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Boy walking toward a submarine on display at Milan's Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci Museum.

Milan with Kids – Our Guide to Planning Your Family’s 2023 Trip

Milan, in Italy’s Lombardy region, probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you’re planning your family trip to Italy.  After all, it doesn’t have the same draw as famously kid-friendly destinations like Venice, Rome, and Florence

But, Italy’s fashion capital is full of unique neighborhoods, worthwhile sites, incredible museums, and plenty of playgrounds. 

You just need to determine if a visit to Milan fits your family.

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Should You Visit Milan with Kids?

Boy exploring a map for the blind in Milan, Italy.

You should visit Milan with your children if:

You’re Traveling with Older Kids or Babies

A trip to Milan is best for older kids or babies.  It’s a little more challenging with preschool-age kids, as the distances between things to do are far, and it’s big, crowded, and noisy.  Babies will be happy to do whatever you do, and there are plenty of baby-friendly places to relax (cafes, restaurants, Chicco, museums, etc).

Milan is Your Italy Entry or Exit Point

If you’re flying into Milan to start your Italy trip, you could spend a day or two in the city for while you and your kids adjust to jetlag.  Likewise, if you’re flying out of one of Milan’s airports, you could spend a day (or even half a day) in the city with your kids.

You Have a Fashionista

If one of your kids loves fashion, you should definitely spend some time in Milan exploring the main shopping areas (more below).  See the latest trends, enjoy people-watching and pick up something special for back home!

You Don’t Mind Using Public Transport

If your kids enjoy the adventure of using public transport (especially the underground), you’ll have fun in Milan.  You’ll also do a lot of walking in the city.  Whenever our family visits Milan, I always finish the day with tired legs (from walking) and an empty bottle of hand sanitizer (from all our time on public transport).

We also really appreciate Milan for:

  • the variety of activities for kids
  • its plentiful rainy-day activities
  • the availability of baby supplies (diapers, medicine, formula, etc.)

Skip a trip to Milan if:

  • you’d have to go out of your way to visit and you don’t have a specific reason for a visit (you really want to see the Last Supper, your daughter wants to study fashion, etc.)
  • you don’t enjoy visiting large cities with your kids
  • you have a small child that likes to run – Milan is very crowded and busy

When to Visit Milan with Kids

You can visit Milan year-round.  Even if it’s cold outside or you happen to catch some rain, it’s not a big deal – Milan has plenty of indoor activities for kids.

April, May, June (early), September, and October are our favorite months to visit.

Summer months of June (later), July, and August are hot and crowded.

Helpful Tip:  Although September in Milan is lovely, I recommend avoiding a visit during Fashion Week.  Hotels book up and the event brings big crowds to the city. 

Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February

Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in October

Italy in November
Italy in December

Best Things to do with Kids in Milan

Explore the Museum of Science and Technology – Leonardo da Vinci

Planes and boats inside Milan, Italy's Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci.

The museum’s name is a mouthful, but don’t let that deter you from visiting.  Exploring this museum is our favorite thing to do with kids in Milan and it’s a lot of fun for adults too!  What makes it special compared to other science museums around the world?  I can’t tear my kids away from the interactive space exploration section, the airplanes, or the outdoor area with the submarine! 

The museum’s exhibits are labeled well, there are toilets with changing areas, and there’s a picnic area.  The museum is enormous, and you could easily spend all day there, but there are routes designed by age group that help give direction to your visit. 

You can’t bring a stroller everywhere (there are some stairs), but there are designated stroller routes.

Don’t miss this Science and Technology Museum if you bring your kids to Milan!

Read our Quick Guide to Visiting the Milan Science Museum with Kids!

Go Shopping

Whether you’re window shopping or actually making purchases, it’s fun to stroll along some of Milan’s main shopping streets.  We love the ‘main drag’ by the Duomo – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.  You’ll also find all the major Italian luxury brands (often with creative window displays) on either Via Monte Napoleone or Corso Venezia.  More shopping streets to check out – Corso Buenos Aires, Via Torino, and Corso di Porta Ticinese.

Good To Know:  If you stroll Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, look for the 3D Map of Milan for the Blind. 

