Milan, Italy’s second largest city, contains a countless amount of culturally and historically important attractions alongside some truly world class places to eat and drink. As well as this it is the global centre of fashion and design, so fitting everything into two days in Milan will be tough. The city is everything that’s great about Italy rolled into one neat little package, and exploring its many areas and hidden gems certainly takes time. I will try to give your two days in Milan enough variation so that you can experience all of the different sides to the city. I moved to Milan from the US nine years ago and still I find myself discovering new things today. Two days in Milan is a very short amount of time if you want the full city experience, but hopefully this Milan guide can show you how to make the most of your time!
Day one - morning
Day one should be spent seeing all of the amazing cultural and historical sights of the city and if you find that there are too many of these places to visit in Milan in one day then simply take something out and go at your own pace. Begin by heading to the Piazza del Duomo outside one of Milan’s most impressive landmark; the Duomo. The Piazza is the perfect way to begin your two days in Milan as it marks the centre of the city and if you look at a Milan map you would see that most famous sights are within walking distance. So stay here if you have just a day or two in the city. The area is filled with great coffee shops such as Giacomo Caffé or the slightly less authentic 12oz Coffee Joint, so I would recommend getting some breakfast here first. Remember, if you want to act like a local, go for a milky coffee such as a cappuccino as they are not usually drunk after lunchtime!
Day one - morning of sightseeing
Now it’s time to visit the world-famous Milan Cathedral. The Gothic style building has one-hundred and thirty-five spires and is one of the largest Christian churches in the world. The cathedral is open daily from 8.00AM to 7.00PM and costs just three Euros for entrance to the building itself and the Crypt of St. Charles. I would highly recommend spending an extra nine Euros for admission to the roof terrace as this offers some of the best panoramic views of the city. After this, walk across the Piazza so see another major Milan sight; the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria contains many lavish restaurants and cafes and if money is no concern then having lunch in here is a great experience. Just be aware that you will be paying around three times the normal price for your food, and if you want a cheaper option there are many back out in the Piazza.
Day one - afternoon
After lunch, it’s time to take in more of the city’s amazing history with a visit to the gem that is San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. This is one of my personal favourite things to do in the city and rarely makes it on to most two days in Milan guides. The interior is bursting with colourful frescos with one of the most impressive being a highly detailed depiction of Noah’s Arc as he herds all of the animal pairs. From here, walk North to the Castello Sforzesco, a citadel that now houses many of Milan’s museums and art galleries. Inside you will find everything from a Michelangelo exhibit to the more obscure but just as fascinating museum of musical instruments. Everyday, the museum offers free entry from 4:30PM until 5:30PM and on Fridays 2PM until 5:30PM. Just behind the Castello is Sempione park, a large green area that is perfect for having a rest after a busy day of sightseeing!
Day one - evening
It isn’t difficult to find things to do in Milan at night as there are many options whatever your tastes are. I personally love Milan because is so rich in art and culture, and one of my favourite ways to experience this is by watching a performance at the Scala Theatre. This is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious Ballet and Opera theatres in the world and watching a show here is a truly unique experience. Shows can range anywhere from fifty Euros all the way to over two-hundred and tickets can be bought for the upcoming 2019 season on the website. I always recommend this to anyone that asks me what to do in Milan as it is such a unique experience that you won’t get anywhere else. Be sure not to wear jeans or any other item of casual clothing as you will be turned away at the door.
Day two - morning
For final part of your two days in Milan it’s time to discover a different side of the city, so why not take it a little easier and explore some of the city’s amazing shopping and dining experiences. One of the most impressive areas is Porta Nuova, a modern district which is filled with quaint boutiques and independent shops from some of the city’s best new designers. A highlight is 10 Corso Como, a half gallery, half boutique with a restaurant and café on the ground floor. This would be a great place to have breakfast but remember to book in advance! Another must-see in this area is the now-famous Bosco Verticale, a cutting edge skyscraper where trees and plants cascade from every balcony to create one big city garden. Spending two days in Milan without visiting this area would be a real shame as it is like nowhere else in the city.
Day two - afternoon
Not far from here is Milan’s Brera district which at one time was the bohemian area of the city filled with painters, sculptors, and writers. It has now evolved to become a cool yet sophisticated collection of small boutique shops and cosmopolitan bars and restaurants. Stop and enjoy some typical Milanese aperitivo or splash out on lunch in one of the area’s many high-end restaurants. But be prepared to pay more than the average meal almost anywhere you go. Brera district contains many attractions, with the major one being Pinacoteca di Brera, the city’s leading public art gallery for Italian paintings. It houses an unparalleled amount of works from some of the greatest artists in Italian history such as Caravaggio and Raphael. The museum is all publicly owned and costs just ten Euros admittance, although on the first Sunday of every month it offers free access all day.
Day two - evening
For the final part of your two days in Milan, spend an evening in the up-and-coming Navigli area, a part of the city where you can find many independent art shops as well as restaurants and bars that look out across the Navigli canal system - this the the place to have aperitivo in Milan. From the Brera district you can take the underground M2 from Lanza station to P.ta Genova and then walk to the canal area from there. One of the highlights is a walk through the picturesque street known as Washerwoman’s Alley, where women would come to clean their clothes on the stone slabs that still remain today. Enjoy aperitivo on the canal, mulling over your trip with a glass of something cold in your hand and a small plate of delicious nibbles in front of you. Then finish your trip to Milan by finding a traditional Milanese restaurant such as Trattoria Madonnina, an authentic eating experience which is said to have some of the best risotto in the entire city. Eating outside in the courtyard along with a bottle of Italian red wine as recommended by your waiter is the perfect end to your two days in Milan.
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