Milan is one of the most popular tourist destinations and one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
As the second-largest city in the country, Milan has a rich history and culture that permeates its architecture, cuisine, art, and fashion.
If you like to see exquisite art and style, then Milan is the place for you!
The truth is one day in Milan may not be enough, but if that’s all you’ve got, then we’ve prepared the perfect itinerary for you. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes since we’ll be walking a lot.
Whether you come to Milan for a day, a week, or a year, this exciting city offers lots of places to explore and experience. Let’s get started!
One Day in Milan
Spending one day in Milan, Italy can really be an unforgettable experience. Take a look at this preview and let’s get started with your “One Day in Milan” itinerary:
- Start your day by exploring the Duomo di Milano, the city’s most iconic and historic landmark.
- From there, explore the Royal Palace, La Scala Opera House, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
- Continue to meander through the streets of the city’s shopping areas, filled with designer boutiques as well as affordable stores.
- Nearby, don’t forget to visit the historical Castello Sforzesco and go on a free walking tour.
- End your day by exploring Navigli and some of the many fine eateries dotting the city.
A day in Milan will leave you feeling inspired, uplifted, and transformed by the city’s unique cultural blend of art, fashion, and cuisine.
1. Duomo di Milano
A visit to Milan should start at the Duomo di Milano, which is the main cathedral in the city.
Built in 1386, the Milan Duomo is considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe featuring amazing works of art and architecture.
In fact, the dome of the cathedral took over 100 years to build, and it is the largest in Italy.
The internal architecture and artwork in the Milan Cathedral, dating back to the Renaissance era, create a remarkable atmosphere that leaves visitors in awe.
With over 3,400 statues, 700 figures, and 135 gargoyles, the Milan Cathedral is one of the main attractions for visitors exploring Milan.
Milan Cathedral Rooftops
While visiting the Duomo is an amazing experience in itself, you must add a visit to the rooftops.
This majestic terrace provides wonderful views of Milan. A walk among the Duomo spires is such a unique and unforgettable experience you can’t miss when visiting Milan.
Tickets to the Duomo and museum start at € 8. However, most people get tickets that also include the rooftops for € 15. You can also purchase the option to access the rooftops by elevator or lift for an additional fee. Just be ready to walk down the stairs.
The Duomo offers FREE tickets to people with disabilities, children under 5 years old, tour guides, and teachers with school groups. Reduced tickets (usually 50% off) are also available to visitors under 18 years old and school groups.
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2. Royal Palace of Milan
Across the street from the Duomo, you’ll find the Royal Palace of Milan. This palace was built by Francesco Sforza in 1450 to serve as his residence and seat of government.
It has been home to many celebrated Italian figures such as Ludovico il Moro, Beatrice d’Este, Maximilian I, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Today, it serves as a cultural center hosting several international art exhibitions.
Visitors from around the world come to experience the cultural richness of the Royal Palace, giving rise to new and exciting collaborations between artists, industry, and government.
Tickets start at € 10 to visit some of the exhibitions on display.
3. La Scala Opera House and Leonardo da Vinci Museum
Just a few steps from the Duomo di Milano, you will find two popular Milan attractions – La Scala Opera House and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.
La Scala Opera House is one of the most famous buildings in Milan. It was designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini in 1778 and has been home to some of the world’s most famous operas since that time.
Its awe-inspiring architecture and rich history have made it a must-see destination in Milan.
Even today, visitors to La Scala can take part in engaging guided tours that feature interactive experiences and special access to behind-the-scenes areas.
Its remarkable acoustics and grandeur of the building make it a unique experience, one not to be missed.
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum opened in 2001 and houses over 20,000 exhibits from Da Vinci’s life and works.
It also includes a reconstruction of his workshop so visitors can get an idea of how he would have worked on his projects.
You may want to choose one or both of these attractions as part of your one day in Milan experience.
Full tickets for this Milan experience usually cost € 14.00, but families pay less. Students and visitors under 18 years old are eligible for discounts of € 11.00 and € 9.00 respectively.
4. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Next, let’s walk across the Piazza del Duomo (cathedral square), and explore the beautifully unique Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
As one of the most popular Milan tourist attractions, the Galleria is known for its unique architecture and beautiful art. It is also the oldest of its kind in the city since it opened in 1877.
Many restaurants, cafes, and shops form part of the Galleria including major luxury fashion labels such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci.
It’s also been the setting for a number of films, such as the 1962 Academy Award-winning La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini, and Ocean’s Twelve in 2004.
Milan Lunch Experience
Along with the luxury retail, it’s also home to some of the most classic Italian restaurants, where you can experience the flavors of Italy up close and personal.
From the scents and tastes of the plates of pasta to the seafood delicacies, you can be sure that your Milan culinary experience will be one to remember.
