If you ask if a day in Milan is enough, the answer would be no. This Italian city has lot to offer and seeing and enjoying everything in a day is not possible. There are museums to explore, cathedrals to visit, unique malls to shop at and an array of restaurants to try in this city, which is also known as the fashion capital. However, this does not mean that you cannot see anything. In fact, if you have a dedicated a day to Milan during your Italian or European tour, here are some of the best things to do in Milan in one day.
Piazza del Duomo
If you only have time to see just one place in Milan, most people would suggest the Piazza del Duomo. One of the most striking buildings in the city, Piazza del Duomo is a gothic-style cathedral, which is believed to have taken centuries to complete. While the cathedral is impressive from the outside, it is even more beautiful from the inside. However, there is usually a huge queue of visitors to get inside almost every day, especially during the holiday season. As this would not suit your one day trip to Milan, either skip visiting the interior or opt for skip-the-line tickets. Whichever you choose, do not miss the chance to visit the Duomo Terraces. The terraces give you the incredible view of the 135 towers and spires that make for the roof of the cathedral. The view is surreal and amazing, and something that would remind you of your Milan visit for years to come.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
When you are in a new city for just a day, shopping is usually not on your itinerary. But this is not what we are aiming at by mentioning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in this list of things to do in Milan for a day. This 19th century building is one of the oldest shopping malls in the city and one of the most stunning too. Complete with detailed mosaics, glass-roofed gallery and intricate designs, this shopping mall is no less than a museum. In the interiors of the galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are stores of some of the largest brands including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, etc. Shopping at the mall is extremely expensive and not really recommended unless you have the money to splurge. Instead, walk around the place and visit one of the historical restaurants or cafes, and grab a snack or a drink while admiring the structure.
La Scala Opera
Although you may not have the time to watch an opera, a visit to La Scala Opera should be on your itinerary. One of the oldest and the most famous theatres not only in Italy but the entire world, La Scala Opera dates back to 1778. While the exterior of the building is quite plain and not very impressive, the interiors have a different story to tell. A guided tour is available in the afternoon, and it would help you to know more about the history of the place and some poignant performances as well. However, you need to book for the tour in advance.
To be frank, you cannot explore the Castello Sforzesco completely if you only have a day in Milan. This 15th century castle is home to the Dukes of Milan, who ruled the city before it became a part of Italy. The enormous castle is home to numerous museums, art galleries and a huge museum. However, as you are short of time, visiting any of them would be difficult. Instead, choose to roam around the grounds of the castle (for free) and admire the beautiful architecture of this medieval castle. Check out the beautiful fountain, Fontana di Piazza Castello, which is an important part of the castle.
If walking around the landmarks of Milan has exhausted you, take a breather at Porta Sempione, the most beautiful as well as the largest park in the city. Once a part of the Castello Sforzesco, the Porta Sempione welcomes you with the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), not too different from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The garden is filled with grassy fields, shaded walking paths and beautiful, colourful flowers. Relax and give your legs the much needed rest for some time, before you head to the next location.
Although you would not be able to see all the art works that Milan is famous for, there is one you must not miss. Head to Cencolo Vinciano to get your eyes on the large mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The only problem is getting an entry ticket at the last moment is nearly impossible. All the slots are booked months before. So, if you have had some time planning your holiday, this is the one you need to book as soon as possible. Once you have the tickets, you can enter the place and have a look at the marvellous painting for 15 minutes without interruption. This is surely one of the most worthy things to do in Milan.
Brera Design District
It makes sense to end an eventful day in the city of Milan at the trendiest neighbourhood, Brera Design District. It is home to the Academy of Fine Arts, the 18th century school of arts, which is the alma mater of several renowned artists. Moreover, Picacoteca di Brera, the largest art museum in Milan, is also located here. If you arrive early, do take time to visit the museum, the astronomical observatory as well as the Braidense National Library, which is beautiful and one of the unknown gems of the city. Once you take a quick tour of the museum, explore the neighbourhood by walking on the cobbled streets. As the night sets in, Brera comes to life, and you get to enjoy its classic boutiques, gourmet restaurants and quaint cafes.
Apart from visiting the above mentioned places, take time to enjoy the classic Italian dishes as well as a cone of the most famous Italian ice cream, gelato (one would definitely not be enough). A day’s tour in Milan would be exhausting but nothing less than exhilarating. Moreover, as soon as you are travelling away from the city, you would be making plans to have a longer holiday in this fashionable Italian city.