Do you love Italy? Are you looking to explore the culture, history and art of one of Italy’s most beautiful cities? If so, then a one-day trip in Milan is definitely something that should be on your bucket list!
From Michelangelo masterpieces to the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall, there are plenty of exciting sights that offer an intimate glimpse into Milan’s rich local culture. With this one day in Milan itinerary packed with the main attractions and the best places to see, you’ll get an unforgettable taste of the city’s top experiences!
Where Is Milan?
Milan, the bustling and vibrant city located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Nicknamed the fashion capital of Italy, Milan is also a mecca for design lovers. It is renowned for its historical landmarks such as the famous Milan Cathedral and the iconic La Scala Opera House.
With its rich cultural background and exquisite architecture, Milan stands out as a must-visit destination for any traveller seeking to experience the best that Italy has to offer.
Overview of the Perfect One Day in Milan Itinerary
Are you heading to Milan and wondering how to make the most out of your time there? Look no further than this perfect one day itinerary. The city center of Milan is fairly compact and the best way to explore most of the sights is on foot.
Start off by visiting the iconic Duomo di Milano, a stunning cathedral that has been around for centuries. Then admire La Scala opera house, either from the exterior or on a guided tour of the building.
Afterwards, head to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a luxurious shopping arcade filled with designer boutiques and beautiful architecture. Following some shopping, take a break at a food market and indulge in some traditional Italian espresso.
Next up on the itinerary is the Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural, The Last Supper. End your day with a stroll through the trendy Navigli district, where you can enjoy an aperitivo and watch the sun set over the canals.
With this one day itinerary, you’ll get to experience the city’s highlights of Milan and make unforgettable memories along the way.
1. Admire the Gothic Architecture of Milan Cathedral
Located on Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral is a marvel of Gothic architecture that is sure to leave visitors in awe. With its intricate details and soaring height, il Duomo di Milano stands as a testament to the craftsmanship of the architects, builders, and artisans who worked tirelessly to create this masterpiece over six centuries ago.
Every inch of the exterior is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, each one unique in its own way. The flying buttresses that support the cathedral’s weight from the outside give it an almost ethereal feel, as if it is floating rather than grounded.
Its grandeur is hard to fully describe in words – it truly must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. We recommend taking the rooftop tour where you can see the buttresses up close. Milan Duomo is a true gem of Gothic architecture that should be at the top of any traveler’s itinerary when visiting Milan.
2. Explore La Scala Opera House for a Glimpse into Italy’s Cultural Riches
A short walk from Piazza del Duomo, La Scala Opera House is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the cultural richness of Italy. This historic venue, located in the heart of Milan on Piazza della Scala, has been a hub of artistic excellence since it first opened in 1778.
With its stunning architecture and top-of-the-line acoustics, Teatro alla Scala has hosted some of the most legendary performances in the rich history of of opera.
From Verdi to Puccini, the music that has filled these halls is nothing short of breathtaking. Even if you’re not an opera aficionado, a visit to La Scala is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the arts and the important role they play in shaping our culture.
3. Wander Through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele Shopping Center
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping center is not just a place to shop, it’s an experience. With its stunning architecture and high-end stores, it’s hard not to feel a sense of luxury as you wander through the halls.
From designer fashion labels to artisanal pastries, there’s something to indulge in for every taste. But it’s not only the window shopping that makes this place special.
Take a moment to look up and admire the grand glass ceiling and intricate mosaic floors. And don’t forget to take a spin on the bull’s testicles for good luck, a long-standing tradition in Milan. Visiting the Galleria is a must for any traveler looking to indulge in a bit of elegance and history.
4. Take a tour of Castello Sforzesco, one of Milan’s oldest castles
Milan is famous for its architecture, fashion, and food, but one of the city’s oldest and most interesting sites is the Castello Sforzesco. Also known as Sforza Castle, this medieval fortress is located in the heart of Milan and is home to several museums and art collections, making it a perfect destination for history lovers and art enthusiasts alike.
Walking through the castle grounds is like stepping back in time to a world of grandeur and majesty, with stunning frescoes and intricate carvings adorning the walls and ceilings. With so much to see and experience, a tour of the Castello Sforzesco is a must-see for anyone visiting Milan.
