Milan was not a destination that I thought of visiting. A friend of mine moved to the city a while ago so it was a great excuse to visit and catch up and I discovered just how easy it was to see Milan in one day.

The first thing that surprised me about the city was that part of it was built on a canal, much like Venice. This area is known as Navigli and it is undoubtedly the party district. It’s the perfect place to sip an aperitivo and watch the sunset and let’s not forget people watching. I was stunned by the style all around me and it left me feeling a bit like a drab country mouse.

 

Milan in one day  guide

 

The Duomo

 

My day started with taking the  M1 metro line to town.  As I stepped off the escalator my jaw dropped. In front of me was a newly cleaned, sparkling white, stunning Duomo.

The queue was incredibly long and it would have been advisable to purchase the tickets in advance, but it was worth the wait! There were automatic machines available, but these were not working when I was there.

This beautiful gothic church began its construction at the beginning of the 14th century and was finally complete in 1965. It has 3600 statues, 135 gargoyles, 700 figures and 135 spires. There is more than enough to see to keep you busy for quite some time. The Duomo is the 5th largest Christian church in the world.

Be sure to either climb the stairs to the roof or take a lift (on the left-hand side of the cathedral). The view from the top and seeing the spectacular spires up close is more than worth the wait. Look out for the famous gilded Madonnina on the tallest spire.

 

 The Duomo Milan
The Duomo Milan

 

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

 

You can’t visit Milan and not go shopping! Just across from the Duomo is one of the world’s oldest shopping arcades. The neoclassic building was finished in 1877. The glass roof is amazing! If you are in the market for a new Louis Vuitton bag, Prada sunglasses or a Versace outfit they are all here. You can also relax after a hectic morning at any of the huge selection of restaurants and cafés.

 

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

 

 

Luini for lunch

 

By now we were pretty hungry so we headed to an institution in Milan, Luini for panzerotti. Originally from Pugli, this savoury stuffed pastry soon became a favourite of the Milanese. The bakery was started in 1949 and Nonna Giuseppina’s recipe is still followed and kept secret to this day. Get there before the lunch time rush if you want to avoid the queue for these pillows of cheesy deliciousness.

 

Luini panzerotti Milan
Luini Milan

 

 

La Scala

 

With lunch over the next stop was La Scala one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Even if you are not an opera fan it is still worth a visit. The interior is opulent and has a baroque feel to it, with stunning chandeliers everywhere. The original building was destroyed by fire then rebuilt and opened in 1778. There is also a museum to visit with costumes, manuscripts and some really good interactive displays.

 

La Scala Opera House Milan
La Scala Milan

 

 

Sforza Castle

 

I did not have enough time to visit the castle, but did stroll through the courtyard area to admire the architecture followed by a walk in the beautiful Sempione Park. The park was a great respite from the heat of the day.

 

Sforza Castle tower Milan
Sforza Castle tower Milan

 

The Arch of Peace

 

This neoclassical arch marks one of the historic gateways to the city, Porta Sempione. Napoleon originally planned that it would be a triumphal arch, but with his defeat the name was changed in 1815. If you look carefully you can see the clock tower from the castle in the background.

 

Arch of Peace Milan
Arch of Peace Milan

 

 

The Last Supper

 

The Last Supper is painted on the walls of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. It is an extremely delicate work of art. For this reason the number of people allowed in each day is very limited. I was incredibly lucky to be able to see it, thanks to my wonderful friend who arranged the ticket for me. It was a highlight of my day in Milan. They allow a maximum of 25 people in at a time and then limit you to a 15 minute viewing period. If you want to visit you need to book months in advance.

 

Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper Milan
The Last Supper

 

 

San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

 

This church is also known as Milan’s Sistine Chapel. It took 30 years to restore. The vibrant frescos dating from the 16th century are breathtaking. There are around 4000 sq metres painted on the walls and the roof. They are incredibly beautiful. I spent about 20 minutes here, but I honestly could have spent an hour or more. If I ever go back to Milan this will be one of my first stops.

 

San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore Roof detail
San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore Roof detail

 

 

Aperitivo

 

We ended our day back where we started. We jumped on a tram and made our way back to the Duomo. La Rinascente is a fancy department store, with an amazing array of gifts for foodies on the top floor. They also have a rooftop bar and restaurant with some of the best views of the spires of the Duomo. It is a very stylish venue so we just had to end the day with a glass of prosecco.

 

Prosecco for aperitivo
Prosecco for aperitivo

 

Stay

 

I stayed at the upmarket Atmos Luxe Design Hotel which I reviewed in a separate post.

 

I did not really know what to expect from Milan, but I had no idea it was going to surprise me as much as it did. Would I go back? In a heartbeat, but next time I won’t visit Milan in one day, I will allow a couple more days to explore further and go back and spend more time with my favourite sights.

