Milan is Italy’s bubbling and bustling northern metropolis. The capital of Lombardy is paturincked with juxtaposing architecture, eclectic culture and world-class shopping. For anyone who hasn’t done their pre-trip research, Milan can be an intimidating city to visit. But rest assured, we have the perfect Milan itinerary to make the most of your 2 to 3 days in Milan.
As the economic engine room of Italy, you may be fooled into thinking Milan is all business and no pleasure, but you’d be wrong. Milan is a city synonymous with style, and it’s home to famous foods like panettone. But there’s more substance to Milan than pastries and pumps.
How Many Days in Milan?
In order to do Milan justice, you’ll be debating about how many days to spend in Milan when you’re planning your next Italian adventure.
To visit Milan’s main attractions like the Duomo, the Last Supper and Castello Sforzesco, 2 days in Milan will be plenty of time. To see all of these sites in Milan in 2 days, I’d advise wearing your comfiest walking shoes.
If you want to head to hidden gems, dive into a day trip or relax between attractions, then you’ll want to spend 3 days in Milan. Getting to grips with Milan in 3 days is a cinch and you’ll be able to go beyond the must-see. Keep in mind that if you’re visiting Milan in winter, particularly in December, you may want to budget in enough time to explore Christmas markets and to enjoy winter activities.
If you’re short on time and debating between 2 to 3 days in Milan, neither decision will be wrong because you’ll be living la dolce vita either way.
Getting To and Around Milan
Milan is serviced by three airports: Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo.
Linate is the closest airport to Milan but its flights are on the pricer end so it’s not a good option if you want to keep expenses down in Milan. Malpensa is the largest of the three. Here, international and domestic flights land, which makes it a popular choice. You can book bus transfers from Malpensa here.
Finally, there is Milan Bergamo. While Bergamo isn’t technically in Milan, flights to and from are cheap and it has good transport links into Milan too. It is also very much worth spending one day in Bergamo itself if you have the time. You can book bus transfers from Bergamo to Milan here.
If you’re arriving into Milan by train, then you’ll probably pull into Milan Central Station in the heart of the city.
There are several large bus stations in Milan (including Lampugnano and Milan Central Bus Station), so make sure you know which one you need as they’re in different parts of the city. You can check bus and train schedules here.
The easiest way to move around Milan is via its metro. The network consists of 4 lines (a fifth one is under construction). The stop for Milan Central Station is Centrale FS (on the M2 and M3). The other stops you’ll likely need are Duomo (M1 and M3), Porta Genova FS (M2 for the Navigli district) and Conciliazione (M1 for the Last Supper).
If you’re not keen on the underground, then you’re in luck because Milan has an extensive network of buses, trains and trams too. We’d recommend using City Mapper to help navigate the bus and tram networks. If you’re planning on relying heavily on public transport, buy daily or 3-day tickets.
2 to 3 Days in Milan Itinerary
In recent years, Milan has welcomed 10 million tourists each year. If you don’t want to get swept up with hordes of other holidaymakers, then you’ll need to plan ahead to make the most of your 2 to 3 days in Milan.
Luckily for you, we have the perfect Milan Itinerary so you can make the most of your time here.
Day 1 – Duomo, Royal Palace & City Centre Highlights
Duomo di Milano
In order to escape the crowds of other tourists, you’ll need to hit the city early. The first place on your Milan itinerary should be the city’s most impressive site: the Duomo.
Situated in Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s most visible monument attracts flocks of visitors every day. Commissioned by Gian Galeazzo in 1386, you should aim to glimpse this gothic wonder before the break of day. Get there early to marvel over the marble, oggle at the spires, and snap your social shots without the crowds.
The Cathedral opens its heavy brass doors at eight o’clock sharp. Entrance into the duomo costs €5 for a full paying adult (if you’re planning on heading up to the rooftops, museum and other exhibitions, then grab yourself a combined ticket for €15 at the entrance or you can pre-book tickets here).
If you’re one of the first through the Duomo’s doors, you can wander through the stone columns, stare at the stained glass and take your time exploring every nook and cranny at your own pace.
