How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day

How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day

Exploring Milan in One Day may seem impossible given its enormity and possibilities that it affords but it is certainly doable. I share with you my best experiences which I enjoyed during my visit to Milan in one day.

TTS logo

Some may wonder what to do in a metropolis such as Milan. Some may contemplate if it is worth visiting just for a day. There may be some of you, who like me, love to read about cities you are yet to visit and select the best of a city to add to your travel list. If you are amongst any of these categories, then you are in the right place – this article is for you. I share with you my best experiences which I enjoyed during my visit to Milan in one day so that you too, can design your visit for a fabulous day in Milan.

About this article on how to enjoy the best of Milan in one day

This article introduces Milan by way of a brief introduction to its geographical location and popularity as a City. Milan is one of the major hubs in Europe, and attracts hundreds of thousand of tourists each year. Given it’s enormity, it is impossible to experience everything the city offers in one day. Therefore, this article will take you through possibilities of shopping experiences, a little exploring and a little adventure. You will find a list of the best places to visit, how to maximise your time in this city, and how to obtain tickets for some popular sights where tickets are sold off months ahead – in essence this article is an ideal guide to how you can enjoy Milan in one day.

milan in one day

About the City of Milan, Italy

1 | Which part of Italy is Milan

45.4641° N 9.1919° E

Location of Milan in relation to other cities in Italy

2 | Milan is a fashion hub

3 | Milan is a financial centre

In economic terms, Milan is the third largest city in Europe, after London and Paris. Italy’s only Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana is located here, and if you are a football fan, I’m sure you know, Milan is renowned for its own dedicated international football team, AC Milan.

4 | Milan is a history and cultural centre

5 | Milan is a city where “I could become someone here”

Milan is a true metropolis: strong and fearless but welcoming, too. Little by little, I came to realize that I could become someone here.”

Giorgio Armani

Milan in one day – What to see and do

As a visitor to Milan, you will note that it is a City that is easy to get to, both by air and land (more on transportation below). Exploring Milan will undoubtedly require a few days, or multiple visits or just a weekend getaway but my planned visit to this City was a brief one – a little shopping, a little exploring and a little adventure.

My list of places to visit in Milan in one day were:

Duomo di Milano;

Castello Sforzesco;

Parco Sempione, and the

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Although armed with a list, I realised it was an ambitious itinerary. If there was one thing I wanted to do in Milan, it was to visit the iconic landmark of the Duomo which took centuries to build and to Walk on the Rooftop of the Duomo during sunset. I was happy to accomplish both and cross them off my Milan’s bucket list. However, I was disappointed at not being able to experience one other which had been on my bucket list.

While it was a short visit, I discovered that Milan has so many hidden treasures that ought to be explored besides the main touristy spots, and for this reason Milan remains firmly on my return list.

With so many impressive places to see, Milan in one day will be a long one but it is certainly doable. Luckily for me, the one day when I visited was a glorious day of sunshine in the cool month of November. My experiences were amazing and will surely stay with me forever.

A quick overview of my visit to Milan in one day

Typically, Piazza del Duomo, the main square in Milan should be the starting point of any itinerary. Most of the popular places are easily reachable from here either through a walking route or via metro.

Arriving at Piazza del Duomo and coming into direct contact with the magnificent majestic Duomo in white and pink marble was an indescribable awe-inspiring moment. I took many photos of the Duomo from all angles, each being unique in the sunlight. The carvings on the exterior walls were of all kinds which ignited my curiosity.

Here is how you can enjoy the best of Milan in one day for memories that will last a lifetime

1 | Milano Centrale Railway Station

The Milano Centrale Railway Station is no ordinary railway station. It is huge! It is magnificent! It is the largest railway station in Europe by size and the main train station in Milan. The station’s imposing, grandiose architecture has sculptures of winged horses, lions, bulls and eagles adorning it’s roof!

The station depicts various architectural styles and art deco. The only thing you must not forget to do is to look up!

1.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Milan Centrale Station

Opening hours: Milano Centrale train station is open every day from 04:00 to 01:00.

Address: Piazza Duca d’Aosta, 1, 20124 Milano MI, Italy

Recommended read: Milan Centrale Station | An Overview

2 | Piazza del Duomo

The Piazza del Duomo is the one place you do not want to miss. This is the main square in the city centre where the locals and visitors love to meet. It is vibrant, large, rich in history and culture. One reason why this is a popular meeting point is because it gives access to the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral), the symbol of Milan and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Museum of 900, an incredibly beautiful museum of modern art is located on the side of the Piazza. Nearby is also the Royal Palace of Milan, home to Museo del Duomo, a cultural centre and home to international art exhibitions.

From Piazza del Duomo, you can admire the magnificent architecture of the Duomo and the incredible Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Unfortunately, the Piazza is always busy with people, as one can imagine. Therefore, there will not be a moment where you can quickly take a people free snap. Nor will you be able to take a shot without the people friendly pigeons! Unless perhaps at 5 in the morning!

3 | Statue of Victor Emanuele II

With everything that goes on at the Piazza del Duomo, one can easily miss (if you don’t look up!) the iconic monument in the centre of the Piazza. The monument was erected in honour of the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II in 1896.

The Statue of Victor Emanuele II is an equestrian statue set on a marble pedestal. It shows the king leading his troops to battle, flanked on either side by a large lion. On the sides of the pedestal, are soldiers ready for combat. The monument, which is set on a massive plinth, was created by Ercole Rosa, an Italian sculptor.


The Piazza del Duomo gives you easy access to Milan Cathedral.

4 | Milan Cathedral | Duomo di Milano

No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the Duomo di Milano – the symbol of Milan. For many, a trip to Milan is primarily a visit to this impressive Gothic and Romanesque architecture. It is the most visited site in Milan.

