When you think about top cities to go to with kids, Milan wouldn’t necessarily be up there. However, it’s quite flat with lots of smooth pavements and accessible things to see. So if you want a city break that you can take kids in a pushchair along to, then Milan could be a good place to visit.
Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)
Tickets and entry
The Milan Cathedral is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, so it’s a definite ‘must see’ if you’re visiting Milan.
This gothic cathedral was started in 1386 but not finished until 1965 – 6 centuries later. You can get audio guides with your ticket or inside the cathedral, which is worth doing – there’s a lot of interesting history here.
You can get get tickets either online beforehand or at a booth round the corner when you’re there. Tickets cost around 13 euros to see the cathedral and take the stairs to the roof, 17 to take the lift and 6 extra for an audio guide.
You’ll be fine with a pushchair on ground level. They even let me skip the queue because I had a baby.
Inside Milan Cathedral
Inside you’ll find huge archways and columns, as well as truly beautiful stained glass windows. The walls are decorated with sculptures too and there’s a very impressive organ to look at.
It’s also worth going down to the crypt, which has smaller versions of the arches and sculpture above.
The roof is accessible by either staircase or lift, but even with the lift it’s tough with a pushchair. You have to fold it to go up in the lift and once you’re up there (we got ours out when we arrived at the top and were quickly told by attendants to put it away).
There are a lot of narrow staircases on the roof, which often have people queueing to go the opposite direction. I found it quite difficult to navigate all the passages with my baby in a wrap and carrying his pushchair. There was nowhere obvious downstairs to leave it, either.
Saying that, if you can manage it it’s well worth going up there. As well as being the biggest church in Italy, Milan Cathedral is also incredibly ornate. You can get right up close to all those gothic decorative elements and roof sculptures.
How to find the lift and staircase at Milan Cathedral
Both the lift and staircase are outside the main cathedral. If you’re facing the front of the cathedral the lift is at about 10 o clock and the stairs at about 8 o clock.
Sforza Castle in Milan ( Castello Sforzesco)
This 15th century castle will definitely be a favourite with the little gamers in your party. I’m pretty sure it must’ve been used as inspiration for parts of Assassin’s Creed – those towers are just begging to be climbed.
The castle itself is one of the largest citadels in Europe and I can tell you – it’s huge!
You enter via a drawbridge (fun!) and come into an enourmous courtyard. There are various art displays and collections houses inside the walls.
If it’s hot I’d recommend going to one of these – it’s air conditioned inside and gives a nice respite from the heat.
It is worth doing some research beforehand about what you want to see as some of the collections are by appointment only and others can be difficult to find.
Next to Milan Castle, there’s a huge park called the Parco Sempione.
Here you’ll find lawns, trees, sculpture and ponds with ducks, geese and even turtles. If you walk through it from the castle you can get to the Arch of peace.
There are plenty of food and drink stands too. We spent a lovely couple of hours cooling off after the castle, having a picnic and a walk around in the shade of the trees.
Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace)
If you walk through the Milan Castle and Parco Sempione you can get to the Arch of Peace.
Built between 1807-1838 by architect Luigi Cagnola, the arch is decorated with columns, sculpture and friezes on a variety of subjects.
Orto Botanico di Brera
These gardens are maintained by the university. You can see a variety of different plants, some of them rare.
It offered a nice respite from the Milan sun, but I wouldn’t recommend going too out of your way for this one. It was a tad overgrown in places. Worth visiting if you’re in the area and need some greenery or a picnic spot though.
I’d feel lax doing a post about Milan without mentioning the shopping.
There are, of course, all the designer label shops as well as a number of high street brands. In Milan the designer shops are all centred around one area called the Quadrilatero d’Oro (‘rectangle of gold’).
Here’s a good article about all the best places to go for different types of shop:http://www.timeout.com/milan/
Street music in Milan
This was a lovely element of being in Milan that I hadn’t anticipated. It seemed as if every corner I went round presented a new artist playing classical music.
I know my 2 year old is always mesmerised by street performers, so you could do worse than walking around, taking in the sights and enjoying the music.
Milan Lego store
And, last but not least, there’s the Milan Lego store.
If your child is getting bored, then you can always stop in and enjoy the air conditioning. They have a model of the Milan Cathedral as well as many other Lego set models. There’s also an area to build, as well as a palm reading ‘what mini fig are you’ machine.
Remember to pick up a free Lego catalogue. They make a great toy/souvenir for your kids.