Shopping in Milan isn’t cheap and can be stratospherically expensive. However - if you are serious about your craft and are prepared to slog the streets, search the stalls and exhibit all the addicted symptoms of the confirmed shopaholic, it needn’t be quite as bad as all that. And even if you do end up having done more window-shopping than shopping – or end up with a seriously compromised credit card – you’ll have had fun along the way.
Only the largest stores shops stay open all day. Most shops close for a long lunch, their opening hours from 9.30am-1pm and 3.30pm-7.30pm. Most shops shut on Sundays and many non-food shops also close on Monday mornings. Food shops open on Monday mornings, then close again on Monday afternoons. So if you are planning a shopping weekend, it would be worth considering Thursday–Sunday. Many shops also shut for their annual holiday in August.
Where to shop
The fashion quarter is basically the same as the historic centre around the Piazza Duomo, a roughly rectangular area known as the Quadrilatero d'Oro (Golden Quadrilateral), bounded by Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Monzani and Via della Spiga. Elsewhere in the city, Corso Vercelli, near Porta Magenta, is a chic residential enclave with some wonderful shops.
Corso Como is home to many of the chic furniture and concept stores. Corso Buenos Aires, which claims to be Europe’s longest shopping street, is the city’s equivalent of London’s Oxford Street, with the high street style shops including familiar favourites such as Benetton and Mothercare. Via Brera has a number of galleries and art shops and small slightly off-beat boutiques. The once-tatty Garibaldi area is reinventing itself fast as the trendy new place to live, eat and shop with Via Maroncelli in particular appealing to younger and slightly alternative designers. The completion of the new Città della Moda (City of Fashion), which will add a fashion school and Museum of Design to nearby Isola as part of a huge urban regeneration scheme, will complete the transformation of the neighbourhood. The Ticinese area is young, rather rough and ready, while Navigli is where you find the markets and antiques.
For more advice on shopping in Milan, please have a look at my two guides: