3 days in Milan: the perfect Itinerary (first time visit)


How to spend 3 days in Milan: The best itinerary + Where to stay

You’re planning to spend 3 days in Milan and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this 3-day itinerary in Milan.

During your trip, you will discover all must-see attractions of the city such as Milan Cathedral, Sforza Castle, or the Navigli district.

In addition to the best places to visit and activities for each stage of your itinerary, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best places to visit in Milan in 3 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

My best Tips to save time at Milan’s must-see attractions

When we think of Milan, we all picture the famous cathedral, with its characteristic façade. Therefore, it’s an absolute must-see during your 3-day visit to Milan!

Unfortunately, you won’t be the only ones with this idea at the same time.

Just like the Colosseum in Rome or Westminster Abbey in London, the queue at the Duomo stretches every day across the square for tens or even hundreds of meters. It often takes several hours of waiting to enter the city’s emblematic monument!

However, there are several very simple ways to avoid wasting time during your 3-day trip to Milan.

Below, I will explain everything about the 3 best solutions to avoid queuing!

1. The Milan Pass

This is the first solution to maximize your time on your 3-day trip to Milan: buy the Milan Pass.

Today, most major tourist cities offer this type of City Pass, which is not only ultra-convenient for skipping queues at the most famous sites but also for big savings.

The Milan Pass is valid for 48 or 72 hours from its first use, whether for a visit or transportation.

When you book, you will receive an email to print or a voucher on your smartphone to exchange for the card at the Milan Visitor Center. It’s located on Via Cusani, opposite the entrance to the Sforza Castle (metro stop Cairoli Castello).

This Pass is the most comprehensive for visiting Milan in 3 days.

Here is everything that’s included in the Milan Pass:

  • Skip-the-line ticket for Milan Cathedral (Duomo) with access to the terraces
  • Free entrance to the Scala Museum and Theater and other main tourist sites: Brera Picture Gallery, the Museum of Science and Technology…
  • A book of discounts for bars, restaurants, and certain guided tours in Milan over 72 hours
  • A city map

With your Milan Pass purchase, you’ll also get:

  • A ticket for the City Sightseeing bus that allows you to hop on and off at will to see the main attractions
  • A ticket to enjoy public transport (metro, tram, and bus) for free.

Very useful if you’re tired of walking or if you’re visiting Milan with young children (good deal: the Milan Pass is free for children under 4).

To buy your Milan city pass now, just click on the button below:

2. The Milan Digital Pass

Another option for visiting Milan on foot in 3 days or using public transport is to get the Milan Digital Pass. 

It works on the same principle as the Milan Pass with free access or reduced rates for the main tourist sites. The advantage is that you will receive your card directly via email or by downloading an app.

The Milan city card includes all of the following services:

  • Skip-the-line ticket for Milan’s must-see attraction: the Duomo (+ access to the museum and the roof)
  • Fast-track entry to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology
  • Access to the Ambrosian Picture Gallery
  • An audio guide
  • 10% discount on another activity in Milan.

To buy your Milan Digital Pass, just click the button below:

3. Skip-the-Line Tickets for Milan Tourist Attractions

The final solution to gain quick access to all the major sites: purchase skip-the-line tickets for each monument or museum based on your 3-day Milan itinerary.

There are many available, for both the can’t-miss attractions and the activities to do in Milan during these 3 days.

I have listed a selection below, but you will find them throughout this article. To book them, it’s once again super simple, just click on the links for each site:

Visiting Milan in 3 Days: The Essentials

One Last Tip for a Perfect 5-Day Stay in Milan

If you already know your travel dates (or as soon as you will have them!), you should really book your accommodation.

As Milan is one of the most touristic cities in the world, the hotels offering the best value for money are often fully booked months in advance.

As a seasoned traveler, I can assure you that it’s always by planning as far in advance as possible that I’ve found the best hotels or apartments deals.

You agree that it would be a shame to somewhat ruin your stay in Milan by ending up in a not-so-great hotel that costed you a fortune, right? 😅

So your best bet is to take 5 minutes now to have a look at traveler’s favorite hotels in Milan.

And if you like one of the hotels you find, book it!

It’s fast, it’s easy and most accommodation offer free cancellation. That’s the best way to protect yourself from the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the best hotels deals in Milan, simply click on the green button below:

After securing your dream stay, it’s time to continue reading this guide!

Visiting Milan in 3 Days: The Best Itinerary

Let’s now start your 3-day itinerary in Milan!

