48 Hours in Milan – A Local’s Guide

Navigli - canal / aperitivo district of Milan

Navigli – canal / aperitivo district of Milan

When I worked in Milan for a couple of months in my previous life as a management consultant, I was happy as a pig in mud about the opportunity. I spent many hours walking around in the city, checking the art galleries, enjoying aperitivi and sampling food in its amazing restaurants. I loved it. But I have always had the feeling I never got to know the soul of the city in those days…

Street life Milan (by Lyubena)

Street life Milan (by Lyubena)

Since we launched the Milan blog in 2009, we visited the city quite a few times to meet our Spotters. Most recently a year ago during our 2 months – 22 cities Interrail trip. While talking to our Spotters and visiting their favorite spots I learned so many things about the way Milan locals live, things that you can’t find in the Lonely Planet guidebook I was using when I was working in Milan. Of course I think that Spotted by Locals adds value in all cities, but I feel it’s especially useful in a more”closed” city like Milan.

So let us open some doors in those beautiful facades and show you where Milan locals hang out in our 48 hour itinerary!

Day 1: 09:00 – 13:00

Start your day with a traditional brioche e caffè at the very traditional Pasticceria Gattullo. Not the hippest place in town, but you can be sure the brioches were all baked freshly that same morning. Is today a Sunday? Our Spotter Carmen recommends finding a seat outside to “observe the Milanese upper class meeting and greeting.”

Rinascente Design Supermarket (by Michela Susanna Maier)

Into design? Of course you are, you’re in Milan! Right on Piazza Duomo you’ll find one of Europe’s greatest design shops, Rinascente Design Supermarket with the coolest interior design items from all over the world. According to our Spotter Michela Susanna, “Even if you are not looking for something to upgrade your home, Rinascente is a definite must-go.”

Day 1: 13:00 – 19:00

If you’re like us, you’ll have to work for at least a couple of hours every day during your city trip. Coffice Milan is a cozy co-working space our Spotter Matteo frequently visits and recommends. Lots of interesting people, free coffee, fruit and snacks and of course… Wi-Fi. For a reasonable price: € 4 for the first hour, then € 1.50 every half hour.

East Market Milan (by Carmen Condeescu)

Visiting Milan on 18 September? Lucky you! You’ve got to visit the newest hipster vintage market – East Market Milan vintage market in the East of the city. After upgrading your wardrobe with vintage stuff pre-worn by stylish Milanese, you can also have an affordable snack & drink while listening to a local DJ and observing Milanese hipsters. Don’t eat too much!

Day 1: 19:00 – 23:00


A short walk from East Market, in the Politecnico district of Milan, you’ll find one of the spots our Spotter Elena is most proud of Spotting – UpCycle Milan. “No banner outside, no signs, absolutely nothing until you arrive at the entrance: a concrete slope with bike racks. The fact that you have to discover it is quite typical of Milan: in the city of the Italian advertising industry it is considered posh to be hidden from the crowds, so that only few know about you …”

You’ll definitely have a local experience here, and will probably end up talking to some locals in no time, as they have (untypical for Milan) long tables where you sit next to other customers. Take your time, as the waiters are “very friendly but extremely slow.” according to Elena :).

Day 1: 23:00 – …

Straf bar (by Katharina Ziche)

We go back to the very center of Milan, where we find a super cool minimalist bar with a hipster crowd you would not expect around the corner of the Duomo: Straf Bar. Spotted by Ivan.

Our nightlife specialist Spotter Matteo recommends visiting the Dude Club . This used to be a small underground club, but thanks to its success they’ve grown to a larger space. Still underground there! Matteo writes “I’ve had the pleasure to hear what might have just been the Dude’s voice, giving me hints about my past, my present and my future”. It might happen to you too…

Day 2: 09:00 – 13:00

Scaringi Milan (by EB)

Elena is a very demanding cappuccino drinker. You can’t go wrong when visiting her favorite: Scaringa. The cappuccino is perfect, but Elena recommends having a Milanese specialty here: the Maroccino. Scaringa’s special recipe: served in a glass coated with Nutella which melts down with the hot milk and coffee…

Colombini Manufatti (by Simona Colombini)

Another very hidden spot you will probably not find in your tourist guide, and certainly not by walking around in the residential Isola district, is Colombini Manufatti. This is the studio of a local artisan and interior designer,  who’s most probably working on her next unique piece when you visit.

Villa Clerici Milan (by EB)

Villa Clerici Milan (by EB)

Here on a Sunday? Take a walk around the beautiful Villa Clerici 18th century villa grounds. On Sunday it’s often used by classical music companies for rehearsals. You can listen, and often look, for free!

Day 2: 13:00 – 19:00

Cascina Cuccagna - by Federica Biasi

We’ll have our lunch at a spot that’s well-known to locals, but not among  tourists: Cascina Cuccagna. This 17th century farmhouse turned public space features a very good restaurant with vegetables from the garden around the farmhouse and fair prices.

Before you know it, you will spend a day here, since there’s also a hostel, bike and wood workshops, a wine shop, a farmer’s market offering selected local produce and various events…  But we have to move on!

Aristide Calderoni Garden (by Matteo Bianchi)

Aristide Calderoni Garden lies in the middle of the narrow streets of old Milan, part of an almost forgotten town according to our Spotter Matteo. The poorly restored statues & columns would be something you could walk by without really noticing. But it’s these kind of gems our Spotter Matteo loves to point out. Together with the plants they form an unexpected idyllic garden, and a great place to reflect on the interesting history of this garden, and realize you’re in Milan. (Yeah!)

Day 2: 19:00 – 23:00

Our Spotter Carmen recommends having a glass of wine in one of the best wine bars in town – Bicerin. Before dinner is always a good time. You will find more than 600 (!) wines from all over Italy. And no hip aperitivo crowd for a change – which can be a relief sometimes!

Risolatte (by Carmen Condeescu)

Home made food in an apartment from the 60s right in the city center? Our Spotter Carmen found it for you! When you come to Risolatte for the first time, you instantly fall in love with the décor. A very special place!

Day 2: 23:00 – …

Social Music City (by Social Music City)

Social Music City (by Social Music City)

Of course we’re going out with a bang from Milano… Until September 2016 the Social Music City festival is on every weekend. More than ten thousand people (including our Spotter Matteo) swinging, jumping like mad and shouting in unison when the drop comes, this is what awaits you there…

More? Check our Milan blog or app!

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)