Milan is a fast-paced city with a decidedly more urban feel than its southern counterparts of Rome or Florence, so you might be surprised to find just how many parks and gardens the city has to offer! If you’re visiting Milan in Spring, be sure to take time to stop and smell the roses (literally!) in one of the city’s many free, public parks and gardens.
Here’s where to find some of the best green spots in the heart of Milan:
Milan’s public gardens, this lovely park has a small lake, a planetarium and the Museum of Natural History. Across from the park is the Giardini della Villa Reale filled with swings and slides and a small pond it’s perfect for children! So perfect in fact that it’s reserved just for them – only those accompanying children ages 12 and under are allowed in!
Orticola Ai Giardini Pubblici – May 9, 10, 11 only
This ever-growing flower exhibition and market is held for one weekend every May in the Giardini Pubblici. Organized by the Associazione Orticola di Lombardia, an Italian institution that encourages public interest in gardens and plants, this year’s theme is the “Italian Rose Garden” with the goal to rediscover the great tradition of Italian roses.
May 9, 10 and 11
Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli
Red Metro Line: Palestro
Tickets cost 8 euro, children 16 years and under free.
Click here for more information
Right in the center of the city, Parco Sempione is perfect after a day of sightseeing or as a mid-day pause. The park attracts all kinds of people, which can make it feel a bit seedy as the sun sets, but its central location makes it very convenient! Take a walk through the park’s small center to see the great walls of the Castello Sforzesco, the Arco della Pace or just to people watch (and don’t miss our article on the must-see sights in Parco Sempione!)
Giardino della Guastella
Created as a private garden in 1555, this is Milan’s oldest park. This large park is perfect for a long walk (there’s roughly 12,000 square meters to cover!) but it’s most notable for its large Baroque style goldfish pond. With architecture, a formal layout and a 17th century shrine, Giardino della Guastella will give you a clear idea of an Italian-style garden.
Botanical Gardens of Brera
Though most go for the Pinacoteca, Brera is also home to an Astronomical Observatory, a library, the Academy of Fine Arts and, wrapped around the corner of this great palazzo, a semi-hidden botanical garden. Though admittedly small, the botanical gardens have a rich history and are a romantic oasis in a busy city. The herbs and flowers grow from the same earth used by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century when the garden’s main purpose was to grow and cultivate medicinal plants to teach to students of Brera. Today the little garden fills with students sitting in the grass or on benches along the rows of herbs to study or rest between classes.
Via Brera 28 (in the same building as the Pinacoteca di Brera with signs marking the garden)
Click here for more information about times and history of the botanical gardens.
Parco delle Basiliche
This small park is in the center of the Navigli neighborhood, a popular area for dining and entertainment and home of the canals famous in Milan for their nightlife and historical significance (once the primary mode of transport in Milan, they were used to marble to build the impressive Duomo). Parco delle Basiliche is named after the two Basilicas each located at opposite ends of the park, Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio and Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore. Visit both and enjoy the park while you walk from one to the other!
Mercatone dell’Antiquariato – May 25 only
Certainly Springtime isn’t just about the parks! Enjoy the fresh air during the Mercatone dell’Antiquariato, a huge antiques market held on the last Sunday of every month along the Navigli. The specialized market stretches nearly two kilometers along the canal with handpicked vendors selling furniture, watches, jewelry, books and more. Spend a beautiful Spring Sunday shopping in the open air and you might just go back home with a very authentic souvenir! Then, finish your day with an outdoor aperitivo at one of the many locations along the canals – a must when in Milan.
Navigli, Green Metro at Porta Venezia
May 25 (Last Sunday of every Month)
Cortili Aperti – May 26 only
If you’re lucky enough to be in Milan in Spring you might just be able to catch a glimpse behind closed doors at some of Milan’s most famous courtyards during the cortile aperti, or open courtyard, event. One Sunday every year certain private residences, usually with a rich history and unique architecture, open their courtyards to the public. This year ten palazzi will open their courtyards, starting in the center of the city with the baroque Palazzo Durini and ending in corso Venezia with the Palazzo Bocconi. Get outside in the fresh air, enjoy the flowers and fountains that fill the courtyards and see a part of the city that few are able!
May 26; For more information click here (in Italian).
If you’re spending some time in Milan this Spring, why not consider one of our private Milan tours, visiting the Duomo, Last Supper and more!