get amazing views of the Duomo for free is to go across the street to the Rinascente Milano. Head to the top floor where you will find a number of restaurants and food shops.
You can grab a bite here but it is not necessary. Just head outside where you can snap a quick pic with views of the Duomo in the back.
2. Cimitero Monumentale (Monumental Cemetary)
Yes, I know a cemetery may not sound like a fun thing to do on vacation, but this is no ordinary cemetery. The Cimitero Monumentale is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe.
The cemetery is full of large marble sculptures and mausoleums. It's peaceful and serene inside and makes for a great place to take a walk and clear your head.
Make sure to visit the Alessandro Manzoni mausoleum. It's one of the most beautiful in the cemetery.
Insider Tip: The cemetery is free to enter, but you can do a guided tour for under 20 Euros.
3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world's oldest shopping malls. But even if you're not a shopper, it's still worth a visit.
The glass and the iron-vaulted roofs are a work of art in itself and the perfect place to take a break from exploring the city.
The Galleria is also home to the famous La Rinascente department store and the Savoy Hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in Milan.
If you're feeling lucky, spin on the testicles of the bull on the mosaic floor. It is said to bring good luck.
Insider Tip: The Galleria is a great place to do some people-watching. Stop for a coffee or aperitivo and watch the world go by.
The Navigli is a series of canals that were once used to transport goods around the city. Today, they're a great place to take a stroll or ride a bike.
There are several rental companies along the canal where you can rent bikes by the hour or day. This is a great way to see some less touristy parts of the city and exercise.
Insider Tip: Some hotels in Milan offer free bicycle rentals. Check with the hotel before you book.
Take a break from all things Italian and visit Milan's Chinatown in the Porta Venezia area of the city. Not only will you feel like you have been transported to another country, but it's a great place to find cheap eats.
There are several Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. This is a great place to grab a quick and tasty lunch.
In addition to the food, the area is also home to several temples and cultural associations. The Chinese Temple is definitely worth a visit.
Insider Tip: Stop by one of the bakeries for delicious and cheap pastries.
6. Parco Sempione
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, visit Parco Sempione. This large park is a great place to relax, take a walk or enjoy a picnic.
The park is home to the Arena Civica, an amphitheater that hosts concerts and events. It's also where you'll find the Sforza Castle, one of Milan's most popular tourist attractions.
If you're visiting during the summer, take advantage of the various festivals and cultural events hosted in the park. It's a great way to enjoy some culture for free.
Insider Tip: The park is enormous, so getting lost is easy. Before you visit, download a google map to help you get around the park.
Parco Sempione is home the Branco Tower which is the highest point in Milan. Book a ticket and take the elevator to the top for phenomenal views of Milan. You can book tickets to the Branco Tower here.
7. Leonardo's Horse at the Hippodrome
Leonardo Da Vinci was commissioned by the Duke of Milan in 1482 to create a bronze sculpture of a horse. However, the project was never completed by Leonardo himself. He created extensive sketches and even a clay model, which was later destroyed, but he died before resuming the project.
Centuries later, Leonardo's designs were uncovered and used to complete the bronze house that now stands in the courtyard of the Hippodrome. It is definitely a must-visit while in Milan.
8. Castello Sforzesco
The Castello Sforzesco is one of Milan's most popular tourist attractions. This 15th-century castle was once the home of the Duke of Milan, but today it houses several museums and art galleries.
Entry is free every first and third Tuesday from 2pm and every first Sunday of the month. If you visit on any other day you can access the ground for free.
The castle is also home to the Museum of Musical Instruments.
9. Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in Milan, boasting a rich history that dates back to the early Christian and medieval times. Located in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, the basilica represents a fundamental point in the history of Milan and the Ambrosian Church.
Built between 379 and 386 at the behest of Bishop Ambrose, the church was dedicated to the holy martyrs buried within its walls. Today, the basilica stands as a monument to early Christianity. It serves as a reminder of the vital role that religion has played in shaping the city of Milan.
Visitors to the basilica can explore its beautiful interior, which features many well-preserved artifacts from the early days of Christianity. With its rich history and beautiful architecture, the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is a must-see for any visitor to Milan.
10. Street Art in Isola
Isola is a neighborhood in Milan, Italy, known for its street art. The neighborhood is filled with large murals and graffiti and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. While some of the artwork is commissioned, much of it is illegal.
However, the city has tolerance for street art, and it is not actively removed. In fact, the city has even begun to promote the neighborhood as an Arts District. Isola is definitely the place to go if you want to see some unique street art.
11. Piazza Affari and L.O.V.E
Piazza Affari is a square in Milan, Italy, named after the stock exchange that is located there. The square is home to several important buildings, including the Palazzo Mezzanotte (the headquarters of the Borsa Italiana, the Italian stock exchange).
But most come to this square to visit Maurizio Cattelan’s L.O.V.E. (standing for ‘Liberty, Hatred, Vendetta and Eternity').
12. See Milan in a Vintage Tramway
A great way to see Milan is by riding the vintage tramway. This historic form of transportation dates back to 1876 and runs through some of the city's most popular neighborhoods.
The most popular route is route 19; however, there are several other routes to check out. Best of all, riding the vintage tramway only costs 2 euros. While it is not free, it is a great way to see all the sites without breaking the bank.
13. Porta Nuova Skyscrapers
Porta Nuova is a Milan, Italy, district known for its stunning skyscrapers. The area has become one of the most popular spots in the city due to its modern high-rises and vibrant atmosphere. While visiting Porta Nuova, check out the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), designed by architect Stefano Boeri.
The Bosco Verticale comprises two towers covered in lush greenery and can be seen from around the city. The district is also home to several shops, restaurants, bars, and other attractions. Porta Nuova is the perfect spot for visitors to get a modern taste of Milan.
