Visit the Last Supper Museum in Milan: When, Where, How, What to Expect?

Published on

by Henk Bekker

in Italy, Lombardy - Milan, N24

How to pick up tickets to see The Last Supper and where to find your tour guided. Being too early is unnecessary, being late is disastrous.

A practical guide and walkthrough of a visit to the Last Supper Museum in Milan – how, when, and where to pick up tickets and what to expect on the day of the visit to Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece painting.

Visit Leondardo's Last Supper Museum in Milan

The Last Supper Museum in Milan is one of the top cultural and art sights to visit in Italy. Time-slot reservation tickets are obligatory but hard to get while guided tours sell at a premium — both tickets and tours often sell out so book as soon as travel dates are known. Once admission is booked, visitors have to exchange vouchers for museum entry tickets on the day of the time slot reservations. The basic process is simple but inflexible — be on time at the right ticket office. Once inside the museum, know the procedure as visitors have only 15 minutes with The Last Supper once the final automatic doors to the refectory are opened.

How to Pick up Last Supper Museum Tickets in Milan

All visitors arrive at the small piazza in front of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan with a Last Supper Museum voucher rather than an actual ticket. No tickets yet? See Securing Tickets for the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci — buy early or only guided tours are available.

Last Supper Museum and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan

To swap the Last Supper Museum (Cenacolo Vinciano) voucher for an actual ticket, proceed as follows:

  • For ticket-only visitors — the ticket booking time is the time to enter the museum. Half an hour earlier, proceed to the ticket office — the small yellowish building to the far left when facing the museum (church on the right). There is no point in being too early.
  • For tours, the voucher should state the time to arrive — usually 15 minutes before the tour time, which is usually not the time of entry into the museum. Find the tour representative, who will check vouchers to see if you are in the right tour group (and time) — don’t be shy to ask, most will be happy to point you in the direction of the right person if needed. (It is impossible to “steal” a visitor from another group.) A further check is likely, often by the actual guide, to ensure that IDs and names on the list match. Audio guides are handed out and earphones tested — if the sound is iffy, complain right away. (A small group tour of six saves a bit of time here.) Follow the guide to the ticket office. (If you missed your tour group, run to the ticket office and hope your ticket is still available.)

At the ticket office, all tickets for the time slot are already printed out. Show an official ID document or passport and the ticket with the matching name will be handed over. Don’t lose it. Minor spelling errors are not a problem but avoid nicknames etc. when booking. If there is no ticket with a matching name, you will not see The Last Supper — the museum personnel has no discretion to sell or give away any unclaimed tickets or to print any new ones.

Lockers are available at the ticket office to leave all small bags but do take phones and cameras with you to the museum. No food or drink (including water) may be taken into the museum. There are no storage facilities for larger bags or luggage — book nearby luggage storage in advance. In a pinch, politely begging the personnel to leave suitcases unattended inside the office at your own risk may work (but they are not really supposed to let you do it).

The dress code is usually not as strictly enforced as at some churches but as a minimum, all visitors should have shoulders and knees covered.

Visit the Last Supper Museum in Milan

Ticket in hand, return outside to the piazza and line up at the museum entrance — the yellowish building perpendicular to the church. The time group will proceed through the ticket check into the museum and go through a series of rooms with automatic doors for climate control purposes. Some photos and information are on display and guides may use these to point out details to look out for later. Tickets-only visitors holders may find themselves the solo non-Get Your Guide tour member in the group but feel free to eavesdrop.

A good tip is to proceed through every room directly to the automatic doors to enter the next first. The final doors from the cloisters open to the refectory and from now visitors have 15 minutes to enjoy Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Seeing the Cenacolo Vinciano in the Refectory

Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper painting on a refectory wall in Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci painted his famous The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo or L’Ultima Cena) on the north wall of the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery between 1494 and 1498. Rather than using the tried and tested fresco technique of painting quickly on wet plaster, he used the dry painting technique, which allowed him to proceed slower and layer colors. The result was a spectacular work of art that is fragile and needed many restorations as well as the current complicated airconditioning system (and limited visitor numbers and difficult ticket availability).

The refectory is large enough for the whole group to easily enjoy The Last Supper painting. Visitors have to stay far enough away from the wall, and the painting is about a door length up from the floor (as is obvious from the doorway that cut off Christ’s feet), so there is no real need to rush to the front for a clear view.

Visitors may take photos but not use a flash, tripod, or selfie stick.

Also, look at the painting from the center or back of the room to appreciate Leonardo da Vinci’s use of perspective to match the architecture and vaulting of the room. More of the walls and ceilings were painted before damage in the Second World War.

Giovanni Donato Montorfano’s Crucifixion

Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato Montorfano in the Last Supper Museum in MIlan

After 15 minutes, visitors will be ushered out of the room. On the way to the exit, have a look at the large Crucifixion fresco (1495) by Giovanni Donato Montorfano — his only signed painting. The nearly faded figures in the lower corners are often attributed to Da Vinci. Using real fresco techniques, this painting was better preserved than Leonardo’s despite being painted in the same period. (A very good copy of the central band of The Last Supper was painted already in 1616 by Andrea Bianchi (“Vespino”) to have a record in case the original was damaged and is displayed in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, which also has the only Da Vinci panel painting in Milan and the Codex Atlanticus of his notes and drawings.)

Second World War photos in the Last Supper Museum in Milan

A small exhibition explains the damage of the Second World War when a bomb in August 1943 destroyed the sidewall and much of the vaulting of the refectory. The Last Supper was protected by a wall of sandbags. The exhibition also explains some details of the most recent full restoration — completed in 1999 after two decades of work.

Toilets are available behind the small bookshop. Otherwise, exit through the garden and pick up belongings from the ticket office lockers.

Other Da Vinci Sights to Visit near the Last Supper Museum

Although Leonardo da Vinci spent considerable time working for the Sforza Duke of Milan, apart from The Last Supper, the only Da Vinci painting in Milan is Portrait of a Musician in the Pinacoteca Abrosiana. This lovely museum has many further wonderful artworks but also the Codex Atlanticus of which only a limited number of Da Vinci drawings are displayed at any time.

Very close to the Last Supper Museum is the privately owned Da Vinci’s Vineyard. In 2015, the vineyard was again planned with the kind of vines that Leonardo had growing here after he received it as a gift from the Sforzas. (It was sold to French billionaire Bernard Arnault and had been closed to the public since late 2023 with no indication if it will reopen in the future.)

Models of some of Da Vinci’s numerous designs and inventions are on display in the Science Museum with Da Vinci Models exhibition, which is a few blocks from the Last Supper Museum. In addition to the around 170 Da Vinci models, this is also the largest science and technology museum in Italy and well worth seeing for the other displays too.

The interactive Leonardo3 – The World of Leonardo exhibition in Milan is also very popular with tourists. It is a display of 200 large and interactive models of Da Vinci’s designs. It is conveniently located at the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II across the piazza from La Scala near the Duomo.

See also Tips on Visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper Museum for transportation information.

More Tips on Milan Sights and Tickets

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.