3 days in Milan: what to do and see?
Do you want to go 3 days in Milan?
Very good choice!
To help you organize your stay, I have prepared an itinerary for you to visit Milan in 3 days.
Tourist city requires, I first give you my best tips to avoid queuing at tourist sites. I then continue with a detailed day-to-day program with all the visits to do and a map to find your way around the city.
At the end of the article, I give you my selection of the best hotels in Milan, as well as a section reserved for a family trip with activities suitable for children. And of course, everything is accompanied by lots of tips and tricks to make the most of it.
So where to go and what to do in Milan in 3 days?
Our advice to avoid queuing in Milan
When we think of Milan, we all have in mind the image of the cathedral, with its characteristic façade. It is therefore impossible not to discover it during your visit to Milan in 3 days!
Unfortunately you will not be the only ones to have the same idea at the same time.
Like the Colosseum in Rome or Westminster Abbey in London, the queue stretches every day for tens or even hundreds of meters in the Duomo square. It is often necessary to wait several hours to enter the emblematic monument of the city!
However, there are several very simple ways to avoid wasting time during your 3-day trip to Milan.
I explain everything below with the 3 best solutions to avoid queuing!
1. The Milan Pass
This is the first solution to maximize your time during your 3 day Milan tour: buy the Milan Pass.
Most major tourist cities now offer this type of City Pass, which is very practical not only for avoiding queues in front of the most famous sites, but also for saving money.
The Milan Pass is valid for 48 or 72 hours from its first use, whether for a visit or a transport.
When booking, you will receive an email to print or a voucher on your smartphone to exchange for the card at the Milan Visitor Center. It is located on Via Cusani, opposite the entrance to the Sforza Castle (Cairoli Castello metro stop).
This Pass is the most complete for visiting Milan in 3 days.
Here’s everything included in the Milan Pass:
- Skip-the-line ticket for the Duomo of Milan (the cathedral) with access to the terraces
- Free admission to the La Scala Museum and Theater and to the other main tourist sites: the Pinacoteca de Brera, the Science and Technology Museum…
- A discount book in bars, restaurants and for certain guided tours to do in 72 hours in Milan
- A map of the city
With the purchase of your Milan Pass, you will also be entitled to :
- A ticket for the City Sightseeing bus that allows you to hop on and off whenever you want to see the main attractions
- A ticket to use public transport (metro, tram and bus) for free.
Very useful if you are tired of walking or if you are visiting Milan with small children (good tip: the Milan Pass is free for children under 4).
To buy your Milan City Pass now, just click here.
2. Milan Digital Pass
Another possibility to visit Milan on foot in 3 days or by public transport, get the Milan Digital Pass.
It works on the same principle as the Milan Pass with free access or reduced prices for the main tourist sites. The advantage is that you will receive your card directly by email or by downloading an application.
The Milan City Card includes all of the following services:
- A skip-the-line ticket to Milan’s must-see attraction: the Duomo (+ museum and rooftop access)
- Skip-the-line admission to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology
- Access to the Ambrosian Pinacoteca
- An audio guide
- 10% discount on another activity in Milan.
To buy your Milan Digital Pass, just click here.
3. Skip-the-line tickets for tourist attractions in Milan
Last solution to enjoy quick access to all the most important sites: buy a skip-the-line ticket for each monument or museum, depending on your program to visit Milan in 3 days.
There are a multitude of them, whether for the attractions not to be missed or the activities to do in Milan during these 3 days.
I list a small part of them just below but you can find them throughout this article. To book them, it’s once again super simple, just click on the links for each site:
- The Cathedral of Milan
- La Scala in Milan
- The Sforza Castle
- da vinci’s last supper
- The Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum
- Cruise in the Navigli district
- The Pinacoteca of Brera
- The Hop-On Hop-off tourist bus
- The San Siro stadium
Visit Milan in 3 days: the best itinerary
I now give you my 72-hour itinerary in Milan which is presented in the form of a program with a route of visits for each day.
If after reading this article you have any further questions, or need a little help planning your vacation, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section at the very end.
