Northern Italy, home to Venice and Milan is a world away from our typical mountain lifestyle. And yet being only a few hours away from our base in the Alps, inquisitiveness finally got the better of us.
Milan, less than 3 hours door to door was our destination. Milan with kids? The capital of fashion? Think again, surely? Especially Milan with my kids, who are not particularly city savvy. Well, we had a ball! There is loads to do in Milan with kids!
Actually Milan is surprisingly rather family friendly with kids travelling free on public transport and a great park right in the city centre.
There are some amazing stays in Milan. We stayed in a beautiful Airbnb apartment we found in central Milan in an ancient quadrangle with resident tortoise, AND vast amounts of gelato, our girls just didn’t want to leave!
If you want to really get into the Italian vibe before leaving, check out the best movies about Italy here.
Here are our 5 reasons to go to Milan with kids
1. Milan is a relatively small city and easy to get around on foot.
Most streets in Milan radiate off the most famous sight in town – the Duomo. The 5th largest cathedral in the world, the Duomo (meaning ‘cathedral’ in Italian) is smack in the middle of the Milan and definitely THE first place to visit during your stay.
The Piazzia du Duomo is a buzzing throng of activity rammed with tourists, hawkers, polizia and pigeons! And the perfect place to eat gelato!
We rocked up early and queued for tickets for the Duomo rooftop which the kids loved and gave us magnificent views over the city. The Duomo rooftop is more expensive than just viewing the cathedral but definitely worth it, especially if you’re in Milan with kids.
Get the kids to try to spot the mysterious ‘dinosaur’ carving near the front doors and don’t miss visiting the catacombs below!
The Duomo has now re-opened since Covid 19 with vigorous precautions in place. Note that with the one way system now in place, the descent from the rooftops is now via the stairs. The Crypt of St Charles is currently closed. Tickets are recommended to be bought online to avoid queues, need to state a start time for a valid time slot and single entry is valid for 3 days.
Milan Duomo prices 2020
You can buy separate tickets to just the cathedral (yes you do have to pay to go inside) or just the rooftops. However, most visitors choose to do both so you can buy a variety of combined tickets which will give you a better price.
Duomo Cathedral only €3.00 adult / €2.00 children 6-11 (<5 free)
Duomo rooftops – fast track via lift €23.00/€12.00 / lift €14.00/€7.00 / Stairs €10.00/€5.00
Duomo pass lift €17/€9
Duomo pass stairs €13/€7
Duomo pass fast track €25/€13
Top tips for visiting Milan’s Duomo:
1. Get there early to get tickets to avoid the queue or pre-book tickets.
2. Go up the rooftop first, the queues will be shorter and you’ll climb down into the cathedral anyway.
3. Dress relatively conservatively to visit otherwise you may have to pay €2.50 for a thin kimono to cover yourself (shoulders or short shorts)
2. Watch a children’s opera at the world famous Scala Opera house for €1.00!
Milan is home to the Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous masterpiece ‘The Last Supper’ which we would have loved to have seen. Tickets need to be bought though months in advance so on this visit it wasn’t an option and I’m not too sure how interested our kids would have been.
If you’re visiting Milan with kids and want a truly Italian experience, try to plan your visit when the world famous La Scala Opera perform one of their children’s operas! We were thrilled to bag tickets.
La Scala put on two opera shows and five concerts a year specifically for children. One is always at over Christmas. Check upcoming shows on La Scala website where you can book tickets in advance.
Beware tickets sell out fast for these gold dust shows so look at the schedule months ahead and even plan your visit to Milan around this very special experience for your children.
Our tip is to sign up online to La Scala’s newsletter which will give advance notice of performances. And yes children’s tickets are only 1 euro!
The performance, sung in Italian to Mozart, was outstanding. The girls were spellbound at their first taste of opera!
Note: Covid 19 may have affected whether performances are currently being shown.
3. Geek out at the amazing Museum of Science & Technology
The Museum of Science and Technology in Milan is the largest of its kind in Italy and is a great place to go if you’re visiting Milan with kids.
With loads of interactive exhibits and workshops, the museum is super kid friendly.
On our visit the museum had a transformer exhibit in the gardens (the kids loved this!) as well as assembling lego robots, nerding out on particle physics and exploring the space exhibit.
This museum is so vast you could lose yourself inside for days.
Note: the museum is now open following Covid but only on Thursday between 3-9pm and Sat/Sun from 10am – 7pm. Booking advance essential.
4. Get on a tram! The best way for getting around Milan
The tram system in Milan is definitely the best way to get around the city! The trams are exceedingly easy to use & kids travel for free. No 16 takes you all over the city with the Duomo & gallery shopping centre at one end and San Siro football stadium at the other.
It’s a simple thing to do when you’re in Milan with kids. The kids loved it. In fact, we realised they’d never been on a tram before.
Top tips for getting the tram in Milan:
- Do not get on the tram without a ticket, even if the driver beckons you on. You absolutely need a ticket BEFORE you get on the tram. You cannot pay the driver. There are many ticket inspectors around and you will be fined €36 if you do not have a ticket or if you have not validated your ticket onboard.
- Don’t forget to validate your tram ticket when you get onboard. It’s easy to do – just pop it in the ticket machine and it puts a code on your ticke.
- Get a 3 day pass which allows you to hop & off free
We LOVED all the Italian transport. Italy oozes style but it’s not the legions of boutiques or fashionistas that have us hooked – it’s the stylish vehicles! Piaggio’s, classic trams and vespas all brought a smile to our faces, although we surprisingly didn’t find our favourite – the classic Fiat 500.
5. Milan’s Architecture
Milan and fashion are synonymous. But architecture?
We were blown away by how simply stunning the architecture is. A mash up of ancient Rome, renaissance, gothic and neoclassical architecture, Milan is a wonder to wander around.
Gaze up at elaborate facades, symmetrical stone pillars and elegant arches. Divert along many of the city’s side streets and you’ll find imposingly high buildings punctuated with grand giant sized gates. Occasionally we’d spot one open and spy inside. We were surprised to see quadrangles, lush and green. Each one a tranquil oasis inside the hustle and bustle of the city.
We stayed at an amazing airbnb right in the middle of the old city backing onto a wonderful quadrangle complete with a resident tortoise. As you can imagine, coming home after a day’s sightseeing the girls loved chilling out here. It really made our stay.
Getting to Milan:
Driving in Italy can be stressful. We drove to Milan but didn’t fancy facing the inner city traffic so parked at the secure airport parking and took the train in. It was easy and we’d highly recommend this to make your visit super stress free.