Milan’s reputation for being budget-friendly is practically non-existant. While some parts of Italy may offer low season deals, Milan doesn’t exactly fit into that category. Milan on a budget? It’s possible, so here’s our selection of free things to do and see in and around Milan.
Milan is the banking and business centre of Italy, so it’s no wonder that prices tend to be higher than other tourist destinations in Italy. But that shouldn’t stop the cash-strapped traveller from adding this gorgeous city to the must-sees of Italy. After all, there’s more to experience in Italy than just Rome, Florence and Venice. If you love fashion, street style, crazy-beautiful architecture and window shopping at the most luxurious couture shops… have we got the city for you!
City sights that are always free
Milan Duomo – The city’s iconic cathedral is always free to visit. The only thing that does cost money to visit is the treasury, €1. Not bad and if it’s a particularly hot day, the cathedral is a cool and dark place to cool off.
Castello Sforzesco – Milan’s old castle now houses a fine selection of art galleries and museums. These generally charge admission to enter but the castle grounds are free to roam as you like.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – This gallery houses some of the city’s most expensive shops and is located next to the Duomo. The architecture in this arcade is really something impressive and there is no harm in perusing the new season selections in Prada while you’re at it.
Leonardo’s horse – Leonardo da Vinci has a special place in Milan’s heart. You’ll certainly have to dish out if you want to see the “Last Supper” but here’s a great alternative: the world’s largest bronze horse sculpture. It is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century designs.
Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte Museum – This gorgeous villa was once the home of Napoleon and his family, hence the name, but now houses a museum with a fine collection of 18th and 19th century paintings. It is free to visit.
Palazzo Reale – The “Royal Palace” was once the seat of the city’s government but part of it was destroyed to make room for the Duomo next door. Today the building houses the tourist information office (handy to know if you’re after a free city map) and the palace museum, which is free to visit.
Free museums after 2pm on Fridays
Some museums which usually charge entry are generally free on Fridays after 2pm, though this is not a rule. Some have their own designated free dates and times but if you’re after something to do on a Friday afternoon these museums won’t cost a thing:
- Museum of the Unification
- Natural History Museum
- Archaeological Museum
- Castello Sforzesco museums and galleries
Experiences that don’t cost a penny
Spin on the bull’s balls – Ahem, what? You heard us right. In the Galleria you’ll find four mosaic shields on the ground. One of them depicts a dancing bull and legend has it that it’s good luck to spin on your heel on the bull’s balls. Not sure how it’s done? Check this out…
Window shop – It’s not as much fun as actually shopping but who really needs a €999 handbag? Really? Milan’s most expensive shopping district is the Quadrilatero d’Oro. Probably the best part of window shopping in Milan is actually people-watching, that creepy thing that has become so fashionable since The Sartorialist launched. Check out what the people are wearing in this city! The streets are a living cat walk.
Been to Milan? Share your favourite things to do and see in this city that are free!
Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.