4.1 | View of the Duomo from the floors of the Piazza del Duomo

Mystical, magical, majestic or an awful failure – just some of the descriptions thrown at this old Cathedral that stands proudly in the centre of Piazza del Duomo. For me, the Duomo is a mesmerising beautiful masterpiece in pink and white marble facade. The walls are adorned with intricate carvings, when taken a closer look left me with more questions than answers. It is so beautifully crafted that each tells a story of exquisite craftmanship and tales. No doubt the Duomo has seen a lot of history pass her by in the 600 years or so that has taken to construct her. Some say there is work still continuing with the ever presence of the scaffolding on the roof of the Duomo. Nevertheless, she stands, in all her glory to be admired by the hundreds of thousands that flock the city each year.

Given that the Duomo was a bucket list destination for me, I could not resist snapping away. I tried taking photos from different angles of the Cathedral, the front, the side and every time I looked up, the spires seemed to lead to the clouds! However, later in the afternoon I came to experience the view that I was most comfortable in – the view from across. (picture below).

Whichever way one looks at it, I think we will all agree that it is huge!. Afterall, it is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. A visit to this iconic structure, either external or internal viewing including a visit to the Duomo Terraces does not disappoint.

Recommended read: Milan Cathedral – How to make the most of your visit

4.2 | Sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo

The terraces of the Duomo was an incredible experience. I visited the terraces at sunset and I would encourage and highly recommend a sunset visit on the rooftop of the Duomo. The roof is covered in openwork slender pinnacles and spires crowned with almost 2000 sculptures that overlook the city. Apparently, this Gothic Cathedral has the most statues than any other building in the world! On the highest spire of the Cathedral, you will find the Madonnina, a gilded bronze statue of Mary, which was sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. 

Exploring the rooftop via narrow interconnecting stairways and, sometimes standing on slippery rooftops trying to get the best views and “clicks” was indeed exciting and fun as I reflect on these moments.

Recommended read: Best of Milan – sunset on the rooftop of the Duomo

What would you go for?

Half an experience or in its entirety

To visit the internal and the rooftop, you may have to consider the time factor. You need to allocate at least an hour for the Cathedral and an hour for the rooftop, meaning two hours in total at the very least. If you are planning on the sunset at the rooftop, you may well need an hour and half. Then, there is the queuing time to purchase your tickets. For this reason and given that you only have a day, some may suggest that you forego the internal viewing altogether. However, I would disagree with this view. I suggest that it all depends on you and the question need asking is – “When you visit Milan, would you want to experience the Duomo in its entirety?

Plan ahead

As a person who travels often, who juggles one too many things at a time, I like to visit a landmark or a building and explore it in its entirety. I do not like to return home and feel that I should have done it or I should have done better. Moreover, I love history and enjoy exploring monuments and historical architecture, therefore whenever there is an opportunity for me to experience a monument in its entirety, I grab that opportunity. For this reason, I spend some time planning my travels, deciding on the activities I want to do. For me, the Duomo was on my bucket list of things to do in Milan, therefore it was not going to be just half the experience.

4.3 | How to maximise your experience and to save time and money

If you want the whole experience of the Duomo, here is how you can save time and maximise your experience when visiting the Duomo:

To save time queuing for tickets, you can fast-track your visit and skip-the-line by purchasing your tickets before hand. You can do so prior to arriving in Milan or even as late as on the day, which is what I did. Purchasing the skip-the-line tickets are super easy through a link. then you download the ticket on your phone, show the mobile voucher at the door, and walk right through, hence allowing you to maximise your experience.

4.4 | Know before you go – practical information on Milan Cathedral

The Cathedral and the Rooftop is open Everyday.

Cathedral – 8 am to 7 pm | Rooftop – 9 am to 7pm | Last entry is at 6pm

For further details on their daily activities and prayer times, please check their official website here.

For Accessibility information, click here.

5 | Museum of the Duomo | Museo del Duomo | Milan

Described as a “a living place, a place to discover to learn the history of the monument,” the museum showcases all of its work on and about Milan Cathedral. A visit to Museo del Duomo helps one to appreciate the unfolding stories of it’s six hundred years of history. You can enjoy close-up of the sculptures, colours of the marble, details of its unique art and so much more!

5.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Museo del Duomo

The Museo del Duomo is located inside the Royal Palace, next to Milan Cathedral.

Opening times: Everyday except Wednesdays | From: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The last ticket is sold at 5:00 p.m. | Last admission: 5:10 p.m.

The tour includes the Church of San Gottardo in Corte.

Learn more on the ticket choices and buy them here

6 | Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Milan in one day

Fashion highlights tour – a must-do experience for fashionistas

On the other hand, when a visit is limited to one day in Milan, you may want to explore and experience the Galleria at your own quick pace. As the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is home to luxury shopping, it hosts many exclusive and prestigious labels and brand shops to feed the desires of the Milanese elite. There are several cafes and restaurants here which have been visited by the rich and famous such as Verdi, Puccini and Frank Sinatra. There are several roof top bars giving you exclusive views across to the Duomo and over Milan. Some of these shops, cafes or restaurants have been here since 1867.

Sitting next door to the Duomo di Milano and a few steps away from the Piazza del Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II makes an ideal stop either before or after a visit to the Duomo. I stopped here briefly on my way to Piazza della Scala and looped back later in the afternoon for a longer experience.

What to experience at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II when visiting Milan in one day

Here are the highlights of my visit which you can experience at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan when on a quick visit.

6.1 | Cafe Biffi

Biffi Galleria, IT
Photo credit Biffi, Galleria, IT

Cafe Biffi is the oldest cafe at the Galleria. Biffi’s main specialities are Ossobucco with Milanese risotto and the Milanese cutlet. Although there are many choices, the menu has remained largely unchanged for the last twenty-five years. To enjoy a meal at Cafe Biffi will require a booking well in advance. More info below in Food & Drinks.

Cafe Biffi

The oldest cafe was established here in 1867 by Paolo Biffi. Described as a “meeting place for artists, writers, and musicians frequented by Luigi Capuana, Emilio de Marchi, Giovanni Pozza” where the chatter of the evening concerts, the noise of the cutlery, and wordliness often raising the curiosities of passersby.