For each day, I will give you all the details you need to plan your visits + a map that will allow you to visualize the itinerary a bit better.

I’m assuming you will be staying in Milan for 3 full days and that you will be using the Milan Pass, the Milan Digital Pass or skip-the-line tickets. It’s the best way to save time and money during your stay!

If you still have questions after reading this guide (or need help organizing your holiday), don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section located at the very end of this article.

I will be glad to help you plan your trip 😄.

So, how to visit Milan in 3 days?

Milan Itinerary: Day 1 – The Historic Center

visiting Milan in 3 days day 1
visiting Milan in 3 days day 1

Day 1 Visits:

A. Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
B. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
C. La Scala Opera House
D. Sforza Castle
E. Sempione Park
F. Chinatown

A. Milan Cathedral (Il Duomo)

Also known as Milan Cathedral, Il Duomo is undoubtedly the most famous and essential monument in the city. That’s why I suggest you start your 3-day trip to Milan here.

If you’ve chosen accommodation in the historic center, you’ll be able to easily reach it on foot. Otherwise, you can take the metro (Duomo stop) and you’ll exit right on Piazza del Duomo.

Il Duomo is not only the main attraction of the city but also the third largest cathedral in the world. Construction began in the 14th century and stretched over more than 500 years. The result: a magnificent monument that stands at the center of Milan on Piazza del Duomo, attracting millions of visitors every year!

You often have to queue for several hours to enter the cathedral. I strongly recommend you book the Milan Pass, Milan Digital Pass, or this skip-the-line ticket (click here) to start the visit without wasting time.

By booking a guided tour (in French), you can also enter directly without waiting in line:

Before entering the Duomo, don’t miss admiring the 2000 marble statues and the 136 spires proudly pointing towards the sky, earning the cathedral the nickname of “marble hedgehog”.

Inside, you’ll be able to discover the naves, sarcophagi, and tombs of archbishops, as well as a crucifix created by Leonardo da Vinci.

You’ll also have the opportunity to access the terrace of the Duomo (by stairs or by elevator) to enjoy an unparalleled view of the entire city.

For all practical information for visiting the cathedral, check out my article: Skip-the-line ticket for Milan Cathedral.

Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral, a must-see during your weekend in Milan!

B. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Next, continue your 3-day Milan itinerary and head to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which can be entered from Piazza del Duomo, to your right as you exit the cathedral.

Recognizable by its arcades and its impressive glass and iron dome, this luxury arcade is home to numerous high-end shops and restaurants.

Even if shopping here isn’t within your budget, you should still visit to enjoy its architecture.

With its neoclassical style and baroque inspiration, it’s considered one of the most beautiful in Europe!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

C. La Scala

Another icon of the city of Milan that you shouldn’t miss is La Scala, located just a 5-minute walk from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Exit through the north corridor and cross the small Piazza della Scala, making sure to glance at the statue of Leonardo da Vinci erected at its center. Continue straight for a few meters and you’ll come across La Scala, the famous building that houses the Milan Opera House.

La Scala is among the most prestigious venues in Italy. Huge works have been performed here, including the legendary “Otello” by Verdi. The soprano Maria Callas has also sung in this place.

The exterior facade of the monument may seem quite plain but the interior of the opera house is sumptuous. Also worth seeing is the museum on the left side of the building, where you can admire a beautiful collection of musical instruments and opera costumes.

The opera can only be visited with a guide, and tickets can be booked directly here:

Access is also included with the MilanPass.

If you’re a music enthusiast and wish to seize the opportunity to attend an opera, ballet, or concert, you can get your tickets here.

La Scala, Milan Opera house
La Scala, Milan Opera house

D. Sforza Castle

Next, move on to the Sforza Castle (locally known as Castello Sforzesco).

It’s located only 1 km away from La Scala, so you can easily walk there.

The castle, built in the 14th century to protect the city from its then-enemy Venice, is also renowned for having housed the workshops of Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance.

Today, the castle’s rooms are home to several museums:

  • The Museum of Ancient Art
  • The Museum of Prehistory
  • The Museum of Decorative Arts
  • The Egyptian Museum
  • The Picture Gallery
  • The Museum of Musical Instruments
  • The Museum of Furniture

To book your ticket to visit Sforza Castle + audio guide, click on the button below:

Even if you’re not interested in visiting the museums, you can always take a stroll in the vast courtyard, which often hosts cultural events. Entrance to the courtyard is free.

Crossing it will take you directly to Sempione Park, the next stop on this 3-day Milan journey.

