Our detailed itinerary to see Milan in one day. Full Milan walking itinerary to see Milan’s most famous attractions, recommended food stops and practical tips
Milan is a lovely city to add to your Italian itinerary.
Beautiful, well organised and rich with museums and attractions, it is compact enough to be visited in one day (make it 2 if you want to see the museums) and makes for a lovely base for day trips in the area.
I have been to Milan several times and over the course of my visits I have perfected my itinerary.
Today I am sharing with you my favorite way to spend a day in Milan and see the best of the city in just 24 hours.
Milan one day itinerary at a glance:
- Morning: Milan Duomo and Piazza, Galleria Vittorio Emanele II, La Scala Theater
- Lunch: Brera
- Afternoon: Sforza castle, Last Supper OR Piazza Gae Aulenti + fashion district
- Evening: I Navigli
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them we might make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
The best things to see in Milan in one day
Milan Duomo and Piazza del Duomo
Start your day in wonderful Piazza del Duomo (Duomo square).
Right in the center of the city, Piazza Duomo is a large stunning square with the famous Milan Duomo, (Milan cathedral), and Galleria, probably the two most iconic buildings in the whole city.
Take in the wonderful Gothic facade of the duomo and make sure you take the time to go both inside and climb to the top.
Once on the roof, you will have wonderful views over the city but you will also be able to see from up close the elaborate detailing of this masterpiece of Gothic art. You can get tickets here. Lift available at the back of the building!
Insider tip: if you can’t climb the duomo but still want to catch a nice view, head to the top of La Rinascente, the department store just in front.
It has a cafe’ with beautiful views (free unless you sit down for a meal or drink)
Just beside the duomo, to your left if looking at the façade, sits the famous Milano Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a covered passage with shops and restaurants.
The galleria is famous and iconic of Milan and has two elements that tend to attract visitors’ attention.
One is its roof, one of the most photographed spots in the whole of the city, and the other one is the image of a bull on its floor (you will easily spot the crowds around it).
Legends says that if you twirl 3 times with your heel on the bull, you will have good fortune!
This is a great spot to know if sightseeing in Milan with kids
La Scala opera theater
The Gallery is beautiful to see but is a passageway more than a destination in itself and it leads from the duomo to the famous Scala theater.
La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses in Italy and the world and it is a beautiful building to visit inside and out.
The best way to see it is to get tickets for a show but if this is not in your plans, you can also just see the outside or take a tour of the inside.
The theater overlooks Piazza della Scala which you will recognize thanks to a statue of Leonardo da Vinci in its center.
Lunch in Brera
After a stop in La Scala I like to go to Brera, a lovely part of Milan filled with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Here you have quiet cobbled streets, hidden courtyards, old trams and churches, all wrapped into that unmistakable wealthy and fashionable atmosphere that Milan does so well.
If you love art, make sure you check out Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan’s main public art gallery) in this area.
For lunch or a snack, I love Panini Durini (fresh sandwiches and more), Baobab (gourmet burgers), Cinc Brera (great for a drink and a snack), Obica (mozzarella bar and Italian specialties) and La Tartina (tapas bar).
Castello Sforzesco (Sforza castle)
Not far from Brera sits the Sforza castle, one of Milan’s most famous attractions
The castle dates back to the XVI century and there are several ways you can enjoy it.
You can simply stroll around its courtyards and admire its outside from Parco Sempione or you can visit its stunning Pinacoteca, including paintings by Andrea Mantegna, Tiepolo, Canaletto and Antonello da Messina.
Since you are working against time with only one day in Milan, I recommend to visit the museum you book your tickets in advance here
After the castle, I believe you can choose between two options: one is a visit to the Last Supper (early booking mandatory) and the other is a dip into modern Milan.
The Last Supper
The Last Supper is hosted in Santa Maria delle Grazie and is a world famous masterpiece worth seeing.
Advance booking is mandatory and come with allotted time entrance. Book as early as you can (free cancellation up to 24h before) as tickets often sold out weeks in advance.
Piazza Gae Aulenti
This next stop brings you a little out of Milan city center and is one you may want to tackle with a quick ride on the metro.
Piazza Gae Aulenti takes the name from its architect and is a modern marvel.
With my friends, we always joke that it looks like Dubai and indeed, its tall building and modern architecture make it a world away form the ancient charm of Milan city center, and in a very good sense.
This is a fantastic place to see a different side of Italy, whose modern architecture I feel is often overlooked.
After Piazza Gae Aulenti, take a walk down Corso Como and make sure you peek in the courtyard inside number 10.
Here you will find the trendy 10 Corso Como cafe but also a wonderful example of Case di ringhiera, peculiar buildings, typical of Milan and dating back to the beginning of the Twentieth century.
These houses were originally dormitories for the workers of the nearby factories but over the course of time have been re-purposed and are not architectural gems going for exceptionally high rent.
With a stop a the duomo, Piazza Gae Aulenti and the case di ringhiera, you get an incredible sense of how varied Milan really is!
Milan fashion district
Milan is a world capital for fashion and you have a vast choice of shops both designer and high street.
For designer shopping or window shopping, head to Via Montenapoleone and the so called ‘quadrilatero della Moda’ (Milan fashion district).
For high street shops you can head back to the area between the duomo and the castle.
If you do so, make sure you stop at Piazza dei Mercanti, fantastic Milan hidden gem!
Milan in one day last stop, la darsena
During this day in Milan I have got you to walks extensively and this means by the evening time you will be well ready to indulge in a proper Milanese dinner.
The best way to do so is to head to i Navigli, a famous area for nightlife in Milan and also the only one in the city on canals!
Check out Bacaro Navigli, Posto di Conversazione, Temakinho, Antica Marmeria, Fabbrica Pizzeria for the best foodie experience.
How to best visit Milan in one day: practical tips
What is the best time to visit Milan?
Milan has a continental climate and gets cold in the winter and very hot in summer.
The best time to visit are the spring months of May and June and again September and October.
RELATED: You can find more info about weather in Milan and what to expect in each season here.
One day in Milan: how to get from the airport to the city center?
Linate is smaller and very close to the city centre while Malpensa is very far (over one hour by train).
If you only have one day in Milan, try and arrive/leave from Linate to gain valuable time.
The easiest to get to central Milan from Linate is to take the bus just outside the arrival hall, while the best way to get from Malpensa to Milan city centre is by train.
In both cases, you get to Milano central, the city’s main train station and,from there, you are in a great position to catch the metro and reach the city center proper.
Where to leave your luggage when visiting Milan in a day
Stazione central is equipped with luggage storage (downstairs) and this is a super handy option if you have luggage with you.
While Milan is reasonably safe in terms of pickpockets, I do always recommend not to lug your bags around if you can avoid it.
This will save your back, allow you easy access to public transport and museum and will take away some unwanted attention tourists sometimes may get.
Do you need public transport for a day in Milan?
How much or how little you need public transport in Milan depends very much on your plans.
If you are staying in Milan city center, you can easily just explore the city center of foot, resting assured you can see many landmarks this way.
If you want to visit Piazza Gae Aulenti area, then I recommend you also use the excellent Milan metro.
Metro stations are all equipped with machines and they usually accept both cash and card.
If can also consider the Milano Card, which includes public transport and gives you discounts on several museums and attractions.
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations and tips for visiting Milan in one day. Safe travels!