A travel guide for tackling the city of Milan in a day – including my favourite restaurants.
I’ve only used Milan as a convenient base for daytrips, so I’ve really only spent half days in the city. Unfortunately, at least for me, it did live up to its reputation as a boring business city… especially compared to its more exciting counterparts such as Rome or Venice.
Milan has its charms though. I tell you how I’d spent my 24 hours in Milan.
9am: Good Morning!
Enjoy a late wakeup call and slowly roll out of bed – you know, since you’re on holiday. I typically brew coffee and munch on simple breakfast items grabbed from the supermarket the evening before, like berries and yoghurt. And the occasional stale croissant, while catching up on a bit of work.
Then shower, get ready, and out the door by 11am for…
11am: Quick Lunch at Spontini’s
It’s easy to find pizza in Milan because, well, ITALY. But I found Spontini’s most memorable. They have several outlets, and they have very few items on the menu. Some outlets only have one flavor of pizza, others will have up to three favours. I ordered the classic, which is just lots and lot of cheese over a marinara-slathered dough. It was so simple, but very satisfactory due to the mere size of it. Don’t be like me and make the mistake of ordered two “large” slices, which ended up being HALF A WHOLE PIZZA. Oh boy.
They appear to have several outlets scattered across Milan, and the opening hours differ by location. The outlet near our apartment opens for lunch from 11:45 to 14:30, then it closes and re-opens again for dinner at 6pm. The outlet near Duomo however, is open throughout, from 11am to 11pm.
12.30pm: Duomo di Milano // Milano Cathedral
The Duomo di Milano has a breathtaking white exterior. Spare a couple of hours to not just explore the interior of the cathedral, but to also go up the terrace. The interior, while huge, I thought were like any other cathedral in Europe. The terrace makes for a more unique cathedral experience. You don’t have to spend a lot of time up there, but I hung out for almost an hour, just basking in the Milanese sun.
4.00 pm: Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle
After the cathedral visit, walk over to the crowded Galleria right next door. The gold-gilded walls and glass ceilings of the oldest shopping mall in the world is worth a staring contest with.
4.30 pm: Best Tiramisu
Fun story. We were at the café right beside Papa Francesco for lunch, and it had the worse pasta ever. Worse meal of the trip. It was so painful too because it was to be our last meal before we had to head to the airport. This café looked eerily similar to Papa Francesco’s storefront, down to even the canopy umbrellas outdoors. Anyway, disgruntled with our meal, we went next door and ended up with amazing desserts. The price point is higher, but you can tell immediately that the food is freshly homemade. Unlike the lunch we had, which according to Papa Francesco staff was “microwaved” nonsense. I’m inclined to agree.
6.00pm: After Hours at Navigli Grande Canal
You can walk to here from the Duomo, and I reckon you should, to get a better general feel of Milan. We took the metro. Being here gave me major Venice vibes. Lined with an array of restaurants and bars, the Navigli Grande is a nice area to have aperitifs before a good dinner… and more aperitifs to finish the day with. Chill atmosphere that’s fantastic for people watching.
I had the best seafood pasta at Al Coniglio Bianco restaurant. I wanted to order their giant shrimp pasta originally, but it was sold out. This seafood pasta as was an off-the-menu item and I’m glad the waiter recommended this for me. We continued with our aperitifs there, since we had seats by the canal.
In-between… Go Shopping
Yeah, I know, shopping? Really? Cop out. But I did shop a bit, even if I didn’t plan to. The areas around Duomo were concentrated with both luxury brands and your fast-fashion likes. I spent quite a bit of time in their huge Zara. And of course, there was the time I traipsed over to odd parts of town in search of Lotion P50.