Three days are the ideal time for a holiday in Milano. A city that offers an incredible mix of history, attractions and entertainment. This itinerary was mapped out to make your visit complete and help you indulge your passion for Milano.
Day 1 - The Duomo, the Scala Theater and the Brera district
The urban layout of Milan is medieval, and develops in concentric rings.
If you imagine it as a cake, the Duomo is the cherry at the centre, and for this reason it is the perfect starting point for a visit to the city.
The beauty and grandeur of the building can also be admired from outside: the statues, the spires and the magnificent rose-coloured marble windows are a sight. The Duomo is located in a large square closed to traffic, contoured by imposing, elegant buildings.
To visit inside the church you will need to buy a ticket: pause to admire the monumental organ, the splendid windows, or stroll on the terraces and enjoy a breath-taking view of the city.
Piazza Duomo is very close to Piazza Scala: to get there, you walk across the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is the lounge room of the Milanese since its inauguration, which took place in 1877.
Here you will meet the stunning shop windows of high fashion boutiques, but not only: bookstores, historic shops, bars and restaurants that have lived together with the city for a century and a half. Once you have crossed the Galleria, you will be in front of the Teatro alla Scala, one of the most important opera, ballet and symphonic music theatres in the world.
If at the theatre ticket office the show is sold out, do not worry. Just by the side is the museum, which in addition to exhibiting numerous memorabilia, allows you to view the hall from the gallery. You will then be in a position to admire the famous stage that was trodden by Maria Callas and the infinite lights of the central chandelier. (NB: this is only possible if no shows, events open to the public, or rehearsals are in progress).
Via Brera begins from Piazza della Scala, leading to the elegant district of the same name.
Walking through the pedestrian alleys, you will find yourself in what used to be the artists' neighbourhood, where you may still meet a fortune-teller, or a painter who creates and exhibits his works directly on the street.
Bars and restaurants put their tables out in the open on sunny days: an ideal solution to enjoy a quiet break.
As for the shops, they range from small curiosity shops to art galleries, to fashion ateliers that blend craftsmanship and refined taste.
In this picturesque context, the Pinacoteca di Brera represents an essential stop. If you want to find out more about the treasures kept in this unique art collection, find the dedicated article here.
Day 2 - Leonardo da Vinci and an afternoon shopping around
Leonardo da Vinci has lived in Milan for over 20 years. The city is rich in history, works and attractions related to his genius, being the place where he lived the longest.
The unmissable destination is the famous wall painting of The Last Supper, located in the refectory of the convent by the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The Last Supper is a very fragile work and the number of allowed visits is limited. This is why it is necessary to plan the visit well in advance.
Find out how to buy tickets at this link.
Milan is one of the world capitals of fashion.
The most famous Italian high fashion brands were born here and every year the most important fashion shows of the new season men's and women's collections are held during the dedicated Fashion Weeks.
But Milan is also a shopper's paradise.
Piazza Duomo is the ideal starting point for a Milano fashion and shopping tour.
Among the many shops of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, you will certainly find La Rinascente, a high-level, refined and well-stocked department store, developing on 8 floors, each of which is dedicated to a particular product range: starting from beauty and makeup, on through women's fashion, men's clothing, home accessories, kitchen and tableware and, finally, food.
You will be able to have a vantage view of the Duomo from the bar at the Rinascente rooftop, on the top floor.
Continuing along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II you will reach the famous Fashion District, or “Quadrilatero della Moda”, comprised within Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia.
The heart of the district is via Monte Napoleone: its refined and elegant, but at the same time sober and discreet style is unique in the world.
The district is also enriched by elegant internal streets, such as Via Borgospesso, Via Santo Spirito, Via Gesù, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Bagutta and Via Verri. The whole area is also quite lively from a cultural point of view; among the various historical and architecturally noteworthy buildings are the Poldi Pezzoli and Bagatti Valsecchi house-Museums, with their precious collections of works of art.
Shopping in Milano is not only about high fashion brands: Corso Buenos Aires, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Via Torino, Corso Magenta, Corso Vercelli and City Life offer an endless array of shops for all budgets and tastes.
If you think you might be interested in exploring a Milanese museum dedicated to the history of fashion, then Palazzo Morando is definitely worth a visit. The fashion art Armani Silos space and the contemporary temple of Fondazione Prada are iconic and archetypal city venues, each with a specific identity.
