Milan, the bustling Italian city, is an ideal weekend getaway for British travellers looking for a delightful blend of culture, history, art, fashion, and delicious cuisine. This guide will help you plan a perfect itinerary for a weekend in Milan, ensuring you make the most of your time in this incredible city.
Introduction to Milan
Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, is a thriving metropolis renowned for its fashion, design, and art scenes. With a rich history and an international atmosphere, Milan offers a diverse array of attractions and experiences for British travellers to enjoy. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, a history buff, or an art lover, Milan has something for everyone.
Getting to Milan from the UK
Travelling to Milan from the UK is a breeze, with numerous direct flights from major British airports such as London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Airlines like British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair offer regular flights to Milan’s two international airports: Milano Malpensa and Milano Linate. Flight duration is approximately 2 hours, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
Alternatively, you can reach Milan via train, with Eurostar services connecting London to Paris and onward high-speed trains to Milan. While the journey takes longer, it offers the opportunity to witness some stunning European landscapes along the way.
Getting Around Milan
Milan has an efficient public transportation network, including buses, trams, and an extensive metro system. Purchasing a 48-hour public transport pass is a budget-friendly and convenient option for British travellers, allowing unlimited access to the city’s metro, buses, and trams during your stay.
Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are also available in Milan. However, staying in a centrally-located accommodation will allow you to explore most of Milan’s attractions on foot, which is a delightful way to discover the city.
Where to Stay in Milan
Milan offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. To make the most of your weekend, consider staying in a central location, such as the Duomo or Castello Sforzesco areas. These neighbourhoods provide easy access to major attractions and public transport.
For a more laid-back vibe, consider staying in the charming districts of Navigli or Brera. These areas boast a unique atmosphere, with trendy bars, art galleries, and boutique shops.
Some recommended hotels in Milan include:
- Downtown Milan: Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, a charming guesthouse located in an elegant 18th-century building near the Duomo.
- Brera: San Marco Boutique Apartments, offering spacious studios with modern amenities in a bohemian neighbourhood.
- Porta Romana: La Casa Colorata, featuring stylish apartments and access to a relaxing area with two saunas.
Day One: Discover Milan’s Must-See Attractions
Start Your Day with an Italian Breakfast
Begin your Milan adventure with a traditional Italian breakfast. Enjoy a cappuccino or espresso paired with a cornetto, a delicious pastry similar to a croissant, filled with custard, chocolate, or jam. Head to a historic café along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, such as Motta Milano 1928 or Il Bar at La Rinascente Mall food court, to savour an authentic Milanese breakfast experience.
Visit the Iconic Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)
The magnificent Milan Cathedral, or Duomo di Milano, is a must-visit attraction that will leave you in awe. This impressive Gothic structure, adorned with countless spires and statues, is the largest church in Italy and the third-largest in the world.
Admire the intricate façade and, if you’re up for it, climb the stairs or take the lift to the terrace for stunning panoramic views of the city. Consider joining a guided tour to avoid queues and learn more about the cathedral’s history.
Stroll Through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Just steps away from the Duomo, the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a must-visit shopping destination for fashion enthusiasts and architecture lovers alike. This stunning arcade, built between 1865 and 1877, features a spectacular glass dome and luxury boutiques, including iconic Italian brands like Prada and Gucci.
Experience the La Scala Opera House
The world-renowned La Scala Opera House is a must-see attraction for any British traveller visiting Milan. This prestigious theatre has hosted some of the greatest opera artists and ballet dancers from around the globe since its opening in 1778. To make the most of your visit, consider joining a guided tour which will provide access to the theatre, its museum, and exhibitions, as well as fascinating insights into its history.
Lunch in Downtown Milan
After a morning of sightseeing, treat yourself to a delicious lunch in downtown Milan. For a quick and tasty bite, head to Panzerotti Luini, a popular bakery near La Scala, where you can enjoy a panzerotti – a deep-fried, pizza dough turnover filled with mozzarella and other delicious ingredients.
Explore the Piazza Mercanti
Take a leisurely stroll along Via dei Mercanti to reach the beautiful Piazza Mercanti, a historic square that once hosted Milan’s public market. Admire the stunning architecture of Palazzo Delle Scuole Palatine and Palazzo Della Regione, which have played significant roles in the city’s history.
Visit the Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco)
The imposing Castello Sforzesco is a must-visit attraction in Milan. This medieval fortress, built by Francesco Sforza, was once one of Europe’s largest citadels. Today, it houses several museums and art collections, including works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. A self-guided audio tour is a great way to explore the castle at your own pace while learning about its fascinating history.
Relax in Parco Sempione
After visiting the Sforza Castle, unwind in the nearby Parco Sempione, a popular urban park featuring landscaped gardens, fountains, and walking paths. Take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a picnic, or simply relax on a bench and watch the world go by.
Enjoy a Milanese Aperitivo
As evening approaches, join the locals for a traditional Milanese Aperitivo. Sip on a Negroni or a glass of Italian wine, accompanied by a mouth-watering selection of Italian nibbles at one of Milan’s many bars. Some top spots for Aperitivo in Milan include Camparino in Galleria, Terrazza Duomo 21, and Terrazza Aperol.
Day Two: Dive Deeper into Milan’s Art and Culture
Admire the Last Supper and Santa Maria delle Grazie Church
Start your second day in Milan by visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, which houses the world-famous fresco, the Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci. Due to high demand, it’s essential to book your tickets well in advance.
Visit the Brera Art Gallery
Immerse yourself in Milan’s art scene with a visit to the Brera Art Gallery, home to an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance art. The gallery is located in the bohemian Brera district, known for its art galleries, boutiques, and trendy bars.
Discover the Charming Navigli District
Spend the afternoon exploring the picturesque Navigli district, famous for its canals, quaint streets, and vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the canals, browse the boutique shops, or relax in one of the many cafés and bars that line the waterfront.
If You Have More Than 2 Days in Milan
If you have more than two days in Milan, consider embarking on a day trip to explore the surrounding areas. Some popular destinations include Bergamo, Brescia, Vicenza, Verona, and Padua. Alternatively, venture further afield to the breathtaking Lake Como and Bellagio, the stunning Cinque Terre, or the romantic cities of Venice and Florence.
General Tips for British Travellers in Milan
- Remember to carry a plug adapter for your electronic devices, as Italy uses Type L plugs, which are different from the UK’s Type G plugs.
- The currency in Milan is the Euro (€). It’s a good idea to bring some cash or use an ATM upon arrival for smaller purchases or transactions in local markets.
- Italians usually have a light breakfast and heavy lunch. Embrace the local customs and try a traditional Italian breakfast of coffee and a cornetto.
- Keep in mind that the official language in Milan is Italian, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Learning a few basic Italian phrases will enhance your experience and help you when interacting with locals.
A weekend in Milan offers British travellers a fantastic opportunity to experience the best of Italian culture, art, fashion, and cuisine. With this comprehensive itinerary, you’ll be well on your way to exploring Milan’s must-see attractions and hidden gems, creating unforgettable memories in this beautiful city.