Wondering what to do when in Milan for a day? Use our tried and tested one day in Milan itinerary and travel guide to check off all the city highlights in an efficient way. Plus get tips on what to eat, where to stay, and tips for extending your visit to Milano!
Perfect one day in Milan Itinerary and travel guide
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Milan is one of the world’s most fashionable cities! It has amazing culinary, rich history and art and architecture to devour. Not only that, Milan might be one of the cleanest cities that we have seen in Europe. It is also home to many green spaces or urban parks!
Is one day in Milan enough?
If you have 24 hours in Milan, you can surely get a taste of what the city has to offer. It is enough time to visit the iconic Milano Duomo, the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, explore a piazza, and a few other sites.
So in short, one day in Milan is enough to get a feel for the city. Milan is often overlooked by tourists visiting Italy, and we say push it – even if you have a day Milan is worth a visit.
The urban vibe in Milan is very different from Rome or Florence – and if you are a city lover – Milan shouldn’t be missed from your Italy itinerary.
Milan truly is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy!
How do I spend a day in Milan Italy?
To maximize your time in Milan, we recommend starting at Duomo or the Milan Cathedral and nearby areas, and then opting for one round of hop-on and hop-off sightseeing bus tour to get an idea of the city’s history and attractions.
This will allow you to see more, and access convenient transportation to get to other attractions. Grab your tickets here
Where to stay in Milan? We have included more hotel options below, but if you are looking for accommodation we can recommend – c-Hotel Atlantic Milano.
This hotel is in a mid-budget range and is located close to the Milan Central Station (for connections to other cities in Italy), and a metro ride to the Duomo was only 7 minutes long.
One day in Milan Itinerary: Things to do in Milan in a day
Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano
Time: 08:00 am to 10:00 – 10:30 am
The Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano (in Italian) is the iconic landmark of the city of Milan. The cathedral is one of the prettiest that we have ever seen, and yeah good things take time. Its construction took nearly six centuries to complete.
Duomo di Milano is the largest church in Italy, the second largest in Europe, and the third largest in the world!
We highly recommend starting for the cathedral in the morning, and if you want the best photos then be there at sunrise or at least before 08:00 am. It is a 7 minute ride from c-Hotel Atlantic Milano, where we stayed.
During the day the Milan Cathedral plaza or the Piazza del Duomo gets pretty busy ️and there are vendors and street photographers who might offer to snap a photo and provide an instant picture!
Some will also offer you ‘grains’ to give to the pigeons. Keep in mind this plaza or central square gets crowded so beware of pickpockets.
We highly recommend visiting the cathedral interiors. It is completely free to enter the place of worship, but there is an entrance fee to visit the rooftop and the archeological site.
We booked our cathedral tickets with rooftop access by lift and the archeological and museum site. You can book the tickets here
The access to the terrace via elevator is open until 7:00 PM. The Duomo terraces cover a surface of about 26,250 square feet, and it welcomes you to uninterrupted city views, and it is gorgeous as you can capture the piazza and landmarks nearby.
If lucky, you can see as far as the Alps and the Apennine Mountains.
Once you have finished exploring, sit down at the terrace and soak in the sun on a crisp morning!
If interested you can also visit the Museo del Duomo or the Duomo Museum, followed by the archaeological site which was recovered in the 1960s. We were in awe looking at the diggings and findings underneath the church complex. It was surreal!
Exploring the cathedral areas will take about 2-3 hours, be sure to book tickets early. Book it here
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Time: 10:30 am – 11:30 am (also stop for a quick bite to eat)
Located near the Duomo Square is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is the oldest shopping arcade in Italy and one that is super pretty.
Take the time to admire the artwork on the ceilings and all around you as you walk inside the gallery.
This Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, who was the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.
Exploring this landmark building will not take much of your time, unless if you are shopping. And yes you will find all the luxury brands from Louis Vuitton, Prada to amazing restaurants to hang out.
