3 days in Milan

3 Days in Milan (Perfect Milan Itinerary!)

3 days in Milan is a good amount of time to see one of the most interesting cities in Italy. Milan is full of incredible cultural sights and if you’re a sports fan, you can check out one of the most famous stadiums in the world.

The San Siro is world-famous as a sporting venue, and visiting is a must even if you’re not into sports. If you’re looking for more conventional places to visit, then the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco are just of the many great landmarks in Milan.

This Milan itinerary will let you know the places you should visit and where to stay, during a visit to the city.

Italy is a big country with a lot of fascinating places to check out but Milan has to be on your list because of its history and cultural heritage. Even if you visit Milan in 3 days, it’s better than nothing!

If you’re wondering what to do in Milan for 3 days, this guide is for you.

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How to spend 3 days in Milan

Quick 3 Days in Milan itinerary
Day 1 – Walk around Milan, Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Day 2 – Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione, Isola
Day 3 – The Last Supper, Teatro alla Scala, Navigli District

My thoughts on Milan

I was looking forward to visiting Milan for several reasons.

One was to check out the Duomo, which is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen. Another was to visit the San Siro and watch a match there, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. Finally, learning more about the city’s past was behind my reasons for visiting too.

It’s fair to say Milan ticked all these boxes and I was pleasantly surprised by the city. It doesn’t have the allure of Rome or the coastlines of other places in Italy but it’s still got a lot to offer.

It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy and with so much to see and do there, you might be wondering how many days in Milan you might need. You can spend 3 days in the city and still have lots to see, so three is the absolute minimum in my eyes.

That’s what happened to me, as I only realised the city was home to Da Vinci’s Last Supper when I arrived and I didn’t have time to check out several museums too.

Milan is a great city, and you’ll have a fantastic time should you visit. Maybe, just plan your trip a bit better than I did!

Some of the best places to visit in Milan

As one of the biggest cities in Italy, there are plenty of things to do in Milan. This is one of the best things about visiting the city as you won’t run out of stuff to do.

If you’re wondering what to do in Milan, I have listed a few of the best places to see to ease some of the pressure on the decision-making front.

One thing you should do before you go is to purchase a Milan City Card. This pass gives you a discount on numerous activities in the city and you’ll also get money off at select restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops.

It’s a useful thing to have with you, and will allow you to save an extra bit of money on your trip!

Duomo

The Duomo in Milan

The Duomo is the cathedral in the heart of Milan and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s an incredible sight.

It towers above you and is huge. As it’s in the centre of the city and a big square, it’s always packed full of people. Unless you visit in the dead of night, you’re going to have to contend with masses of tourists all vying for a shot of the cathedral.

Once you’ve got your shot of the Duomo, you need to go inside to appreciate just how incredible it is. As it’s one of the most popular places in Milan, it’s best to book ahead to ensure you’re able to visit.

A guided tour is a good idea as you’ll learn all about the history of the building and its importance to Milan.

San Siro

Exterior of the San Siro in Milan

If you’re a football fan or a fan of sport, then a visit to the San Siro is a must in Milan. It’s an iconic stadium with a lot of history and stature in the game.

If you can, try and watch a match at the San Siro. Normally, this means coinciding your trip with a match, but as both the Milan sides – AC and Inter – play at the San Siro this shouldn’t be too difficult.

I was able to get tickets for a midweek match easily enough when I was there and this was during the pandemic. 

Should you be unable to get tickets for a match, a stadium tour is the next being thing and something you can do anyway, even if you go to a match. Visiting the museum and getting pitchside are experiences you won’t forget anytime soon!

Milan itinerary – Day 1

Free walking tour

Garden in Milan

Whenever I visit a new city, the first thing I do is check in to my accommodation, drop off my bags and go and explore.

This usually involves me walking in one direction and seeing where I end up. Most of the time, this goes well. But there are the odd occasions where I end up in some random place and lose any semblance of where I am.

I realise this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you want something more structured you can go on a free walking tour. These are offered by most hostels, or if you can’t find one, you can book a bike tour of the city for example.

This way, you’ll get to see most of the interesting sights in Milan while getting a feel for the city.

Win-win!

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Duomo

The Duomo at night

The Duomo is one of the most impressive buildings in Milan and it’s one you can’t leave the city without visiting.

Once you’ve finished your walking tour, which will have included the Duomo I’m sure, it’s worth heading back there to see it and go inside.

You need to take a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the building. It’s an unbelievable piece of architecture and as impressive as it is from the outside, it’s even more impressive inside.

Book a guided tour to learn more about the history of the building and to see everything inside. Plus, this way you’re guaranteed not to miss out on getting inside!

Book Your Tour Now

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Right next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This is the perfect place to go after you’ve checked out the incredible cathedral.

The galleria is Italy’s oldest active shopping gallery, it opened in 1877, and is a magnificent piece of architecture. If you love shopping, then you have to visit, if you don’t, then the architecture will more than satisfy you. That said, there is a great book shop in the galleria I highly recommend checking out!

