11 Festive Things to do for Christmas in Milan for a Magical Milanese Christmas

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Heading to Milan at Christmastime? Spending Christmas in Milan is a wonderful way to experience the holiday season in Italy.

From Christmas Villages to Christmas Markets in Milan and beyond, these are the best things to do for Christmas in Milan!

Read next: 17 Magical Things to Do in Milan in Winter for an Italian Winter Escape

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11 Festive Things to do for Christmas in Milan for a Magical Milanese Christmas

Essential Travel Resources for 2022

These are my favorite companies that I use on my travels.

Find cheap flights with CheapOair.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com or Hotels Combined.

For road trips and ground transportation, rent a car through Discover Cars or RentalCars.com.

For RV rentals and camper vans, book through RVshare.

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide, Viator, and Big Bus Tours.

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50 Eternally Beautiful Rome Quotes from Literature, History, & Travel

Find local food tours, cooking classes, and exclusive dining experiences on Eatwith.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two (or five) from Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Moon Travel Guides, or Fodor’s Travel Guides.

Get reliable travel insurance through World Nomads.

Store your luggage safely with Radical Storage.

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

The Top 6 Most Popular Milan Tours & Attractions

Before you dig into all the city has to offer, you should know that these are the most popular guided tours, attractions, day trips, and skip-the-line tickets in Milan.

Milan Cathedral and Rooftop Ticket or Skip-the-Line Version

Milan Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 72, 48-Hour or 1 Day Ticket

Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna: Full-Day Tour from Milan

Leonardo3 – The World of Leonardo Museum Entrance Ticket

Milan: La Scala Theatre and Museum Skip-the-line Ticket

Milan: Private Vacation Photo Session

The Best Things to Do for Christmas in Milan

Here we go!

Visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Milan, Italy: Christmas tree next to the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery in Duomo square; night view.

The famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is a landmark in Milan and a meeting place both for locals and visitors.

This classy Italian spot wears its best dress during the merry season and it’s a must-see place, ideal for beautiful photos and dreamy shopping as well.

Every year features an imposing Swarovski Tree right under its dome, boasting over Christmas 10,000 ornaments and more than 35,000 lights.

Just out of the Galleria, in the center of Piazza Duomo, passers-by can admire another beautiful, although arguably less impressive Christmas tree, the Duomo Tree.

Taste Italian delicacies at the Duomo Food Stands

Italy - Milan - Christmas Market

In the same area of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and extending for several meters along the pedestrian road, as well as in the square behind the Duomo, is one of Milan’s most famous Christmas markets.

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You can walk along this cozy Christmas market with wooden houses, selling freshly made traditional Christmas foods (some famous Milanese dishes like panettone) and other typical Italian winter dishes, including smoked cold cuts, jams, bakery products, and chocolates.

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, ginger bread… you name it. Here, you will also find handmade Christmas decorations at very convenient prices.

Read next: 17 Marvelous Things to Eat in Milan: Food & Drinks Not to Miss!

Explore Milan’s Christmas Village at the Navigli

Italy - Milan - Christmas Village at the Navigli

Whenever talking about things to do in Milan, I have often mentioned the Navigli as a great place to spend the day or the evening when visiting Italy’s fashion capital.

The dockyards of the so-called Navigli Grandi, or Darsena, is a joyful Christmas destination to visit no matter your age!

The whole area becomes a beautiful festive village featuring a unique Christmas tree right on the water.

Young visitors adore meeting friends and enjoy spending time on the ice skating ring while younger crowds have no problem waiting in line to check Santa’s booth.

The whole Navigli becomes a huge Christmas-themed village during the weeks preceding the holidays open from the morning until the evening.

Don’t forget to check the Christmas food stalls with delicacies including Milanese polenta, Panettone, and Pandoro!

Read next: 27 Marvelous Things to Do in Milan, Lombardy’s Sophisticated Capital

Attend a Christmas Concert at Teatro alla Scala

Italy - Milan - Teatro alla Scala at Christmas

Italy’s most famous opera house (one of the best in Europe), the Teatro alla Scala celebrates the opening of the winter season with the annual Christmas Concert, often during the two nights before the eve.

The concert features the performance of their orchestra and chorus and it is also broadcast on TV a few days after for those unable to attend.

If you wish to attend the magnificent gala, try to get the tickets in advance directly on the site of the theater.

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Live Milan like a local at the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Fair

Italy - Milan - Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas Market

During the first week of December, Piazza Castello and the surrounding area hosts the oldest of Milan’s Christmas market in Milan.

A traditional Milan Christmas must-do for locals, over 350 stands feature secondhand objects of varied interests, booksellers, artisans, florists, and so, so much more.

The festival is also a delicious opportunity to sample some of the traditional Christmas food of the region, including roasted chestnut, corncob, spicy sausages, smoked meat, pancakes with Nutella, and cotton candy.

If you want to feel like a real local, try the firunat, a beloved smoked chestnut steak typical of the Lombardy region.

Read next: 10 Magical Festivals in Milan to Put on Your Italy Bucket List!

