Frantic, dynamic, always ready-to-order styles and trends, the city never seems to sleep. Discover all you can do in Milan for 5 days.

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Places of art and places to live, jogging in one of its parks and aperitif dinner in one of the many nightlife districts, shopping in the fashion streets and vernissages for the thousand events on its calendar, Milan is a city that surprises every time you visit it. There is not only many things to see, but also to do and experience in a city that rides every new trend and knows how to offer visitors an ever-updated range of experiences, which makes it the real capital of fashion and design.

Before finding out what to do in Milan in 5 days, you need to know that the city is entirely flat, so you can move easily by public transport (especially the metro) and perhaps with a city card which helps you move among museums and locations without wasting too much time at the ticket offices. Not only that, but Milan is also an orthogonal city, which expands in almost concentric perimeters starting from the center - the wonderful Piazza Duomo - towards the outskirts, so that the itineraries are easy to identify.

Live and experience 5 days in Milan with Milan City Pass

What to do in Milan in 5 days starting from the calendar of events

What to do in Milan for 5 days

View of Porta Nuova's skyscrapers from the Vertical Forest building

Forget the old prejudice that Milan closes for holidays in August and empties out on weekends. Today the city is open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, because the agenda of events it organizes fills the weeks one after the other - events of design, fashion, motors, the full exhibition hall - and visitors then love to entertain themselves in the evening and into the deep night, because Milan invented the "fuorisalone" to experience every event at 360 degrees.

So 5 days are right to capture the mood of a city that is always in turmoil, which order styles that we will then find elsewhere. New districts emerge from nowhere or rise from the ashes of its history, such as the recently inaugurated Mind (Milan Innovation District) which has taken hold in the former Expo 2015 area, or NoLo which has given value to the streets of Piazzale Loreto north, without forgetting that Bicocca, Porta Nuova and City Life are indeed very modern districts, but they have their roots in the solid foundations of old building and industrial realities.

And we are already looking at the creation of new districts, such as NaPa - Naviglio Pavese - an area that extends as far as Gratosoglio, and NoCe (North Cenisio) which unites the areas of Ghisolfa with Cenisio and Bullona. Every year new venues open and new dining, hotel and entertainment concepts emerge, so to find out what to do for 5 days in Milan you always have to stay... on track.

Milan City Card, the city's musts in a single package

Day 1: the must to start is Piazza Duomo

What to do in Milan for 5 days

Overview of Piazza Duomo, on the left the access arch to the Gallery and on the right Palazzo Reale and the Arengario

You cannot start your visit to Milan except from the Duomo and the famous square overlooked by important museums and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is the initiation of every visitor passing through Milan, almost a dutiful homage to the all-gold Madonnina which has stood out on the highest spire of the cathedral since 1774. A Gothic masterpiece begun at the end of the 1300s, the Cathedral took almost 600 years to present itself in its current form (the official completion dates back to 1965), and the first time you see it always leaves you speechless due to the refinement of the friezes, the white of the marbles and the delicacy of its spiers.

Milan in 5 days starts from here, from the Duomo, majestic and flashy on the outside but sober on the inside, with the wide naves that make it the largest church in Italy. The Sacred Nail descends from the roof, the reliquary containing one of the thorns from the Christ's cross. You can also visit the underground crypt, the excavations of the ancient basilica of Santa Tecla and the baptistery where Sant'Ambrogio baptized Sant'Agostino, while from the outside it is worth taking the lift up to the Terraces and admiring Milan from above. A heritage managed by the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, constantly active and whose headquarters adjacent to the square gives precious advice to tourists for visiting the symbol of Milan.

Once the visit to the cathedral is over, it is time to enter the splendid square which constitutes the heart of Milan, not only artistically but also politically and commercially. Piazza Duomo has a modern inspiration, it was redesigned after the unification of Italy in 1861 and completed in the 1950s. Overlooking it is Palazzo Reale, once the government seat of the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom and today the first city museum, capable of hosting up to four or five exhibitions at the same time. Next door and with an architectural extension is the Palazzo dell'Arengario, inaugurated in 1956 and now home to the Museum of the Twentieth Century.

Those who want to walk instead, perhaps starting to discover a little of the shopping opportunities that Milan offers, will find the largest pedestrian area in the city. Opposite the Arengario there is in fact the Galleria, which with its shops and restaurants reaches up to Piazza della Scala, where there is the famous theatre, Palazzo Marino, seat of the Municipality and the Gallerie d'Italia, created from the former headquarters of the Italian Commercial Bank. A walk worth recommending is also the one along the Corso, also named after Vittorio Emanuele II, which connects Piazza Duomo to Piazza San Babila, the latter of which has been completely pedestrianized for a few months.

