Milano is the perfect city to visit for a three day weekend in Italy. Would I rank it above Rome or Florence as a must-visit city? Dude, no. Milan is very cosmopolitan and is a business and fashion capital, with Porta Nuova being the main business capital—it reminded me a lot of Madrid. And even though there isn’t a TON of things to do in Milan (as compared to say, Rome), there definitely are a couple of incredible gems that should be on your bucket list to see in your lifetime. So if you have a weekend to spare (2 – 3 days in Milan is perfect), Milan is a fabulous place to spend it. And if you’re heading to Lake Como, Milan is the perfect airport nearby for your arrival or departure, or the perfect jumping off point for a day trip.
Where to Stay in Milan:
We stayed at the Park Hyatt Milano and it was fantastic. You can’t beat the location (it’s literally right next to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and just steps away from the Duomo), the service is wonderful, and the breakfast buffet there is delicious. I’ll write up an in-depth post soon, but the Park Hyatt Milano is where it’s at.
Things to Do in Milan: Ultimate Milan Travel Guide
Day 1: Things to do in Milan
Visit the Duomo. Let’s kick things off with a bang, shall we?? The Duomo in Milan has unquestionably the most exterior I have ever seen on any European cathedral. The details of the facade are just insane. This is one of those gems I was talking about that absolutely needs to be on your bucket list to see in person at some point in your life. Be sure to get skip-the-line tickets online to climb the stairs up to the top exterior of the Duomo. It’s amazing up there. Give yourself plenty of time (a couple hours at least) to walk around and admire the intricately detailed rafters, columns, and spires. It will likely be fairly crowded, but if you time it right you can get a photo like I did where it looks like you have the whole Duomo to yourself. Once you get to the second level, you can sit and enjoy the views of Milan and take even more photos with the beautiful architecture. Head down and check out the interior of the Milan cathedral (although the exterior really is the most awe-inspiring part of the Duomo).
Lunch at Spontini. Are you ready for a really ridiculously cheap, but yummy lunch? Head to Spontini (there are multiple around Milan and two right around Piazza del Duomo) where you can get pizza by the slice. A HUGE slice of pizza is just 5 Euro. They serve a thick crust, Sicilian-style pizza with just a few simple ingredients, and you can choose to add prosciutto and mushrooms to top it off. Soooo good.
Walk through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Walk through and admire the prettiest mall you may ever see. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest shopping mall, and it’s stunning. It houses expensive designer stores like Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. When I was there they had a small orchestra and opera singer in the middle of the Galleria, and we stopped and listened to them for a while and it was just so lovely. Galleria Vittoria Emanuele is so pretty it’s definitely worth strolling through both in the day time and lit up at night.
Check out Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa. This small church has an ossuary connected to it, where human skulls and bones decorate the walls and ceiling. The chapel was originally built to hold the overflow bones of the cemetery next door when it became full. A bit morbid, yes, but you can’t help but be intrigued.
Dinner at VUN Andrea Aprea. VUN Andrea Aprea is a two-star Michelin restaurant located inside the Park Hyatt Milano. We had a delicious dinner there, and if you’re looking for a fancy dinner your first night in Milan this is the perfect spot. Chef Andrea Aprea serves contemporary Italian cuisine that plays on tradition with surprising flavor combinations and beautiful presentation.
Catch a show at La Scala. See a show at Teatro Alla Scala, one of the world’s leading opera theaters. If three hours of opera in a language you can’t understand doesn’t sound enticing, they also have ballet and classical orchestra performances at La Scala.
Day 2: Things to do in Milan
See the Last Supper. You can’t go to Milan and not see the Last Supper! It’s pretty amazing, and one of the world’s most recognized paintings. I didn’t know this before seeing the Last Supper in person, but it’s actually a mural painted onto one of the walls in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper in the late 15th century. As my family learned, ticket scalping is an art in Milan, and it is not easy to get tickets to see the Last Supper. Scalpers immediately buy up tickets when they are released and sell them at higher prices. And the website where you buy tickets is in Italian. Sooo it’s easiest to just buy your tickets through a guided tour like this one. Again, because the Last Supper is so famous it’s not easy to get tickets, so be sure to book your guided tour as far in advance as possible, as the dates fill up extremely quickly. Since the mural is so famous (and old and fragile), they really limit the amount of people who are allowed inside the church, and you only get 15 minutes to see the mural. It really is incredible to see in person though, and something you can’t miss if you’re traveling to Milan!
Visit San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. Not far from the church where the Last Supper is housed, you’ll find San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. It’s a beautiful 16th-century church covered in stunning frescoes, and it’s absolutely worth popping in for a few minutes. Don’t miss heading through the little doorway to the left of the main altar. Once you pass through there you’ll enter the convent hall, with even more frescoes to admire.
Lunch at Nero 9. Head over to Nero 9 for lunch. They specialize in quality meats, and are known for their amazing steaks, which they cook over embers and charcoal. Don’t forget to leave room for their amazing tiramisu!
Castello Sforzesco. After lunch at Nero 9 you’ll be right next to Sforza Castle, which you can stroll through for free. The Royal Palace was the seat of the government in Milan, and now houses a cultural center with several different museums and art exhibits.
Cimitero Monumentale OR Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci. So at this point, I’m going to do a choose your own adventure option here. Both of these options can take 2 – 3 hours, so I’m listing them both here and you can pick which one sounds the most interesting to you. Monumental Cemetery is a huge cemetery that’s known for having really beautiful sculptures and architecture. It’s basically an open air museum. You can walk through yourself, or book a guided tour to learn more about the history of this cemetery. The other option is the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci. This museum is dedicated to science and technology, as well as the Italian scientist and painter Leonardo da Vinci.
Dinner at Mamma Rosa. We loved this restaurant so much we came back a second night! A few of our favorite dishes were: the goose liver pâté, spaghetti with clams, pasta with prawns and porcini mushrooms. They also have great seafood dishes.
Day 3: Things to do in Milan
Day trip to Lake Como. Ok, I swear this isn’t a cop-out, but I’m going to tell you that on your third day in Milan you should leave Milan. 😂 Hear me out. It’s just SO easy to do a one day trip to Lake Como from Milan. The train is like an hour ride and costs something ridiculous like 6 Euro. And Lake Como is one of the beautiful places I have ever seen. So yeah, you should do a day trip there. I have a whole itinerary for a Day Trip to Lake Como right here.
Drinks in the Navigli District. Once you’ve returned from your day trip to Lake Como, spend your last evening in Milan in the Navigli District. Naviglio Grande is a canal in Milan, and along the canal are tons of cute bars and restaurants where you’ll find a lot of locals hanging out. It’s a cute and fun area to check out just outside of the main city center.
Dinner at 28 Posti. Have dinner at the super cute and minimalist restaurant 28 Posti, also in the Navigli District. The restaurant is small (the name refers to the amount of seats they have available—28), and the open view kitchen gives you a glimpse into chefs working away at their contemporary cuisine. 28 Posti offers 5, 8, and 10 course tasting menus.
That’s my three day itinerary for things to do in Milan! A couple added bonus entries: I’m not really a soccer fan, but if you are you could catch a football game at San Siro, home of AC Milan and Internazionale. You could also visit an art gallery as there are several in this cosmopolitan city, but at this point in our Italy trip, I was pretty museum-ed out after Rome and Florence. But if museums are your thing, here’s a list of top art galleries to visit in Milan!