Milan may not be the first place you think of when you’re considering the most Instagrammable cities in Europe, but perhaps it should be! With its incredible architecture, historic streets, futuristic skyscrapers and Italian charm, this underrated city will absolutely add some magic to your Instagram feed. What’s more, there’s likely far more Instagrammable places in Milan than you may have realised.
This guide to the top 15 Milan Instagram spots will help you discover the best places to photograph in this beautiful city. To help you capture the best photos of Milan, I’ve also included the best times to visit and where to go to find those perfect shots.
If you are looking for a more detailed guide with everything you need to know about travelling to Milan, you’ll definitely want to check out our Ultimate Milan Itinerary.
For more Instagram inspiration, I have also created guides to the most Instagrammable places in Seville and London. If you like my work and want to see more of it, follow me on Instagram @travelsofsophie!
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Top 15 Most Instagrammable Places in Milan
Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)
Duomo di Milano, or Milan Cathedral, is hands-down THE most Instagrammable place in Milan. You absolutely cannot visit Milan without photographing one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.
When to Photograph Duomo di Milano
In the heart of the city, Milan Cathedral towers over Piazza di Milano. As one of the top things to do in Milan, it draws in the crowds. Therefore, the best time to photograph this magnificent church is first thing in the morning. Arrive as early as possible (preferably sunrise!) to capture some incredible photos without hordes of tourists.
Don’t forget to also visit the rooftops of Duomo for some true Instagram gems. These don’t open until 9am, so either take a wander around and photograph other nearby places until it opens, or return in the afternoon.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Duomo di Milano
This spectacular historic church is photogenic from all angles really! It’s no wonder it took 6 centuries to construct! Take some photos straight on from Piazza di Duomo to feature the front facade.
Just after sunrise, you may be able to angle the camera right to capture a sunstar. Or, make the most of the flocks of pigeons for a fun, dynamic Instagram shot.
Move to the edge of the square and use a wide-angle lens to capture both Milan Cathedral and another Milan landmark; Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Don’t forget to book tickets to visit the rooftops of Duomo. Up here you’re able to capture the details of the intricate white marble sculptures and ornate spires. When composing your Instagram photos here, look to use these to frame your subject.
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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Dating back to 1865, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest active shopping mall. Today, it is one of Milan’s major attractions and most Instagrammable places! It’s not uncommon to see fashion shoots going on in here!
When to Photograph Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Again, to get that perfect Instagram photo without the crowds, you’ll need to get here early. Even at 6:30am, there were a couple of other people trying to get their shots there!
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Capture the grandeur of the shopping arcade exterior first from Piazza di Duomo. Use a wide-angle lens to include more of the impressive facade.
Once you get inside, admire the unique roof and dome comprised of iron and glass, as well as the ornate mosaics adorning the building and uniform shop fronts. All of these features symmetrically aligned create the perfect Instagram worthy capture.
Quadrilatero della Moda
A short walk from Piazza di Duomo is Quadrilateral della Moda, the fashion district of Milan. Within this area, you’ll find an endless succession of international luxury brands. At the heart of the fashion district is Via Monte Napoleone, one of the most expensive and exclusive shopping streets in the world.
When to Photograph Quadrilatero della Moda
I prefer to shoot this area early in the morning before the shops open as I love the architecture. However, this would also be a great place to photograph during the day to capture the hustle and bustle of this luxury shopping district.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Quadrilatero della Moda
Photograph directly down Via Monte Napoleone to capture the length of this iconic street, home to the world’s top fashion brands.
Alternatively, focus on any of the individual shop fronts and courtyards dotted around the fashion district for another Instagrammable setting.
READ MORE: The ULTIMATE Milan Itinerary
This is where it gets a little confusing. It seems Porta Nuova refers to three separate things in Milan; the medieval city gate dating back to the 12th century, a Napoleonic gate built in 1810, and a district within Milan.
These would all rank on the list of the most Instagrammable places in Milan, so you will want to visit all three!
When to Photograph Porta Nuova
The great thing about all of the Porta Nuova Instagram locations is that you can really photograph them any time of the day!
