Author Archives: Two Scots Abroad


Newcastle River Tyne

Newcastle and Gateshead

Newcastle is a northern English city which sits on the north bank of the River Tyne facing its neighbouring town of Gateshead.

Together they boast of art, design, music and innovation, an area of England that is changing rapidly.

Newcastle River Tyne


One of the UK’s city of Culture, Liverpool, has a lot going for it.

Home to the Fab Four and the Mersey Beat, Liverpool is a Mecca (drag out those Cs for the Scouse accent!) for music fans.

Visitors can party at the cheesy Cavern Club or upmarket hipster neighbourhood, the Baltic Triangle.

Take a ferry ‘cross the Mersey and hunt out those lovely Liver birds (the ones with wings).

Liverpool ferry


Over nine million people live in England’s capital, London, making it the most populated city in the whole of the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

The city itself is made up of lots of neighbourhood which offer something different.

The main tourist hotspots including, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, and London’s Theatres which can be found around London’s West End.

It can be expensive but we have your London on a budget trip covered – London on a budget.

However, there are plenty of other London areas which are a hotbed for art lovers, shoppers, those looking for a good night out, and music fans! 

History, business, and politics play a massive part in daily life in London (and tourism).

Tourists can visit the Houses of Parliament (<– I went on work experience at the corridors of power!) and the House of Lords, both at Westminster.

A walk along The Mall to see where King Charles lives at Buchanan Palace is also worth a trip.

Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard during the spring/summer months or a morning at the Tower of London, situated on the north bank of the River Thames.

Check out this guide of fun things to do in London.

Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss the Harry Potter Studios. It is not actually in the centre of London.

You can find out the easiest ways to get there in our guide

Love London? Check out our London inspired gift guide.

Commercial London

Center Parcs

Enjoy a car-free break in the Lake District at family and dog-friendly Center Parcs lodge.

The complex features a swimming pool, watersports, nature-based activites, pubs, restaurants, and bowling!

Here’s our unbiased review of Center Parcs.

Center Parcs Whinfell road England

34 Milan Hidden Gems Even Locals Don’t Know About

Monumental Cemetery's The Last Supper sculpture of the Campari Tomb in Milan Italy, a hidden gem

This guide to hidden gems of Milan reveals activities that you can only do in The Fashion Capital of the World including tours, food, and lesser-known options for all visitors. 

Let’s take a look at alternative options to the most popular attractions, so you can see Milan off the beaten path, while avoiding crowds of tourists.

Even if you are a local to the city, you may just discover Milan’s hidden gems that you’ve not heard of, do leave us a comment at the bottom of the guide if so!

We’re also going to discuss unique things to do in Milan, the northern Italy city known for fashion, food, finance, which has way more to offer throughout its numerous districts.

You may also like our guide, how spend one day in Milan.

Unique Things to do in Milan

We’re kicking off this Milan hidden gems article in Duomo then we’ll make our way to Brera and Quadrilatero della Moda.

Next up are cool things to see in Milan’s Sempione, Chinatown, Ticinese, Navigli or Porta Garibaldi districts.

Then we’ll finish on a stunning day trip no visitor should miss, and every local to try.

Duomo’s Hidden Gems

Duomo is the most popular area in Milan as it is home to the city’s cathedral at Plaza del Duomo.

You’ve probably seen photos of tourists with pigeons in front of the Gothic building.

When you visit, look out for the gold Madonnina catching the light on the roof!

Since you are researching lesser-known things to do, we’re going to skip the Duomo and head straight to the second floor of the striking Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall.

Marchesi 1824 For Cakes & Coffee

Marchesi 1824 is an elegant cafe tucked away above the Prada store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

To get to it, you take the set of stairs to the left of the elevators where you’ll be greeted by the door staff.

This historic cafe is exquisite with its green velvet chairs, marble tops, and cherry wood counters where you’ll find delicate pastries and cakes.

Pasticceria Marchesi cappuccino at Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II Milan Italy

One of the most unique things about this Milan cafe is its windows that peer over the shopping arcade.

Watch tourists take their vacation snaps while sipping a cappuccino from the hidden gem above.

Pasticceria Marchesi window view Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II Milan Italy

Maio Restaurant For Duomo Views

It’s time to get even higher than the second floor!

Maio Restaurant is located on the top floor of the Rinascente fashion store.

What makes Maio special is that it looks directly onto the Duomo, so you can look face on while enjoying a spritz and aperitivo plates.

Duomo Cathedral from Maio restaurant Milan Italy

Rinascente For Unique Souvenirs

If you are visiting Milan for a holiday and want to share your glorious trip with those back home, consider picking up souvenirs from the top floor of Rinascente.

Here you’ll find lots of different food in jars, biscuits in tins, packets of pasta, and chocolate bars with tasteful pictures of the Duomo.

There’s a free restroom at the top of the Rinascente too.

Chocolate souvenir Rinascente Milano Piazza Duomo Milan Italy

Enjoy Italian Food During A Tram Ride

One of the most alternative things to do in Milan is to combine a local tram ride with dinner!

ATM Mosfera offers a lunch or dinner menu on an air conditioned traditional tram.

The tram drives by Teatro alla Scala, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Porta Nuova, Bosco verticale, Arco della Pace, Duomo, Darsena, and Santa Maria delle Grazie. 

ATMosfera Culinary tram tour Milan Italy

Starbucks Reserve® Roastery Near Duomo

This unique attraction always has a line during high season, so it isn’t quite a hidden gem.

However, it is worth mentioning as there is no Starbucks ((Piazza Cordusio 3) like it in the world.

Housed in an old post office, you can sit among the working appliances that make the coffee you are sipping.

Upstairs there is a Starbucks bar with espresso martinis and other alcoholic beverages.

Enjoy a cocktail while watching the aficionado below.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery interior Milan Italy

Middle Finger Statue For Cheeky Art

Milan is one of the cities that is responsible for Leonardo Davinci’s success and it is where you can view his most famous piece, The Last Supper.

However, it is also home to unusual art, such as the L.O.V.E statue by Maurizio Cattelan.

It is also known as Il Dito, The Finger, as it is a huge marble hand flipping the bird in front of Piazza degli Affari, at the Italian stock exchange!

LOVE Statue of hand flipping Middle Finger in Piazza degli Affari in Milan Italy

San Bernardino alle Ossa For The Ossuary

While there is no shortage of churches in Milan, San Bernardino alle Ossa (Piazza Santo Stefano) is the only one with skeletons in its walls.

Once you enter the main building of the church, turn right, pay the offering, then walk through the short corridor to the side church to see skeletons peering from within the mesh walls.

The ossuary was built in 1210 to cater for the deceased who couldn’t fit into the cemetery, then the church was later attached.

Look up at the ceiling as the ossuary also has interesting artwork.

Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa Ossuary alter with skulls around it in Milan Italy

Get Lost in Giardini della Guastalla

Giardini della Guastalla (Via Francesco Sforza) isn’t actually big enough to get physically lost in but it is so peaceful you could just lose yourself mentally.

Take a book, listen to a podcast, and enjoy the fresh air at this traditional Italian garden constructed in 1555.

Yellow building poking out of trees at Giardini della Guastalla in Milan in Italy

Brera’s Hidden Gems

Brera is a lovely district, packed with locals pushing prams and businessmen cycling bikes in suits.

Here, you could easily spend an afternoon people watching at the bars on Via Brera before walking back to Duomo.

Palazzo Brera‘s Courtyard and Art

Known for being a Jesuit College in the 1600s, Palazzo Brera (Via Brera, 26) is a bustling building with a shaded courtyard where young people hang out.

The main attraction of this palace is Pinacoteca di Brera, which houses 13th to the 20th century paintings, as well as the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense.

It also has through access to Brera Botanical Gardens.

Palazzo Brera back of statue Milan Italy

Brera Botanical Garden For a Secret Garden

Escape the midday heat, like the locals do, and take your lunch to the free green spaces at Brera Botanical Garden.

Here, you can wander through the lines of plants which are labelled or hide, with a book, under the shade of a tree.

The gardens are located at the back of the Pinacoteca or behind the super lux Bulgari Hotel.

Botanico glasshouse Brera Milan Italy

Quadrilatero della Moda Hidden Gems

In this fashionable district you can hit the rails of Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia, and Via della Spiga, also known as the Golden Quad.

But there are a handful of lesser-known treats in store too.

Espressos at Cova Montenapoleone

Get your caffeine fix at one of Italy’s oldest pasticceria, Cova Montenapoleone (Via Monte Napoleone 8).

When you enter, turn left and pay for an espresso at the till, then take your receipt to the counter where you’ll be served a coffee and small dark chocolate square.

How cute are the cups?

Cova Montenapoleone espresso cup with design in Quadrilatero Della Moda Milan Italy

Dine on a Special Lunch at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone

Give your feet a rest at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone (Via Santo Spirito, 10), a hidden restaurant built in Bagatti Valsecchi Palace.

This Renaissance courtyard and restaurant has been serving food since 1957.

Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone Quadrilatero Della Moda in Milan Italy

Magazine Kiosks

Italy still holds on to its magazine kiosk tradition and we love it.

There are different styles of on-street shops, the older more worn out looking kiosks and the super sleek ones like that of Bazaar located at Corso Venezia, outside of Dolce & Gabbana.

These kiosks are popular fashion shots of social media fans.

Remember to buy a magazine to help the stores out.

Bazaar Kiosk Quadrilatero Della Moda Milan Italy

Sempione Hidden Gems

Most visitors spend time in Parco Sempione to see Sforzesco Castle, the Arch of Peace, or to stretch their legs after seeing The Last Supper painting at Santa Maria delle Grazie.

For a more unique reason to visit, keep reading.

Bridge of Mermaids

Inside Sempione Park, approximately halfway between the castle and arch there is a bridge called the Bridge of Mermaids.

It connects the park, covering a stream from the nearby pond.

During spring, you might just see ducks and ducklings swimming underneath the bridge.

The bridge itself has stone mermaids on either side of it.

Apparently, it was the first metal bridge in Italy, designed by Francesco Tettamanzi in 1842.

Sempione Park mermaid bridge Milan Italy

Branca Tower

If you want to see Milan from up high, Branca Tower (Viale Luigi Camoens 2) is one of the highest points in the city at 108.6 m high.

You can hop on the elevator, which takes you up the iron tower to see panoramic views from the top.

Wear layers as it can be chilly.

Branca Tower Sempione Park Milan Italy

Dine at DAZI

DAZI (Piazza Sempione) is a restaurant located next to the Arch of Peace.

It serves food from brunch through to dinner, with a cocktail menu that guests recommend.

Outside of Dazi Restaurant building with pillars at Sempione Park Milan Italy

Chinatown Hidden Gem

Less than 20 minutes walk from Sempione you’ll stumble across Milan’s Chinatown.

It’s busiest street is Paolo Sarpi, here you’ll find Asian food, shopping, and an Italian wine cave.

It is also where one of the most unusual yet striking hidden gems in Milan is located, especially attractive to those who like history, architecture, and dark tourism.

Eat Dumplings in Milan

Granted most people spend time eating pizza, pasta, and risotto in this Italian city, but if you have more than one day in Milan, and you enjoy Asian cuisine, consider stopping by the Ravioleria Sarpi (Via Paolo Sarpi, 27) window for dumplings.

The menu consists of beef, pork, and vegetable dumpling which are served in a takeout box.

This place is so hidden you might walk past it, as I did!

Just look for the white window on the right hand side.

Dumplings Ravioleria Sarpi Paolo Sarpi Chinatown Milan Italy

Cantine Isola For Wine

When you hear the word ‘Chinatown’, wine probably isn’t the first drink that comes to mind, but you are in Italy after all.

Cantine Isola (Via Paolo Sarpi 30) is a fun place for oenophiles as the experts behind the bar provide suggestions to meet your taste, and let you sample before you buy.

It has a lovely compact covered outside seating area on the street of Via Paolo Sarpi.

The bar also serves an attractive aperitivo.

This is one of the cool things to do in Milan for wine fans who want to try everything from affordable to prized bottles.

Plate of aperitivo food and red wine on table at Cantine Isola in Chinatown Milan

Monumental Cemetery For Unusual Things to do in Milan

Monumental Cemetery (Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale) is huge, so big you could easily plan for half a day wandering through the gravestones and tombs of the rich and notable families in Milan.

One of the most famous tombs in the cemetery is that of the Campari family, where Davinci’s Last Supper is displayed in stone, created by Giannino Castiglioni.

He also worked on the towering tomb of Antonio Bernocchi.

Once you’ve walked around the outside, take a look at the interior of the main building for a stunning blue ceiling.

Monumental Cemetery The Last Supper Campari Tomb Milan Italy

Ticinese Hidden Gems

Ticinese is a lovely, commercial district with useful shops like bakeries, fruit stores, and butchers.

It is also home to fashion stores and the historic Colonne di San Lorenzo.

Mr D*ck

Get a fill of your phallic shaped pastries at Mr D*ck (Corso di Porta Ticinese 83).

Alternatively, go for the v*gina moulded cakes on a stick.

Mr Dick pastry Milan Italy

Wall of Dolls

Just round the corner from Colonne di San Lorenzo is a wall (Via Edmondo de Amicis 2) covered in soft toys and dolls.

The installation is there to shine a light on the local lives lost to violence against women.