The fountain, in front of Sforza Castle south entrance
The fountain, in front of Sforza Castle south entrance

E. Sempione Park

Sempione Park is the main park of the city and is located right behind the castle.

While wandering through the park, don’t miss the chance to see:

  • The Triennale in the Southwest: a small museum highlighting Italian arts and architecture
  • Arena Civica in the Northeast: a stadium hosting athletics competitions
  • Arco della Pace in the Northwest: Milan’s triumphal arch.

If you’re visiting Milan with your children, you can also take them to the aquarium, which is also located in Sempione Park.

Arco della Pace, north of Parco Sempione
Arco della Pace, north of Sempione Park

F. Milan’s Chinatown

To end your first day in Milan, I suggest you explore the city’s Chinatown, located north of the Arco della Pace and just a 10-minute walk away.

Don’t expect a Chinatown quite as expansive as New York‘s or Montreal‘s—it’s pretty small. But it’s a great choice for a pleasant evening out, discovering affordable shops and authentic Asian products.

Spend the night in Milan. You’ll find a selection of the best hotels at the end of this article.

Second Day in Milan: What to Do and See?

Milan in 3 days - 2nd day
Milan in 3 days – 2nd day

Visits for day 2:

A. Monumental Cemetery
B. Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology
C. The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
D. The Navigli District

A. Monumental Cemetery

For the second day of your 3-day trip to Milan, I suggest you visit the Monumental Cemetery, an unusual place to start the day.

It’s more than just a cemetery; it’s a vast open-air museum with countless gravesites, each more original and artistic than the last. This site attracts many tourists and is located only a few hundred meters North of Chinatown.

It’s very easy to reach by bus or metro in about twenty minutes from Piazza del Duomo. The “Monumentale” metro stop is right in front of the cemetery’s entrance.

This intriguing visit will guide you among unique gravesites of significant Italian figures, whose relatives have shown great daring and creativity to immortalize and honor their memory. For example, you’ll be able to admire graves shaped like pyramids, pristine towers, or even marble canopies.

The cemetery is open every day except Monday and you should plan to spend between 1 and 1.5 hours here.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The cemetery map available at the entrance will help you to make sure you don’t miss any of the most incredible structures.

Monumental Cemetery Milan
Monumental Cemetery

B. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology

If you were wondering what to do for three days in Milan, you need to know that the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology is a must-visit.

To get there from Monumental Cemetery, the easiest way is to take the metro to Garibaldi station, then change lines to Ambrosio station. The museum is just a few meters from Via San Vittore. The whole journey will take about 15-20 minutes.

If you feel like walking from the cemetery, you can pass by Arco della Pace and reach the museum in only 40 minutes.

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology is huge and displays many models inspired by the inventions of the famous genius. Spanning several levels, it also dedicates several sections to aviation, rail and naval transportation, automobiles, as well as space and communications.

The museum is child-friendly and offers a great family experience.

Entry to the museum is included in the Milan Pass, the Milan Digital Pass, or you can also purchase a skip-the-line ticket by clicking here.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Plan half a day for the visit as there’s a lot to see. A minimum of 3 hours is necessary to make a complete tour without lingering too long. Don’t go just one hour before closing time.

Interior of a steam locomotive at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
Interior of a steam locomotive at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum

C. The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio

Next, head to the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, located just 3 minutes on foot from the museum.

Locally known as Basicila di Sant’Ambrogio, this historical monument is situated beside a charming pedestrian street in a very pleasant neighborhood. 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. Although it was built in 386, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history.

This famous church is recognizable by its two asymmetrical brick towers and its uncommon architecture. Inside, you can admire beautiful pieces of goldsmith’s work, as well as the sarcophagus of Stilicho and the crypt containing the relics of several Italian saints, including the renowned Saint Ambrose.

The ceiling and nave of the church are also worth a look.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Optionally after the Basilica of Sant’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 displayed: “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci.

However, visits are by reservation only, on certain days and times. It’s up to you to see if it fits into your schedule. Tickets are on sale here.

You can also take the tour with a certified guide who will provide all the necessary explanations and technical details about this magnificent painting.

You just have to click on the button below to book it:


Right next to the church, you can also visit Leonardo’s Vineyard. Tickets are on sale here!

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio Milan
The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio

D. The Navigli District

Next, I recommend that you conclude your second day of your 72-hour stay in Milan with a stroll through the Navigli district.