Enjoy a Gospel Night

Milan’s Blue Note is one of the city’s most famous and popular music halls and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to discover the magic of a place where Italians have been spending their evenings for decades.

During the evenings of the last week of December, the Blue Note hosts Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir, a fixed appointment that every year engages and entertains hundreds of locals during the most magical nights of the year.

According to your budget, you can book a ticket just for the concert, add a glass of champagne for a midnight toast, or even enjoy an elegant as well as delicious multi-course dinner.

Get lost in the Villaggio delle Meraviglie

Head to Giardino Indro Montanelli in Porta Venezia neighborhood to discover the magnificent Public Gardens and the Villagio delle Meraviglie, the Village of Wonders, active during the entire month of December and until Epiphany.

Visit the house of Santa, enjoy Christmas carols and local music, live bands, and other live entertainment, as well as a huge heated ice rink for the whole family.

Kids love the huge Christmas tree carousel, the nativity scene, and the different workshops open to the public.

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Eat a slice of Panettone

Traditional Italian Christmas fruit cake Panettone Pandoro with festive red ribbon and Christmas decorations, gift box and mulled wine, on wooden home background, copy space

Christmas in Italy is not the same without tasting a thick slice of freshly baked Panettone, the most famous Christmas sweet made in the country.

Known and produced all over the world, but also imported from Italy to every corner of the planet, don’t miss this experience if you are spending your Christmas holidays in Milan.

Panettone is a typical Christmas sweet bread with plenty of dried fruit, nuts, and unique aromas of almond and even spices.

If you’d like something more simple but just as traditional, then try a slice of Pandoro, another popular Christmas sweet bread often served with a generous spoonful of Sabayon or coffee cream on top.

Give yourself the chance to spend an eco-friendly Christmas

Italy - Milan - Isola at Christmas

Going completely eco-friendly this Christmas in Milan? This is a tangible possibility at the Green Christmas Market held every year in the old neighborhood of Isola, a very picturesque district in Milan.

All the stands and events have a clear green focus and are devoted to promoting a sustainable and ecological holiday season.

How? You might be wondering…

Well, the products featured and sold at the market include eco-fashion garments, design objects made with recycled and bio-ecological materials, natural cosmetic products, and more!

Try your ice skating skills at a city ice rink

Funny teenagers girls and boy skating outdoor, ice rink

Ice skating is one of the many activities locals enjoy around Christmas time both in the center of Milan as well as in many other cities in the Lombardy region.

In most of them, the price of the ticket includes the rental skates during the time on the rink, so you don’t really need to worry if you don’t have skates with you (often the case with tourists, right?) or if you decide to go ice skating at the last minute.

Ice skating rinks also have bars or cafeterias where you can sit, enjoy music, and even a comforting cup of hot chocolate too.

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When in Milan, check the following venues:

Ice Rink in Largo Beltrami

Ice Rink in Largo Cairoli

Ice Rink in Bagni Misteriosi

Ice Rink in  (from 4:30pm to 7:30pm, on holidays from 10:30am to 7:30pm)

Piazza Città di Lombardia (only in the afternoon).

Covered ice rink in Montanelli Gardens (Villaggio delle Meraviglie).

Discover the pretty Bagni Misteriosi

Also in the Porta Romana area of Milan, Bagni Misteriosi or Mysterious Baths features a complex of Christmas activities and markets during the months of November and December.

Other than the imposing ice rink surrounded by the waters of the Bagni, you can also check the small winter hut and markets such as the Flug Market and the Popcorn Garage Market.

There are many more entertaining activities to enjoy, including games and interactive shows, creative ice-skating courses, workshops for the whole family but also more adult and intellectual activities such as philosophy meetings and literature coffee dates. 

What to Wear for Winter in Milan

Italy - Milan - Winter Selfies in Milan

Consider this a mini Milan winter packing list. These are the items you will want to walk around Milan. If you plan on going skiing, also make sure to pack your ski attire and ski gear.

Women’s Milan Winter Attire

Here’s what women should bring. 

A Winter Coat: You need that can handle the cold like this North Face parka

Thermal Layers: This ultra-lightweight down layer is one of my new favorite winter travel obsessions.

It’s great because you can wear it on its own when you need a quick layer of warmth, but you can also wear it under your coat when it’s really cold outside!

It packs down very small, so it’s not like traveling with a bulky coat. Instead, it’s a handy warm layer to pull out whenever you need it.

Shoes: Upgrade your regular city boots to a waterproof version.

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Socks: Upgrade your socks to thick, warm wool socks.

Gloves: In Milan, you’ll be doing a lot of navigating on your smartphone, especially when you need to use public transit.

I found it incredibly annoying to have to take my gloves off every few minutes, so I upgraded to tech-friendly gloves like these. They’re also clutch for using your phone to take pictures in the cold.

Winter Scarf: You want a thick knit scarf that you can pull up and cover your face when necessary.

Leggings: You’ll want to be covered from head to toe when you’re outside.