The Armani Silos permanent exhibition celebrates the timeless elegance of the great fashion house, alongside the venue’s current exhibitions. Fondazione Prada is an exceptional cultural complex hosting contemporary art and thought-provoking events.
Both of these institutions have been established within heritage former industrial locations of great architectural and aesthetic value: a visit is highly recommended.
The third day in Milano: follow your passions!
Milano, the world capital of fashion, is a city where the allure of tradition meets modern innovation. Every type of traveller is catered for. Whether you are looking for ancient history, modern and contemporary art, historic buildings, skyscrapers, shopping, good food, Italian design, sport, or relaxing trips to nearby areas like Lake Como or the wine areas of Franciacorta. If you are lucky enough to spend several days in Milano, rest assured that the city has so much to offer that, whatever your interests are, you can count on a wide range of activities and experiences.
Below are the best suggestions for thematic areas of interest:
LEONARDO DA VINCI
Top of everyone’s list is the unmissable Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Last Supper wall painting but if you also want to find out more about the famous Italian master, here are the best places to visit:
- The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci
The museum houses the largest permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s technical and scientific studies with over 170 items (70 models and historical replicas, 33 natural specimens, 18 ancient volumes, 17 casts, 14 frescos and paintings, 6 ancient artefacts, 13 historical facsimiles) and 39 multimedia installations.
Step inside to admire some of Leonardo's paintings, as well as notes and drawings from his working sketch book and diary, the famous Codex Atlanticus.
- Casa Di Leonardo - Leonardo's Vineyard Museum
Another noteworthy treasure is the place where the artist cultivated his passion for viticulture and where he supposedly resided when he was completing the Last Supper.
BASILICAS, CHURCHES AND ANCIENT ART:
If you wish to admire the masterpieces of the greatest Renaissance artists and visit Milano’s Roman Empire legacy, the places to see are:
The Basilica of San Lorenzo has a centuries-old history and overlooks one of the most beautiful piazzas in the city, characterized by the tall Corinthian colonnade, dating back to Roman times.
One of Milan’s iconic symbols, an impressive Romanesque church with 1000 years of history dedicated to the city’s Patron saint.
- Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
Also known as the Sistine Chapel of Milan, this church close to the historic centre is known for its breath-taking artwork, awe-inspiring frescos and luxurious gold embellished interior.
CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUMS
During the 1900s, Milano became the Italian capital of modern art. The major museums house works from the most important contemporary Italian artists.
The Museo del Novecento, overlooking Piazza Duomo, is a wonderful place to admire masterpieces by great Italian twentieth-century artists from Modigliani to De Chirico, Fontana and Manzoni. Bonus: the view of the city and the Duomo from the window is spectacular!
- Fondazione Prada (Prada Foundation)
This art venue is an architectural gem; it re-imagines the museum experience with a permanent collection and contemporary exhibitions that have a markedly international slant.
HangarBicocca is a free entry major public exhibition complex. In addition to the permanent art installations, the vastness of the former industrial plant lends itself to the exhibition of large-scale artworks.
ARCHITECTURE AND ICONIC PLACES
If you are on the lookout for iconic and Insta-worthy places with a wow factor, you’ll be enraptured by the magnificence of these Milanese gems.
The Castle, located in the city centre, was the citadel of power of the ancient lords of Milan. With over 600 years of history, it houses artistic treasures by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The grounds and large internal courtyards are also easily accessible on foot and give a wonderful view of Parco Sempione and the neoclassical Arch of Peace.
In addition to the impressive tombs dedicated to celebrated personalities of Milano’s history, the cemetery, which indeed qualifies as an open-air museum, is adorned with stunning sculptures and gardens.
A new and extremely modern district characterized by three towers by great international archistars, all with a very particular shape: the straight, the crooked and the concave.
MILAN’S DESIGN DISTRICTS
If you want to discover the history of Milanese design and admire some of the most iconic pieces, don’t miss the Triennale di Milano museum, overlooking Parco Sempione.
Milan’s Design Week has achieved global fame: the Salone del Mobile trade fair and the satellite FuoriSalone events premiere the latest trends and transform the city into the most creative, innovative and interesting design experience ever.
The Navigli, Tortona, Porta Genova and Brera districtshost many of the design week events, as do the studios of many important designers. The new collections and special events transform the areas into an unmissable extravaganza – full of ideal spots for lunches, dinners, aperitifs and night-time entertainment.
Want to end your Milan stay in style? After a walk, enjoy an aperitif on the Navigli or in the dockland area (Darsena) at sunset.