Wall of Dolls Ticinese district Milan in Italy

Navigli Hidden Gems

Navigli is a lively district where unique buildings sit around Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese.

This is where locals come to chat over afternoon drinks and dine on aperitivo.

There’s also some interesting nightlife and creative spaces around this area.

Drinks at Naviglio Grande

There’s a variety of bars and restaurants to spend your money at along the Naviglio Grande.

Both sides of the canal are lined with opportunities for al fresco and indoor dining, and the locals are not put off by some rainfall or thunderstorms!

There’s also a scattering of street art sprayed on the sides of staircases that take you over to the other side of the canal.

Stick around until night to see the area liven up with music and football on outside TVs.

On the weekends, there is an art and craft fair that lines the canal.

Naviglio Grande night Navigli in Milan Italy

Ticinese Municipal Market Area

Pick up fresh produce at Ticinese Municipal Market, enjoy a drink by the water at GUD, or take a stroll along the path by Darsena del Naviglio at the Ticinese Municipal Market area.

These secret places in Milan are close to both Ticinese and Navigli.

GUD at Darsena del Naviglio Navigli Milan Italy

Fashion Tour

This 3-hour fashion tour is ideal for visitors who are seriously interested in the manufacturing and design side of the city.

It is a private tour led by a fashion expert and includes visits to boutiques around the canal area.

Naviglio Grande Navigli canal in Milan Italy

Drinks in the Park

Do as the locals do and order drinks at the small bar, Sugar, then take them over the road to hang out in Parco Baden Powell while others run, do yoga, and walk their dogs.

There’s an area with graffiti at this park too.

Sugar bar Navigli Milan Italy


For a creative space with live sessions consider BASE (Via Bergognone 34), in the Zona Tortona area.

There is also an industrial style indoor cafe and outdoor bar space which welcomes everyone.

Base Zona cafe and bar Tortona Navigli Milan Italy


MUDEC (Via Tortona 56) offers a changing timetable of art exhibitions in a cool space.

The staircase and upper floor walls make for interesting photography.

There’s also a shop selling art and homeware.

MUDEC inside Zona Tortona Navigli Milan Italy

Go For a Thai Massage to Release Stress

About 15 minutes walk from Navigli is Full Moon (Via Evangelista Torricelli, 3) where you can walk in for a stress-busting Thai body massage.

They also do couples massages if you feel your partner deserves a treat!

Full Moon Thai Massage Milan Italy

Hidden Gems in Porta Romana

The Porta Romana district is mainly known as the location where you’ll find Fondazione Prada (L.go Isarco 2).

It’s a little trickier to get to than the other areas mentioned in this guide to non touristy things to do in Milan but it is worth the trek to experience the Torre part of the museum, and the bar designed by a very well known filmmaker!

Bar Luce For Cakes in a Throwback Cafe

Very few people know that the bar located inside the Fondazione Prada complex was created by Wes Anderson.

Cue composition, symmetry, and cool colour palette!

The bar sells fresh sandwiches, tasty branded cakes, coffee, and alcohol in a 1950 style cafe.

Cake counter at Fondazione Prada  Bar Luce in Porta Romana Milan Italy

Fondazione Prada Tower

The Torre, or tower, of Fondazione Prada sticks out against the rest of the museum as the 60m high block is strikingly white.

Take the lift to the floors featuring exhibitions from the likes of Damian Hirst and Carsten Höller – the latter displaying a dark tunnel that leads to trippy upsides of town mushrooms that you walk through.

One of the Milan attractions not to be missed by modern art fans seeking something a little different.

It also has epic views of the city.

Fondazione Prada Carsten Höller, Upside Down Mushroom Room Porta Romana Milan Italy

Hidden Gems in Porta Garibaldi

The final area we’re going to look at in our unique Milan guide is the Porta Garibaldi, Porta Nuova, and Isola districts.

Known for its ‘newness’, where you’ll find shiny skyscrapers, it is a real contrast to the dustier streets of Duomo and surrounding areas.

Corso Como For Drinks

Corso Como is an entertainment area that has restaurants running down the middle, and stores on either side.

Look out for 10 Corso Como, the brainchild of gallerist and publisher Carla Sozzani, which features a courtyard restaurant, gallery, shop, and hotel.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rainbow print trolley traveling around Porta Garibaldi!

Plants line the windows and shutters of 10 Corso Como door Milan Italy

Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale is a really cool high rise with plants growing all over – a nature and urban fusion.

It is also known as a vertical forest, which is easy to see why once you visit.

The tower is surrounded by grass, benches, sun loungers, and a play park.

Bosco Verticale towers with plants growing out of it in Milan Italy

A Day Trip to Lake Como

If you’ve come all this way to Milan, you can’t not see Lake Como as it is less than an hour away by car, train, and bus trip.

This day trip picks up visitors from two locations, near the Duomo or Central Station, and drives to the quiet town of Menaggio on the western shore of Lake Como.

Tip – sit on the right hand side of the bus, opposite the driver, for the best views coming into Lake Como.

After an hour in Menaggio, you take the local ferry over to touristy Bellagio where you can buy lunch, walk to the viewpoint, and chill out at the free gardens.

The next part of the trip is a private boat tour, sailing past the mansions that make the area so famous. Hi George!

Back on dry land, the day tour ends in the city of Como, where you have free time to sightsee or shop.

The bus returns to Milan on the same day, offering a lovely city/lake combination tour.

Boat in water at Menaggio with alps in background Lake Como Italy

Mercato Centrale Milano

If you get off Central Station after your Lake Como day trip, take a walk around Mercato Centrale Milano, the hip food market where chefs cook food in front of you.

You can dine on fresh fish, pasta, sushi, pizza, and cakes!

There’s even a wine bar.

Plate of pasta and glass of wine at Mercato Centrale Milano

San Siro Stadium and Museum Tour

Finally, if you’re a footy fan, you won’t see past this San Siro Stadium tour.

Home of A.C. Milan and Inter Milan, the self-guided tour takes you through the changing rooms, the tunnel ‘La Scala del Calcio’, and gives access to the museum.

Our Italy Guides

One Day in Milan Itinerary – Attractions, Food & Drink

Duomo Cathedral in Milan Italy with blue skies

Looking for a fun one day in Milan itinerary? This jam-packed guide takes you through the best things to do in Milan from morning until night! It includes what to see, where to eat and drink and what you should skip.

Since you only have 24 hours you don’t want to waste time. Find out what is worth visiting and also the lesser known spots that the locals love.

Note: since you only have a day in Milan, you can save time by using the hop on and off bus tour, which covers popular attractions such as the Duomo, Castello, and the Navigli canals.

Milan is a huge city located in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, which is where you will also find the stunning Lake Como and its cute towns.

