One Week in Milan: The Perfect 7 Day Itinerary for Northern Italy

one week in Milan

Milan is a destination everyone should visit at least once with a reputation for creativity, fashion, design, and history. The capital of Lombardy in Northern Italy, Milan is also the fashion capital of the world. One week in the city is the perfect time to tour all the must-see sights and the best of the surrounding regions. 

Milan is the second-most populous city in the country and the economic heart of Italy. It might be the workhorse of the north, but it’s so much more than industry and finance. Milan is the base for some of the world’s most prolific designers, world-famous artworks, and breathtaking monuments. Milan is also a great vantage point to Northern Italy’s most impressive scenery. Our guide will make sure you can tick a few more bucket list spots off your Italy travel list. 

From the Duomo to Da Vinci’s Last Supper and the manicured stores of Dolce & Gabbana, there’s something for everyone in our one-week guide to Milan. Let’s get into it. 

Day 1: The Duomo, Trattorie Lunch, and The Natural History Museum 

The Duomo Italy
Photo by Envato Elements

First things first, it’s time to get to know the city that draws over eight million foreign visitors a year. That means exploring some of the most popular tourist hotspots before uncovering Milan’s hidden gems.  

If you’re planning to follow our itinerary, booking accommodation close to the Central Station will save you the most time and money when it comes to getting around. There are tons of hotels on nearby, starting from $50 a night and vacation rentals from $80. As Italy’s economic hub, Milan isn’t a cheap city. But it is easy to snap up deals on accommodation and attractions, especially if you visit outside the peak summer months. 

Getting around Milan is easy using the metro, bus, or tram. Start your first day with a visit to The Duomo. You’ll likely be familiar with this masterpiece of a cathedral before traveling to the city. With its pink marble facade, towering spires, and mesmerizing gold statue of the “la Madunina,” the Virgin Mary, it’s Milan’s most iconic sight. 

Get off the subway at Duomo station and scale the stairs to the Piazza, where the Gothic Duomo will greet you. It costs just €2 to enter, and the queues will be worth it. Spend the morning marveling in the stained glass and statues and visit the terraces if the weather is nice. It costs €8 on foot and €13 to take the lift, but you won’t be disappointed. 

Be sure to walk around the outside of the Duomo before you leave. The facade is impressive from all angles, and you’ll get fantastic views of every side from Piazza Fontana and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, where you can pause for a coffee and some light shopping. 

During the week, a traditional Milan trattoria is the perfect place for lunch and an authentic Italian dining experience. These family-run restaurants offer affordable local specialties in a laidback retro setting. From the Duomo, you can take the metro to the Isola/Garibaldi neighborhood, which is chocked full of charming eateries. 

From here, you’re within easy reaching distance of the city’s best museums. Spend the afternoon perusing the Museo di Storia Naturale set in a spectacular city garden or the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, which houses an impressive art collection in an aristocrat’s house. Then, end your first day with a real Milanese Aperitivo. 

The people of Milan typically leave work around 6 pm to meet for drinks and snacks at the city’s numerous bars all year-round. From crisps and olives to buffet trays, you can fill up for less than €10 while nursing a bitter negroni or Aperol spritz. Enjoy the post-work buzz in the city and feel like a local for the night before heading to bed for an early start the following day. 

Day 2: The “Last Supper” and Parco Sempione 

Parco Sempione in Milan
Photo by Envato Elements

Starting bright and early, you can take the metro line 1 just three stops from Milan’s central station to Conciliazione, changing at Cadorna, from which the Santa Maria Delle Grazie is just a five-minute walk. The Dominican convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper” painting is housed in the basilica’s refectory. 

It can be a real hassle getting tickets, with your best bet being to book two months before or turn up on the day at around 8 am in the hope of snapping up an unsold agency ticket that’s been put back on sale at the ticket office. Visiting in the low season from October to May will give you the best chance of getting in. 

The “Last Supper” is one of the most celebrated paintings globally and with such monumental simplicity that it has become a colossal marker of Renaissance art. Each slot allows just 25 visitors to marvel at the vast masterpiece for 15 minutes. This is thought to prevent excess dust and dirt particles from accelerating the painting’s deterioration. 

