Our guide to visiting Milan with kids. Find out the best time to visit Milan, the best things to in Milan with children and the best family hotels in Milan in this essential family guide for visitors to Italy’s second largest city.
Milan is often overlooked as a family destination. Famous for fashion and industry, visitors tend to use the city as a base for day trips and excursions to the lakes, rather than a destination itself, and often think about it as a city for grown ups and business people rather than children.
Indeed, I myself enjoyed Milan most when I visited without children in tow but this doesn’t mean there is a shortage of family friendly activities.
Milan has many child friendly attractions and sights and in this guide we are hoping to help you discover the best of them.
The best time to visit Milan
The best time to visit Milan is the spring (April-June) and the Autumn (especially September-early October).
At this time, the weather tends to be pleasant and you are spared both the fog that often covers the city in the winter and the crazy crowds of the summer. Visiting this time of the year, you are likely to get good, warm weather during the day and chilly evenings, so be prepared with a light jacket and possibly a scarf and do bring an umbrella. October often sees rain, especially in the second half of the month.
In terms of popularity, you do have some visitors at this time of the year and advance booking for hotels and skip the line tickets for attractions are recommended.
This is particularly true if you are visiting Milan during fashion week: while the event is fun if you like fashion and people watching, the city gets incredibly crowded and the prices shoot up to crazy levels. Plan well in advance unless you have a generous budget!
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How to get around Milan
Milan city centre is compact and you can visit most of it on foot, by tram and metro.
Depending on the length of your visit and family group, you may want to consider the Milano card: available for 24, 48 and 78 hours, the Milano Card covers public transportation and offers discounted rates from 10% to 100% off select museums.
It also gives access to services such as private drivers that may come in handy if visiting Milan with small children.
Where to stay in Milan with kids: family hotels and apartments
Milan has several good hotels catering for families. These are some we handpicked for location, services and welcome.
Family hotels in Milan
NH Collection Milano President (5 star hotel). I like NH hotels and this property in Milan makes no exception. Well located in the heart of Milan, they have good sized family rooms, restaurant onsite and can arrange baby sitting on request (extra charge)
Hotel Romana Residence (4 star hotel). In a great location in the heart of the city, this is a 4 star family hotel in Milan offering family rooms for up to 4 people with additional sitting area to relax at the end of a day of sightseeing.
Art Hotel Navigli (4 star hotel). Good family friendly hotel in the area of ‘i navigli’ with family rooms catering for up to 4 people. Family friendly and pet friendly (small pets only) it has parking on site and is well connected to the centre by public transport.
43 station hotel Milan (3 star hotel). A more budget friendly option, close the station, this hotels has family rooms, kids TV channels and can arrange baby sitting (extra charge). The location close to the station makes it a handy option if you are planning on using Milan as a base for day trips or need easy access to the airport.
Family friendly apartments in Milan
Brera Trilocale. This is a fabulous apartment hosting up to 6 people in a super convenient location. Close to the duomo and many of Milan’s landmarks, the apartment welcomes children and has self catering facilities, free wi-fi and parking. The apartment is close to lovely Parco Sempione and this makes it a great family friendly accommodation option in Milan city centre.
Heart Milan Apartment San Sepolcro Duomo. Another self catering option in a great location in Milan city centre. Family friendly and pet friendly, the same company manages several apartments of different sizes to suit most family needs.
Cocco House. Located in the area of ‘I Navigli, known for its cute canals and many nightlife options, this is a good option for large families and those who don’t mind being a short metro ride away from the centre.
Top things to do in Milan with kids
Milan has several family friendly attractions spanning from main Milan landmarks enjoyable by kids and adults alike to parks and child activities.
Short on time? Check also our guide to Milan in one day!
Here are some family friendly things to do in Milan:
Climb to the top of Milan’s duomo
Milano’s duomo is at the top of visitors must see lists and with good reason. The church dominates the centre of Milan and with its elaborate Gothic architecture is eye grabbing both inside and out.
