Nestled in the beating heart of the city, it couldn’t be easier for tourists to visit the iconic park. In fact, one of Sempione’s main selling points for visitors and locals alike is its proximity to the rest of the city’s landmarks.
What’s in this guide?
- Things to do at Sempione Park
- Sempione Park history and facts
- Restaurants, bars and shops nearby
- Opening times and prices
Getting to Sempione Park
There’s an easy way to reach the park no matter which area of Milan you’re staying in. If your hotel’s nearby either an M1 or M2 metro line, you can quickly get yourself there. On the M1 line, jump off at Cadorna or Cairoli. Both stops are a short walk from the park entrance, and both have disabled access.
Alternatively, jump on the M2 line and get off at the Lanza stop just outside the park walls. What’s great about travelling by metro is that the trains run every few minutes, which means you won’t have to wait long at the station.
Choose the tram if you aren’t close to the M1 or M2 metro lines. Lines 1, 2, 4, 12, 14 and 19 stop near the park. Buses are also a great way of getting around the city, and lines 18, 37, 50, 58, 61 and 94 will all take you to Parco Sempione.
Will you be frequently using public transport during your stay? Then we’d recommend purchasing a 24-hour or 48-hour travel ticket. Once you have it, you can use any public transport (metro, tram or bus) as many times as you like. At just €4.50 for 24 hours or €8.25 for 48, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you’re hoping to explore all that the city has to offer.
Things to do at Sempione Park
The brainchild of Italian architect Emilio Alemagna, Parco Sempione is a hub for recreational activities and a great place to visit some of the city’s most iconic tourist sites. It’s no surprise that it’s such a popular destination within the city centre. Let’s take a closer look at just some of the attractions you’ll find at Sempione Park.
At the Southern side of Sempione, you can witness one of the oldest examples of Milanese architecture. Castello Sforzesco was initially built as a fortress in the 14th century, but most of the castle has been demolished and rebuilt, altered or renovated since then.
Today, the castle is home to some of Milan’s best museums and exhibitions that are musts when visiting the city:
- Museo d’Arte Antica (Museum of Ancient Art)
- Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco
- Museo degli Strumenti Musicali (Museum of Musical Instruments)
- Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum)
- Raccolte d’Arte di Milano (Applied Arts Collection)
- Sala delle Asse by Leonardo da Vinci
Arco della Pace
At the north-western side of the park stands Arco della Pace, the Arch of Peace. Mimicking Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, the arch was built during Napoleon’s rule and stands at the start of the Corso Sempione, connecting the city to the French capital. Constructed using a blend of materials, including marble and stucco, the arch stands at an impressive 25 metres and is topped with bronze statues.
Also in the north-western corner of the park, find Arena Civica. The 19th-century arena was another addition to the city by Napoleon.
Designed by Neoclassical architect Luigi Canonica, the brains behind Arco della Pace, the space is still used today to host various sporting events and concerts. Even if you’re not a sports fan, we’d still recommend visiting this hidden historical gem.
Adjacent to Arena Civica, you’ll find Torre Branca – an unmissable stop for anyone who wants a birds-eye view of the city. Designed by celebrated Italian designer Giò Ponti, this tower stands at 180 metres. It gives an unrivalled vantage point, overlooking Parco Sempione and beyond. The best part? Entry to one of the most spectacular views of Milan only costs €5.
Whether you’re travelling with kids or want a break from history, Acquario Civico needs to be on your itinerary. Over 100 species of fish are housed in this Art Nouveau building, an excellent example of Milanese architecture. Admission is free for children and adults, making this both an educational and budget-friendly addition to your trip.
Home of the Triennale Design Museum, Palazzo dell’Arte is the perfect destination for those who enjoy contemporary art and design. Housing some of the most iconic pieces of contemporary Italian design, the building is one of Italian architect Giovanni Muzio’s most outstanding achievements.
It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of things to do whilst at Parco Sempione. Even if you’ve visited all the landmarks, the park makes an ideal setting for recreational activities. Whether you fancy hiring a bike and cycling along the various paths or just want to have a picnic on the vast lawn and soak up some Italian sun.
Sempione Park history and facts
Before it became Parco Sempione as we know it today, this vast piece of land, originally known as the Visconti Ducal Garden, underwent many changes.
During the 15th century, the ruling Sforza family decided to increase the park to a whopping 300-hectares, creating an enormous hunting reserve for their dukes.
