How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day

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Milan in One Day

Exploring Milan in One Day may seem impossible given its enormity and possibilities that it affords but it is certainly doable. Some may wonder what to do in a metropolis such as Milan. Some may contemplate if it is worth visiting just for a day. There may be some of you, who like me, love to read about cities you are yet to visit and select the best of a city to add to your travel list. If you are amongst any of these categories, then you are in the right place – this article is for you. I share with you my best experiences which I enjoyed during my visit to Milan in one day so that you too, can design your visit for a fabulous day in Milan.

About this article on how to enjoy the best of Milan in one day

This article introduces Milan by way of a brief introduction to its geographical location and popularity as a City. Milan is one of the major hubs in Europe, and attracts hundreds of thousand of tourists each year. Given it’s enormity, it is impossible to experience everything the city offers in one day. Therefore, this article will take you through possibilities of shopping experiences, a little exploring and a little adventure. You will find a list of the best places to visit, how to maximise your time in this city, and how to obtain tickets for some popular sights where tickets are sold off months ahead – in essence an ideal guide to how you can enjoy Milan in one day.

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About the City of Milan, Italy

1 | Which part of Italy is Milan? 

The City of Milan, is located in the northern region of Italy, more precisely in the Lombardy region. The Lombardy region covers a vast landscape ranging from the Alps to the countryside, has many art cities to small hamlets rich in history. This region is home to about fifteen of Italy’s lakes and some of the best ski resorts. Milan will host the 2026 edition of the Winter Olympic Games. You will find Milan located at the following GPS code.

45.4641° N 9.1919° E

Location of Milan in relation to other cities in Italy

2 | Milan is a fashion hub

As a metropolis, the city of Milano is the second largest city in Italy. It is one of the best known cities in the world and is arguably the global capital of fashion and design. As a fashion hub, the city is home to the most popular fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Missoni to name a few. Every year the city attracts countless visitors to its runways and design showrooms.

3 | Milan is a financial centre

In economic terms, Milan is the third largest city in Europe, after London and Paris . Italy’s only Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana is located here, and if you are a football fan, I’m sure you know, Milan is renowned for its own dedicated international football team, AC Milan.

4 | Milan is a history and cultural centre

Besides being a fashion and financial hub, Milan is packed with history, culture and centuries old architecture which will blow you away! It is home to many iconic buildings such as the infamous Gothic Duomo di Milano, Castello Sforzesco, Santa Maria delle Grazie Convent where you will find Leonardo da Vinci’s mural of The Last Supper, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are just some of the sights that will have you in awe – reasons which makes this City a tourist hot spot.

5 | Milan is a city where “I could become someone here”

When you visit Milan, if you haven’t already, you will know that Milan is a City that depicts wealth. Dotted all around you, you will find high fashion names, high-end restaurants, and bold architecture like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. You will feel right at home as well because everyone is so friendly and welcoming here. It’s okay if you don’t speak or know Italian, everyone seems to speak English either well or little, with a twist of Italian rhythm. It reminded me of what Giorgio Armani once said about this lovable City:

Milan is a true metropolis: strong and fearless but welcoming, too. Little by little, I came to realize that I could become someone here.

GIORGIO ARMANI

What to see in Milan in one day

As a visitor to Milan, you will note that it is a City that is easy to get to, both by air and land (more on transportation below). Exploring Milan will undoubtedly require a few days, or multiple visits or just a weekend getaway but my planned visit to this City was a brief one – a little shopping, a little exploring and a little adventure.

My list of places to visit in Milan in one day were:

Duomo di Milano;

Castello Sforzesco;

Parco Sempione, and the

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Although armed with a list, I realised it was an ambitious itinerary. If there was one thing I wanted to do in Milan, it was to visit the iconic landmark of the Duomo which took centuries to build and to Walk on the Rooftop of the Duomo during sunset. I was happy to accomplish both and cross them off my Milan’s bucket list. However, I was disappointed at not being able to experience one other which had been on my bucket list. While it was a short visit, I discovered that Milan has so many hidden treasures that ought to be explored besides the main touristy spots, and for this reason Milan remains firmly on my return list.

With so many impressive places to see, Milan in one day will be a long one but it is certainly doable. Luckily for me, the one day when I visited was a glorious day of sunshine in the cool month of November. My experiences were amazing and will surely stay with me forever.

A quick overview of my visit to Milan in one day

Typically, Piazza del Duomo, the main square in Milan should be the starting point of any itinerary. Most of the popular places are easily reachable from here either through a walking route or via metro.

However, my one day in Milan began upon my arrival at Milano Centrale Railway Station. I was completely taken by surprise at the sheer size of it and soon realised this was an attraction in its own right, requiring some time to explore. Afterwards, and following a quick and simple late breakfast at an on site cafe, I caught a quick taxi-ride to Piazza del Duomo. Piazza del Duomo connects the rest of the places I intended to visit.

Arriving at Piazza del Duomo and coming into direct contact with the magnificent majestic Duomo in white and pink marble was an indescribable awe-inspiring moment. I took many photos of the Duomo from all angles, each being unique in the sunlight. The carvings on the exterior walls were of all kinds which ignited my curiosity. After some exploring and an immersive experience (crowd and pigeons!) at Piazza del Duomo, I walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to the north to reach Piazza della Scala. While on the way, witnessing queues of tourists awaiting their turn on the dancing bull of Turin (more on this below). The Galleria Vittoria Emanuele shopping centre was exquisite, to say the least. I did not stop to shop at this point, although something did catch my eye.