You will also find trattorias and McDonald’s near the Galleria and the piazza. At the square (opposite side of the Galleria) there are food stalls and outdoor cafes where you can enjoy an affordable meal.
The Duomo piazza marks the center of the city, and you will find hop on and hop tours starting point here as well (look for signs just opposite to the piazza).
Piazza Della Scala
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Located close to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the famous opera house (Teatro Alla Scala opera house) and the recently added landmark of Piazza Della Scala.
At the square is also the Museo Teatrale Alla Scala (La Scala Museum), and Milan’s city hall.
We enjoyed our walk around this square and the corner up to the Palazzo Della Banca Commerciale Italiana. Finish up by walking back to the Galleria from the south-western side, and then hop on the sightseeing bus tour.
Use the one day ticket (or more if you are extending your trip). Bus routes cover the following
- Milan Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Sforzesco Castle
- Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Teatro alla Scala
- Sant Ambrogio
- Sempione Park
- Monumental Cemetery
For one day in Milan, make plans to get down at the Sforzesco Castle, and Santa Maria Delle Grazie, and then just enjoy a loop of the city hop on and off tour (tours run until 7 pm in the evening, depending on the season).
If you love urban parks then get down at the Sempione Park stop to finish the day.
(You have an hour here to break for lunch, or enjoy one loop of the sightseeing tour)
Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
Time: 1:30 – 2:45 (with the guided tour)
For many travelers to Italy visiting art museums are a must, and if the Last Supper is on your bucket list then do plan for it ahead of time.
It is possible to find tickets for the museum with a guide (30 minute tour with 15 minutes for viewing), and tickets start at $45 USD. You can check availability here
It might seem pricey for 30 minutes, but on a short trip to Milan, you can surely squeeze this in – in the afternoon (at 1:45 pm tour).
If you have more time, then you can also book a tour combining The Last Supper and Santa Maria Delle Grazie, and it lasts 75 minutes for the same price (keep in mind the time/duration for this activity). This is more of a walking tour of the plaza and the Last Supper entry and time. You can check out this tour here, along with the availability
On the Santa Maria Delle Grazie tour, you will learn about the Golden Age of Italian art during the Renaissance, and also visit the church and admire its artwork inside.
This complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the church and the Piazza Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
Note: You can also skip the Santa Maria Delle Grazie tour if you can’t find tickets for the day of your visit and instead enjoy the hop-on and hop-off tour and later get down at the Castello Sforzesco/Parco Sempione.
Time: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Castello Sforzesco is a 15th century fortress and an important landmark of Milan. It is a powerful symbol for the city, where the Duke of Milan ruled the city. This fortress was built by Francesco Sforza (Duke).
The entire complex is a very impressive building, and you can walk through it for free. There are numerous museums that are located at the fort. And it will take about 2-3 hours if you were to explore all the exhibits.
Note that it is completely free to enter the fort grounds, but to access the museums there is an entry fee.
Note: If you are not taking the hop-on and hop-off bus tour, it will be a 15 minute walk to the Castle from the Milan cathedral plaza.
Sempione Park is a large urban park in Milan, sprinkled with landmarks and hectares of green space for walks, and strolls.
There is the Castello Sempione (access for free), Arco Della Pace, Arena Civica (sporting arena), Acquario Civico (aquarium), Torre Branca (steel tower), and Palazzo dell’Arte (Palace of Arts exhibition centre).
We recommend checking out the Arco Della Pace, and the Torre Branca which houses an observation tower.
Arco Della Pace (Arch of Peace) is a beautiful Napoleanic triumphal arch, dating back to the 19th century. It is a must see at the park complex.
Torre Branca offers amazing city views of Milan, from Parco Sempione, the Duomo (Milan’s cathedral) to modern landmarks.
They are also open until late in the evening (until midnight – check current hours here) and have a nominal entry fee (6 euros).
For dinner and drinks, you will easily find a lot of bars and restaurants near the park, especially around the Arco Della Pace.
