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13 free gems to experience in Milan

The grand city of Milan is well known for fashion and finance but as a destination where traditional charm meets modern innovation, there really is something for every type of traveller (and every type of budget!). Going beyond typical recommendations, we have put together a list of the best 13 free gems to experience in Milan:


Here is our pick of the best 13 free hidden gems to experience in Milan:

1. Basilica di San Vittore al Corpo

Right next to the National Museum of Science and Technology in the quiet Sant’Ambrogio neighbourhood, you’ll find one of Milan’s lesser-known churches. Unlike the busy and hectic hustle and bustle of il Duomo, the Basilica di San Vittore al Corpo is often queue-less. And although it looks totally unassuming from the outside, the church’s inside will blow you away with its grand renaissance interiors and wall illustrations.

Where: 14-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

2. Palazzo Lombardia

While the Palazzo Lombardia – designed by famed architects Pei Cobb Freed – may look like ‘just another skyscraper’, it’s actually home to a secret spot serving up beautiful panoramic views of the city. Head here on a Sunday between 10am to 6pm to take in the insane skyline views of the city.

Where: 45-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

3. Self-guided street art tour

Milan is home to an emerging street art scene, featuring work by some of the best street artists in Italy. A large amount of their work can be found on street corners in the Isola district but other areas such as Corso di Porta Ticinese and the Colonne di San Lorenzo are also good for a self-guided street art stroll!

Where: 20-minute walk from Ostello Bello Grande.

Street art porta ticinese

4. Via Lincoln

Are you all about getting that shot for the ‘gram? You should head to Via Lincoln. As possibly one of the best-kept secrets in the city, the street is dotted with colorful terraced houses which act as the perfect backdrop for all your posing needs. Better yet, it’s of course totally free to explore – we always like a bank balance-friendly place to visit…

Where: 33-minute walk from both Ostello Bello Grande and Ostello Bello Duomo.

5. San Bernardino alle Ossa

Often referred to as Milan’s ‘creepiest church’, the San Bernardino alle Ossa was built on a former hospital and cemetery in 1269. Legend states that when the cemetery was overflowing with bodies, some of the bones were used to decorate a side chapel. For those with a little curiosity, this is worth a visit!

Where: 15-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

6. The Imperial Palace of Maximian

Milan was once a Roman city, the remains of which can still be seen today. The Imperial Palace of Maximian in Via Brisa was once at the centre of the route that connected Rome and the Mediterranean with the Alps of northern Italy.

Where: 5-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

7. Palazzo Dal Verme

Drawing its name from the nearby theatre, you’ll have to search pretty hard for this hidden gem of the Renaissance. Embedded between surrounding modern buildings, the inner courtyard is something anyone can enjoy. The building actually survived the bombings during World War II in 1943 which makes it a rare piece of history in the city’s streets.

Where: 11-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

Palazzo del Verme Milano

8. Corso di Porta Romana

At first glance, this street looks like any other normal street in Milan, but it was actually where a series of violent conflicts took place in the nineteenth century. In 1848, the so-called ‘five days of Milan’ rebellions took place against the then-Austrian leaders of the city, leading to a cannonball being embedded in the wall of one of the buildings on the street –  which is still visible today!

Where: 18-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo

9. Villa Invernizzi

Looking for an alternative to the famous city park of Sempione? We’ve got you. Villa Invernizzi – described as a ‘Liberty-styled palace’ – overlooks corso Venezia in central Milan and is today home to a variety of wildlife including pink flamingos, peacocks and ducks. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a peaceful spot to stroll around.

Where: 26-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

10. 10 Corso Como

10 Corso Como has an area dedicated to photography exhibitions and collections which feature a range of themes and early works of some famous photographers. Located on the top floor, the exhibitions are revolving and showcase new photography on a regular basis.

Where: 20-minute walk from Ostello Bello Grande.

11. Orto Botanico di Brera

Located in the cool district of Brera, the Botanical Gardens is a perfect spot for hanging out with friends and escaping the crowds. It’s not one for those that love a long walk (there’s always one in the group, right?) as it’s just 5000 square metres in size (and part of a larger complex located around the Brera Palace) but it’s a top place to visit.

Where: 20-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo.

12. Cimitero Monumentale

If you’re a true crime podcast fanatic, you’re going to want to head to the Monumental Cemetery, a graveyard first established in the mid-19th-century. Well-known for its artistic and unique monuments, tombs and sculptures, you could easily spend a few hours here. It is located a little way out of the city centre but with a tonne of the tombs created famous architects, it’s a worthwhile trip.

Where: 33-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo. 

13. Navigli

One forgotten fact about Milan is that it has a series of navigli (canals) crisscrossing the city. These long waterways are the perfect setting for a walking tour, as they are all lined with shops, bars and restaurants – no you’re not in Venice, even though it might feel like it!

Where: 20-minute walk from Ostello Bello Duomo. 

Navugli Milano

Looking for budget-friendly accommodation on your next trip to Milan? Our Ostello Bello Grande and the Ostello Bello Duomo are both located in the heart of the city and offer the ideal base to return to after a busy day exploring. The hostels both have a 24/7 bar and a terrace garden with a BBQ to enjoy and are ideal for those exploring the city on a budget.