From Piazza della Scala, it was a brisk walk to Castello Sforzesco, then a glimpse of Parco Sempione.

I looped back to the Galleria later in the afternoon for a little shop, late snack, an aperitif and to rest my feet before visiting the Duomo di Milano. I do not wish to confuse you with the looping back and be repetitive, so I shall list all the experiences under its respective headings. Hence, giving you the flexibility to design your own one day itinerary without missing out on these valuable experiences.

Here is how you can enjoy the best of Milan in one day for memories that will last a lifetime.

1 | Milano Centrale Railway Station

Milano Centrale Railway Station is no ordinary railway station. It is huge! It is magnificent! It is the largest railway station in Europe by size and the main train station in Milan. The station’s imposing, grandiose architecture has sculptures of winged horses, lions, bulls and eagles adorning it’s roof!

Milano Centrale

The station depicts various architectural styles and art deco. The only thing you must not forget to do is to look up!

1.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Milan Central Station

Opening hours: Milano Centrale train station is open every day from 04:00 to 01:00.

Address: Piazza Duca d’Aosta, 1, 20124 Milano MI, Italy

2 | Piazza del Duomo

The Piazza del Duomo is the one place you do not want to miss. This is the main square in the city centre where the locals and visitors love to meet. It is vibrant, large, rich in history and culture. One reason why this is a popular meeting point is because it gives access to the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral), the symbol of Milan and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Museum of 900, an incredibly beautiful museum of modern art is located on the side of the Piazza. Nearby is also the Royal Palace of Milan, home to Museo del Duomo, a cultural centre and home to international art exhibitions.

Piazza del Duomo – View from the steps of Milan Cathedral

From Piazza del Duomo, you can admire the magnificent architecture of the Duomo and the incredible Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from the steps of Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral in the centre of Piazza del Duomo
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Milan Cathedral in the centre of Piazza del Duomo

Unfortunately, the Piazza is always busy with people, as one can imagine. Therefore, there will not be a moment where you can quickly take a people free snap. Nor will you be able to take a shot without the people friendly pigeons! Unless perhaps at 5 in the morning!

3 | Statue of Victor Emanuele II

With everything that goes on at the Piazza del Duomo, one can easily miss (if you don’t look up!) the iconic monument in the centre of the Piazza. The monument was erected in honour of the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II in 1896.

The Statue of Victor Emanuele II is an equestrian statue set on a marble pedestal. It shows the king leading his troops to battle, flanked on either side by a large lion. On the sides of the pedestal, are soldiers ready for combat. The monument, which is set on a massive plinth, was created by Ercole Rosa, an Italian sculptor.

Statue of Viktor Emmanuele II
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An equestrian statue set on a marble pedestal shows the king leading his troops to battle, flanked on either side by a large lion. Reliefs on the sides of the pedestal show soldiers ready for combat.

The Piazza del Duomo gives you easy access to Milan Cathedral.

4 | Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the Duomo di Milano – the symbol of Milan. For many, a trip to Milan is primarily a visit to this impressive Gothic and Romanesque architecture. It is the most visited site in Milan.

4.1 | View of the Duomo from the floors of the Piazza del Duomo

Mystical, magical, majestic or an awful failure – just some of the descriptions thrown at this old Cathedral that stands proudly in the centre of Piazza del Duomo. For me, the Duomo is a mesmerising beautiful masterpiece in pink and white marble facade. The walls are adorned with intricate carvings, when taken a closer look left me with more questions than answers. It is so beautifully crafted that each tells a story of exquisite craftmanship and tales. No doubt the Duomo has seen a lot of history pass her by in the 600 years or so that has taken to construct her. Some say there is work still continuing with the ever presence of the scaffolding on the roof of the Duomo. Nevertheless, she stands, in all her glory to be admired by the hundreds of thousands that flock the city each year.

The external walls of Milan Cathedral are adorned with intricate carvings that tells stories of exquisite craftmanship and tales.

Given that the Duomo was a bucket list destination for me, I could not resist snapping away. I tried taking photos from different angles of the Cathedral, the front, the side and every time I looked up, the spires seemed to lead to the clouds! However, later in the afternoon I came to experience the view that I was most comfortable in – the view from across. (picture below).

The view of Milan Cathedral from across
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View of the Duomo from across

Whichever way one looks at it, I think we will all agree that it is huge!. Afterall, it is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. A visit to this iconic structure, either external or internal viewing including a visit to the Duomo Terraces does not disappoint.

4.2 | Internal viewing of the Duomo

I am fascinated with the past, the history, old monuments, and often wonder if only the walls could talk, what amazing stories be told. I could only imagine what life would have been like then. So, it will be no surprise to you if I say visiting Milan Cathedral proved to be an occasion of exploring and discovering.

