A Perfect One Day In Milan. How to make the most of it? How to plan your visit, if you have just one day in Milan? It may seem a short time to set up a complete guide in 24 hours and how to make the most of it?
The tourist itinerary proposed in this article has as its objective the historical center, suggesting what to see moving on foot through the streets of Milan. I recommend to divide it into morning and afternoon sessions.
I’ve chosen an area in order to point your attention on the monuments and the main city attractions, that you absolutely shouldn’t miss.You have to be ready to a rather busy day but I promise you’ll return home more than satisfied.
Before discovering in detail the routes of this walking itinerary, it is useful to obtain a map of the underground network as it will serve you to reach the center of Milan from which the itinerary starts. Get to know everything about Milan metro and Milan metro map.
To make this itinerary more easier in case if you decide to stay one night in Milan, I suggest to book a hotel as close as possible to metro lines M1 (red line) or M3 (yellow line). This can facilitate to reach the starting point of one day in Milan itinerary.
In case you can’t afford to book you hotel near the Cathedral (Duomo), you can opt for affordable accommodation near Milan Central Station (it’s only 3 stations to Duomo by M3 yellow line or hotels near Cadorna station part of Brera district, close to Milan Sforza castle.
From this station (M1 red line) there are only two stops to Duomo Square. Find out why I don’t include The Last Supper during one Day in Milan.
Your Milan itinerary will probably start before 09.00 in the morning if you want to put together a complete guide to one day in Milan.
Duomo: the start of the ‘One Day in Milan’ walking itinerary
The church is a religious place of worship, visitors are expected to dress appropriately and cover their knees and shoulders.
In your morning session, theres no better place to start one day in Milan than from here. Piazza del Duomo, the symbolic square of the city, with the cathedral that houses the famous ‘Madunina’, is the most iconic images of Milan.
If you are getting there by subway (you’ll get either MM1 and MM3, the red and the yellow line) and as soon as you get to the surface you can admire the Duomo in all its beauty.
Keeping in mind that your time will be limited, lets plan carefully how much time you have to see the Duomo Monumental complex. You’ll be forced to skip over something among Cathedral interior, underneath the Duomo archaeological site, rooftop (on must list) or Museum and San Gottardo Church.
Going on the left side instead you will find the ticket office and access to the upper terraces that you can reach by stairs or elevator. The view of the Milan skyline and the golden statue of the Virgin Mary certainly deserves the price of €14.
Tips when visiting Duomo roof
- The stairs to the terraces are narrow and it is best to take the elevator up to the terraces of the Milan Duomo.
- Go and explore the terraces first and use the elevator to get directly into the cathedral. This way you dont have to wait in line on the street twice.
For people planning their own one day in Milan itinerary the best solution is to book in advance, guided tour of Duomo tour with rooftops that includes:
- Cathedral interior
- Archaeological Area underneath the Cathedral
- Rooftops to see golden statue of the Virgin
This tour lasts approximately from 1,5 to 2 hours, quite enough to get familiar with Duomo complex and its history.
Step inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Now, it’s time to head towards the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, to the left of the Duomo square, entering through the glass ceiling ‘Milan living room’ that connects Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala.
Here, among shop windows of high fashion brands and restaurants among the most luxurious in the city, go to to the center of the gallery where you’ll notice on the floor a mosaic representing a bull, one of the symbols of Milan.
Step over the poor bull’s balls as this ritual will bring you luck.
Pay a visit to the Piazza della Scala
Being so close to Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, its worth taking a short walk around this piazza with some important sights. In center of the square dominates the Leonardo’s statue, Palazzo Marino, the town hall of Milan and particularly the famous Teatro alla Scala (Scala Theater), the opera house.
Maybe for just one day in Milan, you won’t have enough time to visit the Scala theater and its museum, but if you plan in advance, the 60-minute tour of Milan’s La Scala, is a must for any classical music fan.
Not far from Palazzo Marino, in a pedestrian area, only hundred meters, pay a visit to small Piazza San Fedele, sited in front of at the homonyms San Fedele Church. In the center of square there is the Alessandro Manzoni’s statue erected in honor of the famous Italian writer and one of the greatest names in Milan’s history.
From Piazza alla Scala, take a 4 minutes walk along Via Santa Margherita to reach another piazza, sometimes unreasonably not often mentioned – Piazza dei Mercanti (Merchants Square).
This piazza is one of the oldest in Milan and it used to be the heart of the city in the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, there were six entry points to the square, each associated to a specific crafts, from sword blacksmiths to hat makers.
Your afternoon itinerary will probably start after 12.00 if three hours in Duomo monumental complex are enough to see all crucial points of Milan center.
Castello Sforzesco Your Next Target
Your one day in Milan itinerary, wouldn’t be complete without Sforzesco Castle and Sempione Park as a classic medieval Milan.
To continue on foot your the itinerary, just return to Piazza Duomo and take Via Orefici (it’s located at the crossroad with Via Torino), cross Piazza Cordusio and keep going along Via Dante. At the end of the street, you’ll notice the central tower of the Castello Sforzesco. Following this map, it will take you 10 to 12 minutes.
Keep walking until you reach the large fountain in front of castle entrance. Inside the castle there are plenty of museums, but with only one day in Milan, you likely wont have time to enter any. Anyhow if you really want to end your day here than take in consideration to bellow tour.
If you would like to take a small virtual leap into the past and to experience the Sforza Castle like you’ve never seen it before, add to your one day in Milan, this 45 minutes virtual reality tour and travel back to the XIV century.
If you feel tired, you can relax in Parco Sempione, located in the background of Sforza Castle, taking a short walk among its centuries-old trees and its waterways.
The End of the itinerary Milan Canals
As one day in Milan is about to end, it’s time to finish with true Milanese social life – the Navigli canals. This time I propose to use the excellent Milan metro network to move to Navigli district.
From Sforza Castle you can take either Lanza or Cadorna metro M2 (green line) station to reach Porta Genova station the nearest stop to Navigli Milan canal district.
In fact, in Milan, unlike many other cities, the center of the night-life is not the center but Navigli canals where you’ll find pubs and restaurants of all kinds. Here, after a lot of walking and visiting monuments, you can refresh yourself by taking part of the famous ‘Happy Hour’ along the both sides of this romantic canal.
The Last Supper: How to See It During One Day in Milan
Don’t be surprised I didn’t include famous Da Vinci’s wall fresco in your one day in Milan itinerary. The problem is that if you haven’t booked in advance for same date, it’s practically impossible to get a ticket.
Don’t forget that the access is severely controlled and entry is only allowed every 15 minutes with a maximum capacity of 30 people at any given time from 8:15 AM to 19:00 PM (last entrance is at 18:45).
You can try to purchase the ticket from official website but not on the day you are visiting Milan, as it will be impossible to get one. Third party companies sell tours of The Last Supper, and although they charge considerably more than the base price (€10 plus €2 booking fee), they offer a guide in your language that explains some of the history background of this work of art and what’s more importantly, permit you to access without planning months in advance.
Book your guided tour of The Last Supper now!