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How to Spend the Perfect One Day in Milan, Italy (2024)

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Are you planning to spend one day in Milan? We have been to Milan countless times, and this is our ideal itinerary for a day in this bustling city.

Milan is Italy’s business and fashion capital with contemporary buildings, high-rises, and modern amenities. While the rest of Italy feels like its holding on to the past, Milan is a fantastic representation of present day Italy.

It’s the first city I visited in Italy over 12 years ago and well, I can’t say it was love at first sight. Seeing photos of Italy, you expect the entire country to have charming streets, colorful buildings, and ancient monuments on every corner.

Milan is the opposite of that. It’s grey, industrial, and surely not the romantic idea of Italy we all have in our minds. With that being said, after many years of visiting, I have fallen in love with Milan and look forward to a day or two in this city almost every year.

In this guide, we are sharing the best things to do with a day in Milan, our top restaurant picks, the best hotels, and tips to help you make the most of your time here.

Have more than a day in Milan? Check out our 2-day Milan itinerary.

One Day Milan Itinerary

Below is an overview of all of the sights included in this one day Milan itinerary. It’s a packed day, so be prepared for a lot of sightseeing and walking!

  • Milan Duomo
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Scala Theater
  • Brera District
  • Sforza Castle
  • Sempione Park
  • The Last Supper & Santa Maria Delle Grazie
  • Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
  • Navigli Canals

Duomo di Milano

Start off your day in Milan at the city’s main highlight: the Duomo di Milan. This imposing cathedral is the second largest in Italy, behind St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, and towers over the grand Piazza del Duomo.

Built in a mix of Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic architectural styles, the Duomo was constructed between the late 1300s – 1900s, beginning in 1386. It took 600 years to build and was finished in 1965.

Before you head inside, take a moment to admire the intricate marble exterior. Marble was sourced from Candoglia near Lake Maggiore, over 100km (62 miles) northwest of Milan and was brought in on boats via manmade canals.

Over 3,000 statues flank both the exterior and interior of the cathedral. The tall spires, gargoyles, and exquisite sculptural details make this an architectural masterpiece.

Inside of the Duomo

The cathedral’s interior is more than just a church. It also includes an archaeological area and the rooftop terraces.

  • Archaeological Area: Beneath the duomo are the remains of religious buildings, such as the Baptistery of San Giovanni, which dates back to the 4th century. Other ancient ruins include mosaics, bricks, and buildings from the Roman Empire.
  • Rooftop Terraces: One of the highlights of visiting Milan is exploring the Duomo’s rooftop. Climb up 200+ steps or take the elevator for an extra cost and get an up close look at the church’s incredible spires, marble-work, statues, and gargoyles. The views of Milan’s skyline are also fantastic from the rooftop.

Back inside of the church, take some time to admire the beautiful stained glass windows dating back to the 15th century. Explore the altar and take a look inside the Crypt of St. Charles Borromeo, dedicated to the bishop of Milan in the 16th century. You can still see his body today inside of a glass coffin.

If you are interested, you can also visit the Duomo Museum, which preserves some of the church’s original statues, treasures, tapestries, original marble flooring, and paintings.

For the sake of time, we recommend skipping this and heading straight to your next stop instead.

Ticket Options

Tickets for Milan’s Duomo can be purchased 3 months in advance. In order to avoid waiting in long lines, book your tickets a few weeks before your visit to save time.

We recommend purchasing skip-the-line tickets or a guided tour. Here are a couple of options below:

You can also buy your tickets directly from the official website here.

Tip: Major cathedrals in Italy require a certain dress code. Make sure to dress appropriately and to cover your knees and shoulders.

Practical Information: The Duomo is open from 9:00am – 7:00pm daily.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Located adjacent from the Duomo di Milano is a beautiful shopping gallery called Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This stunning arcade feels like a jewel box with its glass dome ceiling and mosaic floors.

Walk inside and you’ll find high-end designer stores, restaurants, cafes, and plenty of people taking selfies. It’s a great spot to do a bit of window shopping or enjoy a casual drink.

