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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 16, 2018
What is the best time of year to visit Milan?
- Best Time for Festivals and Events: Milan hosts many festivals and events, with some of the best taking place in the spring and fall months. In spring, Milanese celebrate Carnevale Ambrosiano – a Mardi Gras-type festival that’s usually scheduled for the Sunday after Ash Wednesday – with costume parties, parades, and general revelry. Fall brings a great mix of events, with fewer tourists, generally. In early September, The Italian Grand Prix is held just north of Milan in Monza; an easy day trip and one of the best races anywhere in the world. Fall Fashion Week, also held in September, brings in the models and the beautiful people, and the Milano Film Festival, in late September or early October, regularly features first-run world premieres and cinematic celebrities, with many films either sub-titled or shown in English. The Milan Jazz Festival happens in November, with not just music, but movies, classes, conferences, and events held in unusual venues (for example, an ancient site near the Archeological Museum). Finally, early December brings Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (translated as “Oh so nice! Oh so nice!”), the city’s seasonal celebration, showcasing street markets, Christmas fairs, and festive events for participants of all ages.
- Best Time for Shopping: Any time is a good time for shopping in Milan, the fashion capital of Europe. The city is filled with cute shops, beautiful boutiques, and flagship stores for famous luxury brands like Prada, Armani, and many others. (The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of Milan’s must-see attractions and most important pieces of architecture, is basically an incredibly fancy shopping mall.) Winter travel to Milan is particularly ideal for style-seekers, however, when two of the world’s biggest fashion shows take place during January (Men’s Fashion Week) and February (Women’s Fashion Week). During those weeks, the lure of new style trends and the urge to “see and be seen” draw thousands of beautiful and/or famous people from around the globe – which means that you’ll want to book a hotel a bit further in advance if you want to experience it. Overall, though, winter is a slow tourist season, with hotels tending to be a little cheaper, and stores offering discounts on lines from the previous year to make space for new arrivals. Fashion Week happens again during the summer for both men (in June) and women (September), but the colder, wetter weather of January and February are better for spending time shopping indoors, and the slower season (on non-Fashion Weeks) means businesses are more interested in luring tourists searching for bargains.
- Best Time for Kids and Families: The peak of tourist season in Milan is in the summer months, but the combination of uncomfortably hot weather and large crowds can be particularly tough on the littlest members of the family. Better to bring them during April and May, when the temperature is more pleasant and you can all get around easier without having to dodge as many fellow tourists. Regardless of when you go, there are many fantastic options in the city to keep kids entertained, indoor or out. The Sforza Castle has a public fountain and an open courtyard with all sorts of fun distractions, along with Park Sempione right next door. The Civic Aquarium, located on the edge of the park; is on the small side, but is a fun side adventure, particularly on a warmer day. The other large park in city center, Giardini Pubblici, features a planetarium (the Civico Planetario Ulrico Hoepli) and a butterfly garden. Both parks often feature public markets, and with flowers in spring bloom, gorgeous bouquets abound. Of all the museums in town, the natural history museum (Civico Museo di Storia Naturale) and its dinosaur collection probably has the most appeal for kids. If you do choose to visit Milan in summer, be aware that there’s an Acquatica Park just west of the city center (open June through early September) that features pools, water slides, and lagoons.
- Best Time to Visit Museums and Galleries: For those looking to enjoy Milan’s impressive lineup of museums and galleries, the best two months to visit are June and December. In June, the temperature is warming up with the tourist season, and museum curators have just installed their most impressive gallery exhibitions. The same principle applies in December; although the number of tourists drops over the colder months, the holiday season brings many visitors into Milan, and museums take advantage by hosting top-level shows. For instance, in 2017, the Palazzo Reale, one of Milan’s top art museums, ran a rare Caravaggio exhibition from September through January (a limited collection of Caravaggio’s work is permanently on display at Milan’s Pinacoteca de Brera). The weather (hot in June, cold in December) also makes the prospect of spending a few hours wandering a museum or two that much more appealing. Milan’s most famous work of art, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, located in Santa Maria delle Grazie church, is available to be viewed year round, and you will want to book tickets well in advance (up to four months) no matter when you decide to visit. The one month you might want to skip? August; when many residents have fled the city, leaving many small businesses – and occasionally museums – short-staffed or closed entirely. Many museums are closed on Mondays, and most are closed on Christmas Day (December 25), New Year’s Day (January 1), and Labour Day (May 1).