Discover The wonderful Duomo of Milan, Rooftops & Museum

Day 1: afternoon and evening between Brera and the Navigli

What to do in Milan for 5 days

Pub along the two streets of the Naviglio Pavese

Let's go back to the Gallery because it's time for lunch. The advice is to do it tasty, then head towards Brera from Piazza della Scala, because it is the artists' district and there are many cafés and art/bistros where you can sit and extend your stay into the early afternoon. In a list of things to do in Milan in 5 days you cannot miss to visit the Pinacoteca di Brera, perhaps the number two must in Milan after the Duomo, competing with the Cenacolo Vinciano. Online booking is mandatory, and even more mandatory is admiring masterpieces such as Mantegna's Dead Christ, Raphael's Marriage of the Virgin and Hayez's Kiss.

To close the first of 5 days in Milan we now need to organize the evening. When we ask ourselves what to do in the evening in Milan, the first answer that comes is: "let's go to the Navigli", and since it is the day of the musts we follow the advice. From Brera, it's just a moment, with the M2 green metro line it only takes four stops and you get to Porta Genova, from here there are an infinite number of places that run along the two canals - Pavese and Alzaia Grande - up to the dock, now renovated and donated to the city. For the alternative, here is Via Tortona, behind Porta Genova, which has become one of the most fashionable districts for design and also hosts the Museum of Cultures (Mudec).

Discover Milan in the evening with the Aperitif by boat on the Navigli

Day 2: the Leonardo's Last Supper and the Sforzesco Castle

What to do in Milan for 5 days

San Satiro at the Church of Santa Maria, Bramante's perspective choir

The second day can be ideal for mixing things to see with things to do in Milan for 5 days, because on the itinerary between the Cenacolo with the fresco of the Last Supper by Leonardo and the Sforzesco Castle, up to the Arco della Pace, there is space for afternoon of shopping along via Torino and via Dante and enjoying the sun or the cool air of Sempione Park, the oldest green lung of the city.

Let's start from the Cenacolo Vinciano, which is located in the refectory of the basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Corso Magenta. It can be easily reached by metro (Cadorna stop, red M1 or green M2) or with one of the many trams that run along Via Magenta from the centre. It is incredible how Leonardo's fresco dedicated to the Last Supper of Christ was "snubbed" for so many years. The doors of the refectory of the Dominican friars were created along the wall and during the Second World War the place was destroyed by bombing. Today it lives again in all its magnificence, but visits - upon mandatory online reservation - are limited and fixed to 15 minutes.

After the Last Supper it is a good idea to walk along Corso Magenta. Here you will encounter various wonders, such as the 17th century Litta theater - the oldest in Milan - and the stumbling blocks of the anti-Jewish persecution, including the one indicating Liliana Segre's paternal home. There are also two splendid churches: San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, at number 15, with its rich frescoes; and Santa Maria in San Satiro, which is found continuing on via Torino, almost anonymous on the outside but surprising on the inside due to the enchanting play of perspective that Bramante gave to the apse behind the choir transept.

Visit the Leonardo's Last Supper and the Sforzesco Castle with a guided tour and skip the line

Day 2: shopping in the afternoon and aperitif dinner at Arco della Pace

What to do in Milan for 5 days

Sempione Park and, in back, the Arco della Pace

Via Torino is one of the Milanese shopping streets. Crowded during the day and in the evening, it attracts a casual and young audience. It is very easy to reach because it is entered from Piazza Duomo. An alternative shopping option could be Corso Buenos Aires, the longest shopping street in Europe, but from the Duomo you have to take the red M1 metro line and exit after three/four stops (Porta Venezia or Lima). Our suggestion is to continue from via Torino towards via Dante, a pedestrian street and ideal for a quick lunch.

At the end of Via Dante you can see the great complex of the Sforzesco Castle, now home to museums and the Pietà Rondanini attributed to Michelangelo, but which from the 1400s onwards was the Sforza palace, military fortress and Napoleonic headquarters. It was precisely in Milan, in the Duomo, that Napoleon had himself crowned King of Italy in 1805. Entering through the main entrance and passing the two courtyards overlooked by the large crenellated towers, you enter Sempione Park. For a bit of relaxation and calm walks, at the other end of the park the nineteenth-century Arco della Pace awaits us, today one of the most evocative places for Milanese aperitifs.

Visit the castle and collections of the Sforza Castello with audio guide

Day 3: from SantʼAmbrogio to San Lorenzo and evening at City Life

What to do in Milan for 5 days

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan dates back to the 11th century

Everyone knows that the patron saint of Milan is Sant'Ambrogio, who the Church venerates on 7 December, the day which for the Milanese is also that of the first of the opera season at La Scala. Ambrogio was elected bishop in the year 374 by popular will, it was he who had a basilica built for the martyrs Protasus and Gervasus, alongside whom he was then buried in the year 397. This is enough to explain why the basilica dedicated to him is so loved by the Milanese, who even today they can see the saint's remains in this church, whose current renovation dates back to the 11th-12th century.

