If I were to describe Milan in one word, that word would probably be ‘diversity’. This famous tourist destination perfectly combines Italian cultural heritage, history, utterly beautiful landscapes, absolutely delicious cuisine and, of course, many luxury brand stores.
If you only have 2 days to explore Milan, this guide has the information you need. I’ve included the top tourist attractions in the city and some incredible restaurants with spectacular views. Are you ready to explore Milan in 2 days?
1. Milan tips & tricks
A city break in Milan is always a good idea. Here are a few tips & tricks that will make your life easier.
- Buy a Milan city pass – this pass is valid for 48 hours and it includes free transportation, free access to hop-on hop-off buses and free entrances to most of the city’s tourist attractions.
- If you have time to spare, take a day trip – You can visit Lake Como and Bellagio as a day trip from Milan or you can book a day trip to Cinque Terre
- Bring a rain jacket or an umbrella – in comparison with other big cities, in Milan it rains more often. Be prepared!
- Tipping is not necessary – although tips are appreciated, they’re not expected.
- Save some money and visit a few museums for free – on the first Sunday of every month, a few of Milan’s museums have no entrance fees. These museums are: Palazzo Morando, Museo del Novecento, Museo di Storia Naturale, Galleria d’Arte Moderna and a few others
2. Milan 2 day-itinerary – Day 1
In the first part of this Milan city break itinerary, we’ll cover some of the most important tourist attractions in the city. We’ll start our day at the Duomo and afterwards we’ll head to some fascinating places, perfect for history buffs and fashionistas alike.
If you want to visit as many tourist attractions as possible, I recommend you follow this guide step-by-step. On the other hand, if you’re interested only in cultural or historical tourist attractions, you might give up on those related to fashion. Everything depends on your preferences, time and, of course, your willingness to walk.
Duomo di Milano
Duomo di Milano is surely the most famous tourist attraction in Milan. I must admit that it’s one of my favorites, too, especially its rooftop from where you’ll be able to see the spectacular Piazza Duomo and its surroundings.
Besides the spectacular panorama, there are many other reasons why you should visit Duomo di Milano. First of all, it has an impressive history: thousands of people (such as artists, builders, craftsmen and also architects) invested a lot of effort and time in the Duomo’s building. Did you know that it took over 500 years to finish this prestigious building?
More than that, Duomo di Milano is the fifth largest Christian church in the whole world and was the tallest building in Milan for almost two centuries.
Good to know: you can discover many interesting historical details about this famous building, if you choose an individual guided tour. Here are a few benefits of this tourist package: priority entry to the rooftops, access to the rooftops by lift (by the way, the descent is possible only by stairs). Of course this option is more expensive than others, but it might be worth your money, especially if you’re a history fan.
However, more ticket options are available, each of them with different benefits. For example, the cheapest ticket costs 5 euros and grants access only to the cathedral (the skip-the-line ticket costs 7.5 euros).
Good to know: I highly recommend buying your tickets online, in order to avoid long queues (believe me, you’ll thank me later).
Opening hours: 9 am to 7 pm, but the last entry is at about 6 pm;
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II
Even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, you must visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, Italy’s oldest and probably one of the most elegant shopping malls, named after the first king of the Italian kingdom.
Good to know: In the center of the gallery, there is a mosaic depicting a bull. The legend says that if you spin on your heels three time on the bull’s “ahem” part of the body, it will bring you good luck.
Another reason to visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle is its magnificent architecture: the structure is formed by two arcades in the shape of a Latin cross, covered by a dome made of iron and glass.
More than that, if you adore luxury brand stores and have a generous shopping budget, Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II will probably be your small corner of paradise. Here you will find many high-end boutiques and famous brands, such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, but also elegant restaurants and coffee shops.
Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II
Are you a fashion fan, but you’re planning a budget-friendly trip? Good news: you can visit Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II, one of the most important shopping areas in Milan.
Yes, I assure you that you’ll find many affordable and trendy pieces of clothing. Here are a few mass-market brands that might catch your eye: H&M, Zara, Mango, but also small Italian shops.
