Sometimes a quick stop for a layover, sometimes a day trip from Florence, many travelers are not sure what to do in Milan in one day. Even though the city boasts many things to do and see, it’s not too big, so if you have limited time, it’s possible to have a great time even if you can spend only 1 day in Milan.
If you can afford more time, check out our itinerary for two days in Milan.
What to do in Milan in one day
So you have only 1 day in Milan and don’t know what to do to make the most out of your short trip? Fret not, here we give you a simple guide to the top things to see and do in Milan in 24 hours. We’ll show you that it’s possible to visit Milan in one day and still have a great time enjoying its more important sights.
Enter the Duomo and climb up the Duomo Terraces
The majestic Gothic-style Duomo is possibly the first sight to include in your Milan one-day itinerary. You can enjoy the Gothic Duomo facade from the piazza, the majestic interior and the terraces.
The beautiful facade is one of the most photographed landmarks in Milan, but the church is impressive also inside. Colorful glass windows, large pillars, archaeological areas, and great artwork are all part of the cathedral’s interior.
To complete your visit, you can go up the Duomo’s terraces to have a beautiful view of the typical Gothic spires as well as of the city’s skyline. This is really a highlight of your Duomo visit and of your 1-day Milan itinerary. A close-up of the spires is stunning and will really make you appreciate the view also from below.
To save time, your best option is to buy a skip-the-line ticket that will give you access to the different parts of the duomo’s complex, including the terraces and the archaeological area. Click here to see prices and options.
Visit the Duomo’s Museum
In the same piazza, located inside the Royal Palace, you can visit the Museo del Duomo to trace the history of the cathedral through the work and masterpieces once part of the church.
The tour doesn’t take long and it’s the best introduction to the art and history of the Duomo, so ideally it should be done before visiting the church. But since you have limited time and are spending only one day in Milan, do it afterward when you are sure you can make it.
Explore Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Milan’s “salotto”, Italian for “parlour”, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele will allow you to feel the vibe of the bygone royal days. What can you do in the crystal-rooftop gallery built as a tribute to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy?
Have a drink in one of the historic coffee shops such as Camparino, stroll along the shops lined up inside, admire the beautiful dome, take a stroll on the gallery’s rooftops to enjoy a fantastic view of the Duomo. And do the ritual of the bull if you want to come back spinning around yourself with your heel on the bull’s genitals.
Visit Piazza della Scala
If you are exploring Milan in one day and following our, it will be difficult to visit also La Scala opera house and its museum. But you can still visit the beautiful Piazza della Scala facing the famous theatre.
Connected to the Duomo via Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the piazza boasts several monuments, such as the one dedicated to medieval Italian writer and poet Dante Alighieri.
The Last Supper
Seeing the magnificent fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci The Last Supper is a must for anyone on their first trip, even if it’s only 1 day in Milan. To see the masterpiece, you need to book in advance. If you book a tour with a guide, he or she will lay out all the history and facts behind the legendary mural painting and its creator.
To view The Last Supper, you need to enter on the left of the main entrance. It’s open every day except Monday. Once inside the room where is the painting, you are allotted only 15 minutes to enjoy it. When the time is over, the guardian will lead you to the next room to allow the following group of people to enter.
Finding a ticket for The Last Supper is not really an easy job. You need to book at least a month in advance from the official website. A single ticket costs 15 euro and if you choose a guide, you need to add euro 3,50 per person.
Another option, pricier but handier, is to book a guided tour. They will take care of all the booking and ticket purchasing. Click here to check out price and availability.
Before moving onto the next landmark, visit also the beautiful church, the last renovation of which was commissioned to the Italian artist Bramante.
One of the city’s symbols, make sure you don’t skip Castello Sforzesco. Built in the 14th century by the order of the Visconti ruler of Milan, the castle was taken over and brought to splendor by Francesco Sforza in the 15th century.
Today, the impressive building houses several museums, among which is the fantastic Egyptian Museum, and they always organize temporary exhibitions. Obviously, if you are visiting Milan in one day only, you might want to skip these and only see the exterior of the castle.
Snap lots of pictures to its gates, towers and courtyard before continuing your stroll to the rest of Sempione Park. Here, you can round off your long day in Milan with some relax, have an aperitif in one of the bars, enjoy a concert if it’s summer, or just have a walk in the green.
Do some window shopping
Milan is known for being Italy’s fashion capital, so if you have some time left, why not go on some window shopping. The fashion district revolves around San Babila square and neighborhood.
Take in streets like Via Montenapoleone, Corso Venezia, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Manzoni to see the windows of some big brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Dior, Chanel and Tiffany.
Where to eat if you are in Milan for one day
With only one day to explore the city, I’m pretty sure you are not going to spend hours sitting in a restaurant. For as much of a foodie as you might be, time is precious and can’t be wasted. But don’t worry, in Milan, you can find pretty nice eateries where you can either grab your meal and having it on the go, or enjoy it inside as a street-food style.
A place recommended by locals is Pizza AM (Corso di Porta Romana 83). You guessed it, here the specialty is pizza, and one of the best in the city. Some other good restaurants for a casual meal are SlowSud (Via delle Asole 4), close to the Duomo, serving southern Italian dishes, and the popular Ravioleria Sarpi (Via Paolo Sarpi 27), close to the Arco della Pace, serving all types of dumplings.
Milan is also very famous for its aperitif, so if you are still there around 6 or 7 pm, check out some of the places that offer a delicious and affordable buffet. Try Deseo (Corso Sempione 2) close to the Arco della Pace, Bhangrabar (Corso Sempione 1) for a restaurant Indian-style, or La Hora Feliz (Via San Vito 5a) near San Lorenzo Maggiore Basilica.
Our hotel in Milan
In Milan, we stayed at Hotel delle Nazioni. We found it extremely convenient for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s close to the main train station Milano Centrale, easy to reach on foot. Also, it’s not far from many landmarks, is well-served by public transport and all around you can find plenty of restaurants.
Last but not least, the price was very reasonable for good service, a comfortable and clean room, and a great location. Click here for more info and to book.
READ MORE: Top things to do in Milan – A handy guide
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Rome-based travel writer, blogger and photographer.