Thanks to international events like Fashion Week and Design Week, Milan has recently become a popular destination in Italy – and a very Instagrammable one too! So much so, you may have noticed hashtags like #Milan and #visitMilan popping up on your feed. Now, do you want to snap that perfect Italian holiday photo too? Then this is the article for you.
In this list, you’ll come across unique gems, such as secret libraries, roof terraces, and spectacular corners in the city center. To help you plan your day, I also added a map with geo-localized pins at the end of the article that will help you find the most Instagrammable places in Milan.
So, without further ado, here are the 10+ best photo spots in Milan you cannot miss, from notorious must-see sights to the most underrated ones.
1) VITTORIO EMANUELE II GALLERY – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM MARCHESI PASTRY SHOP
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is perhaps the most iconic sight in Milan after the Duomo Cathedral – and definitely one of the most photographed. Here you’ll find aesthetic shots pretty much at every angle, but if you want to get a more interesting one head to Marchesi 1824 pastry shop. Located right inside the Galleria, this cute cafè has huge windows overlooking the stores, and its elevated position allows you to capture even more beauty. Besides, you’re in Italy, which technically means it’s always espresso o’clock.
2) DUOMO CATHEDRAL – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE ROOFTOP
The image of the Duomo as seen from the public square in front of it is the most recognizable one of Milan. For this reason, I thought adding that particular photo spot to this list was unnecessary. Instead, I’d like to suggest an additional one which is just as gorgeous: the rooftop of Duomo cathedral. You can (and should, to avoid the crowds) purchase your ticket to visit both the Cathedral and its rooftop from the official website. You’ll be rewarded with a close encounter with the intricated decorations of the Cathedral, a stunning perspective on Piazza Duomo, and plenty of photo opportunities!
3) BRERA DISTRICT – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM NEARLY EVERY ANGLE
This is not only my favorite district in Milan, but is also the one I currently live in, so I may be biased. But oh boy, if you’re visiting Brera for the first time you’re in for a treat!
With cobblestone streets paving the way to art galleries, trendy boutiques, and aesthetic cafès and restaurants, Brera is the city’s official art district. In the ’60s, several Italian painters and sculptors made their mark with new forms here, joining the famous Pinacoteca. You can then imagine why this district is one of the most Instagrammable places in all of Milan!
As photographic proof, the above pictures were shot in 1) Via Fiori Chiari 2) Via Marco Formentini Piazza 3) via Madonnina and 4) Piazza del Carmine.
4) PINACOTECA DI BRERA – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE ENTRANCE HALL
When in Brera, you simply must pay a visit to the beautiful Pinacoteca. Not only is the building that hosts the museum gorgeous per se, but the permanent exhibition shows off many masterpieces of Italian and foreign art from the 13th to the 20th century. Romantics visiting la Pinatoceca di Brera will want to see, and probably photograph, Francesco Hayez’s famous painting The Kiss.
While you’re at it, you may want to stop for another espresso at caffè Fernanda, the stylish cafè located in the entrance hall.
5) BRAIDENSE NATIONAL LIBRARY
Within the walls of the Palazzo di Brera, on the same floor as the Pinacoteca, you’ll find the beautiful Biblioteca Braidense, a national public library. Built in 1770 and open to the public only 100 years later, this place is somehow still considered a hidden gem – surprisingly, even some locals don’t know about it!
You can visit this library for some quiet time after exploring the Pinacoteca, to read your favorite novel and take some pictures of the beautiful interiors.
6) SFORZESCO CASTLE – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE FOUNTAIN
Most people just pass through its beautiful courtyards on their way to Sempione Park, but did you know this 15th-century castle houses 9 museums? Masterpieces within the permanent collection include Michelangelo’s unfinished final marble work, Pietà Rondanini, and frescoes by Bramante and Da Vinci.
Sforza Castle’s entrance is preceded by a vast pedestrian area and a magnificent fountain – people here call it the wedding cake, from the shape created by the jets of water. The main gate is also crowned by an elaborate multi-tiered tower that reaches almost 71 meters in height. The overall result is majestic (and hella Instagrammable), which is why this particular location is considered one of the best photo spots in Milan.
7) SEMPIONE PARK – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE POND OVERLOOKING THE CASTLE
Sempione Park is a large public park in Milan that sits right between the Sforza Castle and the Arch of Peace. The park features several permanent structures, including a small stadium, the Civic Aquarium, and the Triennale di Milano. The latter is a design and art museum with a beautiful rooftop bar which I highly recommend visiting for a drink.
Inside Sempione Park, visitors can admire a vast collection of vegetation, and cute ducks can be spotted in the fenced pond. This particular viewpoint is one of the most photogenic in the area: the trees reflected in the still water of the sunlit pond, the ducks and turtles swimming around, and finally, the Sforza Castle sitting in the background make for an extra Instagram-worthy photo.
8) ARCO DELLA PACE / ARCH OF PEACE – PHOTOGRAPHED FROM SEMPIONE SQUARE
Echoing Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, the Arch of Peace in Milan marks the end of Sempione park and the start of Corso Sempione, a lively neighborhood known for its array of dining options. The Arco della Pace is one of the city’s greatest examples of neoclassical architecture and features bas-reliefs, Corinthian columns, and statues made up of marble and bronze.
I believe this is one of the most beautiful, yet off-the-beaten-path, pieces of Milan’s architecture. It certainly makes for a great photo backdrop!
9) PIAZZA AFFARI AND CATTELAN’S SCULPTURE L.O.V.E
If you stroll into Milan’s Piazza degli Affari, you are bound to be surprised by a shocking sight: a 7 meters high marble sculpture of a hand giving its observers the middle finger. The sculpture sits right in front of Palazzo Mezzanotte, the Italian stock exchange building. To many people, it seems to flip it off.
The sculpture’s name is L.O.V.E., and was commissioned to the artist Maurizio Cattelan after 2008 when the economic crisis struck Italy. Cattelan has never spilled the tea on the actual meaning, but one can only imagine that the sculpture is sending a giant ‘F you’ to the financial world. The sculpture was left untouched until March 2021, when the nail was painted in pink on International Women’s Day by street artist Ivan Tresoldi.
L.O.V.E. is not far from the city center and yet it remains unknown to most tourists. Whatever your interests, I think it makes for a fun (and Instagrammable) stop!
10) NAVIGLI CANALS – PHOTOGRAPHED DURING SUNSET
I Navigli – literally, “the canals” – are waterways that run through Milan and once connected the city with lake Como, lake Maggiore and even Switzerland. Today, the same name is used to refer to the district where Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese are located, an area that is indelibly associated with nightlife.
The Naviglio Grande, the most scenic of all, runs for 50km, most of which are filled with cafés, restaurants, and pubs. To get that perfect Instagram shot, look for the Vicolo dei Lavandai (Laundrymen’s Alley), the Cortile degli Artisti (Artists’ Courtyard) and San Cristoforo Church. Afterwards, you can end your perfect day in Milan with an excellent aperitivo.
11) INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES NEAR MILAN? VISIT LAKE COMO ON A DAY-TRIP!
If you have an extra day to spend in Milan and you feel like you’ve covered all the basics, I highly suggest adding a day trip to lake Como to your itinerary. Varenna, a picturesque town located in a central and strategic position on the shores of Lake Como, is only a 1-hour train ride away from Milan Central station. This place is so incredibly charming and scenic you won’t be able to stop taking pictures – every corner is basically a photo waiting to happen!
Check out this article for tips on visiting lake Como from Milan.
BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN MILAN: MAP
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