Milan is a city of startling contrasts between tradition and modernity. It is the core of Italian business and fashion, a city on the cutting edge of new ideas. Yet, its pulsing, innovative heart still preserves extraordinary artistic and cultural gems: the Gothic Cathedral, the Brera Art Gallery, and the famous Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. There’s much to see and if you plan well you can do it all. In this itinerary, we present you with a two day program that includes the very best Milan has to offer.
When in Milan your absolute first priority is the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci located in the former refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. The renowned work, one of the most iconic works of art ever created, made even more popular with travelers thanks to the Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, is extremely delicate due to the unusual painting technique chosen by Leonardo. Open only to 25 visitors at a time, the exhibit is often sold out - so be sure to secure your tickets by booking them well in advance! Choose one of the following options for your visit, and organize the rest of your day around the time of this "not to miss" visit:Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper + Last Supper Book Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper + Milan Mini Guide Book Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper + Brera Art Gallery Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper + Ambrosiana Art Gallery
Getting there is easy. You can reach the Last Supper (300 meters from the subway stop “Conciliazione”) from Piazza del Duomo by subway. Or, try the picturesque Tram Line 16 (direction Via Monte Velino) that takes you to and from the heart of the city. Do you love Leonardo? Here is the complete and interesting tour In the Footsteps of Leonardo, which will help you not to miss anything of the genius of the Renaissance in Milan, Last Supper included.
Once you have visited Leonardo’s masterpiece, focus on the city center: Duomo Square, dominated by the Cathedral, a recently restored masterpiece of Gothic art. The fourth largest church in Europe, it is rich with amazing spires, pinnacles, buttresses, and terraces. Almost 20 stories high, the spectacular terraces contain an incredible collection of over 1,800 statues, including that of the Madonnina, the symbol of Milan, while offering a stunning view over the city center. Entrance to the church is free, but the best way to discover its history and beauty, in addition to the audio guide, is the Easy Access Milan's Duomo, Underground and Terraces Tour, which gives access to the Cathedral Terraces by elevator, theunderground, and to the Cathedral Treasure.
In the Square you will also find the entrance to the alluring Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the famed 19th century glass-vaulted shopping gallery. Brimming with fashionable shops and cafes, it is often called the “salotto di Milano” or “Milan’s drawing room” for its importance over the years as a common meeting point for the people of Milan. The floor of the mall includes a famous mosaic of Turin’s coat of arms with a bull at its center. Follow the popular ritual of rotating the heel of your right foot three times on the tiled genitals of the bull - it's said to bring good luck!
Walk all the way through the Galleria and you will come to Piazza della Scala where you will find the Scala Theater, a temple of classical music and a cornerstone of Milanese culture. Book your guided visit to the theater to discover the foyer, the auditorium, the Royal Box, the stage, the orchestra pit - usually inaccessible to the public - and the Museum's collection of musical instruments.
Back in the Square you’ll find the Royal Palace, former seat of the government, and currently space for art exhibitions, plus the Museum of the 20th Century hosting works by Picasso, Braque, Klee and Kandinsky and above all, the Italians; Modigliani, Boccioni, De Chirico, Morandi, Fontana and Burri among others. If you are in need of refreshment after all the amazing art, visit the Camparino, the world famous Milanese aperitif bar located at the corner of the Square. Or take a walk around the cathedral to taste a marocchino (a sort of cappuccino) and buy pralines and Panettone, the typical Italian Christmas cake, at the excellent Taveggia (Via Visconti di Modrone - 2,500 meters from the back of the cathedral).
Want to see more of Leonardo da Vinci’s work? From the Square it is a short walk to the Ambrosiana Art Gallery. Take via degli Orefici and Via Cesare Cantù to the Gallery. It is one of the oldest and noblest art institutions in Milan. There's a Combo Ticket including the Last Supper and the Ambrosiana Gallery. Near the Ambrosiana Library and founded by Federico Borromeo in 1618, the Ambrosiana Art Gallery houses a rich exhibition in its 24 rooms, including absolute masterpieces such as the Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio, the Madonna and Child with Three Angels by Botticelli, the Adoration of the Magi by Titian, the study for the School of Athens by Raphael and Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo da Vinci. It is also home to Leonardo da Vinci's Atlantic Codex , the world's most comprehensive collection of drawings, notes, and plans by the master.
After so much art, some ideas to end the day? Discover the most modern part of Milan, which is particularly attractive around sunset. Take the Metro to the “Gioia” station, you will be within walking distance of the city's most modern skyscrapers, including the incredible vertical forest, a complex of two towering residential buildings designed by Boeri Studio, which in 2015 won the prize as “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide,” according to a classification of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In the area you will find many locals and restaurants to end the day. Otherwise we recommend some evening experiences you can’t go wrong with - such as our Milan Wine Tasting Tour: a relaxing and stimulating experience in the charming atmosphere of the Take Away Bistrot – a wine bar in the heart of Milano (and of the Milanese). Discover some of the many tastes of the Lombardy countryside – by tasting the wines specially selected by the sommelier, and matching them with samples of traditional cheeses and cold cuts. Otherwise, consider enjoying and entertaining evening with the Maison Milano Dinner Show, where you’ll dine on an exquisite 4-course Italian dinner accompanied by a live cabaret show and dance the night away. Are you looking for a more active and particular experience? Experience the fun Milan Segway Night Tour, exploring the most modern and alternative neighborhoods of Milan.