6.2 | Enjoy a direct view of the Duomo di Milano from the open terraces of the Galleria over a Campari

As I wanted to experience the sunset from the terraces of the Duomo, a little downtime on the fifth floor of the Galleria over an aperitif was a perfect intervention. We were able to get a table on the open terraces, of Terrazza Aperol, giving us a perfect view of the Duomo.

On the terraces of Aperol Spritz, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan

Terrazza Aperol

Piazza Duomo Angolo Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan, Italy 

Check Tripadvisor reviews

6.3 | The Dancing Bull of Turin

This dancing bull mosaic attracts hundreds of visitors daily, because of a legend associated with it. One only need see the queues of curious visitors and their giggles as they pose for an instagrammable shot on the spot!

Would you like to know what the legend is? Here goes…

6.4 | Legend of the Dancing Bull of Turin

Well, according to legend, apparently if you place your heel on a particular spot, between his two hind legs, and turn around three times, it will bring you good fortune. Millions of visitors must have done this over the years because there is a hollow on the spot.

Regardless of whether one believes in the legend of the dancing bull of Turin or not, it seemed a fun attraction to watch.

6.5 | The best views are above!

You need to look up! The incredibly beautiful iron and glass ceiling is a must see attraction – so you need to pause for a moment and look up! Easily missed when you are busy shopping, or looking at the window displays.

6.6 | Shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

  • Louis Vuitton

Photo credit to respective official websites

Last but not least is the shopping experience at the Galleria – here are some suggestions for you to consider. Even if you do not have time to do the usual browsing, unrushed shopping (because this is Milan in one day schedule), take a peek inside these shops and experience the grandeur of the top brands such as Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton. I must admit, I did spoil myself with a little gift from LV.

6.7 | Know before you go – practical information on Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria itself is accessible all hours.

The shops are typically open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.

Restaurants & bars are open from 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Check individual restaurants and bars as some stay open longer]

Address:

Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

Recommended read: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Why visit this remarkable destination in Milan

7 | Piazza della Scala

Piazza della Scala is a small town square. It is pedestrianised and quieter than Piazza del Duomo. The main attractions here are the statue of Leonardo da Vinci which is located in the centre of the square and La Scala Opera House, one of the world’s most popular opera houses.

8 | Teatro alla Scala – La Scala Opera in Milan

Teatro alla Scala also known as “Temple of Opera” is one of the most famous theatres in the world. It dates back to 1778 and has seen many composers who wrote and performed here including Rossini, Puccini, Verdi and Toscanini. The building itself has often been described as unimpressive from the outside, but I thought it was nice. Perhaps, it was being compared to the opulence of the interior (picture below).

I did not plan to watch a performance or do a full guided tour of the La Scala Opera House. I wanted a quick preview of the area because it is so close to Piazza del Duomo (about 6 minutes walk) and it would be a shame to miss it. In any case, tickets for performances were unavailable during my visit as these are sold out months ahead of time. I am saving the full experience for my next visit to Milan.

However, if La Scala is in your bucket list on Milan in one day, then you could join a one hour private tour to learn about its history or go a little further, explore the La Scala museum as well. If you intend to fit this experience on your visit to Milan in one day itinerary, you may want to book the tickets before hand, well in advance of your visit to ensure your place.

Recommended activity: La Scala Guided tour

Pro tip: There are no access when rehearsals are on. Plan your day well if La Scala is your bucket list experience. Tours are usually scheduled for after 2 pm. Check timings when purchasing tickets

If you want to skip the guided tours and purchase opera tickets, take a look at their official website and buy your tickets there.

9 | Castello Sforzesco Milan

About 15 minutes away (I’m a slow walker!) from Piazza della Scala is Castello Sforzesco. Built on a 14th century fortification, this ancient building looks very much like a medieval castle. It was once home to a series of Duke of Milan, the Sforza family.

Today, the castle is home to many art museums and a library. In addition, it houses a beautiful fountain, Fontana di Piazza Castello.

Take a virtual tour of Castello Sforzesco

Access to castle grounds are free, so you get to enjoy Castello Sforzesco even if you are in a rush.

Although I love to spend time visiting museums, I could not do so on this occasion as it may have involved a good part of half a day or two hours in the least. However, if you plan to include the Castello Sforzesco in your itinerary and learn more by visiting it’s museum, you may want to rework your itinerary and allocate sufficient time for a memorable experience. Purchase your tickets for a live guided tour before hand so it is not sold out or select to do a 2-hour guided tour of the castle and the museums.

9.1 | Know before you go – practical information on Castello Sforzesco and its museums

Opening hours: 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Grounds of the Castle are free to explore

Opening hours of the Museum: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Tuesday through to Sunday

There are various guided tours offered by third-party companies which I generally use to design my experience of a destination. In my experience they turnout to be such good value for money and I learn so much more from the tour guides. There is a 2 hour guided tour of Sforza Castle and Museums which may appeal to you. Please note that these activities are timed to take place at 10:30 a.m. and at 2:30 pm.

Recommended read: Sforza Castle and Museums

10 | Parco Sempione Milan

Adjacent to Castello Sforzcesco at the rear exit is a large park, Parco Sempione. It is the largest park in Milan and one of the prettiest I had seen. It has a large lake, cycle and jogging paths with a lot of shaded areas.

I did not venture too far to explore Parco Sempione as it was time to head back to Galleria Vittoria Emanuele for a late lunch and a little shop, before my amazing experience at the Duomo di Milano (see 4 above)

Recommended read – Parco Sempione and 5 highlights not to miss


Places to experience food and drinks when visiting Milan in one day

Well, you can’t go to Milan and leave without experiencing their best Risotto, pizza and their best Campari.

1 | Pizza

Not sure about you but I like my pizza really thin and crispy. Check out Superpizza when you are in Milan.

Superpizza is a family run business committed to using locally grown, all organic ingredients and therefore I can be sure of its highest quality at all times. Moreover, they serve super-thin, crispy pizza – low on oil, light and yeast-free. With an extensive flavourful combinations on their menu, you are sure to find one to suit your palate.

