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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

Best Areas To Stay In Rome & Affordable Hotels

Sacred Heart Church of the Intercession Rome

Wondering where the best areas to stay in Rome are? Choosing the right district for your travel style can be daunting, especially if this is your first time visiting the City of Seven Hills. Whether you prefer to be right in the action next to the top attractions or nestled among the nightlife, this guide on where to stay in Rome will explain everything you need to know including why you’d choose that specific area.

Due to the age of the buildings, many of the hotels in Rome don’t have reliable escalators so consider this before you pack for your trip.

You may also like our guide, how to spend one day in Rome, and what to do at night.

Best Areas To Stay and Why

Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi For Attractions

If you want to get out of bed and roll into Rome’s most sought after attractions, this is the best area for you.

Piazza Navona is less than five minutes walk from Piazza della Rotonda and both are surrounded by restaurants and shops.

Both squares are super central, you can dine with the Pantheon over your shoulder at Piazza della Rotonda and walk to the Trevi Fountain in under 10 minutes.

The Trevi Fountain needs no introduction!

Traditionally, visitors come to throw a coin in the water.

Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi are the best locations to stay in Rome for those on a restricted schedule.

For example if you only have a day in Rome because it is part of a bigger trip or restricted in relation to walking long distances.

Naturally, the downside of staying next to these attractions is dealing with the crowds.

Overall, this is the best place to stay in Rome for attractions.

Trevi Fountain Rome with water and blue skies

Piazza Navona and the Pantheon Hotels

Consider the following hotels on the piazza and near the attractions.

Pantheon at night in Rome_

Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna For 5 Star Hotels

The Spanish Steps are the famous stairs which feature in the Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday.

The building at the top of the 135 steps is Trinità dei Monti.

Above that is Terrazza del Pincio, a popular viewpoint in Rome, especially a sunset.

Find out all about the best places to watch the sunset and things to do at night in Rome.

This is also a busy area, so much so security hang around and stop tourists from sitting on the steps.

Visitors are encouraged to sit near The Fontana della Barcaccia instead which is located at Piazza di Spagna.

You’ll find lots of shops around Piazza di Spagna.

This is one area where you’ll can stay in 5 star hotels so if you are visiting Rome for a special occasion, check out the options below.

There is a metro stop called Spagna in this district.

Overall, this is the best place to stay in Rome for location and luxury.

White Spanish Steps leading up to rinità dei Monti church

Hotels Near Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna

From 5-start to affordable, consider the following.

Spanish Steps views of Piazza di Spagna

Monti For Nightlife

Monti is a fun area, full of hip people and places to drink.

It is very close to the Colosseum which you can walk to within 10 minutes, ideal if you want to visit the amphitheatre for a tour and then again at night to see it all lit up.

Monti used to be a slum and the red light district but now it is buzzing with locals listening to live music and picking up vintage items at the market on the weekend.

It’s also common for young Italians to enjoy a beer with friends at Piazza Della Madonna.

The Cavour metro station is located in Monti.

Overall, this is the best neighborhood to stay in Rome if you plan to enjoy the social life of the city but still want to get up and see the sights.

Bar La Licata lit up with ivy plants, Monti Rome

Monti Hotels

Quiet rooms for party people.

Colosseum at nigh with dark blue sky Rome

Areas Near The Vatican

If you want to wake up early to take a ‘before general public’ tour of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, you might want to consider staying close by.

Prati, in the north of the city and Aurelio next to the Vatican are good options for this.

Avoid restaurants and shops very close to the Vatican to avoid ridiculous prices!

Castel Sant’Angelo is also close to the Vatican.

Overall, this is the best place to stay in Rome for the Vatican.

St.Peter's Basilica Vatican at Rome entrance chairs

Prati Hotels Near Vatican

Consider the following some of the best hotels to stay in Rome if you are planning to spend most of your time at the Vatican.

Quiet rooms in residential areas.

Vatican The Sistine Chapel sign

Trastevere For Bars

About Trastevere

If you don’t mind a 30 minute walk to the main attractions such as the Trevi Fountain and like to be among the hustle of the nightlife, Trastevere is a great choice for you.

This district is very pretty.

Streets have cobbled stones, high buildings are painted in soft shades and bar tables line the streets.

