Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Michela
Milan is one of the most bustling cities of Europe. From fashion capital to corporate mecca, the Italian metropolis has so much to offer to visitors. But nothing stands out to first-timers (and avid travelers) to Milan like the Duomo. And there’s no better way to experience the top attraction than by gaining new perspective from the Duomo rooftops in Milan.
A lot of city attractions can often be cliché and not worth the price tag, but I couldn’t agree less when thinking about visiting Milan’s duomo rooftop. It’s not everyday you get to ascend to the terraces and be among the spires of a church dating back to the 14th century.
To live this bucket list experience to the fullest, take note of these practical travel tips from a local northern Italy resident!
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Duomo di Milano History
Why is it so important? Not only is it one of the most beautiful architectural feats in Italy, but it is a historical complex and centerpiece of the city.
Construction began in 1386 and finished six centuries later. Today, the Duomo di Milano is the largest cathedral in Italy and the third largest in the world.
The church is still active and holds mass services every day of the week.
The Duomo is noted for many unique architectural elements, from its flying buttresses to being the building with the most statues in the world – 3,400 statues, 700 marble figures, and 135 gargoyles. Its most famous statue is the golden Madonnina that stands on the highest spire.
To sum it up in just a few words: visiting the Duomo rooftop gives you a unique and intimate experience with centuries worth of history.
How to Buy Tickets
There are multiple ways to buy tickets to visit the Duomo rooftops, as well as a variety of ticket choices.
The biggest difference in tickets is if you opt for the staircase entrance or the elevator entrance.
The elevator entrance is more accessible-friendly, but costs more. Also, you descend via stairs due to the organization of the visit.
Entering by the staircase does you mean you will have a bit of a tiring climb for about 5 minutes, but the ticket is more budget-friendly.
Other tickets include combination passes that allow you to see the terraces plus other attractions, like the Duomo museum.
Where to buy
- Online: Buy your skip-the-line tickets online or check out the different ticket variations & combos from the official Duomo website.
- In-person: There is an in-person ticket booth where you can buy your tickets. However, it is recommended that you book online ahead of time for skip-the-line options and to make sure your date and reservation time are available.
It is one thing to explore the rooftops on your own, but it is a whole different thing to learn about them with a guide!
I opted to explore the rooftops on my own to keep the activity budget-friendly, but if you have the time and room for spending, you can create a more immersive experience by getting a guided group tour of the Duomo and rooftops.
The Duomo itself has launched new seasonal group tours, included a fast track option.
How to Arrive
If you’re not already staying in Milan, the easiest way to arrive to the Duomo area is by using the metro. Before you get nervous about navigating the intimidating Milan subway network, read my guide on how to use the Milan metro!
The Duomo is a stop on the M1 and M3 line. Depending on what kind of ticket you purchased, your entry to the Duomo rooftops will vary.
There is a separate entrance for staircase tickets and for elevator tickets. When facing the Duomo from the main square, both of these entrances are on the lefthand-side.
Visiting the Duomo Rooftops
When you arrive at your chosen entrance, unless you have skip-the-line tickets, you will wait in a line outside on some pretty rough cobblestones. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes throughout your visit, also for the stairs.
Once it’s your turn to enter, you will have to do a bag check. Large, bulky bags, including suitcases, are not allowed on the visit.
If you enter by the staircase, the climb up is not long but somewhat tiring. The toughest part is that the corridor is super narrow and people are also walking down the stairs as you are coming up (although it wasn’t clear to me if these people mistook the exit).
Once you do arrive to the top, you begin your path along the rooftops. You can spend as much time as you like at your own pace visiting and exploring.
Most of the passages are somewhat narrow, so it is a game of patience as you make your way along the wrooftops with all your fellow visitors trying to do the same thing.
You can see some of Milan’s more modern areas like the City Life skyscrapers, as well as the entire Duomo square.
You will have to climb up some more stairs throughout your visit to get to the top roof area where there is a more open, flat platform.
Then you will descend by stairs into the Duomo itself to be met with the massive columns and muted gothic architecture of the church’s interior.
The Best Time to Visit the Milan Duomo Rooftops
It goes without saying that a visit to the Duomo rooftops in Milan should be planned on a day when the weather is nice.
Avoid visiting from November to February when it is not only cold but there’s also greater chances of rain and fog.
Another time to avoid visiting is the months of July and August. A lot of locals flock out of the city for their summer vacation, but tourists are everywhere kicking off their dream Italy holiday. If you are going to visit in this period, it is very worth it to buy a skip-the-line ticket.
Expect Restoration Works Underway
The Duomo is undergoing extensive renovation, so it is like walking through an active archaeological site!
You may find that there are obstructions, not-so-pretty scaffolding or interrupted routes due to renovation works. Check out the official website for updates that may impact your visit.
What to Do Nearby
Since you’re in the Duomo area, you may as well tick off some other bucket list Milan experiences.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
One of the most recognizable galleries of Europe, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is basically an extremely elegant shopping mall.
Its beauty will have your neck hurting as you soak up the intricate details of the ceiling and famous dome. The golden light emanating from the structure embodies Milan’s extravagant personality and the feeling of Italian luxury. Walking through the gallery is a quick and easy Milan must-do.
A ten-minute walk from the Duomo di Milano is another Italy landmark, the Sforza Castle. The Sforza family ruled Milan during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The castle was built by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, in the 15th century and is now home to a number of museums covering a wide range of topics. Some are the art collection of the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, the Museum of Musical Instruments and the Museum of the Rondanini Pietà, which holds Michelangelo’s last sculpture.
One of the best parts of the castle is that it is one of the few areas of Milan where greenery really shines. It is located in the Parco Sempione and you can stroll all along the grounds with a view of the Arco della Pace in the background.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper
If we are talking iconic things to do in Milan, visiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous work can’t be missed.
The Last Supper painting is held in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, a 25 minute walk or quick metro ride from the Duomo.
You must buy tickets to see the Last Supper.
The SGTD Take
Is it worth visiting the Duomo rooftops in Milan? If you are looking for an engaging activity at an affordable price, then 100% yes!
As a budget traveler, I am very selective of the activities I choose to invest in. But visiting the Duomo rooftops is an activity that is completely unique to Milan and an incredible way to experience the city’s most famous landmark, which is really why I believe it is an unmissable experience.
Enjoy your visit to the Duomo rooftops in Milan!