Festive cafe in Milan for Christmas

Bar & Cafe Recommendations

  • Marchesi 1824: This 200-year-old pastry shop is one of my favorite places in Milan to get a cappuccino and brioche for breakfast. Order Italian style and drink your coffee at the bar. They also sell a variety of other pastries and confectionaries worth trying!
  • Camparino: Grab a drink at this gorgeous bar and step back in time to the 1800s. Drinks come with a high price tag here, cocktails range from €13-€20 a glass, but you’re paying for the location and views.
  • Terrazza Aperol: Calling all Aperol Spritz enthusiasts! Terrazza Aperol is located in the Mercato del Duomo on the upper floor of the arcade. The wait is usually pretty long to grab a table on the outside terrace overlooking the Piazza del Duomo and cathedral – but the views are worth it. Cocktails start at €15.

Prefer to visit all of Milan’s main sights with a guide? Book this Best of Milan Tour. This 6-hour guided tour includes a visit to all of the city’s top attractions.

Castello Sforzesco

Sforza Castle Milan, Italy

On the way to your next stop, walk through Piazza della Scala for a brief look at the Teatro alla Scala from the outside. This is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world.

If you’re keen on seeing the inside of the theater, you can visit the museum. Otherwise, try to snag seats at a show in the evening.

From Piazza della Scala, it’s about a 14-minute walk or 8-minute ride on the metro to your next stop.

Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle, was built as a defensive fortress in the 14th century. Later on, in the 15th century, Francesco Sforza expanded the fortress and turned it into a family residence.

Today, the building is used to host several museums, including the Museo Pieta Rondanini, Museum of Ancient Art, Museum of Decorative Arts, Archaeological Museum, and many more. You could easily spend an entire day here exploring all of the museums.

With only one day in Milan, you have time to wander around the castle grounds and visit one museum. If you have to choose one, I recommend the Museo Pieta Rondanini to see Michelangelo’s final masterpiece.

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.

Sempione Park

Parco Sempione Milan

Parco Sempione, or Sempione Park, is a large public park located next to Sforza Castle. During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, the park is bustling with both locals and tourists.

Walk across the Ponte delle Sirenette (Sirens Bridge), check out the Arco della Pace, and enjoy a brief escape from the busy city center.

If you’re hoping for a quick lunch, then you can stop at the cafe or restaurant inside of Triennale Milano. This is a modern museum dedicated to Italian design.

There is a rooftop restaurant and two cafes to choose from.

Lunch in the Brera District

Antica Trattoria della Pesa

The Brera District is Milan’s artsy and hip area, with small design shops and delicious restaurants. It feels local and authentic, which is why it’s my favorite area of Milan to explore.

We’ve eaten at several restaurants in this neighborhood, but there are two in particular that are perfect for lunch.

Stendhal Milano is charming bistro-esque restaurant with delicious food. Our go-to is the Green Tonnarelli with Veal Ragu but you really can’t go wrong with any of their dishes.

Stendhal Milano

Antica Trattoria della Pesa is another neighborhood favorite. We enjoyed their tortelloni and Milanese risotto – a must-try when in Milan!

Stop by CREMA Alta Gelateria for a couple scoops of gelato. It’s rated one of the best gelato shops in the city.

Go Shopping

Milan is Italy’s fashion capital. Brands like Gucci, Prada, Valentino, and Dolce & Gabbana are all headquartered here.

Ginori 1735
La Double J

If you want to shop (or window shop), this is the time to do it. There are plenty of small art galleries, clothing stores, and furniture stores to explore in the Brera district.

The high-end designer stores (Prada, Gucci, Valentino, etc.) are located on Via Monte Napoleone. I always enjoying browsing and discovering new and local Italian designers.

A couple of my latest discoveries are Ginori 1735, a gorgeous ceramics shop, and La Double J – a fun clothing and homeware store owned by an American living in Milan.

Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

I recommend riding the tram to your next stop on this Milan itinerary. It’s about a 15-20 minute tram ride and walk to Chiesa di San Maurizio from the Brera district.

