48 hours in Milan – A 2 day Itinerary

They say that all good things come to those who wait… But if you’ve waited and saved to go to Milan, you can expect so much more than “good things”.

Milan, Italy: aerial view of Cathedral square, Piazza del Duomo in sunset

Let’s get into this 2 day itinerary for Milan… We’re talking galleries with turrets that have entire livelihoods etched upon them, hand rolled pasta that melts in the mouth, gelato that’s smoother than a sip of good scotch and coffee roasted to aromatic perfection.

It doesn’t get much better than sitting on a terrace, in a wicker chair, with a good book and a glass of Merlot. All accompanied by ancient accordions and a blood red sky bleeding down the twists, turns, nooks and crannies of Milan’s iconic streets. 

Looking for somewhere to stay using your two days in Milan? The historic Center (Centro Storico) is ideal for those who want to engage with Milan’s historical and cultural sites. Located close to the city center, Brera is known for its charming streets, art galleries, and bohemian atmosphere.

It’s a great choice if you appreciate art and want to experience Milan’s artistic scene. Situated along the canal system, Navigli is a lively neighborhood with a cool nightlife.

The area is famous for its picturesque canals, trendy bars, cafes, and unique shops. Porta Romana is located just south of the city center and offers a more residential feel. It has a mix of residential buildings, local shops, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Porta Nuova is a modern district that has undergone significant redevelopment in recent years and is known for its futuristic architecture and skyscrapers. It’s a popular area for business travelers and those interested in contemporary architecture.

MILAN, ITALY - This is one of the pedestrian streets in the Brera district, which is one of the most popular areas of the city for relaxing in the evening.

Spring (April to June) in Milan is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).

The city comes to life with blooming flowers, and outdoor cafes and restaurants start to open. This is a great time to visit if you want to enjoy pleasant weather and explore the city’s parks and gardens.

If you’re wondering how many days in Milan is ideal or how many days do you need in Milan? Well it all depends on what your plans are? You could easily spend 2 weeks in Milan or 2 months and still not see or do everything.

Below is a great guide on what to do in Milan for 2 days because sometimes 2 days in Milan is all you have, especially if you’re spending a weekend in Milan or you’re travelling to Milan on short stop over trip and want to be able to tour some of the main areas within Milan.

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Overview Of 2 Days In Milan Itinerary

Day 1 in Milan

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie
  • Piazza Teatro alla Scala
  • San Lorenzo Maggiore

Day 2 in Milan

  • Braidense National Library
  • Brera District (Quadrilatero della Moda)
  • Castello Sforzesco (With dinner)
  • Evening Walk in Sempione Park
Duomo , Milan gothic cathedral at sunrise,Europe.Horizontal photo with copy-space.

Day 1 in Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 

Located near the iconic Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a breathtakingly beautiful shopping arcade. Built in the late 19th century, it features impressive iron-and-glass architecture and intricate mosaics. 

It is often referred to as the “living room of Milan” due to its central location and homely atmosphere. Take your time to admire the stunning architecture and indulge in some window shopping or perhaps find a unique souvenir to take home. Gather inspo for your own Milan-style living room back at home.

Designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni and built between 1865 and 1877, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a masterpiece of 19th-century architecture.

Its grandeur and elegance reflects the influence of the Neoclassical and Gothic Revival styles. The arcade features a magnificent glass and iron dome. It looks similar to that of an iron snow globe.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is home to an array of high-end boutiques, luxury brands, and renowned Italian designers.

From fashion houses like Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton to prestigious jewelers and specialty shops, the arcade offers an exclusive shopping experience for fashion enthusiasts. It is a hub of Italian style and craftsmanship, where you can find the latest trends and timeless classics.

Milan Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery in Milan, Italy. It is Italy's oldest active shopping mall and a major landmark of Milan, Italy.

Santa Maria Delle Grazie

Before you move on, have a snack, because this next part of the itinerary could cause your stomach to rumble. After exploring the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, make your way to Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

This church is renowned for housing one of the world’s most famous works of art, “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Due to the painting’s delicate state, access to see it is strictly regulated, and it’s advisable to book tickets well in advance.

Once inside, you’ll have the opportunity to admire da Vinci’s work up close and appreciate the intricate details and emotional depth of this iconic masterpiece. 

Santa Maria Delle Grazie is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an excellent example of Renaissance architecture. The church was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza in the late 15th century and designed by renowned architect Guiniforte Solari. 

The chapels along the sides of the church feature remarkable artworks by renowned artists of the time, such as Bramantino, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, and Giampietrino.

Adjacent to the church is the charming Renaissance-style cloister of Santa Maria Delle Grazie. This tranquil courtyard offers a peaceful respite from the bustling city, with its serene garden, arches, and well-preserved architectural features.

