Your Milan 2 Day Itinerary: Where to Eat, Stay and Explore

Looking for the perfect Milan 2 day itinerary? 

Audra Morris of The Nerd Traveler shares her guide in this guest post to help you make the most of your Milan trip!

Whether you are going to Milan for the architecture, fashion, art, history or as a starting point for exploring the Italian Lake District, you will be so glad your plans include spending time in this vibrant and unforgettable northern Italian city.  

We spent a few days here in October 2023 and thoroughly enjoyed all the charm and elegance of the city. We were dazzled by the vast array of sightseeing opportunities. Use this Milan 2 day itinerary as a jumping off point for your own fabulous adventures in this cosmopolitan Italian city!

Planning a trip? Use my favorite resources:

Milan 2 Day Itinerary: Quick View 

In two days, you can explore many of the highlights in Milan. Here’s an overview:

Day 1: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Navigli Canals

Day 2: Duomo di Milano, Opera House, Sforza Castle, Fashion Scene

What to do in Milan for 2 Days: Full Itinerary

Tailor this itinerary to your own travel style and preferences to help you make the most of your visit to Milan in 2 days!

Day 1

Have Coffee in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

ceiling of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

Start your day at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan’s premier shopping center located next to the Duomo. Here, pop into one of the many coffee shops for breakfast and a cappuccino or espresso to fuel your first day in Milan. 

Pasticceria Marchesi 1824 has been serving delicious coffee and pastries since 1824. Plus, its bright green interior is a feast for the eyes, too. 

Since you’ll be near the piazza where the Duomo stands first thing in the morning, this is also a great opportunity to snap a crowd-free photo of the area.

Visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum

After coffee, head to the World of Leonardo [da Vinci] Museum, located on the north side of the Galleria. Plan to spend 1-2 hours at the museum. 

Here, you will learn all about da Vinci’s contributions to science and engineering. The exhibits here will help you realize that da Vinci’s artistic masterpieces had an engineering level of symmetry to them.  

The museum itself is very interactive, and invites you to have a hands-on experience with some of the displays. 

Learn the stories behind some of this Renaissance Man’s most well-known pieces, including “Mona Lisa” and “Lady with an Ermine,” and,  “The Last Supper. 

Note, to actually see the original artwork, The Last Supper, you’ll need to visit the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum. Consider visiting on day 2, before or after the Sforza Castle due to its proximity to that area (mentioned below).

👉 Book your tickets for this interactive exhibit

Join a Local-Led Walking Tour

tram coming forward from an arched street in Milan

Consider booking this walking tour by a local for the 1pm slot. After you wrap up at the museum, and before your walking tour begins, head to the nearby Rinascente Milano for lunch with a view. 

Rinascente is a department store you’ll find all over Italy, and typically they offer restaurants with great rooftop views as well. This one is no different. Make your way to the top floor for a bite to eat before your walking tour begins.

Of course, you’ll be in a touristy area so prices will be a bit steeper in general. But it’s still a nice experience if you can swing it. 

Then, meet your guided walking tour group nearby at the designated start time. A walking tour is a great way to really get the feel for a city. While wandering around on your own is magical enough, being able to learn from a local tour guide expands your knowledge of all the sights you’re taking in exponentially. 

This tour in particular will take you through some local hangouts, prime photo spots and hip neighborhoods like the Brera district over the course of a 3km, 3-hour walk. 

👉 Check tour prices and availability for your travel dates

Browse and Buy Fashion

Milan is known for its high fashion. Whether you are a shopper or window browser, you will enjoy the time spent wandering inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuale II and its luxury stores, including Versce, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vouitton and Prada.  

You can also stroll along the streets of the Quadrilatero della Moda, or fashion district, located in an area to the northeast of the Galleria. 

The two streets with the most notable shops are: Via Montenapoleone featuring Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Balenciaga; and, Via della Spiga featuring Dolce & Gabbana, Longchamp and Ralph Lauren.

If you’re serious about doing some shopping in Milan and want help from expert eyes, you might want to book this private vintage shopping tour. It’s available to book at specific times, so play around with your itinerary to make it work if this experience is a priority for you. 

Otherwise, you can of course easily spend time perusing the fashion districts at your leisure!

Dinner & Drinks 

Rooftop view of Milan with city lights on at twilight

Close out your first full day of exploring Milan with a wonderful meal and maybe some drinks with a view. We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant located not far from the area, just off the Piazza del Duomo, called Ristorante Replay. 