Milan is known for its architecture, sport, fashion, finance sector, and art, like The Last Supper by Leonard DaVinci, which is located in the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent.

While there are many ancient, intriguing structures, and new shiny skyscrapers in Milan, the city is also blessed with lush urban parks and canals.

Fun One Day Milan Itinerary

Morning Milan Itinerary: Espresso, Duomo & Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Breakfast in Milan

Do as the locals do and order an espresso coffee and drink it standing up at the bar.

This is the most efficient and economical way to enjoy a morning coffee in Milan!

Most ‘bars’, which are actually small cafes, ask you to pay at the till then hand over the receipt to the server who fills a tiny espresso mug up with coffee and places a dark chocolate square on the saucer.

If you can wait until mid-morning for food, I have a very tasty recommendation for breakfast below at 10am.

However, if you need to line your stomach, opt for a table and choose between a plain, chocolate, cream, or pistachio croissant to go with your espresso.

They are all gustoso, you really can’t go wrong!

For a coffee bar/cafe close to Duomo, consider Voce (Piazza della Scala, 6), which is across from the gorgeous Teatro alla Scala and Leonardo Statue in bustling Piazza della Scala.

Although a chain, Lavazza’s flagship store is always busy with locals too.

If you are staying close to the Quadrilatero della moda district, Cova Montenapoleone is iconic, and one of Italy’s oldest pasticceria, serving the area since 1817.

Honestly, any bar will do – just shot and go to save time if you can.

Duomo di Milano Cathedral

The first stop on our 24 hours in Milan bucket list is the striking Duomo di Milano, Duomo means cathedral in Italian.

Located at Plaza del Duomo, you can’t miss the gothic cathedral standing proud over the square at 108 m (354 ft).

Visitors can take photos outside of the Gothic building, which started being constructed in 1386.

Some people like to buy bird food from the street photographers and feed the pesky pigeons for the famous Milan Duomo shot.

Look out for the gold statue of the Madonnina, Virgin Mary, that was added in 1774.

Duomo is one of the most popular places in Milan to visit, so the area gets crowded.

Be cautious of your belongings when walking through the plaza.

Alternatively, you can purchase this ticket to enter the cathedral to admire the interior glass windows, sculptures, and alter.

If you can set aside 30 minutes, a cool thing to do in Milan is the Duomo rooftop where you walk among the spires and see the city from up high.

There are two ways to get to the Duomo rooftop.

Firstly, the stairs.

There are 256 steps to climb to reach the top but they are not as tight as the St. Peter’s Basilica stairs in Rome.

The second option is the elevator.

Both options can be selected via GetYourGuide Duomo tickets, or Viator if you prefer that booking agent.

To the right of the rooftop you see views over the newer buildings at Porta Garibaldi.

Money saving tip: if you are not too bothered about seeing the entire cathedral’s interior, just go for the rooftop ticket as you walk through the cathedral to exit.

Tickets do sell out so you need to book in advance.

If you need a comfort stop, there are restrooms to the right of the Duomo, which you can pay for by card.

Alternatively, for free toilets, head to the top floor of the store, Rinascente Milano Piazza Duomo.

Duomo interior windows Milan Italy

How strict is Milan Duomo dress code?

The dress code for Duomo is very strict.

Your arms need to be covered and you can’t show your legs.

I’ve read advice online that you can wear shorts but I know from personal experience you can’t, and since you only have time to see Milan in one day, don’t make the same mistake as I did – wear a long dress, capri pants, or trousers.

Panzerotti Luini For Turnovers

If you’ve timed it right, it should be around 10am – the opening time for the ridiculously delicious Panzerotti Luini (Via Santa Radegonda, 16).

The lines get long for this decades old bakery counter, so you want to get there close to 10 am.

Choose from fried or baked pastries filled with cheese, meats, and vegetables; the cheese is super stringy!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Attractions

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a stunning arcade, and famous for being Italy’s oldest active shopping gallery.

There are many Milan must see attractions in this historic covered shopping mall.

At one end of the gallery is Leonardo’s statue and Teatro alla Scala, and at the other is the Duomo – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II connects the two.

Inside the gallery you’ll find a mosaic floor, look out for the bull as it is customary to spin on your heel three times on top of it for luck!

Look up at the ceiling for the glass dome, and artwork.

If you plan to shop, you’ll find designer brands such as Prada in this shopping mall.

Cocktails at Camparino in Galleria

Other things to do at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II include buying a drink at Camparino, the specialist Campari bar since 1915.

This bar serves fresh aperitivo so you can snack on breaded items while you sip your negroni or Campari shaken, the latter cocktail is a little sweeter.

Aperitivo is small plates with snack food like olives, bread, meat, cheese, and crisps (chips).

The quality varies between bars.

They are a great addition to your Milan in one day itinerary as they save time having to sit down for big meals!

Cappuccino and Cakes at Marchesi 1824

Pasticceria Marchesi is a dreamy cafe, located on the second floor of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, above the Prada store.

This stylish pastry shop feels like you’re sipping a coffee back in time!

It has green velvet seats, marble tops, and cherry wood counters; a luxurious thing to add to your Milan itinerary.

Famous Italian cakes to try are baba rum pastry and tiramisu; if you prefer to just order a drink go for a Cappuccino since it is now nearly the afternoon, and it is presented with a cute flower design.

Italians are quite particular about what coffee is drunk during the day!

Cappuccinos come with a small plate of cookies.

Marchesi 1824 has windows that look down onto the gallery, giving you a front seat view to the crowds taking photos.

As with most coffee bars, you can choose to sit, or stand.

Duomo Restaurants For Lunch

There are lots of options for lunch dotted around Plaza del Duomo.

For views over the Duomo, go for Maio Restaurant, which is reached by the escalators in the Rinascente store.

Here, you can dine on Italian oysters, steak, or risotto alla Milanese, a dish the city is known for.

If you’re on a budget, or still full from the pastries, just order a drink and take advantage of the aperitivo.

Alternatively, Signorvino Duomo has al fresco dining round the back of the Duomo.

The staff are very accommodating and the menu consists of pasta and wine.

There are umbrellas for shade or you can sit indoors if you prefer, although the perk of dining here is being up close to the Duomo.

Amorino For Flower Gelato

If you’ve got room and the lines aren’t too crazy, indulge in something sweet at Amorino in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

This gelato shop is located all over Milan and serves up its signature flower ice cream cones where the gelato looks like petals.

Other Things to do Near Duomo

That’s the main attractions of the Duomo area covered but depending on how you are doing for time, there are many other options in streets just off it.

Shopping at Via Torino

Via Torino is a busy shopping street with brand names such as Zara, Sephora, and Primark.

You’ll also find a souvenir shop close to the Duomo.