There are so many reasons to visit this masterpiece and there are so many fascinating spots to explore and to delver deeper, right from the moment you step inside the Cathedral. The first a visitor will note upon entering is the uniquely designed marble floor that rules the Cathedral. Apparently, at one point you could set your watch by it! There are marble columns that are high, really high and large beautiful paintings all around the walls. Walk around and you will be blown away by the stained glass windows – they are massive and beautiful. The Cathedral is lit up not only by sunlight seeping through these stained glass windows but they also lit from the inside to aid visitors to appreciate the details that these windows depict. To give you an idea of what awaits you at the Duomo di Milano, here is a sneak preview:

4.3 | Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo

The terraces of the Duomo was an incredible experience. I visited the terraces at sunset and I would encourage and highly recommend a sunset visit on the rooftop of the Duomo. The roof is covered in openwork slender pinnacles and spires crowned with almost 2000 sculptures that overlook the city. Apparently, this Gothic Cathedral has the most statues than any other building in the world! On the highest spire of the Cathedral, you will find the Madonnina, a gilded bronze statue of Mary, which was sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. 

Exploring the rooftop via narrow interconnecting stairways and, sometimes standing on slippery rooftops trying to get the best views and “clicks” was indeed exciting and fun as I reflect on these moments.

Here is a sneak preview of what awaits you on the terraces of the Duomo di Milano at sunset:

4.4 | Half an experience or in its entirety?

To visit the internal and the rooftop, you may have to consider the time factor. You need to allocate at least an hour for the Cathedral and an hour for the rooftop, meaning two hours in total at the very least. If you are planning on the sunset at the rooftop, you may well need an hour and half. Then, there is the queuing time to purchase your tickets. For this reason and given that you only have a day, some may suggest that you forego the internal viewing altogether. However, I would disagree with this view. I suggest that it all depends on you and the question need asking is – “When you visit Milan, would you want to experience the Duomo in its entirety?

As a person who travels often, who juggles one too many things at a time, I like to visit a landmark or a building and explore it in its entirety. I do not like to return home and feel that I should have done it or I should have done better. Moreover, I love history and enjoy exploring monuments and historical architecture, therefore whenever there is an opportunity for me to experience a monument in its entirety, I grab that opportunity. For this reason, I spend some time planning my travels, deciding on the activities I want to do. For me, the Duomo was on my bucket list of things to do in Milan, therefore it was not going to be just half the experience.

4.5 | How to save time and maximise your experience?

If you want the whole experience of the Duomo, here is how you can save time and maximise your experience when visiting the Duomo:

To save time queuing for tickets, you can fast-track your visit and skip-the-line by purchasing your tickets before hand. You can do so prior to arriving in Milan or even as late as on the day, which is what I did. Purchasing the skip-the-line tickets are super easy through a link. then you download the ticket on your phone, show the mobile voucher at the door, and walk right through. With this fast-track ticket, you can take the dedicated elevator to the terraces, saving you even more time., hence allowing you to maximise your experience.

4.6 | Know before you go – practical information on Milan Cathedral

Opening times of Milan Cathedral

The Cathedral and the Rooftop is open Everyday.

Cathedral – 8 am to 7 pm | Rooftop – 9 am to 7pm | Last entry is at 6pm

For further details on their daily activities and prayer times, please check their official website at Duomo di Milano.

For Accessibility information, click here.

5 | Museo del Duomo | Museum of the Duomo – Milan

Described as a “a living place, a place to discover to learn the history of the monument,” the museum showcases all of its work on and about Milan Cathedral. A visit to Museo del Duomo helps one to appreciate the unfolding stories of it’s six hundred years of history. You can enjoy close-up of the sculptures, colours of the marble, details of its unique art and so much more!

Museo del Duomo, Milan

5.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Museo del Duomo

The Museo del Duomo is located inside the Royal Palace, next to Milan Cathedral.

Opening times: Everyday except Wednesdays | From: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The last ticket is sold at 5:00 p.m. | Last admission: 5:10 p.m.

The tour includes the Church of San Gottardo in Corte.

6 | Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an enchanting shopping mall and a must visit landmark to cross off your list in Milan. It is spacious, airy and pretty. This incredibly impressive four storey double arcade, glass-topped 19th century gallery is Italy’s oldest and one of the most exquisite shopping sites, alongside Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. If you want to delve deep into the fashion world, you can join a two-hour shopping tour and explore the luxury fashion district of Milan.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

On the other hand, when a visit is limited to one day in Milan, you may want to explore and experience the Galleria at your own quick pace. As the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is home to luxury shopping, it hosts many exclusive and prestigious labels and brand shops to feed the desires of the Milanese elite. There are several cafes and restaurants here which have been visited by the rich and famous such as Verdi, Puccini and Frank Sinatra. There are several roof top bars giving you exclusive views across to the Duomo and over Milan. Some of these shops, cafes or restaurants have been here since 1867.

Sitting next door to the Duomo di Milano and a few steps away from the Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II makes an ideal stop either before or after a visit to the Duomo. I stopped here briefly on my way to Piazza della Scala and looped back later in the afternoon for a longer experience.

What to experience at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II when visiting Milan in one day

Here are the highlights of my visit which you can experience at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan when on a quick visit.

6.1 | Cafe Biffi

Cafe Biffi is the oldest cafe at the Galleria. Biffi’s main specialities are Ossobucco with Milanese risotto and the Milanese cutlet. Although there are many choices, the menu has remained largely unchanged for the last twenty-five years. To enjoy a meal at Cafe Biffi will require a booking well in advance. More info below in Food & Drinks.

Biffi Galleria, IT
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Photo credit Biffi, Galleria, IT

6.2 | Enjoy a direct view of the Duomo di Milano from the open terraces of the Galleria over a Campari

As I wanted to experience the sunset from the terraces of the Duomo, a little downtime on the fifth floor of the Galleria over an aperitif was a perfect intervention. We were able to get a table on the open terraces, of Terrazza Aperol, giving us a perfect view of the Duomo.