You might also make your way for a sunset or post-dinner drink with panoramic city views at one of Milan’s rooftop venues, like SunEleven or The Roof Milano. 

Day 2

Milan Cathedral (aka Duomo di Milano)

add Duomo di Milan to your Milan 2 day itinerary

Day 2 starts in the same area as Day 1, thanks to the compact geography of Milan and many attractions located close to each other. 

Enjoy another coffee shop at the Galleria, perhaps the Camparino Bar di Passo right off the Piazza del Duomo.

After breakfast, you are ready to enjoy the elaborate and distinctive cathedral of Milan. It is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world and took almost 600 years to complete (1386-1965).  

Given this length of time, the architectural approach evolved over 6 centuries and reflects elements of Gothic (with the height of the church and windows), Renaissance (with its small dome, or cupola), and Neoclassical (with its bronze doors) styles.

Entrance to the church for worship purposes is free, but you’ll need to buy tickets to visit the roof, with its amazing statues and golden Madonna, and to secure an audioguide. 

As with most cathedrals, there is a dress code for entry – no bare shoulders, exposed knees, or hats.

Plan to spend anywhere from 1-4 hours exploring the Cathedral, depending on how busy it is and how in depth of an experience you want. 

👉 Secure your Duomo tickets

Opera House 

A 6-minute walk away from the Duomo is Milan’s iconic opera house. Opened to the public in 1778, the Teatro alla Scala, also called La Scala, is one of the most well known opera houses in the world.  

Several operas have debuted at La Scala, including Verdi’s “Otello” and Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.”  You do not have to attend a performance here to appreciate the grandeur and elegance of the architecture.  

There are tours of the museum and the theater you can take, or you can simply admire the architecture of the building from outside in the Piazza della Scala.  

Plan for 30 minutes – 2 hours at La Scala, depending on whether or not you decide to tour the building. 

Then, grab lunch along the way to your next destination. There are plenty of great options closer to Sforza Castle, whether you prefer a sit-down option or something more casual to grab-and-go. 

Explore Sforza Castle & See “The Last Supper”

The Sforza family ruled Milan as its dukes. A visit to this family castle, built in the 15th century, is a wonderful way to learn more about the history of the city and area.  

The castle grounds are about a 15-minute walk from La Scala, and the castle is a 6-minute walk from the museum that houses, “The Last Supper.” 

If you’re interested in seeing both, one great option is to book this combined small-group tour. It begins at Cenacolo Vinciano Museum to see “The Last Supper” and then continues on to the castle. 

If you prefer to visit on your own without a tour, note that entrance to the castle is free.  However, there are a number of museums on-site, for which you’d need to buy tickets if interested. 

Within these museums you can see one of the last sculptures by Michelangelo, the Rondanini Pieta, works by Leonardo da Vinci and recently discovered paintings by Caravaggio.

There is also a beautiful park, Parco Sempione, just outside of the northwest side of the castle which could be a lovely place for a picnic.

crowd around popular site in Milan

To visit Cenacolo Vinciano Museum and see “The Last Supper” on your own, you can book tickets here. You should look into buying these tickets as early as possible leading up to your trip. They go on sale at least 45 days in advance of the start of each ticket window. So, tickets for May, June and July go on sale mid-March. 

You will need to enter the name of the person(s) – 5 maximum – for whom you are buying the tickets. You will need a photo ID for each person to be able to pick up your tickets.  

Tickets can sell out very quickly, but each Wednesday at 12:00PM more tickets are released for time slots in the following week.

There are 3rd party vendors, too, that sell tickets and provide guided tours. If you’re not able to secure tickets for your desired dates on the official website, book a guided tour with ticket included instead. 

Plan to spend 1-2 hours at Sforza Castle, depending on whether you visit the museums. At Cenacolo Vinciano, you’ll be allotted 15 minutes to view the main piece. 

Tip: To the north of the Sforza Castle is Milan’s Chinatown, which has some very yummy places for an authentic Asian meal and some good shopping as well – including a great hat shop, Cappelleria Melegari.

👉 Book the Combined Sforza Castle and Last Supper Tour

Take a Food Tour Through Navigli 

colorful buildings along a canal in Milan's Navigli neighborhood

The Navigli (Italian for “canals”) neighborhood in Milan brings a touch of Venice to the city. You can find a place to ride gondolas through the canals, visit local shops and take in a lovely sunset from here. 

But the best thing you can do is to experience this neighborhood through its food scene by dining Alla Milanese. Book this Navigli Food and Drink tour as a fun way to meet new friends and explore Milan’s food scene for dinner, especially if you’re in Milan solo.

