Hmmm…what to do with 24 extra hours in Italy? How about pack a bag, book a hostel and head to the only Italian city with both Uber and Starbucks? I mean I love a good Italian cappuccino as much as the next guy, but sometimes a girl just needs a €7 cup of Venti soy and god-knows-what-else to remind her of home and get her through her Ryanair flight. Now 24 hours is never enough time to really “see” a city, but it’s plenty of time to drink some wine and hit the highlights! Here’s how I spent my 24 hours in Milano.
How to get there?
If you’re arriving from anywhere else in Italy, I would advise checking both Italo and Trenitalia for the best train prices to Milano Centrale. The trains are reliable and much cheaper than domestic flights. If you are flying into Milan, there are three airports each around an hour away from the train station, Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate and Bergamo Orio al Serio. Shuttles run back and forth frequently for only €5-10!
Where to stay?
Milan has some great choices for hostels, and since it’s such a big city, I would start by figuring out which area you would like to stay in. I booked a 4-bed female dorm in Babila Hostel and was not disappointed. The hostel was clean, staff was polite and they had a cute bar/restaurant area off to the side (although in hindsight I wished I had booked a hostel closer to the train station since I had an early flight the next morning).
If you are looking for accommodation closer to the train station, I would suggest checking out Ostello Bello. Although a bit pricier than Babila Hostel, Ostello Bello is a mere 5 minute walk from Milano Centrale (saving you €15-20 in Uber costs each way). Although I haven’t stayed there personally, I hear they have a great atmosphere and a fun bar filled with young travelers!
Duomo di Milano
Although this is a bit of an obvious one, one cannot spend 24 hours in Milan without taking a quick visit to this stunning cathedral.* This gorgeous gothic structure is the fifth largest Christian church in the world and stands since 1386 as a beautiful symbol of Milan. If you plan to enter the church and visit the rooftop terraces, which I strongly recommend, you should make sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time. Tickets to the terraces by stairs are only €12.50 and you can buy them on the duomo’s official website.
*Disclaimer: If you have a fear of birds…you might want to skip this one.
Stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Right next to the Duomo di Milano, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is considered one of Milan’s most luxurious shopping centers, and for good reason. Although you may not be shopping there if you travel on a budget, it’s a beautiful space and a fun spot to do some window shopping and people watching. It’s currently decorated for the holidays, complete with an enormous Christmas tree. A stroll through the gallery will certainly put you in the holiday spirit!
Admire Da Vinci’s Last Supper
To be completely honest with you, there are very few pieces of art I would actually get excited to see. I admire art, I can appreciate it, but I really don’t understand it. However, Da Vinci’s Last Supper is something I’ve been wanting to see for a very long time…which is why I had a mini-panic attack when I went online to book my ticket four days ahead-of-time and found it to be completely sold-out. Thankfully, I thought to call the customer service line and was still able to get a ticket.
If you plan to feast your eyes upon this masterpiece of Da Vinci’s, please be smarter than I was and book tickets a month in advance. The convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie only allows 15 people to view it at a time, so you can imagine that things would book up quickly. If you do manage to get a ticket, they only cost €12 and are well worth it. Although not in the best shape, the painting itself is truly extraordinary!
Visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milano
Making a point to visit the first Starbucks in Italy…can you tell that I’m just a tad bit basic? To be fair, the Starbucks Reserve is unlike any prior Starbucks experience you’ve ever had. I set off expecting a Venti, skinny, sugar-free hazelnut latte in a Christmas cup and instead came away with something called a Marocchino with shaved chocolate on top, served on a wooden tray in one of the most impressive buildings I’d ever laid eyes on. Italy finally gave into the Starbucks craze…but not without giving it their own personal, Italian flair. Thanks Milan, for ruining my mall-kiosk Starbucks forever.
Treat yourself to a slice of Spontini
Spontini is a delicious Italian pizzeria that serves fluffy, mozzarella drenched slices of pizza cut into thick cubes (mozzarella-pull Boomerang anyone???). They have a location right around the corner from the Duomo di Milano and it’s the perfect place to grab a slice the size of your head (porta via) and enjoy lunch with a view overlooking the piazza! Just make sure to keep the pigeons away, those buggers are sneaky.
Pro-tip: go for the original Margherita. I sprung for the doppia mozzarella (double mozzarella) and filled up on cheese alone.
Stop by Mascherpa for an Instagram-worthy dessert
Tiramisu on-the-go anyone? Normally, I am not a fan of Tiramisu (many of you are probably shaking your heads or have immediately deleted me on Instagram). However, even I couldn’t resist Mascherpa’s adorable aesthetic, and it didn’t hurt that they have Nutella Tiramisu with brownie layers instead of ladyfingers. In their tiny shop in the middle of the Navigli district, you can buy tiny pots of Tiramisu in tons of different flavors for only €4! They also offer a “deconstructed” tiramisu that includes freshly brewed coffee, ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese for dipping.
Fun Fact: Both Spontini and Mascherpa were featured on INSIDER food! (How you know for sure they’re Instagram-ready, those people don’t eat anything that isn’t photogenic).
Although there’s plenty more to see in Milan, unfortunately you won’t have time for much more sightseeing with only 24 hours at your disposal. You could easily spend months here taking in all that Milan has to offer, but, for me, a day was plenty of time to enjoy the highlights!