Check Out Parco Sempione

Milan’s largest park is a nice break from the city streets.  It’s huge, but we usually just head straight for the playground (on the northern edge of the park), and the kids prefer to spend time here and running around.  You can also:

  • take the elevator up to the top of the Torre Branca (Branca Tower)
  • explore the Sforzesco Castle (more below)
  • visit the Museum of Art and Science (the detecting real vs. fake art is especially interesting for older kids and teens) on the edge of the park

Good To Know:  There is a tiny aquarium in the park, but in our opinion, there are better things to do with your time in Milan.

Helpful Tip:  If you need help finding the playground, you can ask, “Dov’è il parco giochi per i bimbi?” Where’s the children’s playground?

Admire the Castello Sforzesco (Sforzesco Castle)

Milan’s castle (original structure from the 1300s) is in the Parco Sempione, so it’s easy to visit if you’re planning on visiting the park.  You can walk around the grounds for free.  You can also check out some of the inexpensive museums inside the castle, but if there’s one in particular you’re interested in, check the castle’s website to make sure it’s open (some have closing days, others are closed for restoration). 
My Recommendation: Quickly check out the castle grounds and then be on your way.  I’ve found that kids enjoy seeing the outside of the castle but aren’t thrilled with the inside.  The best activity at the castle for kids is a visit to the battlements (in English), but you must reserve in advance by contacting one of these independent tour operators.

You may want to read our post on the Best Italian Castles to Visit with Kids.

Visit a Playground

I’ve already mentioned Parco Sempione, but our favorite playgrounds are in Giardini Indro Montanelli.   Along with the playgrounds, the park also has cafes, paths, shade, benches, and drinking fountains. 

Giardini Perego is another favorite, with its playground and sculptures. 

Although it’s not a playground, the Brera Botanical Garden if worth a stroll if you’re in the Brera neighborhood.  Check out our guide to the Brera neighborhood!

Climb the Duomo

Close up of some of the gargoyles on the Duomo in Milan, Italy.
Kids love looking at the gargoyles on the Duomo

Head to the top of Milan’s Duomo.  The climb is kid-friendly and little ones love being on the rooftop!  It’s an excellent way to see the grandness of the city and you can sit down and enjoy your time up top.  If you want to see the gargoyles up close, it’s easiest to see them on the roof just before you start taking the steps back down. 

Remember to dress properly, pre-book (to avoid the long line at the ticket office), and go up to the rooftop first. 

Good To Know:  You can bring your stroller with you (either on the stairs or elevator), but it must remain folded while you’re on the rooftop.

Helpful Tip:  There are toilets on the right side of the Duomo.

Good To Know:  Your ticket includes the entrance to the inside of the Duomo.  You may be asked to show your ticket again when you enter.

Take in the Piazza del Duomo

Admire the view of what you just climbed (the Duomo).  The enormous rectangular piazza is always lively, and you can watch buskers or point out the notable buildings to your kids – the Duomo, the Royal Palace (Palazzo Ducale), and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center.  There’s also a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II (the first king of a united Italy).

After you’ve looked around, grab a snack at the Rinascente Café (for up-close views of the upper part of the Duomo) or the café on top of the Museo del Novecento (for views of the front and right side of the Duomo and the piazza).

Wander Through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Walk through this light-filled, gorgeous shopping mall (Italy’s oldest).  There are shops and cafes (none are overly kid-friendly), but you’ll want to pay attention to the mosaic floors. 

Have your kids find the four mosaics near the domed glass ceiling – representing Milan (white background with red cross), Rome (she-wolf, Romus, Remulus), Florence (the giglio, or lily), and Torino (the torino, or little bull). 

You’ll see most people around the torino – it’s good luck to put your heel on its testicles and spin around three times.  I’ve yet to visit Milan with my kids without them asking me to stop in the Galleria to spin on the bull. 

Visit a Toy Store

Inside FAO Schwarz toy store in Milan, Italy.

FAO Schwarz is close to the Duomo and it’s fun to browse the three floors with your little ones. 

Good To Know:  There’s a toilet with changing table downstairs. 

Other toy stores we like in Milan:  Nano Bleu (with its stuffed animal display), LEGO (always a hit), Città del Sole (one of our favorite Italian chains). 

