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How to Spend the Perfect 2 Days in Milan, Italy (2024): Itinerary + Tips

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Are you planning to spend a couple of days in Milan? We have the perfect itinerary for you.

Milan is Italy’s business and fashion capital, with modern buildings and designer stores on every other corner. It may not be most travelers top Italy destination, but more often than not, people will find themselves with a day or two left in their itinerary to explore this modern city.

We have been to Milan too many times to count, and over time, we have fallen in love with the city. Based on our experience, 2 days is the perfect amount of time to spend here for first-timers.

With 2 days in Milan, you have enough time to see the city’s main highlights, including the Duomo, The Last Supper by Da Vinci, Navigli Canals, and a museum or two.

This 2-day itinerary outlines Milan’s can’t-miss sites, our favorite places to eat, top hotel pics, and practical information to help you easily navigate your way around Milan.

2 Days in Milan Overview

Below is an outline of all of the sites included in this 2-day Milan itinerary. It’s a busy 2 days, so be prepared for a lot of sightseeing and walking!

Day 1:

  • Milan Duomo
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Scala Theater
  • Brera District
  • Pinacoteca di Brera
  • Time for shopping

Day 2:

  • Sforzesco Castle
  • Sempione Park
  • The Last Supper & Santa Maria Delle Grazie
  • Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
  • Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
  • Colonne di San Lorenzo
  • Navigli Canals

Day 1: Milan Itinerary

Duomo di Milano

Start off your day at the highlight of Milan – the Duomo di Milano. This is the largest cathedral in Italy. St. Peter’s Basilica is technically larger, but it’s located in Vatican City – not Italy.

Towering over the Piazza del Duomo, it took almost 600 years to build the cathedral between the 14th to 20th centuries. Construction was finally completed in 1965.

The inside of the Duomo is much more than just a cathedral, it is a historical complex with a museum, an archaeological site, another 14th-century church, and rooftop terraces. You could easily spend half a day here.

For the sake of time, we recommend only visiting the cathedral and rooftop terraces.

Visiting the Duomo’s terraces provides you with an incredible view overlooking the Piazza del Duomo and an up close look at the spires and thousands of statues along the rooftop.

You have two options to get to the terraces: take an elevator or climb up the 200+ steps to the top. The elevator costs a bit more but it is an option for those with accessibility issues.

Milan Cathedral Ticket options:

Milan is an incredibly busy city and many people visit just to see the Duomo. If you do not book tickets in advance, you’ll be stuck waiting in a long line and most likely, tickets to the terraces will be sold out.

You need to reserve your tickets in advance, at least a month in advance if you’re visiting during peak season, which is June to September. Here are some options:

Tip: Make sure to dress appropriately. Your knees and shoulders should be covered.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Located just a few steps from the Duomo is one of Milan’s most famous landmarks – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This beautiful 19th century shopping gallery was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and is named after the first king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II.

The gallery is filled with high-end fashion boutiques, such as Prada, Fendi, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton. It’s a great place for window shopping.

Tip: Stop at Marchesi 1824 for a mid-morning coffee and treat. This is our favorite bakery in Milan with a location inside of the shopping gallery. I order the same thing every time – a cappuccino and a stuffed brioche with vanilla pastry cream.

Teatro alla Scala

La Scala is one of the world’s most famous opera houses. Composers such as Verdi, Toscanini, and Puccini have played here, making it one of the most prestigious theaters to perform at.

The theater opened in the late 18th-century and features a gorgeous interior with red velveat seats and a laced ceiling.

Of course, if there are performances during your visit, we highly recommend buying a ticket. You’ll need to purchase well in advance but you may be able to snag last minute tickets a few days before.

Otherwise, you can book a guided tour of the theater and museum.

Lunch in the Brera District

Head to the Brera district for lunch. This is one of our favorite areas in Milan, known for its art galleries, boutique shops, and charming streets.

We recommend reserving a table at Stendhal Milano, a fantastic and stylish Italian restaurant located in the heart of the Brera. The Green Tonnarelli with Veal Ragu is savory and delicious. They also make a classic dish from the region, Milanese Risotto.

Another solid option is Antica Trattoria della Pesa. It’s a little out of the way but equally as delicious.

Reserve a table in advance, as both restaurants tend to book out for lunch and dinner.

For dessert, you have a couple of options. Grab a scoop (or two!) of gelato from CREMA Alta Gelateria, one of the best gelato shops in Milan.