Fast-forward to the early 1800s, and Napoleon briefly takes on the role of King of Italy. He sets himself the task of transforming Milan into a mini Paris. Among his vast plans, created with architect Giovanni Antolini, we start to see the first signs of landscaping on the enormous plot of land – with the likes of orchards added.
A park with a view
Into the 1800s, ideas of creating a large public park began to take shape, and architect Emilio Alemagna was tasked with the job. His brief was simple; design a park to provide a panoramic view encompassing two of Milan’s most iconic landmarks, Castello Sforzesco and Arco della Pace.
Sticking to the brief, the 47-hectare park sits between both landmarks and creates the perfect vantage point to soak in these historical buildings. Designed to reflect traditional English gardens of the time, featuring a pond and avenues for carriages, the park became an instant hit with the public, creating a green space for all to enjoy.
Sempione Park today
Since its opening, the park has pretty much remained the same, except for a short period during World War II, when the land became part of the war effort, used to cultivate wheat. But once the war ended, the park quickly resumed its original purpose and has only grown in popularity since then.
Today, the avenues built initially for carriages make the perfect cycling and running routes. The lawn is an ideal spot for a break from sightseeing.
Restaurants, bars and shops near Sempione Park
With such a central location, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of amenities near Parco Sempione. Whether you’re looking for a spot of lunch after exploring the sights, some shops to burn through your euros or a cocktail to end the night, you won’t have to look far if you’re at Sempione Park.
Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we visit Milan is to try out some authentic Italian cuisine. And Parco Sempione has plenty of restaurants nearby for you to try out, ready to blow you away with sublime Italian dishes.
- Terrazza Triennale – You don’t need to walk far to find one of the best restaurants in the city. Located within the park walls is Terrazza Triennale. Spend an evening here, and you won’t just be delighted by the classic Italian cuisine; the terrace overlooking the park also makes this one of the best rooftop bars the city has to offer
- Insieme – Alternatively, a 20-minute walk away from the park lies Insieme restaurant. This restaurant is located in the Wagner neighbourhood, boasting a Mediterranean menu using locally sourced products
You’ve devoured gorgeous Milanese cuisine, so where to next? No matter what kind of night you’re after, there’s a bar for you near Parco Sempione.
- Bamboo bar – Look no further than the Bamboo Bar at the five-star Armani hotel for a quiet drink with a view to die for. Featuring superb views of the city, this bar is the perfect setting for your evening, where you can continue sightseeing with a cocktail in hand. A short walk from the park, this is just where you need to be to watch the sunset
- oTTo bar – If you’ve been sightseeing at the park’s northern side, head to the oTTo bar in Chinatown. You’ll feel right at home at oTTo, which was designed to make a night out feel more like a night in. With a laid-back vibe, this is just the place to go if you fancy a drink but feel exhausted from your busy itinerary
- Garibaldi district – For the party animals who want to pick up the pace, check out the Garibaldi District for bustling bars and clubs. If you’ve been spending time in the Southern part of the park, you can walk there in just a few minutes
Milan is renowned for its excellent shopping experiences as one of the world's fashion capitals. No matter if you’re out to splurge or on a tight budget, there’s an abundance of shops to explore in Milan, many of which are on Sempione’s doorstep.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – When you think of shopping in Milan, you’ll likely think of luxury brands and one famous landmark. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the iconic glass-covered arcade in films and TV shows, among the most popular Milanese destinations. Housing the world’s most iconic brands, and a historical landmark in its own right, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is just a 20-minute stroll from Parco Sempione. You might not have the budget for luxury brands, but we’d still recommend giving it a visit and taking in the splendour
- Brera District – On the more affordable side of things, we have the Brera District. Just a ten-minute walk from the park, this area of Milan oozes laid-back bohemian vibes. Here, you’ll find a host of independent Italian boutiques, along with quaint cafes and bars – everything you need for an authentic Milanese afternoon
Sempione Park opening times and prices
As the beating heart of Milan, Parco Sempione was made to be accessible to all. With admission free for children and adults alike, you can take as much time as you want to explore the park.
What’s even better is that the park’s open every day, with gates unlocked from 06:30 until 21:00. So, whether you want a morning stroll or to walk off your dinner, the park will be open for you to enjoy.
Taking the train to Milan?
If you want to spend some time in Milan, why not travel by train? Getting the train to Milan is easy due to the high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. You can travel to Milan from some of the most popular cities in Italy, including Florence to Milan (1h 40m), Rome to Milan (2h 52m) and Venice to Milan (2h).
Need more information about travelling to Milan by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Milan.