The Church of San Maurizio is a wonderful hidden gem. Step inside and you’ll see why it’s called the “Sistine Chapel of Milan.”

The interior walls and ceilings of this 16th century monastery and convent are entirely covered in vibrant frescoes by Bernardino Luini.

We’ve been here a few times and it’s rarely busy. Take your time to walk around and admire the detailed frescoes depicting religious and biblical scenes.

The church is attached to what used to be a women’s convent. Make your way to the back of the church to the Hall of Nuns where the nuns would attend mass in private.

For a €5 fee, you can visit the Archaeological Museum inside of the old convent.

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

The Last Supper & Santa Maria Delle Grazie

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and it is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Milan.

The Last Supper was painted between 1494-1498 inside of the monastery attached to Santa Maria Delle Grazie church. Instead of using traditional fresco techniques (colored plaster), Da Vinci painted directly on the wall.

Unfortunately, this caused the painting to start deteriorating within just a few years after completion.

Luckily, this Renaissance masterpiece was restored, and it’s preserved in a climate controlled room. Because of this, only 30 visitors are allowed in at a time in 15 minute increments.

Last Supper Tickets

It is imperative that you book your tickets well in advance. It’s nearly impossible to get last minute tickets. Ticket sales open up 3 months in advance, and you can either purchase directly through the website or book a guided tour.

Based on our experience, I highly recommend booking a guided tour with an expert who can explain the history and significance of both 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.

Navigli Canals

After a busy day of sightseeing, it’s time to relax and enjoy a wonderful Italian tradition called aperitivo. Because dinner isn’t enough, the Italians invented an excuse to eat and drink even more.

Aperitivo usually starts around 6:00pm and includes a mix of social drinking and eating before dinner.

The best place for this in Milan is in the Navigli District along the city’s historic canals.

The first canal, called Naviglio Grande, dates back to the late 12th-century. It was built to connect Milan to the Mediterranean Sea for the transportation of goods, food, and water.

Later on, in the 15th-century, Leonardo da Vinci helped design a second canal called Naviglio della Martesana. This was built to connect Milan with the northern lakes, including Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.

This canal was also used to bring marble in from a town near Lake Maggiore to build the Duomo di Milano and other buildings in the city.

In the early 1800s, the final canal called Navilgio Pavese was completed. Today, you can visit the canals in the Navigli District, which has become a lively area with bars and other restaurants lining the canals.

For the best aperitivo experience, we recommend checking out one of these bars:

Dinner in Milan

Risotto alla milanese in milan, italy
Trattoria Masuelli San Marco

Are you in the mood for Italian food or Lebanese food or Korean food? Milan has it all.

If you want to stay near the Navigli canals for dinner, then I recommend trying out li-sei deli, a delicious Korean restaurant. We loved the fried chicken wings.

Osteria Conchetta is a good Italian restaurant in the Navigli district serving Lombardy cuisine.

Here are some other restaurant options:

  • Trattoria Masuelli San Marco| If you’re up for it, head to the other side of Milan to try some of the best Milanese Risotto in the city. This small trattoria serves traditional Piedmontese cuisine. Order the Ossobuco with the risotto – the meat pairs perfectly with it.
  • Trippa Milano | This is a Michelin guide restaurant with a menu that changes daily based on whatever is at the market. If you’re looking for a unique dining experience with incredible food, book a table here.
  • Ristorante Da Giacomo | Considered an institution, this is one of Milan’s most famous restaurants that celebrities often frequent – and for good reason. Your meal may come at a high price, but the fresh seafood dishes and pasta are top quality.
  • Trattoria Madonnina | Go here if you want traditional, home-cooked Milanese fare.

Additional Things to do in Milan

Have more than one day in Milan? Check out our 2-day Milan itinerary for more ideas.

Otherwise, here are a couple of activities you can try squeezing into your day.

  • Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio | Dating back to the 4th century, this is one of the oldest churches in Milan. It’s a quick visit and located near The Last Supper.
  • Pinactoca di Brera | Located in the Brera District, this is one of the most important art galleries in Italy. The collection of art includes masterpieces by Bellini, Mantegna, Caravaggio, and Raphael.

