A group guide to Milan

Date Posted: 11/12/2013

Vittorio Emanuel II, Milan.

Pictured: Vittorio Emanuel II shopping centre with its immense glass dome ceiling.

If you’re arranging a city break for your group, why not consider Italy’s famous Milan? Less than two hours flight from London, with plenty of free things to see and do, plus shopping, food and cultural attractions, there’s plenty to explore.

Milan on a budget

Milan’s exclusive reputation often means that group travel organisers write it off as a destination to avoid if you’re on a tight budget.

However, there are many exciting cultural attractions you can visit for free in Milan to get a real sense of the city’s character.

Milan’s shopping centres are some of the best places to see the city’s exquisite architecture. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Milan’s oldest shopping arcade and is an incredible building with long stretches of marble floors, intricate stone facades and balconies all contributing to the grand atmosphere. The most stunning element of the building is perhaps its immense glass dome ceiling.

Alternatively visit to famous Milan Duomo - the city’s iconic cathedral. Entry is free, although groups can tour the Treasury for one Euro per person. 

Milan is arguably best known for da Vinci’s Last Supper, but it’s free to visit another of the artist’s great artwork, the Leonardo da Vinci Horse. This enormous horse sculpture is reportedly the world’s biggest bronze horse statue and is based on designs Leonardo made in the late 15th century.

Shopping

With magnificent shopping arcades, established markets and futuristic malls, whether you are a collector of high fashion or prefer to root out vintage treasures, the shops in Milan provide something to suit all tastes.

The Armani superstore on Via Manzoni has everything you need to turn your home into a mini Armani universe, with Armani outlets for jeans, furniture, art, books and even flowers.

Milan's Duomo.

Pictured: The famous Milan Duomo.

If the price tags of the uber-expensive designer stores make your eyes water, take a trip to Fidenza Village. This outlet shopping village has a number of designer labels at cut prices.

The Mercatone del Naviglio Grande monthly market takes place along the canals in Navigli on the last Sunday of each month (save July). The atmosphere is hectic but exciting and you’ll find independent stalls selling home wares, furniture and unique antiques.

Food

Foodie groups and culinary enthusiasts can explore the host of markets and delis Milan has to offer.

Stop for lunch at La Vineria, a bar-come-shop which provides welcome relief from some of the jam-packed cafes in the Navigli area. La Vineria sells olive oil and wine on tap as well as offering guests platters of cold meats, cheese and breadsticks for six Euros.

North of Corso Magenta, Mercato Comunale is Milan’s biggest daily fresh food market. The market is held undercover in Piazza Wagner and is an explosion of noise and colour, with stalls filled with local produce including smoked meats, cheeses, fresh seafood and pastas.

Peck, a multi-storey delicatessen on Via Spadari, is something of an institution in Milan. It’s one of the best places in the city to find a massive choice of cured meats, cheeses and plenty of oils and vinegars to take home as a souvenier of your Italian city break.

For shoppers with a sweet-tooth, L'Antica Arte del Dolce on Via Anfossi is a favourite for anyone needing a sugar fix. Translated as ‘The Ancient Art of Sweet’ the shop’s shelves of biscuits, chocolates, cakes, jams and tarts tempt in passers-by, with everything made fresh in store by skilled pastry chefs.

Nightlife

Milan’s nightlife might not be what you’d expect. It’s not all flashy bars with guest lists, strict dress codes and over-priced cocktails. Whilst you can find places like this to see-and-be-seen in Milan, the city’s locals prefer to start a night with a tasty meal in a cosy and fun venue with plenty of wine and music.

Navigli by night, Milan.

Pictured: The Navigli area - a great place to spend the evening.

Happy hour starts at 6pm or 7pm and goes on until 9.30pm. In Milan this time is known as ‘aperitivo’ - the highlight of the evening, with everyone getting into the spirit of things early.

A great place to start your evening is the Navigli area. Famed for its two canals, here you can admire the nightlife and restaurant lights from one of the lively bars that line the waterways.  

Go back to where it all began with a visit to Zucca in Galleria on the corner of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II shopping arcade. In 1860 this was where the famous Italian drink Campari made its debut.

For the best dancing, head over to the Rolling Stone nightclub. One of Milan’s most famous clubs, Rolling Stone is the home of live rock during the week and plays the best dance music over the weekend.

In Navigli there’s lots of bars to pick from, including the Cadenhead’s Whisky Bar, the intimate café-come-bar El Brellin, and right down on the waterfront groups should check out Birreria La Fontanella.

Group travel information

Groups can fly to Milan from London City Airport, with a flight time of approximately one hour and forty minutes.

London City Airport has also produced a 24-hour itinerary guide to help groups planning a short break discover some Milan’s best restaurants and other attractions.

Photo credit: All images courtesy of London City Airport.

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