Milan is a great destination for a short holiday or weekend break, especially if you take a low-cost flight to Lombardy. This is why we have made this itinerary to discover the best of Milan in 48 hours.
Our idea is to visit the city’s top attractions during the first day so that even if you are in Milan for just one day, you can use this itinerary. If this is your case, and you are only spending one day in Milan, we recommend including the visit to the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, to see The Last Supper.
Since the three airports are quiet far from Milan and the flights generally arrive in the late afternoon, you will probably only have time to get to the hotel, leave your suitcases and then go out for dinner.
We suggest heading to the Piazza del Duomo and going for a walk in the area before you find a restaurant. On your first night out, you should also see the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the street Via Dante and the Piazza della Scala. This area is packed with good and traditional Italian restaurants.
We recommend getting to the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) at 10 am. This temple is one of the largest and most surprising in the world. To visit the baptistery and the Cathedral’s Treasure you will need to purchase separate tickets, although we do not recommend visiting them, as they are not very interesting.
When you leave the temple, don’t forget to climb to the Cathedral’s terraced rooftop. You can take an elevator or walk up the stairs which is the cheapest and fastest way up, as the elevator is more expensive and you will have to queue to go up.
After enjoying the impressive panoramic views of Milan, head to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s most magnificent shopping arcades in the world. If you are traveling on a budget, you will probably be unable to purchase anything in this gallery, since all shops are luxury boutiques. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile walking past the various beautifully decorated window-displays.
Leave the Galleria on the opposite side from where you came in, and you will reach the Piazza de la Scala, which is a very lively square. The piazza houses Milan’s opera house called La Scala. Even though it is not as beautiful as the opera houses in Paris or Vienna, we strongly recommend taking the Theatre Museum tour to visit the interior of the building.
Once you have seen the Teatro alla Scala, take the Via Santa Margherita until you get to the Piazza del Duomo. On your left side, you will see the Via Mercanti. Walk down the street until you get to Piazza Mercanti, where the Palazzo della Regione and other impressive buildings are located.
After observing the impressive “Merchants Square”, which used to be the heart of Milan during the Middle Ages, walk back down Via Mercanti until you come to Via Dante. This is one of the city’s main arteries with plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants. At the end of the street you will spot the Castello Sforzesco, your following visit. Although it might be a little early, we recommend having lunch before heading to Milan’s Sforza Castle, especially if you are planning on visiting its museums.
After having rested and eaten something, head to the Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione (you choose which you would like to visit first). Some of the Castle’s museums are rather interesting and not at all expensive, so if you have time we definitely recommend at least visiting one.
Shopping is a must in the capital of Lombardy, so we have set aside some time in Milan’s most renowned shopping streets. Head to the “quadrilatero della moda”, meaning “fashion quadrilateral”, where the most luxurious brands and boutiques are. The most important commercial streets are Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. To get to this area of Milan, you can walk back from where you came from or take a short cut through Via Cusani, which is part of the roundabout where the metro station Cairoli-Castello is.
After exploring these streets and its surroundings, head to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, another commercial area where shops are less pricey. Leave on the east side of the Via Montenapoleone until you get to Piazza San Babila, where you take the street with the same name as the square.
The rest of the day you can spend walking around the area or continue your shopping, since by now you should know your way around (a little).
You will find lots of appealing restaurants for a delicious dinner in the surrounding areas of the Piazza del Duomo and Via Dante.
The second day begins with a visit to the Cimitero Monumentale, a cemetery that will probably not seem very interesting until you have been. The surprising design of the tombs makes this burial ground into an authentic open-air museum, with surprising works of art. You can take the trams 7, 12 and 14 from the city centre or the bus 37. It is a short walking distance from the metro station Garibaldi F.S.
After leaving the attraction, head to the metro station Garibaldi F.S. and take the subway to Cardona, which will only take you a few minutes. Santa Maria delle Grazie is located a few steps away from the subway station. Remember that prior to arriving in Milan or at least two days before the visit, you will need to book the tickets to see The Last Supper. The rest of the church is not very interesting.
Take Via Bernardino Zenale until you get to Via San Vittore. Here, turn left and after walking 5 minutes you will have arrived at the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, a remarkable church which is worth visiting from outside and inside.
Since you will probably not have much time left, you can either chose a more cultural plan or a stroll through the streets of Milan. The first option is to visit the Archaeological Museum of Milan, San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore and the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. The second, is a visit to the Basilica of San Lorenzo and a walk to the Piazza XXIV Maggio and then a stroll down the Naviglio Grande canal.
If you are spending the night either in Milan, Bergamo or the Lake District, don’t forget to check out our search engine for the best hotels and prices.