So what to visit in Milan in 3 days?
Day 1: The Historic Center
The visits of day 1:
A. Duomo of Milan
B. Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery
C. La Scala
D. Sforza Castle
E. Sempione Park
A. The Duomo of Milan
Also known as Milan Cathedral, the Duomo is arguably the city’s most famous and unmissable landmark. So that’s where I suggest you start your 3-day stay in Milan.
If you have chosen accommodation in the historic center, you can easily reach it on foot. Otherwise you can take the metro (Duomo stop) and you will come out right on the Duomo square.
The Dome is not only the main attraction of the city but also the third largest cathedral in the world. Begun in the 14th century, construction stretched over more than 500 years. The result: a magnificent monument that sits in the center of Milan on the Piazza del Duomo. It attracts millions of visitors every year!
You often have to stand in line for several hours to get inside the cathedral. I therefore strongly advise you to book the Milan Pass, the Milan Digital Pass or this skip-the-line ticket (click here) which will allow you to start the visit without wasting time.
Before entering the Duomo, do not miss to admire the 2000 marble statues and the 136 arrows pointing proudly towards the sky which have earned the cathedral the nickname of “marble hedgehog”.
Inside, you can discover the naves, sarcophagi and tombs of archbishops as well as a crucifix created by the hand of Leonardo da Vinci.
You will also have the opportunity to access the terrace of the Dome (by the stairs or by the elevator) in order to enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole city.
B. The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery
I then suggest that you continue your 3-day itinerary in Milan by heading to the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery, the entrance to which is located in Piazza del Duomo, just on your right when leaving the cathedral.
Recognizable thanks to its arcades and its impressive glass and iron dome, this luxury gallery is home to many high-end shops and restaurants.
Even if you don’t have the budget to do some shopping here, I recommend you go there, if only to enjoy its architecture.
With its neo-classical and Baroque-inspired style , it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe!
C. The Scala
Another emblem of the city of Milan not to be missed, the Scala is located just 5 minutes walk from the Vittorio Emanuele gallery.
Exit through the North Corridor then cross the small Piazza della Scala, not forgetting to take a look at the statue of Leonardo da Vinci erected in its center. Continue straight for a few meters and you will come across La Scala, the famous building that houses the Milan Opera House.
La Scala is one of the most prestigious venues in Italy. Huge works have been performed there, including the mythical “Otello” by Verdi. The singer Maria Callas also sang in these places.
The exterior facade of the monument is quite plain but the interior of the opera house is sumptuous. See also the museum located on the left of the building. You can admire a very fine collection of musical instruments and opera costumes.
The opera can only be visited with a guide, tickets can be booked directly here.
Access is also included with the MilanPass.
If you are a music lover and want to take the opportunity to attend an opera, a ballet or a concert, you can get your tickets there.
D. Sforza Castle
Continue with a visit to the Sforza Castle (locally called Castello Sforzesco).
It is located just 1 km from La Scala, so you can walk there.
The castle was built in the 14th century to protect the city against its enemy at the time, Venice. It is also known for having housed the workshops of Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance.
Nowadays, several museums are installed in the halls of the castle:
- The Museum of Ancient Art
- The museum of prehistory
- The Museum of Decorative Arts
- The Egyptian Museum
- The art gallery
- The Museum of Musical Instruments
- The furniture museum
If you don’t want to visit the museums, you can always take a walk in the vast inner courtyard which often hosts cultural events. Access is free.
Crossing it, you will arrive directly at Sempione Park, the next stop on this 3-day trip to Milan.
E. Sempione Park
Sempione Park is the city’s main park and is located just behind the castle.
As you walk through the park, be sure to see:
- La Triennale au Sud-Ouest: a small museum highlighting Italian arts and architecture
- The Arena Civica in the Northeast: a stadium hosting athletic competitions
- The Arco della Pace in the North-West: Milan’s triumphal arch.
If you are visiting Milan with your children, you can also take them to the aquarium, which is also in the Sempione park.
