The Perfect One Day In Milan Itinerary

Milan is the vibrant capital of Italy’s Lombardy region. It’s a global fashion and design hub known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Why visit Milan?

The city is home to iconic landmarks such as the stunning Duomo di Milano and Leonardo’s The Last Supper masterpiece. Milan also boasts world-class shopping, a thriving culinary scene, and a rich cultural heritage with renowned museums like the Pinacoteca di Brera

To my mind, Milan definitely deserves several days, if you have the ample time. Still, with one day, you can see some amazing things and get a good taste of what the city has on offer.

Piazza del Duomo in Milan Italy
Piazza del Duomo

Overview Of One Day in Milan Itinerary

Here’s an snapshot of what you will see with my detailed, hour by hour, itinerary.

  • Duomo complex
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Brera district
  • Brera Museum or Castle Sforza
  • Sempione Park
  • Leonardo’s The Last Supper
  • Navigli

You’ll need to start early and consider pre-booking three key things:

street art on Via Sante Croce in Milan
street art on Via Sante Croce

What To Do With One Day In Milan Itinerary

8:00 AM: Luini

Start your 1 day Milan itinerary at Luini. It’s just minutes away from the Duomo. Luini is a Milanese institution and its panzerotti a signature dish.

A panzerotto is a tasty half moon concoction of fried dough filled with mozzarella, tomato, ham, or eggplant.

When you’ve indulged and are sufficiently caffeinated, head to Piazza del Duomo, the beating heart of Milan.

Piazza del Duomo, with the beautiful Gothic Duomo. It's an unmissable site on your 1 day Milan itinerary
Piazza del Duomo, with the beautiful Gothic Duomo

9:00 AM: Duomo Complex

The Duomo is the nickname for Milan Cathedral, a world renowned edifice and the most beloved landmark in Milan. Built over 600 years beginning in 1368, the Duomo is a flamboyant Gothic masterpiece.

The cathedral has 135 marble spires and 3400 statues. It’s made of pink hued marble mined from the Alps to the north.

The Duomo is the fourth largest church in the Europe, second in size in Italy only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

A visit has several elements: (1) the cathedral itself, (2) the cathedral’s rooftop terrace; (3) the Duomo Museum; (4) the crypt; and (5) the archaeological area.

rooftop terrace of the Milan Duomo

Ideally, you should plan to visit the rooftop first for an overview. Then head to the Duomo Museum to learn the history of the Duomo. After being educated, head inside to the cathedral, crypt, and archaeological sites.

The rooftop terrace is an absolute must do! It can be reached either via a staircase or an elevator. But even after the elevator, you’ve got to plod up some narrow steep steps.

Be forewarned, the elevator is one way. You have to hoof it back down. So keep this in mind if there are mobility issues in your travel group.

To make sure your visit is efficient and you skip any long queues, I recommend booking skip the line tickets. There are several permutations.

statues and spires of Milan Cathedral

You can book a ticket for:

If you don’t buy a ticket online, you probably need to arrive early, around 8:00 am. Purchase a ticket from the machines near the Duomo Museum.

You’ll also need to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered to enter the Duomo.

glass ceilings in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, must visit attraction with one day in Milan
glass ceilings in Milan’s spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

12:00 PM: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The next stop on your one day Milan itinerary is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s right on the Piazza del Duomo.

The galleria is the pride of Milan. Built from 1865-77 by Giuseppe Mengoni, the dreamy Galleria is the oldest covered shopping arcade in the world.

It may be the most elegant as well. The Galleria is outfitted in classic Renaissance style with marble, iron, and glass.

mosaic on the floor of the She-Wolf and Romulus and Remus
mosaic on the floor of the She-Wolf and Romulus and Remus

You can admire the admire the mosaics of Asia, Africa, Europe, and America in the vault above. The floor is covered with mosaics representing Italy’s key cities.

The bull that’s the symbol of Turin is a big draw. Legend holds that if you take a spin on his private parts, good luck will follow.

Inside the Galleria, you’ll find luxury brands (Gucci, Prada, Versace) and high end restaurants. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s still worth checking out for the beautiful architecture and design.

