Things to do in Milan with Kids.
Milan was our final stop on our family interrail adventure and somewhere we’ve always wanted to visit. We spent a few days exploring the city and even managed a day trip to Como. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re visiting Milan with kids. Learn all about the best things to do in Milan with kids, where to stay in Milan, how to get to and around Milan and when I think the is best time to visit.
Milan is The second largest city in Italy and home to some stunning Italian architecture and one of the major fashion capitals of Europe. So far – so un-family friendly! As with any other major city, it just depends how you approach it. There’s plenty to entertain the kids in Milan, you just need to know where to look.
Milan is a city for exploring and most of the top spots can be seen (from the outside at least) for free. Ones not to miss are:
I may as well start with the main attraction, Milan Cathedral is probably the most popular place to visit in the whole city. It is huge, stunning by design and almost impossible to get a good picture of due to the crowds of people milling about.
The cathedral is extremely elaborate and has the most statues out of any church in the world! These include 135 gargoyles which make for a fantastic scavenger hunt.
The area around the Cathedral is very pretty with luxury shops and high end restaurants. Do not eat here, there will always be a wait, it’s overpriced and the waiters are rude. At best stop for a quick drink to people watch and take in the grandeur of the cathedral although most restaurants won’t let you do that and will want you to eat.
We compromised with an ice cream (take out) and a wander round the building.
If you don’t mind paying a bit extra (around £25) you can take a trip up to the top of the Duomo, go inside the church, visit the museum and the Crypt of St. Charles. Book your Duomo di Milano fast track tickets online to skip the queues.
Sempione Park is a huge park which is home to some beautiful monuments, ornamental ponds and historic buildings, the Arco Dsforzaella Pace (Arch of Peace) probably being the most famous. It’s a fun place to explore but also a fantastic area to head to when the kids could do with burning off some energy. Over the summer months you’ll see many Milanese families enjoying a lazy picnic or attending one of the regular outdoor events.
Sforza Castle was once home to the fearsome Sforzas, at one time the rulers of Milan. It is absolutely stunning and includes design work by some of the greats such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Donato Bramante.
The Castle is located in Milans city centre and is also a museum and art gallery and includes work by Michelangelo.
Sforza Castle is free to enter but it’s an extra €10 to visit the museums. Young people (under a very generous 25) are FREE!
Museum of Science and Technology
Our favourite activity in Milan was a visit to the science museum. Located in the center of the city, this institution is easily accessible by train from the S. Ambrogio Station.
Milans Science Museum is unsurprisingly dedicated to the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and it’s a great place for little ones to learn about his inventions. It’s probably not the most family friendly Science Museum we’ve ever visited so we didn’t spend too long on the exhibits which were just descriptive.
It did have a few where she could get hands on such as the Da Vinci exhibits and I loved the learning opportunities presented by the materials section and the Space area.
It turned out that our favourite part of the museum was the outdoor area with the huge submarine and trains you can pretend to drive. The boat area was also fascinating.
The Science Museum is located in a beautiful old building with an inner courtyard making it well worth a visit for a cooling stroll about.
The Museum is open:
Tuesday – Friday: 9.30 – 17.00
Saturday and holidays: 9.30 – 18.30
and closed every Monday.
It costs €10 for adults and €7.50 for kids. Children under 3 are free.
This is the largest in Italy and holds regular shows for only €5 each. (kids are €3). I love any planetarium, looking up at the night sky is fascinating and I find that it’s always so calming for little children.
The Natural History Museum
Located next to the Planetarium is Milan’s Natural History Museum, another great place for getting out of the sun on a hot day. The museum is home to almost three million pieces covering the natural world of minerology, zoology and palaeontology and Italy’s largest diorama (small scale models) collection.
The Museum is closed on Mondays but open between 9am and 19.30 every other day. You can reach it from the Palestro Station of the Metro on the red line.
If you know you want to visit a few places in Milan during your visit then a Milan City Pass can save you money on attractions. The Pass includes a Hop on Hop off bus tour (one of my favourite ways to explore a city) and entry to 8 venues including the Duomo and the Science Museum. Passes start at just £26 for kids, make sure you buy them online before you go.
We stayed at the Hotel Galles Best Western, a 4 star hotel in a busy shopping street. I chose this hotel as it is walking distance (about 15 mins) to Milan central train station and as we would be arriving by train and using the train to get to the airport, it made it the perfect location. It’s perhaps a little further out than city centre hotels near the cathedral district which made it a little cheaper and the rooms a little bigger.
