Milan, famous for being one of the fashion capitals of the world, has always something new to reveal, from its main shopping streets, always up-to-date with trends from abroad, to fabulous niche venues with sought-after products. There’s no need to choose between planning a ‘cultural’ itinerary or a ‘shopping’ itinerary because you can combine the two and get the most out of both.
1. Duomo: the Heart of the City
Milan’s historic centre is contained within a relatively small area which is now mostly closed to traffic, meaning that it’s easy to explore on foot. This area is home to myriad shops, including big-name fashion brands, historic ‘botteghe’ and some of the city’s most sought-after cafés, bars and eateries. In the space of just a few kilometers you’ll find the Duomo, the Galleria, Teatro alla Scala, the Castle, the ancient Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, as well as sporadic traces of ‘Roman Milan’, which was the first settlement and the predecessor of present-day Milan. For the ultimate one-stop shopping experience look no further than the Rinascente flagship store (under the arcades): an amazing array of fashion items under just one roof!
InfoPiazza Duomo, Milano, MI, Italia
2. The Galleria: a Fashion Victim’s Paradise
Another reference point for upmarket shopping is the picturesque, iconic and simply spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, home to the fashion giants and several high-class restaurants: a unique destination whose upper and lower spaces are well worth a visit. After honoring the Milanese tradition that requires firmly grinding the heel of your shoe into a bull depicted on the mosaic floor of the Galleria, which is said to bring luck, you can indulge yourself by purchasing something from one of the fabulous boutiques lining the Galleria.
InfoGalleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza del Duomo, Milano, MI, Italia
3. The Legendary Montenapoleone
The Quadrilatero della Moda, or Golden Quad, is situated just east of the Piazza della Scala, amidst four of Milan’s most expensive and prestigious shopping streets, namely Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. It is here that the most important fashion designers offer their luxurious creations. It’s an open-air shopping mall, where haute couture takes centre stage and with its cornucopia of eye-catching window displays it make the eyes of even the most hardened fashionistas sparkle. In just a few hundred metres, you’ll find everything your heart desires, including boutiques, museums, restaurants and luxury hotels.
InfoVia Monte Napoleone, Milano, MI, Italia
4. Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Via Torino: Trendy Shopping
Trendy venues can be found starting from Piazza Duomo and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II which leads to Piazza San Babila, and the nearby Via Torino, which stretches as far as Porta Ticinese. These are the shopping meccas for youngsters and fashion-interested, in search of the latest trends. These areas boast loads and loads of shops and it’s easy to get lost among the myriad offers of everchanging, ready-to-wear fashion.
InfoCorso Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano, MI, Italia
5. Brera: the Artistic Heart of the City
Nowadays this is one of the liveliest areas of the city, still maintaining a characteristic athmosphere that summons its past, when the district was inhabited by artists and bohemians. Its narrow cobbled streets host a number of interesting chic antique shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. The area is expanding rapidly and its neighbouring streets, including Corso Garibaldi and Corso Como, are home to several of the trendiest addresses in the city. In fact, as you walk through this historic district, you will be struck by a treasure trove of small artists’ workshops and quaint shops selling canvases and paints. Highlights include the masterpieces at the Pinacoteca di Brera, the historic Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, the Astronomical Museum, and the Botanical Garden, an evocative green oasis in the heart of the city. Now, countless boutiques showcasing rare essences are springing up, transforming Brera into a ‘district of Artistic Perfumery’.
InfoBrera, Milano, MI, Italia
6. Navigli: Niche Shopping
Trendy Milanese, who could never mingle in big crowds, shop in the Ticinese area and surrounding neighbourhoods. Here, amongst the columns of San Lorenzo and the Navigli, you’ll find numerous trendy boutiques, niche labels and small vintage shops where it’s still possible to bag a bargain and find showrooms that sell to the public. Together with Brera, the Navigli is one of the most picturesque districts in old Milan. The Navigli and the Darsena are two favourites among the locals, who love to enjoy the traditional aperitivo here, but are also a must-visit for visitors who will find themselves seduced by the artistic atmosphere of its numerous painters’ studios.
