Milan, located in Northern Italy, is a beautiful city full of history and fantastic food It’s the perfect place to spend a day or the whole weekend, and must not be skipped on your next Italy trip. I spent one day in Milan and felt that it was the right amount of time; I didn’t leave feeling like I had missed out on anything. While you can without a doubt spend more than one day here, I have created a guide to a perfect day in Milan. Below are my tips to the best things to do in Milan, where to stay in Milan, and best restaurants, and some hidden gems in Milan for your next trip!
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Where to Stay in Milan
I stayed at Hilton Garden Inn Milan North, which is a fantastic and affordable hotel in Milan. It is modern design and conveniently located just outside the Milan city center. It has free parking! If you don’t have a car, the hotel is next to a metro station. I spent $150 for 1 night during peak travel season in the summer.
If you’re seeking a luxurious hotel stay in Milan, Hotel VIU Milan is a modern, luxurious hotel with a rooftop pool, providing incredible city views and a great place to spend a summer day in the city!
While Milan has great public transportation, if you’re looking to travel outside of the city for day trips from Milan such as Lake Como, Lake Garda, Bologna, Cinque Terre, and Lugano, the easiest way to travel is by car. Click here for competitive car rental deals in Milan!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN MILAN
Duomo di Milano: A day in Milan is not complete without a tour of the Duomo di Milano! I did a private/small group tour booked here through Get Your Guide which was about $35 per person. This ticket included entrance to the Duomo di Milano and private tour guide, as well as entrance to the rooftop. I highly recommend purchasing a guided tour to fully experience the cathedral. There were so many facts and features I would have otherwise missed.
One important thing to note is the Duomo dress code. Men cannot wear shorts and ladies must cover their shoulders and have at least a knee length dress or pants on. They are strict about the Duomo di Milano dress code, so be sure to pack a scarf or shawl and a longer skirt or dress. Alternatively, they do sell ponchos in the store outside, however, they are plastic and can be hot in the summer.
If you don’t want to do the tour but still want to experience the Duomo Cathedral, be sure to visit the Duomo rooftop, which is one of the best things to see in Milan! The Duomo rooftop provides incredible views of Milan city center, and close up views of the incredible architecture, not to mention endless photo ops. It is included with the tour which you can view at your own leisure afterwards, or you can pay $10 for just the rooftop access. I spent about an hour walking around and admiring the gothic architecture and perfect view of the city.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Milan is best known for its high end fashion scene, which means lots of shopping! Another can’t miss activity in Milan is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is situated just next to the Duomo. This is an upscale shopping mall is Italy’s oldest active shopping mall, and is most famous for its beautiful glass ceiling. The Galleria has several restaurants and cafes as well as high-end stores including YSL, Gucci, and Prada. If you’re looking to get an Instagram worthy shot, the Galleria is the least crowded towards the end of the day. After spending an hour touring through the luxurious shops, you’ll want a bite to eat. Terrazza Aperol is located here on the second floor, which is an Aperol Spritz dedicated bar overlooking the Duomo.
Arco della Pace: One of the top sights to see in Milan, Arco della Pace is an iconic arch built in the 1800s and located in Parco Sempione. This is about a 25 minute walk from the main Milan city center, so plan to wear walkable shoes, utilize the subway line, or catch a cab! Of note, the metro station in Milan is easily accessible, clean, and an affordable way to travel around the city.
Castello Sforzesco: While in Parco Sempione admiring the Arco della Pace, another famous attraction in Milan is the Castello Sforzesco, a historic castle with stunning architecture and vast history. Inside the castle you’ll find various works of art as you navigate different exhibits. The castle is free to enter, and is particularly beautiful to see at night with the fountain in the front lit up. It is a can’t miss thing to see in Milan!
Best Restaurants in Milan
To eat: If you only have a day in Milan, I can’t recommend Trattoria Trippa highly enough! This restaurant is an absolute icon in Milan. A reservation is a must, and it requires some planning as it is not easy, but my tips will help you secure your spot at Trippa! Reservations open up 2 weeks before the date and they go FAST! They open at 6:00am EST time (12:00pm Italian time). Keep in mind that in the summer, the time slots book up within 1 hour of the reservation window opening, so be sure to mark your calendar when the reservation window opens.
Trippa Milano is a quaint, no-frills place with such warm service that makes you feel like family. The food though, is what sets it apart. The prices are very reasonable considering the quality. They are famous for their tripe and bone marrow (I was adventurous enough to try the fried tripe and it was phenomenal!), however, my personal favorite was the ravioli which had hints of marscapone and cherries inside. The menu changes frequently, but it never seems to disappoint. This restaurant was the highlight of my day in Milan!
As mentioned before, another great option for dinner if you’re seeking lunch or dinner with a view is Motta Milano 1928. This outdoor restaurant has perfect views of the Duomo with even better food. The carbonara is to die for! Pasta and drinks at Motta is the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
To drink: If you are looking for a more local vibe than Terrazza Aperol located in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, stop by Bella Milano Bistrot (a short walk from Trippa in the south east part of Milan). This is a really cute, intimate cocktail bar with amazing drinks. The bar is small but the drink menu is perfectly curated with great service.