Open terraces at the Galleria overlooking the Duomo
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View of Duomo di Milano from the terraces of Aperol Spritz
On the terraces of Aperol Spritz, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan
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Terrazza Aperol

Piazza Duomo Angolo Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan, Italy 

6.3 | The dancing bull of Turin on the beautiful mosaic floor of the arcade

The mosaic floor of the arcade is beautiful and intricately crafted to display four distinct designs to represent the coat of arms of Rome , Florence , Turin and Milan. Rome is represented by a She-wolf together with Romulus and Remus, Florence is the Lily flower, Milan is the Red Cross on a white background and as for Turin, is the Dancing bull (below);

Dancing Bull, symbol of Turin. Intricately crafted into the mosaic floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Arcade in Milan
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Dancing Bull, symbol of Turin. Intricately crafted into the mosaic floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Arcade in Milan

This dancing bull mosaic attracts hundreds of visitors daily, because of a legend associated with it. One only need see the queues of curious visitors and their giggles as they pose for an instagrammable shot on the spot!

Would you like to know what the legend is? Here goes…

6.4 | Legend of the Dancing Bull of Turin

Well, according to legend, apparently if you place your heel on a particular spot, between his two hind legs, and turn around three times, it will bring you good fortune. Millions of visitors must have done this over the years because there is a hollow on the spot.

Regardless of whether one believes in the legend of the dancing bull of Turin or not, it seemed a fun attraction to watch.

6.5 | The best views are above!

You need to look up! The incredibly beautiful iron and glass ceiling is a must see attraction – so you need to pause for a moment and look up! Easily missed when you are busy shopping, or looking at the window displays.

The incredibly beautiful architecture of the Galleria in Milan
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The incredibly beautiful architecture of the Galleria in Milan
The iron and glass roof at the Galleria, Milan
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The iron and glass roof at the Galleria, Milan

6.6 | Shopping at Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II

Last but not least is the shopping experience at the Galleria – here are some suggestions for you to consider. Even if you do not have time to do the usual browsing, unrushed shopping (because this is Milan in one day schedule), take a peek inside these shops and experience the grandeur of the top brands such as Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton. I must admit, I did spoil myself with a little gift from LV.

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  • Louis Vuitton
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Photo credit to respective official websites

6.7 | Know before you go – practical information on Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria itself is accessible all hours.

The shops are typically open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.

Restaurants & bars are open from 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Check individual restaurants and bars as some stay open longer]

Address:

Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

7 | Piazza della Scala

Piazza della Scala is a small town square. It is pedestrianised and quieter than Piazza del Duomo. The main attractions here are the statue of Leonardo da Vinci which is located in the centre of the square and La Scala Opera House, one of the world’s most popular opera houses.

8 | Teatro alla Scala – La Scala Opera in Milan

Teatro alla Scala also known as “Temple of Opera” is one of the most famous theatres in the world. It dates back to 1778 and has seen many composers who wrote and performed here including Rossini, Puccini, Verdi and Toscanini. The building itself has often been described as unimpressive from the outside, but I thought it was nice. Perhaps, it was being compared to the opulence of the interior (picture below).

La Scala Opera House in Milan
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La Scala Opera House, Milan – photo credit H. Asprou

I did not plan to watch a performance or do a full guided tour of the La Scala Opera House. I wanted a quick preview of the area because it is so close to Piazza del Duomo (about 6 minutes walk) and it would be a shame to miss it. In any case, tickets for performances were unavailable during my visit as these are sold out months ahead of time. I am saving the full experience for my next visit to Milan.

However, if La Scala is in your bucket list on Milan, then you could join a one hour private tour to learn about its history or go a little further, explore the La Scala museum as well. If you intend to fit this experience on your visit to Milan in one day itinerary, you may want to book the tickets before hand, well inadvance of your visit to ensure your place.

Pro tip: There are no access when rehearsals are on. Plan your day well if La Scala is your bucket list experience. Tours are usually scheduled for after 2 pm. Check timings when purchasing tickets

If you want to skip the guided tours and purchase opera tickets, take a look at their official website and buy your tickets there.

9 | Castello Sforzesco

About 15 minutes away (I’m a slow walker!) from Piazza della Scala is Castello Sforzesco. Built on a 14th century fortification, this ancient building looks very much like a medieval castle. It was once home to a series of Duke of Milan, the Sforza family.

Today, the castle is home to many art museums and a library. In addition, it houses a beautiful fountain, Fontana di Piazza Castello.

Access to castle grounds are free, so you get to enjoy Castello Sforzesco even if you are in a rush.

Although I love to spend time visiting museums, I could not do so on this occasion as it may have involved a good part of half a day or two hours in the least. However, if you plan to include the Castello Sforzesco in your itinerary and learn more by visiting it’s museum, you may want to rework your itinerary and allocate sufficient time for a memorable experience. Purchase your tickets for a live guided tour before hand so it is not sold out or select to do a 2-hour guided tour of the castle and the museums.

