What to do in Milan if you only have one day? Though 24 hours may be quite a little time to enjoy all the beauties in Milan, if well planned you can visit some of the city's landmarks and museums, take a glance of Milan's not-to-be-missed spots, and savour the best of the local cuisine. We've created this short guide to help you plan your stay in the city and get the best out of your visit to Milan.
What to do if you happen to be in Italy and decide to make a stopover in Milan? For all those who are on a culture trip but just have 24 to spend in the city or for those who after a stay in Milan for business decide to take one more day to explore Milan, knowing exactly what to do when pressed with time is key. We’ve rounded up some of the must-try experiences in Milan suitable for all seasons and weather conditions, with useful information to help you book the ticksts for your favourite destinations in advance.
>> Milan is rich in events including concerts, theatre performances, exhibitions, fairs, sports events and more. If you are still uncertain on the best moment to plan your visit to the city if you are travelling for leisure or to discover what’s on in the city when you happen to be in Milan for business, check our event section. You can also check the best events of the month from our selection. Enjoy!
Spend the morning in the city centre
As you have just a little time available, avoiding the crowd is fundamental. Start your day quite early by heading towards the city centre and more precisely to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Under its splendid glass dome, immersed in a late 19th-century-flare with marble and Venetian mosaic floors you can admire a selection of top boutiques for those who can’t help shopping from the very morning. To kick in on a high note with an energizing breakfast make sure you stop for a coffee, a cappuccino or to savour pastry or some sweet delicacies at Marchesi 1824, in the heart of the Galleria, or if you wish to have an all-in-one experience and have breakfast after admiring the nearby Piazza della Scala – on which the eponymous Opera House lies – head at Voce by Aimo e Nadia, the cafeteria and bistro inside the Gallerie d’Italia museum. Move then towards the nearby Piazza Duomo and after admiring the majesty of Milan’s cathedral from the outside, use the ticket you have previously booked online (see below) to skip the line at the ticket office and enter the Duomo to let yourself be astonished by its magnificence. According to the selected type of ticket you can also reach the terraces of the Duomo to walk amidst pinnacles, spires and statues and get a close up of the golden Madonnina.
A special lunch break in the Fashion Quad
Move towards Piazza San Babila and then reach via Montenapoleone, the most well-known street in the Fashion Quad (known as the Quadrilatero della Moda, in Italian). The Quadrilatero is a must-see venue both for shopping lovers wishing to discover the latest trends in high-end fashion and for those who just enjoy taking a look at the window displays of top brands in fashion, jewellery, watches and accessories. Luxury brands such as Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Prada, and many others (you can check them all in our Top Brands section) can all be found here. If all this walking has made you hungry, you can stop at one of the restaurants in this area for a tasty lunch. Fans of Milanese cuisine can stop at Don Lisander, serving mondeghili meatballs, Milanese-style risotto, Milanese breaded cutlet and ossobuco or at Ristorante Don Carlos whose menu features a selection of traditional dishes served in retro ambience. Conversely, if you wish to experience a 5-star cuisine you can reserve a table at the Armani/Ristorante inside Armani Hotel Milano or at Nobu (for lovers of Japanese cuisine ), at La Veranda inside Four Seasons Hotel Milano, at Caruso within Grand Hotel et de Milan- where also Giuseppe Verdi used to dine – or at Seta, the Michelin-starred restaurant located inside Mandarin Oriental Milan hotel.
Spend the afternoon in Brera
After recharging your batteries with a gourmet lunch you are ready to move towards the Brera district, one of the most picturesque areas in the city. If you are willing to spend your afternoon immersed in art and culture you can enjoy a visit at the Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery) hosting paintings and other masterpieces by Italian and foreign masters. Between a tour of the nearby churches, art galleries and a walk on its small cobbled streets, Brera is also the ideal place to peer through the latest collections by small designers and artisans creating shoes, accessories, jewellery and even perfumes and home fragrances. Move then towards the Parco Sempione, Milan’s most loved public park. This large-size green lung is the ideal place to relax in the nature and also serves as the backdrop to the Sforza Castle and its Museums. A visit to Milan’s Civic Museums located inside the Castello Sforzesco enables you to enjoy a full immersion into the history of the city as well as to discover important art masterpieces. Booking your ticket through the convenient online ticket office (see below) is the ideal solution to skip the line and get the best out of your visit.
Enjoy the traditional Milanese aperitivo
Now that you are in the heart of Parco Sempione, reaching the Arco della Pace is a slam dunk. Here, under the shade of the triumphal arch dedicated to Napoleon Buonaparte every day Milanese all ages gather to experience the traditional Milanese aperitivo at the many bars and lounges hostes at the end of corso Sempione. This particular ritual is held daily between 6pm to 9pm and involves a drink accompanied by a selection of savoury appetizers and hot dishes that serve both to whet the appetite or – when the food offer is particularly rich – to help you skip the dinner. Some of the favourites include Duomo dal 1952, Living Liqueurs & Delights and Deseo. However, if you wish to move just a little further on you can cross the city to reach the Navigli, another distric considered a favourite for aperitivo lovers. Highlights from the area include Rita&Cocktails or Momento offering top-quality cocktails, or wine bars such as Sutto Wine, where glasses of local red and white wines are served with savoury appetizers. What to do if you have to move back to the centre but don’t want to miss the apetitivo ritual? You are lucky as the Camparino in Galleria – an institution for aprtitivo lovers featuring food options curated by Michelin-starred chef Davide Oldani– is just a stone’s throw from the Duomo.