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Porta Nuova
Porta Nuova, the old medieval city gate, is located near Piazza Cavour. What makes this one of the most Instagrammable places in Milan is the old-fashioned yellow trams that regularly pass through the arches. It’s photogenic from both sides of the gate.
The Napoleonic gate, Porta Nuova, from which the eponymous district derives its name, creates a beautiful photo op that shows contrasting elements of the city. Here, you can capture both the antiquity and modernity of Milan in a single frame.
As for the district of Porta Nuova, the next three instagrammable spots in Milan can be found within this area!
This neoclassical archway was built in the 19th century and marks one of the entrances of the historic city.
When to Photograph Porta Garibaldi
As you can photograph this impressive archway from both sides, you can shoot here any time of day. However, for the angle below taken from the northeast side, it is best to visit in the morning to have the light shining on it.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Porta Garibaldi
From the north of the gate, use the pedestrian crossing to create a leading line towards the arch. This would also be a great place to include a subject, using the archway to frame them.
Piazza Gae Aulenti
Piazza Gae Aulenti is a piazza unlike any other in Milan. This contemporary square is surrounded by skyscrapers giving it a futuristic feel that is in stark contrast to the historical centre. The skyline is dominated by the Unicredit Tower, designed by the same architect who built the famous Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
When to Photograph Piazza Gae Aulenti
As this is a busy shopping area, it’s best to arrive early, before the shops open, if you want to capture one of Milan’s most Instagrammable spots without other people in the shot.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Piazza Gae Aulenti
Shoot from within the shopping mall itself, using the sculptures to provide some interest to the foreground and the open roof to frame the Unicredit Tower. Then venture out into the square. Here, you can use the pathway as a leading line to the tower. You’ll want a fairly wide angle lens to be able to capture the entirety of this skyscraper in one shot.
FIND MORE INSPIRATION: 101+ Dream Destinations for your Travel Bucket List!
Tucked away behind Piazza Gae Aulenti are two residential towers with a difference! Bosco Verticale, literally meaning vertical forests, are covered with thousands of plants. They provide an area of vegetation equivalent to 30,000m2 of woodland and undergrowth!
When to Photograph Bosco Verticale
You can visit this Instagram location any time of the day and come away with some great photos. As you will be approaching them from the south, this angle remains in the sun throughout the day. It’s also a bit of a hidden gem and a little outside of the centre, meaning fewer people visit.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Bosco Verticale
As you reach Bosco Verticale from Piazza Gae Aulenti, you’ll be able to capture both of the residential towers. For an interesting, more abstract shot, try zooming in on some of the plants to capture the details.
From the new back to the old! The district of Brera is comprised of many photogenic, narrow streets. These typical Italian streets are lined with colourful houses and flower-adorned balconies.
When to Photograph Brera Streets
These streets are partly shaded throughout the day due to their narrow nature and tall buildings. Also, wander a little way and you’ll soon find a street to yourself, even in the middle of the day. Therefore, you can really photograph the streets of Brera any time of day.
The Perfect Instagram Photos of Brera Streets
The best way to find the most Instagrammable places is to simply wander! This neighbourhood is full of hidden gems just waiting to be explored. If you’d like somewhere to start, then one of my favourite streets is Via del Carmine.
Within the Brera district, you’ll find the beautiful Palazzo Brera. This historical building dates date to the 15th century and is now the home to several of the city’s leading cultural institutes. The stunning architecture provides a great opportunity for some Instagram worthy snaps.
When to Photograph Palazzo Brera
Each of the institutes within Palazzo Brera has different opening times. I struggled to find any general opening times for the actual building. I’d recommend checking on the Pinacoteca di Brera website for their opening times as if that is open, the building itself has to be open!
Any time it’s open is a good time to visit! The courtyard will be partly shaded throughout the day and even when I visited at around 11am during the summer, I had no issues with crowds.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Palazzo Brera
The courtyard provides the best Instagrammable photos. Archways surround the courtyard allow you to compose your photo from any angle and get a great shot!