Regular leggings are great for late autumn, but for winter swap them for leggings that are lined with fleece for extra warmth. You can wear them under dresses or even slip them under your jeans.

Hat: A fleece-lined knit cap will keep you warm, and you’ll fit right in with the locals.

Men’s Milan Winter Attire

Here is what I suggest men wear in winter. Just like with women, this is good for walking around the city, but make sure to pack your ski clothes and gear if you’ll be doing activities in the snow.

A Winter Coat: You need that can handle the cold like this North Face parka.

Wool Baselayer: You’ll want an extra boost of warmth under your shirt as a wool baselayer.

Shoes: Upgrade your regular city boots to a waterproof version.

Socks: Upgrade your socks to thick, warm wool socks.

Gloves:  Upgrade to tech-friendly gloves like these so you can use your smartphone for pics and to help navigate.

Winter Scarf: You want a thick knit scarf that you can pull up and cover your face when necessary

Hat: A fleece-lined knit cap will keep you warm, and you’ll fit right in with the locals.

5 Things to Bring with You to Italy

Greece - Crete - Stephanie Luggage

The Lonely Planet Italy guidebook or the Rick Steves Italy guidebook for your trip. It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you arrive in Italy, or you’ll find them overpriced.

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I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.

An Unlocked Cell Phone so that you can use an Italian sim card while here to help navigate the trains.

Backup Charging Bank for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS system, and general travel genie.

A Camera since Rome is super photogenic. I use a mix of my Nikon D810 and my  Samsung8 smartphone these days. (Though many of these pics in this post were on my old Nikon D40).

A Great Day Bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc).

My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for Italy because it has many anti-theft features.

Italy is the only country in the world where I’ve almost been the victim of a pickpocket!

The Pacsafe Citysafe also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.

More Italy Travel Resources

I love Italy! Here are all my Italy resources to help you plan your trip, organized by destination.

Italy Country Guides

Italy - Rome - Stephanie at the Baths of Caracalla

Before you leave for your trip, enjoy these books about Italy and beautiful Italy quotes to help get you inspired!

Florence

Duomo,Di,Firenze,The,Florence,Cathedral,Santa,Maria,Del,Fiore

This magical Rennaisance capital belongs on everyone’s Italy bucket list. Check out the best things to do in Florence and these beautiful quotes about Florence.

Milan

Italy - Milan - The Last Supper - Stephanie Selfie

I adore Milan! I’m *this close* to calling it my favorite city in Italy.

While here, make sure to enjoy the best things to do in Milan, what to eat in Milan, and what to do in Milan at night! And don’t skip any of the best Milan hidden gems!

Only plan on being here for a few days? Check out my three-day Milan itinerary.

Make sure to go on a Tour of the Last Supper (and buy your tickets early!). When you’re done, check out these other beautiful Milan historic churches.

See also
24 Hours in Naples: The Perfect One Day in Naples Itinerary + Ideas for 2 Days!

If you want to get out of the city, here are the best day trips from Milan and how to visit Lake Como from the city.

Headed to Milan from late November through early March? Check out the best things to do in Milan in winter and what to do in Milan at Christmas.

Once you’re here, use these quotes about Milan for your Instagram captions!

Finally, before you arrive, check to see if there’s a special Milan festival happening while you’ll be in the city!

Rome

Italy - Rome - Stephanie at a Museum in Rome

Rome was the first European city I ever visited, and it stole my heart! While here, make sure to see the Roman Forum.

Looking for a history-themed day trip from Rome? You can visit Ostia Antica! (Not sure if Ostia Antica is right for you? Here’s how to choose between Ostia Antica or Pompeii).

Venice

Italy - Venice - Stephanie on a Vaporetto

Venice is absolutely beautiful. Use these beautiful quotes about Venice for your picture captions.

Naples & the Amalfi Coast

Cup of fresh espresso coffee in a cafe with view on Vesuvius mount in Naples, Campania, Southern Italy

Headed to Naples? Here’s the perfect one-day-in-Naples itinerary.

You can enjoy these beautiful quotes about the Amalfi coast to inspire your trip!

Italy is Included in These Round-Ups

Italy - Stephanie - Battle of Cannae
Italy is beautiful, no matter which region you’re in!

The Most Beautiful Beaches in the Mediterranean

The Best Books to Read on Vacation

The Most Beautiful Castles in the World

The Best Wine Countries in the World

Where to Go in Europe in September

The Most Underrated Cities in Europe

The Best Opera Houses in Europe

1001 Ideas for Travel Tattoos

Before You Leave for Italy – Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road.

I use World Nomads for my long trips to Europe, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be hanging out in cities (like Rome, Milan, Venice…ahem) where tourists can be the victims of pickpockets.

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21 Magical Things to Do in Milan at Night + Milan Nightlife Guide!

Italy is the only country I’ve been to (out of almost seventy) where I’ve had someone try to pick my pocket!

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them.  If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.

Get a Travel Insurance quote for your trip.

Pin this Guide to What to Do in Milan at Christmas for Your Italian Adventures!

11 Festive Things to do for Christmas in Milan for a Magical Milanese Christmas

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