The Best Time to Visit Milan

City tram and statue in Piazza Giuseppe Missori, Milan, Lombardy

 

Frank Fell / Getty Images

Milan, Italy is famous for its renowned attractions like the Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, as well as for being one of the fashion capitals of the world. But it's also Italy's second-largest city (after Rome), meaning that it's crowded and fast-paced at any time of year, with tourist crowds peaking in the hot summer months. While the city is worth visiting all year, the absolute best time is during the spring when the weather is cooler (though sometimes rainy) and the crowds are smaller.

In general, choosing the best time to visit Milan depends on what you're looking for during your stay. If you want to visit the city's landmark attractions, it's best to visit in the spring, when the weather is cool and the crowds are thinner. Winter in Milan is cold and grey, though there are far fewer crowds. Fall is rainy and chilly but also less crowded—except during September fashion week when the city is sold out. Summertime in Milan is great for festivals, but it's also very hot and crowded.

Weather in Milan

Located in northern Italy and surrounded by mountains to the north and rivers on three sides, Milan has four distinct seasons and a humid, subtropical climate. While it's humid year-round, in summertime the moist air is accompanied by high temperatures, which sometimes reach into the high 90s Fahrenheit and occasionally higher. In the wintertime, that humidity translates to cold, foggy days and nights, and snow and sleet are not unusual. Spring and fall bring cooler temperatures, but also Milan's rainiest months.

Like elsewhere in Italy, the weather in Milan is increasingly unpredictable as a result of climate change. Though temperatures are generally getting warmer, the city and surrounding region are still subject to unseasonable cold snaps and sudden, violent thunderstorms. While seasonal trends are largely reliable, it's still best to prepare for a little bit of everything, which means packing a light, compact jacket in the summer months and layers for winter, to shed in case it's unseasonably warm.

Crowds in Milan

If you visit Milan in June, July, or August, you'll find it crowded with tourists. While the crowds are still nothing like the peak levels found in Florence and Venice during these months, you'll find long lines at attractions and booked up hotel rooms. Plan well in advance for a visit to Milan in the summer, including booking your tickets to see Leonardo's Last Supper or to access the roof of the Duomo. Also be aware that in September and February, Milan holds its Fashion Week events, so it will be difficult to impossible to snag a hotel room unless you've book far, far in advance.

Seasonal Attractions and Businesses

Milan hosts leisure and business travelers year-round, so seasonal closures at hotels, restaurants or attractions are virtually unheard of. That said, Milanese try to escape the summer crowds and heat in August, when most Italians take their vacations. You might find more tourists than locals in the city this month, as well as some businesses closed for vacation for a week or more. Tour providers may run fewer tours in winter months, but chances are if you're interested in a city tour or food tour, you'll be able to find a tour that suits you any time of the year. Tourist attractions will remain open year-round, with the exception of December 25 and January 1, when virtually every attraction will be closed. Some attractions will close on Easter Sunday, all of Holy Week, or the entire week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Prices in Milan

While hotel prices in Milan are in line with other major cities in Italy and vary based on demand, there are brief periods when prices will peak—namely Fashion Week, Design Week (early April), Christmas and Easter. For saving money on flights and hotels, winter is the best time to visit. Fall and spring, while not as affordable as winter, are also better times to find bargains. Remember that all these rules go out the window if there's a fashion or design event—be sure to check dates of these events before booking an off-season stay.

Key Holidays and Events in Milan

Apart from the aforementioned fashion and design events, Milan's most important events mirror those of the rest of Italy—Christmas and Easter. In December, the city takes on a magical feel, with streets strung with glittering lights, store windows filled with decorative displays and piazzas aglow with lights, nativity scenes, and other festive decor. A Christmas market at Piazza del Duomo is a perennial favorite, and holiday concerts take place in churches and event venues all over the city. In April or late March, concerts, masses, and other events related to Holy Week and Easter are held at the Duomo, La Scala opera house, and other venues.

January

January is one of the coldest months in Milan, with daily temperatures ranging from an average high of 36 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 11 degrees Celsius) and the possibility of sleet or snow. You'll want to dress warmly (layers are always best) and plan on temperatures dropping significantly after sunset, which will be around 5 p.m. 

Events to check out:

  • New Year's Day will see most stores, restaurants and tourist attractions closed. If you plan to dine out this day, check with your hotel to find an open restaurant.
  • La Befana, or Epiphany, on January 6
  • Men's Fashion Week (Winter) is usually the second week of January.

