When visiting Milan, you’ll want to see the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). We decided to venture into the cathedral and even up to the rooftop terrace on this trip. To visit the Cathedral, you’ll need to purchase tickets prior to getting in line for entry. If you haven’t planned ahead, not to worry—you can still get them the day of. You can either purchase tickets in advance online before you go here or go to the ticket office in the morning. You can also go in for free if you’re worshiping, but you won’t be able to take photos.
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The ticket office is located just to the right of the Duomo in a separate building. When you walk in, be sure to take a number. Even though we were only the second person in the building (and there was no one behind us) they still made us go back and get a number before the cashier would sell us a ticket. The Cathedral also just started a Fast Track option, which you can read about here.
Entrance to the main Cathedral and the rooftop terrace is handled separately. The interior opens at 8:00 AM and the terrace (or rooftop) opens at 9:00 AM, so unless you plan to spend an hour walking through the cathedral interior, you’ll need something else to do. We’d suggest stopping for a cappuccino at a nearby bar like the Camparino bar across the street. Just be sure to get in the line for the Duomo rooftop a few minutes before 9:00 AM. Trust us, once people start lining up, the the line moves slowly, so it’s imperative to be one of the first in line.
We took a leisurely walk through the Cathedral and admired the incredible architecture and some of the famous art on display. If you’re going into the church, make sure you’re covering your knees and shoulders., and don’t miss seeing The Flayed San Bartolomeo by artist Marco d’Agrate from 1562. The Duomo supposedly also holds a nail from the Crucifixion, which is only lowered to see once a year (it’s in a reliquary near the ceiling). We spent about a half hour wandering in the Cathedral (they were setting up for Easter, so parts were closed), before heading across the street to grab a coffee.
We loved exploring the rooftop of the Duomo early in the morning. It is incredible, and being on the roof allows you to see all of the exquisite architectural details. The sculptures are stunning, and it’s especially impressive that the builders of the cathedral chose to adorn areas of the roof you’d never see from the street.
As noted above, it’s crucial to get to the Duomo the minute it opens, perhaps earlier in the tourist season. Despite the strict security protocols (the entrances are guarded by military personnel who search everything), we didn’t wait in line for more than a few minutes. As for getting to the roof you have two options: an elevator, or stairs. Tickets for the stairs are a few Euros less expensive, however, if you are at all claustrophobic, we would suggest erring on the side of getting elevator tickets. We climbed the stairs and it probably took less than five minutes, but neither of us relished the experience.
Once you get to the top, take a deep breath, take in the views, and relish the fact that you’re enjoying an experience that people who arrived a half an hour later will wait hours in line for. If you’re looking to take amazing photos of the Milan Cathedral or the city, the morning is also one of the best times as the light is fantastic. We hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did!