Are you looking for the best Milan views? We’ve got you covered! Here are 12 of the best views in town, including some of the best places to watch the sunrise and sunset in Milan!
Many thanks to Andrea Cherchi from Semplicemente Milano for having allowed me to use his pictures to illustrate this blog post.
Ever since I started writing this blog, I’ve been on a crusade to get people to appreciate Milan, my hometown. I’ve written countless posts on the subject – I’ve shared my favourite free things to do in Milan, to show people there’s a lot more besides the Duomo, I’ve written about Milan’s museums, parks, street markets, and more.
To dispel Milan’s reputation as an expensive city, I’ve listed the best cheap restaurants in the city, showcasing Milan’s cultural and gastronomic diversity. I’ve also told you about the best hotels to stay at in Milan, from five star hotels to design hostels and anything in between – and I’ve actually stayed at every single one of them.
I don’t think anyone that knows Milan a bit will claim that it is not an interesting city. Yet, there are very few people out there that agree with me on the fact that Milan is also beautiful. Not in a quaint, cobblestoned streets kind of way – after all, it’s a city of two million people, not a hillside village in Tuscany.
Milan and Its Views
Milan is indeed beautiful, in a rough diamond kind of manner – it’s a place that reveals itself little by little, to those that take the time to explore it and look beneath the obvious.
The city has no hills, but it’s full of great viewpoints. There are also many hidden corners and secret spots to get great views of Milan, and even its best known landmarks can be seen and appreciated from many different angles.
With this article, I’m on a mission to convince everyone that Milan is not just interesting, it’s also beautiful. I’ve collected the 12 best views in Milan – in my opinion, of course – some are viewpoints, others are at ground level. Some are well known, others are local secrets.
If you like photography and are planning a trip to Milan, keep reading, and make sure you go and discover Milan’s best views for yourself!
1) Around the Duomo
Let’s start with the most obvious, Milan’s iconic picture image – the Duomo. Milan’s cathedral is truly one of the most spectacular in the world, with its pink marble facade decorated by hundreds of statues, spires and gargoyles.
It dominates Piazza del Duomo (Duomo Square), the heart of the city, and it makes for a wonderful sight any time during the day and night – it is also one of the best places in Milan for sunrise, a rare time when the square is not overrun with tourists.
I especially like taking pictures of the Duomo at sunset, especially after a storm, when it turns deep orange, but the best time to avoid crowds is always early in the day. If you’re reaching the Duomo from Corso Vittorio Emanuele, you’ll get your first view of the cathedral framed by buildings, which makes for a great picture opportunity, especially around sunrise time.
The best places to get a view of the Duomo in my opinion include the Museo del Novecento terrace located on the right hand side, facing the Duomo, Terrazza Aperol located on the left where you can have an amazing spritz with a view, and the equestrian statue located in the middle of the square – you can use the pedestal to get some good leading lines towards the Duomo for your picture.
2) Climb to the Top of the Duomo
In terms of Milan’s best viewpoints, it’s hard to beat the terraces on top of the Duomo. Entrance costs €16 if you’re going up using the stairs, €12 if you opt for the lift – if you’re in reasonable physical conditions use for the stairs, as the climb is not strenuous.
The main place where everyone stops to take pictures is the main terrace, from where you can see the square from above – but to be honest, there are also some great picture opportunities on the way up, when you walk past arches and spires which can be used to frame your view.
Moreover, I personally believe that the view over the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele side is definitely one of the best views of Milan – you can see the Galleria from the top, with spires framing the Porta Nuova skyscrapers in the distance, and if it’s a clear day you may even glimpse the peaks of the Alps.
3) Palazzo Lombardia
This steel and glass behemoth located near the Gioia underground stop houses regional government offices, and as a result, it’s usually closed to the public. Yet, it’s worth keeping an eye out for special openings, usually taking place of the last Sunday of the month, when people are allowed to access the viewpoint on the 39th floor for free.
The 39th floor of Palazzo Lombardia is the highest viewpoint in Milan at 161 meters, and naturally it’s also one of the best! The entire town stretches before you, and you can try to spot all the famous landmarks like the Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, Arco della Pace and more. Looking north, if it’s a clear day, the Alps should also make an appearance.
4) Grattacielo Pirelli
Before Palazzo Lombardia and the new Porta Nuova skyscrapers were built, the tallest building in Milan was the Grattacielo Pirelli right next to Stazione Centrale. Pirelli is about 127 meters high, which does sound diminutive compared to other cities, but it’s still a great place to get wonderful views of Milan.
Similarly to Palazzo Lombardia, it houses offices so it cannot be accessed every day, but only in occasion of periodic openings which are always free of charge. The viewing platform on the 31st floor is the best place in Milan to get views over Stazione Centrale, whereas on the opposite side you can see the Porta Nuova high rises.