Piazza del Carmine in Milan's Brera district
Piazza del Carmine in Milan’s Brera district

1:00 PM: Lunch in the Brera District

Head to Milan’s Brera district for lunch. It’s approximately a 15 minute walk from the Piazza del Duomo.

Brera is a romantic and sophisticated district in the historic center of Milan. It’s considered the artistic center of Milan.

With its cobblestone lanes, Brera remind me of the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. Eat lunch and have a wander around.

Brera district
Brera district

For lunch in Brera, you’ve got some really good options.

You can try Obicà Brera a stylish mozzarella bar that’s become a hot concept in Italy. (There’s one opposite the Duomo as well.) Besides the fresh mozzarella, Obicà has a mouthwatering lineup of other Italian delicacies.

Alternatively, for classic dishes with a modern twist, try Daniel Ristorante. If your heart is set on a more traditional Milanese meal, go with the veal osso bucco with risotto. You’ll need to make reservations for this elegant Michelin-starred eatery.

You can book a 2 hour guided tour of the beautiful Brera neighborhood. In lieu of lunch, you can also book a 3 hour guided food tour.

Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859 -- in the Pinacoteca di Brera
Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859 — in the Pinacoteca di Brera

3:00 PM: Pinacoteca di Brera or Castle Sforza

After a leisurely lunch and reboot, I recommend visiting either Pinacoteca di Brera or Castle Sforza.

You won’t have time to do both with only one day in Milan. If you want to see Leonardo’s The Last Supper later you have to choose.

Option 1: Pinacoteca di Brera

As its name suggests, the Pinacoteca di Brera is right in the Brera district. The museum is Milan’s premiere museum. It’s one of the world’s best small museums and a must visit attraction in Milan for art lovers.

Its exquisite collection is housed inside the beautiful late 17th century Palazzo Brera. The museum has a magnificent collection of Italian art, especially religious-themed works from the 14th to 16th centuries. It’s one of the best museums you’ve never heard of.

Raphael, the Marriage of the Virgin, 1504
Raphael, The Marriage of the Virgin, 1504

The Pinacoteca di Brera boasts important pieces by the likes of Raphael, Caravaggio, Guercino, Bellini, Rubens, and Titian.

The museum’s must see masterpieces are Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus, Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss, Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ, Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, and Bellinis’s Pieta.

If you get madonna and saints fatigue, the Brera also has a high quality modern art collection.

Here’s my complete guide to the Brera Museum. You can book a combined guided tour of the Brera neighborhood and the Brera Museum.

Castle Sforza, a beautiful Renaissance building
Castle Sforza, a beautiful Renaissance building

Option 2: Castle Sforza

If you prefer castles to museums, head to Castle Sforza on the edge of the Brera district. The Castello Sforzesco is one of Milan’s most stately structures.

It’s a splendid example of Renaissance architecture, the product of mercenary-turned-politician Francesco Sforza. It was the former seat of the Dukes of Milan.

The castle houses various museums: the Pieta Rondanini museum, the Art Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of Decorative Arts. Though the castle courtyards are free, there’s a fee for the museums.

Inside, you’ll find Michelangelo’s moving final (and unfinished) sculpture, the Rondanini Pieta. It was found in his studio after he died at age 89. You can book a tour of Castle Sforza and the Pieta for the full scoop.

Michelangelo, Rondanini Pieta, 1555
Michelangelo, Rondanini Pieta, 1555
Leonardo da Vinci fresco
Leonardo da Vinci fresco

There’s also an elaborate ceiling fresco by Leonardo da Vinci in the Salle del Asse. It depicts a garden pergola with 16 mulberry trees bound together by a golden rope.

As with The Last Supper, painted in seco fresco, it was in a state of disrepair. After conservation, it’s now back on display for the first time since 2013.

READ: Guide To all the Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci

After a walk around Castle Sforza’s extraordinarily thick walls, if you have extra time, don’t resist another stroll in the lush parkland behind the castle.

Arco della Pace
Arco della Pace

Sempione Park

Sempione Park is Milan’s “green lungs.” It’s an ideal spot for wandering and relaxing after a busy afternoon. It’s sprinkled with landmarks.

The one you should make sure to check out is the Arco della Pace. It’s a Neo-Classical Triumphant Arch.

The arch was meant to emulate the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It also resembles the Arch of Septimus Severus in the Roman Forum.