Check Tripadvisor reviews on Superpizza

2 | Risotto alla Milanese

One of the simplest, yet most luxurious rice dishes, this creamy risotto gets its vivid color and flavor from saffron.

According to legend, the dish was first created sometime in the 16th century, during the construction of Duomo. However, the first recipe under the name risotto alla Milanese was found in Giovanni Felice Luraschi’s 1829 cookbook Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico, and over time, this saffron-flavored classic became a traditional accompaniment to ossobuco, another signature dish of Milan.

Biffi’s main speacialities are Ossobucco with Milanese risotto and the Milanese cutlet. Although there are many choices, the menu has remained largely unchanged for the last twenty-five years.

Open: 12:00 – 24:00

Tripadvisor reviews on Biffi, Galleria, IT

If you are lucky to get a reservation at Biffi, you can dine in style in one of the oldest restaurant in Milan – details on Biffi are above, 6.1

Otherwise, look up Ratana or Antica Trattoria della Pesa

3 | Vegan Kitchens

A plant based diet is no longer seen as strange but it is becoming a healthier choice where people are incorporating it into their everyday diet. Milan has a plethora of restaurants and cafes that offer a wide choice vegan treats. You may want to look up Flowerburger and Joia Kitchen.

4 | Drinks

Whether it’s a perfect Negroni you are looking for or wanting to try something new, Milan has it all. If you are looking for an authentic no-frills Milanese experience, then look-up Rita & Cocktails or if you want to experience something British with a Milanese soul, then head over to Kilburn Cocktail Bar.

But if you are looking for a refreshing cocktail during the day, look no further than Camparino in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – the reputed trendy venue since 1915 for an authentic Milanese aperitivo. You can have it whichever way you prefer, in a glass packed with ice and a slice of orange or without.


Where to stay when visiting Milan in one day

If you considering staying overnight when visiting Milan in one day, I would highly recommend the Millennium and the Radisson Blu because of their consistent high customer service and quality globally.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Milan, IT

Radisson Blu Hotel, Milan, IT

For more choices on accommodation, take a look at the carefully selected hotels according to neighbourhoods suitable for budget travellers, solo, couples and family.

Best and beautiful places to stay in Milan.

For last minute deals on places to stay in Milan:

Booking.com

How to get around Milan in one day

Here is a guide on how you could move around the city of Milan easily:

Taxi

Taxis are often in high demand and you may not see one to hail easily on the street. Your best chance is going to designated taxi ranks usually outside the train station, like Milan Central.

Tram & Bus

ATM also manages the trams and an extensive bus network in Milan.

Tram 1 – Cuts through the historic centre,. It is a retro yellow tram with wooden benches and original fittings.

Trams 2 and 3 – are popular for sightseeing.

Trams 9 and 10 – loop around the centre via Porta Venezia, Porta Genova and Porta Garibaldi.

Route maps are available from ATM info points. You can also download these via the ATM app.

Night bus services run every half-hour between 12.30am and 5.10am, after the metro has closed.

Metro

ATM is the company that runs Milan’s public transport, including the metro.

The metro in Milan is simple and easy to navigate. It is the most convenient way to get around. It consists of four major lines which you need know:

M1 [RED] – Connects Duomo with Porta Venezia, the castle, Corso Magenta and the Fiera;

M2 [Green] – Connects Porta Garibaldi with Brera and Navigli;

M3 [Yellow] – Connects Quadrilatero with Porta Romana;

M5 [Lilac] – Connects San Siro with Porta Garibaldi and Isola;

(M4 is under construction)

Services operate between 5.30am and 12.30am (from 6am on Sunday).

A ticket is valid for 90 minutes. It can only be used for one metro ride.

Tickets are sold at electronic ticket machines in the station, or at tobacconists and newsstands.

Tickets and Passes

Depending on your plans in Milan and for how long you intend to stay, there are a number of good money-saving passes for public transport. which you may want to consider:

One day ticket Valid for 24 hours; €7

Three-day ticket Valid for 72 hours; €12

Weekly pass Offers unlimited journeys from Mon-Sun on most of the metro system, buses and trams; €17

Learn more and Download the Metro App

Recommended read: Getting around Milan like a local – A complete Guide

Airports near Milan

Milan is served by two airports – Malpensa and Bergamo

From Malpensa Airport to Milan

The Malpensa Express runs every 20 – 40 minutes and takes 50 minutes to reach Milano Centrale. Learn more about Malpensa Express, their routes and ticket prices from their Trainline official website here.

From Bergamo to Milan

There are no direct trains from Bergamo to Milan. From Bergamo airport take the ATB bus to Bergamo train station. Trains depart every 30 minutes to Milano Centrale.

Milano Centrale Station

From Milano Centrale Station:

To get to the Cathedral, you will need the Piazza del Duomo. The distance between Milan’s Central Station and Piazza del Duomo is 2 miles / 3.2 km. There are Three ways to get to Milan Cathedral from Central Station. I took a taxi and it was 10 Euros. Have a look at the following and you can decide what suits you.

1 | Quickest

If you are looking for the quickest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo is to take a taxi. It takes 7 to 10 minutes depending on traffic. It costs around 10 Euros.

2 | Cheapest

If you are considering the cheapest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo, then it is the line 3 subway which costs 3 Euros and takes 15 min. It is located right in the Piazza del Duomo.

3 | By bus

You can take a direct bus departing from Central Station m2 m3 and arrive at via larga. It is about 7 to 9 minutes walk to Piazza del Duomo, The bus services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 13 min. Costs 3 Euros.


How to save time and maximise your experience when visiting Milan in one day

Milan is one of the busiest cities in Italy and a tourist hub which means it will be busy at any time of the year. Having said that, my visit was in November, and considered off season but we could not get tickets to the Last Supper. I realised then that even if off season, it does not mean popular places are not sold out. My tips to you, if you want to save time and maximise your experience when visiting Milan for a day is to

Plan ahead

Personally, planning ahead saves a lot of frustration! Indeed it saves time as well. Things can and may go wrong sometimes but at least you will be prepared for the eventualities by having some alternatives in place.

