1 Day in Milan – The Best Things To Do in Milan in One Day

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.

The first time I went to Milan, I was on a layover as the next morning I had to catch a very early flight, so I spent in Milan really only one afternoon. The second time, I went with my husband and we stayed for two days but one day I was the speaker at a conference, so we really had only one day for sightseeing. It seems like I always get to see Milan in 1 day so I’m an expert in optimizing my time to squeeze in as much as possible.

My tips are from my first-hand experience of short stays in Milan, a city that probably at first won’t impress you except for the majesty of its most important buildings, but that can capture your attention once you get deeper into its soul.

Fast-paced and cosmopolitan, Milan can’t hide its commercial identity, yet, it’s a charming hub for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. Follow us as we show you how to make the most of Milan in 1 day.

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

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Inside Milan’s Duomo

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.

Image: milan in one day to see the duomo terraces

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.

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Visit the Duomo 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.

Image: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in 1 day in milan
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan

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.

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Dante Alighieri monument in Milan’s Piazza della Scala

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.

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Interior of Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan

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€ and if you choose a guide, you need to add 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 the price and availability.

Before moving on to the next landmark, visit also the beautiful church, the last renovation of which was commissioned to the Italian artist Bramante.

castello sforzesco milan in 1 day

Sforza Castle

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 of 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 relaxation, have an aperitif in one of the bars, enjoy a concert if it’s summer, or just have a walk in the green.

Milan's Castello Sforzesco
Windows and decoration of the exterior of Milan’s Castello Sforzesco

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 the 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.

Have dinner in Milan’s Navigli

The Navigli district in Milan is famous for its nightlife, pubs, and drinking and eating opportunities. If you are sleeping in Milan for at least one night, I suggest spending the evening in the Navigli to see what the local nightlife vibe is like.

Plus, the restaurants serve delicious food from pizza to traditional Milan dishes.

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 have 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 and 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

Is 1 day enough in Milan?

Even though not as rich as Rome in attractions and historical sights, one day in Milan is still not enough to enjoy everything the city has to offer. However, featuring Milan a pretty walkable and compact city center, in one day there is a lot you can do to get an initial grasp of the vibe and life in Lombardy’s capital.

Our easy itinerary is a perfect summary of a diverse range of experiences you can have if you can only afford 1 day in Milan, from admiring the local artwork to getting to know its history to some tips on where to eat.

Our top tips to save time when visiting Milan

So you are only staying one day in Milan and want to visit as much as possible in such a short time. We hear you. Milan is a vibrant European city with a rich culture and an exciting lifestyle, so it’s only normal that you want to get as much as you can from your layover or short stay. Here are some of our tips to optimize your time in Milan.

  • Stay central. Booking your hotel near the city center and the most important attractions will save you the time to reach them in the morning. Even if you don’t want to be right next to the Duomo, you can do as we did and book your hotel near Milano Centrale train station. From there, we easily walked everywhere.
  • Use public transport. If you want to go cheaper with the accommodation and book your room farther away from the historic center, fret not, Milan’s public transport system is very efficient. You can rely on the metro and trams for faster transfers, but really also the buses are frequent and on time.
  • Eat on the go. Instead of lingering too long in a restaurant, you can grab some street food and eat on the go at least for lunch. When dinner time arrives, you can round off a long day by relaxing with a restaurant dinner, maybe in the Navigli area.
  • Buy your tickets online. Especially when it comes to the Duomo, which is one of the most popular sights in Milan, arriving with the tickets already in your hands will save you from doing a double queue as the ticket office is on the other side and not right at the Duomo’s entrance. You can purchase your ticket here.
  • Join a tour. There are several tours that in a couple of hours show you the biggest highlights of the city, a sort of “welcome to Milan” type of experience. These are great if you don’t have much time and don’t want to waste precious minutes checking the map and how to get from one landmark to another.

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