Who would miss the opportunity to visit a city for free? Being on your Bucket List of not, if you are lucky enough to get a long layover in Milan, You shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the beautiful city.
I know that one day, or a few hours, is not enough to fully enjoy a city, and that’s why in this itinerary I stick to the most iconic and important tourist attractions in Milan.
It is important to remember that besides the hours you plan to spend walking around and visiting the points, you will also have to bear in mind the time you will spend going to and from downtown, to make sure you won’t miss your flight or train.
👉 Can you do Milan in a day? The short answer is yes! Despite being a big city, Milan is very easy to navigate and its main attractions are located very close to each other, you can easily pass by all the important points of the city within a couple of hours. Of course to visit the inside of some attractions of see the attractions in depth you would have to spend more time in the city, but for the basic, yes it is possible to visit Milan in a day.
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Long Layover in Milan: What to do on a Layover in Milan
Milan, the capital of Lombardy is one of the main Italian destinations for both tourists and people visiting Italy for business. It i also the second most populated city in Italy, after Rome. It is especially famous for its well-developed fashion scene, with most haute couture brands having offices in the city, and the annual Milan Fashion Week, giving the city a special place among the top Fashion cities in the world.
Despite being a big city, Milan is rather easy to visit if you only have a few hours in the city, the main tourist attractions of Milan are located very close to each other, which gives you the chance to visit them all in a short period of time just by walking from one to the other.
Taking advantage of that, don’t miss the chance to visit Milan downtown if you are lucky enough to get a long layover in Milan.
👉 How much time do I need to visit Milan on a Long layover? Usually what we consider a long layover is anything more than 6 hours of waiting. so if you have 6 or more hours of waiting, in an airport, this should give you enough time to see at least some important tourist points and still leave you plenty of time to move to the city center and back to the airport. Of course, it is always important to make good use of your time and calculate the route so you won’t have any surprises when you get back to the airport, I recommend going back to the airport at least 2 hours prior to your flight, just to make sure.
How Milan Airports to Downtown
Milan has a total of three international airports located very close to the city.
All the airports are very well connected to the city center through public transportation, so it shouldn’t be a problem for, whichever airport you land in, you will be able to take your time to explore some of Milan’s top attractions, and in this post, you will have a good idea of what to see in a Milan long layover.
Milan Malpensa Airport
Malpensa Airport is the second-busiest airport in Italy, behind only Fiumicino Airport in Rome, it is the largest international airport in Milan and is located 50 km away from the city center.
🧳 Luggage Storage: Terminal 1, Arrival area. Prices can vary from €3 to €4 per luggage for 24 hours.
There are two train lines connecting Terminal 1 in Malpensa Airport to Milan City. Trains leaving for Castello Sforzesco cost €13 and arrive there in 30 minutes. The other option is to take a train to Milano Centrale, which also costs €13 and the trip takes around 50 minutes.
If you prefer to take the bus, Autostradale company serves both Terminals 1 and 2, heading to Milan Centrale, the ticket costs €8 one way or €14 the round trip. Buses leave the airport from 6:00 to 00:30 and from Milan Downtown from 04:00 to 23:00, running every 20 minutes. The route can take up to 1 hour.
The best option to go from the Malpensa Airport to Milan downtown, is, of course, the transfer, which costs only €10 per route, the shared service offers a comfortable bus with AC, which can pick you up at Terminal 1 or 2 and bring you directly to Milano Centrale railway station, the transfer also does the other way around, so you can pick it up in the Milano Centrale to the Malpensa Airport. Book your Malpensa airport transfer here.
The least recommended option, the tais to the City center has a fixed price of €100 and can take up to 50 minutes.
Linate Airport is the second largest and the closest to the city center, being just 7 km away from Milan Centrale. It serves mostly flights from within Italy.
You can take a 35-minute bus from Linate Airport to the Piazza del Duomo or a 30-minute bus to Milano Centrale. This last bus option runs every 30 minutes.
🧳 Luggage Storage: Ground Level. Prices are from €4 to €5 per luggage per day.
There is no train or metro connecting Milan city center directly to the Linate Airport, but many buses do the route from the airport to the nearest San Babila metro station, which connects the main attractions of Milan. Bus 73 departs every 10 minutes and runs every day of the week, from 6:05 a.m. to 12:40 a.m. (midnight).
This is usually the best cost-benefit, transfers cost only €5 and run from early in the morning to late in the night. The buses are comfortable and offer AC, they pick you up at the Linate airport and drop you off at Milano Centrale or you can also do the other way around. To book your Linate airport transfer click here.
As I said, taxis are not recommended, they are usually way too expensive and it is not worth the price, however, if you prefer to take a taxi, it will cost you around €30.
The third-busiest airport in Italy is Bergamo Airport, also known as “Il Caravaggio Airport”. Bergamo Airport is also the smallest of the three.
🧳 Luggage Storage: Located in the P1 parking. It costs €5 per luggage per day.
There is no metro or train directly to Bergamo Airport, so your public transportation option is to take the Terravision Bus, it is also the cheapest way to get to and from Milan city center. A one-way ticket will cost you €10 while a round ticket costs €18.