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. This church is famous for hosting Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece "The Last Supper"

Piazza Teatro alla Scala

Walk to Piazza Teatro alla Scala, a bustling square located near the famous opera house, Teatro alla Scala. The square takes its name from the world-renowned opera house, Teatro alla Scala, which stands at its center.

Established in 1778, Teatro alla Scala is one of the most prestigious and iconic opera houses in the world. It has hosted legendary performances by some of the greatest composers, conductors, and opera singers throughout history.

The theater’s neoclassical façade and majestic interiors make it a sight to behold. Feeling a bit like royalty yet?

This historic square is surrounded by elegant buildings and is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Take some time to sit at a café or bench and soak in the atmosphere while enjoying a coffee or gelato.

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a street performance or musical event taking place in the square. Well done, it’s barely been 24 hours and you’re already enjoying siesta like a native Milan resident!

In the center of Piazza Teatro alla Scala, you’ll find a statue of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest minds in human history. The statue pays homage to the renowned Italian polymath, artist, and inventor, who left an indelible mark on Milan’s cultural heritage.

The theater Scala  of Milan, Italy. La Scala (Italian: Teatro alla Scala), is a world renowned opera house in Milano, Italy

San Lorenzo Maggiore

Just a short distance from Piazza Teatro alla Scala, you’ll find the impressive San Lorenzo Maggiore. This medieval church dates back to the 4th century and showcases a beautiful blend of architectural styles, including Romanesque and Gothic.

Step inside the church to admire its ornate interior, including stunning frescoes and intricate details. Below the church, there is an archaeological area that houses the remains of ancient Roman structures, providing a fascinating glimpse into Milan’s history.

The site on which the church stands was originally occupied by a Roman imperial complex, including a basilica and an amphitheater.

Over the centuries, the site went through various transformations and reconstructions before becoming the present-day church. The church you see today was largely built during the 4th and 5th centuries.

Adjacent to the church, you’ll find a remarkable archaeological site known as the Columns of San Lorenzo (Colonne di San Lorenzo). These ancient Roman columns were originally part of the basilica that once stood on the site.

Today, they form a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors, especially in the evenings when the square comes alive with a vibrant atmosphere. The Columns of San Lorenzo have become an iconic symbol of Milan’s historical legacy.

This part of Milan draws on inspiration from Greece’s architecture which focuses on columns and marble. Imagine how grand a similar structure would look in your home?

View of the Colonne di San Lorenzo, roman historical colonnade, with the statue of roman emperor Costantine, in Milan

Dinner near San Lorenzo Maggiore

After a day of exploring, treat yourself to a sensational Italian dinner at one of the many restaurants located near San Lorenzo Maggiore. Milan is known for its excellent cuisine, and you’ll find a wide range of options to choose from.

Whether you prefer traditional Milanese dishes like risotto alla Milanese or want to sample other Italian specialties, you’ll find something to satisfy your palate.

Pair your meal with a glass of local wine or try a refreshing Aperol Spritz, a popular Italian aperitif.

Leisurely Stroll and Gelato

Following dinner, end your first day by walking through the streets of Milan to enjoy the city’s (still pumping) atmosphere.

You can explore the surrounding neighborhood of San Lorenzo, which is known for its charming streets, hidden courtyards, and late night shops.

As you wander, consider making a stop at one of Milan’s famous gelaterias for a scoop (or two!) of delicious gelato – One can never have too much gelato. With a wide variety of flavors to choose from, you’re sure to find a sweet treat to satisfy your cravings.

Gelato shop in Italy. Assorted flavors of Italian gelato on display in a Gelateria shop in Assisi, Italy

Day 2 in Milan

Braidense National Library

Start off your morning at the Braidense National Library, which is located near the renowned Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery.

Take a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the library’s architecture and explore its reading rooms. If you have a specific interest in literature or history, you may even have the opportunity to browse through some of the library’s valuable collections.

The library is housed in a magnificent neoclassical building known as the Palazzo di Brera, which is itself an architectural masterpiece. The Palazzo di Brera is located in the vibrant Brera district of Milan and was originally built as a Jesuit college in the 17th century.

Its grand facade, elegant interiors, and spacious reading rooms provide an inspiring setting for scholarly endeavors. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next J.K Rowling after writing in this library?

The Braidense National Library boasts an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, periodicals, maps, and other valuable materials.

The library holds over 1.5 million printed volumes, including rare books and historical documents of immense cultural and historical significance. Its collections cover various subjects, including literature, art, history, science, philosophy, and more.

Scholars, researchers, and students have access to a wealth of resources that contribute to academic pursuits and intellectual exploration.