9.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Castello Sforzcesco and its museums

Opening hours: 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Grounds of the Castle are free to explore

Opening hours of the Museum: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Tuesday through to Sunday

There are various guided tours offered by third-party companies which I generally use to design my experience of a destination. In my experience they turnout to be such good value for money and I learn so much more from the tour guides. There is a 2 hour guided tour of Sforza Castle and Museums which may appeal to you. Please note that these activities are timed to take place at 10:30 a.m. and at 2:30 pm.

10 | Parco Sempione

Adjacent to Castello Sforzcesco at the rear exit is a large park, Parco Sempione. It is the largest park in Milan and one of the prettiest I had seen. It has a large lake, cycle and jogging paths with a lot of shaded areas.

I did not venture too far to explore Parco Sempione as it was time to head back to Galleria Vittoria Emanuele for a late lunch and a little shop, before my amazing experience at the Duomo di Milano (see 4 above)


What was missing on my “Milan in one day” itinerary?

I had an amazing experience in Milan but I did miss some destinations which would ordinarily be on most visitors’ itinerary. I list five main attractions below which are on my next visit list to Milan and it may well be on your list when you visit.

M-1 | Santa Marie delle Grazie Convent – Leonardo da Vinci’s mural of the Last Supper

The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci is one of world’s most popular and undisputedly one of the world’s masterpieces of painting. This artwork was painted between 1495 and 1497. The representation by Leonardo da Vinci depicted the moment immediately after Christ said, “One of you will betray me”.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci – photo credit to Wikipedia

Leonardo’s Last Supper is located in its original place, on the wall of the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is a huge painting of 4.60 meters high and 8.80 meters wide, was made with tempera and oil on a gypsum preparation instead of the technique commonly used in the fresco period.

Several measures have been implemented to protect the paint from deterioration. One of the measures is to ensure that the room temperature is maintained and for this reason visitors are restricted to a group of 25 people every fifteen minutes.

Given the strict measures to protect the painting, both in terms of number of visitors and the time allowed for each group, one cannot just arrive at the ticket window to purchase a ticket. Tickets are sold out months and months ahead of time. It is almost impossible to get a ticket! You can check availability here .

Viewing the Last Supper is one of my bucket list experiences but I had to give it a miss this time because I could not get tickets even through third-party providers! It remains a priority for my next visit.

M-1.1 | What can you do to ensure viewing of the Last Supper mural by Leonardo da Vinci?

If you can’t get tickets through their official website, your best bet is to book a guided tour that includes a skip-the-line tickets for da Vinci’s Last Supper via a third-party provider. Third-party providers are tour companies who prebook tickets in advance and therefore affording availability even on short notice.

You may also want to do a broader Milan day tour that includes the Last Supper. There are several choices and combinations to meet your itinerary. For example you could do the skip-the-line Duomo and the Last Supper combination if you are thinking of visiting the Duomo or if you want to, you could do a walking tour of the city and combine this with the Last Supper viewing.

M-2 | Brera District

Brera is an upscale part of town with a good mix of history, modern design, countless shopping and dining options. With lively cafes and restaurants, Brera comes to life in the evening. You will be spoilt for dining choices with the variety of options here.

Dining aside, Brera is home to Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan’s largest museum of art, established since 1776. You will also find Braidense National Library, and the Brera Astronomical Observatory located here.

Pro tip: On a one day itinerary, you may not have time to visit the museum but the Braidense National Library is a 18th century library. It is reputed to be one of the most beautiful libraries in Italy. It is open daily except Sundays and entrance if free.

M-3 | San Bernardino alle Ossa

San Bernardino alle Ossa is best known for its bone chapel. The walls of the ossuary are said to be covered in bones and skulls, some from the old ossuary, some from other local graveyards. Even the doors, door knobs and the pillars are decorated with skulls and bones!

The ossuary dates back to the 13th century, though its current formation comes from the 17th. The skeletons are believed to primarily have come from people who died at the nearby Brolo hospital, which no longer exists.

You can locate San Bernardino alle Ossa at:

Via Brolo
Milan, 20122
Italy

Directions

M-4 | Porta Nuova district

Porta Nuova is an upcoming area of Milan and is the main business district of the city. Also known as Milan’s most futuristic district, it is adorned with modern skyscrapers defining its skyline. Apparently it is not an area many tourists visit because of it’s modern architecture. However, for some it can be an interesting adventure exploring the modern side to Milan with it’s skyscrapers. Porta Nuova is also the name of an arched gateway built in the early 19th century.

M-4.1 | Getting to Porta Nuova district

You can walk to Porta Nuova via Sempione Park from Sforzesco Castle – its 1.5 – 2 km, 20 to 30 minutes walk. Alternatively, you can take a metro to Garibaldi FS Station.

M-5 | Navigli Canals

The Navigli neighbourhood is famous for Navigli Grande and Naviglio Pavese canals and is highly recommended for an evening experience. The picturesque canals are said to be surrounded by colourful buildings, lots of restaurants as well as small boutiques and art stores.


Places to experience food and drinks when visiting Milan in one day

Well, you can’t go to Milan and leave without experiencing their best Pizza, best Risotto and their best Campari.

1 | Pizza

Not sure about you but I like my pizza really thin and crispy. Check out Superpizza when you are in Milan.

Superpizza is a family run business committed to using locally grown, all organic ingredients and therefore I can be sure of its highest quality at all times. Moreover, they serve super-thin, crispy pizza – low on oil, light and yeast-free. With an extensive flavourful combinations on their menu, you are sure to find one to suit your palate.