Consider an off-season visit

Although I could not get tickets to the Last Supper viewing through third-party providers, but my experience in Milan was lovely and pleasant. I pre-booked the skip-the-line tickets to the Duomo, on the day and it was easily obtainable. The Duomo was not crowded so it was nice to walk around at my own pace. Exploring the Castle and the park were also enjoyable. I was fortunate with the weather, perfect for sightseeing.

Comfortable walking shoes

Attractions in Milan are conveniently located and are within easy reach through walking routes. Whether the weather is kind on the day of your visit or it is not, you will be walking a lot. So, pack yourself a pair of comfortable walking shoes! .

Highly popular group tours in Milan

Navigate via images to learn more and to reserve your timeless experiences in the city of Milan. Group tours are popular activities and it is highly recommended that you reserve well in advance should you wish to do one these tours.

Milan Cathedral Tour
Milan Cathedral and Last Supper tour
Milan City highlights E-bike tour

Consider day trips from Milan


A final note on Milan in one day

In retrospect, my visit to Milan in one day was a busy full-on day with some respite in between. I did not rush through the places I visited. I sat down a few minutes at Sforza Castle to admire the architecture. My walk to Sempione Park was a slow one. Admiring it’s beauty in the autumn sunshine allowed me moments to pause. Pause to appreciate the “now”, reflect on the activities so far and to decide what to do next.

At the Galleria

I had seen an item of clothing in the shop windows of Louis Vuitton that morning and I wanted to return to have a closer look. Also, I wanted to enjoy a late lunch and a Campari from the open terraces of the Galleria across Milan Cathedral. I chose both of these experiences instead of a rushed visit to Brera District, and San Bernardino alle Ossa.

At Milan Cathedral

My thoughts

I think it’s important that we make time to enjoy our visit to Milan or to any other destinations. It is important to our wellbeing so we are not pressured to visit attractions just because we need to complete a list. It is also important that we appreciate what we see and be in the moment than to rush from one spot to another only to realise that perhaps, just perhaps a moment or two longer would have added value to our experiences. I am confident that this post gives you the flexibility to design your itinerary and is the ultimate guide to enjoying Milan in one day


Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Milan in one day? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Use the links embedded in this article and related articles to book your flight, train, accommodations and activities. TTS earns a commission from qualified purchases and stays at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your support.

Have a splendid time exploring, discovering and experiencing Milan when you visit.

Georgina xx

Travel to Italy

UK Travellers to Italy

Italy Travel Advice

City of Milan:

45.4641° N 9.1919° E


Best European Cities


Best on Resources


Don’t fancy a DIY vacation? Hakuna matata! We all need different experiences and/or a combination of both – where someone takes care of everything. These guys are great at organising all-in-one package holidays/vacations. Take a look…

EasyJet Holidays

Jet2 Holidays

On The Beach

InterRail Europe. Travel luxury. Travel seamless. Travel hassle-free. Travel cheaper. Excellent rates when travelling by train across Europe


Add a little luxury and stay at the Millennium


Stay at the Radisson Hotels Worldwide – Hotels to suit every budget and lifestyle: Luxury Collection, Upper upscale, Millennial Lifestyle, and mid-market


More on Milan

What’s new

Keep exploring

Pin me on Pinterest to read later!

Milan in one day
Milan in one day
milan in one day
Milan in one day

How to enjoy the best of Milan in one day first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update August 18, 2021

line breaker
A detailed and thorough guide to planning your one day itinerary to Milan, Italy. Things to do in Milan | Milan in one day | Very best things to do in Milan in one day |  Where to stay in Milan for one day | Places to eat in Milan | Best things to do in Milan | Visit Milan | What to do in Milan | Tickets for attractions in Milan | Visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Visit the Galleria | Piazza delle Duomo | Milan Cathedral | Milan rooftop | Views over the City of Milan | Sempione Park | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/A detailed and thorough guide to planning your one day itinerary to Milan, Italy. Things to do in Milan | Milan in one day | Very best things to do in Milan in one day |  Where to stay in Milan for one day | Places to eat in Milan | Best things to do in Milan | Visit Milan | What to do in Milan | Tickets for attractions in Milan | Visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Visit the Galleria | Piazza delle Duomo | Milan Cathedral | Milan rooftop | Views over the City of Milan | Sempione Park | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Milan Cathedral – How to make the best of your visit

Milan Cathedral – How to make the best of your visit

Milan Cathedral is a mesmerizingly beautiful masterpiece that stands in Piazza del Duomo.

TTS logo

What to expect from this article

If you are planning a visit to Milan Cathedral while on a trip to the City of Milan, then this is the best guide for you. I have listed the main attractions within the Cathedral so you don’t miss them. As well, the various choices on how to get the best value for money tickets for a memorable and timeless visit.

Milan Cathedral

Visiting Milan, Italy

As a visitor to Milan, you will note that it is a City that is easy to get to, both by air and land. Exploring a metropolis such as Milan will undoubtedly require a few days, or multiple visits. However, a weekend getaway is just as good if that is all the time you have. My planned visit to this City was a brief one – a little shopping, a little exploring and a little adventure. Above all, if there was one thing I wanted to do in Milan, it was to visit the iconic landmark – Milan Cathedral. The Duomo took centuries to build and I wanted to experience the magical Walk on the Rooftop of the Duomo.

I share my experiences here in the hope that it will support you in designing your itinerary.

How to make the best of your visit to Milan Cathedral

There are many reasons to visit this masterpiece! There are so many interesting and fascinating “spots” to explore and to delve deeper in this Cathedral of over 600 years old but I limited my curiosities to the ones listed in this article – Top 10 Highlights. I hope my list below will inspire you to visit this iconic building (if you haven’t already) and act as a guide to make the best of your visit to Milan Cathedral.

Some factual information on Milan Cathedral

Before I take you through the highlights, here are some factual information to the Cathedral which may guide you to make the best of your visit here.

