Milan is renowned for its fashion and entertainment, there is a reason why it’s considered the fashion capital of the world. However, this vibrant city is not only about glitz and glamour; it also has a rich historical background and remarkable architectural and artistic heritage.
I was recently in Italy, visiting a few cities and I would love to share with you the itinerary I created for us and also my general thoughts about the city and the vibe it has given me. I feel like 2 days in Milan is more than enough to see what the city is all about.
How many days you should spend in Milan is entirely up to you. I believe you can condense everything in one day but to give yourself time to relax in between sightseeing and enjoying your getaway, I think 2 days is your lucky number.
Where to stay in Milan
I believe the best 3 places you can stay in Milan are the Brera District, the Navigli District or in the city center. The metro system is well developed in Milan so you just have to stay near a metro station and traveling the city will be quite easy.
We personally stayed in the Navigli district, less than 10 minutes away from the Genova FS metro and it made all our trips easy and trouble-free.
Day 1 – Milan Itinerary.
I would suggest you start the day with this tour that gives you a taste of what the city is like. It will bring you the following sites. Also, doing it in the morning will allow you to have better pictures as it is less crowded.
Teatro Alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala, also known as La Scala, is an opera house built in 1778. The theater has hosted some of the most celebrated operatic performances in the world. La Scala is famously built to provide incredible acoustics so that the audience can get the best possible sound for opera and ballet performances.
To name a few artists that have been in La Scala, you have Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and more contemporary artists including Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, and Elton John.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named after the first king of Italy, built between 1865 and 1877, is a shopping arcade considered one of the oldest shopping malls in the world and located in the heart of Milan.
The galleria has beautiful architecture, stunning glass roofs, and intricate mosaic floors that depict the emblems of the four major Italian cities made by Giuseppe Verdi. Pay special attention to the bull of Turin on the floor for a bit of extra luck.
You can find numerous high-end luxury retailers, as well as cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a popular destination for both shopping and socializing. I mean how can you be in Milan and not visit a shopping center?
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano is an iconic architectural wonder located in downtown Milan. It took over 6 centuries to complete the construction of the cathedral and it’s an amazing example of Gothic architecture, featuring stunning façades with carvings and spires that reach up to 354 feet tall.
In 1987, The duomo was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You cannot visit the church without going to the rooftop terrace where you can have a panoramic view of Milan and see up close all the sculptures and all the details that were carefully crafted. On good days you can see up to the Alps.
Santa Maria delle Grazie & Last Supper
The Last Supper, painted in fresco, in the 15th century, by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most renowned works of art in history. You can find this masterpiece at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The mural is a depiction of the last meal that Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles had, just before Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. This painting is truly fascinating not just for its religious significance, but also for its artistic and technical brilliance.
Tickets to see this mural get sold out so quickly that you should reserve your place at least 3 weeks in advance. There is a limited amount of visits per day and a limited amount of time you can see the painting.
Getting the tour will give you the best value for your money because you get to see other historical places and have an amazing guide to tell you the story behind each sight.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard
Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard is a small garden, all designed by the artist himself, located right next to Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painter lived there and created the last supper there.
Visiting Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard is a must for anyone who wants to learn about the life and passions of one of history’s most famous figures. For art and history lovers, a visit to the Vineyard of the Last Supper is a must-see destination in Milan.
Take a cooking class
In the afternoon, I would suggest taking a cooking class. Italy has won first place for the best cuisine in the world based on ingredients, dishes, and beverages. It is an amazing way to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture and culinary traditions. Learning to cook traditional Italian food can truly be an unforgettable experience.
This cooking class will teach you the techniques and secrets that make Italian cooking so special. And you will be learning from Michelin-trained Milanese local. You don’t need experience or skill to take this class. And, of course, the best part of taking a cooking class is getting to taste the delicious dish that you prepared, accompanied by local wine or limoncello.
To finish the day, you should take a stroll down the Navigli canal. It’s a vibrant district famous for its picturesque canals, charming narrow streets, and lively nightlife. It’s the perfect way to complete your first day in Milan!
Day 2 – Milan Itinerary.
A day a bit more relaxed and where you can take your time before departing from the city.
The Sforzesco Castle is an imposing fortress built in the 15th century. It served as the private residence of the powerful Sforza family, who ruled Milan during the Renaissance era.
Today, you can find several museums and art collections, including the Pietà Rondanini in the Michelangelo Museum, which depicts the body of Christ being supported by the Virgin Mary.
Other than that, the museum provides a unique opportunity to experience the works of the greatest artists in history in an intimate and contemplative setting.
This beautiful public park is located right next to the Sforzesco Castle. It covers an area of 38 hectares and is one of the largest green spaces in the city. You can also find cafes and restaurants within the park, making it the perfect spot for a picnic. On the other side of the park, you can find the Arco della pace.
Arco della Pace
The Arco della Pace, known as the Arch of Peace, is a neoclassical monument built in the early 19th century by the architect Luigi Cagnola to celebrate the peace established in Europe following the Congress of Vienna.
It is a symbol of the triumph of peace and unity over war and conflict. The monument has undergone several restorations over the years, and it will remain a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Pinacoteca di brera
The Brera district is so vibrant and mysterious. It is located near the city center and is known for its charming cobblestone streets, and colorful buildings. You can find the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, the Brera Picture Gallery, and the Brera Botanical Garden. It’s not for nothing that this neighborhood is known as a cultural hub, attracting artists, writers, and intellectuals from all over the world.
The Brera district is also renowned for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars, restaurants, and cafes lining its streets.
You could take this tour to visit the Pinocoteca with a guide. You can see an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, including masterpieces by artists such as Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian. Pinacoteca’s collection consists of over 500 works of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to drawings and prints.
Transport in Milan
The best way to get to Milan is by flying into the Milan Malpensa Airport. From there, you can get into town by bus, taxi, and train. That airport also doesn’t have a liquid limit so it’s your best option to leave the country as well!
Or you can get to Milan by train. The central train station has connections to all major cities in Italy as well as the rest of Europe!
Within the city, you can move around by bus, metro, tram, taxi, and Uber. My best recommendation is to get the Milano Card for 48hrs that allows you to use public transport freely and discounted prices on top attractions.
And this is pretty much how you get to spend 2 amazing days in Milan.
If you have an extra day, I would strongly recommend adding lake como to your Milan 2 days itinerary. This tour will allow you to cruise on the lake, explore on foot, and discover Lake Como’s charm. You will also be able to shop, dine and sightsee in the city of Como.
Disclaimer before going to Milan!
I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning something that was shocking to me while I was roaming the streets of Milan. Italy in itself has been known to be a bit racist. The population is 92% white according to BBC, and they seem very cold and unfriendly towards people that are not white. Through every city we went to, Milan was the coldest city we visited. The Milanese were not always nice toward us and I can only imagine what would’ve happened if we were darker skin-toned.
With all the travel I have done in my life, this is the only city that made me feel a bit unsettled. And thankfully we did meet amazing people along the way that compensated for certain bad treatment we received. But if you are darker or visibly not Italian, it is not a reason not to visit the city as it is not physically dangerous but I would suggest getting mentally prepared for some comments, stares, and bad attitudes.
Until next time,