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Tips for visiting Milan Cathedral: Tickets & Guide

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Visiting Milan Cathedral? This detailed guide has all the historical information, ticket details, and insider tips for photos and exploration. 

The Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano (in Italian) is the largest church in Italy. It is located in Milan in the Lombardy region. 

This cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. And it is the largest church in Italy, second largest in Europe, and the third largest in the world, after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, and the Cathedral of Seville in Spain. 

We have visited all three, and truly the Milan Cathedral is a work of art, an architectural wonder, and one that is full of historical marvels.

Tips for visiting Milan Cathedral: Facts and Planning guide

View of Milan cathedral
View of the Milan Cathedral outside

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What is so special about the Milan Cathedral?

The Milan Cathedral is a stunning work of art. The construction of the cathedral started in 1386 and was completed in the following 500 years. It was completed under the order of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Being the largest cathedral in Italy, it truly deserves a visit (St. Peter’s is in the Vatican, a microstate). The stunning view of the white marble statues and the church itself standing tall at the piazza is a beautiful sight to behold and remember from your Italy itinerary.

Tips on visiting Milan Cathedral

Did you know that the Duomo in Milan is one of the largest Catholic cathedrals in the world? It has a capacity for more than 40,000 people.

Wondering if can you go inside the Duomo Milan? The answer is yes.

Do I need tickets for Milan Cathedral? 

Yes, you do – for exploring the site.

Technically, in order to enter the church for prayers, there is no fee. However, for visiting the Milan Cathedral for purposes of sightseeing, exploring the museum, and the archaeological site, there is an entry fee – this is also confirmed on the official website.

Note that there is a separate entrance ticket for the rooftop terraces as well.

Duomo Milan tickets and tips

As mentioned the cathedral is free to enter for prayers, there is an entrance fee to visit the rooftop and the archeological site.

Even on the official Duomo site, it states an entry fee for the church, along with the museum and site access. 

There are 5 options for Milan Duomo tickets (with/out guide, with/out rooftop access, etc)

Please note that when you visit, do check the gates, as the entry for each is different. 

For our visit, we paid for rooftop access via lift, and also explored the museum and the underground exhibits. 

When you book lift access, you are only taking the elevator one way, and then you get down via stairs. The stairs take you down to the church area inside. 

View from terraces Milan Cathedral
View from the terraces

We booked our tickets with GetYourGuide, and they were actually valid for 3 days! It rained on the first day of visit in Milan, so we skipped the rooftop on that day, and just entered the church and the museum. 

We revisited the church on the third day, and took the lift to the church top, and got down by the stairs. Do keep that in mind, when you book this ticket!

For just rooftop access by stairs, it will be the cheapest ticket fee. 

How to visit the Duomo of Milan Cathedral?

To visit the Duomo the minimum ticket will be for entry fees only – depending on church or rooftop or both access. However, you can also visit the cathedral on a guided tour. 

Milan Duomo Rooftop

We highly recommend booking tickets ahead of time, to avoid disappointment at the gate or waiting in line.

So to visit, you have 2 options, you can reserve 

The two tickets linked above include entry to the Duomo of Milan, the Archaeological Area, the Duomo Museum, and the Terraces of the Duomo (ascent by elevator).

Some of the online tickets are labeled as fast track entry to beat the rush with a guide. With all tickets, you need to be mindful of the date, and time of entry. Listed below are all 5 options to enter and visit Milan Duomo,

Milan Duomo Opening Hours

For the cathedral

  • Open daily from 08:00 am – 07:00 pm
  • Last ticket is at 6:00 pm, and last admission is 6:10 pm

Crypt of St Charles

  • Monday – Friday: 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
  • Saturday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm 
  • Sunday: 1.30 pm – 3.30  pm

Duomo Musuem & San Gottardo Church

  • Daily: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm. Closed Wednesdays

Rooftop Terraces

  • Daily: 09:00 am – 07:00 pm
  • Last admission is 06:10 pm

Milan Cathedral Inside View 

Now that you have all the Duomo ticket options, and here is a sneak peek of the interiors,

Inside the Milan cathedral
Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral, there is a huge prayer hall with 5 naves and 52 columns, where each column signifies a week of the year. You will also find tombs of many several archbishops, and preachers. There is room to sit down, light a candle and take in the vibes. 

You will also see a crucifix inside, which was made by Leonardo Da Vinci. 

In total, you will find about 34,000 statues inside and out, 155 stained glass windows, and 150 gargoyles. The statue of the Apostle Bartholomew is not to be missed inside. 

