Milan-Duomo

What to do in Milan for 3 days: your need-to-know city guide

Discover the best things to see and do on your Italian city break

Chloe Best

Milan is ideally suited for a three-day city break, with more than enough to keep you entertained for 72 hours. From art and culture to fine food and designer shopping, there's something for everyone here, and you'll experience them all with our ultimate three-day itinerary.

1st Day:

Morning: Visit Duomo, Milan's most famous landmark

What better way to start your trip than with a trip to the city's most famous landmark? The Duomo is a resplendent cathedral that is home to more statues than any other in the world, many of which are located on the rooftop. After taking a guided tour of the inside, climb up to the roof, where you'll see spectacular views across the city.

Refuel after your tour with gelato from Vanilla Gelati Italiani, one of the city's most popular dessert shops that serves a range of different flavours, as well as vegan gelato – a real treat for anyone who wants to sample the Italian delicacy without having dairy.

Afternoon: See contemporary art and sip on cocktails at Museo del Novecento

Head to the nearby Museo del Novecento, a contemporary art museum that overlooks the Duomo. Not only will you find one of Italy's largest collections of twentieth century art, but you'll be able to unwind afterwards with food and cocktails at the museum's rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar, Giacomo Arengario.

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Alternatively: If you're more of a fan of the classics, pay a visit to Pinacoteca di Bera, a museum that is home to an impressive collection of classical art from Rembrandt, Mantegna, Bellini and Caravaggio.

Evening: Opera at La Scala

End your day of culture with opera or ballet at the world-famous opera house Teatro alla Scala. You can get a 25 per cent discount on tickets at the box office in the hour before every performance, for an impromptu evening of entertainment.

2nd Day:

Morning: Tuck into an Italian breakfast and explore Castello Sforzesco

Get your day underway with coffee and brioche at one of the many authentic Italian bars before taking a stroll to Castello Sforzesco, the Renaissance castle that is known for its beautiful courtyards, impressive architecture and rich history. The castle also has Michelangelo's unfinished artwork, the Pietà Rondanini, on display. Entrance costs €10, or consider buying the Milan City Card if you want to visit numerous landmarks during your visit. Offering free Milan public transport and free or discounted access to top attractions across the city, a 72-hour card costs €19 and is well worth the investment if you're going to visit the major landmarks.

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While you're there you could also take a stroll around Parco Sempione, the beautiful park that runs behind the castle and has a lake and a steel tower with 108 metre high platform that provides scenic panoramic views over the park and castle.

Afternoon: Visit the designer shops at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Milan is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world, and nowhere is it more evident than at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a glass-vaulted shopping arcade that dates from 1870 and houses Prada's original store. Even if you don't quite have the budget for the designer boutiques, you can do some window shopping before settling down at Camparino for an aperitivo and some people watching.

Evening: Indulge in a meal at a Michelin-star restaurant

Treat yourself to a special meal at one of the city's Michelin-star restaurants, like Felix Lo Basso. Located on the fifth floor of the TownHouse Duomo Hotel, here you'll enjoy innovative Mediterranean cuisine with panoramic views from the terrace.

Alternatively: If you fancy something a little more low-key, pay a visit to one of Milan's many trattorias to sample dishes like Risotto alla Milanese, a rich, creamy risotto infused with saffron to give it a distinctive golden hue.

3rd Day:

Morning: Visit Da Vinci's Last Supper and enjoy a leisurely lunch

You can't leave Milan without going to see The Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece. The artwork is on display at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Due to its popularity the site can get incredibly crowded so arrive as early as possible to beat the queues. Entry starts at 7am.

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Head for lunch at Peck Italian Bar, a traditional yet informal restaurant where you can feast on antipasti, risotto, spaghetti or salads, before enjoying one last taste of gelato or tiramisu.

Afternoon: Take a boat cruise along the Navigli Grande

Head down to Milan's canal network for a leisurely boat cruise, taking in the cool, bohemian vibe as you pass cafés, art galleries, book shops and more. Some of the canals were designed by Leonardo da Vinci, and are well worth visiting to see another side of the city. Or if you want to visit the independent shops and cafés along the canal network, you could also pay a visit on foot, stopping for coffee or panzerotti – a small deep-fried pastry stuffed with cheese and tomato. Delicious!

Alternatively: Spend your last few hours relaxing at QC Termemilano, a luxurious day spa surrounded by a 16th century Spanish wall that has numerous pools, lounge areas and a sauna that is housed within an old tram car.

Where to stay in Milan:

Bulgari Milan: Should your budget stretch, a stay at Bulgari Milan will enjoy your city break is truly outstanding. This five-star hotel is located within a renovated 18th century Milanese palazzo and has a spacious private garden, spa, fitness centre and numerous restaurants as well as luxurious rooms and suites. Rooms from £720 per night.

Ostello Bello: On the opposite end of the spectrum is Ostello Bello, an award-winning hostel that regularly hosts exhibitions and live music, with a handy location just a short walk away from the Piazza del Duomo. Rooms start at £35 per night.

How to get to Milan:

Direct flights run from the UK to Milan in around 1hr 55 minutes. Many leading airlines operate flights to the city, including British Airways, easyJet and FlyBE.