F. Milan’s Chinatown
To end your first day in Milan, I suggest you discover the city’s Chinatown, north of the Arco della Pace and accessible on foot in 10 minutes.
Don’t expect a Chinatown the size of New York or Montreal, it’s pretty small. But it’s a good idea to spend a nice evening, discover cheap shops and authentic Asian products.
Spend the night in Milan. You will find a selection of the best hotels at the end of this article.
Day 2: Things to Do and See
The visits of day 2:
A. The monumental cemetery
B. The Leonardo da Vinci science and technology museum
C. The Basilica of Saint Ambrose
D. The Navigli district
A. The Monumental Cemetery
For the second day of your 3-day stay in Milan, I suggest you go to the Monumental Cemetery, an unusual place to start the day.
More than just a cemetery, it is a huge open-air museum with countless tombs, each more original and artistic than the next. This site, which attracts many tourists, is located a few hundred meters north of Chinatown.
It is very easy to get there by bus or metro in about twenty minutes from Piazza del Duomo. The “Monumental” metro stop is right in front of the entrance to the cemetery.
This interesting and astonishing visit will take you through the unique tombs of important Italian figures whose relatives have shown great audacity and creativity in immortalizing and honoring their memory. For example, you can admire tombs in the shape of a pyramid, an immaculate tower or even in the shape of a marble canopy.
The cemetery is open every day except Monday and it is necessary to plan from 1h to 1h20 of visit.
Tips for your Milan itinerary:
The map of the cemetery available at the entrance will be useful for you not to miss any of the most incredible structures.
B. The Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum
If you were wondering what to do in three days in Milan, know that the Leonardo da Vinci Museum is a must-see place.
To get there from the Monumental Cemetery, the easiest way is to take the metro to the Garibaldi stop, then change lines to the Ambrosio stop. The museum is a few meters away on Via San Vittore. All this will take you about 15-20 minutes.
If you feel like walking from the cemetery, you can go through the Arco della Pace and reach the museum in just 40 minutes.
The Leonard de Vinci science and technology museum is huge and exhibits many models inspired by the inventions of the famous genius. Installed on several levels, it also devotes several sections to aviation, rail and naval transport, automobiles, space and communications.
The museum is child-friendly and allows for a great family time.
Tips for your Milan itinerary:
Count half a day of visit because there are a lot of things to see. 3 hours minimum are necessary to make a complete tour without necessarily lingering. Don’t go an hour before closing time.
C. The Basilica of Saint Ambrose
Then head to the Saint-Ambroise basilica, located just 3 minutes on foot from the museum.
Locally called Basicila di Sant’Ambrogio, this historical monument is located next to a pretty little pedestrian street in a very pleasant area. Named after the city’s Patron Saint, it is one of the oldest churches in Milan.
It is also considered a great symbol of Lombard Romanesque art. Its construction dates from the year 386 although it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history.
This famous church is recognizable by its two asymmetrical brick towers and its unusual architecture. Inside, you will be able to see in particular beautiful pieces of goldsmithery but also the sarcophagus of Stilicho and the crypt containing the relics of several Italian saints, including the famous Saint-Ambroise.
The ceiling and the nave of the church are also worth a look.
Tips for your Milan itinerary:
As an option after the Basilica of Saint Ambrose, you can reach the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan in 10 minutes, where one of the most beautiful masterpieces of painting is exhibited: “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci.
But beware, visits are by reservation only, for certain days and specific times. It’s up to you to see if this can fit into your program. Tickets are on sale here.
I then advise you to conclude this second day of your 72-hour stay in Milan with a walk in the Navigli district.
This district is the most picturesque in the city and it is also the heart of Milan’s nightlife. Nicknamed the “canal district”, it owes its success to the network of canals that crosses it and gives it so much charm.
To reach the Navigli district from Saint Ambrose Church in just 15 minutes, take metro line 2 at Ambrogio and get off at the Genova stop.
Then take the time to stroll along the canal, enjoy a drink or a meal on the terrace and then end the evening in style in one of the bars, pubs or nightclubs in the area.