Savor hand-stretched pizza, fresh carpaccio, gorgonzola, traditional risotto and more against the backdrop of the charming canals. 

If you’d rather skip a tour and dine on your own, I have recommendations for that as well. 

One cafe I visited was A’ Vucciria, located at Viale Gorizia 32/a, and really enjoyed the arancine, which are Sicilian fried and stuffed rice balls. The cafe also had sandwiches, baked goods and drinks.  

For more of a complete, sit-down dinner I recommend the nearby Osteria del Binari.

Where to Stay in Milan

There is no shortage of great places to stay in Milan and I felt very safe in the city.  

🏨 Luxury: Four Seasons Milan

a sign in Milan's fashion district pointing to various sites including Four Seasons hotel

This luxury hotel is located in the middle of the Quadrilatero della Moda, or the fashion district. It features stunning rooms, exceptional staff and top-tier amenities. 

👉 Book the Four Seasons Milan

🏨 Mid-Range: Brunelleschi Milan 

View from up high of side of Duomo in Milan with crowds in the plaza down below

Brunelleschi Milan is centrally located near the Duomo, yet on a quiet street so you can still feel relaxed here. Rooms are spacious and clean, and the property offers great facilities. Enjoy international cocktails at the lounge or Italian cuisine at the onsite restaurant.

👉 Check Prices & Availability at Brunelleschi Milan

🏨 Budget: Mercure Milano 

aerial view over duomo plaza in Milan, in the golden glow of sunlight

Mercure Milano has two locations in the city. We stayed at Mercure Milano Solari, near the Navigli neighborhood, and it suited our purposes of having a comfortable bed with acceptable amenities and a nice breakfast included. The location was very convenient, near a Metro station and a tram stop.

👉 Check Prices & Availability at Mercure Milano Solari

How to Get Around Milan

photo of a metro map in Milan

Getting around Milan is very easy using public transportation – either riding the Milan Metro or trams. You can also choose to bike around the city, and it’s very walkable as well. 

Uber also operates in Milan, and rides can be requested up to 90 days in advance. Additionally, you can use appTaxi. 

Insider Tips for Visiting Milan

green public water fountain in Milan
  • Milan has many public water fountains so you do not need to worry about staying hydrated or buying bottled water. Apple and Google Maps users can search “drinking fountain” to see locations. Remember to bring a reusable bottle! During periods of extreme drought the fountains will not be running.
  • Metro stations are marked with a big red M and the transportation authority has a very user friendly website, making it easy to see maps, plan routes and learn how to purchase tickets at the stations or via their app.
  • There is an express train to and from the main airport – Milano Malpensa – via the Milano Centrale and Milano Cadorna train stations. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer.
  • There are public restrooms near the Cathedral of Milan and other attractions that cost €1-2 to use.  So, having euros on hand is a good idea. You can also use the bathrooms in many cafes as long as you buy something to eat or drink.
  • There are a number of vendors around the main attractions – Sforza Castle, Milan Cathedral and the main train stations – that will try to put bracelets on you.  If you see a large number of such vendors, walk with your hands behind your back or in your pockets so that you are not in a situation where they try to scam you into buying something they put on your arm.

FAQ: Milan 2 Day Itinerary

As you explore planning a visit to Milan, keep in mind: 

Is 2 days enough to visit Milan?

Two days is an adequate amount of time to visit Milan with an organized plan, including having your tickets with pre-planned entry times booked. This itinerary will help you see the key highlights of Milan. 

Is Lake Como a day trip from Milan?

Yes, you can reach Lake Como in just under 2 hours which makes it a great Is Milan a walkable city?

Milan is a very walkable and flat city, with the main attractions located fairly close to each other. When walking becomes tiring, Milan’s public transportation system offers a great assist as well. 

Final Thoughts: Your Milan 2 Day Itinerary

Milan is absolutely worth a visit the next time you are in Italy. It also makes a great arrival and departure point to and from Italy, as the Milan airport is far less hectic than Rome’s. There are a good number of direct flights to Milan from New York, Atlanta and Chicago.  

We flew in and out of Milan on our last Italy trip and allowed for a few extra days to explore this great city and all it has to offer! Fashion, food, architecture and more await you in Milan. 

About the author: Audra Morris is a travel blogger and creator of The Nerd Traveler, which explores the intersection of travel and history. A self-proclaimed history nerd, Audra loves visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites and learning all about each location. Audra has been to Portugal, Spain, England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Greece, China and Japan.