Milan is one of those cities that works well for a short break and if you’ve only got three days to spare, don’t worry you can still make the most of it! While there’s a few know-before-you-go facts we’ve covered in our recent blog about Milan, we’re going more in depth here with tips to help you plan out a short city-break to amazing Milano. Let’s get started!
What To See:
Use your first day to get acquainted with the city and do plenty of walking around! You’ll want to head to the city centre to see the famed Duomo di Milano, though this is more of a reconnaissance because you’ll be touring this famous church in full tomorrow. Detour to buy your tickets to the Duomo for the following day. These can range in price from €8 for a basic pass to €25 for fast-track. We bought the Duomo Pass Stairs which costs €13/person and gives you access to the rooftop (which you definitely need to do). You can see all the ticket options here and choose which one works best for you: Duomo di Milano Tickets.
From there, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is just a short jaunt away and well worth walking through. Not only is it Italy’s oldest operating shopping mall, but it features amazing neoclassical architecture and spectacular mosaics that will make you feel like you’re walking through a palace instead of a shopping centre! Buy a gelato (or two) and take your time wandering its marble halls.
Where To Eat:
We happened upon Trattoria Da Pino quite accidentally, and were so glad we decided to walk in! The front room doesn’t look like much—just a bar with a single table—but don’t be fooled, if you walk back behind the bar you’ll find an entire dining area with windows opening onto a lovely garden. It was a bit intimidating for us to enter and find the owner sitting at the front table with a bunch of friends having his own lunch, but he was very friendly about showing us back, and after lunch even let us sample all the chocolates they had on sale so we could make a good decision about which packet of sweets to buy. Plainly put, it’s good Italian fare in a lovely local environment with friendly staff. And for you vegetarians, they’ll make you tasty food too!
Where To Stay:
Whenever possible we like booking with Airbnb when we travel. It’s just more convenient, usually cheaper, and offers great opportunities to meet local people. With that in mind, we also only want to recommend to you guys the best, and the Airbnb we stayed at in Milano easily makes the top of our list. Giuliana and Dario are an amazing couple that we really bonded with during our short time in Milan. They provided everything and were amazing about giving us our space but also open for a chat anytime. We’d recommend them to the stars and beyond because they offered us such an amazing experience. Their flat is also conveniently located and it was really easy to walk or take public transport around the city.
What To See:
Get up early because today is the day you’re going to see the Duomo di Milano! The church officially opens at 8am, but we arrived a bit earlier than that to get some photos of the empty plaza in front. As the day progresses this will get more and more crowded, so early morning is definitely the best time to take photos if you want to avoid the crowds. You also won’t have to deal with a queue waiting to get inside the Duomo. Since you’ve bought your tickets the day before, you can walk right in at 8am and take in the church’s magnificent interior without too many other tourists around. It really is a nice experience and very peaceful inside. You’ll most likely end up doing the roof last, but this is something you don’t’ want to miss. It’s incredibly cool to be able to walk around the top of the church, and you’ll get some of the best views of Milano from up here.
Use the second half of your day to check out Parco Sempione. There’s quite a few sites in and around the park that are must-sees including the Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace), a tribute to Napoleon’s victories, and Castello Sforzesco, a 15th century castle that is well worth strolling through—you can walk the inner courtyard for free, though you will have to pay to get inside the castle itself. If anything, Parco Sempione is just a nice, relaxing way to spend an afternoon and you can even catch a catnap in the shade on one of the many benches if you like!
Where To Eat:
We ate some of the best pizza in Milano, and we have Cinder Mount Pizzeria to thank for that! This is a small pizzeria that seems to be quite popular with the locals. While it may not look like much from the outside, don’t be fooled by appearances, you can get incredible house pizza and wine here for a very reasonable price. We arrived right when the pizzeria opened (6:30pm) and were able to get seated quickly, but beware that the restaurant is small and it didn’t take long for it to fill up. If you’re going to give Cinder Mount a try we recommend arriving between 6:30-7 to make sure you get seated right away. If not, you can always order take-away!
What To See:
After a quick Italian breakfast of croissant and espresso, catch the tram to the Isola district of Milan. ‘Isola’ actually means ‘Island’ in Italian, and that’s exactly what this area is: a cool, quirky island nestled amongst the more urban surroundings of expansive Milan. You’re stepping into a different world when you enter the Isola district. This area is famous for the graffiti art that decorates its streets, but also is a cool place to hang out with lots of trendy boutiques, restaurants, and bars interspersed with the more traditional Italian trattorias and cafes. You can book a tour to take you through Isola’s streets, or you can go with the cheaper option (like we did) and simply wander around. This is a great area to get lost in as it has a small town vibe and lots of really beautiful streets and street art.
After a nice lunch in Isola (check out our recommendation below), make your way to another popular area of Milan: Navigli. Located along a series of canals, this neighbourhood is famous for its plethora of bars and restaurants. There’s also a market set up along the canal until around 5pm when aperitivo (pre-dinner drinks and snacks) usually begins and the restaurants start taking over the walkways with their tables and chairs. Wander the market in the afternoon and sit by the canal in the evening enjoying an aperol spritz and some crisps. You can’t go wrong spending your final evening in Milan here!
Where To Eat:
We really enjoyed a vegetarian-friendly lunch at Bar Frida in the Isola district. This restaurant is colourful, fun, and an incredibly relaxing place to spend your lunch hour recovering from all that walking! If you do decide to go to the Navigli area for aperitivo you can’t go wrong with any of the bars along the canal. All of them offer deals on drinks and free snacks to go with them. We ended up pleasantly drunk here two nights in a row, so it’s definitely a fun area. For good food at a reasonable price, try the Fabbrica. They sell great homemade pizza and a house wine.
Hope you have a blast planning your Milan itinerary! If you need any more tips or have any questions, don’t be shy about leaving a comment or reaching out to us. Happy travels!