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Milan is an exciting, grand and modern Italian city that has a long and colorful past. It’s a city with a rich culture, from the majestic buildings that dominate the landscape to its reputation as one of the world’s fashion capitals. There is plenty to do in this glorious part of the world, so making a 3-day itinerary for Milan isn’t easy but it’s definitely possible.
Let’s discover the best things to do in Milan in 3 days, from exploring Castello Sforzesco to a lovely day trip to Lake Como. We’ve also included logistics, like travel costs and where to stay and eat.
Top Sights for Your 3 Days in Milan Itinerary
Where to begin? Let’s take a look at the city’s top sights so you can decide what are the highlights of Milan must sees to add to your itinerary.
Duomo di Milano
This impressive cathedral is the second largest in Italy after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and has a towering facade of relief sculptures, a vast interior of large marble columns and high ceilings. Aside from the intricate sculptures and stained glass windows that make up this magnificent building, it’s also the seat of the Archbishop of Milan and is an enduring icon of the city.
Piazza Del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to Piazza del Duomo. It’s easy to see why this iconic cobblestoned square with cafes and historic buildings surrounding it is seen as the heart of the city. And the four-story Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a vibrant shopping center with fashion stores galore. It’s the oldest active shopping area in the city and something you can’t miss.
Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Here you’ll also come across a pristine garden and magnificent architecture. So it’s well worth the visit, not just to see the Last Supper.
For a deep dive into Milan’s past, visit the ancient fortification of Castello Sforzesco. It now houses famous art treasures such as Michelangelo’s unfinished work Rondanini Pietà. When you’re done exploring this famous building, you can stroll through the breathtaking Parco Sempione.
Pinacoteca di Brera
For all things art, head to the Pinacoteca di Brera. This is the main art gallery in Milan and houses iconic works such as The Kiss by Francesco Hayes and The Marriage of The Virgin by Raphael. With a particular focus on painting, there are over 400 artworks for you to admire within these walls.
Bonus: San Siro for AC Milan and Inter Milan Fans
It’s not often you find a football stadium used by two rival teams, but the San Siro is home to both AC Milan and Inter Milan. This is an excellent visit for any football fan, and who knows, you may be able to catch a game while in Milan.
Day 1: Explore Milan’s City Center and Navigli District
You simply have to start your Milan itinerary by exploring Centro Storico, the buzzing heart of the city’s history and culture. From the cobblestoned streets of Piazza Duomo to the majestic Milan Cathedral that towers over the city, there are plenty of exciting activities and sights in store.
Morning and Afternoon – Explore the Sights of Old Town
To get the perfect Milan itinerary kickstarted, you’ll begin the day at Duomo Square. This is smack dab in the city center and provides easy access to many of the historical buildings in the area. For fantastic views of the Duomo Cathedral and tasty pastries, grab breakfast at Giacomo Caffè.
From there, spend the morning exploring the sites in and around Old Town. You can feed your shopping cravings at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and discover exactly why this is one of the world’s fashion capitals. Walk across the square, and you’ll find the Duomo Museum and Palazzo Reale di Milano where you can explore the works of Michelangelo and Max Ernst.
If you’ve still got time before lunch, walk to the Piazza della Scala, five minutes from Duomo Square. At Piazza della Scala, you’ll come across Teatro alla Scala. This 18th-century theater is the epitome of Italian style, with a breathtaking facade and lavish interior. Although most showings are at night, the museum and music library at this theater is fantastic to explore during the day.
After lunch — which we’ll cover in just a bit — take a 15-minute walk to Castello Sforzesco to see what lies within the walls of this ancient fortification. A walk through Parco Sempione is an amazing way to enjoy the afternoon. There’s plenty to see, from the Bridge of The Little Mermaids to the iconic Arco Della Pace.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions in Centro Storico
- Langosteria Cafe Milano – Dine in style at this Milan restaurant. It has a moody atmosphere that sets the tone for a fantastic meal. This spot is one of the pricier options in the area, but nothing beats fresh seafood and authentic Italian pasta.
- Spazio Niko Romito – For a more affordable but equally eclectic experience, visit this airy and inviting restaurant. Light streams in from the wall-to-ceiling windows, and the classic linguini or pan-seared salmon make for a delicious meal you won’t forget.
- Gelato Stop: Artico Gelateria Tradizionale – Some of the top ice cream makers come from the esteemed school of Gruppo Artico, and this is one of their fantastic gelato spots. Here, you can sample the classic flavors and some new and unusual ones. Artico Gelateria also has a vibey spot to sit and people-watch while you enjoy your frozen cup of deliciousness.
If you’ve got some time at the end of the day, visiting the San Siro Stadium is a great idea. It’s an 8-minute bus ride from Parco Sempione to the stadium, with prices varying between €1 and €2. You may be able to watch AC Milan or Inter Milan play, or you can join a guided tour of San Siro. Either way, it’s a great detour that all football fans will appreciate.
Evening – Dinner or a Food Tour in Navigli
End your one day in Milan with a delightful dinner in Navigli. Enjoy a 30-minute walk through the streets of Milan from Centro Storico to the Navigli District. Alternatively, you can catch a 6-minute taxi ride between €9 and €12 per trip.