Quick Bites Tip: If you are in the mood for some gelato, stop by Cioccolati Italiani on Via S. Raffaele, just a few steps from the Galleria. You can get a cone with any type of melted chocolate you want on the bottom. Also, walk over to Panzerotti Luini on Via Santa Radegonda, where you can get the best Panzerotti turnovers in Milan for less than € 3 each. And for a truly remarkable dining experience, try the famous seafood restaurant Ristorante Cracco.
From the traditional dishes to the creative modern twists, the city has something to tantalize everyone’s palate. And don’t forget to stop for a glass of the region’s sparkling Prosecco or a hot cup of cappuccino.
You are sure to find many unique and delicious flavors while you explore Milan!
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5. Shopping in Milan: Piazza del Duomo and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
A day in Milan wouldn’t be complete without some shopping. After all, Milan is known as the fashion capital of the world.
If you are in the city center, head over to Piazza del Duomo where you will find plenty of stores for all kinds of budgets.
Some of the popular stores at the Piazza include H&M, Lush, and La Rinascente — a department store with designer brands, gourmet food, and a rooftop restaurant with amazing views.
Keep walking and head over to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a mostly pedestrian street close to the Duomo. Here you will find affordable brands and popular shops such as Zara, Sephora, Mango, Bershka, and more.
One day in Milan may not be enough time to fully experience all the shopping options the city can offer. So, consider extending your visit or coming back to explore more shopping districts and stores.
6. Sforzesco Castle
Next in our one-day Milan itinerary, head over to the Castello Sforzesco, which was built in 1358. The Sforza Castle is a must-see if you are visiting Milan.
You can walk from the Duomo area to the castle – the walk will take approximately 15 minutes. Or you can take the metro (M1) to the Cardona station and walk for 4 minutes to the castle.
The Sforza Castle was built by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and served as a military fortress and residence for the ruling families of Milan until 1806. It has been preserved beautifully with two courtyards, gardens, and an impressive palace.
The Castello Sforzesco museum displays paintings by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea Mantegna, Titian, Correggio, Caravaggio, and Bernini among others. The museum also houses an armory with suits of armor from medieval times to the 19th century on display.
Visiting the Castle is completely free. However, tickets to visit the Castle Museum start at € 3 for visitors 18-25 years old and over 65. The full ticket costs € 5, but the museum is free every first and third Tuesday from 2 pm, and every first Sunday of the month.
7. Navigli District: Experience Dinner and Nightlife in Milan
Last but not least in our Milan itinerary, let’s head over to Navigli for some food and entertainment. Navigli is one of the most popular and quirky neighborhoods in Milan.
Built around canals that date back to the Middle Ages, this neighborhood is still one of the most beautiful places to see in Milan today.
One of the things that makes Navigli such a popular neighborhood is its fantastic nightlife and dinner options.
This neighborhood is lined with riverfront shops, buzzing restaurants, and eclectic cafés that are perfect for an evening with friends.
Some restaurants may even offer a free buffet with the purchase of a cocktail or drink, so just be on the lookout for these offers as you explore Milan.
Navigli Markets and Vibrant Music
The vibrant atmosphere of Navigli is further enhanced by its weekly markets, which showcase artisanal products, vintage finds, and handmade jewelry.
Every Thursday and Sunday, the bustling crowds of Navigli come alive and shoppers can hunt for hidden gems. The markets are vibrant and full of life and are an ideal way to explore Milan’s unique culture.
Vibrant street musicians also add to the atmosphere, making it a truly unique experience.
From its bustling nightlife to its stunning canal-side views, Navigli is a neighborhood that has something for everyone. Whether you are looking to take in the sights, grab a bite to eat, or find a unique souvenir to take home, it’s easy to find something to love.
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Falling in Love with Milan Italy
“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life,” said writer Anna Akhmatova — and it’s true. After spending one unforgettable day in Milan, you’ll be dreaming of the city’s beauty for years to come.
So go ahead and get ready to spend one day in Milan. Just don’t be surprised if you end up falling in love with it and extending your trip.
With so much to see and do, you will definitely find new places to explore, new dishes to try, and new experiences at every corner.
Conclusion: Experience One Day in Milan
Spending one day in Milan is the perfect way to experience a taste of la dolce vita.
With its unique blend of historical sites, fashion, and delicious food, the city is sure to awaken your senses and provide a memorable experience.
From visiting the Duomo and experiencing the iconic fashion stores to indulging in some of the best food in the world, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Milan is a vibrant city full of possibilities — explore it and create your own story. So book your trip and spend a day in Milan — you won’t regret it.
About the Author: Denisse Romero is the founder of MacQuil.com. As a frequent traveler, she’s always looking for budget travel opportunities to share with her readers.