Good to know: you can easily get to Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II pedestrian area, 6 minutes away from Duomo di Milan by foot.
Known as one of the most picturesque squares in Milan and located just a few minutes away from Piazza di Duomo, Piazza Mercanti was once considered the heart of the city. By the way, did you know that it was the commercial and governmental centre of Milan during the Middle Ages?
Although it doesn’t have these roles anymore, Piazza Mercanti is still keeping its authentic and spectacular medieval atmosphere. Here are some of the most important buildings that are totally worth your attention, especially if you’re into medieval architecture:
- Palazzo della Ragione – which once housed the courts of justice;
- Loggia degli Osii – where the judicial and notarial activities were once taking place;
- Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine – the most prestigious highschool in Milan during the Middle Ages.
Teatro Alla Scala (Scala Theatre)
Considered Italy‘s most important cultural center and also one of the most famous opera houses in the world, Teatro Alla Scala is distinguishable by its elegant exterior and also its impressive history. The theatre was seriously damaged during World War II and rebuilt in 1946. Over time, more restorations took place here, but Teatro Alla Scala is surely keeping its sober beauty even nowadays.
Besides the spectacular opera performances that take place in an auditorium made of wood and covered in red velvet, you can also visit the theatre museum which is famous for its vast collections of paintings, costumes and other objects directly linked to the world of opera.
Entrance fee: To avoid queues, I recommend buying your ticket oline.
Opening hours: the theatre is open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Good to know: there are some guided tours tailor-made for tourists who want to enjoy a complete experience at Teatro alla Scala and, fortunately, these tours can be booked in advance. Here you can read more useful information.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Being classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is heaven on earth for art lovers. Here you can see some of the most important and iconic artworks in the world. ‘The Last Supper’ painted by Leonardo Da Vinci is surely the most famous of them. By the way, did you know that this painting was protected and later restored after World War II, when the bombs seriously damaged the church?
Good to know: if you plan to visit this incredible cultural destination, you could also visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s vineyards, which are located across the church and include spectacular exhibits.
Opening hours: from 8:15 am to 7 pm (only Tuesday to Sunday)
Entrance fee: the price of a basic ticket starts from 6 euros. However, this ticket does not include The Last Supper. If you want to see The Last Supper, I recommend buying tickets online. Most of the time, tickets are sold out weeks in advance.
We’ll end the first part of this 2-day Milan itinerary with a relaxing walk in Sempione Park. The Park covers a vast area that extends from Castello Sforzesco to Arco della Pace.
Arco della Pace was built to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. Due to the conquest of Milan by the Austrian Empire, the construction was interrupted for a few years. It was finally completed in 1838, as a symbol of Italian unification’s celebration.
As you can see in the picture, the park looks like a typical English garden. The artificial lake is surely the main point of interest and here you can see different species of beautiful birds.
Spazio (an Italian restaurant you can’t miss for a complete culinary experience)
You can’t spent 2 days in Milan and not enjoy some of the best food in the world. I chose Spazio to end your first day in Milan, a small restaurant housed on the fourth floor of Il Mercato del Duomo – as such, you’ll enjoy an incredible view of the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle.
Spazio brings contemporary Italian cuisine to Milan, as the Michelin guide explains. Anyhow, the prices are affordable as Spazio offers ‘gourmet food at bistro price points’. Check out its official website for more practical information (you can read the menu here too).
3. Milan 2-day itinerary – Day 2
Let’s get to the second part of this city break in Milan. We’ll start the day in one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in the city and we’ll see some impressive buildings. We’ll end the day in one of Milan’s most famous rooftop bars with incredible views towards the Duomo.
If you only have one weekend in Milan, I recommend visiting the famous Navigli District, a charming area that will probably remind you of the canals found in Venice or Amsterdam. It’s one of the hidden gems in Italy!
One of the main activities you have to try in Navigli is taking a boat tour.
Did you know that the Navigli District also has a fantastic history? Leonardo Da Vinci planned most of the canal system during the 15th century. The canals were initially used as a means of transportation for people and their goods, but starting from the 20th century, with the increasing popularity of trains, most canals were completely covered.