After your visit, wander the small courtyard of the Basilica di Santa Maria Delle Grazie before heading to the Parco Sempione for the afternoon, another singular stop on the metro or a pleasant 15-minute stroll away. It is often referred to as Milan’s Central Park and is a sight to see in its own right, just like its New York counterpart. 

There’s a collection of buildings in different architectural styles which will all give you great views of the city. Check out De Chirico’s Fountain, and depending on the time of year, laze on the grass and soak up the sun. Grab a takeout pizza and enjoy an Al Fresco dinner while the sun sets over Milan. 

Day 3: Florence

Sunset in Florence
Photo by Envato Elements

Milan is a gateway into Northern Italy. With seven days to spare, you have more than enough time to branch out beyond the city limits and explore some of the surrounding regions. Both Venice and Florence are in easy reaching distance of Milan and equally fascinating cities with vastly different atmospheres from Milan’s urban vibe.  

Florence is the closer of the two, but as the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, it feels a world away from Milan’s bustling streets. Romantic and irresistible, the Renaissance city is the perfect place to soak up world-class art, architecture, and food. 

Check out our five-day Florence itinerary for some ideas on how to spend your time in the city. From the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti to boat tripping down the Arno river, you could easily squeeze the best of what Florence has to offer into an enchanting day trip.

You can take the train directly from Milano Centrale, running every half an hour and taking just 1 hour 40 minutes on the fastest Frecciarossa and Italo services. Ticket prices start as low as €10 each way for the 190-mile journey, and the last train leaves Florence just before 10 pm, leaving plenty of time to enjoy dinner at the Piazzale Michelango before heading back to Milan for midnight. 

Day 4: Brunch, the Teatro alla Scara, and Castello Sforzesco

Teatro alla Scara
Photo by Envato Elements

Day 4 is deserving of a slow start—there are tons of cool brunch spots in Isola, the neighborhood near Garibaldi Station. Check out the Deus and Capra e Cavoli for artsy coffees and sweet treats or the iconic Sheraton Diana Majestic Hotel for an elegant mid-morning feast. 

Get back to the center in six stops on the metro line 3. On the opposite side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II and its fancy shops and restaurants in the Piazza Della Scala. Here, you’ll find one of the world’s most famous opera theatres, the Teatro all Scala. 

You can enter in several ways and even book a guided tour to visit the Museo Teatrale all Scalla, documenting the history of opera. But the best way to take in the theatre in all its splendor is getting tickets to a performance. You can attend a matinee if you fancy spending the afternoon listening to the spectacular vocals of some of the country’s best singers or return for a magical evening performance. 

Depending on the time you have, you can finish the afternoon at Castello Sforzesco. This iconic sight was the home of Milan’s 15th-century rulers, and Leonardo Divinci once lived here while working on the “Last Supper.” The Castello now comprises several museums and galleries from Egyptian art to the history of musical instruments. Be sure to check out Leonardo’s Sala Delle Asse in the Museum of Ancient art, as well as Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini, his last masterpiece housed in its own museum.  

Day 5: Lake Como

views from Lake Como
Photo by Envato Elements

With an area of 146 square kilometers, Lake Como is the third-largest but deepest lake in Italy and arguably the most iconic. Fringed with mansions and three cities on its banks, the vast expanse of water is a bucket list destination and worth visiting in Northern Italy

Just one hour by train from Milan’s Porta Garibaldi train station, Como is the largest city around the lake, and the charming streets are worth the haul enough without Como’s waters. Booking a boat trip is a must when visiting Lake Como, but private charters can be pricy. Hop on the water taxi for a budget but authentic experience, and see the picturesque village of Brunete, which offers excellent views of the lake. 

Enjoy lunch in Brunete, wander in and out of the souvenir shops and craft houses, and check out the surrounding villages by water taxi. The Basilica di Sant’Abbondio is worth visiting, as is the Porta Torre and the Old City Walls. Check out the Como Silk Museum if you have time and tour the Villa Olmo for some James Bond-style mansion elegance.   

The last train to Milan from Como San Giovanni leaves at around 10.30 pm, leaving more than enough time to enjoy dinner and drinks at Ristorante La Cucina di Elsa or the Grand Tremezzo Hotel. 