February

February weather is consistent with January—cold and overcast, with the possibility of snow or freezing rain, though the sun might break through the clouds during your stay.

Events to check out:

  • Milan Fashion Week (Winter) sees catwalk events all over the city, plus even more models, designers, photographers, fashionistas, and celebrities crawling the streets of already-fashionable Milan.
  • Carnivale may fall in February, depending on the date of Easter.

March

March is a finicky month in Milan, with mostly cold weather and even the possibility of a late-winter snowstorm. But you might also get some bright and sunny days, though there will always be a nip in the air.

Events to check out:

  • If Carnevale didn't fall in February, it will take place in March.
  • Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, will see masses and processions throughout the city.

April

Average daytime temperatures climb into the 60s Fahrenheit, making April a great month to visit Milan. Expect a mix of sunny and rainy days, and pack accordingly.

Events to check out:

  • Easter and Holy Week, if not in March
  • Design Week, officially the International Furniture Fair, takes place in mid-April, when designers, craftspeople and design companies descend on Milan to display the latest designs and innovations in the world of home furnishings and fixtures. 
  • Festa della Liberazione, or Liberation Day, on April 25 is a national holiday marking the end of World War II. 

May

Milan warms up in May, with average high temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit perfect sightseeing weather—and lows in the 50s Fahrenheit. May is also one of the rainiest months in Milan, so pack rain gear.

Events to check out:

  • Labor Day, May 1, is a national holiday and a number of stores and businesses may be closed.
  • Milan Food Week in early May sees pop-up restaurants, food trucks and stands, and food-focused events all over the city.

June

Crowds and temperatures both start to increase in Milan this month, though the early part of June should still see pleasant temperatures. Pack an umbrella and a lightweight jacket.

Events to check out:

  • Men's Fashion Week (Spring) takes place in early June, so book your hotel room early.
  • Estate Sforzesca, a series of outdoor concerts and theatrical events, takes place at Castello Sforzesco.

July

During hot and humid July, prepare for daytime temps to arrive well into the 90s Fahrenheit or higher. Plan to spend the hottest part of the day resting or inside a cool museum.

Events to check out:

  • Estate Sforcesca continues this month.

August

August is traditionally the month when Milanese head to the sea or nearby lakes for their annual vacations, so you may find some stores and businesses closed, though most attractions will remain open. Like July, August is hot. Temperatures in the high 90s Fahrenheit are not unusual.

Events to check out:

  • Ferragosto, August 15, marks the quasi-official end to the summer holidays. Expect some closures, but also a party atmosphere (more than usual) in piazzas and nightlife zones.

September

September temperatures start to cool down, with daytime highs typically in the 70s Fahrenheit. It's also a very busy month in Milan, as people return from summer holidays and breath new energy into the city. But a few big events can mean sold-out hotels and packed restaurants. 

Events to check out:

  • Milan Fashion Week (Fall): Don't even think of showing up to Milan without a hotel already booked, or to dinner without a table reserved.
  • The Italian Grand Prix, held in nearby Monza, see Formula One fans racing to the city.

October

October is one of the best months in Milan in terms of temperature and crowds, but also the rainiest. Still, if you can put up with the wet weather, you'll enjoy easy access to the city and its attractions.

Events to check out:

  • Milano Musica is a series of concerts at La Scala and elsewhere that celebrate the wide range of 20th-century music.

November

Expect cold, damp conditions in November and pack accordingly. If you can stand the weather, this is a good time to visit in terms of finding hotel bargains and having a lot of elbow room in the city's museums and other attractions.

Events to check out:

  • ​November 1 is All Saints' Day, a public holiday.
  • Jazz Milano features 10 days of jazz performances at venues across the city.

December

Milan takes on a festive air in December, with Christmas displays and markets, and lights strung across its main streets. Be prepared for cold weather and the possibility of snow.

Events to check out:

  • December 7 sees the Festa di Sant'Ambrogio, Milan's patron saint, the kick-off of the 3-day O Bej! O Bej! festival, and opening night of the opera season at La Scala.
  • If you're in Milan for New Year's Eve, head to organized or informal concerts and parties in the city's piazzas, or reserve a table for a traditional multi-course New Year's Eve dinner.
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