Sephora near Duomo shopping Milan Italy

Starbucks Reserve® Roastery Milano

While I don’t normally make a habit of recommending chains in our Italy travel guides, this Starbucks in Milan (Piazza Cordusio, 3) is something else.

Located in a former post office, the coffee shop displays working appliances as features and an upstairs bar serving espresso martinis with views over the cafe.

Expect lines that go down quickly.

L.O.V.E Statue

Another hidden gem in Milan is the middle finger statue, known as Il Dito, by Maurizio Cattelan.

The 2010 marble sculpture is around four metres high and is located at Piazza degli Affari, at the Italian stock exchange.

LOVE Statue Middle Finger Piazza degli Affari Milan in Italy

San Bernardino alle Ossa Ossuary and Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore Interior

San Bernardino alle Ossa (Piazza Santo Stefano) is a church located next door to Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore, so you can see two very different Milan attractions during the same visit.

Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa and Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore Milan Italy

San Bernardino alle Ossa has a unique side church where you will find the ossuary.

The ossuary is filled with bones and skulls, stored in the walls and around the altar, it came into existence in 1210 because the cemetery could not cope with the volume of bodies.

The church was later attached.

To get to San Bernardino alle Ossa’s ossuary, enter the church, turn to the right, pay an offering, and go through the corridor.

Be sure to look up the ceiling for artwork.

At the back of San Bernardino alle Ossa is a statue of Poet Carlo Porta al Verzee.

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore is huge, and its interior features an organ, stained glass windows, sculptures, and art akin to a museum.

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore alter Milan Italy

Milan One Day Itinerary: 5 Afternoon Options

If you’d like to explore another district in the afternoon, consider Brera, Quadrilatero della Moda, Sempione, Chinatown, or Navigli where you’ll find the canals.

Each of these districts have metro stops close by.

The metro in Milan is very easy to use as metro routes are suggested by Google and Apple maps.

Check routes posted at the top of the stairs at each platform, I always count how many stops until the one I want to get off at.

You can also ask staff for help, they sit in the boxes located next to the gates.

You don’t need a ticket for the metro, as you can tap your bank card on some of the gates.

Just remember to tap out with the same card when you get to the exit gates at your destination.

For the remainder of our article on what to do in Milan for a day, I’m going to suggest the best things to do in each district then you can decide which attractions suit your style of travel best.

Duomo metro station in Milan Italy

Districts in Milan Itineraries

Let’s start with Brera, an area close to Duomo, making it an easy district to explore alongside a morning at the cathedral area.

Things to do in Brera

Brera is a leafy district with cobblestones, only 10 minutes walk from the Duomo area.

Here, you’ll see local businessmen cycling bikes, parents pushing prams, young folk hanging out, and people dining al fresco.

Brera scenes with clean street and tree in Milan Italy

Via Brera

Via Brera is the main street in Brera, and where you’ll find boutique stores and perfume shops.

Walk along it to get to the next suggestions.

Palazzo Brera

Palazzo Brera (Via Brera, 26) has played many roles, beginning as a Jesuit College in the 1600s, which it did for over 200 years.

Today, visitors can walk through the courtyard where young people relax, and through to the free Brera Botanical Garden.

It is also where art fans will find Pinacoteca di Brera, which displays 13th to 20th century paintings.

Palazzo Brera statue in Milan in Italy

Brera Botanical Garden

Enjoy a minute hiding from the sun at Brera Botanical Garden, which is free to enter.

As you wander around the plants and trees you’ll see locals eating their packed lunches during their lunch break.

Bar Jamaica

Quench your thirst at one of the Brera bars with outdoor dining along Via Brera.

Bar Jamaica (Via Brera, 32) has been serving locals since 1911 and offers indoor and outside dining.

Things to do in Quadrilatero della Moda

Quadrilatero della Moda is the fashion district in Milan.

Expect well dressed locals, fancy cars, and luxury brands around the ‘Golden Quad’ – Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia, and Via della Spiga.

Go Shopping

The most obvious thing to do in Milan’s fashion district is to hit the shops.

Give your credit card a workout at Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, CHANEL.

Some stores will have a line to enter.

Dine at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone

Tucked away down an alleyway of Bagatti Valsecchi palace is the Renaissance courtyard and restaurant of Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone (Via Santo Spirito, 10).

This Milan establishment has been serving customers since 1957.

Grab a Coffee at Cova Montenapoleone

Slam an espresso, sip a cappuccino, fill up on a pastry, or order take away cakes at Cova Montenapoleone (Via Monte Napoleone, 8).

One of Italy’s oldest pasticceria, Cova has been in operation since 1817.

Things to do Sempione

If you’re craving some greenery, consider Sempione Park which is home to Sforzesco Castle.

It is also close to Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper is located.

The Last Supper

A special Milan activity you can only do in the city is see Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper up close with your own eyes.

The piece depicts Jesus declaring that one of his twelve Apostles will betray him, from Matthew 26:21–28, and it was commissioned by Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan.

The Renaissance artwork was created around 1495–1498, and is unique as it provides an illusion of depth on a flat surface. Something you have to see for yourself.

The Last Supper is located in the Dominican monastery Santa Maria delle Grazie and you must have pre-booked tickets to see it.

Santa Maria delle Grazie garden Milan Italy

Visitors with tickets are granted 15 minutes to look at the painting along with another called The Crucifix by Donato Montorfano.

During the visit, guests also have access to images of the monastery over time, including the damage caused by WWII.

No food or drink is allowed but there are small lockers where snacks and bottles can be stored and collected.

You must bring an ID with your name on it to show staff when collecting tickets.

The Last Supper Santa Maria delle Grazie church Milan Italy

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Next door to The Last Supper museum is Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace), a church that is free to enter.

Inside the church you can see naves, which you can pay to light up, a large dome, black marble, art, and a private baroque-style praying room for locals.

Note: it is respectful to provide an offering of money in Milan’s churches, especially if you plan to light a candle.

Cafe Le Grazie 

For a coffee break, refuel, or comfort stop, consider Cafe Le Grazie across from Santa Maria delle Grazie.

L’Alter Bar

Alternatively, if it’s time for a Hugo spritz and aperitivo, head to L’Alter Bar (Via Vincenzo Monti).

This friendly, local bar is narrow with a handful of tables inside and an outdoor drinking area.

The decor features mugs from around the world.

Sempione Park

Sempione Park (Parco Sempione) is a large green space in Milan and home to two historically important monuments; the Arch of Peace, and Sforzesco Castle.

The 38.6 hectares was designed by Emilio Alemagna in 1888, and offers benches, a pond, art installations, the Bridge of Mermaids, and Branco Tower.

During the summer, it is open late making it one of the free things to do in Milan at night.

Sforzesco Castle

It is free to walk around the grounds of 15th century Sforzesco Castle where you can see the courtyard.