14. Arco Della Pace
The Arco della Pace is a triumphal arch in Milan, Italy. Located near the city's Central Station, this impressive monument was built between 1807 and 1838 to commemorate Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Marengo.
The arch is about 20 meters tall and features intricate decorations that make it a sight to behold. The Arco della Pace is one of the most impressive monuments in Milan and is definitely worth visiting. Plus, it's free!
15. Brera District
The Brera District is an art and culture hub in Milan, Italy. This neighborhood has several art galleries, museums, churches, bars, and restaurants. There are also several shops in this area that are perfect for window shopping.
The district also has a lively nightlife scene, with clubs and music venues open late into the night. Best of all, many of these attractions are free to visit, so make sure to explore the Brera District during your stay in Milan.
While in the area, be sure to check out the Brera Botanical Garden. Entrance to the Brera Botanical Garden is totally free, which is a bonus.
16. Piazza Gae Aulenti
Located between the neighborhoods of Garibaldi, Isola and Varesine, Piazza Gae Aulenti is a plaza in Milan, Italy, designed by world-renowned architect Gae Aulenti and is the center of the modern Milan.
The plaza features a modern design and is notable for its sleek glass buildings, vibrant colors, and geometric shapes. In addition to admiring the architecture, visitors can also enjoy the many shops, bars, and restaurants in the area. This public space is a great place to relax and soak up some of Milan's modern vibes, and best of all, it is free!
17. Bosco Verticale
The Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, is a stunning architectural feat located in the Porta Nuova district of Milan. Designed by architect Stefano Boeri, this complex comprises two towers covered in lush greenery, making it one of the city's most unique and eye-catching structures.
The Bosco Verticale provides visitors with a breathtaking view of the city and is definitely worth a visit.
18. The Braidense Public Library
The Braidense Public Library is an impressive library located in the heart of Milan. Founded in 1717, this library houses over 1 million books and manuscripts related to history, philosophy, art, and literature. Visitors can browse the collections or attend lectures and events held at the library.
While only a small portion of the library is actually open to the public be sure to check out the courtyard when on any given day, you will find art students drawing the facade.
19. Colonne di san lorenzo
The Colonne di San Lorenzo is a historic square located in Milan. The square is located in front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo and features 16 columns which are Roman ruins dating back to the 3rd century.
20. Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Santa Maria delle Grazie is a church and convent located in Milan. This complex was built between 1466 and 1490 and features an impressive Gothic architectural style. Visitors can admire the frescoes, sculptures, and decorations that adorn this historic site's walls.
Best of all, visiting this church is free, so make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Milan.
21. Museo di Storia Naturale (Natural History Museum)
Located in the center of Milan, the Museo di Storia Naturale is an impressive museum in the heart of Milan. This fascinating museum houses various natural history and science exhibits, ranging from fossils and minerals to animals and plants.
The museum also features interactive displays and activities for visitors of all ages. Best of all, the museum has free admission on the first Sunday every month and the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 2.00 pm.
Money Saving Tips for Visiting Milan Italy
Visiting Milan, Italy, is a dream for many travelers. It's a beautiful city renowned for its fashion and culture, but it can also be expensive. Fortunately, a few money-saving tips will help you get the most out of your visit without breaking the bank. Read on to learn more!
Use Public Transportation
Public transportation in Milan is an excellent way to get around the city cheaply. The Metro system is reliable and easy to use, with tickets costing just €2 per ride or €7 for a day pass. Buses and trams run throughout the city center, making it easy to see all the sights without spending too much on transport.
Take Advantage of Free Attractions
Milan has plenty of free attractions that make great additions to any itinerary. For instance, the Piazza del Duomo is one of Milan's most iconic attractions and while there is an entry fee it is completely free to explore its facade.
Another great spot is Parco Sempione, which boasts open green spaces, monuments, and other landmarks—all at no charge. Other places, such as Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio are worth checking out without spending any money!
Visit During Low Season
Visiting during the low season can be a great way to save money while enjoying all that Milan offers. Prices tend to drop significantly since fewer people travel during these months (January-April).
You can also take advantage of hotel deals, so you don't have to break the bank when looking for accommodations in Milan. Additionally, there will be fewer crowds, so you can explore without being overwhelmed by throngs of tourists!
Stay in Airbnb Apartments
Hotels can be expensive in Italy, but Airbnb offers visitors an affordable alternative with plenty of options throughout the city center.
Not only are Airbnb apartments typically more affordable than hotels, but they also offer more privacy and convenience than hostels or guesthouses—plus, you get access to a kitchen, so you don't have to eat out every single meal!
Remember that prices vary depending on location and amenities, so shop around before booking anything.
During our stay in Milan we chose B&B Hotel Milano Sant'Ambrogio as our home away from home. They have a terrace with amazing views or you can upgrade to a room with your own private terrace. You can find rates and availability here.
Visit Museums During Free Entry Hours
Milan has truly unique museums like The Last Supper, Sforzesco Castle, and Pinacoteca di Brera – but they all come with hefty entrance fees (often upwards of 20 euros per person).
To avoid paying the total admission price, plan your visits during free entry hours which usually occur once or twice weekly at each museum. Check museum websites for exact hours, as these often change seasonally or yearly.
Map of Free Things to do in Milan
What can you do in Milan for Free?
You will be surprised to learn that there are many free things in Milan that you can add to your list. Consider visiting some of Milan's parks, such as Parco delle Basilica, which is home to two ancient churches and a beautiful outdoor area.
The Monumental Cemetery is also free to visit and offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere – perfect for long walks or moments of reflection.
Visiting the Italian city of Milan doesn't have to break the bank. By following these tips, you'll be able to experience the best of Milan on any budget.