Watch a Soccer Game

Calcio (soccer) rules in Italy, and Milan is no exception.  The city is home to two Serie A teams – Milan (pronounced MEE-lahn), and Inter (pronounced EEN-tair). 

San Siro stadium (Stadio San Siro) is just a few kilometers from the city center, and you can watch a Serie A game, or take a tour of the stadium.  Either will be a hit if you have a soccer-loving child in your family.

See Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

A stop to see da Vinci’s L’Ultima Cena or Il Cenacolo is best for older kids and teens, or if you’re traveling with a baby and you really want to see it.  It’s a timed entry and you must reserve in advance (tickets (via the official site) are released months in advance and sell out quickly for busy periods).  Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. 

Good To Know:  The Last Supper is close to the Science and Technology Museum, so you can see them consecutively.  Visit the Science Museum after your timed Last Supper visit.

Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus

Milan requires a lot of walking for kids (even if you use public transport) and the big red bus makes it a little easier!  There are multiple routes, and you can see quite a bit of the city on them. 

See a Concert or Opera

Milan is a stop for major concerts in Italy and Europe, so check Italy’s main ticket sales sites (Ticketone.it and Ticketmaster.it) to see who’s performing while you’re in town.  Milan’s famous Teatro alla Scala lists kid-friendly operas and concerts on its website (go to the season’s calendar and choose ‘Young People & Promotions’).

Walk Along the Navigli (Canals)

Although best known for its nightlife, the historic canals in the southeastern part of the city are family-friendly in the early evening.  Stroll past the colorful homes and shops and stop for a gelato, aperitivo, or dinner.  Though it’s outside the city center, you can travel to the Darsena (port) by metro from the Duomo in under 20 minutes.

Good To Know:  Like Venice, there are plenty of areas with no barrier between the pedestrian paths and the canal.  So, be careful if you have small children.

Fun Fact:  The Naviglio Grande is one of the oldest still-navigable canals in Europe! 

Fun Fact:  The marble for Milan’s Duomo arrived in the city by way of the Navigli canals (from a town near Lake Maggiore).

Celebrate Chinese New Year

If you happen to be in Milan during the Chinese New Year (January or February), bring your kids to the city’s Chinese District.  Milan has the largest Chinese population in Italy and the decorations and parades are worth seeing.  We haven’t done this yet, but it’s on our list!

Things to Do with Kids Near Milan

You can easily reach other northern Italian cities on day trips from Milan.  Some other nearby destinations to visit with kids:

Leolandia

This is our favorite theme park in Italy for small children (toddlers and preschoolers).  There are so many fun rides that they can go on, plus characters and Minitalia.

Good To Know:  Even though the focus is on smaller kids, it’s still fun for younger elementary-age kids.

Lake Como

If you’re looking for water and nature, make your way to Lake Como!  Take a ferry on the lake, ride up the funicular, visit the silk museum, and stroll around Como. 

Monza Racetrack

Race car fans can check out the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, a track on the F1 circuit.  There are a variety of tours available. 
Nearby Brescia and Arese have two of Italy’s best car museums.

Where to Eat with Kids in Milan

You won’t have trouble finding kid-friendly food in Milan.  It’s also an excellent dining city if you’ve got picky eaters because you can find plenty of non-Italian options too.

Local dishes that kids enjoy are cotaletta Milanese (breaded and fried veal cutlet) and risotto.

Alice Pizza (Via San Vittore, 3) – a by-the-slice pizza chain; classics and interesting toppings; eat-in or takeaway

Mercato Centrale (Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini, 2) – lively building with food stalls; connected to the train station; everyone can get what they want and you can sit together

Pizzeria Da Zero (Via Bernardino Luini, 9) – incredible pizza; go when it opens because it gets packed later on; reservations recommended

Rossi & Grassi (Via Ponte Vetero, 4) – upscale deli in the Brera neighborhood

Peck (Via Spadari, 9) – upscale deli near the Duomo

Osteria Mamma Rosa (Piazza Cincinnato, 4) – traditional Milanese food; best with older kids and teens

Don’t forget the picnic option!  Grab some supplies at a grocery store or market and enjoy at a park.

Family-Friendly Milan Hotels

I recommend staying in the city center if you’re visiting with smaller kids.  We like the Brera neighborhood – it’s beautiful, walkable to major sites, has excellent restaurants and shops, and there are plenty of hotels and apartments available. 