However, if you’d like to learn more about the castle, built by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, and see the exhibitions, you require an entry ticket.

There are free restrooms by the courtyard as well as a water fountain.

Arch of Peace

Look down from the castle and you will see the Arch of Peace at the other side of the park, located at Sempione Avenue.

Initially built in 1806, and designed by Marquis Cagnola, this version was constructed in 1807.

Next to the monument is DAZI, an upmarket restaurant.

Alternatively, less than a 15 minute walk away is Paolo Sarpi, the main street in Chinatown with Asian restaurants.

Arch of Peace Sempione Park Milan Italy

Things to do in Chinatown

If dumplings are calling, head to Milan’s Chinatown.

Also home to Monumental Cemetery, a burial ground of epic proportions.

Chinatown Milan Italy

Paolo Sarpi Restaurants

If you’ve had enough pasta or pizza, and are craving dumplings or ramen, head to Paolo Sarpi.

Here you’ll find Chinese dumplings (meat and vegetarian) at Ravioleria Sarpi or hot ramen soup bowls at Mr Maio.

You can also pick up Asian snacks at many of the small supermarkets.

Cantine Isola For Wine

You’ll still find a good glass of vino in Chinatown, at a wine cave called Cantine Isola (Via Paolo Sarpi, 30).

This interesting bar is looked after by wine specialists, so feel free to say what kind of wine you feel like and they’ll do the rest.

There’s outdoor seating with cute furniture and drinks come with a good looking plate of aperitivo.

Nelson Mandela Mural

On your way to Monumental Cemetery you can stop by the 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy Mural on the side of Fabbrica del Vapore.

Fabbrica del Vapore is a steam factory, turned creative hub.

20 Years of Freedom and Democracy Mural Mandela Chinatown Milan Italy

Monumental Cemetery

Throughout all of my travels, I can honestly say I have never seen anything like the Monumental Cemetery (Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale) in Milan.

On entry, you’ll be impressed by the scale of the building until you see the size of the burial area.

Monumental Cemetery entrance in Milan Italy

Tombs with glass, mosaics, gold, stone, marble, and every other material imaginable line the gardens, some bigger than the apartment I was staying at.

The most famous has to be the Campari family’s tomb which is the scene from The Last Supper.

There are maps dotted around the area but they are quite hard to follow.

Once you’ve walked around the grounds, take a look at the interior for a stunning blue ceiling.

Monumental Cemetery ceiling Milan Italy

Things to do in Navigli

The Navigli district differs from the others discussed in our Milan in a day guide as it is an area built around the canals, Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese.

This district is the furthest away from Duomo so it is worth taking the metro to save time.

Naviglio Grande canal in Navigli Milan Italy

Naviglio Grande Bars

The most popular thing to do in Navigli is let the afternoon slip into night with drinks at one of the many Naviglio Grande bars.

Restaurants and bars with outside dining line both sides of the canal, which is connected by bridges.

You’ll find traditional restaurants serving risotto and tiramisu such as L’Altro Luca & Andrea, as well as lively bars like Mag Cafe.

At the weekend, creatives set up stalls with art for visitors to buy.

While, for me, Navigli was one of the places to see in Milan, it might be better reserved for a longer trip.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below.

Navigli Cruise

Why not experience the canals from the water during this 1-hour boat ride?

The cruise includes a glass of wine or Aperol spritz, and some aperitivo snacks.

Naviglio Grande cruise Milan Italy

Milan Observations

  • Nice mix of old and new – home comforts like food delivery, app taxis, e-scooters and bikes 
  • Pavements uneven and tall, so it is best to watch when stepping on and off them
  • Cyclists use the pavement  
  • Some bars have tables very close together 
  • Food sittings and drink only tables are sometimes separate 
  • Service can be slow, embrace it
  • Most public toilets have a foot pump flush 

Where to Stay in Milan

To fit in all of the best places to visit in Milan in 1 day, it would be wise to stay around the Duomo or Brera area.

The Galleria Vik Milano is a highly rated hotel located in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II or check out this smart hotel near Duomo.

However, as to be expected, this will be more expensive but it will save you time for getting around the best things to see in Milan for first timers.

San Giorgio al Palazzo Church Milan Italy

Getting To and Around Milan

Milan has three airports, Malpensa, Linate and Bergamo, the latter is just over an hour away by bus but easy to get to and from.

Trains operate from Milano Centrale Railway Station, Europe’s largest railway station by volume.

The station has lots of shops and a hip food court called Mercato Centrale.

Districts are connected by tram, bus, and metro train.

Tram at night Milan Italy

Final Words

This Milan 1 day itinerary aims to introduce you to the highlights while providing lots of choice so you can build the perfect 24 hours in the city.

So whether you are planning day trips to Milan, or a quick stopover in the city, there’s plenty of suggestions to choose from.

Did we miss anything out? Please let us know in the comments.

Palazzo dei Giureconsulti Milan in Italy

Our Italy Guides

Center Parcs Whinfell Review & Tips I Wish I Knew

Center Parcs pool building in Whinfell Forest England

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest is a family-friendly retreat in the magical Lake District near Penrith. During a trip to Whinfell, you can soar to the heights of the tree-top adventure park and make a splash at the kid-ready swimming pool. Adults can take a minute at the Aqua Sana spa, while tweens and teens spend a penny in the arcade game room.

This guide shares an honest Whinfell Center Parcs review, helpful tips for making the most of your holiday, and some budget advice for this pricey England getaway.

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Review

The Location and Getting Around

Center Parcs is ideal for families who want to wander among nature via foot, bike, or scooter while red squirrels bounce around your feet and trees sway above.
Since cars are not allowed on the main roads, the area is safe for children; bikes are the most popular mode of transport.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a bike; you can hire wheels for all ages at the bike centre.
You can buy anything on-site at Center Parcs, but holidaying this way will get expensive; pack food and essentials to avoid paying over the odds.

There are maps dotted around the area, so if you need help finding the Sports Cafe or a kids’ park, you can look at them for guidance.

Since there is no light pollution, it gets dark at night – it’s best to get your bearings before wandering back from dinner or visiting friends at other lodges.

Center Parcs Whinfell Map

You’ll receive a map when you first enter Center Parcs.

Then, each area is grouped and colour coded.

There is a key at the bottom for all of the essential locations in Whinfell Forest.

Center Parcs Whinfell map England

Center Parcs Whinfell Activities

When you book your stay at Center Parcs, you will be prompted to sign into the website where you can reserve spots on the many activities offered at Whinfell.

From balance bikes for toddlers to pedalo rides on Lake Beck, ten-pin bowling for all the family, to relaxing at the adult-only spa – there are various things to do at Center Parcs for all ages.

We did the following activities.

