One Day in Milan: Best Things To Do (Map + Itinerary)
Debating how to spend a day in Milan, Italy? Looking for the best places to see and things to do in Milan in one day? You came to the right place. Milan is a popular travel destination in Italy, and while many come here to spend a weekend or even a week, it’s also very common for travelers to only have one day in Milan.
This itinerary is what I’d recommend for folks who want to fit as much as possible into their limited amount of time, including all the iconic tourist attractions, as well as some hidden gems and fun activities. Keep scrolling to find a map of Milan, tips on where to eat and how to get around, plus the ultimate Milan one-day itinerary.
ONE DAY IN MILAN: MAP
Milan city center is very, very small, so you can see and do quite a lot in just one day. All the attractions and activities mentioned in this article are marked to give you a better idea of where all these beautiful places are.
WHERE TO STAY IN MILAN FOR ONE DAY?
You should look for accommodations right in the city center, either in Duomo, Brera, or Moscova district. If you’re on a budget, you can look for alternative options either near a green or red subway line station. A few suggestions:
- Mandarin Oriental, Via Andegari 9 ($$$$)
- Hotel Manzoni, Via Santo Spirito 20 ($$$)
- Palazzo Segreti, Via San Tomaso 8 ($$)
- NH Milan Palazzo Moscova, Viale Monte Grappa 12 ($$)
- Ostello Bello, Via Medici 4 ($)
HOW TO GET AROUND MILAN?
Milan is a very walkable city. The city centre is completely flat, approximately 2.5 miles east to west, which makes it perfect for walking. In alternative, taking the subway is a great option too. It’s quick, reliable, and runs from 6 AM to midnight. Here’s a link to the 2022 subway network map.
You’ll see that bike-sharing is very popular among locals too. The newest services, MOBIKE and OFO, let you book bikes in few clicks on their dedicated apps. They are equipped with GPS, Qr codes and automatic locks, so that you can pick-up and drop-off your bike wherever you prefer. Last but not least, taxis are available 24/7 in most tourist spots.
IS ONE DAY IN MILAN ENOUGH?
One day is enough to see the main landmarks in Milan, including Duomo Cathedral, Brera and Navigli districts, and The Last Supper Museum. If you plan your itinerary carefully, you can also dip your toe into the art and food scene for which the city is also famous. Ideally, however, you should spend three nights and at least two full days in the city to see all the best things Milan has to offer.
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN MILAN IN ONE DAY: ITINERARY
9 AM – BREAKFAST AT MARCHESI 1824, GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II
Start your day in Milan with a proper Italian breakfast inside Milan’s most famous pastry shop – Marchesi 1824. Almost hidden on the mezzanine floor of the majestic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Marchesi is worth a visit if only for the striking bird’s-eye view of “Milan’s Parlour” and its beautiful arcade below. Join the eclectic morning crowds that gather here for a cappuccino and the delicious assortment of Instagrammable pasticcini, croissants, and elegant Sacher cakes. On your way out, make sure to explore Galleria Vittorio Emanuele a bit more. A glass-and-stone celebrated landmark in Milan, Galleria Vittorio was built in 1871 in honor of the first King of Italy. Nowadays, the galleria has become a symbol of Milanese wealth and style, and it is home to some of the most luxurious brands in the fashion world. Admire the beautiful mosaic floor, and marvel at the 50 meters high neoclassical iron and glass dome. Finally, look for the Dancing Bull of Turin mosaic – according to the legend, if you place your heel on it and turn around three times, you’ll be blessed with good luck.
10 AM – VISIT DUOMO CATHEDRAL AND TERRACE
Located right in front of the Galleria is Milan’s most iconic landmark – Duomo Cathedral. Take your time to enjoy the view from the main square, soak up the scene, take pictures and wander around. Admire the grand gothic façade with its countless spires reaching towards the sky. Then, step inside to witness the remarkable artistic and architectural features –paintings, intricate statues, and beautiful stained-glass windows.
Top off your visit by climbing to the Duomo rooftop terraces, an absolute must-see for your day in Milan. From the terrace, you can appreciate all the details carved out by hand in marble, as well as stunning close-ups of the intricate stone sculptures, gargoyles, and spires. Moreover, the views across Milan and of the nearby Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are stunning.
To skip the long lines, I highly recommend booking a combo entrance ticket online a few days before your visit. Here’s a link to the official website.
11.30 AM – EXPLORE BRERA AND VISIT THE PINACOTECA
From Piazza del Duomo it’s a 20-minute walk to the beautiful neighborhood of Brera.
Brera is the art district of Milan, having once housed some of Italy’s most famous artists, philosophers, and writers. While exploring Brera’s cobbled alleys, you can still find several artisans’ shops and unique art galleries, as well as chic boutiques and hip cafés.
Right in the middle of this district is the famous Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the most beautiful Italian art museums. The masterpieces to look out for include: The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, The Kiss by Hayez, and The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni. The neoclassical building of Pinacoteca also hosts the Braidense National Library and the Botanical Garden, which I also recommend visiting if you have time.