1 | Milan Cathedral is the fifth largest Cathedral in the world

Standing at 515 ft (157 metres) long and 302 ft (92 m) wide in Piazza del Duomo, Milan Cathedral can house up to 40000 people. It is the fifth largest Christian church in the world following St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral.

This large Cathedral has seen a lot of history pass her by because it took almost 600 years to complete this masterpiece. Construction began in 1386 and the final pieces were laid in 1960s but seeing the scaffolding on the roof of the Cathedral, something tells me that the work is not quite complete yet!

The construction of the Cathedral involved many thousands of workers (as one can imagine!) and a new canal system in its many waterways to transport the special marble from Val D’Ossola. During its construction, many architects, sculptors and artists contributed to its fabric, making it an international creation, creating a unique and an impressive piece of architecture, merging the Gothic and the Romanesque style.

2 | Milan Cathedral is a unique majestic structure

The Cathedral’s splendour of white and pink marble (sourced from the Candoglia quarry in Val D’Ossola) can be admired from many corners of the City. Its roof is covered in openwork slender pinnacles and spires crowned with almost 2000 sculptures that overlook the city. Apparently, this Gothic Cathedral has the most statues than any other building in the world! On the highest spire of the Cathedral, you will find the Madonnina, a gilded bronze statue of Mary, which was sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. I understand that over the years the Madonnina has become the symbol of Milan.

Forest of spires

From the floors of Piazza del Duomo, looking up to this majestic structure, Milan Cathedral’s forest of one hundred and thirty-five spires seem to touch the sky and I felt a tingle of excitement and amazement as I approached this imposing Cathedral. Its rich decorations are a sight to behold and truly gave meaning to what Mark Twain had said of this wonder back in 1867:

“What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems in the soft moonlight only a fairy delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath! How sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires were cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its snowy roof! It was a vision! —a miracle! —an anthem sung in stone; a poem wrought in marble!”

MARK TWAIN, INNOCENTS ABROAD

However, not all may agree with me or Mark Twain! For even back then in 1875, there were differing opinions on the Duomo. Oscar Wilde visited Milan Cathedral and wrote of his disappointment on the Cathedral to his mother in June of 1875. He described it as “an awful failure”. Here’s the extract I found:

“The Cathedral is an awful failure. Outside the design is monstrous and inartistic. The over-elaborated details stuck high up where no one can see them; everything is vile in it; it is, however, imposing and gigantic as a failure, through its great size and elaborate execution.“

OSCAR WILDE

I shall let you make up your own mind whether it is a beautiful structure or a failure – in the meantime though, please read on and find out what it is really like on the outside and inside of Milan Cathedral.

3 | Other facts that you may wish to know

There are about 3200 to 3400 statues in total, both inside and outside of the Milan Cathedral but no-one really knows the exact figure;

The central porch of the Cathedral dates back to 1800 and was sculpted by Ludovico Pogliaghi.

Top 10 highlights of Milan Cathedral

Inside of the Cathedral is spectacular as you will see from the highlights below. The rooftop terraces are even more so, given the incredible views it offers over the City of Milan. Walking on the rooftop of the Duomo was an experience I longed to cherish, and I was very happy to be able to tick that experience off my list. Catching the sunset when I visited, well it was the icing on the cake, an exquisite experience that will last a lifetime, an experience which I strongly encourage you to go for if you can. Have a look at both the videos below on my rooftop experiences.

Outside Milan Cathedral

1 | Walking on the rooftop of Milan Cathedral | Duomo di Milano

The rooftop, without a doubt is the highlight of the Cathedral’s experience. There are two ways to access the terraces of the rooftop of Milan Cathedral – by stairs and by lift.

If you wish to take the stairs, there are about 250 steps, not many but they can be narrow. If you wish to take the lift, and avoid climbing altogether, you need to purchase a ticket that includes this option.

Purchase your tickets to the rooftop experience here

The rooftop offers an incredibly beautiful, slender pinnacles of intricately carved marbles holding a saint or a statue. There are so many towers, spires and statues that you would be totally lost in counting them if you tried! There are 135 spires and 2000 decorative marble statues on the rooftop alone. The close-up of the spires is an impressive sight. Looking at the statues and spires just made me wonder at the incredible talent of the masons to carve something so intricate and beautiful.

I was totally taken into the distant views of the snow-capped mountains of the Alps – I was fortunate as the day was clear and sunny, although the autumnal chill and the breeze on the rooftop saw me with my coat and scarf all the time.

Watch these videos and you will see what an amazing sight and experience it can be.

The changing hues of the sunset over the city of Milan viewed from the rooftop of the Duomo | © georgina_daniel

View post in its entirety on The Best of Milan-Sunset on the Rooftop of the Duomo

Inside Milan Cathedral

From the outside of the Cathedral, though huge, I did not really feel how mega-huge it is until I stepped in. Inside of Milan Cathedral is vast and elegant. The marble floor is captivating from the moment you step in. There are three aisles.

NB: Dress Code – Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the Cathedral.

2 | The uniquely designed marble floor of Milan Cathedral

Uniquely designed marble floor rules the Cathedral
Uniquely designed marble floor rules the Cathedral

The marble floor just rules the Cathedral! You can set your watch by it and it has a legend. So here goes…

2.1 | Sundial on the floor of Milan Cathedral

Along the left wall runs a long-gilded brass strip broken up by the twelve zodiac signs. It is a watch and a solar calendar – you could set your watch by it. The brass strip is the meridian and is also a sundial. Sunlight from a hole on the ceiling allows the sun to shine through and leave a mark on the zodiac sign., the bronze strip on June 21st (the summer solstice), and on December 21st (winter solstice), the sun reaches the Meridian which is on the opposite wall.

At one time, Milan’s City’s clock was set by it and the Italians also used it as the prime reference for their astronomy. This ancient meridian and sundial were placed in 1768 by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera.