If you did like to see the Duomo in the evening (night lights) you can head back to the piazza. The square is bustling with people in the evenings too, and you can shop at the Galleria or grab a bite to eat there.
The Duomo is located in Zone 1 or district 1 of Milan, and it also encompasses the bohemian area of Brera – it is a nice spot for shopping and dining
For those wanting to shop, areas like Via Manzoni, Via Della Spiga, Corso Venezia, and Via Montenapoleone known as the Fashion District, are great options. You will surely find affordable clothing and accessories there along with end high brands!
Milan 1 day itinerary: Sightseeing Map
Feel free to download this Google map to access all the sightseeing spots to check out in Milan in a day.
Day trips from Milan: Options to extend your 1 day Milan Itinerary
Milan is a perfect base to explore more of northern Italy and beyond. Here are some of the day trip options to consider
- Italian Riviera Towns: Cinque Terre deserves more than a day trip to properly explore the area. But if you are pressed for time, and really want to check the area (and traveling in the off season), you can opt for a tour. This Cinque Terre full day tour takes you to explore Monterosso and Manarola for a day. More details here
- Lake Como: This is a combined Lake Como and Bellagio day tour from Milan. Price also includes a 2 hour boat ride – perfect to move away from the hustle bustle of the city! Check this tour here
- Genoa: Genoa, in the Liguria region is only a 2 hour train ride away from Milan. On a day trip you can explore 2-3 landmarks including the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
- Principality of Monaco: Although best explored from southern France, you can also take the train to get to Monaco on a day trip. It is more than enough time to check out the casino, waterfront, promenade and the gardens in this cute municipality!
Additional Milan Tips
We stayed in Milan for a few days and summarized some of the handy travel tips for your visit.
Travel documents for Milan and Italy
Depending on your passport, you might need a tourist visa for entering Italy. Italy is a European Union member, and they follow the Schengen agreement. We have a detailed guide to Schengen Visa here, including tips for applying!
- If you have a US or Canadian passport, you can travel visa free for upto 90 days (for personal/tourism purposes)
- No visa is required for EU passport holders for visiting
How to get to Milan?
Milan Malpensa Airport is the largest airport in the area, and it serves the city of Milan. When we were planning our trip, flights to Rome and Milan had better frequency from North America Canada, and India.
Depending on your departure city, Milan might work out cheaper than Rome, so definitely check flight prices for both.
Milan Malpensa Airport to the Centrale train station takes 50 minutes by car, and close to an hour by train.
If you are already in Italy, opt for a high speed train from any of the major cities and you will be in Milan in as little as 1.50 hours. We took trains from Florence, Venice, and Genoa to get to Milan on different occasions.
The central station is a work of art in itself, and it is sooo pretty inside – so so take the train sometime!
When road tripping through Italy, Milan is also a convenient stop when exploring the northern end of the country (Lake Como, Italian Rivera towns, etc).
Where to stay in Milan?
We recommend staying in one of the two areas in Milan.
Zone 1 is the Milan City Centre and nearby areas like Brera. This neighborhood also includes many museums, the Sforza Castle, Sempione Park, Basilica San Bernardino alle Ossa, and the Basilica of Santo Stefano Maggiore. It is also great for shopping lovers!
For a short trip to the capital city of Lombardy, consider staying near the central station – Milano Centrale railway station. The city centre is a 7 minute train ride away.
Hotels charge a tourist tax or fee, that is usually collected in cash once you check out. It is levied per person per day.
