Are you planning to visit Milan? If the answer is yes, you may be wondering when is the best time to visit Milan Summer, to enjoy some sunshine? Or maybe spring, to see the city’s parks and gardens in full bloom? Fall with its colors, or the hazy stillness of winter?
Truth is, Milan is a year-round destination, and every season comes with a series of advantages and drawbacks – and throughout this post, I’ll do my best to reveal them all and help you choose when to visit Milan.
Trust me, I’ve lived in Milan all my life! Keep reading to find out about the weather in Milan, when peak season is, and when is the best time to visit to avoid the crowds!
Weather in Milan
Traveling around Italy, you’ll often hear locals complaining about the weather in Milan. ‘It’s always cold and foggy’, ‘definitely not as nice as southern Italy!’ ‘the sky is always grey’ – and so on. To be honest, especially if you come from the UK, US East Coast, or North/Central Europe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Milan weather!
Spring and fall are definitely the most pleasant seasons in Milan when it comes to weather, with mild temperatures throughout the day, getting a bit chilly at night. It’s mostly sunny, even though rainstorms do occur – especially in May and late October/November.
Summers in Milan are very hot and humid, and there are frequent heatwaves bringing daytime highs of 35°C or higher.
You’ll find that the locals tend to leave for their summer homes from June to September – during the weekends, the city is really quiet. In August, Milan is eerily empty as most Milanese take their summer holidays – it’s a good month to avoid the crowds, but many restaurants and bars are also closed.
Winter is a good time to visit Milan if you don’t mind the cold. The city is usually fairly quiet and accommodation is at its most affordable, but temperatures can dip below freezing, especially in January (the coldest month).
For a complete breakdown of Milan weather year round, have a look at the chart below!
|MONTH||HIGH (CELSIUS)||HIGH (FAHRENHEIT)||LOW (CELSIUS)||LOW (FAHRENHEIT)||RAINY DAYS|
Milan Travel Seasons Through the Year
Travel seasons in Milan aren’t as straightforward as in other Italian cities, as the city gets especially busy on the occasion of events like Design and Fashion Week. Specific trade fairs and events may also bring heavy influx of visitors to the city, jacking up accommodation prices as a result.
Generally speaking, peak season in Milan runs from April to September, with the exception of August. Design Week (usually the second week of April) is the busiest of the year, with accommodation prices rising by 200% or more. May and June are also busy months, then things start to quiet down from mid-July onwards.
September is also a very busy month, especially during Women’s Fashion Week at the end of the month. Make sure you book well in advance if you are planning to visit during that week – or better still, visit during shoulder season!
March and early April, as well as October and November are considered shoulder season in Milan. This is a great time to enjoy the city – temperatures are usually mild and pleasant, and the odd rainy day is a good time to check out a museum.
Italy makes use of Daylight Saving, starting in late March until late October. In November, expect considerably shorter days, with sunset as early as 5 pm – but once again, there’s plenty to see and do in the evening!
You may be able to find good accommodation prices in Milan during shoulder season. Top tip – book business hotels at the weekend, when rates are reduced, and avoid staying near airports or the trade fair, and look for hotels in local neighborhoods like Lambrate or NoLo instead!
Low season in Milan pretty much coincides with winter, with the addition of August. The winter months are cold, grey and dark, so if you were looking for an Italian escapade with long, sun-filled days… look elsewhere.
Winter in Milan is a good time for shopping (more info about this below!) and the best time to avoid the crowds and live the city like a local. On top of that, it’s a great time to combine your Milan trip with a ski break – Milan is less than an hour away from some great ski resorts!
August is probably the worst month to visit Milan in my opinion. As mentioned above, the city is almost completely empty with locals heading off on vacation, and most shops, restaurants and attractions also close their doors for at least 2/3 weeks, sometimes for the whole month. So, yes, it’s probably the best month to avoid queues – but there’s not much to do!
Best Time to Visit Milan for Shopping
Winter is the best time to go shopping in Milan! In December you’ll find Christmas Markets and stalls selling gifts and trinkets all over the city, and shops often sell Christmas decorations – you’ll find some really nice ones in the homeware section of Rinascente, the most famous department store in Milan.
In January, it’s time for sales on the Fall/Winter collection! If you want to snag some Gucci, Prada or Armani items, this is the best time to visit. Some stores start their winter sales as early as Boxing Day. Summer sales usually start in July, and by the end of the month, most of the merchandise is gone.
Since July is hot and busy, we recommend visiting in January if you want to go shopping in Milan!
Best Time to Visit Milan for Festivals
In Milan, you’ll find different festivals and events pretty much every single month of the year – have check out our complete month by month overview of Milan festivals!
The most popular event in Milan is definitely Design Week, bringing a huuuge number of people to the city. There are events, cocktail parties, presentations and installations all over the city, at art galleries and other exhibition spaces. The exact venues change every year, as do the dates – check the official website to know more.
Please take note that the 2021 edition of Design Week will take place from September 4th-10th, not in April as usual.
Other popular events in Milan are Piano City in May, Book City in November and the Milano Film Festival in late October.
One last warning – please avoid visiting Milan for Fashion Week if you’re a tourist. Fashion shows and parties are very exclusive, and it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed in without an invite. You may be able to get a glimpse of models and see fashionistas walking down the street, but that’s about it!
Best Time to Visit Milan for Sightseeing
The best months for sightseeing are April/May (outside of Design Week) and October, as the weather is mild and sunny, and the days are still long until Daylight Saving ends.
You can wander around the city, have dinner or aperitivo outside, and enjoy the city without packs of tourists. Weekdays are quieter than weekends, so make sure you do most of your sightseeing then – Milanese locals also love enjoying their own city, and you might find long lines at attractions and exhibitions on Saturday and Sunday.
Many Milan museums and attractions, including the Last Supper, are closed on Monday. Churches including the Duomo are open every day, but often close for two or three hours during lunchtime. Make sure you check opening times online before your Milan visit, especially if you are coming in summer!
Best Time to Avoid the Crowds in Milan
The best month to avoid crowds and lines in Milan is August, but many stores, restaurants and attractions are also closed as it’s prime vacation time.
Alternatively, visit in winter – with the exception of the week before Christmas, when the city center is busy with locals buying Christmas presents, it’s a very pleasant time to visit the city. Tourists are few and far between, but be prepared for the cold!
Best Month to Visit Milan – Final Thoughts
So, what is the best time to visit Milan? In my opinion, the overall winners are the months of May and October.
Milan in May is fairly busy, but not as much as during Design Week or the rest of peak season. The weather is still mild, but days are long, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor dining and drinks.
In October, the weather starts to cool down and days get shorter, but it’s still pleasant to get out and about. It’s also a quiet month in terms of events, so you might be able to find good accommodation deals!