Planning on a weekend trip in Milan? – Check out these Must Do's
August 31, 2018
by Lotta Viljakainen
Are you excited to see Milan but have only a few days to explore the city? No worries! Though Milan is a big city, the second biggest in Italy, you can definitely see the best parts of the city in a short time – as long as you know where to go.
Due to our limited schedule, we had only three days to explore Milan. Luckily, we have a friend who lives there and she was happy to show us around the city. After having a successful weekend there, we wanted to share our experience with you. So here’s how you can make the most out of Milan in three days.
Day 1: Sightseeing in the center of Milan
Duomo Di Milano
When you think of Milan, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably the Duomo Di Milano. The dom of Milan is one the most popular sights in the city, and for a good reason! Its fascinating details and beautiful cream marble decor makes this gothic style cathedral one of a kind. For us, it was definitely the first thing we wanted to see.
My suggestion is to go to the rooftops of the dom. Firstly, you will have an impressive view of the city itself and secondly, the inside of the dom is very intriguing. The ticket is a fair price and there are two ticket options: you can either take the stairs or take the elevator. The stairway is quite narrow so if you have any troubles in moving I would suggest the elevator.
There is a lot happening in the surroundings of Duomo Di Milano and especially this part of the city is very lively. You will have a chance to enjoy the performances of street artists and talented musicians. It’s also a great place to start your tour as the location is very central.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is a shopping center, right next to the Duomo Di Milano, which is known for high fashion and great architecture. The center is built between 1865 and 1867, which makes it the oldest shopping center of Milan. This is a great place to get the first touch to the fashionable side of Milan.
In the middle of the floor, you can find a mosaic bull, the city’s symbol. The legend says that if you place your heel on the testicles of the bull and spin around three times backwards, it will ward off bad spirits and bring good luck.
You can also find dining places there. If you want to have another great view of the dom, I suggest visiting Terrazza Aperol. Have a cocktail and enjoy the light summer breeze on top of the roof.
After enjoying the surroundings of the dom, we continued to the historical part of the city. The first stop was the Castello Sforzesco. Getting there is a great opportunity to see the city as the castle is within walking distance. The castle was built in the 15th century and is nowadays mainly housing museums and art collections. It is also one of the most popular attractions in Milan.
On the other side of the castle, you will find a park which is a great place to have a picnic. Though it is for sure a tourist attraction, you can find also many locals enjoying their day in the park area. Walking around in the park whilst listening to the many street musicians there creates an amazing atmosphere!
On the other side of the Castello Sforzesco park, you can find the city gate of Milan, Porta Sempione. It is not only impressively huge and beautiful but it also has an interesting history, as it has been a part of the Roman walls.
If you are looking for opportunities to catch a great photo, you should visit Porta Sempione before sunset, in the golden hour. It is a guarantee for getting a nice shot!
Day 2: Shops and canals
Via Monte Napoleone
Warm up your credit card! Milan is one of the biggest fashion cities in the world so the second day for us was a shopping day. In the surrounding of the dom, you can find a lot of shopping opportunities so I would recommend starting there. If you are looking for something special you should visit Via Monte Napoleone. It is the highway for luxury brands such as Prada, Chanel, and Gucci. It is also the most expensive street in the whole of Europe. Even if you are not into the shopping and fashion scene, it’s quite interesting to walk around the streets and watch the trendy people passing by.
Naviglio Grande – the Venice of Milan – is something you don’t want to miss. This area wakes up to live especially in the evening. A lot of people gather there to have fun and enjoy the warm evenings of Milan near to the canals. The atmosphere is very relaxed. Take a wine bottle to share and enjoy the evening near the running water. It is also definitely a great party district with a lot of bars and clubs to choose from.
Day 3: A day trip to Lago di Garda
Lake Garda is surrounded by small villages, Sirmione being the most popular one. We took the train to Desenzano Del Garda-Sirmione and a ferry from there to the village. It is a perfect getaway to enjoy the sunny day outside of the city. The village itself is very charming but wait until you see the shore!
If you are up for a little travel during your stay, you should visit the amazing lake Garda (Lago di Garda). It is only 1,5 hours away from the central station of Milan and you can easily spend the whole day there.
However, I have to admit that Sirmione is quite packed with both tourists and locals. So if you are looking for a more peaceful place to visit, I recommend you to check the other towns surrounding Lake Garda such as Desenzano, Malcesine, Limone or Tignale.
Other practical tips
It is quite easy to move around Milan by walking but for longer distances, I suggest the tram. Please note that you have to buy the ticket before getting on to the tram. The easiest way to buy a ticket is in the Tabacco stores. I suggest taking the day ticket as it is cheaper than buying a separate ticket for every ride.
Take advantage of the Aperitives. You can find many restaurant offering this especially nearby the center. The selection is usually great and there are many possibilities for drinks. So how does it work? Basically, you buy a drink for 10-12 euros and then you can eat as much as you want from the buffet that the restaurant has prepared. Pretty great, huh?
If you want to get a taste of a real Italian pizza, the best place in town is Pizza AM. Not only it was the best pizza we have ever tasted, the service was amazing! No wonder this restaurant had been voted for the best pizzeria for three years in a row. The place is small but charming and the pizza is truly heavenly. Make sure you get there early, as there is usually a queue already before the pizzeria opens.
There are many hotels in Milan but if you are traveling on a budget, I recommend AirBnB. We were staying in one in the Southern-East part of the city and found the location great as it felt safe and wasn’t too far away from the center. There are buses and trams going all the time and it takes only around 20 minutes to get to the center.