Here are a few hotel recommendations for your visit
- c-Hotel Atlantic Milano: (also known as Atlantic hotel Milano) We stayed at this property during our first visit to the city. Its location was perfect for sightseeing, as well as entering and leaving Milan. The hotel was clean, of good value, and spacious for two. There were restaurants located close to the property, and you can also go on nice walks nearby. Book your stay here
- Starhotels Anderson: Starhotels Anderson is also located near the central train station. It is a 4 star property with a conference hall and a restaurant on site (international menu). Find pictures and availability here
- Park Hyatt Milan: Located close to the Milan Duomo in Zone 1, Park Hyatt is a luxury property with stunning views of the city. It is about 4-5 minute walk form the hotel. Some suites also have a private terrace, and you can wine and dine in their restaurant on site. View more information here
- Hotel Spadari Al Duomo: Another luxury property in the heart of Milan, the Hotel Spadari Al Duomo offers upscale suites with free breakfast! Its terraces offer great city views as well! Book your stay here
How much time do you need in Milan?
Ideally, 2 days in Milan is a good time frame, especially if you wish to shop and relax.
By adding an extra day you can also add landmarks such as the Basilica San Bernardino alle Ossa and Basilica of Santo Stefano Maggiore (both free to enter).
Basilica San Bernardino alle Ossa is one of the quirkiest places of worship, where you will find human skulls and bones decorated inside.
Brera District is one area to consider as well (near the Duomo). You can explore the Brera Academy and Pinacoteca di Brera art museum, including the Braidense National Library all located in the vicinity of Zone 1 of Milan.
With an extra day, you can also hit the shopping outlets located a little outside of Milan. More details here
Milan weather & what to pack for Milan?
Milan is located in the Lombardy region of Italy. Its hottest month is in July, where temperatures range from a high of 29.6 degrees C (85°F) to a low of 18.8 degrees C (66°F).
January is the coldest month, with a low temperature of -1 degree C (30 F). Typically November to February 25 are considered winter months. Fall is particularly beautiful in Milan!
When planning your outfits and packing for Milan, opt for refined, and stylish clothing. Think nice dresses, tops with fitted jeans, or skirts!
In the winter, you will need a nice wool coat, but you can ditch the heavy parka (instead use layering pieces and accessories to stay warm outdoors).
So here are some of the items to pack for Milan,
- Passport and visa: Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Italy. If you require a Schengen Visa for Europe, do apply for it prior to your trip
- Currency and Credit Cards: Italy uses Euros as their official currency. But credit cards are accepted everywhere – shops, hotels, bars, train stations
- Universal adaptor: Bring an adapter/voltage converter for Italy. This item is a must-have. Buy a universal adaptor here
- Camera: Don’t forget your camera. We carry our Sony Mirrorless Camera and Sony A7iii
- Travel insurance: Don’t forget to insure your trip from cancellations and delays. You can get a free insurance quote from World Nomads Insurance
What to eat in Milan?
In terms of the culinary scene, Milan won’t disappoint you. It is amazing and add to that those fancy restaurants with a stunning view. Just like the popular cities of Rome and Florence, you will also find trattorias or local cafes in Milan.
Here are some of the must-try delicacies in Milan,
- Risotto alla Milanese: I love rice! Did you know that Italy is one of the major rice producers. Milan’s popular dish is their rice or risotto – highly recommend trying it in the city.
- Trippa alla Milanese (Busecca): This is a hearty soup made of beans, a variety of vegetables, lots of tomato purée.
- Cotoletta alla Milanese: This is a popular food breaded veal cutlet fried in butter (similar to Bavarian Schnitzel).
- Minestrone Milanese: Try minestrone in Milan, where it is prepared with rice (instead of pasta – yum!). It had vegetables of all kinds included, from cabbage, tomatoes, celery, spinach, etc. It is thick in texture
- Panettone: Christmas fruitcake.
Should you visit Milan?
10000% YES. After exploring the city, we can recommend that Milan is worth visiting. There are so many cultural and artistic attractions in Milan, and many can be explored for free without breaking the bank.
Culturally, its vibe is so different than Rome, Venice, or Florence – and it is also less touristy! The transportation network is amazing to get to the north or west end of the country.
Milanese cuisine is great, shopping is fantastic and overall it is a pretty chic and classy place to hang out in!
Don’t miss out, do add Milan to your Italy bucket list!