Arco di Porta Ticinese
One of the three former city gates of Milan, Arco di porta Ticinese was initially built in the 16th century. It is an important part of the Navigli District and a must-see while in Milan.
By the way, nearby you can also visit Basilica of Sant’ Eustorgio, which was established in the Middle Ages and restored many times since. As you’ll notice, nowadays, the original romanesque elements of the building are combined with the renaissance ones.
Colonne di San Lorenzo
Your next stop will be Colonne di San Lorenzo (The Columns of San Lorenzo), which is right next to Porta Ticinese. If you’re an architecture or history fan, you have all the reasons in the world to visit this imposing tourist attraction.
The Columns of San Lorenzo are considered one of the most relevant and impressive examples of Roman architecture. They date from the 2nd century, but were brought to the current location (in front of the Basilica di San Lorenzo) in the 5th century, when the church’s building was completely finished.
By the way, there are a lot of cosy restaurants around Colonne di San Lorenzo, so after visiting it, you could pamper your taste buds with some delicious Italian food.
Because we’ve just talked about impressive architecture, our next stop on this 2-day Milan itinerary is at Bosco Verticale, one of the most appreciated buildings among architects. It includes two residential towers: one of them is 111 meters and the other is 76 meters tall.
Besides its impressive height, Bosco Verticale, which is also known as the Vertical Forest, is an important symbol of sustainable design and architecture: it is home to about 900 trees located on 9000 square meters of terraces and balconies. As such, it improves the air’s quality and sustains biodiversity.
I must admit that Bosco Verticale is one of the most fascinating residentials towers I’ve ever seen.
The Monumental Cemetery
Why would I make such a dark travel suggestion? Well, let me explain! Monumental Cemetery (in Italian: Cimitero Monumentale) is, in fact, an extraordinary open air museum which has beautifully decorated tombs – many experts and art lovers describe them as works of art.
Here you can admire an impressive collection of Italian sculptures, but also Greek temples and a smaller version of Trajan’s Column. More than that, you should know that many famous architects, sportsmen, actors, musicians and also some of Milan’s mayors are buried in the Monumental Cemetery. The cemetery also includes Jewish and non-catholic sections.
Opening hours: 8 am to 6 pm (from Tuesday to Sunday)
La Rinascente Rooftop
Let’s end your two days in Milan with some authentic Italian food. For this, I recommend going to La Rinascente Rooftop, a food court located on the 7th floor of the prestigious La Rinascente shopping mall.
Here you’ll find different restaurants and bars which offer an incredible view to the Duomo di Milano. So, not only will you enjoy great food, but also a spectacular view.
La Rinascente Rooftop is the perfect choice for a relaxing dinner, but also for a romantic one with your partner. Check out the list of restaurants. I recommend booking a table in advance.
Opening hours: from 10 am to 11 pm
4. How many days do you need in Milan?
Although Milan is a big city, most of its tourist attractions are located in the city centre. I think that at least two days are the perfect choice for discovering Milan. If you have the time, I recommend 3 full days, but 2 days are enough to see all the main attractions.
5. Where to stay in Milan
I’ve been searching for the best hotels in Milan for every budget. If you’re looking for a great place, at an affordable price, I’m here to help you. Here are my recommendations:
- Budget – B&B Gioli – spacious rooms, friendly hosts, breakfast included, good location
- Mid-Range – Quater Aparments – spacious apartment with great amenities, close to the metro station, friendly owners
- Luxury – Hotel Milano Castello – gym, beautiful terrace and excellent restaurant, spacious and luxurious rooms, excellent location in the city centre
6. Final thoughts
I hope that this Milan 2-day itinerary will help you plan your trip. Milan is an incredible city, with a fascinating history and many tourist attractions to discover. I visited Milan as a city-break and I fell in love with this city. Put on your most comfortable shoes, bring your camera and don’t forget to eat loads of gelato!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section below. May the travel bug bite you!
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