The Meridian at Milan Cathedral

The Meridian at Milan Cathedral was the astronomical reference for the Prime Meridian until it was replaced by Greenwich Meridian, England in 1884.

View article on The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

According to the Cathedral’s resources:

“Being a watch and a solar calendar perfectly working, it had required over centuries of several checks and restores. One of these was made in 1827 and it was necessary because of the lowering of the floor plan.

A second test was made in 1929 by astronomer Louis Gabba on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Observatory of Brera.

The last check was made in 1976 as the excavations of the first subway line and the lowering of the phreatic aquifer caused a further lowering of the Cathedral floor. The gnomic hole, site at the first vault of the first bay of south aisle, was also widened.”

DUOMO DI MILANO

Unfortunately for me, the sundial was presently not working because of work being carried out on the roof of the Cathedral. The use of scaffolding blocked the sunlight coming through the vault.

2.2 | The legend

Although the Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent) and associated with Christianity, legend has it that it was also associated with pagan spirit which explains the unusual find of zodiac signs in a Christian place of worship.

3 | The marble columns of Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral has large sculpted marble columns or pillars if you prefer, that reach the ceiling. There are fifty-two columns, one for each week of the year and they are very high. Really high. Majestic, impressive and somewhat portrays a stately feel.  Looking up, the columns seemed to lead to heavens above!

4 | Paintings on the wall

There are large paintings on the walls, representing scenes from the bible.

5 | Private Chapels and places to reflect

There are private chapels where you can have a sit and reflect. Very quiet, peaceful and a sense of calmness all around.  

6 | Stained glass windows at Milan Cathedral

Walking around the Cathedral, there are large, rich stained-glass windows. Each of the stained-glass windows has a history associated with it such as the historical moment or the artists who created them. The Cathedral is lit-up by sunlight seeping through these stained-glass windows that gives a sort of enlightening charm. Windows are also lit from the inside to aid visitors to appreciate the details that these windows depict. A number of larger windows are located at the oldest part of the Cathedral also.

Pro Tip: When you are in the middle aisle, marvel at the central window in all its glory with the mysterious sun that seems to illuminate the nave and the enlightening charm will have you in awe.

The central stained-glass window depicts the scenes of the Apocalypse. The side windows tell the stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Large stained-glass windows behind the altar
Closer look at the stained-glass window in Milan Cathedral

Stained-glass windows on the left and right side of aisles that depicts stories from the Old and New Testament of the Bible in Milan Cathedral | © timelesstravelsteps | Photo: georgina_daniel

You may wish to know: Stained glassmaking is an art that developed along with the Milan Cathedral over the many centuries that had taken to complete this majestic structure. It began in the early 1400s and the most recent stained-glass window at Milan Cathedral was made in 1988.

7 | The statue of Bartholomew the Apostle, patron saint of the tanners

You will find him behind the altar. Saint Bartholomew is depicted with his skin hanging off his shoulders as a reference to the martyrdom he suffered.

8 | Home to one of the precious objects in Christianity

I learnt that the Cathedral is home to one of the most precious objects in Christianity and it is situated in the dome above the altar. The spot is marked with a red light bulb. This is where one of the nails used during the Crucifixion of Christ is placed. The public can only see it once a year, on the Saturday closest to 14 September when the nail is exhibited at the altar until the Monday after evening prayers.

Pro tip: If you want to see this precious object, Plan your travels around the Saturday closest to the 14th September. Also, to bear in mind, it will be one of the busiest times at the Cathedral.

9 | Crypt

You will find the crypt through a mini stairway and it is in the Chapel of Saint Charles Borromeo, where his remains are buried since 3rd November 1584.

Photography was not allowed here, understandably but I did find the ceiling of the entrance to be rather attractive. I was allowed to take photos of this.

10 | The Baptistry

I did not see the Baptistery. I am informed that visitors can climb down under the Cathedral to the archaeological remains to see what is left of the Basilica di Santa Tecla and the ruins of a Christian baptistery from the fourth century. Legend has it that Saint Ambroise baptised Saint Augustin in 387 in the large octagonal baptismal font which is in the centre of the building.

My conclusion on Milan Cathedral

I think you know what I think of Milan Cathedral by now! It was an incredible visit and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Cathedral at a reasonable pace. Though it was off-season, it was still busy with visitors. The 10 highlights or “spots” that I have listed above are the ones that you should not miss when visiting this iconic structure. If you were to ask me, what’s the one highlight that stood out, then it is without a doubt is the Sunset on the rooftop of Milan Cathedral. May I also add, that the one landmark that should not be missed when in Milan, this must be the Milan Cathedral.  

Travel tips and Practical information when visiting Milan Cathedral

1 | Opening hours of Milan Cathedral

The Cathedral and the Rooftop is open Everyday.

Cathedral – 8 am to 7 pm | Rooftop – 9 am to 7pm | Last entry is at 6pm

For further details on their daily activities and prayer times, please check their official website here.

For Accessibility information, click here.

2 | Dress code

When visiting/entering Milan Cathedral, ensure you are dressed in a manner where Shoulders and knees are covered.

Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the Cathedral. You may be refused entry if not appropriately dressed even if you have fully paid ticket.

3 | Duomo Museum

The Duomo Museum is located next to Milan Cathedral. The Museum showcases three exhibitions that tells the story of the Cathedral of over 600 years.

4 | Ways to experience Milan Cathedral

There are more than one way to experience Milan Cathedral for memories that will last a lifetime. If its worth exploring, you will find them here – below are your choices:

Fast-track tickets

Milan Cathedral, Italy - How to make the best of your visit

The Fast-Track Milan Cathedral and Terraces Guided Tour offers you a complete tour of Milan Cathedral, with skip-the-line entrance and access to the terraces. The ticket includes access to the archaeological area under the cathedral. Afterwards, you can explore the Duomo Museum as well. This tour comes with a full money-back guarantee if you do not enjoy the experience. Check T & C and

Buy your Fast track ticket to Milan Cathedral

Spires and statues on the rooftop of the Duomo

To experience all areas of Milan Cathedral plus the terraces, museum and the archaeological area, take a look at Milan Cathedral and Rooftop Ticket which gives you the opportunity to explore at your leisure. This ticket is valid for 3 days. Includes audio guide. Non refundable. Buy your ticket here.