Milan Travel Seasons
- High Season (June to August): The heaviest time of the year for tourism in Milan is during the summer months. The weather can be hot, particularly in July and August, so be prepared and make sure your lodging has dependable air conditioning. Another thing to prepare for: Milan is built on swampy marsh, and that means mosquitoes can be a problem. No need to pack any repellant, just be sure to buy some in a local farmacia after you arrive. In August, many of the locals flee the city, so if you choose that month to visit, you may find many of the smaller shops are closed. December is another popular time for visitors looking to enjoy holiday festivities and events, and take advantage of shopping opportunities.
- Shoulder Season (September to November, May): The fall months bring colder temperatures and school-related commitments for families, and thus fewer visitors. That makes it a pretty ideal time to visit, with slimmer crowds and more reasonable hotel rates and airfares. Because the Milanese will have returned home from vacation, you will get to be among actual Italians as well as your fellow tourists (the balance tips quite a bit toward the latter in summer). You may, however, want to bring an umbrella – October and November are the rainiest months of the year in Milan. Also be aware that Women’s Fashion Week occurs in Milan in September; book your lodging well in advance if you plan to travel during that time frame. May is can be a wonderful time to visit Milan as well, with the weather (but not the tourist season) beginning to heat up.
- Low Season (March and April): March and April are the slowest times of the year, with no Fashion Weeks or enticing warm weather to lure tourists. High temperatures average in the 50s and 60s (Fahrenheit), but the lows, particularly in March, can dip down near or below freezing. You might consider packing a good heavy coat in case a cold snap sets in, and make sure your hotel or lodging has reliable heat (or at least extra blankets).
Milan Weather by Month
- Milan weather in January: January is Milan’s coldest month, with an average temperature lows below freezing (-1°C) and highs that are not much warmer (6°C). Milan doesn’t see much snow (the city averages about 25 centimeters – 10 inches – per year), and January tends to be a relatively dry month. Still, with the cold temperatures, a snowstorm is very possible. Generally plan for warm clothes, waterproof boots, and inside activities. (Average Max Temperature: 6°C. Average Precipitation: 64.3 mm.)
- Milan weather in February: While slightly warmer than January, February is still on the chilly side in Milan, with an average low right around freezing and a high of about 8°C. Also the driest month of the year statistically, averaging the fewest days of precipitation. It’s still a good idea to bring some good waterproof boots in case of a random snowstorm, and you’ll definitely want a good heavy coat. If you go in February, keep an eye on the dates around Lent as the Ambrosian Carnevale, the Milanese Mardi Gras, occurs around that time. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 62.5 mm.)
- Milan weather in March: The temperature starts to climb out of the winter doldrums in March, with an average low above freezing (3°C) and a respectably average high of 13°C. Spring rain starts to fall in earnest during this month, however, and packing an umbrella and/or a good dependable weatherproof coat and waterproof shoes is essential. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 81.5 mm.)
- Milan weather in April: April in Milan is a mixed bag, with warming temperatures and increasing rainfall. Regardless of the weather, you’ll find a city filled with great sights, museums, and restaurants, but without the masses of tourists which descend on the city during the summer months. If you do go to Milan in April, check out the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, where a vast array of home décor and furniture products – the organizers claim it’s the largest such display in the world – takes over the FieraMilano complex, easily accessible from the city center via the M1 metro line. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 82.3 mm.)
- Milan weather in May: May is usually quite mild in Milan, however it’s also the third rainiest month of the year next to October and November, so definitely bring appropriate clothing for the elements. Be aware that the warmer weather brings an increasingly large mosquito population as well from the marshlands that surround the city. If you start noticing them on your visit, a quick stop at Farmacia for repellant should do the trick. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Precipitation: 96.5 mm.)
- Milan weather in June: The summer starts in earnest with average high temperatures around 26°C (about 80°F), and the tourist season, particularly in the latter part of the month, is in full swing. Things are particularly busy during Milan Fashion Week (which also happens in January, February, and September), so be sure and check the dates before you go, and book lodging well in advance if you’ll be there during that time frame. (Average Max Temperature: 26°C. Average Precipitation: 65.3 mm.)
- Milan weather in July: On average, July is the hottest—and busiest—month of the year. You won’t be alone, but then you’ll also be catered to by art curators and music venues bringing in their top shows of the year, while you enjoy warm evenings featuring al fresco aperitivo, street music, and summer celebrations stretching late into the night. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation: 68.1 mm.)