The Navigli District is a glorious destination to enjoy the nightlife of Milan. If you like pizza head to SCIUÉ Navigli which is also popular for desserts like pannacotta and tiramisu.
The charming Navigli area surrounds the city’s main canal and is known for its restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect place for an aperitivo tour where you can sample the city’s favorite drinks and snacks. You’ll dive into everything from local cheeses to delicious wine, classy cocktails, and delicious salami. While you indulge in Navigli delights, don’t forget to admire the glorious sunset over the canal. It’s a magical sight, and the trendy bars make it a vibrant space.
Expert Tips for Your First Day in Milan
- Don’t rush – Take your time and enjoy a few landmarks rather than rushing. The sights in the city center are steeped in history and intrigue, so rather spend some time at each one.
- Tour or no tour? – You can explore Milan without joining a tour. But if you want to skip the hassle of booking individual entrance tickets and travel costs, consider joining this private guided walking tour.
- Pre-book tickets to the Milan Cathedral – If you choose to explore the city on your terms, make sure you pre-book a ticket to the Milan Cathedral. This will help save time by skipping the ticket line. Certain tickets even grant access to the cathedral roof, where you can admire the Milan skyline. > Book your ticket here
Day 2: Discover the Brera District and Leonardo Da Vinci Works
As renowned as Milan is for its fashion, the city is also teeming with art. So it makes complete sense to dedicate the second day of your perfect Milan itinerary to exploring the neighborhood of Brera’s abundance of art and culture.
Morning and Afternoon – Explore Brera District’s Art Galleries
Start the morning with a tasty confectionery and a strong shot of espresso at Princi Bakery Brera. Once you’re all fueled up for the day, take a short 7-minute walk to the glorious Pinacoteca di Brera. It’s a museum dedicated to paintings and sculptures created between the 13th and 20th centuries, focusing on Italian artists. There are various rooms for you to explore, all housing masterpieces by the likes of Carravagio, Raphael, and more. Just keep in mind that there’s a standard entry fee of €15. The ticket comes with an access card that allows you to visit the museum as many times as you like for the next three months.
Once you’ve had lunch, it’s time to visit Milan’s greatest attraction at the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie. This church houses the Leonardo da Vinci classic, The Last Supper. Although this massive, 180 x 350-inch artwork is the main event at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, it’s not all there is to see.
The Gothic architecture of Santa Maria Delle Grazie is stunning, with beautifully crafted granite decorated in Corinthian leaves. Other outstanding works you can gaze at include The Crowning of Thorns by Tiziano Vecellio and Crucifixion by Gaudenzio Ferrari. If you still have spare time, visit some other galleries in the area, like Miart Gallery and Galleria d’Arte Moderna.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions
- Ristorante Nabucco – For a delicious lunch in the heart of Brera, look no further than Nabucco. It’s a pricey option, but you’re guaranteed the best, from divine saffron risotto to innovative and delicious pasta dishes.
- Il Cestino – Eat at this classy yet affordable restaurant when you’re done gazing at the fine arts galleries. The walls of wine cabinets create a homely environment, and the divine selection of authentic Italian food is the cherry on top.
- Gelato Stop: Rivareno – This is one of the few Gelato joints that rivals Artico, and it’s easy to see why. With welcoming and modern seating, you can refresh your palette in a stylish part of town.
When you’re not admiring famous paintings on this Italian adventure, consider walking through the Brera Botanical Garden. It’s just behind the Palazzo Brera and provides a great chance to escape the buzz of the city and stroll through nature for a bit.
Evening – Enjoy Fine Dining at Cracco & a Night Tour
There are 16 Michelin Star restaurants in Milan, but that doesn’t mean all of them are super expensive. If you’re seeking a fine dining experience but want to save some bucks, go to the one Michelin Star Ristorante Cracco. With only the finest locally sourced ingredients and a romantic setting in the heart of Centro Storico, you’re guaranteed a memorable dinner. Remember you’ll need to reserve a table in advance, similar to other Michelin Star restaurants.
End the day by joining this night walking tour as street lights create a dazzling display. You’ll be able to snap some gorgeous nighttime photos during the tour and see sites like the Colonne di San Lorenzo and the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio.
Expert Milan Travel Tips for Day 2
- Pre-book Santa Maria tickets – Tickets for the Last Supper are in high demand, and are sometimes sold out for up to six months. So be sure to book your ticket well in advance or join this Milan skip-the-line tour.
- Join a tour at Brera Art Gallery – It’s a fairly big place to explore, so you can easily lose track of time or miss some classic Italian paintings. Prevent this from happening by joining this Pinacoteca guided experience.
- Wear comfortable shoes – It may be an obvious thing to say, but footwear is key when exploring Milan in 3 days. You’ll do a lot of walking, and Brera has cobblestoned streets, so it’s essential you have comfortable shoes with good grip.
Day 3: Day Trip to Lake Como
Now you’ve admired the magnificent art and architectural wonders of Milan, why not explore the area around the city and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Lake Como. You can catch a train and explore on your own or join a guided tour of the lake from central Milan.
