Travelling to Milan may be out of the question for a bit, but this doesn’t mean you can’t explore from your home with Milan virtual tours! Here we’ve included a selection of our favourites, from virtual museum visits, to virtual bike rides, and more!
Way back in early March, Milan was one of the first places in the world to shut down. In a matter of days, Fashion Week came to a halt, and all events including the uber-popular Design Week were either cancelled or indefinitely postponed.
Over the following weeks, museums, shops, restaurants, churches and pretty much anything else in Milan closed their doors. Two out of three Milan airports ceased to operate; hotels closed one by one, and everyone’s Milan travel plans were halted for the foreseeable time.
As you know, we live in Milan, and covered the city extensively in our Mondays in Milan section, opened way back in 2014 to promote the city’s sights and highlights in view of Expo 2015.
Ever since, visitors to Milan increased year by year. The city, previously seen just as a logistical stop-over point for visitors travelling elsewhere in Italy, became a tourist destination of its own right, for weekend breaks or longer holidays.
The shutdown was a terrible blow for the tourism industry in Milan, and it will probably take years before it bounces back.
Milan people are known all over Italy for their positive, can-do attitude. Since it’s not yet known when travel to Milan will resume, instead of commiserating, tourism professionals have created a variety of fun Milan virtual tours, allowing people to travel to the city from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Milan virtual tours include visits to museums and churches, virtual bike rides, tours about Leonardo da Vinci and his legacy, and more.
Here we’ve selected some of the best virtual tours around Milan, some free, some for a fee, showcasing the best of the city – a good way to keep yourself entertained, waiting for the time when you’ll be able to travel in person!
Meanwhile, also check this post for the best online travel experiences from all over the world!
Milan Virtual Tours – The Must-Sees
1) Milan Duomo
Let’s start with the city’s prime destination, the wonderful Duomo. Access to the cathedral is suspended for now, but as we wait to be allowed back to visit, it’s possible to explore it virtually thanks to this free 2-minute virtual tour.
Shot with a 360° camera, the video showcases the best of the Duomo historical complex, starting outside, and then moving to the interior, walking along the central nave all the way to the high altar, including some of the side chapels.
Then, the video concludes on the stunning Duomo terraces, where you enjoy fantastic views surrounded by statues and spires.
Searching for the hashtag #IlDuomoSiRacconta on YouTube, you’ll find a selection of short videos in Italian with English subtitles, focusing on specific places and themes within the Duomo complex – including the Duomo sundial, Tintoretto paintings, the Duomo bells and stained glass windows.
If you are looking for something more informative, you can check out GetYourGuide’s FREE Milan Duomo Tour! This 20-min video is narrated by a licensed Milan guide, and it includes all locations usually visited during a Duomo tour. You can find it on GetYourGuide’s The World At Home page, together with many other tours and experiences!
2) Sforza Castle
Let’s move on to Milan’s second big-ticket attraction! Sforza Castle was once home to the rulers of Milan, and now it houses eight municipal museums. The castle is surrounded by the wonderful Parco Sempione, one of the best parks in Milan.
Currently, Sforza Castle is also closed to the public, but you can experience it virtually on Google Arts & Culture – museum curators have come up with 8 themed itineraries, focusing on highlights like the Trivulzio tapestries, Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini, musical instruments and more.
This virtual tour is a great way to get acquainted with the museums located inside Sforza Castle, and decide which ones to visit when you’ll be able to come in person!
3) Pinacoteca di Brera
Are you an art lover? Then you can’t miss visiting the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan’s premier art gallery, with works from great masters including Raphael, Piero della Francesca and Caravaggio.
The museum is also currently closed, and when it will reopen it will be at decreased capacity to comply with social distancing laws. Meanwhile, you can visit Brera thanks to a really wonderful virtual tour, free to access on the official website.
You can follow the arrows to ‘walk’ virtually through the art gallery, moving from one room to the next, and stopping in front of all the artworks you wish to learn about.
You can admire paintings and sculptures really up close – all images can be enlarged up to 40 times, making it possible to appreciate details that you probably wouldn’t notice visiting the museum in person.
If you prefer a virtual tour with a guide, get in touch with Waam Tours, a Milan-based tour company focusing on all things art-related. Waam Tours have prepared a wonderful calendar of virtual visits to Brera and other museums and places in Milan, in English and Italian.
If you have special requests, you can always get in touch with Waam Tours and plan a private virtual visit. We can personally recommend them!
4) Last Supper & Santa Maria delle Grazie Virtual Tour
The last stop on our selection of Milan virtual tours to ‘must see’ attractions is the one and only Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece! Getting Last Supper tickets is difficult at the best of times, with very limited visitor numbers – which are probably set to decrease further as lockdown is gradually lifted.