We hired a pedalo and life jackets for four plus a 16-month-old and pedalled around Lake Beck.

The older kids (25+, haha!) took on the daring Aerial Adventure, clipped in, and we climbed through nets and zip-lined between the trees and over the lake!

We bowled with a few beers from the bar next door as a family.

The baby in the group had a balance bike and sensory. 

He was a little young for the balance bike, but the staff was excellent.

The girls had an afternoon at the spa.

Is Center Parcs Whinfell Spa Worth it?

If, like us, you wonder if the Aqua Sana spa is worth it even without treatment, the answer is yes!

You can quickly fill the three-hour slot by working through the different rooms, which get hotter as you go along.

There’s also an outdoor swimming pool which is a sun trap.

Waterbeds and sun loungers are dotted around the spa so that you can relax with a book.

The spa puts on daily classes, such as a sleep class, which introduces you to products without a hard sales push.

The cafe also serves salads, sandwiches, mains, and alcoholic drinks, including cocktails.

Note: the dressing gown and towels have tags – remember to return them.

Aqua Sana outdoor spa pool Center Parcs Whinfell in England

Center Parcs Pool

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise pool is free; you don’t need to book a session.
There’s a pram room located just before the changing rooms and a considerable showering area before entering the pool.

Your waterproof door key bracelet acts as a locker key.

The pool water temperatures weren’t consistent during our stay; some areas were warmer than others, then the next day, another area was warm – or it could just be pee regulating the temps, ha!

The facility offers different pool areas, including an outdoor pool, water rapids, flumes, and time-allocated wave machine action.

Chairs line the dry areas for snack time.

Babies can use the free life jackets.

There’s no denying that the Center Parcs pool is one of the main attractions, and it does get busy.

The best time to try the flumes is around dinner time, staff members advised us.

Center Parcs pool building in Whinfell Forest England

Free Things to do at Center Parcs

If you fill your days with official activities, you will pay a lot, but the good news is that there are plenty of free things to do during your stay.

Walk, scoot, or pedal the car-free paths and 400 acres of forest, which connect the different areas in the complex.

Play at the many parks, including the enormous children’s play area with nets and chutes.

Take a bucket and spade to the small beach at the Boathouse.

Babies and toddlers can enjoy soft play; the biggest area is located at the Lakeside Inn.

There’s also the free baby disco every evening and a bar for big kids!

Center Parcs Lodges

There are different styles of accommodation at Center Parcs to meet varying group sizes and budgets.

We stayed in a four-bed lodge in Fell View, close to the sports complex.

Another group of family members stayed in the treehouse (image), which has a games room and a hot tub.

Lodges are accessed and locked by digital key bracelets, which are distributed when you register at Center Parcs.

Each room gets one key, so if there are four rooms, you’ll get four keys.
The Fell View Lodge features an open dining room, kitchen, and living space.

As you enter the front door, there is also a room with coat hooks and a few cupboards for cleaning items.

The kitchen includes a cooker, oven, microwave, fridges with freezers, a wine fridge, dishwasher, and cupboards full of utensils you’ll need for cooking.

The living space has sofas, a table (which we moved so the baby could run around), a TV (bring your smart TV boxes), a fire (pack instant fire-logs or buy at the ParcMarket), and doors that open out to the balcony which leads down to the BBQ area.

There is a baby gate on the stairs.

Bedrooms have en-suites, with some featuring a spa bath.

Towels are provided for the lodge but not the swimming pool; you need to bring them from home.

There is also a sauna on the second floor, which we use for drying clothes.

One thing to note is that Center Parcs has no washing machine and no laundry facilities, so pack enough clothes to cover every day and evening for your trip.

Recycling points are located in hubs near the lodges.

Dogs are permitted at Center Parcs, so you don’t need to leave your furry friend at home.

However, the dog-friendly lodges do sell out quickly.

Bikes treehouse Center Parcs England

What Do You Wear At Center Parcs?

One of the best things about a holiday to Center Parcs is that everyone is very casual.

Most families wear jogging bottoms, tracksuit bottoms, yoga pants, shorts (if you’re lucky with the weather), down jackets, raincoats, trainers, and Crocs.

Comfort is the theme!

You’ll see some adults in jeans at night but still with a relaxed look.

Bike on Center Parcs cycle path Whinfell England

Center Parcs Restaurants

If you’re feeling flush or really don’t fancy loading the dishwasher, you can dine out every night during your stay.

There’s an American grill, Italian, French, Indian, Mexican, pub grub, pancakes, and Starbucks.

You need to book in advance.

An alternative option is to have the restaurants deliver food to your accommodation.

We only dined out once, opting for Indian food where the portions were huge, and the staff was friendly.

It’s worth pointing out that restaurants are child-friendly, so don’t expect a romantic meal without some iPad noise or gurning in the background.

Shopping at Center Parcs

Save money by doing a big shop at the Penrith supermarkets before checking in at Center Parcs.

We created a spreadsheet for food items, and one group member did the shop.

My parents brought homemade stovies for the first night, and we did a BBQ the second, then lasagne for the final dining in night.

There is a supermarket called ParcMarket on-site.

It is a little pricier than shopping back home but not too wild if you need to pick up a few things.

It sells a lot of Co-op food, and there is a handy pastry area with fresh sausage rolls.

You can also buy alcohol at ParcMarket, a 12-pack of 300ml Peroni was £21, compared to £17 on the Tesco website.

Center Parcs Bars

While Center Parcs is family-orientated, they know what they are doing regarding their pubs, especially at the Sports Cafe.

The sports complex has games on the lower floor and access to the restaurant part of the Sports Cafe and beer garden.

TVs are featured throughout the restaurant, and a cinema-sized screen on the upper floor plays big football games.

The bowling alley and baby disco building also has a bar area with tables and chairs.

The Lakeside Inn is an upmarket bar with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the lake and boats.

Center Parcs Tips

Pack Well For The Week

To keep costs down, list everything your family eats during the week and mark how much you’ll need to buy during the big shop.

Pack dishwasher tablets, wash-up liquid, spray, bin bags, and additional toilet rolls.

Consider Tupperware freezer bags, clingfilm, and tinfoil too.

Opt for shopping at Penrith to keep fridge goods fresh or use a cooler for meats and dairy.

Bella Italia Center Parcs England

Items You Wouldn’t Think to Pack

We packed a cooler as we’d read online that there was little fridge space; it turns out there are two fridges with small freezers and a wine fridge, so we didn’t need the cooler for food storage.

Buy instant fire logs at Aldi or B&M before arriving if you plan to use the log fire in the living room.

Remember a lighter for the fire and BBQ.

We’d also read online that you only get one towel for the week, so we packed an extra.

However, we didn’t need it as fresh towels were delivered during the week.