- Milan weather in August: In August, it’s hot. Many residents have fled the city in search of cooler temperatures, often to the Lakes district northwest of the city to enjoy the glistening alpine scenery. While many of the smaller shops will be closed, tourists are catered to in other ways during the month, with tours, aperitivo specials, and top-notch art exhibitions. Be aware that while it doesn’t rain often in August, Milan has been known to get short, but intense, summer downpours. (Average Max Temperature 28°C. Average Precipitation: 93 mm.)
- Milan weather in September: With summer tourist crowds waning, the weather cooling, and multiple events happening in town, including Men’s Fashion Week, September might be the best month of the year to visit Milan. It’s also one of the drier months in the city, which means lots of al fresco aperitivo opportunities. The Milano Film Festival (which sometimes plays into October) features both big releases and small, independent European films that you’ll never get to see in an American theater. And locals have returned to the city after August holiday, so shops are open and looking to entice you with discounts and recently arrived merchandise. (Average Max Temperature 24°C. Average Precipitation: 68.6 mm.)
- Milan weather in October: Things cool off in October in Milan, and you’ll want to bring an umbrella, as this is the city’s rainiest month of the year next to November. Along with this comes cheaper airfare and hotel rates, however, and it’s still not so cold that you need to wear a heavy coat every night. (Hopefully.) You’ll also be able to enjoy fall color in the city’s parks and open spaces, and a trip to the Lakes district is particularly gorgeous this time of year. (Average Max Temperature 19°C. Average Precipitation: 99.8 mm.)
- Milan weather in November: Winter is well on its way; you will definitely want to pack a nice, warm coat if you plan to visit Milan in November, and an umbrella is a good idea as well. But the Milanese are out and about even in bad weather, and you will find ample warmth in coffee shops, bars, and other public spaces. Consider a show at one of the cities many teatros (theaters), or check out some local music – November usually hosts the Milano Jazz Festival, with events in clubs and other venues all over the city. If you have a few days to spare, consider a ski trip to the nearby Alps. (Average Max Temperature: 10°C. Average Precipitation: 101.1 mm.)
- Milan weather in December: Sure, the weather isn’t great in Milan in December (although it tends to be quite a bit drier than October and November), but shoppers flock here from all over Italy and beyond to collect gifts and treasures, and holiday-related events happen all over town. Be sure to look into the Festival of Sant’Ambrogio, otherwise known as “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” which traditionally kicks off the season with street markets, food, music, and other fun diversions. (Average Max Temperature: 5°C. Average Precipitation: 60.5 mm.)
Milan Events and Festivals by Month
Milan Events in January
- Corteo dei Re Magi – Religious festival celebrating the Three Wise Men, with a parade along Porta di Ticinese featuring actors dressed as the three kings. Also known as Epiphany and Befana.
- Men’s Fashion Week (Milano Moda Uomo) – The beautiful people descend on Milan to see the latest (and often wildest) fashions for four weeks every year, in January, February, June, and September. In January, the latest in men’s fashion is on the catwalk.
Milan Events in February
- Carnevale Ambrosiano (occasionally also occurs in March) – Religion and history come together for Milan’s version of Mardi Gras, although the festival here takes place in after Lent instead of on Fat Tuesday. Expect parades, costumes, and general merriment.
- Women’s Fashion Week (Milano Moda Donna) – Milan is taken over again by fashionistas and famous folks, out to see the latest styles for women.
Milan Events in March
- Festa di San Giuseppe – Saint Joseph’s Day, which used to be a national holiday in Italy, is celebrated in Milan as a kind of Italian version of Father’s Day, with dads receiving gifts and related special events happening all over the city.
- Oggi Aperto – Literally “open today,” monuments and historic buildings across the city that are normally closed to visitors are open for public viewing. Usually occurs during the third weekend of March.
Milan Events in April
- Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Hundreds of designers and craftspeople come to Milan for what is probably the world’s largest annual Furniture Fair. The main action happens at the FieraMilano convention center, but there are exhibitions and events all over town.
- Milan Marathon – The city welcomes runners, athletes, and amateurs to compete in its yearly marathon; the number of participants has been steadily growing since launching in 2000.
- MiArt – One of the largest art shows in all of Europe brings together major artists and collectors from around the world. It’s also a showcase for fringe artists who operate on the more challenging end of the spectrum.
- Mercato dei Fiori – Spring brings the flower harvest, which is celebrated in Milan with a huge open market along the Naviglio Grande canal, filled with shops, bars, and restaurants.
