Milan is an underestimated Italian destination for travel junkies and backpackers. As the fashion capital of the world, a museum-lover like me wouldn’t think it would be such a marvelous place! And, yes. It’s very Instagrammable 😛
So, why should I go to Milan if shopping is not really my thing?
Unlike most travel bloggers, I’ll start with the best! Skip to the end for the perfectly aligned full two-day sightseeing itinerary.
Getting to Milan
If you’re flying to Bergamo (the low-cost airport), there are a few options to getting to Milano Centrale, Milan’s Central Station. The first one is catching two trains – one from the airport to the village of Bergamo, and the second – to catch a bus! The buses stop right in front of the arrivals gate of the airport, so they are a very convenient option. Getting around in Milan is quite easy using the subway, get a 2-3 day ticket from the ticket machines when you arrive at the subway station Milano Centrale. You can’t purchase tickets on the city buses, so make sure you’ve got one in advance.
Piazza del Duomo
Typical visit time: 15-30 minutes
Before you step into the Cathedral itself, you inevitably need to pass through the gorgeous Duomo square. Please remember that selfies sticks are actually prohibited (yep, that’s a new thing) in the square, due to a few tourists hurting themselves/other people around. You can still take a normal selfie if you feel like it, though!
You’ll see a lot of pigeons and a lot of streetsellers around the square. Be careful, the streetsellers usually come to you and give you something “for free”, pushing it into your hand. Then, of course, they ask you for money. Just try to ignore them and tell them you don’t have any cash on you, only card, maybe they’ll go away fast enough. However, if you do want to feed the pigeons and you didn’t bring any seeds with you, it’s worth buying from one of these guys. They’ll show you how to lure them to your hand! It was awesome, I admit, I quite enjoyed it 🙂
The Infamous Duomo di Milano
Typical visit time: 2-2.5 hours
The tickets to the Duomo vary a bit. I’d recommend getting one of the passes – Duomo Pass A (includes lift) or Duomo Pass B (you have to climb up the old-fashioned way 😀 ). The first one is €16, while the second is €12. Not that much of a difference, to be honest. For more info on the tickets, check their official website here.
To actually buy the tickets, facing the Duomo, go to the right side of it and check the building across the street (queue 1). If you go in close to the closing times to get a ticket for the next day, you might avoid the queues! And then try to go as early as possible on the next day (we went around 9 a.m.) to fully enjoy the terraces hassle-free. You have a total of 4 queues to wait in if you’d like to see it all!
Both of the passes I mentioned above include 4 sights – the inside of the Duomo, the terraces, the archaeological site and the Duomo museum. The main entrance (queue 2) to the inside of the Duomo is where you’d think it might be – right at the center. Through that entrance you can find the archaeological area as well, which, to be honest, was not that impressive at all (but you can take a quick 10-minute stroll to check it out).
After you’ve finished exploring the inside of the Cathedral, head out of the Duomo for the terraces and, facing it, go to its left side. The first entrance you’ll encounter is the stairs one, if you go a bit further to the back corner, you’ll see the lift one (queue 3). We thought we’d save our strength for further sightseeing that day and well.. we took the lift 😀 (lame but plausible excuse! 😛 ) The terraces were absolutely fantastic and the views were breathtaking!
The Museo Del Duomo is on the right side of the square (queue 4, whew). This is the place where, if you don’t have a jet pack handy, you can see some of the elements of the Duomo up close – statuses, gargoyles, and there’s even a dark room full of stained-glass windows! <3
Royal Palace of Milan
Typical visit time: 15-30 minutes
The visit to the Royal Palace of Milan is nothing like the visit to other palaces. Usually, they have different paid exhibitions on display in one part of it, while there are a 4-5 rooms you can explore on your own. It is not as impressive as the UK’s or Spanish palaces, but it’s pretty close, there are no queues, and it’s a quick stroll!
Santa Maria Presso di San Siro
Typical visit time: 15 minutes
Walking around Milan, you’ll find lots of small churches and basilicas. This is a cute hidden gem and even if it’s not open, you can still admire it from outside.
Pinacoteca & Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Typical visit time: 1-1.5 hours
These two attractions – the gallery and library, are housed in the same place, don’t get confused by other travel guides. The Biblioteca is actually only 1 room (but quite large and impressive). The audio guide is not really worth it, as it is an old Android phone that reads everything in the “Google” translate voice… There are no photos allowed inside, only in the gardens, but there were a few quite impressive works of art there! Entrance fee – €15.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle
Typical visit time: 15-30 minutes
This is actually not a gallery – it’s a shopping mall! There you’ll find some of the most high-end brands in the world. The architecture is quite impressive. It is located right next to Piazza di Duomo, you can’t miss it 🙂
Teatro alla Scala
Typical visit time: 30 minutes
Ever since I was a little girl, my mum had been telling me about this absolutely gorgeous Italian theater – La Scala! Okay, maybe I was a bit too hyped for it, but seeing it still felt like a childhood dream coming true. I didn’t see a performance there, just walked around, but I could almost see beautiful ballerinas twirling endlessly on the stage, while a moustached man with a monocle admires them <3 Entrance fee – €9.
Typical visit time: 1 hour
This was by far my favorite art gallery in Milan! The audio guide was great; there is also a video display to let you learn all about Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli – the owner of this house, which was turned into a museum after his death. He collected beautiful pieces of art and his dream was to own a Leonardo (pretty understandable), but since he couldn’t get his hands on one, he has lots of paintings by his disciples. Entrance fee – €10.
Click here to go to Part 2 of the travel guide.
Go to Milan in Style! Order a pair of gorgeous handmade Clandestino Veneto sunglasses at https://clandestinoveneto.co.uk/ and get a discount using ROSIE10.
Two-Day Full Itinerary
Piazza del Duomo ~ 15 minutes
Milan Cathedral, Terraces ~ 1.5 hours
Museo Duomo ~ 45 minutes
Royal Palace of Milan ~ 30 minutes
Santa Maria Presso di San Siro ~ 15 minutes
Pinacoteca & Biblioteca Ambrosiana ~ 1 hour (lots of cute restaurants in this area to have your lunch!)
Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle ~ 15 minutes
Teatro alla Scala ~ 45 minutes
Museo Poldi-Pezzoli ~ 1 hour
Total time: 5 hours 15 minutes; walking time – 20-30 minutes; entrance fees – €50.
Science Museum ~ 1.5 hours
Santa Maria delle Grazie ~ 30 minutes (the Last Supper viewing – book your tickets at least a few weeks earlier!)
Parco Sempione ~ 1 hour
Castello Sforzesco ~ 1.5 hours
Pinacoteca di Brera ~ 1 hour
Total time: 5 hours 30 minutes; walking time – 20-30 minutes; entrance fees – €61.