A slow-paced wander around the cathedral should last one hour, which means you’ll be first in the queue to climb the 165-steps to the Cathedral’s roof. Make sure you’ve got some comfortable shoes on your feet for the winding climb.
Once at the top, take your time to soak in the views. Milan’s skyline is swamped with skyscrapers and ancient churches, which gives you keen insight into the city’s contrasting features.
After you’ve descended the stairs head to the Duomo Museum, which is located in the Royal Palace. This Duomo-centric museum houses statues, paintings and tapestries from the Duomo. The museum gives visitors a sense of the Duomo’s history through the artefacts on display.
If you want to do the Duomo justice, expect to spend several hours here.
After you’ve had your fill and finished up inside the museum, explore the rest of the Royal Palace also known as Palazzo Reale.
For centuries the Royal Palace housed Milan’s government. With its political roots in the past, it’s one of Milan’s beating cultural hearts.
The Royal Palace houses art exhibitions, which are rotated regularly. Before paying €16 for an entry ticket, make sure to research which painters are being exhibited to avoid any disappointment.
On the odd occasion, the Royal Palace hosts free exhibitions too. When you’re buying tickets or reading information, train your eye to spot the word ‘gratis’ which means free in Italian.
Museo de Novecento
You may have already twigged but Milan is a city filled with museums, many of which are located in Zone 1 (the area around the Duomo).
One of these museums is Museo del Novecento. Situated inside the Palazzo dell’Arengario in Piazza del Duomo, Museo del Novecento is a museum dedicated to 20th Century Italian art and includes paintings by Pablo Picasso among many others. Entry into the museum costs €10.
Top Tip: If you enjoy visiting museums, try and plan your trip to coincide with the first Sunday of the month as entry into museums is free on this day.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
From there, head north from the Piazza del Duomo and you’ll find yourself under the covered arcades of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Italy’s oldest active shopping gallery houses designer stores, restaurants and cafes. While many of these shops and eateries will fall outside of your budget (there is a McDonald’s), you need to remember that you’re not there for a mooch. It’s time to soak in one of Milan’s most fascinating architectural structures.
The two arcades are shaped like a latin cross, and are covered by a spectacular glass and iron dome. The bright light pours in from above, and makes for the perfect holiday photos.
Teatro all Scala
After you’ve ambled around the arcade, walk on over to the Teatro all Scala (also known as La Scala). Milan’s famous opera house looks a little unassuming from the outside, but don’t be fooled as some of Italy’s greatest operatic artists have performed here.
Before every performance, 140 gallery tickets go on sale as well as any last-minute tickets – just be sure to get in there quick.
La Casa di Manzoni
The area surrounding the Duomo is always swamped with tourists (and for good reason), but if you want to escape the hustle and bustle walk north from La Scala and swing by La Casa di Manzoni.
The house was the birthplace of the famous Italian writer, Alessandro Manzoni. Visitors are invited to view the life and works of Alessandro Manzoni. At €8 entry, tours are offered in both English and Italian. You’ll leave this hidden spot a little wiser about one of Italy’s great writers.
If exploring the house of a famous writer isn’t your cup of tea, then there are plenty of museums in the vicinity to keep you entertained including Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (a renaissance art museum), the Ambrosiana Library (located next door), Poldi Pezzoli Museum (a collection of paintings by the Flemish masters), and many many more.
To round off your day, head back to La Scala. If you’re trying to grab a ticket on the day, join the queue early. But if you’ve already reserved your seats, enjoy the delights that the Italian opera brings.
Day 2 – Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, the Last Supper & More
Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
To see Milan in 2 days, start your second day at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. This ancient church is located in the heart of Milan.
On its exterior, the church has brickwork of different origins with each one representing a new extension of the church’s architecture. During the 11th Century, the church was restored in the Lombard Romanesque style making its facade distinctive in comparison to the surrounding architecture.
The Basilica is free to enter, so make the most of it and wander through the atrium and crypts.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Delle Grazie
After you’ve wandered around the Basilica, head over to Chiesa di Santa Maria Delle Grazie the home to Leonardo da Vinici’s masterful mural, the Last Supper.
The Last Supper decorates one of the walls of the refectory, Cenacolo Vinciano. Leonardo first started working on the painting in 1495. It has been restored several times in the years since and successfully survived a bomb blast in WW2.