I spent a good few minutes marvelling at the beauty of the galleria, in between trying to avoid photobombing the multiple people taking selfies! You’ll also find some of the best places to eat in Milan here, albeit, they are on the more expensive side.

If you want to really appreciate the galleria, it might be best to visit early in the morning or later at night when there are fewer people. This way you’ll have more time to yourself to appreciate how impressive it is!

Milan itinerary – Day 2

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco

One of the most underrated places to visit in Milan is Castello Sforzesco. If you’ve spent 3 days in Turin and seen the Palazzo Reale, then you’ll have an idea of what you’ll find inside even if there are a few differences.

The castle is a 15th-century citadel and is a must-visit while you’re in the city. Not only for its architectural beauty but because it’s home to several museums.

Wandering around the grounds is a lot of fun and it’s free, but you will need to pay to go to the museums. Luckily, you can purchase one ticket which lets you visit all the museums on the grounds.

Among these, you’ll find the Pinacoteca, which is home to some impressive Renaissance art, a museum dedicated to ancient Egypt and a Museum of Musical Instruments. You’ll also find an art gallery that has numerous works by well-renowned artists.

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Parco Sempione

Arco della Pace

Just behind the Castello Sforzesco is Parco Sempione, so it makes to wander around the park once you’ve explored the castle.

The park is one of the best things about Milan as it’s a huge green space in the middle of the city that’s highly accessible. If it’s a hot day, there are not many better places to cool off than in the shade of the numerous trees in the park.

You can also amble around the park and take it all in too. You’ll also get some impressive views of the castle if you turn around and look back.

The park is also home to the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), which was built in 1838 after work initially started in 1807 when Milan was under Napoleonic rule. It might not have the mystique or the majestic of the similar Arc de Triomphe, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Isola

Casa della Memoria in Isola
Ettorre (gregorio), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to get out of the city centre and see a grittier side of Milan, then you need to take a trip to the Isola district.

You can reach Isola via the metro if you get off Milano Porta Garibaldi station. The reason for its distinctive vibe is that the district was cut from the rest of the city until the Porta Nuova business district was built.

You’ll find plenty of street art in Isola, which is one of the main reasons for visiting. It’s not hard to spend a large portion of your time walking around trying to find all the great pieces of art.

Despite the increasing gentrification of Isola, it still retains a gritty vibe and the mix of thrift stores, hipster outlets and cafes make it a great place to visit to see another side of Milan.

Milan itinerary – Day 3

The Last Supper

Santa_Maria_delle_Grazie
Marcin Białek, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the world, and until I visited Milan I was unaware the city was home to it.

My excitement at finding this out was tempered by the fact you need to purchase tickets well in advance of your visit to Milan.

The painting is on one of the walls in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and although I didn’t get to visit, if you can book tickets to ensure you see it, you should.

I want to go back to Milan to see the painting one day, and you can’t really spend 3 days in Milan without checking one of the most famous works of art in the world.

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Teatro alla Scala

Teatro alla Scala

The Teatro alla Scala, as you might have guessed by the name, is a theatre in the centre of Milan.

Even if you’re not a fan of theatre, it’s worth checking out as it’s a beautiful building and the square it sits in is impressive too.

That said, if you do like the theatre and want to see a show, then the theatre will be high on your list of places to visit.

This would be a perfect way to spend part of your time in Milan. Either by watching a show or taking a look around the theatre itself.

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Navigli District

Navigli District

The Navigli District is one of the lesser-known parts of Milan, but it’s also one of the most interesting and vibrant.

The district gets its name from the series of canals that comprise the area, with the Navigli district the biggest. The district is a throwback to Milan’s past when the canals were more prominent in the city.

What makes Navigli a great place to check out is the lively cafe and restaurant culture here. It’s the perfect place to go off an evening to get something to eat. I went to a restaurant here and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the general vibe in the area.

A walk around the district in the evening to get something to eat and then a few drinks afterwards at a bar or two is the ideal way to spend your last night in Milan! If you want to see as much of the district as you can, then a canal tour with wine and snacks is a good idea.

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Other places to visit in Milan

  • Day trip to Bergamo – Bergamo is one of the best day trips from Milan you can do. It’s only an hour from Milan by train and is worth visiting if you’re staying in Milan for longer than three days.
  • Science and Technology Museum – This is a great museum to visit if you want to learn more about Da Vinci’s past and some of the inventions he came up with during his life. Book your ticket now!
  • Branca Tower – If you want to get some spectacular views of Milan from up high, then going to the top of Branca Tower in Parco Sempione is a must! Book your ticket now!

Milan travel tips

Where to stay in Milan

The good thing about visiting Milan is that there are plenty of places to stay.

As one of the biggest cities in Italy, there’s a multitude of options when it comes to accommodation. From hostels to hotels and Airbnbs, you have plenty to choose from. One thing you do have to consider is what part of the city you stay in.

You can stay close to the centre, which will cost more but is more convenient, or stay a bit further out, which will be cheaper but will require you to use the metro to get around. I stayed out of the centre close to the San Siro in a hostel and it was fine.

The good transport network in Milan means getting around is easy. Walking wasn’t that bad either, though it’s probably only best if you know where you’re going as it’s easy to get lost unless you’re in the centre.