5) Porta Nuova
When I was a kid, there used to be an amusement park where the slick Porta Nuova high rises now stand. The highest of them all is the UniCredit building, measuring 231 meters at the top of the spire. Yet, as far as I know, you can only access it if invited by someone who works there, and there are no special openings.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the best views of Milan from ‘ground level’! You can get good views of the UniCredit building from Piazza Gae Aulenti, the round square with fountains located just in front.
You can use the lamps as leading lines towards the building, or just walk around to where you’ll find access to the car park, and use the egg-shaped opening to frame the spire instead.
6) Bosco Verticale
The next one on this list of best views of Milan is located just around the corner from Porta Nuova, so it’s easy to see both in one go. Walking north from the left hand side of the UniCredit building, you’ll notice a pathway leading towards two tall residential buildings covered with plants and trees – there you have it, Bosco Verticale!
I’m pretty sure you’d get wonderful views of Milan if you’re lucky enough to stay in the apartments – one of them is also an Airbnb if you’re interested! However, even from outside the buildings make for an amazing view, especially in summer when the trees are green and full, and in autumn when the leaves start to change colour.
The Porta Nuova/Bosco Verticale area is also a wonderful place for sunset in Milan!
7) 10 Corso Como Secret Terrace
This is not only one of the best views, it’s also a wonderful local secret! 10 Corso Como is a fancy fashion store located in (yes, you guessed it) Corso Como, in a building at the end of a stunning ivy-covered courtyard.
Skip the overpriced stuff in the store and head to the bookstore on the left hand side instead. Climb the stairs and once you get to the top, head right into the art gallery, following signs for the ‘Terrazza’ – a rooftop with tables and chairs where people can sit and relax, completely free.
You can see the Porta Nuova skyline surrounded by smaller buildings, which is an incredible sight on a clear winter day.
8) Terrazza Triennale
This Milan viewpoint is another local secret, not to mention one of the best places to have aperitivo in the city. The Triennale building is located in the heart of Parco Sempione. It’s a Fascist-time building, now housing the Design Museum, which includes a free permanent display and temporary exhibitions.
On the top floor there’s also a cocktail bar, and from the terrace you can get wonderful views over the Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione. You can quickly walk up to the terrace and take a picture, or sit down to enjoy creative cocktails with finger food included in the price – while enjoying one of the best sunsets in the city. What a way to end a day sightseeing in Milan!
9) Arco della Pace
The Arco della Pace is at the far end of Parco Sempione, my favourite of all Milan parks. You can walk up to the arch itself to take great pictures of it, walk down Corso Sempione and wait for an iconic old tram to rattle by and complete the picture, or if you have a good lens, you can just shoot the arch from the back of Castello Sforzesco.
This one here is definitely one of my favourite views of Milan, showing that the city is not just traffic and concrete!
10) Naviglio Grande
I debated whether or not to include the Navigli in my selection of the best views of Milan, since they don’t need any extra promotion – but no one can deny that they are indeed one of the prettiest places in Milan.
Naviglio Grande is definitely a better sight compared to Naviglio Pavese, its neighbour next door. You can get the iconic sunset shot from the bridge right at the end of Via Casale, probably Milan’s most popular sunset viewpoint.
Alternatively, you could treat yourself to a boat ride down the canal to enjoy different perspectives, or walk down all the way to the San Cristoforo church, another beautiful offbeat corner of Milan.
11) Hotel Cavalieri Terrace
Lots of hotels in the city centre boast wonderful views over the Duomo – trouble is that terraces are usually only accessible to residents.
Luckily, some have rooftop bars open to the public. One of my favourites is the terrace shared by The Square and Hotel Cavalieri – you won’t get a Duomo view here, but it’s a wonderful place to enjoy views over the Milan rooftops and Torre Velasca, Milan’s best known Brutalist building.
12) Stazione Centrale
Stazione Centrale is not just Milan’s main railway hub, it’s also a great example of Fascist architecture, all gleaming white marble with columns and mosaics. If you’re traveling somewhere by train, we recommend getting to the station early and having a look around!
The entire station is full of photo opportunities – I like taking pictures from the top of the stairs in the two side halls, and of course the departure concourse is always a sight, with its cast iron beams and arches.
If you want to take a picture of the building itself, the best viewpoint is either from the top of Grattacielo Pirelli, or to the middle of Via Vittor Pisani, the road leading to the front of the station – but be careful of traffic!
Where Can You Find More Views of Milan?
Naturally, these are just some of Milan’s best views – there’s plenty more to see and do. We find Trover to be a good source of visual inspiration, so we’ve collected some of our favourite shots of Milan and embedded it below for you to see. See, it is indeed a beautiful city!
This post is brought to you by Trover. Photos kindly provided by Andrea Cherchi whenever specified – thank you!