There are piazzas where locals and visitors dine and drink the day and night away in traditional and contemporary bars.

Trastevere is definitely one of the best places to stay in Rome if you want a mix of nightlife but don’t mind a bit of scenic walking to tourism sites.

There is a train station in Trastevere which has a direct train to Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

Bear in mind there are two main airports, Ciampino is the other.

Overall, this is the best place to stay in Rome for social first time visitors.

Trastevere restaurant bar Rome food

Hotels in Trastevere

For a quiet night’s sleep in a lively area consider the following options.

Drink bottles on wall at Bar San Calisto Rome Trastevere

Testaccio and Ostiense – Best For Avoiding Tourist Traps

Wondering where to stay in Rome while avoiding looking like a tourist?

If your travel style is to avoid the tourist traps and live as the locals do consider Testaccio and Ostiense.

Testaccio is where you will find the Pyramid of Caius Cestius and foodie heaven, Testaccio Market where as Ostiense is home to street art murals and St. Paul Outside the Walls which has images of every pope as part of its lavish decor.

This area is known for its clubs and party scene.

Metro stop, Piramide.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius with blue sky in Rome

Testaccio and Ostiense Accommodation

Cool spaces in an edgy area.

Wall of Fame by JB Rock orange wall with black and white portraits via dei Magazzini Generali street art_

Final Words

The great thing about accommodation in Rome is that you can find something to meet every budget and style of travel.

If you need to keep costs down, books hotels outside of the summer months, Easter and during big football matches.

Go for family run bed and breakfasts over chain hotels and consider the districts that are little further away from the likes of the Trevi Fountain.

If you are visiting for a special occasion and want to splurge on accommodation, there are many wonderful options with stunning terraces and rooftops such as the Rocco Forte Hotel De La Ville featured above.

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome Ruins with garden

You May Also Like Our Other Rome Travel Guides

Tiber Island Rome with walkway and trees

Our Italy Guides

Rome in a Day: Free 24 Hour Rome Itinerary

Trevi Fountain Rome Blue Sky

Wondering how to pack everything into Rome in a day? Some will say 24 hours is never enough in Italy’s capital but we appreciate that some trips are time restricted so we’ve created this jam-packed one-day Rome itinerary that ticks all the traditional bucket list items around the popular districts.

If you’re looking for historical monuments, insightful tours that save time, perfect photo spots and hidden gems, keep reading.

We’ve also featured restaurants and, if you plan to stretch your one day in Rome into the wee hours, nighttime entertainment!

You may also like our guide on things to do at night in Rome.

So whether you are planning a fly visit or have built a day into a bigger trip you’ll find our 24 hours in Rome guide exactly what you need to get a taster of what the Eternal City has to offer.

Find out the best place to stay for one night in Rome here.

Getting Around Rome

Money can’t buy you love but it can buy you time and time is what you need to get the most out of your day in Rome.

You can easily walk between some of Rome’s top attractions while others are a little out of the way.

If you want to see it all and save your feet consider the Rome hop on and off bus where you get off at the stops that take your fancy and then hop on the next bus.

This tour also includes an audio guide so you can learn while you are in motion.

If it’s sunny, sit on the open top deck.

If it’s not dry, the sightseeing bus is a recommended thing to do in Rome when it rains, especially if you only have a day.

Here’s an overview of how far apart points of interest are to help you get your bearings.

Rome Attractions Walking Times

  • Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain: 8 minutes
  • Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps: 8 minutes
  • Spanish Steps to Castel Sant’Angelo: 20 minutes
  • Castel Sant’Angelo to St Peter’s Square at the Vatican: 11 minutes
  • Trevi Fountain to Colosseum: 20 minutes
  • Trevi Fountain to Trastevere: 30 minutes
Pantheon in Rome - pillars with triangle roof

Rome in One Day – Morning at The Vatican

If you plan to visit the Vatican to see The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel AND St Peter’s Basilica consider this very early morning tour.

If you’re arriving late morning, read through the Vatican review and then check out the other entrance options below.

For this early morning tour, you meet your guide and enter the Sistine Chapel a whole hour before the general public, giving you time to see the intricate art in a smaller crowd.