1 PM – LUNCH BREAK IN MOSCOVA
Italians usually have lunch breaks around 1 pm, so why don’t you join them? There are many great places to eat in Brera/Moscova which I can recommend:
la Salsamenteria di Parma ($)
For a cheap and very informal lunch, order a plate of freshly cut charcuterie at Salsamenteria Parma in Brera. You’ll find a series of first courses that cost around € 10, from Parma prosciutto to incredible cuts of local cheeses and fried polenta, another must in Northern Italy. You’ll also find a full menu of traditional plates of pasta, risotto, and meat dishes like ossobuco.
Located not far from the Duomo, this trendy restaurant is an inch-perfect reproduction of a 1960s Milanese flat. Mint-colored wallpaper, vintage prints, and original furnishings from the 60s will welcome you, including a legendary jukebox, a Zoppa fridge plates, glasses, and cups right from grandma’s cupboard. Risoelatte’s menu offers traditional Italian comfort food: you’ll find several types of risotto, Italian childhood favorites like orecchiette with ragu, and the famous cotoletta Milanese and risotto Milanese with ossobuco.
Torre di Pisa: Trattoria Toscana ($$$)
In the heart of Brera district, overlooking the tiny cobbled via Fiori Chiari, you’ll find Torre di Pisa, an institution in Milan since 1959. Sat in a simple, laidback atmosphere with paintings and antique pictures, as well as old-style wood chairs and tables, Torre di Pisa offers a great selection of Tuscan starters, pasta dishes, and soups. If you’re a meat lover, Fiorentina is always available.
2.30 PM – EXPLORE SFORZA’S CASTLE, SEMPIONE PARK, AND ARCO DELLA PACE
From Brera, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Sforza’s Castle, a majestic Renaissance fortress where noble lords of Milan used to reside. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 17th century, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Nowadays the castle is home to several museums, and also houses Michelangelo’s last work, the Pietà Rondanini, left unfinished due to the death of the artist.
Behind Sforza castle lies Parco Sempione, the largest and most beautiful park in the city, which leads you directly to the Arco della Pace, a magnificent relic of the Napoleonic era.
4 PM – SEE ‘THE LAST SUPPER’ AT SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE
From Sempione Park, it’s a 15-minute walk to reach the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where you have the chance to admire the famous painting “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1494 and 1498 and is nowadays one of the world’s most famous paintings. It is not a fresco, but a wall painting made with tempera, which explains the very fragile state of conservation. For this exact reason, less than a thousand people a day are allowed to visit the Last Supper.
If you do want to see the Last Supper on your day in Milan, you’ll have to plan well ahead, as tickets routinely sell out. You can expect tickets to go on sale on the official website roughly 3 months in advance.
6.30 PM – APERITIVO IN NAVIGLI
From Santa Maria delle Grazie, walk 600m to reach Cadorna subway station, hop on the green line (Abbiategrasso direction), and get off at Porta Genova. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to Navigli.
Home to the last of Milan’s navigable waterways, this lively canal district has plenty of history, style, and charm. The quintessential aperitivo district, Navigli is all about little boutique eateries running along the sides of the canals, so do just like the locals – grab a chair with a nice view for a late-afternoon, pre-dinner drink. The vibe is very relaxed and informal. My favorite bars for an aperitivo include Mag cafè, Rita and Cocktails, and Ugo.
9 PM – ROOFTOP DINNER
You’re almost at the end of your day in Milan, so set your sights a little higher. Everything tastes better with a view anyway! At these stylish, sought-after, terraced establishments you can enjoy your delicious dinner while taking in the Milan skyline for the last time, maybe watching the sun setting over the city
Terrazza Triennale, “Osteria con Vista” ($$$)
Address: Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6 Sempione Park (Cadorna Subway Station)
Located at the top of the Triennale art Museum in Milan, the views of this elegant restaurant are second to none, as you can overlook Sempione Park and the Sforza Castle. The chef Stefano Cerveni revisits Italian traditional cuisine in a creative way using local raw materials. One could call it ‘Italian fine dining’ but with that genuine taste that you can get from hidden small-town restaurants.And while the Osteria’s specialty is food, drinks don’t fall far behind, as you can enjoy a great selection of Italian wines, delicious craft beers, and signature mixology cocktails.
A Riccione Terrazza12 ($$$)
Address: Via Durini, 28 (San Babila subway)
Located on the 10th floor of The Brian&Barry Building, the A’ Riccione Terrazza12 restaurant combines Italian fish-based delicacies with a touch of internationality. A special mention must go to The Gran Plateau Royal, which includes a delicious mix of cruditè, tartare, red shrimp, and over 10 types of oysters. Thanks to the large windows that cover three sides of the locale and a beautiful open terrace, you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city and Duomo’s spires.
Ceresio 7 ($$$)
Address: Via Ceresio, 7 (Garibaldi Subway Station)
Owned by fashion house Dsquared2, Ceresio7 is one of the most stylish and exclusive locations in the city. Combining marble, brass, and wood elements on the sides of a beautiful pool, the décor of this restaurant is sleek and elegant. The food perfectly matches the scene, with the menu scattered with lobster and truffles, and elegant mains with nontraditional sides.
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