The Long Room in Library Brera University of Arts

Brera District (Quadrilatero della Moda)

The Brera District is known as Milan’s fashion district and is a must-visit destination for fashion enthusiasts.

After all, Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world… Naturally, you have to purchase a garment to remember your time in Milan and don’t forget strut down the District streets.

The Brera District is not only a fashion runway; it’s also a cultural hub with a rich artistic heritage. The neighborhood is home to the prestigious Brera Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera) and the Pinacoteca di Brera, an art gallery housing an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces.

You can admire works by renowned artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian. The art-filled streets and charming architecture create a captivating atmosphere that art lovers will truly appreciate.

The Brera District is dotted with cozy cafés, traditional bars, and exquisite restaurants. Take a break from shopping or exploring the art galleries and indulge in some Italian culinary delights.

From traditional Milanese cuisine to international flavors, the district offers a wide range of dining options. You can enjoy a leisurely coffee, savor a delicious gelato, or treat yourself to a gourmet meal while immersing yourself in the lively ambiance of the neighborhood.

The Brera District is known for its antique shops and design boutiques. You can browse through a variety of unique items, vintage furniture, antique jewelry, and art pieces.

Whether you’re a collector or simply enjoy discovering one-of-a-kind treasures, exploring these shops can be a fascinating experience. You might stumble upon rare finds or get inspired by the creativity and craftsmanship on display.

This is one of the streets in the Brera district, which is one of the most popular areas of the city, in the evening.

Castello Sforzesco

Next, head to Castello Sforzesco, a majestic castle located in Milan’s city center. This iconic landmark is a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. 

It was originally built as a fortress to defend the city, commissioned by the Visconti family, the rulers of Milan at the time.

Over the centuries, the castle underwent various renovations and expansions under different rulers, including the powerful Sforza family. It served as a symbol of power and authority, witnessing significant events in Milan’s history.

Explore the castle’s various courtyards, gardens, and museums. Inside, you’ll find several museums, including the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Musical Instruments, and the Egyptian Museum.

Discover the fascinating historical artifacts, art collections, and exhibitions that provide insights into Milan’s past. The castle exudes “mafia” vibes and makes you feel like you’re part of an elite mission whilst you explore it.

One of the highlights of Castello Sforzesco is Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini, a sculpture by the renowned Italian artist. This masterpiece is housed in the Museum of Ancient Art within the castle complex.

The sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus Christ and is considered one of Michelangelo’s final works. It is a remarkable example of his skill and artistic expression.

The castle hosts various cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions throughout the year. These events range from art installations to music festivals, attracting a diverse audience and fostering a dynamic cultural scene within the castle walls.

Sforza Castle or Castello Sforzesco aerial panoramic view. Sforza Castle is located in Milan city in northern Italy.

Dinner near Castello Sforzesco

After a day of sightseeing, it’s time to take a seat and take a sip… Find a cozy restaurant or trattoria near Castello Sforzesco to enjoy your final dinner in MIlan.

Many eateries in the area offer traditional Milanese cuisine, such as osso buco (braised veal shanks) with saffron risotto or cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded and fried veal cutlet).

Pair your meal with a glass of regional wine and savor the flavors of Milan’s gastronomy.

Evening Walk in Sempione Park

As the evening sets in, take a leisurely stroll through Sempione Park. Also known as Parco Sempione, it is located in the middle of Milan, right behind the iconic Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco).

Its central location makes it easily accessible and a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The park spans over 47 acres and offers a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city.

This tranquil park offers beautiful scenery, with lush lawns, picturesque ponds, and charming pathways. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance as you walk along the tree-lined avenues and perhaps find a quiet spot to relax and reflect on your day in Milan.

The park’s design combines formal Italian gardens with more naturalistic elements, creating a harmonious and picturesque setting. As the sun sets, the park becomes bathed in soft, warm light, creating a romantic and tranquil atmosphere.

The park is often frequented by couples enjoying a leisurely walk, friends gathering for a chat, or individuals seeking a peaceful retreat from the urban hustle.

The combination of the park’s natural beauty, the gentle breeze, and the soothing sounds of nature make it an ideal place to unwind and recharge after a busy 48 hours in Milan.

Peace Arch or Gate of Sempione in Milan, near the Sempione Park.

Milan has a soft spot for architecture and presentation and you will too after spending 2 days observing the best of the Italian flare.

You’ll be sure to have an “Eat, Pray, Love” moment after visiting Milan. Cities with deep history are always the most exciting.

You’re walking through architectural fragments of time that those from the 16th century also frequented. Milan is modern and medieval, all in one.

Both parts of the city should be explored with equal eagerness. You’ll also leave with hundreds of new, Milanese, interior and exterior inspiration for your own home.

Recommended tours in Milan

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Author

  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

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