Milan is the city of fashion, trends and novelties. Start your second day by exploring the famous “Quadrilatero della Moda” known in English as the Via Montenapoleone fashion district. The fashion district is bordered by Via Manzoni, Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. Here, you will find stores featuring famous Italian fashion brands. Visiting the ateliers and window-shopping is an exciting experience, even for the non fashion-addicted. If you are looking for the best, let us guide you with our Milan Luxury Fashion & Design Atelier Tour, a professional service that will take you to outlets where you can shop for brands like Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana. Otherwise, try our Serravalle Designer Outlet Shopping Tour, an equally valuable option for all budgets. After your fashion tour, take Via Monte di Pietà and then turn right onto Via Brera. Here starts the Brera district: a different Milan, a historic neighborhood with narrow, stone-paved streets where you can lose yourself admiring the discreet luxury of ateliers, great design and antique shops, and historic places where art and philosophy were the main themes. Choose a typical trattoria for lunch (try Risotto alla Milanese and Cassoeula), or make a quick stopover at Caffe Vecchia Brera (Via Dell'Orso 20, specialized in sweet and savory crepes).
Refreshed and ready for more of essential Milan, head for the Brera Art Gallery, the main art museum of the city and one of the most important in the world for its prestigious collections of ancient and modern paintings. Here you will find, among others, masterpieces such as the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Mantegna, the Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, and Bellini's Pietà. Your entry is even more convenient if purchased along with tickets for Leonardo's Last Supper. If you are tired after a visit to the Brera, we recommend a Wine Tasting to discover Italy’s best regional wines.
After your visit to the Brera, here is another artistic and historical pearl of Milan - the Sforza Castle complex. From Via Brera, proceed to the junction with via Pontaccio, turn to the left and reach Foro Bonaparte where you will see the massive Sforza Castle. Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza over the remains of a fort, it became one of the major military citadels in Europe. Your ticket to the castle allows you to visit the Art Gallery with a rich collection of paintings, with works by Lippi, Mantegna, Correggio, Tiepolo and the last statue ever made by Michelangelo, the Pietà Rondanini. You can also visit the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Ancient Art that includes the Sala delle Asse painted by Leonardo da Vinci, and the Museum of Musical Instruments (one of the largest in Europe). Behind the castle, you will find the Sempione Park, a classic place for a stroll and people watching.
If you prefer modern to classical art, Milan has just what you were looking for. North from the famous Fashion Quadrangle in Via Montenapoleone, you will find the interesting Modern Art Gallery (GAM), a remarkable collection housed in a beautiful villa. Works range from classical art (Canova) to the Grassi Collection (including Manet, Van Gogh and Cézanne, among others) and the Vismara collection (Picasso, Modigliani, Dufy, Matisse). If you want to see more modern art, check out the exciting art on show at the Museum of the Twentieth Century (Museo del Novecento), right next to the Cathedral square. The museum displays works from different periods of art, from Futurism to Metaphysics, works by the Group Forma 1 to the Transavantgarde, as well as by artist collectives from Milan, Rome, Turin, and Arte Povera. Among the special items, a work by Lucio Fontana created in 1956 – an entire ceiling made for the Hotel del Golfo in Procchio, on the island of Elba.
If you are travelling as a family (but not only), you can also visit the interesting Museum of Cultures of Milan (MUDEC), located in the Porta Genova area. The exhibition center is dedicated to the enhancement and interdisciplinary research on the cultures of the world. The museum's spaces also host interesting exhibitions and temporary events, including art, archaeology and much more. Check out their events - it’s always worth it.
If you prefer to explore Milan's surroundings, consider an outing to the nearby Royal Apartments of the Palace of Monza , which still hold the furnishings of the last resident sovereigns: Umberto I, son of Vittorio Emanuele II, and his wife Margaret of Savoy, the first "Queen of Italy.”
There is nothing better for ending your Milan weekend than spending some time in the trendy Milan neighbourhood par excellence, the Navigli. The area, which is crossed by ancient waterways (the “navigli”) is the best nightlife destination in Milan, with something for everyone. Get there by trolley bus 3 from Piazza Duomo to Porta Ticinese, where the canals begin. The gastronomic offerings are endless. We recommend the Antica Hostaria della Lanterna (Via Mercalli 3) offering homemade cuisine including Gnocchi with gorgonzola and pistachios. On Saturdays (additional days of the week in spring and summer), climb the Branca Tower, the highest point in the city for breathtaking views, the perfect end to an unforgettable weekend.