Stained glass windows at the Milan Duomo
Stained glass windows – Milan Duomo

As soon as you enter the church, you will be mesmerized by its heavenly golden glow. 

Note: There is airport-level security to enter the Milan Cathedral. You and your belongings will be scanned for weapons, or prohibited items, plus no food or drink, etc. There are security guards outside, at the gate, and on rooftop terraces to maintain order and safety at the Duomo piazza and nearby areas. 

Is it worth going inside Milan Duomo?

The interior of the cathedral is 1000% worth a visit – and this is for the church alone – plus there is more!

Milan cathedral interiors
Milan Cathedral interiors

If you have visited some of the other cathedrals in Europe, you can compare and see which is your favorite. And when in Milan, not visiting the cathedral will not be good! So do go inside and check it out, even if you are not religious. 

One of the unique things to see inside the cathedral is the archaeological site. I was in awe looking at the diggings and findings underneath the church complex. It was surreal! 

Underground exhibits at the Duomo
Underground exhibits at the Milan Duomo

Highly recommend paying a visit to the exhibits at the Milano Cathedral. This site was discovered in the 1960s, and diggings are still ongoing. 

Milan Duomo Rooftop View

Finally, it’s the rooftop terraces that will blow you away. From here, you can soak in the views of the city of Milan. 

Gorgeous work on the terraces Duomo di Milano
Gorgeous work on the terraces
View from the rooftop terrace

The terraces cover a surface of about 26,250 square feet, and it is gorgeous as you can capture the piazza and landmarks nearby. If lucky, you can see as far as the Alps and the Apennine Mountains. 

Is there a dress code for the Duomo in Milan? What do you wear to the Duomo in Milan? Duomo Milan dress code

For all cathedrals in Italy, including the Milan Duomo, you have to adhere to a dress code. You should be modestly dressed – so avoid shorts, short dresses/skirts, or tops, and do cover your shoulders, and thighs. 

Dress code for Milan Duomo

If you are wearing a sleeveless top or dress, we recommend covering it with a scarf or a lightweight jacket while you visit the church, and then later on you can take it off – as a sign of respect. If you have your shoulders and knee covered there is no problem.

Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) and nearby

The plaza right outside the Milan Cathedral is called Piazza del Duomo (aka Cathedral Square). This is also the main piazza or square in Milan. It also marks the city centre, geographically and culturally. 

Milan Cathedral square
Milan cathedral square

The square occupies an area of 17,000 m2 (about 183,000 sq ft), and the cathedral has a dominant position there. Other than Milan Duomo, the piazza includes the statue of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. He was the king of the Kingdom of Italy, and it was inaugurated in 1896. 

The piazza dates back to the 14th century, and along with the statue, there have been gradual developments and additions (including excavations) that have taken place over the years. 

Milan Duomo Piazza from the rooftop
Milan Duomo Piazza from the rooftop

Other landmark site near the Piazza del Duomo is the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade. 

This is the oldest shopping gallery in Italy and is named after the king – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is a gorgeous arcade with beautiful artwork and tons of luxury and fashionable shopping labels to choose from. 

The piazza along with the gallery was designed and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni in the late 19th century, and it gave the square its current shape and outlook. 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Royal Palace of Milan is located to the right of the Duomo, opposite the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The palace was the seat of government in Milan, after the 16th century. Prior to that Castello Sforzesco served as the residence and fort for rulers/dukes of Milan. 

It is home to a cultural center today, and you can check out art exhibitions there. The Hall of Caryatids inside the Royal Palace was damaged during the Second World War, and later almost abandoned for years. Many visitors normally skip this on their one day in Milan itinerary

Royal Palace of Milan complex
Royal Palace of Milan complex

Right outside the plaza, you can find restaurants, shops, and transportation networks (metro station, hop-on and hop-off services, taxis, etc). 

Tip: ️At the piazza, you will find vendors and street photographers who will offer to snap a photo and provide an Insta image! Some will also offer you ‘food’ to feed to the pigeons. Remember to be very careful at the square with your belongings, especially when it is crowded.

Night or day, the piazza is bustling with activities and is frequented by tourists and locals alike. You will also find a police van on patrolling duty on-site. 

How much time do you need at the Duomo?

Exploring the cathedral areas will take about 2-3 hours, be sure to book tickets early. Book it here

How to get to the Milan Cathedral? 

