Top Tips for Visiting Milan in the Winter

A Christmas tree in Milan, Italy

By Anne McCarthy

It’s a magical time of year to be traveling through Europe, with the continent aglow with festive cheer and twinkling lights. Today, we’re checking out all the wintery and wonderful things to do in Milan, Italy!

Milan has a population of 1.3 million, and it’s a bustling metropolis in the northern part of Italy, in the Lombardi region. If you’re heading to Milan, come visit us at Fat Tire Tours Milan for a tour! We have some incredible tour offerings in this fashionable city, like our Milan Wine Tasting, the Milan Food Tour, the Skip the Line Cathedral, Underground & Rooftop Terrace Tour, Segway tours, evening food tours, private tours, and more. Phew!

If you’re traveling through Italy, we also have locations in Florence & Rome, too! Check out Fat Tire Tours Florence and Fat Tire Tours Rome for when you’re visiting the City of Lilies and the Eternal City, respectively.

Milan has a unique appeal that Florence and Rome don’t. In fact, singer Shawn Mendez once said of the city: “I love Milan and I’m not just saying that. It’s a city that gives me a great sense of euphoria. I can’t explain why, but I feel a special energy there.”

If you want to experience some of that magical Milanese energy this winter, read on for our top tips for visiting Milan in the winter.

Pack Warmly

Because Milan is in the northern part of Italy, it does get quite a bit chilly during the winter months. Make sure you have some fashionable sweaters, coats, and scarves packed in your bag for your wintertime visit! And while rain is less common in Milan in winter, it does fall sometimes. If you have room in your suitcase, pack an umbrella, just to be on the safe–and dry–side.

The coldest months in Milan are December through January, with average low temperatures of 30.4°F. Milan is colder than Rome, and you’ll want to be well prepared for it!

Despite the colder temps during winter, Milan glistens and shines, and it’s definitely worth a cold-weather visit.

Have fun at the Ambrosian Carnival in February

The Ambrosian Carnival, Milan’s biggest festival, culminates every year on a Saturday in February. (While the rest of Italy has a “fat Tuesday,” Milan has “fat Saturday.”) Typically, it’s celebrated a week after the equally famous Venice Carnival, and it’s hosted at Pizza del Duomo. One of the main attractions of the Ambrosian Carnival is the parade that snakes through the city, featuring clowns, jugglers, and more.

The festival also boasts delightful additions like street performers, mouthwatering Italian food, concerts, dance exhibitions, and more. This is truly a joy of an experience and one not to be missed if you’re in Milan in February.

Elevate Your Style at Milan Fashion Week

Milan, like Paris, is one of the great fashion capitals of the world. And like Paris, it has multiple fashion weeks throughout the calendar year. One of them happens to be in winter. This year, Milan Fashion Week runs February 20 – February 26, 2024.

Three chic women wearing dresses and a suit attend fashion week and speak on the street together

Even if you don’t have a ticket to any of the fashion shows, this is an especially fun time to be in the city to experience the magic of all things fashion week. Hole up in café, sip an espresso, and watch the fashion world’s editors, models, and buyers all convene for an epic and very chic week. Who knows, you may even be inspired to try out some new styles.

Take a Tour with Fat Tire Tours Milan

Book a tour with Fat Tire Tours Milan on your winter visit to experience the city in one of the most fun and exciting ways. Our expert tour guides are there to lead you around the city, share its rich culture with you, and help you see the city through the lens of someone who knows it well, like our guides. Check out all of our amazing Milan tour offerings on the website.

Taking a tour with Fat Tire Tours is like hanging out with that really cool, knowledgeable friend who wants to excitedly share with you all their favorite things. It’s a blast, and you’re going to have a good time.

Segway tour group in Milan

Do Some Seasonal Shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Italy, on the whole, is a great place for shopping. There are so many quality goods and gorgeous clothes; it’ll be a wonder if your suitcase fully zips shut when you fly back home! If you’re in Milan and want to do some shopping in Milan, look no further than shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This shopping spot, with a wide variety of stores, is conveniently located right by the Duomo. (Book our Skip the Line Tour for the Duomo here.) So that means you can do your Milan sightseeing and your shopping all in one go.

Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele pictured with shoppers

At the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, you’ll find so many terrific buys, as well as one of the oldest shopping areas in all of Italy. Between all that shopping, take a moment to appreciate the structure of the Galleria. From its mosaic floor up to its glass dome, this is an iconic location for some serious shopping. If you really want to immerse yourself fully in the experience of visiting Galleria Vittorio, then take part in this unusual good luck ritual: Put your right foot on the bulls’ balls on the mosaic floor and then spin around three times. Legend has it that this will bring you good luck.

Go Ice Skating

Milan is so beautiful during the wintertime with its twinkling lights and gorgeous architecture all decked out for the holidays. What better way to revel in the spirit of the season than by lacing up your skates and going ice skating!

Two boys ice skating on an ice rink

In Milan, you’ll find multiple ice skating rinks where you can zip around on the ice with the cool wind whipping through your hair. The Darsena Christmas Village is an ideal location for skating, and the Christmas Village itself is worth a visit. You’re sure to feel the spirit of the season here. Also, you’ll find ice skating rinks at Piazza Gae Aulenti (in Milan’s modern district with skyscrapers), and at the shopping center Il Centro.

Hit the Slopes Just Outside of Milan

Speaking of winter weather physical activities…Italy is known for having some gorgeous snowy mountains for skiing. At Italy’s “best all-around ski resort,” Courmayeur, you’ll find a beautiful town that’s ideal for skiing and winter fun. Courmayeur is in the northwest part of Italy and sits at the foot of Mont Blanc.

Two people ski on a snowy mountain

Depending on which train journey you take, you can typically get from Milan to Courmayeur in about 4 to 5 hours. Grab your travel partner or a group of friends to make it feel extra-fun, and enjoy whizzing down the slopes at Courmayeur’s best spots.

There’s also great skiing to be had in Breuil-Cervinia; it’s considered one of the most renowned places in the Alps for winter and summer tourist visits.

See a Ballet or an Opera

Milan’s Teatro alla Scala is one of the greatest ballet and opera theaters in the world, and it’s one of the best places to get your culture fix while visiting Milan. Take a break from the winter activities like skiing and ice skating in Milan and book a ticket to one of these magnificent performances. You won’t be disappointed.

Two ballet dancers perform Swan Lake

The architecture at the theater is particularly noteworthy, too. The building itself is a feast for the eyes, with its red velvet-lined seats, gold engravings, and more. The famous opera house is arguably the most famous in all of Italy, and it’s been the site of some of the country’s most famed performances by incredible talents like Verdi, Puccini, Rossini, and more.

See the Twinkling Christmas Lights along the Navigli Canals

It’s been said that the most stunning Christmas lights can be found along the Navigli canals in Milan. Are you someone who likes to go all-in on the festive feels? Take yourself over to the Navigli Canals to see some beautiful and magical twinkling lights displays that are sure to inspire you. Even the most Grinch-y-est of grumps won’t be immune to their glittering charm.

The canals in Milan

Milan’s Navigli neighborhood is in the south of the city, and it’s known for its popular nightlight. So, if you’re feeling adventurous after viewing the lights, why not head to a bar or dance club to experience Milanese nightlife?

Anne McCarthy
 is the Editor in Chief of the Fat Tire Tours Blog. She is a contributing writer to the BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Wired, and many more. She splits her time between the U.S. and Europe.

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