The magic of Milan was something that lingered with me for days after our visit. If, like me, you love shopping, gelato and stunning architecture then I would say go to Milan. The city has a great buzz without being too in-your-face. Then there are the quieter neighbourhoods, which have a blissfully mellow vibe. The wonderful news is, if you only have 2 days you can still see and do all of the above! Read on and I’ll share how.
Where to stay
Because you have limited time I would recommend staying close to the inner city and/or a metro station. That way you won’t waste any precious time getting from A to B. We stayed in the Porta Venezia area and found it to be the perfect base. But anywhere within a 10-15 minute walk to the Duomo would be ideal.
To make this trip really easy for you to follow, I’ve put a Google map together with all the destinations, points of interest and walking routes. You can save the map to your desktop or phone simply by logging in to your Google account and clicking the star icon next to the map title below. To access the map at any time go to the Google Maps menu > Your Places > Maps and if saved correctly it will appear here for you. Or you can view and print the map here.
Day One: Milan City
If you aren’t familiar with breakfast in Italy, it’s quite a simple affair. A coffee and pastry. Done. If you need something more substantial to start your day it is probably a good idea to stash some supplies at your accommodation and eat before you go. Otherwise there is usually a pretty damn good bakery close by. We found one across the street from our hotel and it was delicious, cheap and quick. There was no complaining from us!
First up after breakfast – the Duomo Milano. I completely agree that when you are travelling around Europe all the cathedrals you visit can start to become one big blur. It can become tiring. But you need to see the Duomo in Milan, she is a beauty. If you can pre-book your tickets, then I suggest doing so here. There is nothing more frustrating than standing in a line for two hours and wasting your precious holiday time.
I have read that there isn’t always a long line, but we had to wait for over an hour. Oh, and if you do buy tickets on the day, make sure you are in the right line. You line up for tickets and then once you have them you line up in a different spot to get into the cathedral. There are a few different ticket options and we chose Pass B, which was climbing the stairs to the terraces by foot and going inside the Duomo. If you aren’t a huge fan of climbing stairs then go for Pass A, which includes the elevator.
Via Santa Radegonda, 11, 20121 Milan
Rather than spending time on a sit down lunch we opted for something quick, easy and on the way to our next destination. Spontini, a pizzeria founded in Milan in 1953, sells delicious Pizza by the slice. Don’t be fooled by the huge crowd inside the shop, with their production line set up and only three flavour choices you don’t wait long at all. It’s pretty fun to watch too.
Via S. Raffaele, 4, 20121 Milan
Conveniently located a few steps away from Spontini Duomo is Cioccolati Italiani. Because (in my opinion) you just can’t visit Italy and not get a gelato (yes – even in winter). This place has a variety of heavenly flavours prepared fresh daily. I can personally recommend the strawberry gelato and meringue topping!
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
The most popular shopping street in Milan, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II has a mix of high-end boutiques and more affordable stores. Soak up the lively buzz, watch street buskers and keep an eye out for trendy locals as you shop (or window shop) your way down the street.
Via Panfilo Castaldi 24, Milan
After a day of exploring and eating on-the-go, dinner is the perfect time to find somewhere cosy to take your time and unwind. Most of the good places tend to book out so do your research before you go and make a reservation at least a few days in advance. We chose a place called Bicerin Milano. If you love good wine, waiters who know their stuff and tapas style eating then you’ll love this place.
Day Two: Navigli Neighbourhood
After a day of hustling in the city there is no better place to take a break than Navigli. A romantic little neighbourhood, full of canal side cafés and cute shops. It’s easy to get to on the Metro – just take the green M2 line to Porto Genova and you are a two-minute walk away.
Once you arrive head for the Grande Canal where you will find café after café, restaurants serving traditional Milanese dishes and little shops. If you get there before 10am there won’t be much open, but you will get to stroll along the canal in peace and quiet and pick out the places you want to go back to!
We stopped at a small café called Sofa for our morning coffee and pastry. If you are a fan of Nutella and coffee try the Nutella Bianco, it’s pure perfection!
Spend your time between breakfast and lunch exploring the side streets, finding hidden gems.
I had two places on my wish list for lunch – unfortunately I didn’t think to book so we couldn’t get a table at either. They were Taglio, a café, restaurant, bar and gourmet store, and El Brellin, a traditional Milanese restaurant tucked away from the canal with its own romantic garden. If you get the chance to try either of them let me know how they were!
We had to head back to our hotel after lunch and get ready to leave, but I have read that Navigli has a buzzing atmosphere at night. So if you have the luxury of another night then you could arrive in Navigli a little later and hang around for dinner and a drink or two.
If you’ve been to Milan I’d love to hear about your must-see spots and must-do things so please leave a comment below.