Northern Italy is the perfect winter destination when you feel like combining outdoor activities, natural landscapes, entertainment and sightseeing. Don’t be scared by cold weather and choose Milan as a base to explore the Alps!
Let’s see how and when you can plan your next winter trip to Milan!
Things to do in Milan in Winter
Milan in November
Weather in Milan in November
The minimum temperature in Milan in November is 6°C and the maximum temperature is 11°C. November is quite rainy in Milan, so bring an umbrella with you!
Events, celebrations, and traditions in Milan in November
- Nov 1st -All Saints: besides going to mass and bring some flowers to the cemeteries, locals are used to eating some biscuits named “Bread of the Dead”. Despite their gloomy name, they are delicious shortbread biscuits with dried figs, almonds, pine nuts, and raisins!
Things to do in Milan in November
- Attend the opera at La Scala Theater: the best of the opera season is to be found from November to February and it’s also a great idea to spend a night out despite the cold! Check out the discounted tickets available at Teatro Alla Scala.
- Watch some contemporary and futuristic architecture: have a walk around the award-winning Gae Aulenti Square, watch the green explosion of the Vertical Forest and spend a few hours in the brand-new districts of Porta Nuova and CityLife
- Enjoy the artistic masterpieces of the Cathedral: November is one of the quietest months in Milan, so it’s the perfect occasion to enjoy a thorough visit to its Cathedral and its panoramic rooftop (more info at Duomo di Milano. – To make the best of your time, choose a guided tour with rooftop entry.
Why visit Milan in November
- Pros: fewer tourists than usual
- Cons: bad weather
Milan in December
Weather in Milan in December
The minimum temperature in Milan in December is 2°C and the maximum temperature is 7°C. December is rather cold but it hardly ever rains. Mid-winter (Dec-Jan) is a dry season in Northern Italy, but it might snow.
Events, celebrations, and traditions in Milan in December
- Dec. 7t – Patronal Feast of S. Ambrose: the Holiday Season starts today in Milan! On this occasion, a special fair takes place in the courtyard of the Sforza Castle: the so-called Obey Obey fair, which is a sort of large Christmas market lasting 1 week.
- Dec. 8th – Feast of the Immaculate Conception: avoid Milan if you cannot stand some crazy Christmas shopping!
- Dec. 25th – Christmas: the day’s program involves going to mass, enjoy a festive meal with family and friends and stay at home!
- Dec 31st–New Year’s Eve: Milan has plenty of clubs, so you’ll be spoilt for choice! If you don’t like clubs, there’s a free concert in Piazza Duomo.
- Christmas lights: wander around the city center and watch the 35Km of lights decorating 180 streets
- Christmas trees: the main one stands in Piazza Duomo, but there are many Christmas trees scattered throughout the city center. For example, watch the sparkling one by Swarovski in the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery!
- Christmas markets: the main one is set up in Piazza Duomo but there’s also the Village of Wonders in the Indro Montanelli park with Santa’s Cabin and some entertainment for kids.
- Nativity scene: the annual nativity scenes exhibition takes place in Piazza Duomo
- Panettone: the traditional Italian Christmas cake is from Milan and you’ll see it in every bakery shop in all sizes, shapes and with all kinds of decorations.
Things to do in Milan in December
- Spend some time in the Sforza Castle and take a guided tour to enjoy its many works of art. Then take a guided tour to The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
- If you’re ok with huge crowds and lines in front and inside shops, boutiques, and shopping malls, enjoy local Christmas shopping!
- Skate on ice: there are several skating rinks in town but the best ones are at the Mysterious Baths of Carlo Botta street (Inverno ai Bagni Misteriosi), in Gae Aulenti Square (Gaeaulentionice), and at the Village of Wonders (Il Villaggio delle Meraviglie)
Why visit Milan in December
- Pros: many events and entertainment options
- Cons: large crowds of both tourists and locals
Milan in January
Weather in Milan in January
The minimum temperature in Milan in January is 2°C and the maximum temperature is 7°C. Same as December. Heavy snow is possible.
