One day in Milano isn’t enough to discover the vibrant atmosphere of the city and its main attractions. But you’ll be surprised how much you can do and see in Milano in 24 hours or less. So, arm yourself with comfortable shoes and a fresh mind: from the splendor of Duomo to the hidden gems of Brera and an exquisite aperitivo in the Isola district, here’s your perfect one-day trip to Milano.
The Milan Cathedral and a tour of the historic centre
From wherever you come, you have to start your day in Milano from Duomo, the most beautiful Gothic cathedral in the world and the beating heart of the city. Whatever direction you take from Piazza Duomo, you are going to find the unique wonders that make historic and contemporary Milano. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with the historic Camparino café at its entrance and the luxury stores under the glass arcades and the Scala Opera Theater at its exit. Corso Vittorio Emanuele, with global brands and department stores under its porticos ending in modernist Piazza San Babila with its medieval church and Lego Store, from where Via Montepoleone departs, the gem of the Fashion District in the most stylish city of the world.
Alternatively, you can head towards Piazza Castello on Via Dante. Elliptical Piazza Cordusio is the upcoming area for global shopping and beyond there’s the Sforza Castle in all its majesty, with Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini inside its museums, and the Liberty-era Sempione Park just outside its moats, ending in neoclassical Arco della Pace, its vast square and the umpteen bars of Corso Sempione.
From piazza della Scala to Brera and the Pinacoteca
However our favorite suggestion is taking Via Verdi at the corner with Teatro alla Scala and walk or bike towards Via Brera. Soon you enter a pedestrian area dotted with crafts and art shops, and you finally arrive at Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the greatest art museums in the world, thanks to the immortal paintings of Mantegna, Pier della Francesca, Raffaello, Caravaggio, Hayez, and other major artists hosted in the permanent collection of the gallery.
Brera also sports a beautiful and little-visited 18th century botanical garden with an early astronomical and meteorological observatory, and the sumptuous Biblioteca Braidense, one of Italy’s national libraries, choked full with antique books and manuscripts.
But Brera is a whole feeling: the narrow streets made of cobblestones, the intimate atmosphere of the cafés in Via Fiori Chiari and Via Fiori Scuri make the neighborhood a great destination for a relaxed meal before getting back to the hustle and bustle of Milano.
Meet the new Milano of Porta Nuova
After a dish of pasta or a risotto and a good espresso, we suggest you walk all along Corso Garibaldi until you meet the new Milano of Porta Nuova and its glittering (but also green) skyscrapers. Corso Garibaldi is familiar and boho at the same time. Full of specialty shops and bars, with exquisite small squares and osterias.
It ends in completely renovated and monumental Piazza XXV Aprile, then there’s Corso Como and the climb to Piazza Gae Aulenti, the plaza that is the novel wonder of Milano, with its water circle and a whole new annexed park, BAM, through which you walk to get to the Vertical Forest and the hip Isola neighborhood.
Aperitivo and dinner time
Isola is the ideal place to do a "merenda" (in-between-meals snack) and waste your time before aperitivo time comes (after 6pm and until 9pm): there’s plenty of gin tonic, spritz, and other cocktail options to choose from, not to mention wineries and gourmet pizzerias.
For dinner, explore the whole gamut of gastronomic emotions in Via Borsieri and the brand-new covered market in Piazzale Lagosta: Mercato Isola. From there, you can take the metro at M3/M5 Zara to quickly reach Milano’s railway stations and airport trains and buses.
Your day in Milano is over. Please come back!