Parks and gardens in Milan
For such a busy city, Milan is home to a surprisingly large variety of tranquil gardens. Take a break from exploring Milan’s grand sites and luxury shopping galleries, and spend some time wandering the historic public gardens, botanical havens and hidden cloisters that bring a dose of greenery to the city. From the famous to the lesser-known, uncover the best parks and gardens in Milan with this two-day itinerary.
Start the day with a 10-minute walk to Indro Montanelli Public Gardens.
Indro Montanelli Public Gardens
Indro Montanelli Public Gardens was the first purpose-built public park in the city, created in the late 1700s. As well as beautiful geometric flower beds, tree-lined avenues, water features and play areas, visitors can also discover two major Milan attractions: The Civic Museum of Natural History and the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium.
Next, take a five-minute walk to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Milano.
Il Giardino di Villa Reale
The Galleria d’Arte Moderna Milano is best known for its modern art collection, but surrounding the striking museum is a beautiful garden that deserves as much attention as the art. Il Giardino di Villa Reale is a classic English-style garden that’s full of character, where sweeping lawns surrounding a calm lake are peppered with ancient ruins.
Then, take a 10-minute drive or a 20-minute walk to Parco Sempione.
Parco Sempione is arguably the most popular park in the city and is often compared to New York’s Central Park. The enormous 95-acre space is packed full of attractions including the medieval Sforza Castle, the beautiful Arch of Peace and the Civic Aquarium of Milan. With so much to discover, you’d be forgiven for spending an entire afternoon here.
To reach the next destination, it’s a 10-minute walk.
Orto Botanico di Brera
A prime attraction for green-fingered visitors with a passion for conservation, Orto Botanico di Brera is a tiny botanic garden hidden behind Brera Palace. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in plant life. From medicinal plants and herbs to fragrant flowers and historic plant species, there’s much to discover in this inviting urban oasis.
From here, take a 30-minute drive to Parco Lambro.
Named after the Lambro River that cuts through it, Parco Lambro is the largest park in Milan. Referred to as the ‘green lung’ of the city, it features Lombardy landscaping, excellent botanical and running trails, woodlands filled with valuable tree species, and several farm buildings. Visitors can enjoy running, cycling and even skateboarding in the park, which is popular with Milanese families.
To return to the hotel from Parco Lambro, it’s a 20-minute drive.
Begin the day with a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute drive to the Chiostro di San Simpliciano.
Chiostro di San Simpliciano
As well as gardens and parks, Milan is full of secret courtyards and cloisters enclosed within many of its beautiful buildings. Next to the Basilica of San Simpliciano, in the middle of a former monastery, is a tranquil courtyard edged with colonnaded arcades. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk among the pruned hedges, which create a beautiful pattern.
Then, take a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute drive to Leonardo’s Vineyard.
In an appropriate location opposite Santa Maria delle Grazie (the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco, The Last Supper) is La Vigna di Leonardo. Atellani House opens onto an intriguing garden, at the foot of which is the vineyard given to the artist by the Duke of Milan. Today, oenologists grow a grape here that the multi-talented da Vinci cultivated himself. Visitors must book onto a tour to explore the complex.
Next, take a 15-minute drive to Basilicas Park.
Basilicas Park (officially named Parco Papa Giovanni Paolo II), gets its name from the two churches that overlook it: Basilica di San Lorenzo and Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio. The former dates to the 4th century and is a magnificent example of a Byzantine-era church, while the latter is a striking 9th century Romanesque building. Enjoy a picturesque picnic in the shadows of the great churches.
Choose from a five-minute drive or a 15-minute walk to reach the Guastalla Gardens.
At nearly 500 years old, Guastalla Gardens is one of the oldest and most charming parks in Milan. A public space since 1939, it retains many of its original characteristics, including a beautiful Baroque lake, a small Neoclassical temple and various statues which were erected back when it was the private garden of a school.
Walk for five minutes to reach the final destination.
Chiostri di San Barnaba
The former 15th century convent of St Barnabas is home to not one, but four distinctive courtyards: Cloister of Statues, Cloister of Pisces (featuring a large stone basin filled with fish), the tiny Cloister of Memories, and Cloister of the Wisteria. The Cloister of Memories leads into the pretty Garden of Silence. After visiting each, sit back and enjoy an aperitivo or bite to eat in the courtyard restaurant.
To get back to the hotel, it’s a short 10-minute drive.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.