Last Updated on August 24, 2023
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
By Jim Ferri
While spending a weekend in Milan, we found plenty of places to visit. It was a very good two days.
Milan, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, is a city of commerce and finance, not tourism, which is why many travelers ignore it entirely. That’s a mistake since Milan has many wonderful places to visit.
Milan does have some interesting sights, although not as many as you’ll find in Florence, Rome, Venice and several regions throughout Italy.
But during our two days in Milan my wife and I enjoyed the city immensely. It’s clean, easy to get around and in its restaurants you’ll enjoy delicious Milanese food. Add to that a handful of several interesting sites and you’ll find it’s well worth even a quick stopover.
We stayed at the Windsor Hotel Milano, primarily because it was rated as a four-star hotel and we got a good deal on it ($127 per night through hotels.com). It turned out to be not quite four stars, but close.
It’s a small, clean hotel, with good service and a bar and restaurant. The breakfast buffet was quite good although dinner could use a bit of improvement. It was also well located within easy striking distance of Central Station and less than a $10 taxi ride from any of the places to visit in Milan listed below.
If you can spend two days in Milan, here are the top things to experience. Note that the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and La Scala are all adjacent to one another.
Teatro alla Scala
One of most prestigious opera houses in world, Teatro alla Scala first opened in the late 18th century. Today this beautiful Neoclassical theater is still world-renowned and has one of the largest stages in Europe.
If you love opera but also stick to a budget, you can try to snag one of their discounted tickets. They go on sale two hours before most performances.
When Visiting Milan, Don’t Miss the Duomo
One of the largest churches in the world, Milan’s Gothic Duomo took 500 years to build. It’s the reason its facade includes Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical styles. No matter how long you are staying in Milan, it’s one of the top places to visit. Don’t miss it!
The Duomo is best know for its incredible roof that is covered with spires, gargoyles and statues. It gives it an incredibly ornate appearance when you stand on the huge piazza that fronts it. Inside, beautiful stained glass windows illuminate a vast interior that includes 52 pillars and many tombs and statues.
Tickets to the Duomo are €20, which includes admission to the cathedral, archaeological area, museum and lift to the rooftop. If you’d rather take the stairs to the roof admission is €15). The cathedral is open daily 9am to 7pm (last ticket 6pm).
Another Don’t Miss: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
To the left of the Duomo is another of the city’s treasures, and another of the top places to visit. It’s totally free unless you go on a shopping spree or dine in one of its restaurants.
It is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Also known as Il Salorro di Milano, it is an ornate 19th-century shopping arcade with ornate mosaic floors.
Set in the shape of a Latin cross with different sections representing Europe, America, Asia and Africa. It’s crowned with a magnificent glass roof and dome. It’s unlike anything you’re likely ever to have seen before.
Interspersed with Prada, Armani and other crème de la crème of fashion, are numerous restaurants. They include the famous and historical Savini.
Peek Into Peck
Peck is the legendary Italian food store, Milan’s answer to London’s Fortnum & Mason and Harrods food halls.It’s worth taking a peek into Peck during your visit to Milan.
Although much smaller than either of its British counterparts, its three floors are filled with the best food and wine from Italy. There’s also a restaurant.
It’s the top spot for Italian gourmands and only a block or so off the piazza in front of the Duomo. Buon appetito!
A Must-see for Two Days in Milan: Da Vinci’s Last Supper
Santa Maria delle Grazie is a 15th-century convent whose claim to fame is Leorardo da Vinci’s Last Supper painted on its dining-room wall. Since the painting is tempera painted on a dry wall and not a fresco, it has deteriorated badly over the years despite attempts at restoration.
Although it is not in the center of the city as are other sites, it is one of the top places to visit in Milan not matter how long or short is your visit to the city
During your visit to Milan you need to make a reservation and buy tickets in advance for the 15-minute tour, which you’ll often have to purchase through tour companies that buy up many of the tickets and charge a surcharge.
Or you can do as we did and arrive at the convent when the ticket office opens at 8:30am and hope for the best. We were able to buy two tickets for the 9:30 tour and spent a pleasant hour at Caffé Le Grazie, a pleasant coffee shop across the street.
Pinacoteca di Brera
You’ll find the city’s best collection of art in Pinacoteca di Brera where the Accademia di Belle Art was founded in the 18th century.
Here you can enjoy a diverse and interesting collection that includes works by Modigliani, Canova, Montegna, Bellini, Raphael, Tintoretto and others, all spread through 38 small galleries.
Time your visit for mid-morning and stay in the neighborhood to lunch at one of the small restaurants in the area. We had a nice lunch at La Taverna del Borgo Antico, two nice pastas and wine for €36.
When Visiting Milan Visit the “Fashion Quadrilateral”
During our two days in Milan my wife suggested we make a visit to the Milan’s nearby fashion district, the Quadrilatero della moda. It was an interesting idea since despite Milan being one of the fashion capitals of the world, most people never think of making this fashion district one of their places to visit in Milan.
Some guidebooks call it the “Fashion Quadrilateral” because the small four-square block area is located within the borders of Via Mazoni, Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga and Via Sant’ Andrea. There you’ll see most of the Italian flagship stores of the kings and queens of world fashion, walking about the entire area in about an hour.
If You Go:
Taverna del Borgo Antico
Via Madonnina, 27
Tel: 02 864 611 86
Via Spadari, 9
Tel: +39 02 802 3161
Windsor Hotel Milano
Via Galileo Galilei, 2
Tel: +39 02 6346
Caffè Le Grazie
Corso Magenta, 69
Tel: +39 02 4801 1458