Unusually for a city centre hotel, the Hotel Galles has a sweet little pool and spa, perfect for relaxing after a busy day exploring.
Another great feature of this hotel is its open terraces and roof gardens. We would often end our days with a cooling drink on the bars outdoor patio area and always headed up to the roof terrace after our breakfast to discuss our plans for the day and take in the amazing views. Strangely it was always pretty quiet.
The hotel has a rather strange layout with the breakfast restaurant on the top floor. There were always plenty of options and we managed to fill up for the day ahead.
The rooms were nice, with a big bed, fridge, USB sockets, kettles and a hidden safe. Perfect!
If you’d rather more space and your own facilities then Milan has plenty of AirBNBs to choose from, check out the most suitable for your family here.
Perhaps I should start with where not to eat, Milan is where I had the worst food in Italy. After exploring by foot all day we were starving and stopped at the first place with tables outside. I ordered lasagne which was still frozen in the middle and was promptly ill in their upstairs tiny bathroom which caused my daughter to also be ill. Not our best day.
I’d save your big Italian splurges for where you can find local Italian restaurants like Como or nearby Tuscany. Milan is good for it’s wide range of choice. After weeks in Italy we (whisper it) were a little sick of pasta so it was nice to have some other options.
Our favourite was the Californian bakery which was beautifully designed with a bread heavy menu to suit the whole family.
The best day trip from Milan, and perhaps one of my favourite of all time is a trip to Lake Como. The city of Como, on the South of the Lake is only half an hour by train from Milan. In a day you can tick off most of what this city has to offer, a walk along the Lake, play in the splash fountains, visit the Duomo and enjoy a lazy dinner. I guarantee you’ll want to return for longer. Read all about our trip to Como with kids here.
I also love the idea of the Bernina Express Train and the luxury resort of St Moritz. Get Your Guide offers a full day tour on the Red Bernina Express train, travelling through the beautiful Swiss Alps with a stop in the small border town of Tirano before heading to the Glitz and Glam of St Moritz. It’s just £70 for children and £117 for adults, make sure you book online before you go.
For photography lovers then a trip to the famous Cinque Terre region makes for a perfect day trip from Milan. Get Your Guide offers a full day tour which leaves Milan by luxury coach to the hillside town of Portovenere where you’ll board a boat to cruise along the coast, admiring all 5 villages from the sea. You’ll enjoy an afternoon train ride to Vernazzo or Manarola before heading back to Milan. It’s just £61 for children and £117 for adults, make sure you book online before you go.
We arrived into Milan by train having spent a week exploring Tuscany. The train was fast clean, and easy to find and Milan Central Station is absolutely beautiful.
You could also drive, however the streets of Milan are often super congested, the city is not that easy to navigate and hotels will charge extortionate fees for using their carparks.
Our hire car experience in Milan was not a great one. We didn’t actually use this car to explore the city but we picked one up near Milan Centrale Station, spent a week exploring Tuscany then my husband dropped us at the train station for us to head back to Milan whilst he dropped the car at the airport and headed home.
We ordered the car via a comparison engine, and even though we included that we would be returning the car to a different location we were stung with a huge fee on top at collection. We just paid it, too exhausted to argue and what other option did we have?!
On returning the car, clean, non scratched and on time, they tried to charge my husband another huge fee for leaving a takeaway coffee mug in the car. I cannot stress how important it is to book with a company you trust. Yes, it may be a little more expensive but in the long run it’s probably a lot cheaper (and less stressful).
If you fly into Milan then you’ll arrive into one of three international airports, Linate, Malpensa or Bergamo.
How to get to Milan Malpensa Airport
When you’re heading back to the airport for your return flight, by far the easiest way to get there is by train. We took the Malpensa Express from Milan central for just €13 and it took us just under an hour. It’s a little tricky to find, head to the furthest left of the platforms and carry on down the last platform you can reach, there should be signs to help.
Hop on the train, there should be 7 or 8 stops on your way, get off at the airport and a five minute walk will get you to bag drop.
I thought the whole set up of Malpensa airport was fantastic, they have book crossings where you can leave (or take) a book for the next traveler, lots of kid friendly areas and some great art work to make your visit a little more enjoyable. Even though we were there in the summer holidays, queues were bearable and everyone was friendly.
