One Day in Milan: The Perfect Itinerary

If you only have a day in Milan, then this One-Day-Itinerary for Milan might be what you are looking for.

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Even if you only have a few hours in Milan you might be able to cover most of the listed sights as they are all located in the city center.

We visited Milan as a day trip during our trip to Lake Como. If you have a similar situation like us coming up, this is how to make the most out of one day in Milan.

Milan is the economic heart of Italy: the center of banking, publishing as well as the capital of the world in design and fashion.

Piazza del Duomo and the cathedral Duomo di Milano in Italy
Duomo di Milano

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Top 10 things to do in Milan in one day:

  1. Piazza del Duomo
  2. Rooftop of Duomo di Milano
  3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  4. Piazza della Scala
  5. Pinacotheka di Brera
  6. Sforzesco Castle
  7. Sempione Park
  8. Arco della Pace
  9. Porta Garibaldi
  10. Piazza Gae Aulenti

Before you start your city trip in Milan, get the online ticket for the Duomo complex. The popularity of the Duomo means long waiting ques. For that reason, we purchased the ticket online which allows you to skip the line.

There are several ticket options for the complex of the dome. Make yourself familiar on the website of the Duomo before you go.

Budget Tip: The rooftop is the must-do at the Duomo di Milano and there is a discount on taking the stairs instead of using the elevator.

Enough for now, let’s get started with our best One-Day-Itinerary for Milan!

The ideal one day in Milan Itinerary

The sights listed in this one day in Milan itinerary are all within easy walking distance. The last sight though is a bonus for those who have some time left.

Start at Piazza del Duomo

There is no better place to start your day than at the Piazza del Duomo. 

View from the rooftop of Duomo di Milano on the city
Piazza del Duomo

For sure, the front view from the Piazza del Duomo on the cathedral itself is the most iconic picture of Milan.

Be aware of the pigeons and people offering you “free food” for the birds for nice shots with fluttering birds around you. In return, they expect little money from you (don’t pay too much).

Time effort at the Piazza della Duomo: 15-30 minutes to have a look around the Piazza del Duomo and for taking photos (with the pigeons). 

The rooftop of the Duomo di Milano

Distance: 1-minute walk from Piazza del Duomo

view from the rooftop of Duomo di Milano in Italy
Rooftop view from Duomo di Milano

To be honest, we are only interested in the architecture of churches and beautiful rooftop views over the city. So our personal must-do at the Dumo di Milano is to go on its rooftop, enjoy the sun and great panoramas over the metropole.

Without a doubt, this was our highlight of the day in Milan.

Taking the stairs is also achievable for people with moderate condition, as it is only about 250 steps to the top.

Time effort at Duomo di Milano: 1-2 hours for getting upstairs, walking on the rooftop and taking pictures of the beautiful architecture and panoramas of Milan.

Go inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Distance: 1-minute walk from Duomo di Milano

Glass roof and paintings of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II leads from the Piazza del Duomo to the nearby Piazza della Scala. It is a luxurious place not only for shopping but also for amazing sightseeing.

In the middle of the galleria you’ll find the “Bull of Turin” on the floor. People believe it brings good luck to spin around (three times) with a heel on the testicles of the bull. The continuous pilgrimage developed a little hole on the place of the bull’s genitals and has to be renewed over and over again.

Time effort at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: 15-30 minutes to walk through and spin around the bull’s genitals

Extra: The Walkways on the roof of the Galleria

You can also go on the rooftop of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and walk along the passage around the rooftop making it possible to observe another beautiful view over Milan.

Access is via two fast elevators located inside the courtyard of Via Silvio Pellico 2.

Piazza della Scala and Teatro alla Scala

Distance: 1-minute walk from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Teatro alla Scala on a cloudy day in Milan
Teatro alla Scala

Simply take a quick stop on the other side of the galleria at the Piazza della Scala and take a look at the statue of Leonardo Da Vinci.

On the other side of the street, you will see Milan’s famous opera house: Teatro alla Scala

Time effort at the Piazza della Scala: around 15 minutes 

Pinacoteca di Brera

Distance: 7-minute walk from Scala di Brera

We’ll confess: among all the other sights we skipped the Pinacoteca di Brera because we met some friends for lunch in the delicious plant-based restaurant called “Soulgreen” at the Porta Nuova and near the Porta Garibaldi.

Still, the Pinacoteca di Brera is supposed to be one of the highlights and if it fits your time between the Piazza della Scala and the Castello Sforzesco we would recommend going there.

Time effort: unknown

Continue at the Castello Sforzesco

Distance: 8-minute walk from Pinacoteca or 11-minute walk from Piazza della Scala

The Castello Sforzesco of Milan from the inside
Castello Sforzesco from the inside

The entry to the Castello Sforzesco is free.

There are plenty of museums inside the castle.

Nevertheless, for a one-day-in-Milan itinerary, we don’t recommend entering them but explore the grounds of the castle.

Time effort at the Castello Sforzesco: 30-45 minutes

Parco Sempione

Distance: 1-minute walk from Sforzesco Castle

After all the hustle and bustle in the center of Milan, the Parco Sempione is perfect for off-the-beaten-path strolling in the heart of Milan.

It’s ideal for some green walking among plenty of attractions, trees and flowers.

Budget Tip: Get yourself some take-away food for a picnic in the park. For example, you can buy fresh bread from the bakery combined with an individual purchase from the market.

Time effort in the Parco Sempione: 1-2 hours for strolling around and a lunch break in the park.

the Arco della Pace

Distance: 1-minute walk from the Parco Sempione

the arco della pace in milan with it's plaza in the front
Arco della Pace

The Arco della Pace reminded us of the “Arc de Triomphe”in Paris or the “Brandenburg Gate” in Berlin.

Near the Arco della Pace are many cafes and gelaterias. Simply the perfect place for watching the famous trams in Milan with a gelato in the hand or a Italian cafe.

Time effort: 15-30 minutes

At the same time, this is a nice place to finish your day in Milan and relax the evening.

If you have time and energy left, we recommend you one last sight!

Piazza Gae Aulenti

Distance: 15-minutes tram (10, blue line) or 25-minutes walk from Arco della Pace

the ibm building and unicredit tower at the piazza gae aulenti
IBM building and Unicredit Tower at Piazza Gae

The Piazza Gae is called “the second center of Milan”. Whereas the Duomo di Milano is the historic heart of Milan, the Piazza Gae Aulenti represents the “Milan of the Future”.

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