Secret Guide: 48 hours in Milan

The Italian capital of fashion and design is the perfect destination for a glamorous city break or weekend away. Here are our top tips for a two-day visit to Milan.

Day 1: the soul of Milan

To get into the full Milanese spirit, you should start your tour of the city from its undisputed symbol: the Duomo. The spires, precious marbles and the enchanting Gothic-style rose windows are a sight to behold, even for the most experienced traveller. It is no coincidence that Mark Twain once wrote: “The Duomo is the first thing you look for when you get up in the morning and the last thing you look at in the evening.”

After admiring its grandeur inside and out, why not take a break to contemplate? On the top floor of the La Rinascente store, you can enjoy an excellent coffee on a terrace complete with a panoramic view of the city below. Watch as the morning sun illuminates the iconic gold Madonnina statue.

After your caffeine hit, it’s time to get going as there is an entire district of boutiques and shops to discover. The wonderful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is dotted with high-end stores and in the centre lies the famous mosaic of the bull, where tourists from all over the world make three laps in search of their fortune. Afterwards, head to the fashion district – you’re in Milan after all. If luxury had a home, its address would be via Montenapoleone in Milan. Enjoy a chic walk in this sophisticated district of the city, between via Manzoni, via della Spiga and Corso Venezia.

Next, jump on the metro, towards Lodi, to discover the incredible collection of contemporary art at the Prada Foundation. In the rooms of a former distillery just outside the centre of Milan, Miuccia Prada has created a cultural hub, with permanent and temporary exhibitions of some great contemporary artists. After a day of culture, spend an evening enjoying some well-deserved fun. The evening lights up on Navigli, where you’ll find characterful, trendy cafes to drink aperitifs of Negronis and endless food options.

Day 2: past and future

To start your day energized, begin with a coffee in the Lavazza store. Here you’ll find a wide choice of freshly roasted unique blends or traditional coffees from all over Italy – obviously accompanied by a classic brioche (what the Milanese call the croissant). With a full stomach, it’s time to get out and explore the city.

First stop is the wonderful Castello Sforzesco. Embark on a journey back in time, among ancient armour, crenellated towers, tapestries and an entire museum of musical instruments. Grab lunch on the go, and take a deli sandwich to the green area of Parco Sempione before jumping on a yellow tram and heading to Leonardo’s masterpiece. In the heart of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the fresco of The Last Supper – it is advisable to book tickets online to avoid the wait. Another unmissable stop is the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, a unique example of the Lombard-Romanesque style, and the sacred centre of the Ambrosian Church.

After spending so much time admiring the past, its time to travel into the future. First stop is the famous Bosco Verticale, in the district of Milan’s skyscrapers. Then Tre Torri, the stop on the brand new lilac metro, which like a modern De Lorean takes travellers to the heart of city life and is the ultra-modern district of Milan, with exclusive projects by the famous architect Zaha Hadid. Surround yourself with skyscrapers designed in futuristic shapes, unveiling an innovative side of this city which is in constant transformation.