The Navigli district is particularly beautiful at the end of the day: enjoy its lively streets with the beautiful luminosity of the sunset!
Tips for your Milan itinerary:
Don’t miss Vicolo Lavandai on Alzaia Naviglio Grande. In my opinion, it is one of the prettiest corners of the district, ideal for strolling in the evening and enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Day 3: Places to Visit
The visits of day 3:
A. The Pinacoteca
B. The Royal Palace
C. Shopping session
A. The Pinacoteca de Brera
It’s already the third and last day of your 3-day itinerary in Milan and there are still great things to do.
I suggest you start with a visit to the Pinacoteca of Milan, the city’s Fine Arts museum . Just a 10-minute walk from the Duomo in Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera exhibits one of the richest art collections in Italy and is therefore worth a look.
Housed in the Palazzo de Brera, this art gallery was once a cultural center run by monks. At the time, there was also a library and an astronomical observatory.
The collection of this center has continued to grow over the centuries and the works exhibited today occupy some forty rooms. In particular, you can admire famous paintings such as “The Last Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio or “The Marriage of the Virgin” by Raphael.
Allow around 2 hours for the visit.
B. The Royal Palace of Milan
A little further south of the Pinacoteca, just a 15-minute walk away, is another symbolic place in Milan: the Royal Palace.
To get there, walk down Via Brera to arrive in Piazza della Scala. Cross this square then the glass roof to reach the Place du Dôme. The palace is located directly opposite, to the left of the cathedral.
The Royal Palace of Milan was the seat of the Milanese government for many years and then became an important cultural center. In particular, you can see art, fashion and design exhibitions all year round.
The Palace Museum installed inside tells the story of the city and its inhabitants over the ages.
The courtyard of the Palace allows you to take a nice walk but above all offers a breathtaking and unique view of the Duomo of Milan.
The Palace is closed to the public every Monday. Admission to the visit costs €14 at full price.
C. Shopping in Milan
How to spend 3 days in Milan, the capital of fashion, without doing a bit of shopping?
I advise you to end your stay with a short session of window shopping in the shopping streets of the city. The last afternoon on site is perfect for doing some shopping and finding interesting pieces and souvenirs.
For shopping enthusiasts who want to mark the occasion and do honor to the big Italian brands, I recommend that you go for a walk in the area of Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Manzoni. These 4 streets concentrate a large number of fashion boutiques and are located 15-20 minutes on foot from the Palace.
You will find there, among others, the shops of the Italian designers Gucci and Versace. It is also in this district that Milan fashion weeks take place.
For smaller budgets, I recommend The Highline Outlet shopping mall, which is a 5-minute walk from the Place du Dôme. You will find brands at affordable prices in a very nice area.
D. Optional – San Siro Stadium + Casa Milan Museum
Of course, AC Milan fans know what I’m talking about!
You will be able to discover the players’ changing rooms, the stands, etc. during the guided tour of the stadium and continue through the museum to admire in particular the trophy room and the Ballons d’Or room.
Where to Stay in Milan
Now that you know how to visit Milan in 3 days, it remains to address the question of your accommodation: where are you going to sleep?
Well here too, we make it easy for you with our selection of the best hotels to stay in Milan:
- Ostello Bello Grande: Youth hostel, located not far from Milan Central Station. Bed in dormitory from 60€, breakfast included. Most: the welcome, the atmosphere, the cleanliness.
- Hotel Da Vinci: Located away from the city center but only 10 minutes walk from a metro station. Huge double room with modern and bright decoration from €90 per night, breakfast included. Most: quiet, spacious rooms, free parking, very generous buffet breakfast. Our big favorite for its performance / price ratio!
- 43 Station Hotel: 2 steps from Milan Central Station. Modern and spacious room from €130 per night, breakfast at €9. Most: brand new and well-equipped hotel, hearty breakfast, ideal location.
- Hotel Folen: Also located next to the train station. Spacious room with comfortable bedding, from €190, breakfast included. Most: the location, the friendliness of the staff, the full breakfast.
