About a month ago I headed to Milan with my boyfriend for a few days of exploring, eating and drinking. My only experience of the city was a stop off at the train station about 17 years ago so it was essentially my first taste of Milan. I'd heard mixed reviews (some love it, some say it's not great for a city break) but it's safe to say I fell for it in the space of a few hours.
It's more cosmopolitan than say Rome or Florence but it's still full of history, culture and age-old Italian architecture sitting alongside modern and innovative design. In a word, it's a real mix (exactly what I love in a city) and definitely worth a visit; here are my highlights.
Where to Stay
We stayed in the Navigli district in a great little Airbnb apartment. Canals run through the neighbourhood with bars, pizzerias and trattorias lining them, locals spilling out on to the cobbled streets. It was the perfect place for us - we'd spend the day exploring (mainly by foot - everything was really accessible) and then head back for aperitivo and long, late dinners.
Where to Eat
We tried out a few places around where we stayed (honestly I can't remember what they were called) but everything was incredible, as it always is in Italy. The good thing about Navigli is the restaurants are all pretty cheap (approx. 8-9 euros for a main) plus all of the bars do aperitivo, where you can get a drink and a free dish of food to go with it.
What to Do
We did all of the touristy things - Duomo (worth the wait - make sure you go up to the roof), museums, shopping...but the best thing to do is simply walk around the various neighbourhoods and soaking it all in. There are little gems dotted around the city so ditch the guidebook and let your feet be your guide.
Where to Shop
Let's face it, one of the main reasons to head to Milan is to shop. There's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with the original Prada (go purely for the incredible architecture) and Brera which is full of upmarket boutiques. All around the Duomo you've got the usual high street suspects (COS, Zara, H&M, & Other Stories) but the best places to go are the independents. Go to Corso di Porta Ticinese (on the way from Navigli to central Milan) for shops like Edwin, Frip and Dictionary, plus little coffee shops and gelateria.
I could spend the whole day on that street alone, but another place not to miss is 10 Corso Como. In the north of the city, it's a small concept store that sells established labels and niche designers amid a leafy courtyard cafe. The prices aren't cheap but it's a beautiful store so well worth the trip.