Did you know that the Vatican is its own country with its own rules?

It is the smallest country in the world with a population of just over 800.

Remember to take ID with you as you will need it for this tour.

There’s a dress code which involves ensuring your shoulders and down to your knees are covered so keep this in mind when you are packing for your day in Rome.

Food wise, the meeting point is outside a piazza cafe which sells coffee and sandwiches and there is a cafe inside the Vatican for a morning comfort break.

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican at Rome entrance with statue

The early access Vatican tour is laden with insight and backstory so best have a coffee before it kicks off!

As you wait to pass through security, your guide shares a map with a key of the epic Michelangelo fresco which was created between 1508 and 1512.

You can’t take any pictures of the famous roof painting but there’s plenty of other fascinating art and decor to capture as a souvenir.

The tour also includes access to St. Peter’s Basilica which is overwhelmingly beautiful.

Its Renaissance style is a work of art itself never mind the religious importance it holds in the city.

The early access Vatican tour is four hours long which may seem like a long time when you only have 24 hours in Rome but it does get you up and out of bed really early and on your way to explore the rest of the city by 11am.

Vatican The Sistine Chapel sign and dome in background

Next up is an additional option that photography fans will want to take advantage of.

If you can handle the adventurous stairs to St Peter’s Dome Climb, you will be rewarded with vast views of St Peter’s Square and beyond.

St. Peter's Square view from dome climb Vatican Rome

Please take note of this warning, the steps are not for those who suffer from vertigo or fear tight spaces as you can see in the images below.

There are two options, you can take elevator and climb the remaining 320 steps or climb the full 551 steps.

The first option will obviously save you some time which is the goal since you only have one day in Rome to see all of the highlights.

St. Peter's Basilica Vatican Rome roof views of building and garden

Other Vatican Tours and Entrance Options

You can easily spend half a day at the Vatican but if you just want in and out here are some options.

St.Peter's Basilica Vatican at Rome entrance chairs

Afternoon – Whistle Stop Tour of Rome’s Monuments

There’s a take out pizza shop called Scialla The Original Street Food (Vicolo del Farinone, 27) five minutes walk from St Peter’s Square where you can get a cheap slice.

There are a couple of tables inside or benches on the street outside.

Scialla The Original Street Food on paper plate Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo (Lungotevere Castello, 50) is a very popular photo spot in Rome.

The cylindrical building was once home to the Roman Emperor Hadrian and then it was the pope’s fortress.

Today it is a museum with seven floors.

It takes around 10 minutes to walk between the pizza take out shop and this historic building.

Castel Sant'Angelo building in Rome with blue skies


Next we head over St. Angelo Bridge, one of Rome’s many bridges which connect districts separated by the River Tiber.

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome at night with moody skies

The Pantheon is the only remaining nearly intact ancient Roman building and it really does look in great shape considering it was built between 25 and 27 B.C.

Just imagine that for a minute, 25 and 27 B.C.

It really is incredible when you think how old Rome is.

Pantheon in Rome with moody sky

This Rome attraction used to be a pagan temple and later became a Christian church.

You can do an audio tour of the church and mausoleum and it only takes around 35 minutes if you want to budget that into your 24 hour Rome itinerary.

Looking for a pit stop? Enjoy a drink or meal at a restaurant on Piazza della Rotonda.

Pantheon and water fountain spouting water in Rome

Alternatively, go for pizza or pasta at Origano Campo De’ Fiori (Largo dei Chiavari, 84) which is a modern Italian restaurant on a street close to the Pantheon.

Trevi Fountain

There’s no denying that the star of the show for many is the Trevi Fountain (Piazza di Trevi) and the crowds around it indicate just how many Rome bucket lists this water piece features in!

Squeeze in to get a picture, throw a coin then be on your way to your next stop, the Spanish Steps.

Trevi Fountain, Rome with crowds

The Spanish Steps

These are the famous steps that feature in the Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday.

You can do you best impression where this wall ends just avoid sitting on the steps as the tourism police are forever blowing whistles and telling people to stand up.

White Spanish Steps with rinità dei Monti church in Rome

The building at the top of the 135 steps is Trinità dei Monti.