We did bring our own pool towels.

Center Parcs Whinfell sign England

Is Center Parcs Really Carless?

On the whole, yes, Center Parcs is a car-free holiday.

On day one, guests can drive their car to their lodge to unload; they need to take their vehicle to the car pack before evening, walking or cycling back to the lodge.

On check-out day, guests do the reverse – walk or cycle to pick up the car, drive to their accommodation, and pack.

Be careful when driving out of Center Parcs; look out for kids and dogs wandering onto the road.

Bike centre Center Parcs England

Arrive Before Check In

If you want to make a full day out of arrival day, you can use the facilities, like the swimming pool, from 10 am.

It just means you need to pack lunch or dine at one of the restaurants in the village until you check in at 4 pm.

Lakeside Inn Center Parcs England

Book Activities and Restaurants in Advance

The early bird catches the worm, as the saying goes!

If you plan to fill your itinerary with activities, book them in advance to bag times that suit you.

Remember to leave time for swimming and the spa; you deserve it!

You might need to settle for food delivery if you leave restaurant bookings until the last minute.

Have we missed out on any tips for Center Parcs? Please leave them in the comments below. 

Adventure Course in Center Parcs England

Final Words

As a ‘child-free by choice’ couple, we really had no expectations about our trip to Center Parcs.

We left content, having spent five solid days with family – creating new memories, and feeling relaxed after a work-free week!

If you’re considering booking a holiday to Center Parcs with your family and have the means to do so, we recommend it.

The only downside is that we both ended up sick after returning; our immune systems just aren’t built for being around so many wee ones!

Center Parcs Whinfell sunset in England

An Honest Bahia Principe Riviera Maya, Mexico Review

Sunset at infinity pool at Bahia Principe Akumal Mexico

Bahia Principe Riviera Maya is an all inclusive complex located in the lush Riveria Maya in Mexico.

This huge vacation hub is home to four resorts – the family-friendly Bahia Principe Grand Coba, the modern, Bahia Principe Tulum, and the adult only resorts Bahia Principe Akumal, and Bahia Principe Siam Ka’an. 

This article will review Bahia Principe Riveria Maya, looking at each resort, hotel amenities, food, drink, and entertainment so you can decide if this Mexican vacation is for you.

Bahia Principe Maya Rivera Resort Review Overview 

All four resorts have similarities; swimming pools, bars, a buffet restaurant, opportunity to book the themed restaurants spread throughout the resort, and entertainment. 

Bahia Principe Grand Coba has a very small section of the beach, Tulum has a bigger space, and Akumal and Ka’an can use the whole beach front* including the beach bar and infinity pool at Akumal.

*Does not include the Privilege Club section. 

Each resort can be visited using the local hotel buses which are free, however, not all guests can use the facilities at all four resorts. 

This privilege is reserved for the Akumal and Ka’an visitors or by paying a day rate for the length of your vacation, we’ll discuss this in detail below.

Swimming Pools 

Bahia Principe Grand Coba is the biggest, and oldest, resort and it has two main swimming pools with swim up bars.

The bigger of the two is where sports and entertainment, such as the foam party, takes place. 

This is also where you pick up towels in exchange for a card given to you at check in.

Swim up bar in Bahia Principe Grand Coba Mexico

The bigger pool has a kids water park – if your room is near here it can be little noisy but nothing worth complaining about.

Throughout the resort there are a number of smaller jet pools with cabana beds.

Bahia Principe Tulum has a similar set up for swimming pools.

Sunset at infinity pool at Bahia Principe Akumal Mexico

Bahia Principe Akumal has the addition of the stunning infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

All swimming pools have sun beds with and without shade. 

Getting Around 

It’s easy to get around the resort by foot but there is also a hotel bus/trolley system which runs within the resort and between resorts. 

To get your bearings it is worth joining the free bike tour.

A guide pedals the group around the Bahia Principe resorts, giving you flavor of what is on offer elsewhere to help you decide if you want to power up with the additional package that lets you use the facilities at Bahia Principe Akumal, and Bahia Principe Siam Ka-An if you’re staying elsewhere.

Bahia Principe Rooms 

We can only comment on our Bahia Principe Grand Coba room which was spacious with a large bath/shower and balcony. 

TV played Spanish channels and some English speaking news and music channels.

We left a daily tip with a note asking for two bottle of water in Spanish as this delivery wasn’t consistent.

There is flavoured water throughout the hotel like in the lobby.


Wi-Fi is free, to an extent.

For consistent and reliable Wi-Fi consider upgrading to the premium Wi-Fi.

We could stream TV on our laptop with the free Wi-Fi but it wouldn’t work on my phone, hence why we paid the additional fee.

Note: if you use the AVG app, turn it off before purchasing. 

Dining at Bahia Principe Resorts 

An extensive buffet restaurant is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Bahia Principe Grand Coba, a smaller buffet is found at the other resorts.

Along with the buffet, chefs prepare fresh meat, fish, and pasta. 

Most days there is a themed night for dinner for example, Italian night. 

Drinks, including cocktails, are served at tables by waiters, or you can pour your own soft drinks. 

There’s also the relaxed food truck style food court for pools snacks and an evening snack bar serving burgers, hot dogs, and chips.

Restaurants at Bahia Principe Resorts 

During your all inclusive stay, you can book into restaurants dotted around the full complex.

It is advised to download the Bahia Principe Resorts app and book into restaurants as soon as you can go avoid disappointment. 

Themes include Italian, Indian, Japanese, Teppanyaki (amazing), and seafood. 

Meals include three courses, drinks, and a welcome cocktail or mocktail.

There is a wine menu if you want to splurge but the house wine was good enough for us.

Teppanyak food saying I Love You at Bahia Principe Grand Coba Mexico

Drinks at Bahia Principe Resorts

We found the best cocktails to be served at Bahia Principe Grand Coba’s swim up bar and reception bar. 

Our favorite was the avalancha de lodo / mudslide.

The Rivera Maya was popular at Bahia Principe Akumal, it’s a slush cocktail in the Mexican flag colors.

Some beers and more expensive whiskies come with an additional charge but we never felt the need to branch out. 


Entertainment such as live music, silent disco, and a light dance show tours the Bahia Principe resorts. 

There’s a form of show on each night. 

Some entertainment is indoors, others takes place on outside stages.

The only thing that Bahia Principe is lacking is a club.

There’s an outdoor entertainment space that is referred to as a club but it’s nothing to get your hopes up about. 

During the day there is number of activities by the pool, and games such as bingo. 

There is also a well equipped fitness suite which has running machines, bikes, rowing, and weights.

Pack a water bottle as there is a water machine in the gym.

We used it daily.

What is your opinion of the Bahia Principe Riveria Maya in Mexico resort? Tell us in the comments.