We walked, and walked and walked a bit more. When we’re visiting a new city I always like to explore by foot, I think it gives you a great feel for the place and familiarises you with the layout quickly. On our first day however we did a bit too much, around 20,000 steps in 35 degree heat.
On our second day of exploring we opted for the underground and found it so much easier. The underground layout is very simple, similar to most other major cities and we quickly worked out where we wanted to go. There’s only 4 colour coded lines so you’ll never get too lost!
Getting tickets was a little more complicated – you need to get them from the machines in the stations. Children under 10 travel free with a paying adult. Single tickets are €1.50 per trip, it’s well worth spending the €4.50 on a full day pass. Head to Introducing Milan for more info on the Metro.
When we visited in early August, the whole of Europe was going through a heat wave and exploring was almost unbearably hot. When we pulled our heavy suitcases across the road the wheels actually sunk into the melting tarmac! Milan is pretty well set up to deal with this, most hotels, shops and some restaurants will have air-conditioning. If they don’t you’ll probably find a fan spraying water to cool down. These became life savers on the day we explored Milan by foot.
Make sure you stay hydrated, take plenty of breaks, cover everyone in sun cream and listen to the kids, it may feel like they’re moaning but exploring in temperatures like this can very quickly lead to overheating and ruin the whole holiday.
Milan will start to cool down from September and winter temperatures drop to just above freezing and you may even experience some snow.
The super useful website Holiday-Weather has all the weather averages in Milan to help you plan your trip.
If you’re restricted by the school summer holidays then I would recommend Easter or the May bank holiday for your trip to Milan with kids, the weather should be just heating up but not to the heights of the summer months making it bearable for little ones. If you can pick and choose which month to visit then May or June would be my choice, the weather will be great and hotels will be slightly cheaper. Milan is however a major city so there will be crowds at the major attractions at any time of the year.I really don’t think you will need any more than 3 days to explore most of what the city has to offer. Add on a few extra days If you plan on doing some day trips.Milan is the only city I’ve ever been nearly pickpocketed in and considering some of the places we’ve visited are developing, poor and traditionally considered dangerous, that’s saying quite a lot. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t being my usual vigilant self, perhaps I was exhausted from weeks of train travel and pounding cities, perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention whatever the reason, I lost my faith in Milan in a clothes shop near our hotel.I was happily browsing with my daughter when she yelled “Mum, that lady has her hand in your backpack”. I immediately whipped round and off the lady went, whilst I was still in shock. Luckily she hadn’t taken anything but she had unzipped it and was clearly having a good rummage. Another lady confirmed what Piper saw and we were all a little shock up. I was fuming, my daughter shouldn’t have to protect me from petty thieves! But then I should have been paying attention, Milan is such a tourist hotspot it’s bound to be attractive to petty criminals.Remember folks, always wear your backpack on your front in crowded places, stay aware but there is no need to be scared.Apart from the food incident mentioned earlier, we found the rest of Milan to be pretty safe, the underground was great and most people were helpful.Flights from the UK to Milan are extremely cheap with several of the lowcost airlines servicing the route. We flew with Ryan Air for under £30 one way (Milan to East Midlands)Hotels in Milan cover pretty much all budgets, if you want the ultimate luxury then you can grab a 5 star like the NH Collection Milano President for as much as £400 per night.Our stay at the 4 star Hotel Galles Best Western cost £271 for three nights. Make sure you check out a comparison website like Trivago before booking you stay.Food and drink is pretty typical for a European city, you can get a nice meal and glass of wine for one for around £20. Apart from our one disastrous meal, we lived on snacks and pretty cheap food and just had a huge breakfast in the hotel. This kept our daily food budget to around £25 for two.Would I go back to Milan with my daughter?
I’m glad we visited, Milan is full of some great things to do and breath-taking buildings but it is very touristy and commercial which means that most of the places you’ll want to visit or stay or eat at will be crowded and overpriced. I think I was happier during our day trip to Como! I don’t think there’s any need to see the same things a second time so if we do return I think we’ll flip it and stay by the Lake for a few days and take a day trip to Milan.
If you’re looking for inspiration for Italian cities to visit then make sure you read my post on seven reasons to take the kids to Tuscany for some authentic and quieter Italian city break inspiration.
I also recommend a quick read of my post on my absolutely favourite Italian city to visit with kids – Everything you need to know about visiting Bologna with kids
Also follow our European Interrailing route if you’re hoping to show the kids some other fantastic European countries
If you’re planning a trip to Milan with kids then make sure you pin for later.
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