If you are in need of some green space, climb the steps and make your way to Villa Borghese where you will find one of the most popular viewpoints, Terrazza del Pincio.

Depending on the time of day, this is a decent sunset spot.

Check out our guide to things to do at night in Rome for more sunset locations.

Rome city view from the Pincio Terrace and light sky at sunset

Evening – Colosseum and Monti

Rome’s Colosseum

If you have a hop on hop off pass use it to save your feet and some time because the next stop on this Rome in a day itinerary is the Colosseum.

Alternatively, enjoy the 40 minute walk from Terrazza del Pincio or the 30 minute walk Spanish Steps.

The Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre) is an oval shaped structure with a crumbling side and sordid past.

Colosseum Rome at night with dark blue sky

This amphitheatre is where the emperor put on gladiator fights and animal hunts for entertainment.

Construction started between between A.D. 70-72 making it the oldest amphitheatre and the largest standing in the world.

Colosseum at night in Rome with black sky

Colosseum Tours

If a tour of the Colosseum is something you would really be interested in while visiting Rome, skip the Vatican tour and check out the following options.


Monti is a hip area close to the Colosseum where locals enjoy beers at Piazza Della Madonna, chat over slow dinners and listen to live music.

In the past it was known for being one of the poorer districts but now it is bohemian and arty.

Dine on pasta at a restaurant such as Alle Carrette, gelato at Fatamorgana Monti then a drink at one of the cool bars.

Monti also has a popular weekend vintage market.

Bar La Licata, Monti Rome all lit up with ivy plants around it

Alternative Night in Rome – Trasteverse

Head back over the Tiber River to Trasteverse which means ‘beyond the Tiber’.

Plan for an evening of al fresco dining, drinks at Piazza di San Calisto or Piazza Santa Maria and live music at Alcazar Live (Via Cardinale Merry del Val, 14b).

Trastevere restaurant bar with tables outside Rome food

Save for later!

A day in Rome Itinerary

Our Italy Guides

Things to do at Night in Rome All Year Round

Trevi Fountain at Night Rome_

Looking for things to do at night in Rome? This historic capital city is arguably even more spectacular when dark falls. So whether you are enjoying a warm summer’s evening, escaping the rain, or are looking for a romantic night – our guide details popular indoor and outdoor activities you can do all year round.

We’ve also included where to enjoy sunsets in the eternal city, or should we say, nocturnal city!

You may also like our one day in Rome itinerary and best areas to stay in Rome.

Things to do in Rome at Night All Year Round

Enjoy the Buzz of Trastevere at Night

The number of districts in Rome appears to be disputed with anything between 21 and 25 being identified.

What is undisputed is the popularity of the district Trastevere at night.

Trastevere means ‘beyond the Tiber’ which is the river that runs through Rome and it can be reached by foot in 30 minutes from the Trevi Fountain.

The walk takes you over the Ponte Garibaldi bridge with unique Tiber Island/Isola Tiberina to your left.

Tiber Island Rome_

Immerse yourself in a Trastevere evening where locals chitter chatter the night away over slow dinners and drinks.

There is no shortage of cafes and restaurants serving traditional Roman recipes and international cuisine around Piazza di San Calisto, Piazza Santa Maria and the cobbled streets that surround them.

Sit indoors away from the crowds or outdoors, clinging on to the last of a balmy summer evening or crisp autumn night.

Trastevere restaurant bar Rome food

Craft Beer in Rome

Just out for a few beers?

Check out Delirium Cafè (Via di S. Francesco a Rip) for a craft beer menu featuring international options.

Note: Trastevere is a very popular area to stay in.

Check out these hotels and apartments before you book your stay so that you you can stagger home safely or read our where to stay in Rome guide for the lowdown on other areas.

Delirium Cafè Craft Beer Bar Trastevere_

Live Music at Trastevere

Alcazar Live (Via Cardinale Merry del Val, 14b) is a bar, restaurant and music venue.

DJs, local artists and cover bands take to the stage at this Trastevere late night spot.

There’s also an outdoor patio.

Fun things to do in Rome don’t have to involve history, reserve a table for dinner at Alcazar Live to avoid disappointment.

Dine, Drink and Soak Up the Atmosphere of Monti at Night

Historically, Monti was where the poorest of citizens lived, debauchery and prostitution was common.