This area is the most picturesque in the city and it’s also the heart of Milan’s nightlife. Aptly named “the canal district,” its success is indeed due to the network of canals that cross it and add so much charm.

To reach the Navigli district from Saint Ambrose Church in just 15 minutes, take the metro line 2 from Ambrogio and get off at the Genova stop.

Then take your time to walk along the canal, enjoy a drink or a meal on a terrace, and finish the evening in style at one of the bars, pubs, or nightclubs in the area.

The Navigli district is especially beautiful at the end of the day: enjoy its lively streets with the beautiful light of the sunset!

Voyage Tips - Advice

Don’t miss Vicolo Lavandai on Alzaia Naviglio Grande. In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest spots in the district, perfect for an evening stroll and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

To discover the Navigli, there’s nothing better than booking a little cruise on the canals with an included aperitif. You can find all the information by clicking here:

Navigli district in Milan
Navigli district in Milan

3rd Day in Milan: Places to Visit

visiter Milan en 3 jours 3ème journée
Visiting Milan in 3 Days – Day 3

Day 3 visits:

A. The Pinacoteca
B. The Royal Palace
C. Shopping Session

A. The Brera Pinacoteca

It’s already the third and final day of your 3-day itinerary in Milan and there are still beautiful things to do.

I suggest starting with a visit to the Brera Art Gallery, the city’s Fine Arts Museum. Just a 10-minute walk from Milan Cathedral, the Brera Pinacoteca displays one of the richest art collections in Italy and is well worth your time.

Housed in Palazzo Brera, this gallery was once a cultural center run by monks. It also hosted a library and an astronomical observatory at the time.

The collection of this center has grown over the centuries, and the works displayed today occupy about forty rooms. Notably, you can admire famous paintings such as “The Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio or “The Marriage of the Virgin” by Raphael.

Expect to spend about 2 hours visiting.

Pinacoteca di Brera
The Brera Art Gallery

B. The Royal Palace of Milan

Just a bit to the south of the Pinacoteca, about a 15-minute walk away, lies another symbolic site in Milan: the Royal Palace.

To get there, walk down Via Brera to arrive at Piazza della Scala. Cross this square and the glass-roofed arcade to reach Milan Cathedral Square. The palace is located directly opposite, to the left of the cathedral.

The Royal Palace of Milan served as the seat of Milanese government for many years and has since become a significant cultural hub. Throughout the year, it hosts various art, fashion, and design exhibits.

The museum inside the Palace tells the story of the city and its inhabitants through the ages.

The Palace courtyard is not only a nice place for a stroll but also offers a unique and breathtaking view of Milan Cathedral.

The Palace is closed to the public on Mondays. Admission for a visit costs 14€ for the full price.

Royal Palace of Milan
The Royal Palace of Milan

C. Shopping in Milan

How can you spend 3 days in Milan, the fashion capital, without doing a bit of shopping?

I recommend ending your stay with a little window-shopping session in the city’s commercial streets. The last afternoon is perfect for making some purchases and finding interesting items and souvenirs.

For shopping enthusiasts who want to splurge and honor the big Italian brands, I recommend taking a stroll in the area of Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea, and Via Manzoni. These 4 streets host a large number of fashion boutiques and are located 15-20 minutes on foot from the Palace.

Here you will find, among others, the boutiques of Italian designers Gucci and Versace. This district also hosts the Milan Fashion Week.

For those with smaller budgets, I recommend the The Highline Outlet shopping gallery, which is situated 5 minutes away by foot from the cathedral square. Here you’ll find brands at affordable prices in a very nice area.

D. Optional – San Siro Stadium + Casa Milan Museum

If you’re a football fan, you can also visit San Siro Stadium and the Casa Milan Museum.

AC Milan supporters certainly know what I’m talking about!

You can explore the players’ locker rooms and stands during the stadium guided tour, and then continue to the museum to admire the trophy room and the Ballon d’Or hall.

Where to Stay in Milan

Now that you know how to visit Milan in 3 days, let’s tackle the question of your accommodation: where will you stay?

