If you are looking for a one day itinerary in Milan, this is the right place. I know that many tourists decide to make a quick stop in the capital of Lombardy, so I want to make sure you use your time wisely and discover all the main attractions in Milan.
Milan is known to be the economic heart of Italy. It is the capital of Italian fashion and design, and the iconic view of the Duomo is just the cherry on the top. Located in the North of Italy, it is extremely well connected and you might cross this beautiful city while visiting some famous places like Lake Como, Piedmont, Venice, Dolomites, Liguria, etc.
In this article, you will find a detailed itinerary for one day in Milan, the best ways to move around the city, nontouristic restaurants, bars filled with locals, some museums, and even hidden gems of Milan. I also planned some time for shopping and the famous Italian aperitivo. Filled with a lot of useful tips, so you don’t have to waste your precious time. I guarantee that after reading this article you will be fully prepared for your one day in Milan.
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How to arrive in Milan?
Arriving in Milan by air. Milan is very well connected by three airports – Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, and Milan Bergamo. Taxi services are available from all these airports for a fixed price. Make sure you check it before because the prices are updated constantly, but keep in mind that taxi in Italy is quite expensive.
Milan Linate is located inside the city of Milan, you can easily reach the center by bus 73. This airport offers mostly national flights.
Malpensa Airport is located approximately 1 hour away from the center of Milan. You can choose between a shuttle bus or a train.
The Airport Orio al Serio also known as Bergamo Airport, is located approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from the center of Milan, you will find shuttle busses to take you to Milan.
Arriving in Milan by train. If you arrive in Milan by train, most probably you will arrive at Centrale Station. It is the largest railway station in Europe by volume and it should be included on your bucket list when visiting Milan.
Make sure you notice the details and the art inside the station. It was designed by French architect Louis Jules Bouchot and its architectural style was reminiscent of Parisian buildings of the XX Century.
How to move around?
Public transport is considered good in Milan and the metro will take you literally anywhere you need.
Also, you will have the chance to ride one of the historical trams. In fact, a lot of central routes are covered by these vintage trams, so don’t miss a ride back in history.
If you are planning to use public transport, I strongly recommend you to use the daily ticket, which can be purchased in any metro station or newspaper shop (look for a shop with a ’Tabacchi’ sign). Click here to check the prices.
In this guide, I will share the best tips on how to move around in Milan and how to get from one attraction to the next one.
How many days in Milan?
Maybe you are wondering if you can see Milan in a day? The answer is yes, but be prepared to follow a busy itinerary. In one day you can see most of the main attractions in Milan, however, you won’t have a lot of time to visit museums and relax. Luckily, this itinerary will help you to cover the best of Milan and make the most of your time.
Even if you have one day in Milan, I suggest you spend a night here, so you can wake up early and start early.
Where to stay in Milan?
The capital of the Lombardy region is quite a big city. If you ask me, the best place to stay in Milano is anywhere nearby Piazza del Duomo. This way you can walk to all the main attractions and stay close to the best things to do in Milan that we will cover in this 24 hour itinerary.
LUXURY: Galleria Vik Milano
If budget is not an issue for you, the best place to stay in Milan is Galleria Vik Milano. This artistic hotel reflects the character of Milan and it is located inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The best room offers a breathtaking view of the Galleria.
MID-RANGE: Hotel Dei Cavalieri Milano Duomo
Great 4-star hotel in the heart of Milan. Modern design, high-quality services, excellent amenities, and a wonderful rooftop bar. Perfect for a quick stop in Milan.
AFFORDABLE: Castello Guest House Milano
If you prefer something more simple, but still care for a quality accommodation Castello Guest House Milan is your place. The Guest house is conveniently located in front of the Castello Sforzesco in a historical palace and offers comfortable rooms decorated with taste.
Morning of your one day in Milan itinerary: Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Teatro alla Scala, Piazzale Cordusio il dito
Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
A day in Milan obviously starts with the famous Duomo. The Duomo of Milano is built in gothic style. It’s 3rd largest catholic church in Europe and its construction took more than 500 years. On the top of the Duomo, you will find terraces with more than 3,400 statues. I highly suggest that you go up and take your perfect photos of the facade, and see the square from the rooftop.
Times: every day 9:00-19:00, last ticket 18:00.