Today, Monti is cool area of Rome where you’ll find beautiful bohemian buildings, dining opportunities, wine bars, live music, galleries and its weekend vintage market.

Monti is a magnet for artists and creatives.

Bar La Licata, Monti Rome

Grab a gelato at Fatamorgana Monti, dine on pasta at a restaurant such as Alle Carrette or grab a beer and drink it a square like Piazza Della Madonna.

The word Monti means mountain in English and this area of Rome is set over some of the city’s hills.

Keep reading to find out a cool Monti sunset spot.

Colosseum at Night

Within walking distance of Monti is the Colosseum.

Catch the oval amphitheatre lights shine through its windows with the inky night sky as a backdrop.

Via Nicola Salvi is a raised road which gives you a decent angle for taking photos of the Colosseum.

Colosseum Rome night

Gay Bars in Rome

Next door to the Colosseum you’ll find Coming Out and My Bar, friendly LGBTQ+ bars on Via San Giovanni.

Dine, drink, sing karaoke and get involved in the themed nights at these popular bars.

Coming Out Roma pub

Visit the Trevi Fountain

Visiting the Trevi Fountain (Piazza di Trevi) at night means fewer crowds as the day tour groups have left the city.

However, since this is one of the most visited attractions in Rome, it’s likely you’ll still be rubbing shoulders with fellow tourists as you throw a coin into the water.

The Trevi’s travertine stone bounces off the flood flights, contrasting against the dark skies at night.

Lights illuminate the turquoise water creating a little bit of magic for photos.

Trevi Fountain Night in Rome_

The Trevi is one of the oldest water sources in Rome but there are hundreds of free water fountains which are safe for you fill up your water bottle with.

Nasoni fountains Rome

Do an Audio Tour of the Pantheon

The Pantheon is a striking structure which used to be a pagan temple and later became a Christian church.

It is the only remaining nearly intact ancient Roman building thought to have been built between 25 and 27 B.C.

The 35-minute audio tour takes you through 15 listening points inside of the basilica and teaches you about the history of the church and mausoleum.

The Pantheon is located at Piazza della Rotonda which is very busy during the day with tourists taking a minute by the water fountain to listen to street performers and enjoy some gelato.

At night, you can still expect to see couples and groups dining al fresco at the restaurants with Pantheon views which is another thing you can do at night in Rome.

Pantheon at night in Rome water fountain

Castel Sant’Angelo

Reserve tickets for the last session at the Castel Sant’Angelo museum to skip the large crowds in the afternoon.

Explore the seven levels of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s old home which later became the pope’s fortress with castle.

Castel Sant’Angelo is a very popular photo spot in Rome.

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome night

Dine at the Central Station

Why would you have dinner at a train station you might be thinking!

Rome’s Mercato Centrale is actually a cool spot to enjoy food and a drink, especially for couples and groups who can’t agree on the same kind of food.

There are a number of food stalls around the market so you can go for noodles while your partner eats a burger.

There’s plenty of wine and beer to choose from too.

Milan’s Centrale Railway Station also has a similar set up.

Mercato Centrale Rome

Spend a Night at the Lesser-Known Ostiense and Testaccio

Looking for something different to the cobbled streets of Trastevere and Monti?

Meet the Testaccio and Ostiense districts.

Tourists come for the Rome points of interests, St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Pyramid of Caius Cestius then leave amazed at the intricate street art work.

Entire buildings are covered in bright murals, many of which were completed during Rome’s Outdoor Festival proving that Rome is more than just traditional art such as The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel.

Here’s an overview of what street art you can see in Ostiense and where.

Sam3, Via Ostiense 193b

Spanish artist, Sam3 is known for the use of black silhouettes which is exactly what you can see in Opera Onirica, painted on to a building across from St. Paul Outside the Walls.

This work was created in 2012 for the Outdoor Urban Art Festival.

Silhouette of Sam3 Via Ostiense, 193b Ostiense

JB Rock, Via dei Magazzini Generali

You’ll recognise quite a few faces on JB Rock’s 60 meters Wall of Fame.

