I have just returned from three heavenly carb-filled days in the Italian city of Milan. Although I did spend one day in Italy last year, this was my first ‘official’ trip, so I was beyond excited to finally visit this beautiful country properly. (How I got to 27 without ever having been to Italy, I’ll never know!) So, when I saw some very cheap flights, I promptly booked them and two weeks later, we landed in Milan.
Before we left, many of our friends told us Milan wasn’t worth two full days and that we should stay in the nearby city of Bergamo instead. We were also told, more than once, that Milan was nothing compared to the likes of Florence and Rome.
But, I wanted to go anyway. After all, I had long been intrigued by the intricate architecture of the Duomo di Milano and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. So, I decided it was still worth a visit. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it right?
And I have to say that while Milan may not be as picture perfect as Florence or as historical as Rome, we are very glad we spent some time there. Bursting with vibrant culture, delicious food and fantastic architecture, there are tons of things to do in this stylish city.
So, the real question here is not whether you should visit, but how long you should visit for. And I’d say it really depends on how much you want to do and what you’re interested in.
If museums are your thing, you’re in the right place. With dozens of museums dedicated to art, culture and fashion, you’ll have enough to keep you busy for three or four days. Personally, I’m not a massive fan of hitting up dozens of museums in one trip; I just don’t enjoy it. And for this reason, I feel we could definitely have conquered Milan in one day.
Our trip itinerary
On day one, we hit the main sites (ever a tourist) such as the jaw-dropping Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the picturesque Navigli District. All of which should be at the top of your list. These kinda places are world-renowned for a reason and should not be missed!
After a morning of walking, cafe hopping and exploring the beatiful shopping arcades, we headed to the top of the Duomo just in time to see the sun set over a golden city, with beautiful views of Milan’s skyline and the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Top tip: Queues for the terrace and the cathedral can get very long later in the day, so if you plan on doing this, get there as early as you can.
We also made sure to stop regularly to enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, gelato (it’s never too cold for gelato!!), focaccia, pizza and every other delicious Italian food you can think of. And in my opinion, that’s all part of the experience.
That night, we headed straight for the Navigli District and enjoyed an evening filled with aperitivos and mouth-watering food in cute bars and restaurants brimming with Italian charm. If you can, check out the Navigli Grande Canal at sunset! It’s really beautiful.
Top tip: If you’re on a budget, or just want to enjoy an Italian tradition, be sure to try an aperitivo (pre-dinner drink). Although the drink itself is often priced between 8-11€, most bars serve a plate of food or allow access to a buffet before 10pm at no extra charge. Look out for ‘happy hour’ signs around the Navigli area to be sure of the bars/restaurants that offer this.
The second day of our trip was mostly spent walking and cafe hopping. We headed to Parco Sempione, the Brera district and the Navigli Grande Canal at sunset. While we did a lot of walking, we didn’t want to cram too much in, so kept it nice and simple.
Reflecting on our trip now, I think the second day could’ve been better spent exploring the nearby city of Bergamo. We spent a couple of hours in Bergamo before our flight home and it was just beautiful. We will absolutely be returning there on a future trip to explore it a bit more!
For us, this trip was more about relaxing and taking some time out of our hectic routines, so we didn’t want to be rushing from one attraction to the next, cramming in as many activities as possible. And for that reason, Milan was perfect.
If you love to check out the local museums, I’d say two to three days would be ideal to properly enjoy the museums without rushing around. But after our trip, I feel you can see most of what Milan has to offer in one day.
Top tip: If museums are your thing, you can enjoy free access to many museums on the first Sunday of every month (except July).
Whether you walk or use the tram system, Milan is very easy to get around. We actually walked everywhere during our stay and clocked up some serious mileage but I love being out and about and really getting a feel for a city. However, if you’re only visiting for one day, I’d suggest using the tram system to make the most of your limited time.
I can’t finish this post without mentioning the fantastic little Airbnb apartment we stayed in. Our host, Viviana, was extremely welcoming and helped us get acquainted with the area by recommending transport options, restaurants and things to do. And our apartment was just awesome! Located in a quiet residential area close to the university, with excellent transport links into the city, it was everything we needed. It also had a cute little balcony, perfect for a morning coffee before we headed out to explore. I can’t recommend it enough. Check out the listing here, and head to Airbnb using this link to secure £25 off your first booking.
While I’m certainly no expert on Milan (we only spent three days there), this post is based solely on our experience. So, if we missed anything you think we should’ve checked out, please let me know in the comments.