The same periods characterize the basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, in Corso di Porta Ticinese. The first early Christian nucleus dates back to the 4th century, as for the church of Sant'Ambrogio, and the current Romanesque structure dates back to the 11th-12th century after various disastrous fires. The Columns of San Lorenzo in front of the church and the monument to the emperor Constantine - creator of the famous edict of Milan which in 313 opened freedom of worship for Christians - recall the Roman ruins of ancient Mediolanum, many of which have now disappeared, including the amphitheater and a circus maximum.

Dinner or Brunch at the Colonne di San Lorenzo has always been an unmissable event for visitors, but even continuing along Corso di Porta Ticinese and arriving at the dock you can enjoy a nice open air lunch. In the afternoon, if you have children, you can spend playing games and curiosities at the "Leonardo da Vinci" Museum of Science and Technology, a stone's throw from Sant'Ambrogio.

There's room for some early evening shopping before dinner, so let's dive into the Milan metro and go to City Life: the connection between SantʼAmbrogio on the green M2 line and the lilac M5 which leads to Portello or Tre Torri is at the Garibaldi stop. Among the skyscrapers of City Life you can breathe all the air of Milan's modernity, a nice leap in time from the early Christian basilicas of the Roman era.

Fun with science at the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum

Day 4: what to do in 5 days in Milan between jogging in the morning and disco nights

What to do in Milan for 5 days

Naviglio Martesana linked Milan to Adda river with a long cycle-pedestrian road

You know that Milan is a city worth experiencing and you can see it from the early hours of the day. The care of physical body and well-being crowds parks and gardens with many joggers, but it is not uncommon to see groups engaged in yoga and tai-chi courses early in the morning. There is no shortage of places, the Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano (BAM) in the Porta Nuova area is perfect for this purpose (Gioia stop on the M2 green line), as the Gardens in via Palestro in Porta Venezia (M1 red line).

Those who have desire of grandeur to do sport can take the lilac M5 metro, which arrives at the Bignami terminus, basically the access to the Parco Nord, the largest park in the metropolitan area of Milan, which embraces 7 municipalities. Jogging alternatives also run along the waterways, such as the dock and the Naviglio Martesana which from the central Via De Marchi reaches the Adda river (it is also a cycle path). Each place has its own reasons: from BAM you arrive early in the Corso Como/via Garibaldi area, passing through Piazza Gae Aulenti; inside the Gardens of via Palestro there are the Planetarium and the Museum of Natural Sciences.

But perhaps there is no point in putting too many irons in the fire, the fourth day started early and will end... late! Better to dedicate the afternoon to the most exclusive shopping. Just from via Palestro you can reach after a few hundred meters via della Spiga, one of the cult destinations of the fashion quadrilateral, with via Gesù, via Monte Napoleone and via Manzoni.

If you have made good deals, take them back to the hotel or your accommodation, an aperitif awaits us at Isola, one of the trendiest district and meeting place for music lovers (the Blue Note is here, in via Borsieri). And those who want to stay up until the wee hours have nearby the discos of Corso Como, such as Hollywood, and in the Isola/Farini neighbourhood: Alcatraz, the Gate. At 3 in the morning it feels like being in Ibiza.

Discover Milan by bike with a guided tour

Day 5, slow pace in Corso Vercelli or NoLo and evening at Scala theater

What to do in Milan for 5 days

The opera house Teatro alla Scala

If you lived the previous night at the unbridled rhythm of the Milanese nightlife, then it is right to take the last of the 5 days to spend in Milan calmly. Wake up late and take a walk along the elegant Corso Vercelli for example, up to the beautiful Piazza Piemonte with the twin buildings and the National Theatre, to then take the no less elegant Viale Michelangelo. If you skipped breakfast for obvious reasons, know that here is full of ethnic places, poke houses and café-bistros. The M1 red line crosses the neighborhood (ex Fiera area) with at least 4/5 stops, but the advice is to get off at Wagner or Buonarroti.

A more pop alternative is to have a brunch in NoLo, the new neighborhood that has reinvented the area north of Piazzale Loreto and which is also easily reachable by the red M1 metro, but in the opposite direction to Buonarroti. Slow program also in the afternoon, knowing that the long Corso Buenos Aires begins from Piazzale Loreto which invites you to look at some shop windows. The truth is that we are preparing for the evening, which can only be at La Scala, the temple of Italian Opera.

Yes, we end our 5 days in Milan by attending a show in the most famous theater in the world, the true pride of the Milanese. You have to book in advance, obviously, but the experience is one of those not to be missed and there are many foreigners who experience it, also because on the theater schedule there are many works in the original language: this year for example, the Rossini's Guglielmo Tell were sung in the original French version and Mozart's Rape of the Serraglio in German. But today La Scala offers seats and boxes with small screens in front (text display) which allow the spectator to follow the text of the opera, even choosing the language.

Enjoy the charme of the Teatro alla Scala, guided tour

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