Day 6: Galleries and the Torre Branca

Torre Branca in Milan
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Back in Milan, there’s still lots left to see. The city has so much to offer in museums and galleries, and day six is perfect for exploring the best of Milanese art and artifact.

Check out the Pinacoteca di Brera, a magnificent palazzo used by Napolean with medieval and Renaissance masterpieces by the likes of Mantegna, Raphael, and Piero Della Francesca. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is just a 15-minute walk away, housing some of Davinci’s codexes and a Caravaggio fresco. And for where art meets science, be sure to visit the Museu Nazionale Della Scienza e Della Tecnologia. Dedicated to Davinci’s scientific contributions, the museum can be reached in less than 20-minutes on foot from the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and has something for everyone.

A busy morning calls for lunch on the go between gallery visits. Milan is fantastic for street food, and you’ll find the most options in the Navigli area, or you can grab a pizza slice from Panzarotto or Spontini near Duomo Square. Treat yourself to an ice cream from Cioccolati Italiani after a day chocked full of cultural education before heading up the Torre Branca for the best city views. 

Milan’s answer to the Eiffel Tower is a dramatic iron structure located in Parco Sempione. You can take a lift to the scenic terrace, 108.6 meters from the ground, and take in the breathtaking, if not vertigo-inducing, panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape. Head to the trendy Porta Nuova district for dinner. 

Day 7:  Shopping and Navigli

Navigli canal
Photo by Envato Elements

No trip to Milan would be complete without reveling in the world-famous shopping scene. No matter when you’re scheduled to leave the city, be sure to fit in some morning shopping to pick up a souvenir, a gift for a loved one, or just to marvel at the magnificence of all the high-end stores. 

The Corso Buenos Aires is Milan’s high street shopping epicenter with over 350 stores, more than any other street in Europe. Look out for low season sales and keep your belongings close in the tourist-heavy crowds. For designer labels, check out Corso Como, home to 10 Corso Como, one of Milan’s best luxury boutiques, and the aptly nicknamed Fashion District, comprising Via Montenapoleone, Via Della Spiga, Corso Venezia, and Via Manzoni. Here you’ll find the latest in prêt-à-porter collections and every name from Gucci to Armani.   

If you have time before bidding Milan farewell, the Milanese canals in the Navigli district are the perfect place to end your Northern Italian adventure. They are incredibly charming at sunset, and you’ll find good food and even better company in the locals who frequent the waterside trattorias. 

Is one week enough in Milan?

Milan is a large and diverse city, with so much to see. Still, it’s easy to squeeze a lot into city breaks, and Milan’s efficient transport systems make getting around hassle-free. One week is the perfect amount of time to see Milan and squeeze in some day trips to nearby cities and sights. You could spend months in Milan and not see it all, but in seven days you’ll get an excellent taste of the city and be able to explore all the most popular attractions. 

When is the best time to visit Milan?

June to August are the hottest in Milan, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees. But summer brings big crowds, with revelers making the most of the school holidays and blue skies. Prices soar, and attractions get booked up. This means the shoulder spring and fall seasons can be much more pleasant to visit the city. April to May and September to October straddle the tourist-chocked summer and offer relief from the sweltering midsummer temperatures. 

How much should I budget for one week in Milan?

Milan is one of the most expensive cities to visit in Italy. As the financial and business center of the country and the home of some world-renowned cultural and historic attractions, you’ll need a hefty budget to vacation in Milan. A cheap street food meal will set you back around €15, or $17, while a meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost closer to €25 per person, or $30. Most attractions have entry fees, and accommodation starts at around €50, or $60, averaging around €95 or $111. This means you can bag a cheap seven-day stay in Milan for about €800 or $1000, but if you’re after a more comfortable vacation, expect to budget around €1,200 or $1,400.

Reece Toth

Reece is the creator and editor of Travel Snippet. He has visited more than 38 countries over a 10-year period. His travels have taken him through the majestic mountains of Italy, into the cities of central Europe, across the islands of Indonesia, and to the beaches of Thailand, where he is currently living. He is passionate about travel and shares his expertise by providing the best travel tips and tricks to help you plan your next adventure.

View stories