You can easily get to the Milan Cathedral via public transportation, particularly the metro. The nearest stops are 

  1. Duomo station is located right outside the cathedral. It is an interchange station where you can arrive by M1 and M3 lines
  2. Other options include Via Visconti Di Modrone is 52 meters away, (a minute walk)
  3. San Babila M1 is 85 meters away, (2 minute walk)

If you are staying or arriving at Milano Centrale Station for a day trip to Milan, then you can use the M3 metro line to get there. 

Milan Cathedral is located in Zone 1 district of the city. From here you can also visit the  Santa Maria Delle Grazie to check out the Last Supper, one of the best-known works by Leonardo da Vinci. 

Milan Cathedral Photography Tips

The beauty of the Milan Cathedral is best captured from the piazza and the terrace rooftop. For best photos, sunrise is the best time. This way you can beat the crowds and capture the cathedral in its glory. 

We visited the cathedral multiple times and were lucky one morning when there were the least crowds. We were there at around 7-7:30 am and captured a ton of photos and reels. 

Girl at the Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral in the morning

Views from the rooftop are best photographed in the morning or evening (with good lighting). During the day, the sunlight will be sharp and photos may not be that great. 

As you wander through the terrace area, you can stop by for photos. Visitors will be proceeding to the rooftop in a queue, so this won’t be as crowded for pictures. 

General tips for visiting the Milan Cathedral 

Milan Cathedral is one of the primary landmarks of the city. It is also an Italy bucket list item for many. So,

  • Do book your tickets online: This is a must so that you are not disappointed. When we visited they didnt have tickets on site, and only online tickets were accepted. So buy before you travel. 
  • Avoid crowds: Try to book for the morning hours, they are great for photos, and the piazza is also less crowded that time
  • Duomo dress code: Don’t forget to dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees on the day of visit
  • Travel light: Don’t bring a big bag or luggage, prohibited items, etc. 
  • Getting there: Public transport is the best way to get to the cathedral 
  • Photography is allowed everywhere inside the cathedral complex
  • Comfy shoes: Do wear comfortable shoes to walk the rooftop and Duomo di Milano stairs

Our experience at the Milan Cathedral, archealogical site and rooftop terrace 

We visited the Milan Cathedral on 2 different days, as it rained on one of the mornings. Our itinerary for Milan began at 07:00 am to capture the piazza and the church in all its glory. 

We took the metro from our hotel – c-Hotel Atlantic Milano – near the Milano Centrale Station, and arrived at the Duomo station. The view upon arriving outside the station was breathtaking – the cathedral is truly beautiful in white, with its statues and spires. 

We took a few photos, filmed a few reels, played with the pigeons, and then headed to the right side of the cathedral to enter the premises. 

At the gate, we had to show our tickets and related documents. Our next step was to get our bags and ourselves screened. Once clear, we entered the church. 

Signs inside the Duomo entrance
Inside the Duomo entrace

Once inside, we sat down for a bit, then explored the wonderful work of art inside – from the gorgeous ceilings, columns, stained glass windows to wood carvings and statues.

From the altar area, we scanned our tickets to visit the archaeological site and the museum. There are separate entry and ticket scanning points to get to the archaeological site underground and then the Duomo museum.

Exhibits Milan Duomo
One of the Duomo exhibits

These excavations are on-going, and it was first discovered through diggings in the 1960s. Prior to our trip, we had no idea about this site, and we are glad to have brought the access ticket.

After checking out all the exhibits we came out using the same gate. 

Although it rained on our visit, we did follow the same process on the third day in Milan and entered the church (for another look).

In order to access the rooftop, we exited the church and lined up at the left-hand side of the cathedral (on the Galleria side). There was another screening, and once clear we stepped inside a lift. 

As we were shared before, the views from the top are beautiful. There are a mix of stairs, uneven and narrow areas that you will have to walk to get to the top. 

As you walk along, admire the statues and spires and the view, of course. 

Once at the very top, sit down and soak in the sun (when visiting on a crisp morning).

Rooftop Terrace at the Duomo (we sat here for a bit before getting down)

When done, you will exit by the stairs and come down to the church area – for that one last view of the stained glass windows, before you leave!

We highly recommend visiting the Milan Cathedral when you are in the city. It is worth it for the views, art, and archaeology.

Milan is often overlooked by tourists visiting Italy. It is a great base to take day trips to northern Italy and even Florence in Tuscany. Even if you have a day in Milan, you must ass the Duomo to your itinerary.

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