The best part of a visit to the Milan’s duomo with kids is the opportunity to climb to the top: the roof of the duomo can be reached by stairs and lifts and despite its height is reasonably safe even with young children.
This is a lovely spot for catching a view over Milan.
See the bull in Milan’s galleria
Just beside the duomo sits Milan’s gallery.
This elegant space is beautiful and has something that may enthrall smaller kids: on the floor you will see a coat of arms with the design of a bull. Legend wants that if you twirl on it with your eyes closed you will get good fortune!
Kids may like that there is a bit of an art to it: the way to do it is to place your heel on the hole that has now replaced the bull’s testicles (yes, you read that right), close your eyes and do a 360 degree twirl.
I must admit, I never saw locals going anywhere near the bull however, for tourists and small kids, it is fun! An easy and cheap way to break up sightseeing when visiting Milan with children.
Take a stroll around Parco Sempione
Another main landmark in Milan is the Sforza Castle and the beautiful park that surrounds it. A stroll around the castle’s grounds is a lovely thing to do in Milan with kids on a sunny day. If you have time, it is also worth having a look inside the castle for the beautiful art and frequent exhibitions.
Access to the park is free but for some areas of the castle advance booking is necessary.
Check out Milan’s aquarium
Milan aquarium is small but pleasant to visit with kids.
If they are used to very impressive ones such as Genova or Barcelona, they may feel this is not that exciting, however it is a good place for small children due to the variety of fish in the tanks. The visit doesn’t take long so it is a good child friendly activity to break up a long day of sightseeing.
Discover the Museo Leonardo
This is the biggest museum in Italy dedicated to science and technology and a must see when in Milan with children.
The museum has several rooms and the section that most captures the kids imagination is the one about transport, showcasing one of the first locomotives!
The museum is also home to the impressive Toti Submarine. The submarine was originally part of a small fleet of ‘killer submarines‘ and can now be visited in the outside area of the museum.
Visits to the submarine happen in small groups and it is necessary to book in advance. Suitable for age 3 and up. You can check out the museum official site here
Visit the child-only giardini di Villa Reale
Milan has several gardens but only one that is for children only: the garden of Villa Reale!
The gardens are small but a lovely spot for a family pic-nic or just taking a break from city sightseeing. The garden is for kids under 12 accompanied by an adult and has a pond, ducks and turtles. A fabulous, family friendly address!
Learn about the stars in Milan’s planetarium
If your kids have a fascination for space, they might enjoy a trip to Milan’s planetarium, the biggest in Italy. The planetarium has regular shows suited to kids of at least 6 years of age.
However, there is no restriction to entrance so if you think your kids would be ok with darkness of the simulated night sky, this can be a good address.
Take a tour of San Siro stadium
Soccer fans can take the tour of San Siro stadium, the home of AC Milan and Inter. Tickets allow you to visit the stadium, the changing rooms and walking through the tunnel of champions. They also include access to the soccer museum.
See Piazza Gae Aulenti
I always joke that Piazza Gae Auelenti looks like a spec of Dubai plonked in the middle of Milan and I mean this in the best sense possible.
The space is a modern area of the city with skyscrapers, fountains, shops and dining options. Adults will appreciate the architecture and the kids will rejoice at its vast spaces and fountains.
Last but not least i want to mention i navigli, another area of Milan worth visiting. I navigli are famous mostly for nightlife and restaurants but they are a lovely area to visit with kids too. The best way to discover this area is to allow yourself to stroll around. While not monumental, here you have as secluded courtyards and quirky shops, perfect for a morning stroll.
Cool places to eat in Milan with kids
Some cool family friendly addressed we picked up:
- Officine Panino, sandwich shop: Viale Bligny, 19a
- Bond, perfect for breakfast: Via Pasquale Paoli, 2
- 212 rotisserie & delicious,informal and specializing in chicken dishes: Corso di Porta Romana, 131
- Casa gourmet, offering family brunch on Saturdays: Via Mike Bongiorno, 13
I hope you enjoyed this overview of what to see and do in Milan with kids. Safe family travels!