 

HERE ‘S A REMINDER TO SAVE TO PINTEREST FOR LATER

 

 

Ultimate 1 day guide to Milan
Milan in one day : The Ultimate guide

 

 

Milan In one day
Milan In one day

 

 

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79 COMMENTS

  1. There are so many beautiful places there that I wish I could go there in person. I would like to see the La Scala opera house and I would love to try and find all the gargoyles on the Duomo!

    • I am glad that you enjoyed the post. There is so much to see apart from streets filled with fashion.

    • Thank you! The architecture is beautiful. This was just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to see as you stroll around the city.

  2. Thank you for bringing back some awesome memories of the past. I too took the steps all the way to the top of the Duomo. Also spent a long time in both the Galleria and Sforza and and and…

    • It is quite a compact city, so there is so much to see everywhere. The history becomes part of the daily city life. I love that about Europe in general.

  3. I am impressed by all of the amazing places you got to visit and the beautiful pictures. I would really love to visit La Scala and the Cathedral. They would be incredible.

    • It is incredible. I would have love to have had more time to try and see an opera at La Scala. I am sure that would have been awesome!

    • Being stuck in a city can be such a disappointment if you have other plans, but I am glad that you enjoyed Milan.

    • Lucky you having lived in Italy! It is so often the case that we miss what’s on the doorstep. Maybe next time when you visit Italy you can spend a day in Milan?

  4. Wow! Such beautiful pictures! We’ve never been to Milan, because we’ve always thought that Milan is mostly for shopping. But your post has shown us that there’s actually much more to do and see than that. Thank you for sharing this post!

  5. I spent exactly one day in Milan and didn’t come close to doing all of these awesome things. I’ve not had a lot of desire to return, but I see that I missed some of the best the city has to offer. I guess a second chance is in order.

    • There are some amazing things to see. I know what you mean about not being overly impressed with a city, but I always try and give it a second chance. Sometimes I am quite surprised and I hope that you will be as well.

  6. We’ve been in Milan as well, but only for some hours. I’d love to try those Panzerotti in Luini! Italian Food is one of the best in the world. You took some great pictures and wrote a really good guide, bravo 😀

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. Italian food is divine. There are so many delicious ingredients available all over Italy.

    • It is a lovely country. Rome is a great hub for getting to the other cities and it is really easy using the high speed trains.

  7. I have always wanted to visit Milan and your destination choices make me want to go even more! I like how they still use the same secret recipe Nonna Giuseppina used. I bet it is delicious!

  8. Like you Milan was not a must visit destination. But my partner was traveling there for work and I tagged along for the weekend. I was taken by surprised by the beauty of Duomo and all the history in the city. Of course, the delicious apperitvo was to die for. Thanks for the reminder of this gorgeous city.

  9. Milan is just so beautiful! I’d go back as often as I could if I had the chance. This was a nice guide. Perfect for people who are going there for the first time or those who’d love to return.

  10. I visited MIlan over twenty years ago and then you just strolled into the Duomo. How things have changed? Good to know I have to buy a ticket as I really want to visit when I return at Christmas

  11. I am DYING to go to Italy. I can’t believe how gorgeous La Scala is – and how amazing to see The Last Supper!

    • Visiting Italy is a dream. It’s beautiful wherever you go. Seeing the Last Supper was a huge bonus.

  12. It’s been too long since my last trip to Italy. I need to get back and include Milan on the itinerary. The panzerotti looks delicious. But, truly, I’d love to see an opera at La Scala. How classic is that theater?! It would be unforgettable to dress up and attend a performance there.

    • With a bit of planning I am sure you can make it work! Dressing up in Milan scares me a bit as they are ALL so stylish, but I agree it would be fun.

  13. Milan is definitely on my bucket list to visit. Seeing the Last Supper is such a great experience for you. If I had a chance I would like to go there in Milan this month. Thanks for sharing!!

  14. It was a very interesting reading. I didn’t know about the similarity to Venice. Navigli sounds like a cool place to see. You managed to cover a lot of sightseeing in one day. I admire how you stuck to the plan and finished everything from your agenda. I have a weakness of coming up with most detailed itineraries and forgetting about them at first corner. I am also curious about La Scala. You were able to get inside without attending a performance, am I correct? Do you need a schedule a visit or just walk in and tour inside? Thanks!

    • THanks Elena! Sometimes you have to stick to a plan, otherwise you miss out especially when you have limited time available. I am also notorious for going off at a tangent and if I am honest I have found some really interesting things bu doing that. You can visit La Scala bu buying a museum ticket at the door. I think the cost was around 9 euros.

  15. I can’t wait to visit Milan! I’ve always seen it in movies and thought it looked so gorgeous! I’m glad to know I can do so much in one day! Hopefully I’ll be heading back to Italy soon!

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