- Rosa Grand Milano – Starhotels Collezione: Located 2 minutes walk from the Duomo. Modern and warm room with some views of Milan Cathedral from €300, breakfast included. Most: the location in the heart of Milan, the wellness center, the friendliness of the staff. An excellent choice where to sleep in Milan for an upscale stay!
- Suite Milano Duomo: 5 star hotel located 5 minutes from Milan Cathedral. Spacious and design room from 325€ per night. Most: location, hospitality, staff. This is our recommendation for a romantic stay in Milan.
If you have not found the hotel corresponding to your desires in this selection or if it is already full at the time of your departure, I advise you to read my other article including a wider selection of hotels, classified by neighborhoods and according to your budget.
You’ll find it here: The best hotels to stay in Milan.
Visit Milan in 3 days with the family
If you have planned to visit Milan with your children for 3 days, you can easily follow our day-to-day itineraries.
The city may be very focused on fashion, art and culture, but most of the activities are likely to appeal to all ages. And the other advantage is that it is very easy to do everything on foot. Most of the sites are close to each other and the visit circuit is well suited to not covering too many kilometres.
Among the activities to do with the family for 3 days in Milan, here is a small summary list:
- The Leonardo da Vinci Museum: this is THE museum to visit with the family in Milan. Playful and very rich, it allows you to spend a pleasant and instructive half-day in the world of science and the creations of the famous inventor. Plan 3 to 4 hours of visit because the museum is really gigantic. A lunch room is available on site if you feel peckish.
- The Duomo of Milan: impressive and unmissable, the emblem of the city is sure to please children, teenagers and adults of all ages. Do not forget to climb on the roofs to enjoy the magnificent view of the whole city.
- The Sforza Castle: with its imposing appearance and its architecture, children will be able to immerse themselves in the medieval universe. The castle houses several museums where you can discover unusual musical instruments, mummies and sarcophagi. Don’t miss the guided tour of the castle’s underground passages.
- The mythical San Siro stadium which regularly hosts the prestigious teams of AC Milan and Inter Milan. Ideal for budding footballers! It is also the biggest stadium in Italy. Tickets are on sale here.
You can also add a pass by:
- The Natural History Museum: a good idea for a family outing in case of rain. This museum dedicated to the evolution of species and to fauna and flora is an interesting alternative for having a good time together. It is located in the east of the city, 4 minutes by metro from Place du Dôme. Open Tuesday to Sunday.
- The Milan Aquarium, located right next to the Sforza Castle. Admission is even free every day from 4:30 p.m.
- The Triennale Kids, a museum for children between 3 and 10 years old with workshops and games.
- Idroscalo Park: located a little outside the city, this leisure center is ideal for family fun. Plan a big half-day or a whole day because the park is located about an hour from the center by public transport.
- Leolandia (tickets on sale here!), an amusement park located 40 minutes from Milan. Super clean, well maintained and with lots of rides and shows. A great choice for a family day out around Milan!
- Acquatica Park, a beautiful water park with swimming pools, slides and paddling pool, located just outside Milan.
- Acquaworld, another water park, indoors and outdoors, 20 km from Milan.
More things to do and see in Milan in 3 days
After having followed all this sightseeing program for 3 days in Milan and if you still have time, I recommend that you read our complete guide to the city of Milan.
You will find even more ideas on things to do and see and will be able to conclude your 3 days of vacation in Milan having missed nothing of the essentials.
To read it, nothing could be simpler, you just have to click on the following link: What to do in Milan? The ultimate guide!
Map of your 3-day itinerary in Milan
To help you visualize your itineraries during these 3 days in Milan, I made you a map listing the places to visit day by day. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow. You will then be able to view the routes for each day.
Need help organizing your 3-day Milan itinerary? Do not hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments.
Are you going to Milan? Also read
- Discover all our articles about Italy: all Tips for your Milan itinerary: articles about Italy are listed here
- Milan: Top 15 must-do things
- Where to stay in Milan? The guide to the best accommodations for all budgets