Well, here too, we make it easy for you with our selection of the best hotels to stay in Milan:

  • Ostello Bello Grande: Hostel, located near Milan central station. Dormitory bed from 60€, including breakfast. Strong points: the welcome, the atmosphere, cleanliness.
  • Hotel Da Vinci : Located a bit away from the city center but just a 10 minute walk from a metro station. Huge modern and bright double room starting from 90€ per night, including breakfast. Strong points: quiet location, spacious rooms, free parking, extensive buffet breakfast. This is our top pick for value for money!
  • 43 Station Hotel : Just steps away from Milan central station. Modern and spacious room starting from 130€ per night, with breakfast at 9€. Strong points: brand new and well-equipped hotel, hearty breakfast, ideal location.
  • Hotel Folen: Also located near the station. Spacious room with comfortable bedding starting from 190€, breakfast included. Strong points: the location, the friendliness of the staff, the complete breakfast.
  • Rosa Grand Milano – Starhotels Collezione: Located a 2-minute walk from the Duomo. Modern and inviting room with some offering views of Milan Cathedral starting from 300€, including breakfast. Strong points: central location in the heart of Milan, the wellness center, friendly staff. An excellent choice for a luxury stay in Milan!
  • Suite Milano Duomo: 5-star hotel located 5 minutes from Milan Cathedral. Spacious and designer room starting from 325€ per night. Strong points: location, hospitality, staff. It’s my top recommendation for a romantic stay in Milan.

If you haven’t found a hotel that fits your desires in this selection, or if it’s already fully booked for your travel dates, I recommend reading my other article featuring a broader selection of hotels, sorted by neighborhoods and based on your budget.

You can find it here: The best hotels to stay in Milan.

Visiting Milan in 3 Days with Family

If you planned to visit Milan with your children for 3 days, you can definitely follow our day-by-day itineraries.

Even though the city is very fashion, art, and culture-oriented, most of the activities are likely to appeal to all ages. Another advantage is that it’s very easy to cover everything on foot. Most of the sites are close to each other, and the tour route is well-designed so you won’t have to walk too far.

Here’s a brief list of family-friendly activities for 3 days in Milan:

  • The Leonardo da Vinci Museum: it’s THE museum to visit with your family in Milan. Fun and extensive, it allows you to spend a nice and educational half-day immersed in the world of the famous inventor’s science and creations. Plan for 3 to 4 hours as the museum is truly vast. There’s a lunch room available on-site if you get peckish.
  • Milan Cathedral (Duomo): impressive and a must-see, the city’s emblem is sure to delight children, teenagers, and adults of all ages. Don’t forget to climb up to the rooftops to enjoy the magnificent view over the city.
  • Sforza Castle: with its imposing appearance and architecture, children will be able to dive into a medieval atmosphere. The castle is home to several museums where you can discover unusual musical instruments, mummies, or sarcophagi. Also, don’t miss the guided tour of the castle’s underground.
  • The iconic San Siro Stadium regularly hosts prestigious teams like AC Milan and Inter Milan. Perfect for budding footballers! It’s also the largest stadium in Italy. Tickets are available here.

You might also want to add a visit to:

  •  The Natural History Museum: a great family outing idea, especially on rainy days. This museum dedicated to species evolution, wildlife, and flora is an interesting alternative for spending quality time together. It’s located east of the city, just a 4-minute metro ride from Duomo Square. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • The Milan Aquarium, just next to Sforza Castle. Every day, admission is even free after 4:30 pm.
  • Triennale Kids, a museum for children aged 3 to 10 years, with workshops and games.
  • Idroscalo Park: slightly outside the city, this leisure base is perfect for family fun. Plan for a good half-day or a whole day as the park is about an hour’s commute from the city center.
  • Leolandia (tickets available here!), an amusement park located 40 minutes from Milan. Super clean, well-maintained with plenty of rides and shows. An excellent choice for a family day out around Milan!
  • Acquatica Park, a lovely water park with pools, slides, and a paddling pool, located at the outskirts of Milan.
  • Acquaworld, another water park, both indoor and outdoor, about 20 km from Milan.

More Things to Do and See in Milan in 3 Days

If you’ve followed the 3-day Milan itinerary and still have some time left, I recommend that you read our complete guide on the city of Milan.

There, you’ll find even more ideas on things to do and see, allowing you to conclude your 3-day holiday in Milan without missing any of the must-see attractions.

To read it, it’s very simple, just 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’ve created a map listing the places to visit day by day. You can display the map’s legend by clicking on the upper left button with a little arrow. This will allow you to view the routes for each day.

Visiting Milan for 3 Days: Flight Prices

Since flight prices to Milan can vary a lot, it’s a good idea to compare them as early as possible. To do this, you can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s the way to ensure you get the best fare.

Do you need help organizing your 3-day itinerary in Milan? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments.

Book your trip now and save money!

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Best places to visit in Milan in 3 days
Best places to visit in Milan in 3 days

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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