If you’ve got older kids, you could also look at the Porta Garibaldi area.  It’s not in the city center (it’s about 2km, a 30-minute walk to the Duomo), but the area’s clean and pleasant and there are a lot of sidewalk cafes, pedestrian streets, and trendy shops and boutiques.

Brera District:

Madeline Apartments in Brera – family-friendly apartments with baby cots and high chairs available; excellent location

Duomo:

Rosa Grand Milano (Starhotels) – a stone’s throw from the Duomo; family rooms; nice public areas for relaxing; excellent breakfast

Explore more family-friendly hotels in Milan for your dates.

Getting to Milan with Kids

Taking the Train to Milan

Milan is easy to reach by train from anywhere in Italy.  It’s on both fast (alta velocità) lines and regional lines. 

I recommend buying tickets in advance so that your family can sit together, and you can often find family discounts on both Italo and Trenitalia.

Fun To Do:  Look up at the zodiac signs on the inside wall on the right side of station (as you’re exiting the front of the building).  See if your children can find their signs!

Good To Know:  The area outside the train station can be sketchy in the evenings (and sometimes during the day.  If you’re taking a train in the evening, use a taxi or the metro to get to the station.  But remember that taxis won’t have car seats.

Driving to Milan

Although it’s a large city, Milan isn’t awful to drive in.  The streets are large and drivers are relatively ‘chill.’  There are quite a few scooters, bicycles, and pedestrians to look out for.  And, most importantly, don’t drive into the center!  It’s a ZTL – limited traffic zone.  Instead, park outside the center and take public transport into the center. 

If you’re staying the night, check with your hotel about where to park.

If you’ll be in the city for a while, it’s best to return your rental car. 

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations

Flying to Milan

The two major international airports that fly into Milan are Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Milan Linate (LIN).  Milan Linate is closer to the city center, but Milan Malpensa typically has better deals on flights.  Nearby Bergamo has Orio al Serio (BGY) airport, which you may end up flying into if you’re coming from within Europe.

You can take the train or bus from Malpensa or Linate, while the bus is the best option from Orio al Serio.  There is a dedicated train from Malpensa to the city center (Malpensa Express).  You’ll end up at the Milano Centrale train station, and from there you can taxi or take the metro to your hotel (or to the center to explore for the day).

If you’re traveling with a large group and/or a lot of luggage, you may want to book a taxi or a shuttle service – more expensive, but much easier (especially if you’re arriving on a long-haul flight).

Getting Around Milan with Kids

Boy walking inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy.
Inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

You can get around Milan easily on foot, but sometimes the walks between destinations can be quite long, so you may want to use a taxi, bus, or the metro (underground). 

Good To Know:  Taxis don’t have car seats.

Logistics with Kids in Milan

Strollers – The streets and sidewalks of Milan are stroller-friendly.  You will need to utilize elevators if you take the Metro.  You can take your stroller on buses but if there’s not a designated wheelchair/stroller area (or if the bus is crowded), you’ll need to take your child out and fold the stroller. 

Changing Diapers – We find Milan to be great for changing diapers.  Many restaurants, cafes, and shops have toilets with changing tables. 

Baby Supplies – There are also plenty of places to get diapers, wipes, formula, etc. in Milan – at pharmacies, baby stores, grocery stores, or toiletry stores like Tigotà,   You can buy baby equipment at Chicco, conveniently located near the Duomo.

I hope this helps you plan your trip!

Check out some of our guides to Italian destinations with kids:
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Bologna with Kids
Bolzano with Kids
Dolomites with Kids
Emilia-Romagna with Kids
Florence with a Baby or Toddler
Florence with Kids
Florence with Teens
Lucca with Kids

Milan with Kids
Montalcino with Kids

Ortisei with Kids
Orvieto with Kids

Siena with Kids
Sirmione (Lake Garda) with Kids
Venice with Kids

FAQ

Is the Santuario di San Bernadino alle Ossa a kid-friendly activity? 

You’ll need to use your judgment and decide if it’s a good place to visit for your family.  It’s an interesting place – the ossuary has walls covered in bones and skulls.  Some older kids will be fascinated and interested in its history, but others could have nightmares.