If you only have one day in Milan, then this guide shows you the perfect itinerary for your city trip in the Italian Metropole. 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 close together in the city center.
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One day in Milan
We did a day trip to Milan during our visit to Lake Como. If you have a similar situation like us coming up, then this short travel guide will show you how to make the most 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.
Looking for a place to stay in Milan?
Top 10 things to do in Milan in one day:
- Piazza del Duomo
- Rooftop of Duomo di Milano
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Piazza della Scala
- Pinacotheka di Brera
- Sforzesco Castle
- Sempione Park
- Arco della Pace
- Porta Garibaldi
- Piazza Gae Aulenti
Before you start your city trip to 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 with the website of the Duomo before you go.
The rooftop is a must-do at the Duomo di Milano but 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-in-Milan-Itinerary!
The ideal 1-day-itnerary for Milan
The sights listed in this one-day in Milan itinerary are all within easy walking distance. However, the last attraction is an additional 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.
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.
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
To be honest, we are less interested in history but only in special architecture and the best spots for beautiful panoramas. That is why the Duomo di Milano is a must-see for us. The panorama over the metropolis is simply magnificent from up there.
Without a doubt, this was our highlight of the day in Milan.
Taking the stairs is also achievable for people with moderate fitness, 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
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 in 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
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
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 of Milan and if it fits your time 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 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
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.
Get yourself in advance 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 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 an Italian cafe.
Time effort: 15-30 minutes
At the same time, this is a nice place to finish your day in Milan and relax in 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 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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