36 Hours in Milan

Recently, the New York Times created a really great article on how to spend 36 hours in Milan, Italy. I believe that they are focusing on creating miniature guides for each of their 52 Places to Go in 2015 article. While their suggestions are great, I’m going to create my own itinerary for 36 hours in Milan similar to my own past experience there in November 2014.

For the sake of this post, we’ll assume that it will fall from Friday morning until Saturday night. However, don’t let this dissuade you from reading. we’ll list out more options for any other day of the week below the sample itinerary. Also, keep in mind, this will be for the budget traveler, not looking to spend 50 Euros on a dinner.

Map from MXP Airport to Cadorna Station in Milan

Map from MXP Airport to Cadorna Station in Milan on the Malpensa Express


Friday – Arrive at Malpensa Airport (MXP) from JFK on Alitalia Flight 7603 at 8:15am
Having arrived on this flight when I recently visited Milan, I was very content arriving in Milan at the break of dawn. Grab your bags from the baggage claim if you need to and then head to the nearest cafe to grab an espresso. Now that you’re awake, grab a Malpensa Express ticket to get you to Cadorna Station (or Milano Centrale). This ticket should be 18 Euro ($21.20 USD) for a A/R (round-trip) ticket.

Friday – Breakfast – Panini Durini – 9:00am – 10:00am
Once you arrive to Cadorna Station, you’ll want to find a nearby cafe to grab breakfast (and another espresso if need be). From looking around, it appears that Panini Durini is a reasonable option and states that it opens at 7:00am. One issue my friends and I ran into while in Milan was that just because a coffee shop advertised that they were open at 9am, didn’t mean they were open at 9am.

AirBnB Overlooking the Duomo

AirBnB Overlooking the Duomo

Friday – Drop off Luggage – Stay Overlooking the Duomo

Friday – Visit the Duomo – 45-75 minutes

This is pretty self-explanatory. I would consider this the focal point of Milan, even more-so than fashion. If you’re looking to explore or have a guided tour of the Duomo, you can view the offerings here. For some reason or another, we were able to walk into the church since there was a service going on.

Parco Sempione Map

Parco Sempione Map

Friday – Visit the Arco della Pace, Parco Sempione, & Castello Sforzesco – 120 minutes

The Arc of Peace is located just at the edge of Sempione Park – the oldest park in all of Milan. Take a refreshing walk through this park and find your way to the Castello Sforzesco. This castle was built by the person that bears it’s namesake, Francesco Sforza – Duke of Milan, in the 15th century.

Friday – Visit Santa Maria delle Grazie (The Last Supper) – 120 minutes

Just as a note, make sure to book your Last Supper tickets in advance. We learned this the hard way by looking to buy tickets the day before we were planning on seeing DaVinci’s masterpiece.

Navigli District, Milan, Italy

Navigli District, Milan, Italy

Friday – Appetizers & Drinks in Navigli – Early Evening – 120 minutes

Just hop on the Green Line Metro and ride out to Porta Genova. This will get you into the Navigli neighborhood. When we visited, the canals were drained and some of the sidewalks were closed. This is due to Milan hosting EXPO 2015.

Friday – Clubbing or the Opera – Evening – 150 minutes

This all depends on what you’re looking to do for the evening. Milan has a ton of dance clubs that you can go to. Expect to pay a cover charge for just about any club and expensive drinks. To put it into perspective – the one club had 10 Euro Heinekens.

La Scala Opera has a beautiful facade and an interior to match. Located near the Duomo, it is just a short walk. If you are looking to try to grab last minute tickets, you can buy tickets for 25% off beginning 60 minutes before the show. You can view their performance calendar here.

Saturday – AC Milan Match at San Siro Stadium – Depends on their schedule

The AC Milan match was the highlight of my time in Milan. Walking up to the large concrete edifice, you could feel the energy pouring out of the open air stadium. Once we made it inside, we managed to get to the supporter section right before the match started.

Quadrilateral of Gold

Quadrilateral of Gold

Saturday – Other Activities

  • Institute of the Blind – Originally founded in 1839 and focusing on the study of music; sighted visitors can actually participate in a total darkness experience.
  • The Quadrilateral of Gold – As a part of the fashion district, you’ll find various high-end Italian brands like Armani, Gucci, Prada, and many more.
  • Palazzo Lombardia – This is one of the tallest building in Milan and will give you breathtaking views of the entire city.
  • The Museum of Science and Technology of Leonardo DaVinci – This site is pretty self-explanatory. Guided tours on Saturday run from 9:30am until 6:30pm with the last tour taking place at 5:45pm. Ticket prices are a modest 10€.

Saturday – Flight to Next Destination – 8:00pm

Sadly, your whirlwind tour of Milan has to come to end. Head back via Cadorna Station on the Malpensa Express to the Malpensa Airport (MXP). If you didn’t buy a round-trip ticket when you arrived in Milan, don’t worry you can buy one at the station from the machine.


If you go to Milan, I would recommend several of the amazing options on AirBnB. NOTE – that link will give you $25 in credit if you are new to AirBnB. To give you an idea, some of the AirBnB listings have balconies that can see the Duomo. There are also several hotel options located around all the major city attractions.

There are also a large number of hostels to the northwest of the city, which can easily access the center of the city by public transportation.

Finally, you can also book a hotel room using points or booking via your favorite Online Travel Agent.

Hopefully this rough itinerary for 36 hours in Milan will suit what you’re looking for. Having only stayed in Milan for approximate 3 nights & 4 days, this sums up my entire experience in a more coordinated fashion. Although I am not a fan of quick layovers in cities and would much rather shack up somewhere for a month, you can still see the major sites Milan has to offer in 36 hours or less.

Have any suggestions or recommendations for what to do in Milan, please leave them in the comments section below.


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

You may also like...