Milan is famous the world over as a center for designer fashions—and it's true that every other person on the city's streets seems like a designer, a model, or a photographer. But there's much more to Milan than breathtakingly expensive designer duds (though there are plenty of those to go around). The city is also a great place to find fashion bargains, quality antiques, gourmet delicacies, and unusual souvenirs.
Read on for our guide to the 12 best shopping streets, stores, malls, and districts in Milan.
The "rectangle of gold" is Milan's priciest shopping district; it's home to the top Italian fashion houses (think Gucci, Prada, and Versace), as well as international brands like Ralph Lauren, Hermès, and Dior. Vias Montenapoleone, Sant'Andrea, della Spiga, and Manzoni make up this rectangle full of credit card-eating temptations. Even if you don't intend to shop, this is a fun place to window shop and observe how the one percent spends its money.
With its mosaic floors, wrought iron infrastructure, and soaring glass ceilings hosting high-end stores and top-shelf dining venues, this elegant shopping arcade has functioned as the drawing room of Milan since 1867. Beyond shopping, you can take a walk on the complex's roof, or just stop for a coffee or cocktail in this most refined setting.
Already one of Milan's most colorful districts, the Naviglio Grande canal area hosts an antiques market on the last Sunday of every month. With nearly 400 stalls selling everything from furnishings to glass and vintage vinyl, this is a great place to pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir during your visit to Milan.
This hallowed designer outlet store stocks top-name fashions and accessories from Gucci, Fendi, and the like, as well as items from up-and-coming Italian designers. "Bargain" here is a relative term, as typical finds might include a Givenchy sweater reduced from 1,200 to 485 euros, or an Erika Cavallini jacket for 199 euros instead of 404. For fashion lovers, this is a must-shop-stop in Milan. The store also has a good selection of men's fashions.
Warning: If you wander into Guendj, you may hear a vintage leather jacket calling your name. This legendary Navigli used leather goods store has a jacket for every taste. You may be a bit overwhelmed by the selection, as you can find just about anything, including biker jackets, bombers, trench coats, and floor-length furs, as well as boots and bags. You can shop their collection online, but it's a lot more fun to browse in person.
Corso Buenos Aires claims to have the densest concentration of retail stores in Europe. This busy street, lined with mainstream retailers like OVS, Zara, and Foot Locker, starts near Milano Centrale railway station and ends in the Centro Storico area (where the prices start to climb). While you might not find a made-in-Italy souvenir, if you need a retail fix without breaking the bank, head here.
Running southwest from Piazza del Duomo, Via Torino is also known for its mid-range retail vibe, and features Benetton, Pandora, H&M, and other similar brands.
Milan's funkiest flea market takes place every third Sunday of the month, with vendors invited to show up and set up shop selling just about anything and everything. From used clothing and shoes to books, collectibles, and odds and ends, this is a fun place to find all the things you didn't know you needed.
This flagship of the luxury Italian department store chain offers an almost overwhelming selection of designer clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, and top-shelf housewares—all under 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) of swanky modern space. Consider stopping in for a meal or drink at the rooftop bar and restaurant, with the Duomo so close you can almost reach out and touch it. The food hall here is a gourmand's dream.
It's no overstatement to call Peck a temple of gourmet foodstuffs. Hit up this exclusive, high-end grocery if you're looking for a 3,800-euro bottle of vintage Krug champagne, or something a bit more reasonable, like an 8-euro jar of truffle butter. Their custom gift boxes make really, really extravagant souvenirs to take home for lucky loved ones.
For lovers of high-end fashions with low-end budgets, this designer resale store (actually three stores) is retail nirvana. Clothing and accessories are carefully selected based on brand, season ,and the condition of the used items, and you won't find any H&M items here. This is the perfect place for snagging your little piece of designer Milano—no one back home needs to know your secret. You can find both men's and women's fashions at the location on Via Lambro 12; or, head to Via Mora 4 for just women's fashion, or Via Mora 14 for men's.
Since 1854, the family of artisans at Francesco Maglia has been creating handcrafted and custom-order umbrellas for clients who appreciate old-world craftsmanship. It may not be a typical souvenir from Milan, but a Maglia umbrella—he's known as "the Pope of umbrellas"—is one you'll covet for years to come. Just don't leave it on the bus by accident!
AC Milan or FC Inter Store
Milan's two rival soccer (football in Europe or calcio in Italian) teams, AC Milan and FC Inter, both have large stores selling branded merchandise. Official merchandise costs a lot more than the cheap team shirts and hats you'll find for sale at souvenir shops, but there's nothing like the real thing.