Or you could go for a Sicilian classic, a cannoli from Il Cannolo Sua Eccellenza. We went here twice during our trip to Milan last year – the cannolis are that good.

Wander around Brera District

After lunch, take some time to meander your way through the small streets of the Brera District. This is where we go in Milan when we want to take it slow and enjoy a bit of window shopping.

There are so many fun shops here – stationary stores, art stores, local delicatessens selling Italian goods, and small clothing stores. The neighborhood feels quite local, too, and it’s nice to get out of the touristy center.

Pinacoteca di Brera

Photo credit: Pierluigi Palazzi via Canva Pro

You may have never heard of the Pinacoteca di Brera, but did you know it is one of Europe’s most important art galleries? The gallery opened in 1805 during Napoleon’s reign over Italy.

It features an incredible collection of art between the 1300s – 1900s, including artists, such as Raphael, Bellini, Caravaggio, and Mantegna.

Many artworks in the museum are considered masterpieces. The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael from 1504 depicts the marriage between Mary and Joseph and is the most well-known piece in the museum’s collection.

Pietà by Giovanni Bellini is another artwork to look out for. This incredibly sorrowful painting shows Mary and John holding onto Christ’s dead body with equal tenderness and pain.

A few other must-sees are Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, and The Virgin with Child, Angels and Saints by Piero della Francesca.

In addition to the museums’s Renaissance and Baroque artworks, you’ll also find some Modern art by European artists, such as Modigliani and Picasso.

Plan on spending 1-1.5 hours here.

Practical Information: The Pinacoteca di Brera is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30am – 7:15pm. Full-price tickets cost €15 per person. We highly recommend reserving your time slot online in advance. The museum is free on the first Sunday of every month with an advanced reservation.

Go Shopping

Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and is home to some of the most famous brands. Ever heard of Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, or Versace?

Designer clothing store MIlan, Italy
Ginori Ceramics store milan

These brands are all headquartered in Milan, and you’ll find most of the stores on Via Monte Napoleone. So why not spend an hour or so shopping or window shopping (if you’re like me) to see the latest styles and trends?

I’m a fashion designer turned travel writer, so browsing the designer stores in Milan is a real treat for me.

A little tip – if you want to go into the shop but feel intimidated, don’t be. The security guards and people working at the stores can seem a bit off-putting, but if you want to feel the fabrics and see the clothes in person, then go for it!

In addition to the famous brands, a couple of my favorite local Italian stores are La Double J and Ginori 1735.

Dinner

For dinner, we suggest heading outside of the city center and eating at one of Milan’s top rated places to get risotto. Trattoria Masuelli San Marco is a small restaurant serving typical Piedmontese cuisine, and one of their specialties is Risotto Milanese, a risotto made with saffron.

Order the Ossobuco along with the risotto – they pair perfectly together. Another option is to get a Milanese cutlet, which is a fried veal cutlet.

For the most unique dining experience in Milan, we suggest booking a table on the ATMosfera tram. This is a dinner tram that serves a multi-course meal while you ride through the city.

We haven’t actually done this ourselves but next time we go to Milan, it’s on our list of places to eat.

Day 2: Milan Itinerary

Castello Sforzesco

Start off your second day in Milan at the Castello Sforzesco. Originally built in the 14th-century by Galeazzo Visconti II as a defensive fort, the castle eventually became the official residence of Viscontis.

Later on, in the mid 15th-century, the castle was passed down to Francesco Sforza, a local military leader who later on became the ruler of Milan. The Castello Sforzesco was largely expanded during his reign and became the fortress that we see today.

Today, the fortress is considered a cultural center, with many museums that you can pay to visit. These museums include a decorative arts museum, an archaeological museum, art museums with works by Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, a musical instrument museum, and several more.

You can find more information about all of the museums online at the official website. If you are interested in visiting the museums, we suggest reserving a timed entry ticket online to avoid waiting in line.

Alternatively, you can walk into the castle’s courtyard and simply enjoy walking around the castle grounds.

Practical Information: Tickets cost €5 per person to visit all of the museums. Purchase tickets online to reserve a time slot and avoid the lines. The museums are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 5:30pm.

Parco Sempione

Parco Sempione Milan

After visiting the Castello Sforzesco, make your way to the Parco Sempione, a large public park right behind the castle. Take some time to wander around the park, check out the pond and walk across the Ponte delle Sirenette (Sirens Bridge).

