So what do you do if you only have 1 day in Milan, the world’s foremost fashion capitol? This was one of the ‘First World’ problems I had to face when I was figuring out how to spend my weekends in Switzerland while I was there for training. Milan is only a 4 hour train ride from Zurich, and taking the 8am train means that I arrive in Milan just in time for an Italian lunch.

The train from Zurich travels southwards towards Italy and crosses several impressive bridges and one of the longest railway tunnels in the world. The on board public announcements change from German to Italian as the train approaches the border between Switzerland and Italy.

I soon found myself stepping out of Milano central station, and wondering where to go. The train station  is in a rather shabby looking part of the city, and it was really intimidating for a first time visitor like me. Deciding to walk instead, I headed in the direction of the city centre. After around 30 minutes of walking, I saw the spires of a huge cathedral rising into the sky.

The Duomo is the centre of Milan and the main attraction for visitors.
The Duomo is the centre of Milan and the main attraction for visitors.

This was easily the largest church building I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely bigger than the Notre Dame in Paris. The Gothic designed Duomo was built in 1386. For a fee (€5 to climb 250 steps, or €12 to take the lift) you can go up to the roof of the church to have a great view of Milan while standing among the Gothic spires.

Going up the roof of The Duomo for a great view of the city.
Going up the roof of The Duomo for a great view of the city.
The intricacies of the Gothic spires are also wonderful to look at.
The impressive roof.
It's incredible how the intricate designs have been carved into the structure.
It’s incredible how the intricate designs have been carved into the structure.

Back down at ground level, the interior of the church is quite similar to other churches. But the sheer size of the building is incredible and the main hall is one of the largest I’ve seen. The guard at the entrance of The Duomo can be really strict and I’ve seen women tourists being stopped from entering because they wore too skimpy clothing. So no mini skirts or bare shoulders or you won’t be allowed in.

The main hall of the Duomo.
The main hall of the Duomo. I’m sure the bishops in the olden days would need to shout out their sermons if he wanted everyone to hear it.

Outside the Duomo is the square that is also named after it. Tourists will gather here to take photos of The Duomo. There are also a lot of immigrant touts who will try to hustle you to buy pigeon food, so be wary and look after your belongings.

Duomo Square which is named after the church.
Duomo Square which is named after the church. Lots of tourists, pigeons and touts. The statue is of King Victor

Just beside Duomo Square is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, one of the grandest shopping arcades in Milan. Here you will find many luxury brand shops like Gucci and Prada.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade, also next to Duomo Square.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade, also located next to Duomo Square.
Shopping time.
Shopping time.

So I guess that just hanging around Duomo Square will take up most of any day trip here. Since I wasn’t the shopping kind, I had time to walk to the Castello Sforzesco. This is a former castle of the last ruling family of Milan but is now a museum.

The Castello Sforzesco. It is not far from Duomo Square and can beeasily reached by walking.
The Castello Sforzesco. It is not far from Duomo Square and can be easily reached by walking.
The design of the castle is very different from the Gothic style of the Duomo.
The design of the castle is very different from the Gothic style of the Duomo.

Thus, I ended my day trip to Milan. Definitely there is much more to see and do here, but that has to be reserved for another trip. For now I had to catch the evening train back to Zurich. To save time, instead of walking, you can take the subway or Metro as it’s called in Milan. The Metro stations are denoted by the big white M on red background signs.

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