If you choose to take the train, departing from Milan you can choose to arrive in Como town at the lakeside train station Como Lago or travel to Varenna, a picturesque town in the center of the lake. It’s an hour’s travel time through the rolling scenery of northern Italy, and train tickets start at €5.
Morning and Afternoon – Explore the Towns of Como, Bellagio, & Varenna
Begin the day by exploring the town of Como, with its pastel-colored buildings. The town is on the southwestern fork of this upside-down Y-shaped lake with picturesque pine forests. After exploring Como, jump on a boat and head to Bellagio. This is a 40-minute boat trip along the majestic waters of Lake Como, with the average ferry cost starting at €7. Once in Bellagio, you can wander the narrow cobblestone streets and visit the quaint thrift shops dotted around town. Don’t forget to wander along the lakeside and visit the Basilica of San Giacomo in the town center before grabbing lunch.
After lunch, catch another ferry to Varenna. This is just a 15-minute ride, and tickets start at €3. Spend the afternoon walking through the botanical gardens of Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. These are fantastic spots to capture the sunset amongst picture-perfect gardens. You can return back to Milan from either Como Lago or Varenna train stations.
Lunch and Gelato Suggestions in Bellagio
- Antico Pozzo – For delicious pizza and all things Italian in a quiet and picturesque courtyard, eat at Antico Pozzo.
- Bilacus Ristorante – For a fine dining experience amongst the narrow streets of Bellagio, visit Bilacus. You’ll find Instagram-worthy plates of delicious local food here.
- Gelato Stop: Smooth Operators – Look no further than this cute little store along the waterfront for the finest gelato in Bellagio.
Alternate Day Trip
Visiting Verona is an excellent option if you want to experience the countryside east of Milan. There’s plenty of history and food to enjoy here, and you can read about it in this guide on taking a day trip to Verona from Milan.
Evening – Have an Early Dinner in Varenna
Before leaving Lake Como, enjoy an early dinner in Varenna. Just keep in mind that the last train leaves at 21:35 with an hour and 30 minutes travel time and will cost around €8.
For dinner along the beachfront of Varenna with majestic views of Lake Como, wine and dine at La Cambusa. You can sit inside, but the outdoor seating provides unrivaled views of the lake, where the sunset will light the sky in shades of orange and purple. You can dig into everything from filling paninis to heart-warming pizzas. While you’re here, try out some of their Italian craft beverages, like a Nazionele yellow beer or Isaac pale yellow Blanche beer.
Expert Tips for Your 3 Days in Milan
- Join a tour – Join this Lake Como day tour to save time and money. It will cover everything necessary for day three, so you don’t have to worry about travel costs or purchasing additional tickets.
- Pack light – This is an enjoyable day trip from Milan, but the last thing you want is to have a heavy bag you need to lug around. Instead, pack light and only bring the essentials, like a good camera and your wallet.
- Try to explore Milan when you get back – Although this is a full-day trip, this is also your last night in Milan. So, if you’re not too tired, try and explore in and around the area you choose to stay. This will most likely be a late-night adventure, depending on when you get back from Lake Como.
Arriving in Milan
When planning your trip to a tee, include what happens once you get to Milan. The city has three airports, but you’ll most likely fly into Malpensa Airport, from which you can take the Malpensa Express to the Milan Central Station. Ticket prices start from €13.You can then catch a taxi to your accommodation or book a transfer directly from the airport with Welcome Pickups or Sun Transfers.
Where to Stay in Milan for Three Days
Seeing as you’ll be visiting the city for three days, the best place to stay in Milan is the Centro Storico district. This is the city’s beating heart and the ideal area to stay for easy access to the top sites. Book your stay at Room Mate Giulia for a reliable and affordable accommodation option. Or, if you want something more personalized, the Danza di Luce apartment is a great option.
Recommended Milan Tour Companies
You can easily explore the city’s sites alone when you visit Milan. That said, having a guide show you the hidden parts of the city can be beneficial. It’s an added bonus that the travel plans will also be sorted.
So here are some fantastic tour companies you should consider using when visiting Milan:
- WithLocals is another fantastic tour company that offers unforgettable experiences at an affordable price. Take your pick from the set itineraries, or make your own with the help of a local guide. Their food tours are particularly fantastic > browse tours here
- Liv Tours is a family-run tour company that considers your every need. Although based in Rome, they run tours across the country with groups no larger than six people. You can also get a 5% off your tour with the code ‘UntoldItaly’ > browse tours here
- Take Walks is an ever-reliable tour company that provides well-designed tours for small groups. They offer 24-hour cancellation, and with a maximum of 20 people per group, you’re guaranteed to have an informative and personal experience > browse tours here
Ready for Your 3 Days in Milan Trip?
Exploring Milan in 3 days is definitely doable. All the city’s main sites are in and around Centro Storico, so walking is the best way to get around. And besides, who doesn’t want to walk the streets of this stylish city? So with this handy Milano 3-day itinerary, you can enjoy all the pleasures this lovely city offers and more. Now that you know what to do in Milan for 3 days, have a look at this 3 days in Rome itinerary to plan your next Italian vacation.