InfoNavigli, Milano, MI, Italia
7. Corso Buenos Aires: the Longest Shopping Street in Europe
Since opening in 1782, Corso Buenos Aires has been one of the most important commercial districts in Milan. A real shoppers’ paradise, it offers one and a half kilometres of window displays and it also home to several of the most important international shopping chains and single-brand stores, with more of 200 shops for all tastes and all budgets: sophisticated boutiques alternated with trendy stores offering all types of merchandise, small shops and numerous bars for a quick snack. Its side streets abound in restaurants, many of which are ethnic. A Saturday afternoon favourite with Milanese shoppers of all ages.
InfoCorso Buenos Aires, Milano, MI, Italia
8. Corso Vercelli: a Chic District
Corso Vercelli is a ‘niche’ shopping street which is less busy and easier to shop in than the city centre. Overflowed with small shops just waiting to be discovered, the street is embraced by a distinctive atmosphere that is further enhanced by the passage of historic trams. This is one of Milan’s most upmarket districts: a residential area, still inhabited by Milan’s upper crust, it epitomizes the traditional soul of the city and is distinguished by its air of sophistication, elegance and stunning residential architecture. Here you will come across several trendy shops for all tastes, offering clothing, footwear, home decor and eateries. What’s more the area is located just a stone’s throw from one of Milan’s most important attractions: the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece; the Parco Sempione and the Triennale Milano are also within easy walking distance, and, if you’re feeling energetic, you can easily push onwards until you reach the Castello Sforzesco.
InfoCorso Vercelli, Milano, MI, Italia
9. 5 Vie: an Historic Corner
This district marks the convergence of 5 historical streets in the heart of the city and it’s a place where you can go on the lookout for unique, original items. Boasting picturesque courtyards, artisan workshops and an old-world atmosphere, this corner of Milan hosts several unexpected gems that will captivate the hearts of fashionistas and design aficionados alike.
Info5 Vie, Milano, MI, Italia
10. Isola: Cool Village
Walking north from Piazza Gae Aulenti, the heart of Milan’s most futuristic area, we arrive at Isola, a historic and popular neighbourhood that in recent years has become the city’s coolest area. A “small neighbourhood in the middle of a big city” offering typical aperitivo spots, small vintage shops and craft workshops with unique products, in a youthful context characterised by murals and banister houses.
InfoIsola, Milano, MI, Italia
11. Paolo Sarpi: Milan’s Chinese Neighbourhood
The oldest and biggest Chinese district in Italy is an interesting location for a quiet walk or to take a look at the typical products displayed on both sides of the road. This pedestrian district stretches over the central Via Paolo Sarpi and reaches the nearby Via Bramante, Via Aleardi and Via Niccolini, forming a real city within the city. Christmas, Chinese New Year and the Oriental Design Week create a lively atmosphere packed with events, during which you can admire the beautiful lanterns and decorative elements.
InfoVia Paolo Sarpi, Milano, MI, Italia
12. Porta Nuova: Modern Times
Beneath the imposing UniCredit Tower, one of the symbols of the Milanese skyline, you’ll find the newest and most modern part of Milan, home to the skyscrapers of Porta Nuova and Piazza Gae Aulenti, a real jewel of architecture and design with its increasing number of boutiques. This is really one of Milan’s most contemporary, fashionable districts, bursting with buzzy bars that cater to the traditional aperitivo ritual, a destination where hip youngsters are always in the limelight. In addition to the latter, the area also contains the Corso Como complex, where you’ll find some of the most famous and fanciest clubs in Milan alongside fashion and art hotspots. If shopping is your objective you’ll be spoilt for choice in Piazza Gae Aulenti. The piazza hosts numerous bookshops, perfumeries and design or clothing shops.