Sunset over Milan viewed from the rooftop of the Duomo

If you don’t have much time and your visit to Milan is a hurry, you still visit Milan Cathedral Terraces by Elevator Fast-Track Options – this fast-track ticket save precious time and you can ride the dedicated elevator to get stunning views from the Milan Duomo terraces.

Learn more on this option and buy your ticket

Beautiful architecture awaits you when you reach the terraces of the Duomo

There is yet another option for you to skip the line and experience a tour of Milan Cathedral and Terraces

Buy your skip the line ticket for a tour of Milan Cathedral and Terraces

More choices

There are more combination of choices which you may wish to have a look at and consider.

Learn more of your options and combination of tickets available for your visit

5 | Getting to Milan Cathedral

From Milano Centrale Station:

To get to the Cathedral, you will need the Piazza del Duomo. The distance between Milan’s Central Station and Piazza del Duomo is 2 miles / 3.2 km. There are Three ways to get to Milan Cathedral from Central Station. I took a taxi and it was 10 Euros. Have a look at the following and you can decide what suits you.

1 | Quickest

If you are looking for the quickest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo is to take a taxi. It takes 7 to 10 minutes depending on traffic. It costs around 10 Euros.

2 | Cheapest

If you are considering the cheapest way to get from Milan’s Central Station to Piazza del Duomo, then it is the line 3 subway which costs 3 Euros and takes 15 min. It is located right in the Piazza del Duomo.

3 | By bus

You can take a direct bus departing from Central Station m2 m3 and arrive at via larga. It is about 7 to 9 minutes walk to Piazza del Duomo, The bus services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 13 min. Costs 3 Euros.


Get around Milan like a local

How to get around Milan on public transport

How to get around the City of Milan is the ultimate resource to everything you need to know about public transportation in Milan. The article includes information on the best tickets to purchase to supplement your moving around the city.


6 | Planning your trip

Here is a 6-step guide to create a stress free vacation Your Way!

When planning a trip to Milan, I use the following 6-step guide for a stress free vacation – I am sure that you will find them useful as well to enhance your travel experiences.

6.1 | Flight or Train

Find the Best Flight Deals by navigating to this page – there is a list of trusted partners offering the best prices for both long-haul and short-haul flights.

If you intend to Train Travel, I have you covered as well. Go to Interail EU to peruse options and buy your travel passes. Along with this, learn all about train travelling in the UK Trainline and Unique experiences

View post: Train Travel UK – A quintessential odyssey | Best 8 UK scenic train journeys

6.2 | Perfect accommodation to suit

Find the perfect hotel room in booking.com with flexible dates and last-minute cancellations. There are 5669 hotels and accommodations in Milan and I am certain you will find one to suit your needs – you can access booking.com here. Along with the huge options available to you, peruse also the carefully selected 12 hotels and aparthotels according to neighbourhoods in Milan. Learn more about which area is good for families and which of the accommodations made the pick for central Milan.

View article: Beautiful places to stay in Milan

6.3 | Great things to do

Find great day tours on Get Your Guide for a seamless and hassle free, skip the line experiences – do a search and have a look at Get Your Guide here .

6.4 | Travel Insurance

Never leave home without Travel Insurance – always a helping hand and you never know when you need most. Search for the best and most suitable for your travels by navigating here.

6.5 | Type of vacation – an all-in-one?

If you want to take the hassle of planning and researching for best places to stay and best flights, then consider doing a package holiday – you get great protection – ATOL, ABTA and Financial – when buying a package holiday compared to booking a vacation by yourself. Learn more about the 10 benefits of package holidays that you will love here.

6.6 Finally…

Finally, book your trip!


Learn more and take advantage of offers by navigating to Travel Resources-All in one place.


Your turn…:)

What do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Milan Cathedral? If you have visited the Milan Cathedral, should more be added to this list? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Your suggestions could be added as ‘Reader Recommendations’

My sincere hope is that the travel tips offered in this blog will help you plan your memorable visit to Milan Cathedral. Also, use the links to the recommended activities, accommodations and transportation links embedded in this article and related articles. Our trusted partners are well established in the travel industry, giving the traveller added peace of mind with last minute cancellation rights if things do not go according to plan.

At TTS, we earn a commission from qualified purchase and stay at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your support.

Happy discovering Milan Cathedral

Georgina xx

Travel to Italy

UK Travellers to Italy

Italy Travel Advice

City of Milan:

45.4641° N 9.1919° E

August 2021, Update


Best European Cities


Best on Resources


Don’t fancy a DIY vacation? Hakuna matata! We all need different experiences and/or a combination of both – where someone takes care of everything. These guys are great at organising all-in-one package holidays/vacations. Take a look…

EasyJet Holidays

Jet2 Holidays

On The Beach

InterRail Europe. Travel luxury. Travel seamless. Travel hassle-free. Travel cheaper. Excellent rates when travelling by train across Europe


More on Milan

What’s new

Explore more

Pin me on Pinterest!

Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral – How to make the best of your visit first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update August 17, 2021

line breaker
A detail guide to maximising your visit to Milan Cathedral without missing the highlights. |Visit Milan Cathedral | How to visit Milan Cathedral | Milan Cathedral | Duomo di Milano | Best things to see in Milan | Milan City Guide | What to see in Milan | What to see in Milan Cathedral | Best tickets for Milan Cathedral | Fast track tickets to Milan Cathedral | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/A detail guide to maximising your visit to Milan Cathedral without missing the highlights. |Visit Milan Cathedral | How to visit Milan Cathedral | Milan Cathedral | Duomo di Milano | Best things to see in Milan | Milan City Guide | What to see in Milan | What to see in Milan Cathedral | Best tickets for Milan Cathedral | Fast track tickets to Milan Cathedral | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/