Milan is renowned all over the world as one of Europe’s capitals of fashion and design, but with so much to see, how can you choose the best local things to do in just 24 hours? Here’s our guide to what to do with 24 hours in Milan to give you a taste of what this stylish city has to offer. From your morning cappuccino to aperitivo at dusk and everything in between, your Milanese adventure will be jam-packed and delicious - so get ready for the perfect day in Milan.
Start your day just a few minutes from Central Station on one of the longest shopping streets in Europe: Corso Buenos Aires. From here, you can not only meander, admiring the windows of shops but also explore the vibrant district of Porta Venezia which is peppered with vegetarian and diverse global restaurants and beautiful art nouveau houses. But first, coffee. Head to Ca’puccino for a perfectly frothed cappuccino and an Italian breakfast to set you up for the day!
Continue walking to Corso Venezia, where you can lose yourself admiring the luxury old Milanese houses in the Silent District. This small area is a hidden oasis enclosed between four streets, where the hustle and bustle of the city fades away. Admire Villa Invernizzi (via Cappuccini) and discover its full time residents who live in the garden - a beautiful flock of pink flamingos! Just around the bend is Palazzo Sola Busca (via Serbelloni), known as the House of the Ear. Legend has it that anyone who comes close to the bronze ear which is mounted on the wall at the front door and whispers their desires may one day see them come true!
And finally, don’t miss Villa Necchi Campiglio (via Mozart) - with its liberty style design and opulent private pool, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from the Great Gatsby. From hidden courtyard oasis to open green space, it’s time to enjoy the beautiful Park Indro Montanelli. Wander through the landscaped park or relax by one of its opulent fountains, and take your pick from the Natural History Museum, the Modern Art Gallery and the Planetarium. Each of these cathedrals of culture are housed inside stunning buildings, so you can enjoy the exhibits as well as the architecture.
What to do in the afternoon
Past the park comes the city’s most famous fashion district, via Montenapoleone. Whether you feel like window shopping or really shopping, enjoy the stroll and before long you’ll arrive at Piazza San Babila where you can walk under the arcades that lead to Piazza Duomo. Of course, no 24 hours in Milan could be complete without admiring the Duomo Cathedral with its intricate spires. Just around the corner is another obligatory stop whilst in the neighborhood, Panzerotti Luini. By now you might be a little hungry and ready for something to eat, and this bakery makes the best panzerotti in the area. These indulgent bites are an Italian street food specialty; little pockets of pizza dough are stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and a variety of delicious fillings then fried. Also known as calzoni fritti (fried calzone), you’ll fall in love with them at the first bite!
Afternoon window shopping
Batteries recharged, just a few steps away is La Rinascente. This beautiful department store is home to a collection of luxury Italian brands, but its the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which will really wow you with its stunning glass ceilinged arcades Renaissance Revival architecture. Stroll along the intricately mosaic tiled floors and browse some of the shops; here window shopping is as much fun as the real thing! If the oldest, most beautiful shopping mall in Italy isn’t enough to captivate you, head over to the other side of Duomo Square where you’ll find the Royal Palace. Today the palace is a cultural centre, so you can choose to explore the building or check out what exhibitions are on.
Afternoon of sightseeing
Walk off your panzerotto (or pick up another one to enjoy en route!) and enjoy the fifteen-minute stroll to Parco Sempione, a green oasis in the historic heart of the city. Relax on its lush lawns and see one of Milan’s most famous landmarks, Castello Sforzesco, and its beautiful gardens. Before you go, admire the Arco della Pace then head out through the gates of the park and into Corso Sempione, a district full of color and famous for its outdoor cafes, vibrant bars, and aperitivo buffets.
Aperitivo in the evening
As dusk begins to fall over the city, something magical starts to happen. Locals slowly start to trickle out of work, and onto the terraces of the bars and cafes of their neighborhood to enjoy aperitivo with one another. The tradition of aperitivo was born in Milan, where across the city friends catch up with one another, share a few small plates of nibbles and savor a drink or two. The saying might be “when in Rome", but when in Milan, aperitivo is a non-negotiable! In the Sempione neighborhood, the bars to make a beeline for are Deseo, a classic spot known for its elegant vibes, and Bhangrabar which is adored locally for its cozy atmosphere and unrivaled buffet. Have some nibbles at one of these popular spots then hop in an Uber or on the Line 10 tram at via Pagano via Canova to the Navigli district.
What to do in the evening
The Navigli is Milan’s famous canal district, renowned for its nightlife and aperitivo at cafes and bars line the water’s edge. As night falls and the canal is lit up with laughter and the lights from these vibrant bars, there’s nowhere else in the city you’d rather be! Here, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a spot to enjoy another drink (or two); the world is your oyster so just follow your nose, or the crowds and take your pick! You’ll want to spend your entire night here, but with only one day in Milan there’s one final stop to make on your jam-packed escapade in the city; and anyway, after nibbles and drinks you’re probably ready for dinner by now!
How to enjoy the nightlife
Hop in an Uber (10 minutes) or back on the subway (Line 2, Genova to Garibaldi) to discover the nightlife in the innovative Isola neighbourhood. This off the beaten path neighbourhood is now considered to be one off the coolest in the city after cheap rent drew artists and other creative industries to the area, which is reflected in its alternative personality, street art murals and quirky shops and bars. Have dinner in one of the many eateries and sip a last drink in the famous locals Frida or Deus, new concept stores within old courtyards, or end your day listening some jazz music at Blue Note, the Italian brother of New York’s famous jazz club with a great international programme.
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