The marble arch was built in 1807. It was officially inaugurated by Ferdinand I of Austria in 1815.

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1498, a top must visit attraction with  one day in Milan
Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1498

5:00 PM: Leonardo’s The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie

Now it’s time for one of the highlights of your one day in Milan itinerary — seeing Leonardo’s The Last Supper.

Hop on the metro or take a taxi to the UNESCO-listed Santa Marie delle Grazie. The closest metro stop is Conciliazione or Cadorna.

From there, it’s a 10 minute walk. The guided tour itself is only 20 minutes, so it’s a quick detour from Milan’s historic center.

Sanata Maria delle Grazie, which houses The Last Supper

The Last Supper is one of the world’s most iconic paintings, found on the back wall of the refectory in Santa Maria delle Grazie. No painting is so familiar, save for the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

Painted by the masterful hand of Leonardo da Vinci, this Renaissance masterpiece graces a wall with its billboard-sized presence. It captures the poignant moment when Christ discloses that one of his apostles will betray him, revealing a spectrum of intricate psychological reactions among them.

Access to this fresco is highly restricted, allowing only 35 visitors every 15 minutes. To behold this quasi-restored yet still breathtaking artwork, it’s essential to plan ahead and secure your timed entry reservation well in advance.

The museum breaks the year into 3-month periods and lets you book tickets one month before each period begins. For instance, you can reserve tickets for May to July in April. It’s important to act fast because tickets often sell out in just a few minutes.

detail of Jesus in Leonardo's The Last Supper
detail of Jesus in Leonardo’s The Last Supper

I’ve written a complete guide to visiting Leonardo’s The Last Supper. It tells you everything you need to know about seeing The Last Supper — what to expect, how to get tickets, and an analysis of the painting itself.

If you cannot snag a ticket, I recommend booking a guided tour instead. These will likely sell out too though.

Bottom line? Seeing Leonardo’s masterpieces requires planning. You won’t see it on the fly.

Grand Canal of the Navigli
Grand Canal of the Navigli

6:30 PM: Navigli

Hand me my Negroni! Now, it’s time to relax and enjoy the Italian custom of apertivo, a cultural phenomenon popularized in Milan.

Apertivo is a Milanese twist on happy hour with pre-dinner cocktails and free nibbles. To indulge, head to the buzzing Canals of the Navigli.

The Navigli is a picturesque canal area full of life, history, and character. It’s where locals go to escape the bustle of the city.

Milan’s canal system dates from the late 13th century, when canals were installed to carry marble to the Duomo for construction. The canals were designed in part by Leonardo.

canal in the Navigli

The Navigli area is THE place to be at night. The area is crammed with trendy speakeasies, cafes, restaurants, clubs, and vintage clothing stores.

You can also take a canal cruise or 1 hour walking tour of the Navigli.

If you’d rather stay in the Duomo area, you could stop in at the bougie Terrazza Aperol on Via Ugo Foscolo. It’s a very touristy cocktail bar.

view of the Duomo from Terrazza Aperol
view of the Duomo from Terrazza Aperol

The upside is a strategic view over Piazza del Duomo. The downside that comes with a great view — long lines and higher prices.

If you’re particular about your cocktails, you can book a 2 hour private apertivo tour.

You might also consider an evening walking tour of Milan. Milan looks different at night and it’s a romantic thing to do.

Or, you can take in a show at La Scala. The theater hosts opera, ballet, and concerts.

Performances typically begin at 8:00 pm. The dress code is smart casual. You can’t wear jeans.

the red velvet of La Scala opera house
the red velvet of La Scala opera house

8:30 PM: Dinner

Make reservations in advance for one of Milan’s finest restaurants to finish off your day.

The traditional Milanese specialities are hearty fare — risotto, veal cutlets, osso buco, pappardelle pasta in mushroom sauce, and meat filled ravioli. But there are plenty of more exotic and modern dishes as well.

If you want to dine in style, here are some of my favorite spots:

If you want to check out the opera house La Scala, you could dine at the elegant Il Marchesino.

Italian restaurant Biffi in the Galleria
Italian restaurant Biffi in the Galleria

If you want something more casual, try Pescaria, Dongio, 28 Posti, or Piz.

