Milan is a destination that almost speaks for itself, with its reputation as the “other” fashion capital of the world, along with Paris. But it’s also a major player on the world’s tourism stage, renowned for its gastronomy, art, commerce, history and culture. Once visited, this is a city that remains in your heart forever; and although it might not be quite as feted as its Italian counterparts Rome, Florence and Venice, there’s no doubt it holds its own as one of the most beautiful and compelling cities in Europe.
For anyone who enjoys delving into history, Milan is a fantastic city. Its long and convoluted story involves passing through numerous owners, including the Celts, Romans, Spaniards, Goths and Austrians, and every influence is written in its storied streets, architecture, and tightly-held culture.
Discover the Historic Heart of Milan in 48 Hours
As in many Italian cities, much of the preserved history is concentrated in the Centro Storico, the historic city centre, an area once enclosed within ancient medieval walls. Its compact, walkable nature means that even if you’ve only got a couple of days, you’ll be able to explore the highlights – particularly if you book accommodation nearby.
Here’s a suggested itinerary, but depending on how long you want to devote to each highlight, and how energetic you feel, you could certainly squeeze in more in 48 hours.
After a leisurely breakfast (it’s Italy, after all), you should start the day visiting the gem of the historic centre, the magnificent gothic Duomo di Milano. It’s a truly stunning piece of architecture and an iconic symbol of the city. The impressive cathedral is absolutely massive, with a staggering capacity of 40,000 people.
Dating back to the fourteenth century (although not completed until the 1800s), its opulent facade is decorated with 2,245 marble statues. Some of the most recognisable of its features are the 135 carved stone pinnacles that form part of the roof, and the exquisite stained glass windows of the nave, which are the largest in the world. You really need to dedicate a couple of hours to walk around the incredible interiors, particularly if you plan on heading up to the roof (you should) to take in the spectacular views, and spend some time in the adjacent Museo del Duomo.
After a break for lunch, just a five-minute walk from the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Mammoth in scale and lavish in execution, it was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and, when completed in 1877, became a defining landmark of the city, boasting the title of the largest shopping arcade in Europe. The magnificent central dome is 48 metres high, while the intricate mosaic floors are mind-boggling in their scope and detail. Filled with luxury shops, boutiques and cafes, whether you’re spending or not, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an experience in and of itself.
While one side of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II actually opens out to Piazza della Scala (home to the famous La Scala), we suggest leaving that until the next day. For now, it’s time for dinner in one of the Centro Storico’s many wonderful restaurants.
A visit to the magnificent Teatro alla Scala is a must, even if you’re not particularly an opera fan. Renowned as the most prestigious opera house in the world, your best bet is to join a guided tour, which will ensure you don’t miss any of the architectural and historical highlights, of which there are many. You’ll be taken through the hallowed corridors of the theatre, into the boxes (with a chance to take a quick seat in the Royal Box!) and learn many details of its 260-year history. There’s also a dedicated museum onsite, which is full of memorabilia and exhibits housed in an opulent part of the building, with hallways lined with marble busts of composers and musicians.
A short distance from La Scala is Milan’s very own castle, Castello Sforzesco. Dating back to 1368, the castle passed through the hands of two ruling families, the Viscontis and the Sforzas. Today, Castello Sforzesco is home to several museums and countless priceless Italian and European paintings, prehistoric art and Egyptian antiquities, decorative art, sculptures (including Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini), medieval armour and weapons, and historical musical instruments.
Two days in Milan certainly gives you enough time to see many of the highlights of the Centro Storico, but the longer you stay, the more you’ll fall in love with this wonderful city.
Where to Stay
Piazza Duomo View: Set right in the heart of the action, with fabulous views of the Duomo, this outstanding accommodation is close to everything. The well-appointed apartments are spacious and stylish, featuring a kitchenette, private bathroom, coffee machine and Wi-Fi. There’s also a terrace to enjoy a drink and lovely views over the city.
Radisson Collection Hotel: Within walking distance of many of the city centre highlights, this 5-star hotel features stylishly appointed rooms, an onsite restaurant, fitness centre, delicious breakfast, and even room service for your comfort and convenience. You’ll feel wrapped in a welcoming, hospitable embrace in this quality hotel.
NH Collection Milano President: Set in a magical location right in the historic centre of Milan, this sophisticated, contemporary 5-star hotel offers a host of superb onsite facilities including a lounge bar and restaurant. The elegant rooms feature luxurious appointments, rain showers, a mini-bar, air-conditioning and high-quality furnishings.
How to Get There
Milan is the perfect place for a short city break, with a flight from the UK coming in at just over two hours. You’ll fly into Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP), with multiple airlines including British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet servicing the route. There’s a great range of prices and times available so it won’t be hard to find one to suit your needs.
The best way to complete your onward journey from the airport to your accommodation in the city is by pre-booking a Milan Airport transfer with Shuttle Direct. Once you land, a friendly local driver will be waiting to get you the rest of the way to your home-from-home in Milan. The journey will take just over an hour.
UK to MXP Flight Time: 2 hours 8 minutes
MXP to Como Distance: 54.5 kilometres
Shuttle Direct Transfer: 1 hour, 5 minutes approx.
Types of Transfer
Depending on your budget and the way you prefer to travel, Shuttle Direct has a great range of options to get you from Milan Airport to Milan city to check into your accommodation and get your mini-break started.
If you’d rather save your money to spend on more important things, like eating, drinking and seeing the sights, a shared shuttle bus from the airport at Milan to Milan hotels is the perfect way to do it. As long as you don’t mind sharing with other passengers, it’s a very affordable and convenient option – and you might even make some new friends along the way.
If you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, and all the accompanying luggage, a minibus is an excellent and cost-effective idea. This mode of transport means you’ll all be able to travel in the same vehicle and there’ll be no problems fitting everyone’s bags in.
If you want to get from the airport at Milan to Milan central on your own without the hassle of queuing up, a pre-booked airport taxi is the way to go. Because it’s organised ahead of time, your driver will be ready and waiting at the airport to get you right to the door of your accommodation without delay.
For the ultimate in comfort and luxury, one of our private Milan Airport transfers will ensure you start your holiday in style. A professional local driver will be at the airport to meet you, then you’ll be taken to the door of your accommodation in the fastest possible way. No waiting around, no sharing with other people.
Choosing the Right Transfer
When it comes to the best airport transfer for your individual needs, only you can make the ultimate decision. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to what’s most important to you: cost or convenience.
Cost: If saving money is a big consideration, sharing with other passengers is a great way of bringing down the cost of your airport transfer. A shared shuttle or minibus is a safe, convenient way to travel, and is cheaper than a private transfer.
Convenience: However, if you’re happy to pay more for the privilege of a luxury, door-to-door service, a private transfer or pre-booked taxi service is the way to go.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct has many years of experience providing the most convenient and cost-effective airport transfers in a vast range of destinations around Europe and the world. Whether you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful shared shuttle, or a luxury, private door-to-door transfer, we’ve got a service that will suit both your budget and your needs.