If you’re a design enthusiast, you can visit the Triennale Milano, a museum dedicated to Italian design. They host several exhibitions throughout the year, but the permanent exhibition features everything from Italian furniture to cars.

At the opposite end of the park is the Arco della pace, or Peace Arch. From here, you can slowly make your way through the historic center to your next stop.

The Last Supper & Santa Maria Delle Grazie

On my first trip to Milan, the one thing I wanted to see was The Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. This is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and yes, it’s 100% worth seeing.

The Last Supper was painted by Da Vinci at the end of the 15th century inside of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church. This church and convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The church itself is stunning. The ceilings are completely covered in frescoes and features other beautiful architectural details.

Of course, the main highlight is seeing the The Last Supper. To get tickets – you need to reserve well in advance. A limited number of visitors are allowed in at a time, and you are only given 15 minutes to see the painting.

Tickets open up 3 months in advance and we suggest booking as early as possible. There are a couple of ways you can see this:

We highly recommend booking the guided tour to gain a better understanding of the church and the painting.

Practical Information: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15am to 7:00pm. Tickets cost €15 per person. More information on the official website.

Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

The Church of San Maurizio is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Italy. I discovered this hidden gem on my recent visit to Milan and couldn’t believe I had never been before!

There’s a reason this church is often referred to as “The Sistine Chapel of Milan.” The entire church, from floor to ceiling, is covered in vibrant and detailed frescoes by Bernardino Luini from the 16th century.

It is attached to a monastery that used to be a convent for women. In the back of the church, you can visit the private space where the nuns would attend mass.

I wish I had booked a guided tour during my visit to learn more about the stories behind the frescoes. Here’s a 2.5 hour guided tour of both The Last Supper and San Maurizio church.

Practical Information: The church is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 5:30pm. Entry is free.

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

Photo credit: marcociannarel from Getty Images

You may be feeling a bit “churched out” by this point, but trust us, this one is worth visiting. Compared to your previous stop, this church may feel a bit underwhelming, as the interior is pretty basic.

However, this is one of the oldest churches in Milan, dating back to the 4th century, and is home of the city’s patron saint, St. Ambrose.

Every year, on December 7th, the city of Milan celebrates St. Ambrose with festivities across the city. It also marks the beginning of the Christmas holiday season.

The church was rebuilt in a Romanesque style, which is what you see today. Your visit should only take 15 minutes.

Fun fact: Near the altar, on the left side, is a bronze statue of a snake atop a marble column. It is said that this snake came from Moses and has healing properties. According to legend, once the snake was placed in the church, many people were miraculously healed from illnesses.

Practical Information: The basilica is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30am-12:30pm and 2:30pm – 6:00pm. And Sundays from 3:00pm-5:00pm. Entry is free.

Colonne di San Lorenzo

On your way to aperitivo along the Navigli Canals, make a quick stop at Colonne di San Lorenzo, a set of ancient Roman columns.

These marble columns likely date back to the 2nd century and were moved here a couple of centuries later. It doesn’t take long to see them and they are free to visit.

From here, you can either walk 15 minutes or take the tram to the canals.

Navigli Canals

Aperitivo is the Italian tradition of social drinking (and eating) before dinner. In Milan, the best and most popular place to go for aperitivo is along the Navigli Canals.

The is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Milan and you’ll find both tourists and locals here enjoying a slow evening along the canals. Aperitivo usually starts around 6:00pm, but you can order a drink anytime.

There are plenty of bars to choose from, but here are a few we recommend:

Dinner

For dinner, you can either eat in the Navigli district, or head back into the center. If you’re looking for something other than Italian food, we loved the Korean restaurant li-sei deli, which is a few steps from the canals.

Osteria Conchetta is a solid option if you’re looking for local Italian food.

Additional Things to do in Milan

Do you have more time in Milan? Here are a couple of additional activities to add to your itinerary.

Prada Foundation

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then a visit to the Prada Foundation, or Fondazione Prada, is a must.

The foundation was started by, you guessed it, Prada. The museum hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions by both well-known and up-and-coming artists.

The museum is located outside of the city center, but you can easily get here by metro. It only takes 17 minutes to get here from the Duomo. Tickets cost €15 per person and can either be purchased online or in person.

Soccer Game

Milan is home to 2 football (soccer) clubs – AC Milan and Inter Milan. Both teams are at the top of the Italian league.