Alternatively, move under the archways and focus on the details. From this angle, you can use the arches to frame the many sculptures around the courtyard. This would be a great place for you to add yourself to the photo to get that Insta-worthy shot (if, unlike me, you have someone with you who can take the picture for you!)
Santa Maria del Carmine Church
The beautiful Santa Maria del Carmine Church dates back to 1446 and is one of the most Instagrammable places in Milan. Its red brick facade framed by the yellow buildings in the square makes for a perfect shot.
When to Photograph Santa Maria del Carmine Church
Most times of day will be good to photograph here. The sun rises behind the church in the morning and moves around to the right of the shot, causing the buildings to cast a shadow on the square. However, the church itself remains in the sun. I would imagine sunset would be a beautiful time as the sun would be behind you, casting golden light onto Piazza del Carmine and the church.
Even in the middle of the day, this square wasn’t too busy.
The Perfect Instagram Photo at Santa Maria del Carmine Church
From the middle of Piazza del Carmine, you can include the entire facade of the church. The pathway leading up to the church also provides a great leading line when centred in the frame.
On the southern edge of Milan’s largest park, Parco Sempione, you will discover the only castle in Milan; Castello Sforzesco, or Castle Sforza. This iconic landmark was built as a fortress in the 14th century and converted into a grand castle in the 15th century. The grounds are enormous and include several museums.
When to Photograph Castello Sforzesco
To photograph the fountain outside Castle Sforza without large groups of people sitting around it, you’ll want to arrive early. You may get lucky later in the day (like I did!) but it’s less likely.
The grounds of the castle are free to enter but are gated so check on the Castello Sforzesco website for current opening times. These are beautiful and well worth a wander through to Parco Sempione.
The Perfect Instagram Photo at Castello Sforzesco
For the most Instagrammable spot, head to Piazza Castello and include the Fontana di Piazza Castello (Castle Square Fountain). The fountain provides an interesting foreground with the iconic red-brick castle behind.
Arco della Pace
At the other end of Parco Sempione, you’ll find another of the most instagrammable places in Milan; Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace). The construction of the Triumphal Arch originally commenced in 1807 to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. However, this ground to a halt when Milan was invaded by the Austrian Empire. The arch was finally completed in 1838 to celebrate the Italian unification.
When to Photograph Arco della Pace
This is a great place to photograph sunset. While it is busy at this time, most people stick to sitting around the outside of the square. Therefore, with a bit of patience you can get a photo of just the arch without anyone in it.
The Perfect Instagram Photos at Arco della Pace
My favourite composition to get the best Instagram photo of Arco della Pace is from Sempione Park at sunset. From the park, you can zoom in to include some of the grass and the background compression makes the archway feel even more impressive.
Another option is from the square surrounding the arch. I personally found this angle less interesting, particularly with the current restoration works being carried out on the arch. However, this would be a great Instagram shot with a subject in the foreground to add another element to the image.
The Navigli district of Milan centres around the two main canals; Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese. These canals are lined with colourful buildings just waiting to be Instagrammed!
When to Photograph Navigli
Navigli is a great place to explore and photograph at any time of the day! While this area does get busy, particularly when the vintage market lines the banks of the canals, it’s easy to find an angle that either excludes people entirely or makes them barely noticeable!
The Perfect Instagram Photos in Navigli
There are several different bridges that you can include in your photos. Get creative with it! You can shoot from the bridges to get a more aerial vantage point. Or shoot from under the bridges to capture some great reflections in the water. There’s also some fun street art lurking around so keep your eyes peeled for those!
City Life is a new development of residential apartments, offices, shops, restaurants and bars, as well as the second-largest park in Milan. While it has become popular with locals, it remains a hidden gem for tourists. It’s a great place to capture a more unique photo of Milan.
When to Photograph City Life
This is a great place to photograph around sunset when the golden light hits the skyscrapers. You can then also grab a drink after at one of the many bars in the area!
The Perfect Instagram Photos in Navigli
Include the colourful Coloris sculpture in the foreground and skyscrapers in the background for a very different Instagram shot in Milan.