Price: 3 euros for the cathedral, 10 euros for the rooftop terrace, or 23 euros for the rooftop terrace if you want to use the lift.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Right next to Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It is considered the oldest “Shopping Mall” in Italy. It is called the Salotto dei Milanesi – the living room of Milanese. Once you visit you can treat yourself to some luxurious shopping or have a breakfast in a historical bar. Motta Milano 1928 could be the right choice. The bar opens at 7 am and stays open until 21, this means you can have also lunch or aperitivo here.
Motta Milano 1928 offers an artistic, eye-pleasing environment and every design lover should take at least a coffee here. This is why it is considered one of the best bars in Milan.
Another gem located in the Galleria is Il Camparino In Galleria. Unlike the Bar Motta Milano 1928, the place is specialized in cocktails.
Inside the gallery, you will find a symbol of a bull on the floor. Don’t forget to “push the balls of the bull”, it will bring you good luck.
Keep in mind, that this is one of the best photo spots in Milan, so bring your camera and capture the beauty. If you want to see it empty, make sure you start your day early and visit the Duomo and Gallery around sunrise.
Teatro alla Scala
At the end of the Galleria, you will find the Teatro alla Scala. While the facade might not catch your attention, once you visit the inside of the Opera house, you will discover why this is one of the most famous opera houses in the world.
The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778. In 1883 La Scala was the first theatre in the world lightened up by electric lights. Its famous chandelier is made in Bohemian crystal and it counts 400 lamps. The famous La Prima – The First – opens the opera season every year on the 7th of December, the day Milan celebrates Saint Ambrogio, the protector of the city.
Piazza dei Mercanti
Behind Piazza del Duomo there is Piazza dei Mercanti, so it’s a short walk away from your previous stop. This picturesque square dates back to the middle age and hides some secrets. Most tourists miss this spot, so I would call it a hidden gem of Milan.
The square was the place where the merchants were gathering to sell their products. It hides a secret communication system – speak softly to some of its columns, and its archways will whisk your whispers to a well-placed listener on the opposite side of the portico.
Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana
Via Cesare Cantù will take you to the Biblioteca Pinacoteca Accademia Ambrosiana and it’s less than 5 minutes away. It is a hidden gem and one of the best places to see in Milan. The place has a convenient location, so you don’t want to miss it.
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was founded in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo. At the Ambrosiana Library, you can find works from the collections of Federico Borromeo and numerous subsequent legacies including paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and take a great photo of the Library.
Times: Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 17.00.
Piazzale Cordusio and Il Dito
After a short walk, your Milan itinerary proceeds to Piazzale Cordusio. Here you can admire the Neoclassical and Art Nouveau Buildings, including the former Stock Palace which now hosts the first Starbucks in Italy. Nearby you will find the new Stock and the famous sculpture of “il Dito” – the finger – and it is one of the most instagrammable places in Milan.
Afternoon of your one day in Milan itinerary: lunch, Castello Sforzesco , Parco Sempione, Arco della Pace, Brera, Quadrilatero della Moda
Milan is well known to have a remarkable food scene. In fact, in the city, you can find restaurants from all around the globe, nevertheless, I always recommend something local. The central area of Milan is full of “tourist traps”, so I am here to share a couple of tips to find some of the best restaurants in Milan.
Trattoria di Burla Giò is one of the very few local trattorias left, so here you can try classics of Milanese cuisine like the famous Risotto with saffron or the fried Cotoletta. The place is very simple and cheap, yet the quality of the food will surprise you.
If you are in the mood for something a bit more “sophisticated” Osteria Brunello is your place. Here you can find still the classics of Milanese cuisine in a modern environment and a huge selection of wines.
After lunch, you will be in the area to discover another iconic and instagrammable place in Milan which is Castello Sforzesco. It is a medieval fortification built by Francesco Sforza, who was the Duke of Milan. His son, Ludovico Sforza, called on numerous artists to decorate the castle. Leonardo da Vinci was one of them and he collaborated with other famous artists at the time like Donato Bramante.
Times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 until 16.30.
Price: 5 euros for the entrance, gardens are open to the public for free.
Parco Sempione and Arco della Pace
Behind the Castello Sforzesco lies the Parco Sempione – the biggest park in Milan’s center – cross it to reach the Arco della Pace. The arch was started by Napoleon during the French domination. In 1838, the Arch of Peace was finished by the Austrian, who made it a mockery of Napoleon and France: the horse statues at the top were originally meant to be facing France, but the Austrians turned them 180 degrees to turn their back to France. It’s one of the best photo spots in Milan!