Next to this wall is the Roman headquarter of the Cartoon Network and a mural celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Kid Acne, Via del Commercio Ostiense

Paint over the Cracks was painted in 2011 as part of the Outdoor Festival.

The 100 meter long slogan, in Kid Acne’s recognisable font, was completed in under two days.

Paint over the cracks by Kid Acne Via del Commercio Ostiense

Searching for that street art is thirsty work.

Enjoy dinner and a drink at one of the many Ostiense bars such as the friendly and chic, Porto Fluviale (Via del Porto Fluviale, 22).

Content that we’ve done most of the touristy things in Rome, we would consider staying in Ostiense the next time we visit.

Porto Fluviale Ristorante Pizzeria Beer Ostiense-

Watch the Sunset at Giardino Degli Aranci

Did you know that like Edinburgh, Rome is built on seven hills?

Located on one of them, Aventine Hill, is Giardino Degli Aranci which means The Orange Trees Garden.

This beauty spot was designed by Raffaele De Vico in 1932.

Spectacular sunset from Oranges garden (Jardin de los naranjos), beautiful view of Rome

Terrazza del Pincio at Dusk

Another popular sunset spot is Terrazza del Pincio (Salita del Pincio), a short walk up from the Piazza de Popolo.

The 19th century terrace has fountains, views of the piazza and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Local buskers add some ambiance so be sure to tip them.

The well manicured Villa Borghese is close by.

Rome city view from the Pincio Terrace

Be Seen and Sip Cocktails at a Rooftop Bar

While the majority of Rome’s social energy takes place in tight bars on busy piazzas, there’s a handful of rooftop bars that serve sundown drinks.

Tiziano Terrace for Monti views, Minerva Roof Garden for stylish spritz and Up Sunset Bar for panoramic views.

Dine on a Floating Restaurant

The River Tiber runs throughout Rome creating an excuse for its many marvellous bridges.

It also gives reason for floating restaurants and bars such as Baja (Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia).

Baja is a barge moored on the banks which boasts of an ‘elegant and functional Art Nouveau structure’.

As night falls, Baja’s lights give the barge restaurant a certain vibe, a romantic thing to do in Rome.

Baja is a little pricier than other dining experiences in Rome, you are paying for the ambience after all.

Baja floating restaurant on Tiber River Rome_

Hop On and Off Bus

Watch the city change from day to night from the comfort of the Rome hop on and off bus.

See St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, Forum, and Circus Maximus from the top deck and learn about their history via audio guide.

If a stop takes your fancy, like the Spanish Steps, get off and hop back on the next bus.

An ideal thing to do at night in Rome if you’re feeling tired but don’t want to miss out.

If it’s raining, stay dry on the bottom deck which is fully covered.

Spanish Steps and rinità dei Monti church

See a Movie

If you’re bored of boozing, your feet need a rest, it’s raining outside or you just really fancy catching a movie, check out what’s on at Cinema Adriano (Piazza Cavour, 22) or Cinema Admiral (Piazza Verbano, 5).

Watch a Soccer (Football) Game in Rome

Italians are known for their love of football and Rome is home to two teams, AS Roma and Lazio.

Purchase tickets to see AS Roma play at Stadio Olimpico here and Lazio here.

If you can’t get stadium tickets, watch the game on a screen at Highlander’s.

Auditorium Parco Della Musica

Book tickets to see a large international acts play music at the Parco della Musica.

With three music halls and a theatre, this live music venue hosts a busy calendar of events all year round.

Go Bowling

Strike it lucky at the late night Brunswick Bowling (Lungotevere dell’Acqua Acetosa, 10).

Dine, bowl, play games or mini-golf at this family friendly attraction.

Things to do a Night in Rome in Winter

See the Christmas Trees in Rome

Check out the huge Christmas trees all lit up at the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia and Galleria Alberto Sordi.

Enjoy the festive lights at Via del Corso.

Pick Up Festive Souvenirs

Head to the Piazza Navona Christmas Market for festive gifts, Christmas snacks, candy or just enjoy a glass of vino while you people watch from a restaurant on the sidelines.

Listen to a Christmas Choir

Attend mass or an organised choir event at one of the churches in Rome.

Christmas tree Colosseum at night

Save for later!

Things to do at night in Rome

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