I’ve included a few places you should consider staying at below.

Cost of travel in Milan

Cemetry in Milan

3 days in Milan might not be the longest time to spend in the city but if you’re not careful you can end up spending a lot. Milan is one of the most expensive cities in Italy, so it pays to have a budget when you do visit.

Italy is cheaper than other countries in Europe such as Germany and the Netherlands, but it can be expensive. It depends on what you do in Milan too. If you plan to buy a lot from the fashion houses here, then you’ll eat into your budget quickly.

That said, if you’re clever, you can have a great trip on a modest budget with plenty left over for tours or watching a football match.

Below is a rough guide to prices for accommodation, eating out and transport in Milan.

They don’t include prices for extras such as nights out at a bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenirs/clothing purchases, tours. etc. You will have to budget extra for these purchases as they are ‘non-essential!’ 

Bed icon
Accommodation

Hostel: Dorm – €15-35; Private – €50-90
Hotels: €80-150
Rental Apartment: €60-150

Restaurant Icon
Food and Drink

Breakfast: €2-€4
Dinner: €9-18
Takeaway meal: €2.50-5+
Pint of beer: €4-5

 

Transport icon
Transport

City Metro / Bus: €1.50
Day card: €4.50
Bike rental: €1.50 for 90 minutes
Train from airport to city centre: €12

 

Best time to visit Milan

Inside Castello Sforzesco

The best time to visit Milan is from March to June. The weather isn’t too hot at this time of the year and there should be fewer tourists in the city too. I visited Milan in October and this was a good time to visit too, but it was noticeably colder. September would be another good month to visit if you want warm weather and quieter crowds.

While the weather in Italy will be warmer and less volatile during the summer, it can be hot. This means it can often be better to visit outside of the June to August period.

If you can stand the cold weather and the potential for rain, the winter months are a good time to visit. But you will need to consult a packing list for Italy before you do!

Milan in Spring

Spring is arguably the best time to visit Milan. You’re going to get warm weather without the heat you’ll experience in summer. Plus, you’re likely to see fewer tourists than you would during the summer months.

Average temperatures from low to high: 3.8° – 22.3° C / 38.8° – 72.1° F

Milan in Summer

The weather in Milan is much warmer during the summer. Temperatures regularly get in the high 20s and low 30s. The temperature rarely goes above the mid-30 range, with the record high being 37.2. But if you’re not a fan of high temperatures, it might be best to visit at a different time of the year.

Average temperatures from low to high: 15.4° – 29.2° C / 59.7° – 84.6° F

Milan in Autumn

Milan is much cooler in the autumn although it does depend on what month you visit. September will be slightly colder than the summer months, while October can still be warm. This was when I visited and I was able to walk around in shorts at one point. Expect mild temperatures on the most part with the odd rain shower.

Average temperatures from low to high: 3.7° – 24.4° C / 38.7° – 75.9° F

Milan in Winter

If you like cold weather, then Milan in winter is for you. The north of Italy can get cold during the winter months and Milan is no exception. You’ll find fewer tourists at this point of the year, but you will have to brave the cold weather at the same time.

Average temperatures from low to high: -0.9° – 9° C / 30.4° – 48.2° F

How to get around Milan

Park in Milan

Milan is a big city. I wish I’d realised when I got out of the train station and decided to walk to my accommodation instead of getting the metro. An hour later, I was there a lot more tired and with much less battery on my phone!

This is probably the most important thing to know about Milan: if you want to get around you’ll need to use the metro system. Thankfully, it’s reasonably priced and will save you a lot of time.

You have two options in regards to buying a ticket. You can do what I did and get a 3-day ticket which costs €12 and allows you to travel anywhere within the city centre. Or, you can get a Milan city pass, which costs more at €19.50 for 3 days, but as well as the metro you also get free or discounted access to museums, tours and restaurants.

While you can walk around Milan, it’s only advisable if you’re walking from one attraction to another that’s close by. I spent one of my days walking around the city and realised how big it was and hard to find your way around if you’re not familiar with it.

If you’re looking to get from Milan to an airport, then it’s handy to know which one, as there are three near Milan! The biggest, Milan Malpensa, can be reached easily via the Malpensa express train which runs every 30 minutes from Cadorna and Milan Central railway stations.

For the other two, Linate and Bergamo, one is easier than the other. Linate is only a few kilometres outside the city centre so you can get a taxi there if needs be. Bergamo airport is actually in Bergamo, so you’ll have to get a train from Milan Central which takes an hour.

For more info on getting to and from airports, check out this handy post.

Is 3 days in Milan enough?

You should be able to see almost everything in Milan in 3 days. As big as the city is, it’s not on the same scale as Rome or London, so you can comfortably enjoy the city without rushing around.

3 days in Milan will give you plenty of time to see all the amazing sights in this great city. If you have more time, that’s brilliant. But if you’re constrained by how long you can spend in the city, 3 days is a good amount of time to spend there.

Have you visited Milan? Did you some of the things on my itinerary? What’s your favourite place in the city? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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