A good option is to take the Transfer bus, which costs only €10 the round ticket and departs from the airport to the city center and vice versa. The buses are very comfortable and offer AC, as always. If you want to book a transfer from Bergamo Airport to Milano Centrale click here.
As always the most expensive option, taxis have a fixed price of € 100, so not worth the price, really.
🧳 Luggage Storage:
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Duomo di Milano
This iconic Gothic Cathedral of Milan is also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente. It is one of the biggest churches in the world holding up to 40,000 people!
It took 6 centuries to finish the building. The construction began by the orders of Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo in the 14th century, but the Duomo only received its famous façade in 1805, to the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was crowned King of Italy at the Duomo. The final details of the cathedral though, were only added in 1965, and the project was officially finished on 6 January 1965.
From the outside what calls attention is the 135 carved pinnacles that adorn the rooftop of the Cathedral, alongside its 2,245 marble statues. Inside though, it is not less magnificent. The Duomo’s 52 massive pillars do make an impression, combined with the stained-glass windows dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
Among the highlights that deserve attention to anybody visiting the Duomo di Milano are the bronze candelabrum by Nicholas of Verdum, the 16th-century tomb of Gian Giacomo Medici, and the jeweled gold reliquary of San Carlo Borromeo.
For those looking for a 360 view of Milan, I recommend ascending to the rooftop of the Duomo di Milano, from there, have a beautiful panoramic view of the city, and on clear days you can see as far as the Alps.
If you wish to visit the Duomo di Milano, I suggest getting a skip-the-line ticket to the Duomo and rooftop visit, which saves you time during your trip.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
That’s what we can call a fancy Gallery. Vittorio Emanuelle Gallery is located in the Piazza del Duomo, the same square of the Duomo di Milano. It is the oldest shopping in Italy.
Inside it, you will find famous brands as well as traditional shops, such as the Campari Bar, Caffè Ristorante Biffi (that has been here since the inauguration of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II in 1867), Bocca Bookshop, and the famous Savini restaurant. The shopping also includes a seven-star Hotel: Town House Galleria.
Visiting the Vittorio Emanuelle Gallery don’t forget to admire the roof, it is made of iron and glass, one of the first times glass was used for a project this big, in Europe. The floor is also well adorned, with paintings representing the zodiac signs.
This stunning fortification was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, hence the name of the castle, however, its location has been used for fortification and military purposes since Roman times. Later in the 16th and 17th it was renovated and enlarged, each turning Castello Sforzesco into one of the biggest citadels in Europe.
Nowadays, the castle houses the Musei del Castello Sforzesco, a series of museums, and art collections. One of the highlights of the museums is the Pietà Rondanini which is Michelangelo’s last masterpiece, the sculpture used to adorn Palazzo Rondanini in Rome but was brought here in 1953.
Besides the museums, the castle also counts with a park, that used to be the garden of the Duke of Milan, later a military training ground, and now is open to the public.
In this 1.5-hour guided tour through the Sforza Castle, you will be able to visit the Sforza Castle and the museums, including Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini
Once the private park of Castello Sforzesco, which housed hunted games and exotic animals, the Parco Sempione is now the biggest public park in Milan.
The park was designed in a romantic English style by Emilio Alemagna in 1888, and named after Corso Sempione, a major of Milan during the Napoleonic Empire.
Today it is a nice way to walk through and admire the landscape, if you have enough time, you can buy yourself a snack and enjoy it while you sit on the grass and appreciate the view.
Arco della Pace
By the end of the Parco Sempione, you will find yourself staring at the triumphal arc of Milan, the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace).
It was built during the Napoleonic Empire marking the beginning of the Strada del Sempione, which used to link Milan to Paris.
Although the arc we see today dates back to the 19th century, records show that a gate already existed here as part of the Roman walls of Milan. Little remains from the Roman period though.
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Dominican convent houses in its refectory one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, The Last Supper, which, obviously steal the spotlight of the visit.
Da Vinci didn’t have experience with frescos, and because of that, ended up using unusual techniques in the commission of The Last Supper, due to that, the painting requires continuous restoration.
The church was built by orders of Ludovico Sforza, then Duke of Milan, with the intention of being the resting place for the family Sforza, including his wife, who died giving birth to their 3rd child. Legend has it that a tunnel linked Castello Sforzesco to the church and that the Duke of Milan usually used it to visit his wife’s grave.
Perfect tours for a long layover in Milan
I know that layovers can be a pretty short time to take your time and enjoy the city properly, but don’t worry, in some cases you can even take one or two hours, depending on how many hours you will have to explore the city.
Here you can find some ideas for tours to take during your long layover in Milan:
- 1 – 3-Hour Walking Tour and Last Supper – Visit the most important landmarks of Milan, and learn more about the history of the city with this walking tour, the tour also includes a skip-the-line ticket to the Last Supper of Leonardo Da Vinci.
- 2 – Skip-the-line ticket to the Duomo di Milano – With this skip-the-line ticket you will be able to visit the Duomo di Milano as well as its terraces where you will be able to admire the details of this masterpiece as well as enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city.
- 3 – Segway tour in Milan – In this 2 or 3-hour tour you will be able to visit Milan’s highlights by Segway. It is a fun and easy way to see the city.