- Settimana delle Beni Culturali – Enjoy free entry to all of Milan’s great museums over the course of the city’s Cultural Heritage Week, with many private collections also available for viewing.
Milan Events in May
- Cortili Aperti – Baroque gardens and courtyards in some of Milan’s most opulent buildings and neighborhoods are opened to the public for one Sunday in May.
- Piano City – A three-day series of events around Milan featuring piano-based concerts, often in unusual, private venues designed to give audiences a unique experience.
- Orticola ai Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli – Giardini Pubblici, one of Milan’s two major public parks (Park Sempione is the other one) hosts a huge outdoor flower and garden exhibition that takes over the entire area. Usually takes place over a weekend during the earlier part of the month.
Milan Events in June
- Festival Latino Americano – Milan’s celebration of all things Latin, featuring concerts, crafts, food, and more in various locations around the city.
- Festa del Naviglio – Over the course of two weeks, Milan’s lively canal district gets even livelier, with street music, vendors, and aperitivo-loving locals and tourists taking advantage of the many delicious bars and restaurants in the vicinity.
- La Notte Bianca – In a nod to the Italian phrase which literally translates as “white night,” and is the common term for a sleepless evening, for one night of the year most of the city’s bars, restaurants, cinemas, and shops are open until 6am.
- Giro d’Italia – One of the most important dates on the professional cycling circuit, the Giro d’Italia takes riders on a journey across over 2,000 miles and the better part of continental Italy, usually including a route through Milan.
- Men’s Fashion Week (Milano Moda Uomo) – Fashion Week returns for its summer incarnation, with the men showing off the new styles for the coming year. With June already a peak month for travel to Milan, getting a room anywhere near town for this particular week can be difficult, so if you choose to attend, plan ahead.
- Milano d’Estate (June – August) – The Sforza Castle holds a series of concerts all summer long, with internationally famous recording acts throughout the summer. Tickets can be hard to come by, but are usually available via Turismo Milano a few months before the events.
- Notturni in Villa (June – August) – Within the surrounding areas of Milan, as well as in the city center, a number of privately owned villas open their doors for a series of jazz and classical concerts running throughout the summer.
Milan Events in July
Milan Events in August
Milan Events in September
- Italian Grand Prix – Held just outside of Milan in the town of Monza, this Formula One racing event provides a forum for legendary Italian car makers like Ferrari and Maserati.
- Milano Film Festival – Watch films from around the world—many of which are presented in English (either via subtitles or dubbing)—at Milan’s yearly fall movie festival.
- Rito della Nivola – A yearly celebration involving the Santo Chiodo, or “holy nail,” purported to be an actual nail from the Crucifixion housed in Milan’s world-renowned Duomo.
- Women’s Fashion Week (Milano Moda Donna) – The last official Fashion Week on the yearly calendar reveals the styles which will be in vogue (or at least, that’s what the designers hope) for women starting with the ensuing spring.
Milan Events in October
- Celtic New Year – Milan, like a number of other European cities, is slowly catching the Halloween crazy, but this event is still the bigger occasion. Sforza Castle gets taken over for several days of music, dancing, and celtic/medieval-themed revelry.
Milan Events in November
- Milano Jazz Festival – A more recent addition to Milan’s event calendar, the “MiJazz” festival has already become a big hit, with not only concerts, but also lectures, discussion groups, and jazz-oriented classes as well.
- All Saints’ Day – National holiday. Milan takes the first of November off, with many exchanging gifts to commemorate Catholic saints. Many shops and restaurants will be closed and museums may also not be open.
- International Motorcycle Expo – Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world descend on Milan to celebrate their passion in a city that has long celebrated fine automotive design.
Milan Events in December
- Festival of Sant’Ambrogio – Otherwise known as “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” this seasonal festival kicks off the holiday season with a celebration of Ambrogio, the city’s patron saint. Usually held on or near December 7th, the festival usually takes place in the piazza in front of the Sant’Ambrogio basilica, but in recent years events have also taken place at Castle Sforza and around the Duomo (where special services are also held).
- Holiday for the Immaculate Conception – The day after the “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” festival is a national holiday, as the Milanese retreat to their kitchens to prepare celebratory feasts. Since it’s a holiday, you will likely find many shops and restaurants are closed.
- Festa di San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve) – Milan celebrates the beginning of a new year along with the rest of the world, with special events, dinners, and celebrations all over town.
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