If you have time afterwards, walk ten minutes through Parco Sempione to the Arco della Pace. This Neoclassical triumphal arch was built on the orders of Napoleon and symbolizes peace.
5. A Visit to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper Painting
The Santa Maria delle Grazie Church is a marvel of art and architecture that should be on every traveler’s itinerary. The centerpiece of the church, the Last Supper by famous artist Leonardo da Vinci, is widely considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.
The frescoes adorning the nave, cupola, and apse are no less impressive, featuring works by some of the most prominent artists of the Renaissance era. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene experience, the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church is a must-see destination.
Walking into the small, dimly lit room where Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper resides, the first thing that strikes you is the sheer grandeur of the painting. Measuring an impressive 15 feet by 29 feet, the fresco captures the moment when Jesus announced to his disciples that one of them would betray him.
The painting is so detailed that every expression and gesture seems to leap out of the wall, compelling you to study it closer. Although the painting has suffered some damage over the years, it remains an extraordinary piece of art that awes and inspires anyone who beholds it in person.
A visit to this iconic work of art should be on the bucket list of any art lover or history buff. There can be long lines in high season, so make sure to book your ticket to this popular attraction well in advance.
6. Stroll along the Navigli canals
The Navigli canals of Milan have long been a source of both beauty and transportation for locals and visitors alike. For those looking to make the most of their experience, consider signing up for a boat ride and lunch.
The combination of stunning views, delicious food, and relaxing atmosphere is truly unbeatable. So prepare to soak up the sunshine and ambiance of this incredible Italian destination.
Bonus: More Things to Do in Milan
If you have enough time or simply would like to switch out some of the recommendations above depending on your specific interests, here are some other great things to do in Milan. The art museums, in particular are great places to visit in Milan on a rainy day.
Located in an industrial complex that has been redesigned by Rem Koolhaas, the Fondazione Prada showcases a collection of works that include both modern and classic pieces from various Italian and international artists.
The geometric shapes of the building, the unique atmosphere of its exhibition spaces, and all the museums’ impressive permanent installations make the Fondazione Prada an interesting destination for those who want to experience the cutting-edge side of Milan’s art scene. Additionally, the museum complex also features Bar Luce, designed by Wes Anderson, a bookstore, and a cinema.
One of the must-visit attractions in Milan is the Brera District and Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery. This historic and cultural hub is located in the heart of the city and offers visitors a range of things to see and do.
Wander through the charming streets of Brera while admiring the beautifully preserved architecture and stopping off at one of the many cafes and shops along the way. Then, head to the Pinacoteca di Brera to explore its impressive collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces, including famous paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian. With its mix of art, history, and charming atmosphere, the Brera District and Pinacoteca di Brera are not to be missed when in Milan.
One of the hidden gems in Milan is the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. Built in the late 16th century, this beautiful church features stunning frescoes and intricate details.
Known as the “Sistine Chapel of Milan,” the church is a must-visit for anyone interested in art and history. The frescoes depict stories from the Bible and the lives of saints, all created by some of the most celebrated artists of the time.
The peaceful atmosphere and magnificent beauty of the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore make it a truly unforgettable experience, one not to be missed during a visit to Milan.
How to Get to Milan
If you’re flying into Milan, you’ll want to know the most efficient way to get to the city center. Fortunately, the public transport system in the city offers several options.
Milan Malpensa airport is located 31 miles from Milan city center. From this airport, you can take the Malpensa Express train and arrive in central Milan in just 40 minutes.
Alternatively, various buses and coaches are available, which take slightly longer but offer a more economical alternative. If you prefer taxis, it is recommended to use official taxis from the airport taxi stand. The journey time takes around 50 minutes depending on traffic.
Milan Linate airport is located just six miles from the city center, and takes approximately 15 minutes by taxi. There are also buses from Linate into Milan center, but no trains.
The main Milan train station, Milano Centrale, can be found at Piazza Duca d’Aosta. There are regular trains to Lake Como, Lake Garda and other regions of Italy, as well as to cities abroad such as Geneva and Zurich. Built in 1864, this beautiful train station is one of the largest in Europe.