2 | Risotto alla Milanese

One of the simplest, yet most luxurious rice dishes, this creamy risotto gets its vivid color and flavor from saffron.

Photo credit to Biffi official gallery

According to legend, the dish was first created sometime in the 16th century, during the construction of Duomo. However, the first recipe under the name risotto alla Milanese was found in Giovanni Felice Luraschi’s 1829 cookbook Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico, and over time, this saffron-flavored classic became a traditional accompaniment to ossobuco, another signature dish of Milan.

Veal Ossobuco & Milanese Risotto – Biffi, Galleria

If you are lucky to get a reservation at Biffi, you can dine in style in one of the oldest restaurant in Milan – details on Biffi are above. Otherwise, look up Ratana or Antica Trattoria della Pesa

3 | Vegan kitchens

A plant based diet is no longer seen as strange but it is becoming a healthier choice where people are incorporating it into their everyday diet. Milan has a plethora of restaurants and cafes that offer a wide choice vegan treats. You may want to look up Flowerburger and Joia Kitchen.

4 | Drinks

Whether it’s a perfect Negroni you are looking for or wanting to try something new, Milan has it all. If you are looking for an authentic no-frills Milanese experience, then look-up Rita & Cocktails or if you want to experience something British with a Milanese soul, then head over to Kilburn Cocktail Bar.

But if you are looking for a refreshing cocktail during the day, look no further than Camparino in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – the reputed trendy venue since 1915 for an authentic Milanese aperitivo. You can have it whichever way you prefer, in a glass packed with ice and a slice of orange or without.

Barman at Camparino, Galleria. Photo credit to Campari official site


Where to stay when visiting Milan in one day?

Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Milan, IT

Radisson Blu Hotel, Milan, IT

For more choices on accommodation, use this link and check on the vast choices available in Milan – Accommodation in Milan


How to get around Milan in one day

Taxi

Taxis are often in high demand and you may not see one to hail easily on the street. Your best chance is going to designated taxi ranks usually outside the train station, like Milan Central.

Tram & Bus

ATM also manages the trams and an extensive bus network in Milan.

Tram 1 – Cuts through the historic centre,. It is a retro yellow tram with wooden benches and original fittings.

Trams 2 and 3 – are popular for sightseeing.

Trams 9 and 10 – loop around the centre via Porta Venezia, Porta Genova and Porta Garibaldi.

Route maps are available from ATM info points. You can also download these via the ATM app.

Night bus services run every half-hour between 12.30am and 5.10am, after the metro has closed.

Metro

ATM is the company that runs Milan’s public transport, including the metro.

The metro in Milan is simple and easy to navigate. It is the most convenient way to get around. It consists of four major lines which you need know:

M1 [RED] – Connects Duomo with Porta Venezia, the castle, Corso Magenta and the Fiera;

M2 [Green] – Connects Porta Garibaldi with Brera and Navigli;

M3 [Yellow] – Connects Quadrilatero with Porta Romana;

M5 [Lilac] – Connects San Siro with Porta Garibaldi and Isola;

(M4 is under construction)

Services operate between 5.30am and 12.30am (from 6am on Sunday).

A ticket is valid for 90 minutes. It can only be used for one metro ride.

Tickets are sold at electronic ticket machines in the station, or at tobacconists and newsstands.

Tickets & Passes

Depending on your plans in Milan and for how long you intend to stay, there are a number of good money-saving passes for public transport. which you may want to consider:

One day ticket Valid for 24 hours; €7

Three-day ticket Valid for 72 hours; €12

Weekly pass Offers unlimited journeys from Mon-Sun on most of the metro system, buses and trams; €17

Airports near Milan

Milan is served by two airports – Malpensa and Bergamo

From Malpensa Airport to Milan

The Malpensa Express runs every 20 – 40 minutes and takes 50 minutes to reach Milano Centrale. Learn more about Malpensa Express, their routes and ticket prices from their official website here.

From Bergamo to Milan

There are no direct trains from Bergamo to Milan. From Bergamo airport take the ATB bus to Bergamo train station. Trains depart every 30 minutes to Milano Centrale.

Milano Centrale Station

From Milano Centrale Station:

To get to the Cathedral, you will need the Piazza del Duomo. The distance between Milan’s Central Station and Piazza del Duomo is 2 miles / 3.2 km. There are Three ways to get to Milan Cathedral from Central Station. I took a taxi and it was 10 Euros. Have a look at the following and you can decide what suits you.

If you are looking for the quickest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo is to take a taxi. It takes 7 to 10 minutes depending on traffic. It costs around 10 Euros.

If you are considering the cheapest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo, then it is the line 3 subway which costs 3 Euros and takes 15 min. It is located right in the Piazza del Duomo.

You can take a direct bus departing from Central Station m2 m3 and arrives at via larga. It is about 7 to 9 minutes walk to Piazza del Duomo, The bus services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 13 min. Costs 3 Euros.


How to save time and maximise your experience when visiting Milan in one day

Milan is one of the busiest cities in Italy and a tourist hub which means it will be busy at any time of the year. Having said that, my visit was in November, and considered off season but we could not get tickets to the Last Supper. I realised then that even if off season, it does not mean popular places are not sold out. My tips to you, if you want to save time and maximise your experience when visiting Milan for a day is to

Plan Ahead!