Events, celebrations, and traditions in Milan in January
- Jan 6th – Epiphany: a traditional historical parade starts from the Cathedral to reach the Basilica of S. Eustorgio where the Three Kings offer their gifts to the characters of a living nativity scene.
- Chinese New Year: a large Chinese community lives in Milan in Chinatown district and their New Year has become popular among Milanese people who love watching the parade and join the party!
Things to do in Milan in January
- Escape the cold inside a museum: the best ones are the Brera Art Gallery, the Cenacolo Vinciano, the Triennale, The Science and Technology Museum, and the Museum of the Twentieth Century.
- Enjoy a great view of the snow-capped Alps on a sunny day: you can get to the top floor of the Lombardia Building (Palazzo della Regione) for free on certain dates (Info at Palazzo Lombardia)
- When it’s really too cold to go sightseeing, take a tram tour: Milan: 2.5-Hour City Tour by Tram.
Why visit Milan in January
- Pros: many events and entertainment options, winter sales, not too many tourists around
- Cons: cold weather
Milan in February
The minimum temperature in Milan in February is 3°C and the maximum temperature is 10°C. It’s still mid-winter in Milan and spring only comes around late March.
Events, celebrations, and traditions in Milan in February
- Feb. 3rd – St. Blaise’s Day: St. Blaise is the patron of nose and throat but besides his blessings, there’s another thing that locals take on this day: the last slice of panettone which is said to bring health!
- Feb. 14th – St. Valentine’s Day: Milan is not particularly romantic, but local restaurants offer special menus on this occasion
- Carnival: local Carnival lasts 1 week longer than usual. That’s because S. Ambrose was once in Rome and could not get back to Milan to start the Lenten season, so he asked his fellow citizens to wait for him. Since Carnival shall end the day before the beginning of the Lenten period, they went on with the parties and this tradition still exists!
- Milan Fashion Week: models, stylists and celebrities from all over the world gather in Milan for a week full of events and glamour
Things to do in Milan in February
- Take advantage of late winter to enjoy a day trip in the Alps and reach Switzerland that’s just a few km away! A scenic way to reach the Alps is taking the Bernina Express: From Milan: Bernina Train & St. Moritz Full–Day Tour.
- You cannot leave Milan without having an aperitivo like a local! Try a themed tour like this one Milan: Aperitivo Tour with Street Food
- If your budget does not allow you to tour the luxury boutiques, visit the exhibitions of the Armani Silos, and watch all the iconic outfits of this brand. More info at Armani/Silos – Exhibition Space.
Why visit Milan in February
- Pros: many events and entertainment options
- Cons: cold weather
What to pack for a winter trip to Milan
- Scarf, gloves and hat
- Down parka
- Comfortable shoes or boots
- long trousers/jeans/corduroys
- Wool sweaters
- Long sleeves t-shirts or shirts
- Backpack (and a small bag for the night)
Remember to dress in layers you can take off in heated indoor spaces!
Where to eat and drink in Milan in winter
- Trattoria Testina: taste their yellow risotto and all the other traditional dishes presented with a modern touch (Ristorante Testina)
- Osteria Brunello: Milanese veal steak and a glass of red wine in a vintage and authentic location (Osteria Brunello)
Cafes and Bars
- Grezzo Raw Chocolat: a trendy place to taste some raw desserts (GREZZO RAW CHOCOLATE)
- Iter: cocktails inspired by all the Countries of the world (Iter)
- Pica: for a gourmet breakfast cooked by a starred chef (Massimo Pica)
Why visit Milan in winter
- The Holiday Season is really sparkling in Milan thanks to endless decorations, lights and large Christmas trees everywhere!
- If you want to enjoy the city without the usual crowds of tourists, choose November and late January to be able to go sightseeing at your own pace
- Mountains are so close you can go skiing and snow shoeing whenever you want!
- Take advantage of the winter sales to go shopping in the best luxury boutiques
- Choose among endless entertainment possibilities and indoor activities to escape the cold
- Linger in local restaurants to taste all the local specialties