If you’re a fan of European football (soccer), then going to a game is a must! Check the schedule and book your ticket in advance to get a seat at a game.

2 days in Milan Map

This map includes the best things to do during your 2 days in Milan. You can use it to easily navigate your way around.

To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone.

To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.

How do you get around Milan?

Photo credit: by claudiodivizia via Canva Pro

There are 3 main ways to get around Milan: walk, ride the tram, or take the metro. We usually take a mix of all three when we visit Milan.

Milan isn’t huge but you will rack up a few thousand steps if you walk everywhere. Most of the sites in this 2-day itinerary are within walking distance; however, you may want to utilize public transport to save yourself some time – and steps.

Tram: The tram is our favorite way to get around Milan, after walking. Particularly, Colin is obsessed with trams and takes any chance he can get to ride on one of Milan’s charming and historic trolleys. You can purchase tickets on board via contactless payment. We use our physical credit/debit cards or phones to pay.

Metro: Compared to cities like Paris or London, Milan’s metro system isn’t quite as comprehensive. We suggest taking the metro to get to and from the train station and to areas outside of the city center like the Navigli canals. You can purchase tickets at the ticket machine in the underground metro stations via card or cash.

A single 90-minute ticket on either the tram or metro costs €2.20.

Is 2 days enough in Milan?

Based on our experience, 2 days is an ideal amount of time to spend in Milan, especially if you are visiting for the first time. With 2 days, you have enough time to see all of Milan’s main attractions, plus a few extras, without feeling rushed.

To make the most out of your time, we suggest starting your day early (by 9:00am) and planning to be out and about until the evening. Book all of the main attractions, such as the Duomo, The Last Supper, Pinacoteca, and Sforzesco Castle, in advance to save yourself time and avoid waiting in the long lines!

Where to stay in Milan

It can be overwhelming deciding where to stay in a big city. We are sharing the best 3 neighborhoods to stay in and hotel recommendations below.

Centro Storico: If you’re a first-time visitor to Milan, then we recommend staying in the Centro Storico, or historical center. You’re in the heart of the city and most of the sites are easily reachable by foot.

Hotel options:

Brera: For those who prefer a quiet, more local experience, then we suggest staying in the Brera district. This is an artsy neighborhood with a lot of great restaurants and shops, and it’s our favorite neighborhood in the city.

Hotel options:

Milano Centrale: If you only have one night in Milan and you want to be close to the train station, then you can find a hotel near Milano Centrale, the main station in Milan. We have stayed here and while it’s not the nicest neighborhood, it is convenient for getting in and out of the city by train.

Hotel options:

How to get to Milan

Getting to Milan by Plane

There are three main airports in Milan – Malpensa Airport (MXP), Linate Airport (LIN), and the Bergamo Airport (BGY). If you’re flying in from an international destination outside of Milan, you’ll most likely arrive at Malpensa Airport, as this serves international flights. Linate Airport serves both domestic and European flights.

Malpensa Airport to Milan: Milan’s Malpensa airport is located 55km outside of the city center. There are a few ways to get to and from the airport:

  • Train: The Malpensa Express Train is the easiest way to get to and from the Malpensa airport. The train departs from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at the airport and stops at Milano Centrale, Milano Cadorna, and Milano Porta Garibaldi. You can find a map of the train route here. Trains leave twice per hour between 4:30am – 11:30pm, depending on the stop. Tickets cost €13 each way, or €20 for a round trip ticket that has to be used within 30 days of purchase. The train takes about an hour each way.
  • Bus: The Malpensa Shuttle Bus takes you from Malpensa airport to Milan’s central station in a little over an hour. Tickets cost €10 one-way or €16 round-trip, making it a slightly more affordable option than the train.
  • Taxi: Taking a taxi from the airport to Milan is the most expensive option. The fixed rate is €110 and it’s about an hour drive, depending on traffic.

Linate Airport to Milan: Milano Linate airport is the closest airport to the city and is about 8km from the center.

  • Metro: Line M4 on the metro connects Linate airport with the center of Milan. Tickets cost €2.20 each way and the train runs daily between 6:00am – 12:30am.
  • Bus: The airport bus takes you from the airport to Milano Centrale station. Tickets cost €7 each way and it takes 25 minutes.
  • Taxi: Taking a taxi from the Linate airport is the quickest option and will cost on average between €50-€60 each way.

Bergamo Airport to Milan: The Milan Bergamo airport is located about 50km outside of the city center.