Tickets into the museum cost €15, and are booked in timed slots. Only a limited number of tourists are allowed to view the Last Supper at any one time, so tickets sell out fast. Once you know when you’re going to be in Milan, book your tickets to avoid missing out.
After you’ve seen Leonardo’s masterpiece, head on over to Castello Sforzesco. Built as a fortress in the 14th Century, the castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Milan and one of the best museums in Italy.
The castle is home to several museums, including: The Museum of Ancient Art, Egyptian Museum, The Archaeological Museum of Milan and the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco as well as a few more.
To give Castello Sforzesco’s ground and museum the time it deserves, you’ll end up spending 2 to 3 hours here.
If the weather is glorious on your trip to Milan, then it’s time to grab a gelato and sit in Sempione Park – the park at the back of Castello Sforzesco. This large park is a slice of peace in a busy city.
As you wander through the park, you’ll see the Arch of Peace wherever you turn. It’s a must-see for history buffs and architecture lovers alike.
Pinacoteca di Brera
After you’ve relaxed in the calm of the park, pick up your feet and walk over to Pinacoteca di Brera. This former church and monastery was built by a religious order.
After they were banished, the church was transformed into a cultural venue. Now, it is home to a collection of fine art paintings. Entry into the Pinacoteca costs €12 for a full paying adult.
After stomping around Milan in 2 days, spend your second evening in Milan in the Navigli district. The neighbourhood of Navigli is a system of interconnected canals that is filled with trendy bars, gourmet restaurants and riverside eateries.
It is the perfect spot to watch the sun fall behind the skyline. As the day turns into night, lights twinkle on the dark canal waters and you can watch the world go by while you dine on traditional Italian aperitivo.
Plenty of bars charge between €7 to €10 for a drink and bring out sumptuous plates of food free of charge.
Avoid any tourist traps that serve meals geared towards tourists like spaghetti meatballs or spaghetti bolognese. Whatever you eat, this will be the perfect end to 2 days in Milan.
Day 3 – Plan a Day Trip
Day Trip to Monza, Bergamo, Lakes, Verona or Beyond
If you’re spending 3 days in Milan, there are two ways you can spend your third day in Milan. The first is to race around the sites that you haven’t been able to fit into your 2 days in Milan.
The second way to spend your final day is by getting out of the city by going on a day trip. Milan in 3 days is enough for many tourists, so using that third day to explore further afield is ideal.
Some of these day trips are a holiday in their own right, so I’d recommend heading to Monza for the day to make the most of Milan in 3 days.
Monza is the heart of the Italian Formula One, but there’s more to Monza than motorsport. If you’re in the mood for more attractions, I’d recommend visiting Duomo di Monza, Villa Reale, Ponte dev Leoni and the Chapel of Monza.
A day trip may seem slightly daunting but the train into Monza from Milan Central station takes 15 minutes and return tickets are pocket friendly too.
Where to Stay in Milan
When visiting Milan, you’re going to need to find a place to rest your head in order to get the most out of this beautiful Northern Italian city. Regardless of whether you’re spending 2 or 3 days in Milan, here are some options for where to spend the night in this lively metropolis:
Lancaster Hotel – This classically decorated hotel located in Milan’s city centre is the perfect base for exploring the city. They have a range of comfortable rooms available suitable for singles, couples, or families and a buffet breakfast included in the nightly rate. Click here to check availability
Castello Guest House Milano – An excellent high-end option, this is a fantastic place located in the centre of the city and within walking distance to many attractions. They have a number of rooms available that can accommodate couples or families. Click here to check availability
Queen Hostel – This centrally-located hostel is one of the highest-rated in Milan. Perfect for budget or solo travellers who want to meet fellow travellers, they offer both private and dorm rooms with social common areas. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Milan!
Whether you’ve marched around Milan in 2 days or sauntered around, Milan has shops for the fashion-conscious, buildings for architecture aficionados or sites for historical enthusiasts. Wherever you end up visiting, you’ll enjoy your time in Milan.
When travelling in Milan, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning to visit Milan? Have any questions about this Milan itinerary? Let us know in the comments!