After you should take a vintage tram and head to one of my favorite neighborhoods of Milan – Brera. Brera is the heart of old Milan and it was always loved by artists. Here you can just enjoy a coffee in one of the several bars and visit Pinacoteca Brera. It is one of the best museums in Milan.
Pinacoteca Brera is one of the most important picture galleries in Italy. You will find some famous paintings like The Kiss of Francesco Hayez or artworks of Ettore Modigliani.
Times: Tuesday to Sunday from8.30 until 19.15 (last entrance at 18.00).
Price: 15 euros.
Quadrilatero della Moda
Now, it is time to discover a different kind of art – shopping at Quadrilatero della Moda.
Here you will find all the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. Spoil yourself with some royal shopping or just enjoy the atmosphere. In the area, you can also find a historical pastry shop – Pasticceria Cova. A place where design, taste, and tradition meet.
Evening of your one day in Milan itinerary: Navigli and aperitivo
Navigli and aperitivo
The busy lifestyle of locals is interrupted as soon as the clock ticks 6 PM and the sunset magic happens. You can hear bartenders shaking their favorite drinks, people gathering together to chat and tasty Italian food offered all around you. If you are not already enjoying your Spritz, you are doing it wrong!
Yes, I’m talking about the famous Italian aperitive. For those of you who do not know, the idea is – you buy one drink (priced from €8-15) and you get a wide selection of local goodies to snack on.
Navigli is the place to be during aperitivo time. From Quadrilatero della Moda, take tram number 3 and enjoy the view from your window while riding the tram. You will spot the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore and its famous columns.
La Prosciutteria Milano Navigli or Rita are two of my top choices to enjoy a drink and see the sun going down. Make sure you visit Vicolo Lavandai, because it’s a famous place where the people of Milan were doing their laundry during ancient times.
Nightlife in Milan
In case aperitivo didn’t fill you up, here are some of the best restaurants in Milan. And yes, restaurants are part of the nightlife in Italy.
Il Marchesino or Ristorante Teatro alla Scala il Foyer
This place doesn’t need any introduction. The restaurant was opened by the beloved Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi and it is located inside the Teatro Alla Scala. The signature dish is undoubtedly the Saffron Risotto with the golden leaf.
The price range is 100+ euros per person.
Casa Fontana 23 Risotti
As you can imagine the signature dish is risotto, but 23 is not casual. In fact, there are 23 risottos on the menu to choose from. Anything from rosemary and sparkling white wine to red wine and sausage. The choice is yours.
The price range is from 30 euros to 60 euros per person.
Some of you might think, I am in Italy, so I have to eat pizza! One of the best restaurants in Milan to try pizza is definitely il Tegamino. There are other Neapolitan specialties as the restaurant is run by a Neapolitan family.
The price range is from 20 euros to 40 euros per person.
If you are still not tired, then head to Corso Como to enjoy the best nightlife in Milan.
Fun facts about Milan
Milan is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the European Union, with more than 6 million visitors per year.
The unofficial anthem of Milan is called “Oh mia bèla Madunina” and the title refers to the golden statue of the Virgin Mary on the spire of Milan Cathedral visible all over the city. By tradition, no building in Milan is higher than the Madonnina. Once they started to build skyscrapers, the replica of the sculpture was placed on the top of the high buildings to keep the tradition.
Some of the historical Milanese trams still operate in San Francisco.
The restaurant ATMosfera offers you the chance to get dinner while riding one of the historical trams.
Two of the most successful and oldest football teams in Italy play here: AC Milan (1899) and FC Inter (1908) and they play the famous Derby di Milan in the San Siro Stadium. It is also called the Scala del Calcio – the opera of football.
The name Milan comes from Mediolanum which means “in the middle of the plain”. That’s because the city’s land is flat, the highest point being 122 meters (400 ft) above sea level.
With these fun facts about Milan, I want to end this ultimate guide for Milan. I know that this is a packed itinerary, so feel free to adjust a few things to your needs, but this is truly the best way to discover Milan in 24 hours. I have been to Milan multiple times since I live only 2 hours away and I have tested this itinerary before. Trust me, you will be left tired, but satisfied. And that’s exactly how you should feel after a good day of exploring.
If you are planning to travel around Italy, click here to see my other articles about this beautiful country that I can call home.
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