From charming streets filled with vintage treasures to art galleries that rival The Met, you'll want to add this city to the top of your list.
Welcome to The Weekender, Coveteur’s travel series where seasoned globetrotters share their insider guides to top destinations across the world. Read on for the best spots to eat, stay, and enjoy.
Milan tends to fall further down on the roster when it comes to Italian vacation spots. It lacks the ancient history of Rome’s ruins and the picturesque waterways of Venice—and by consequence often plays the role of a quick pit stop en route to more Instagrammable coastlines. Many might even tell you to skip Milan altogether. With all of this in mind, I figured the best way to suss out the skepticism surrounding the design hub of Italy was with a few days of uninterrupted exploration. The verdict? Don’t sleep on Milan.
One of the easiest ways to sell me on spontaneous travel is with efficiency. Throw in the word "comfortable," and I'm immediately on board—literally. This past April, boutique airline La Compagnie launched business-class-only routes to and from Milan. No more time spent bumping legs with your neighbors (though often used as an incentive to spend a little extra on the Prada bag awaiting me on the ground) with affordable and *changeable* roundtrip tickets available at the ready. Every seat turns into a flat bed and has a glass of Champagne awaiting you on board, so I recommend booking a ticket ASAP if you'd like to arrive even fresher than you were before boarding the plane.
The piazza in front of Milan's iconic Duomo. Get there early if you want to avoid the crowds (and the pigeons); Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
La Compagnie's chic flat-bed seats extending all the way to the back of the plane.
Where to Stay
Galleria Vik Milano
One of the hotel’s Grand Terrace Rooms, completely covered with work from contemporary painter Fernando López Lage; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
A view of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, taken from the balcony of a room in Galleria Vik Milano.
A room with paintings by Vicky Barranguet, a Uruguayan abstract expressionist.
While the city is overflowing with accommodations that are more than up to par, the newly opened Galleria Vik Milano wins not only for its location but for its aesthetic as well. With 90 rooms and suites designed by different artists, the quirky and eclectic atmosphere of the hotel is a major additive in experiencing the aesthetically driven nature of Milan. The hotel is located inside one of Milan’s most iconic landmarks: the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Book a room overlooking the inside of the Galleria, just a stone’s throw from the city’s impressive Duomo and complete with an A+ view of tourists and locals alike. Better yet, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the first-ever Prada store just outside your window.
What to Do
Shop Around the Brera Neighborhood
The selection at Cavalli e Nastri, which has two other locations in the city; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
A work station at family-owned Laboratorio Paravicini, where every piece is painted by hand.
Inside Madame Pauline Vintage, a must-go if you're looking for a special something for your next event.
Erase the picture of an industrial city booming with business that you’ve likely had in your head, and replace it with a combination of the charming streets of Paris and the lush greenery of Mexico City. Small cobblestoned streets packed with specialty design shops and mouth-watering charcuterie kept me wandering around the city all day long, so be sure to set aside some time to just get lost.
While there are countless sartorial holes-in-the-wall and leather goods shops that pulled hard on my purse strings, it's really all about the vintage. I've actually already considered booking a return trip solely to hunt for more vintage treasures. In the Brera neighborhood, you’ll find the city’s finest: Vintage Delirium, Madame Pauline Vintage, and Cavalli e Nastri, all piled high with your favorite Italians from Fendi to Versace. When your closet can’t take anymore new additions, be sure to swing by Laboratorio Paravicini for hand-painted ceramics that will have you re-thinking your wedding china. Jeweler Ippolita also opened a flagship store nearby, and the art and architecture inside rival the jewels themselves.
Tour Villa Necchi Campiglio
The bay windows of Villa Necchi Campiglio; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
An inside view of the iconic green sitting room.
The lavish landscaping and pool outside the villa.
For my fellow design buffs, you won’t want to miss Villa Necchi Campiglio—a well-preserved, architecturally stunning chateau and one of four house museums preserved by the FAI foundation (all worth visiting if you have the time). Take one of the daily self-guided tours and wander the grounds of the house and all three of its immaculately designed floors for a taste of old-school, upper-class Italian living. Be sure to stop by the charming café for lunch or an aperitif after your tour, where you’ll spot everyone from Italian businessmen to chic Milanese city dwellers.
Visit Fondazione Prada
The gilded entrance to Fondazione Prada; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
Inside Bar Luce, the cafe designed by Wes Anderson.
One of the buildings in the architectural complex of Fondazione Prada.
The infamous Fondazione Prada sits just outside the city center. It's an art experience you won’t forget, with over 10 buildings in a complex designed by Miuccia Prada herself. There may not be Prada swag in the gift shop, but the art is worth seeing nonetheless. After allowing yourself some time to wander through the various exhibits, be sure to stop in the Wes Anderson–designed Bar Luce for a coffee on your way out.
Where to Eat & Drink
The rose-covered walls lined with paintings from various local artists; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
Prosciutto so good it doesn't need a side.
One of the cozy corners inside the restaurant.
If you're looking for a low-key dinner, La Latteria is as authentic as it gets. Plan to get there early (or very late) as there are only eight tables, and you’ll likely be the only non-local dining in. Walls are lined with paintings of roses by various local artists that give an added Italian charm. Be sure to order the prosciutto and their pasta special.
Cantina della Vetra
Some of the best traditional Milanese risotto in town; Photos: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
The epitome of charming architecture in Milan.
Don't fill up on pasta—you'll want to save room for the mains.
In a city known for their risotto, Milan’s Cantina della Vetra has some of the best in town. The charming atmosphere and friendly waitstaff make for an unforgettable meal—and the food is just an added bonus. Head here on one of your first nights in town for a real taste of the city.
The charming building makes an ideal setting for any meal; Photo: Courtesy of Ratana
The infamous Bosco Verticale, a residential building with over 900 trees; Photo: Getty Images
Mouth-watering ricotta ravioli; Photo: Courtesy of Porter Simmons
Ratana is a great spot to head to for lunch if you're looking to explore outside the city center. The place is packed with posh locals and important business meetings—and a whole lot of wine. The people-watching is hard to beat, but the pasta manages to outshine the rest. It's also next to the infamous Bosco Verticale, a residential building with over 900 trees that has definitely graced your Instagram feed.