Alright so technically I’m cheating a little bit as Lake Como is not in Milan. However, it is such an Instagrammable location and can be visited on a day trip from Milan, so I thought I could sneak it in!
Nestled into the foothills of the Alps just north of Milan, Lake Como is a treasure trove of Instagrammable places! With charming towns dotted all along its shores, you really can’t go wrong.
When to Photograph Lake Como
If you’re visiting Lake Como as a day trip from Milan then I’d recommend leaving as early as possible to give yourself ample time to explore.
The Perfect Instagram Photos in Lake Como
I have created an entire blog post about a day trip to Lake Como from Milan which has loads more photos. But, in a nutshell, I recommend visiting Varenna, Bellagio and Como. Each of these towns have ample Instagram-worthy shots awaiting you!
Tips for Photographing the Most Instagrammable Places in Milan
Now you’re all clued up with the WHERE to go to get the most Instagrammable photos of Milan, it’s time to share some tips on HOW to get them!
Don’t forget your camera!
Of course, having good camera equipment will help. However, you can still get some great shots with just your phone. I use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, we’ve recently invested in a Sony Rx100 VI which will likely become my city camera as it’s so small and convenient! Check out our post on travel photography camera gear to see what I used to take the photos in this post. If you are looking to invest in a camera, then you may also be interested in this blog post about the best cameras for blogging.
Choose the right lens
You will likely want a zoom lens to allow you to change your focal distance, as well as a wide-angle shot to capture some of the larger buildings. The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
Bring a tripod
A tripod is an integral part of my camera gear. Beyond its designed intention to hold my camera and allow me to get photos of myself, it also has the magical power of providing a bit of authority! People are much less inclined to step in front of your shot! When we have a lot of walking to do (like in Milan!), we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry.
Get out and shoot as early as possible
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, you’ll want to get out early to get the best photos without a ton of tourists in them. However, if you’ve only got one or two days in Milan you won’t be able to visit all of these places early!
The ones you absolutely should photograph as early as possible are Duomo di Milano and Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II. These will provide the most spectacular photos and get the busiest during the day.
Wear comfortable shoes
Milan is a fairly small city and is best explored on foot. While it is easily walkable, I soon racked up the miles exploring down all its little side streets so bring some comfy shoes! Depending on the time of year, the right style of shoe may vary. In the summer, open shoes will help with the heat, while waterproof shoes may be useful in the spring to stave off the rain! I love my Brooks sneakers and found them perfect for exploring the city.
Carry a reusable water bottle
The drinking water in Milan is excellent, so bring your own reusable water bottle and fill up as you go! This easy consideration helps to save the planet as well as your bankroll! With 565 to choose from, there are plenty of water fountains distributed throughout Milan. They are known as vedovelle which means “widows” in Italian. This name comes from the continuous stream of water that pours from them, which is said to compare to the cry of a widow.
Despite the constant flow of water, the fountains were designed to reduce water waste and maintain quality by preventing stagnation. There’s a map of where to find Milan’s vedovelle here and below is an image of a vedovelle so you know what to look for.
Pro tip: If you block the flow with your thumb, the water will spout from the top to provide an easier upward flow to drink from!
Keep fully charged
It’s likely you’ll be using your phone to navigate around the city and to take photos or videos (and hopefully have this Milan photo guide saved to refer to… *wink wink*). Bring a power pack with you to keep your phone charged on the go.
Final Thoughts on the Most Instagrammable Places in Milan
Milan is a beautiful, picturesque city filled with incredible architecture and Italian charm.
I hope that you now have all the information you need to discover the most Instagrammable places in Milan for yourself and get some incredible Instagram worthy shots!
For further information on Milan and other European destinations, check out some of our other blog posts:
- The ULTIMATE Milan Itinerary
- Day Trip from Milan to Lake Como
- 3 Days in Seville
- Most Instagrammable Places in Seville
- Most Instagrammable Places in London
- 101+ Dream Destinations for your Travel Bucket List
I hope you’ve found this Instagram guide helpful and inspiring. As always, I’d love to know your thoughts and, if you’ve been to Milan, where else you’d include in the comments below.