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Layover in Milan – the ultimate guide 2021

Published by: Bounce11 September, 2021

Milan may not be Italy’s capital, but it is without question one of its most important cities. Milan Malpensa Airport may not be quite as big and busy as Rome’s Fiumicino, but it is still a major European and international hub that receives over 25 million passengers per year.

Malpensa offers the usual lounges, restaurants, and shops that can help you kill time if you find yourself on a layover in Milan. But every city in Italy has its own unique charm, and Milan is no different. If you want to see some of what it has to offer on your stopover, you may be in luck. Depending on how long you have to spend on a Malpensa Airport layover, you could see something of the city before heading back to the airport for your next connection.

A good way to speed things up is to drop off your luggage at a Milan baggage storage first. That way, you won’t be carrying more than you need to. Also, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your belongings are being safely looked after until you return to pick them up.

6 hour layover in Milan


Milan airport is connected to the city by a train line. The Malpensa Express runs four times an hour, but you’ll need to be careful which train you get. Two of the hourly trains go to Milan Cadorna Station, which is a little way out of the center of the city. The other two trains go to Milan Central Station, which is your best bet for exploring on your Milan layover.

Once you’ve gotten through customs and dropped off your bags at a Milan luggage storage, a lot of your six-hour layover will have been eaten up. Bear in mind that the train to Milan Central Station takes an hour each way, so you’ll probably only have a couple of hours in the city itself. Still, that’s enough to visit the city’s quirky Museum of Illusions. Located just outside the train station, this attraction offers incredible photo opportunities through the use of forced perspective and other optical tricks. It’s a great place to spend an hour getting unique selfies and enjoying the ingenuity of the museum’s creators. After that, you can grab a bite to eat or drink in Piazza Duca d’Aosta, the main square outside the train station that offers plenty of places for refreshments and great people watching while you wait for your train back to the airport.

  • Take the train to Milan Central Station and visit the Museum of Illusions.

  • Get unique photos and enjoy the surprising optical illusions in the museum.

  • Grab something to eat or drink in the piazza outside the station before getting the train back to the airport.

8 hour layover in Milan


With a couple more hours to spend on your Milan layover, you can branch out a little bit. Milan Central Station is still some distance from the city’s most popular attractions, but thanks to excellent public transit, it’s not difficult to reach most parts of the city from this central hub. For instance, a short ride on Metro line 3 will bring you from the train station to Milan’s Natural History Museum. Here, you’ll be able to explore the natural world through fascinating exhibits drawn from around the world. It’s a great place to bring kids, but adults will also get a lot out of this experience. Expect to easily spend a couple of hours in this ever-popular museum.

  • Take Metro line 3 from Central Station to the Natural History Museum.

  • Expect to spend a couple of hours exploring the many exhibits celebrating the natural world.

  • It’s a great place for both kids and adults alike.

10 hour layover in Milan


So far, your time in Milan has hopefully been fun, but it hasn’t shown you many of the city’s most iconic attractions. Well, that’s about to change. With a 10 hour long layover in Milan, you could walk or take Metro line 1 to the Pinacoteca di Brera. This is Milan’s main art gallery, and when you consider the names of some of the great Italian artists that lived and worked in the city through the centuries, you’ll realize that’s really saying something.

This impressive collection was established back in the 18th century and contains works by Raphael, Rubens, Titian, and Caravaggio, among other legendary artists. Art buffs will think they’ve died and gone to heaven, but even more casual visitors will find lots to appreciate in this iconic gallery. Two hours here will barely scratch the surface of everything it has to offer, and you might be better off budgeting for four hours here and foregoing the Natural History Museum to really do this art collection justice. Large bags are not permitted in the gallery, so make sure you drop yours off at a suitcase storage in Milan before you visit.

  • Walk or take the metro to the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan’s top art gallery.

  • See famous paintings by a who’s who of legendary Italian artists and others from around the world.

  • You could easily spend four hours or more here, especially if you’re a big fan of art.

12 hour layover in Milan


A 12-hour layover isn’t as long as it may sound, but it does give you time to see more of the city. If you’re big on art history, it wouldn’t be a challenge to spend the extra two hours more thoroughly exploring the incredible art of the Pinacoteca. But even art fans may be tempted to make the short journey to the Sforza Castle instead.

Once the home of a powerful Milanese family, this stunning castle is now open to the public. Visiting the castle is like taking a crash course in the history of Milan, dating back to a time when the city was its own independent state often at war with its Italian neighbors. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours wandering through the opulent rooms, and if you need something to tempt an art lover away from the Pinacoteca, you can always point out that the castle contains Michelangelo’s last statue.

  • Visit the Sforza Castle for a crash course in the city’s history.

  • Explore the palace, the armory, and many other rooms of this historic fortress.

  • See the unfinished final work of legendary sculptor Michelangelo.

24 hour layover in Milan


Milan is a big city with lots to do, and even an overnight layover won’t fully do it justice. However, it shouldn’t stop you trying. After you’ve found a hotel and dropped off your unneeded bags at a luggage locker in Milan, you can head into the heart of the city to see one of its most iconic landmarks. Milan’s Cathedral, or Duomo, is famous throughout the world for its hundreds of statues and elaborate architecture. You can even take a tour on the roof of the Cathedral that will let you see many statues close up and learn more about the history of the building’s construction. Sometimes, there are concerts in the Cathedral, so you could spend the whole evening in this magnificent structure. Alternatively, you can visit La Scala and if you’re lucky catch a show at this legendary opera venue.

Even 24 hours only lets you scratch the surface of everything this Italian city has to offer. But an overnight layover can give you a glimpse of what makes Milan so special and provide guidance for a future trip to explore more fully. Once you’ve seen what Milan has to offer, you’ll most likely want to come back again and again.

  • Visit Milan’s Cathedral and take a walk on the roof to admire the famous statues.

  • Catch a show at La Scala, Milan’s internationally renowned opera house.

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