We found two ways to visit the Last Supper on a virtual tour. The first is a tour with Leonardo a Milano, a company specialising on Leonardo and his connection with Milan. Last Supper tours are offered regularly on Eventbrite, are led by a licensed guide, and only cost €9.
Otherwise, if you speak Italian, you may like to watch this 5-minute video by MiBACT, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, about the restoration of the Last Supper and how museum activities never stopped working during lockdown.
Unusual Milan Virtual Tours
5) Virtual Bike Tours
Milan is the perfect city to cycle around, given that there’s not a single hill anywhere! I’ve been cycling around Milan for as long as I can remember, and one of the things I was meaning to do this spring was a tour with Bike The City, offering experiences on two wheels all over the city.
We all know what happened, and bike tours are on hold for a while. In the meantime, Bike The City organises virtual bike rides around Milan, led by a guide with the aid of Google Earth.
These virtual experiences focus on different themes each week – some examples include Raphael in Milan, Leonardo and the Navigli, and Milan during Habsburg and Napoleonic times.
6) Street Art Tours
We love street art, and over the years we’ve seen the street art scene in Milan grow with different pieces each year. While we wait to be able to go out freely and check out some of the latest additions, we found two great virtual tours about street art in Milan!
Let’s start with the wonderful ladies from Waam Tours. A few years ago, they took us on our very first street art tour around the Isola neighbourhood, led by their street art specialist Veronica.
Their virtual tour calendar always includes one or more street art tours, highlighting the history of street art in the city, big walls, or individual neighbourhoods.
Otherwise, head to the MAUA – Augmented Reality Urban Art Museum website, cataloguing 119 street art pieces in Milan, Turin and Palermo. Install the Bepart app on your phone, find a street art piece you like and frame it with the app – it will ‘come alive’ with augmented reality!
Virtual Tours of Milan’s Best Museums
7) Science and Technology Museum
If you were thinking of visiting Milan with your kids, you’ll like this virtual tour! Milan’s Science and Technology Museum is popular with visitors of all ages, thanks to their incredible hands-on and interactive exhibits, including trams, locomotives, Leonardo’s ‘flying machine’ models, and even a submarine!
The museum launched the #storieaportechiuse (meaning ‘stories behind closed doors’) campaign on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, sharing daily videos with a different focus – you can find the weekly schedule on this page.
Most videos are in Italian, but you’ll find some in English as well – my favourite was the one about Milan’s horse-drawn omnibus, perfect if you’re crazy about public transport like I am!
8) La Scala Museum
Tickets for the legendary La Scala theatre and opera house are also notoriously hard to come by – if you can’t score one, but still want to know more about the history of the theatre and of Italian opera, you can visit the La Scala Museum.
Now, the museum is closed just like all others in Milan – but once again, curators have put together a series of virtual experiences on Facebook and IGTV.
There are three different programs – documentaries about the theatre, composers and performers who made it legendary, guided tours via the Museo Teatrale Alla Scala app, and Museo Kids, videos for children in both Italian and English. If you love music and theatre and want to introduce your children to this world, check out these videos on IGTV!
If you’re a theatre lover, you’ll be pleased to know you can take a virtual tour of La Scala on Google Arts & Culture – there are 42 stories about topics ranging from history, costumes, famous directors and performers, and you can also take explore the theatre itself, the boxes, stages and more.
There’s even a wonderful performance of La Scala orchestra and choir in quarantine, performing Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra from their homes.
9) Poldi Pezzoli Museum
The Poldi Pezzoli is one of my favourite museums in Milan, recreated in the house of a wealthy 19th century art collector.
The museum is also using Instagram to entertain visitors and open its doors virtually – just head onto their page or search for #PoldiPezzoliStories to find a collection of short videos focusing on single artworks, all narrated by museum curators.
Videos are also available on YouTube, but their vertical format makes them perfect to be enjoyed on Instagram. The videos are only in Italian for now – if you don’t speak Italian but still want to explore this museum virtually, you can check it out on Google Arts and Culture!
10) Museo del Novecento
The Museo del Novecento (Twentieth Century Museum) is worth visiting for two reasons – it houses over 400 artworks from the 20th century, including Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (aka the sculpture on the back of Italy’s 20 cent), and for the spectacular view over the Duomo, one of the best in Milan.
Since the museum closed, curators have been sharing posts on Instagram, highlighting a different artwork each day. Posts from April 20th onwards are in support of the #TemporaryClosed campaign, – images of museum portrayed in famous movies are shared, celebrating the idea of museums as dynamic places, with various purposes.
The Museo del Novecento is also on Google Arts and Culture, with five curated stories.