What to do in Milan in 24 hours
If you don’t have much time to visit Milan but still want to see the city’s history and have fun, here’s the ultimate 24-hour local guide that will let you visit all of the main landmarks and even some less known gems. You’ll be amaze to know that Milan has much more to offer than just shopping, and, mostly for FREE!
1 – Duomo di Milano (starting from €3)
Start in Piazza Duomo, here you’ll be able to admire Milan’s Gothic Cathedral, the Duomo di Milano. It’s the fourth largest cathedral in the world and took nearly six centuries to complete.
Definitely go early in the morning to avoid the afternoon’s extremely long queues. If you visit you cannot miss the Rooftop: here you’ll be able to interact with the Duomo’s unique architecture and admire the whole plaza and its many marble alleys. You can reach the top with a lift of walk your way up to the 50 m staircase.
2 – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (FREE)
Just next to the Duomo, admire the Galleria, Italy’s first shopping mall built in its characteristic iron structure and Renaissance architecture. Go straight ahead towards Piazza della Scala where you’ll see the monument dedicated to the great inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci standing in the middle of the square. The white building it’s facing is the city’s main opera house: the Scala di Milano.
3 – Castello Sforzesco (FREE)
Make your way towards the city’s defensive structure, extensively rebuilt until from the 14th to the 19th century. This castle was the seat of power of the many people that conquered Milan throughout the centuries. Stroll around inside the structure to Parco Sempione a park which is open to the public, the ideal place to rest and sunbathe.
4 – San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore (FREE)
One of Milan’s most beautiful churches with a wooden choir and a Last Supper. You definitely won’t forget the colorful baroque wall paintings (frescos) that cover every inch of this church! You can visit the two structures: one was open to the people and the second one was reserved to Benedictine nuns.
12:30 p.m. (FREE)
5 – The Imperial Palace
Just a block down San Maurizio Church you’ll discover some ancient Roman ruins. Sadly only the foundation of what the Emperor’s Palace used to be is still visible, but it shows Milan’s long history: from a capital of the Roman Empire to today’s fashion and financial powerhouse.
LUNCH – Ostello Bello, via Medici 4 (starting from €8)
Time for lunch! We recommend this youth hostel for its young, informal and international atmosphere. They not only serve Italian food but also hamburgers and salads. Vegan/Vegetarian options are available.
6 – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (FREE)
Stroll around the campus of the historical Catholic University of Milan. This private university was founded after World War I and has as headquarters the Cloisters of Sant’Ambrogio, an ancient Cistercian monastery of the abbey of Sant’Ambrogio built in the 15th century. Admire the unusual arches and the red-bricked structures.
7 – Corso di Porta Ticinese (CREDIT CARD NEEDED 😉 )
If you want to buy yourself a special and stylish piece of clothing as souvenir, try one of the many unique vintage shops in Corso di Porta Ticinese. Each store on this street has its own personality and specialises in a particular trend or style. Enjoy the alternative and energetic vibe of this street next to some more mainstream but established brands.
8 – Darsena
After a long day of walking, sit down alongside the banks of the Darsena to relax. It’s an artificial water basin once used as a loading area by boats passing through the Navigli canals. Today it has become a tourist attraction and hangout spot for people in the area. At around dinnertime you’ll find stalls on the streets that sell beer and glasses of wine to enjoy on the canals.
From 7 p.m.
9 – APERITIVO – Milan canals: Navigli
It’s time for the famous Milanese Aperitivo! There are a lot of good spots here for this typical pre-dinner drink. Alongside the banks of the Navigli canals, you’ll find many tables with local chatting vivaciously while sipping wine or an Aperol and snacking around. Prices range from €6-15 per drink usually with snacks or a large buffet included consisting of a wide variety of tasty finger food (bread, pizza, vegetables, meatballs…) that will fill you up easily.
10 – DINNER – Pizzeria Berberè, via Vigevano 8
Have an amazing artisanal pizza in this modern and rustic brick-walled pizzeria. This chain of pizzerias use only biological and fresh ingredients that make the perfect light and crunchy Neapolitan pizza. You can eat at the counter while watching the pizzas bake in the oven!
11 – DRINKS & NIGHT OUT – Colonne di San Lorenzo Bar Crawl
Another go-to spot for drinks besides the Navigli area are the Colonne di San Lorenzo. You’ll see many locals hang out here with bottles in paper bags drinking while sitting on these stunning historical columns. It’s the perfect opportunity to immerge yourself in Italian architecture and maybe meet new people. You can buy drinks for affordable prices in one of the many shops and locals nearby.
These are only some of Milan’s most stunning spots and hangout places that locals frequent regularly. If you are interested in more hidden gems and want to learn more about the city’s history and culture you can join us on our free Walking Tours available everyday.