Personally, planning ahead saves a lot of frustration! Indeed it saves time as well. Things can and may go wrong sometimes but at least you will be prepared for the eventualities by having some alternatives in place.

Consider an off-season visit

Although I could not get tickets to the Last Supper viewing through third-party providers, but my experience in Milan was lovely and pleasant. Although I pre-booked the skip-the-line tickets to the Duomo, I did it on the day and was easily obtainable. The Duomo was not crowded so it was nice to walk around at my own pace. Exploring the Castle and the park were also enjoyable. I was fortunate with the weather, perfect for sightseeing.

Comfortable walking shoes

Attractions in Milan are conveniently located and are within easy reach through walking routes. Whether the weather is kind on the day of your visit or it is not, you will be walking a lot. So, pack yourself a pair of comfortable walking shoes! .

Consider day trips from Milan

Time permitting, and provided you are visiting Milan for longer than one day, consider visiting other parts of the Lombardy region – explore the neighbouring cities of Verona, Venice and Italy’s impressive and scenic lakes, Lake Como and Lake Garda.

Verona

Venice

Lake Como

You can reach Verona in a little over an hour. The average travel time between Verona and Milan is 1 hour 23 minutes. The quickest route takes 1 hour 15 minutes. There are about 23 trains a day between Milan and Verona, leaving approximately every hour.

Alternatively, you could book a tour on-board a luxury coach to Verona and Lake Garda – an excellent value for money experience.

You can reach Venice in a little over two hours. The average travel time between Venice and Milan is 2 hours 32 minutes. The quickest route is 2 hours 10 minutes. There are about 22 trains a day between Milan and Venice, leaving approximately every hour.

Alternatively, you could book a tour on-board a luxury coach to Venice. This trip includes a 2-hour guided tour of Venice and a boat trip on Venice lagoon (NOT a gondola ride)

You can reach Lake Como in under an hour. The average travel time between Milan and Como is 48 minutes. The quickest route is 37 minutes. There are about 58 direct trains connecting Milan to Como every day.

Alternatively, you could book a luxury coach tour day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio – another excellent value for money experience.


My thoughts on Milan in one day

In retrospect, my visit to Milan in one day was a busy full-on day with some respite in between. I did not rush through the places I visited. I sat down a few minutes at Sforza Castle to admire the architecture. My walk to Sempione Park was a slow one. Admiring it’s beauty in the autumn sunshine allowed me moments to pause. Pause to appreciate the “now”, reflect on the activities so far and to decide what to do next.

I had seen an item of clothing in the shop windows of Louis Vuitton that morning and I wanted to return to have a closer look. Also, I wanted to enjoy a late lunch and a Campari from the open terraces of the Galleria across Milan Cathedral. I chose both of these experiences instead of a rushed visit to Brera District, and San Bernardino alle Ossa.

My experiences at and of Milan Cathedral were rewarding and I was totally pleased with the sunset experience. Go, read both my blogs on Milan Cathedral and watch the video that goes with it – you will see what I mean.

I think it’s important that we make time to enjoy our visit to Milan or to any other destinations. It is important to our wellbeing so we are not pressured to visit attractions just because we need to complete a list. It is also important that we appreciate what we see and be in the moment than to rush from one spot to another only to realise that perhaps, just perhaps a moment or two longer would have added value to our experiences. I am confident that this post gives you the flexibility to design your itinerary and is the ultimate guide to enjoying Milan in one day


Are you ready to book your trip to Milan in one day?


Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Milan in one day? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Have a splendid time exploring, discovering and experiencing Milan when you visit.

Georgina xx

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38 Responses

  1. […] “Milan’s drawing room” is no ordinary drawing room! A symbol of Milanese style and wealth, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II famously known as ” il salotto di Milano” is a sophisticated, architecturally stunning 19th century shopping gallery. This elegant galleria is home to some of the most luxurious names in the fashion world, international chains, and gourmet eateries. Even if you do not want to splash out on a thing or two here, the Galleria is a must see destination solely for its architectural marvel when visiting Milan. […]

  2. […] designer bags, the picturesque cobbled streets, and historic trams with wooden benches! My short visit to Milan turned out to be one of the best last-minute travel plans I ever did and ticked off a few […]

  3. […] Vittoria Emanuel II, the Sforzesco Castle are all within walking distance and you can easily cover Milan in One Day through a walkable route. Milan’s public transport is efficient in that it connects all points of […]

  4. Georgina
    |

    A 3-night city break in Milan sounds ideal. There are some amazing experiences to be had – all unique in its own way. Whatever you choose to do on your visit to Milan, I am sure it will be an enjoyable one.

  5. Angela
    |

    I haven’t been to Milan yet but it is somewhere I will get to eventually. Some great ideas on how to spend some time in this historic city. I normally to 3 night city breaks so it will give me time to check out all your recommendations at a slow pace. I can’t wait to see the cathedral.

  6. Georgina
    |

    The whole atmosphere on the terraces at sundown was so special with the cool wind and the changing hues. I am sure you will love it too.

  7. […] How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day […]

  8. Angela
    |

    Milan is one city in Italy that I am yet to visit but of course the Duomo is such a magnificent structure that one needs to witness it first -hand. Like you I would love to do the rooftop walk at sunset and just sit in the cafes and watch the world go by. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

  9. […] How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day […]

  10. […] How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day […]

  11. Georgina
    |

    I love food so it is difficult to choose a favourite. I certainly enjoyed the carbonara and the risotto. Glad you enjoyed Milan too.