Regardless of which option you choose, getting to Milan’s city center from the airports should be a straightforward and hassle-free experience.
How to Get Around Milan
Milan is a city that is best explored on foot. However, for those who want to take advantage of the city’s efficient public transportation system, there are plenty of options.
The subway, or “metro,” is the fastest and most convenient way to get around the city. The system has four lines that serve different areas of Milan and runs daily from 6 am to midnight. Tickets can be purchased at the station using cash or a credit card.
Another option is the tram, which is a great way to see the city’s sights while getting from one place to another. Tickets can be purchased at newsstands or using the ATM Milano app.
Taxis are also available for those who prefer a more direct route for their one day Milan itinerary. However, they can be expensive and may get stuck in Milan’s notorious traffic.
Where to Eat in Milan
Eataly is the ultimate destination for foodies in Milan. From fresh pasta and pizza to seafood, Eataly has it all.
Nestled in the heart of the city on Piazza Venticinque Aprile, this food store and cafe offers a wide array of delectable savories and pastries that are freshly baked every day. And what goes better with pastries than a cup of freshly brewed Italian coffee?
Here, you’ll find a variety of high-quality coffee blends that are carefully sourced and roasted to perfection. Whether you prefer a bold espresso or a creamy latte, Eataly has something to satisfy your caffeine cravings.
Biancolatte is a casual spot for brunch and lunch on Via Filippo Turati near Porta Nuova. With minimalist decor, this cafe is good for salads, pancakes and ice cream.
If you’re looking for an authentic Italian dining experience, Bacaro Montenapoleone is definitely worth a visit. This restaurant on Via Montenapoleone prides itself on offering traditional Italian dishes made with high-quality ingredients.
From classic pasta dishes to hearty meat entrees, their menu covers all the bases. And don’t forget about dessert – their tiramisu is a must-try!
The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff only add to the overall charm of the restaurant. If the weather is good, you can dine in the picturesque courtyard.
See more recommendations for places to eat in our al fresco Milanese restaurant guide.
Where to Stay in Milan
Milan has many accommodation options to choose from depending on your style, budget, and location preference. The city is divided into several neighborhoods, each with its unique charm and attractions.
If you’re looking for luxury and glamour, the areas around Via Monte Napoleone and Via della Spiga are dotted with high-end designer boutiques and deluxe hotels. For a more vibrant and trendy atmosphere, the Brera district is full of coffee shops, street art, galleries, and cozy boutique hotels.
For those traveling on a budget, the Navigli district, famous for its canal system, has some affordable lodgings, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Additionally, staying near the central station can save you some traveling time and provide you with a variety of transportation options.
Whatever your preference may be, Milan has accommodation to suit you. Be aware that hotel rooms can get booked up quickly during key fashion events and business conferences.
One of the top-rated hotels in Milan is the Bulgari Hotel, where guests can immerse themselves in the serene atmosphere of its private garden. The Armani Hotel, situated in the prestigious fashion district, offers sleek and stylish accommodation with spectacular skyline views.
Palazzo Parigi is an ideal retreat for those seeking a regal experience, with its sophisticated, classic Italian décor. Located near the famous Duomo di Milano, Casa Baglioni invites its guests into a world of art and beauty with its exquisite decoration and impeccable service.
Last but not least, the Four Seasons Milan, a former convent transformed into a luxurious sanctuary, provides an opportunity to revel in the rich cultural heritage of the city while enjoying world-class amenities. It is no wonder that Milan’s luxurious hotels have become synonymous with sophistication, comfort, and elegance that visitors crave.
In Conclusion: One Day in Milan Itinerary
Spending a day in Milan can be a truly fulfilling experience that leaves lasting memories. From viewing Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper at Santa Maria della Grazie to taking a boat ride along the Navigli canals and exploring Castello Sforzesco, there is much to explore and do in this sophisticated city.
Of course, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shouldn’t be forgotten when it comes to retail therapy – no visit is complete without a visit there! After winding down with an Italian dinner at one of the city’s many trendy restaurants, you’ll understand why Milan remains such an iconic destination for travelers from around the world.
Whatever you take away from your one day in Milan, it’s sure to be an enriching cultural experience like no other!