Maybe you don’t want a restaurant? If not, there are some great food tours in Milan.

For the best street food, you can book this 3 hour guided tour. You may also want to book an evening food and wine tour.

the Leonardo statue in Milan
the Leonardo statue in Piazza della Scala

Tips For Spending One Day In Milan

1. Is One Day In Milan Enough?

One day in Milan is enough to see its star attractions like the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele arcade. You can also check out some piazzas or museums.

If you are a city lover, you may want to stay longer. Milan has a cool urban vibe and there are plenty of hidden gems you can seek out, including some fantastic museums and churches.

You can spend more time in the beautiful Brera district and check out Milan’s fashion and shopping scene.

pretty street in the Brera district
pretty street in the Brera district

2. Is Milan Worth Visiting?

100% yes. So many people skip Milan. But it’s an underrated city that’s definitely worth a day or two on your Italy itinerary.

Milan is a cultural hotspot, with many museums and artists attractions. It has a totally different vibe than Italy’s big three — Rome, Venice, and Florence. And it’s also much les touristy.

Plus, Milan has outstanding shopping and culinary scenes.

You can even take a fashion tour through the tony shops and outlets. Or, take a shuttle to the famed Serrvalle outlet mall to pick up designer goods.

Brera district as seen from San Carpoforo church
Brera district as seen from San Carpoforo church

3. Tickets: The Milan Card

The best visitor pass is definitely the Milan City Pass. It gives you unlimited access to all means of public transport.

You also get either free or discounted access to museums, tours, restaurants, tourist attractions, and the airport bus.

There are three versions of the Milano Card, with 1-2-3 day options. After you purchase the pass, download their app and activate it with the code that you receive via email.

Milan's Central Station
Milan’s Central Station

4. How To Get To Milan

Most likely, you’ll fly into to Milan Malpensa Airport.

There are more flights to Rome from North America. But flights to Milan might be less expensive.

From the Milan airport, it’s about an hour to Milan’s Central Station. If you take a taxi, you can expect to pay  90-95 €. You can also book a private transfer from the airport to the city center.

If you are already in Italy, there are high speed trains to Milan from all the major cities. There are frequent trains from Genoa, Venice, and Florence.

the Ambrosiana Museum, a hidden gem in Milan
the Ambrosiana Museum, a hidden gem in Milan

5. How To Get Around Milan

Milan has a comprehensive system of public transportation in Milan. There are buses, trams, and even a subway. Tickets are available at newsstands and metro stations. Validate your ticket before you get on board.

The majority of Milan’s must see sites are clumped together in the centro historico, radiating from the Piazza del Duomo. So you can walk to many attractions. If you want to walk like the Milanese, walk fast.

Unfortunately, some sites are poorly connected and pretty far from the transit stops. Therefore, you will still have a fair bit of walking once you get off public transport.

You can explore Milan in other fun ways too. For example, you can zip around on a Segway tour, ride the hop on hop off bus, take a bike tour, or combine biking and modern architecture.

Four Seasons in Milan
Four Seasons in Milan

6. Where To Stay In Milan

Milan has some of the finest hotels in Italy. You’re spoiled for choice.

For an opulent stay, try the Bulgari Hotel Milano. It’s in the high end shopping district.

Or, book at the Four Seasons, which has a lovely setting in a former convent. It’s a cut above the Bulgari.

The Park Hyatt has a great location near many of Milan’s top attractions and a Michelin star restaurant. The Hotel Principe di Savoia is a beautiful place that’s slightly off center if you want to escape crowds.

terrace of the Hotel Magna Pars
terrace of the Hotel Magna Pars

I also always enjoy boutique hotels and Milan has those too.

My picks are the Room Mate Giulia (trendy place near the Fashion district), the chic Hotel Magna Pars (in the Navigli), the Palazzo Segreti (elegant hotel near the Duomo), and the Antica Locanda dei Mercanti (in a beautifully restored townhouse).

You can visit the towns of Turin, Bergamo, Brescia, Sirmione, and Mantua. If you’re ambitious, you can even day trip to the Veneto region. 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping center
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

I hope you’ve enjoyed my one day in Milan itinerary. You may enjoy these other Italy travel guides and resources:

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