  12. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Karthika. Much appreciated. Sincerely hope you will return to Italy in the not too distant future.

  13. Georgina
    |

    Haha yes, one would think not, but Oscar Wilde thought different! He wrote in 1875 : “The Cathedral is an awful failure. Outside the design is monstrous and inartistic. The over-elaborated details stuck high up where no one can see them; everything is vile in it; it is, however, imposing and gigantic as a failure, through its great size and elaborate execution.“

    Milan will need at least a couple of days, more would be nice so you could do a day trip. Look forward to reading your experiences.

  14. Georgina
    |

    You are welcome. Glad my post is helpful and can help you plan your visit over two days.

  15. Georgina
    |

    You are welcome. So glad you had the opportunity to enjoy the views from the top of the Duomo.

  16. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much. November was a great time of the year to visit. Hope you have good weather too.

  17. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so very much. I am so glad you found the post informative. Milan certainly has a lot more to offer than fashion. Hope you will get to visit one day soon.

  18. Georgina
    |

    Fall was really a good time to go. We were caught up in rain a couple of days, but hey, rain has never stopped travellers from exploring, right? we had a great time. Hope you get to return soon.

  19. Derek
    |

    I spent a day and a half in Milan last Spring and it was just as great as you describe. I missed the mosaic of the bull, maybe that’s why my luck has been questionable in 2020 haha. What foods were your favorites while you were there?

  20. Karthika
    |

    I cannot wait to get back to Italy. We missed Milan the last time we were there and only explored Rome. But your photos and writeup makes me wish we hadn’t missed it

  21. Just One Passport
    |

    How can anyone call the cathedral an aweful failure?! It is a masterpiece with lots of history I’m sure. I think I would need a few days in Milan to enjoy all it has to offer. It is on my list. Hopefully I’ll get there within the next couple of years.

  22. Laura
    |

    This is probably too much for me to do in one day, but it’s great advice and I’ll spread it out over a couple days. Thanks for writing it.

  23. clairebromm
    |

    I think i spent roughly two days in Milan a few summers ago – but I definitely remember going to the top of the cathedral – ah such great memories! thanks for sharing 🙂

  24. Adventuring with Shannon
    |

    I was in Milan last November and absolutely loved it! What a great post.

  25. By Land and Sea
    |

    This post is great! Milan is a city that I’d love to go to one day. I’ve always been interested in it for it’s fashion, but didn’t know much else about the city. I learned so much from your post!

  26. pamelard
    |

    I’ve always wanted to see the architecture of Milan. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit on our Italy road trip! Your pictures are breathtaking. I also love that you went in fall – hopefully there were a little less crowds!

  27. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much. I am sure you will love Milan. Look forward to reading your experiences here when you do.

  28. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much, Jan. Milan is great at anytime of the year but off season is great. Hope you will visit it soon.

  29. lostwithjen
    |

    I’ve been to Italy a few times but never to Milan. I’ll definitely save this post for when I finally go! 😁

  30. Jan Banerjee
    |

    I have not visited Milan yet! The pictures of Milan Cathedral and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II look stunning! Saving your blog and pinning it for my future visit.:-)

  31. Georgina
    |

    Awesome! I am so glad you found the guide on How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day useful and you have saved it for future use. Thank you so much. To be honest, Milan Centrale was a surprise. I have heard of it being a large station with its history of use during the WWII but seeing it in person was something else. I was glad to spend some time discovering the station.

  32. Jen Mostert
    |

    A great guide – thank you, I am going to save this for when I get to Milan one day. I can’t wait to see the station, in South Africa stations are functional and have no beauty.
    Although we are not particularly religious ourselves we enjoy visiting places of worship where both the builders and architects, have strived to build to their best to the glory of their god.

  33. Georgina
    |

    Absolutely! They are amazing craftmanship. I am much inspired to visit the Blue Mosque after reading your blog.

  34. Georgina
    |

    Super glad my IG posts inspired you to plan a visit to Milan. The current pandemic has placed all of our plans on hold but it will soon be over! Milan has a lot to offer and a lot more could have been ticked off a list but I tend to slow travel these days and be more in the moment. Very happy that my post will help you plan your visit to Milan.

  35. Georgina
    |

    Milan is lovely and so much to experience no matter how many times you visit. There is always something to discover at every corner. So glad you are also thinking about day trips out of Milan. Lake Como is one of the most favourite places for visitors to Milan.

  36. Jay Artale
    |

    I’m not particularly religious, but I do love visiting cathedrals, churches, mosques, etc. The always seem such a labor of love, and no matter how many times you look at them, you can spot different details or architectural elements that grab and capture your attention. A few of my recent faves have been the Cathedral in Seville Spain, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

  37. adewyatt
    |

    Definitely need to save this. We were due in Milan just over a week ago, as we planned to celebrate by change of life direction here, a decision made on the basis of your IG images and posts. Of course, like everyone else had to been re-thought and reading your blog just brings home the desire to go when things get back to normal for a city so badly hit. This is an excellent blog because for short weekends it can be hard to decide what to do / not do. Will have this for when planning again is possible.

  38. Ann
    |

    I am so longing to go back to Italy and Milan is definatly a destination I could visit 🙂 I could imagine visting Milan for a few days then heading out to explore the country by train 🙂

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