  • Bus: The cheapest way to get between the Bergamo airport and Milan Centrale is via the Terravision bus. The bust departs every 30 minutes between 3:00am and 1:00am. It takes 50 minutes. One-way tickets cost €10 and round trip cost €18.
  • Taxi: A taxi from the airport costs a little over €100 each way and can drop you off at your accommodation.

Getting to Milan by Train

The main train station in Milan is called Milano Centrale. You can access the rest of Europe, including Switzerland and France, from here. Domestic high-speed and regional trains around Italy also depart from this station.

We recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance at Trenitalia.com. For high-speed trains, purchase at least 3 weeks in advance to get the best prices.

Driving a car in Milan

We do not recommend driving in Milan. To put it simply – it’s stress you don’t need on your trip. Parking is expensive and hard to find.

If you plan on renting a car, then rent it from Milano Centrale station, or from one of the nearby airports, as you’re leaving Milan. We use Discover Cars to rent our cars in Italy.

When is the best time to visit Milan?

Navigli Canals in Milan

As with most places in Italy, the best time to visit Milan is during the shoulder seasons. March to May and September to November bring pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Try avoiding Milan during women’s fashion week, which takes places in February and September each year. Prices for accommodation are particularly expensive during these weeks and the city is more crowded than usual.

Summer in Milan is warm, with highs around 87°F (31°C). From June to the beginning of September, Milan is especially busy. Many people visit Milan for a day at the start or end of their summer vacations.

Winter in Milan is quieter but it’s still busy with locals out and about. There are Christmas markets in December around the Duomo and other festivities happening throughout the city.

There are plenty of indoor activities, which make Milan a decent place to visit during the winter months. We’ve been several times in November and December and prices are cheaper and there aren’t as many tourists.

Best Day trips from Milan

A complete view of the Turin Skyline during the fall
Turin, Italy

Do you have an extra day in Milan and want to take a day trip? Milan is centrally located in northern Italy and you can access a lot of places within a 1-2 hour train ride.

We’re sharing a few of our recommendations below:

Lake Como: Lake Como is just 50 minutes away by car and 55 minutes away by direct train. The train drops you off in Como, and from here, you can either take the ferry or bus to other towns around the lake. You could also rent a car from Milano centrale for the day and drive around the lake.

Turin: The high-speed train to Turin takes about an hour each way. With one day in Turin, you’ have plenty of time to see some of the city’s highlights, such as the Royal Palace and Egyptian Museum. It’s one of our favorite cities in northern Italy and is totally underrated.

Verona: Verona is 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Milan by high-speed train. A day trip to Verona is a fantastic idea. Check out our one day Verona itinerary for more ideas.

Bergamo: Bergamo is a beautiful Medieval city located at the foot of the Italian alps. The train only takes 48 minutes one-way and a day is plenty of time to explore this small city.

Parma: Only 47 minutes away from Milan is one of our favorite small cities in Italy. Parma is located In Emilia Romagna, also known as Italy’s foodie region. Explore the city center for a day using our one day in Parma guide, or take a day trip to a Parmigiano Reggiano producer and taste some of the region’s famous cuisine.

Tips for Visiting Milan

  • Book your tickets in advance: Book tickets for both the Duomo and The Last Supper as soon as you can. Time slots fill up fast, and you want to avoid waiting in long lines.
  • Don’t expect classic Italian charm: The first time I visited Milan I was slightly disappointed and underwhelmed. It was the first city in Italy I visited and truth be told, I expected it to look like Rome with its gorgoeus orange-hued buildings and cobblestoned streets. Milan is pretty much the opposite of Rome. This busy, industrial city is the business capital of Italy and is much like any other large city around the world. Do not expect quintessential Italian charm. Instead, embrace the city’s modernity and enjoy this side of Italy.
  • Reserve restaurants ahead of time: Book your restaurants at least a week in advance if you can. The places we’ve mentioned in this post book out quickly.
  • Dress modestly at religious sites: Make sure to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the Duomo and the other churches listed in this 2-day itinerary.
  • Learn basic Italian: Since Milan is a global destination, you’ll find that most people speak some English. However, it’s always nice to learn a few phrases beforehand:
    • Buongiorno: Good morning or hello
    • Ciao: Informal hello and goodbye
    • Grazie: Thank you
    • Buona Sera: Good evening

More Information for your Trip to Italy

ITALY TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE

Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

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