Milan for Art Lovers

By Viator, August 2015

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While many people use Milan as a gateway to Italy, most don’t spend much time in the city. That’s a shame, because although Milan doesn’t look as quaint or charming as those hilltop villages in Tuscany you’ve been dreaming of, this center of banking and fashion has plenty to offer the visitor - especially if you love art.

Milan was ruled for many years by families such as the Visconti and the Sforza, both of which did what ruling families often did - they patronized fashionable artists of their eras. This meant Milan became a major Italian center for art starting in the 14th century. Leonardo da Vinci (who is usually more closely associated with his native Tuscany) lived and worked in Milan for nearly 20 years - during which time he painted one of the most famous frescoes in all of Italy.

Today, there are several art museums and attractions in Milan worth checking out, spanning several centuries and styles. Here are a few of the art highlights of a visit to Milan.

  • The Last Supper - Leonardo’s masterpiece is a must-see in Milan, there’s no question about it. The trouble is that last-minute planning means you’ll probably miss out. Tickets are sold out months in advance sometimes, and a visit lasts only a very strictly timed 15 minutes - so you need to plan ahead or book a guided tour of Milan that includes a visit to The Last Supper. The latter is an especially good idea if you’ve got limited time in the city.
  • Duomo - Milan’s many-spired cathedral is fairly sparse-looking inside, but the architecture is a fine example of the Gothic period. A visit inside the cathedral is free (viewing the city from its rooftop is not free, but totally worth it on a clear day).
  • Pinacoteca di Brera - If you’ve only got time for one art museum in Milan, make it the Pinacoteca di Brera. It’s home to one of the best collections of Italian painting you’ll find anywhere, including work by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Bramante, Bellini, and Piero della Francesca. Other (non-Italian) highlights include work by Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso, Hayez, and Mantegna.
  • Triennale Design Museum - Fans of design will definitely want to stop into the Triennale in the Parco Sempione. The museum chronicles the history of contemporary Italian design, and although many of the items on display are household goods or other things meant to be used, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s art.
  • Museum of the 20th Century - As the name suggests, this museum (Museo del Novecento in Italian) is all about the 20th century, and features both Italian and non-Italian art. You’ll find work by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Modigliani, and Kandinskij, among others.
  • Galleria d'Arte Moderna - The eras depicted at Milan’s “Modern Art Gallery” are historic now. This is where you’ll see paintings from the 18th-20th centuries, featuring artists such as Manet, van Gogh, and Gauguin.
Milan has a tendency to seem less picturesque to visitors than some other Italian cities, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let a guide show you around Milan and you’ll not only get to see some of the masterpieces in the city’s museums, you’ll also learn to appreciate other artistic aspects of the city - such as the world-famous La Scala opera house (even if you don’t see a show), the mini-museums inside the historic Castello Sforzesco, and Leonardo da Vinci’s enormous horse statue near the San Siro soccer stadium.

Let other people buzz through Milan without learning to see its artistic side - but don’t miss out on that yourself.

Tours & Tickets

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Milan Half-Day Sightseeing Tour with da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'

4.5 star rating: Recommended 3295 Reviews

Discover Milan and see da Vinci’s masterpiece, 'The Last Supper,' on this 3.5-hour tour. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Santa Maria delle Grazie ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $84.83

Skip the Line: Leonardo da Vinci Walking Tour of Milan Including 'The Last Supper' Ticket

4.5 star rating: Recommended 212 Reviews

Get up close to one of the world’s most famous paintings on this 3-hour walking tour of Milan including a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper.’ With ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $78.05

Milan Art Tour: Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' and the Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

4.5 star rating: Recommended 113 Reviews

Discover some of Milan’s greatest artistic treasures on this 2-hour walking tour. Enjoy skip-the-line entrance to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $67.87

La Scala Theatre and Museum Tour in Milan

4 star rating: Recommended 139 Reviews

Opera fans and theater lovers, this is the perfect Milan activity for you and an experience you’ll never forget! Join this La Scala Theatre and museum tour for ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $32.80

Private Tour: Milan Walking Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 18 Reviews

Walk the streets of Milan with your English speaking guide and discover many of the monuments and museums Milan has to see on this Private walking Tour.

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $90.49

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus Admission in Milan

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 21 Reviews

See Leonardo da Vinci’s largest collection of original drawings at the incredible Codex Atlanticus exhibit in Milan. Spread over the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 30 mins - 1.5 hours

From USD $18.66

Pinacoteca di Brera Art Gallery Tour

Explore one of Italy’s finest art collections, housed in Milan’s stunning Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, during this 2-hour small-group tour. With a ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $50.90

Private Tour: Grand Designs of Milan

3 star rating: Worth doing 2 Reviews

Passionate about Italian design? Combine traditional with modern design influences as you seek inspiration from museums, galleries, hotels and monuments ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $111.70

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