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48 hours in Milan

Where to stay

Tucked into the bohemian Brera neighborhood, Locanda Pandenus is an elegant inn. The property includes four suites and a lively bistro helmed by decorated Tuscan chef Enrico Bartolini.

The Senato Hotel is located near Via Montenapoleone, Milan’s upscale retail thoroughfare. Its interiors are an ode to Art Deco design, featuring a predominantly monochrome palette with gold, marble, and wooden accents.

Day 1

An Italian breakfast traditionally consists of a sweet pastry and coffee. While crowds are drawn to Pavé Milano for their baked goods, healthier options are also available, like smoked salmon salad with marinated broccoli rabe and yogurt dressing.

Choose your adventure:

Slide 1 of 2
  • Option 1: Culture

    Commemorating 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, You Are Leo was created to transport visitors to Renaissance-era Milan. Led by an art historian, this 90-minute walking tour also uses VR headsets to retrace the artist’s footsteps along important landmarks like the Duomo Cathedral, Palazzo Reale (his old workshop in the Corte Vecchia), and the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

  • Option 2: Fitness

    Milano Bike Renting will drop off bicycles at your hotel, leaving you free to cruise cycling paths in and around the city. Try one of the routes their team recommends, like the 50-mile Pista Ciclabile Naviglio Martesana along the famous Naviglio Grande canal. Alternatively, pedal around with Velocipedi, a bike tour company that specializes in uncovering hidden treasures outside the standard tourist circuit. Follow a local guide along eight miles through emerging neighborhoods and off-the-beaten-path attractions like Casa Verdi, the opulent home for retired Milanese musicians created by opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. 

After your activities, discover unique boutiques around the Brera district, like vintage clothing mecca Cavalli E Nastri, 13th-century pharmacy and perfumery Santa Maria Novella, and the Fioraio Bianchi flower shop and café. Check out the bouquets, then sample dishes like beef tartare with Piedmontese hazelnuts and baby greens or chicken with stuffed Savoy cabbage.

Head to the canalside Navigli neighborhood for dinner at Nebbia, where chefs Federico Fiore and Mattia Grilli reimagine traditional Lombardian cuisine (the region in which Milan is located) with global ingredients. Order the risotto with bergamot orange and capers or cod with pumpkin and red wine.

Day 2

Fuel up at Aussie-owned Deus ex Machina, a café inspired by the trendy alleyways of Melbourne. You’ll find excellent coffee and all the egg-based brunch mainstays, plus lighter dishes like avocado salad with shrimp, beets, and passion fruit dressing.

Choose your adventure:

Slide 1 of 2
  • Option 1: Culture

    Tour the Fondazione Prada, a sprawling contemporary arts complex from designer Miuccia Prada and architect Rem Koolhaas. The former gin distillery was transformed into over 200,000 square feet of exhibition space, which today is home to world-famous works by artists like Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois. Before leaving, grab a coffee at the whimsical Bar Luce, which was designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson.

  • Option 2: Fitness

    Take a morning train from Milano Centrale station to Varenna to hike along an ancient mule trail that once linked Milan and Switzerland. Stroll Varenna’s seaside promenade, then embark on a three-mile stretch called the Wayfarer’s Path, which hugs the eastern coast of Lake Como and ends up in the town of Dervio.

Recharge at your hotel before a seven o’clock aperitivo at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone in the courtyard of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum. It’s a chic setting for a pre-dinner ritual meant to whet your appetite with light wines, bitter cocktails like the Negroni, and finger food.

Make dinner reservations at Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, a two Michelin-starred restaurant celebrating nearly 60 years of innovative cooking. Opt for the ten-course tasting menu with dishes like marinated Sanremo shrimp with stewed leek and pomegranate and sea bream with anchovies and celeriac. 

Wrap up your evening at The Botanical Club of Milano on Via Pastrengo, Italy’s first microdistillery with its own cocktail bar. Over 100 varieties of gin are in stock, but be sure to sample a classic gin and tonic made with their artisanal brand called Spleen and Ideal.