One Day in Milan Map

This map includes the best things to do with one day in Milan. You can save it to your phone to easily navigate your way around the city.

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.

Milan Tour Options

Instead of a self-guided tour to all of Milan’s main attractions, you can book a walking tour with a local expert. We’re sharing a few tour recommendations below.

  • Best of Milan Tour: Visit all of Milan’s highlights with an expert guide on this 6-hour tour. Includes stops at The Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, Scala Theater, Castello Sforzesco, San Maurizio Church, and the Duomo. We highly recommend this tour.
  • Duomo & Last Supper Tour: This 3-hour tour takes you to both the Duomo and Last Supper with a local guide.
  • Milan Duomo & Rooftops Tour: This 2-hour guided tour thanks you through Milan’s cathedral and rooftop terraces.
  • The Last Supper Tour: Learn about Da Vinci’s masterpiece with an expert guide. This is the best way to visit The Last Supper.

Is One day in Milan enough time?

One full day in Milan is enough time to visit the city’s highlights, such as the Duomo, The Last Supper, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and the Navigli Canals.

Your day will be busy and packed, so don’t expect much down time. If you have an extra day, check out our guide for 2 days in Milan.

Milan is also a great base for day trips to Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Verona, Bolzano, Turin, and other northern Italian cities.

When is the best time to visit Milan?

I’ve been to Milan in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. Based on my experience, summer is the busiest time of the year with the travel season at its peak.

Fall and winter are less crowded and much calmer. It’s usually overcast and rainy but never too cold. There are Christmas festivities that start around December 7th in Milan, with markets and decorations set up around the city.

Spring is another fantastic time to visit with pleasant weather and less tourists.

Tip: Avoid visiting in August. Not only is it hot but the city is quiet and empty because of summer holidays. Locals vacate the city for countryside or beach destinations, which means many shops and restaurants are closed.

How to 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 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.

Where to Stay

It can be overwhelming deciding where to stay in a big city. We are sharing the 3 best 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. This is the heart of the city, and you can walk to most sights.

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. 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 Milan Centrale train station, there are plenty of hotels nearby. 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 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.

Tips for Visiting Milan

Architecture in Milan
  • Avoid visiting on Mondays: Most sights, including The Last Supper, Church of San Maurizio, and several museums, are closed on Mondays. Try to visit any other day, otherwise, you’ll miss out on most of the main attractions.
  • Avoid August: August is the month of summer holidays in Italy, which means locals head down south to coastal destinations. Many shops and restaurants are closed. While the main attractions are still open, expect a quieter and emptier city in August.
  • Book tickets in advance: Book tickets for both the Duomo and The Last Supper as soon as you can. Tickets open up 3 months in advance.
  • Reserve restaurants ahead of time: Book your restaurants at least a week in advance, especially if you have a specific place you want to eat at.
  • Cover up at religious sites: Most churches have a specific dress code in Italy. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and cover your knees and shoulder when visiting religious sites.
  • Learn some basic Italian: Since Milan is a global destination, many locals speak some English. However, it’s always helpful and respectful to learn a few phrases and words beforehand, such as:
    • Buongiorno: Good morning or hello
    • Ciao: Informal hello and goodbye
    • Grazie: Thank you
    • Buona Sera: Good evening

More Information for your Trip to Italy


France Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for France? 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.

France Rental Cars – We’ve rented a car in France many times, 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.

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

France Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for France? 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.


  1. Folks, you have an excellent “travel blog site” (congratulations). On Milan in 1 day (I’ve done the visit twice, in 11/2019 and 02/2024, and over a 4 to 6 day stay). You comment Milan is “grey n’ industrialised” may be for some parts of the city, BUT check the Art Nouveau buildings (known locally as “Stile Liberty”) around the Porta Venezia area (start at Sheraton Dianna Hotel, opposite) it’s surrounded by said “Stile” buildings, then across behind the Porta and more with some in Art Deco (1920’s) period. Most hotels will print off the local guide on same, though in Italian the addresses you can find on your phone’s gps.

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