Where to Stay in Milan: Ultimate Location Guide (Updated 2019)
Milan is one of the most gorgeous cities Kelly and I have ever visited.
It’s home to 1.4 million people and boasts some of the most stunning architecture in the entire world.
From the La Scala Opera House to the Milan Cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan has a lot to offer.
It’s scattered with diverse neighborhoods, landmarks, and incredible food & drink.
Figuring out where to stay in Milan can be tough, as there are so many distinct neighborhoods.
In this guide, we will detail the best places to stay in Milan, including attractions, dining, drinks, and the best hotels / accommodations.
Table of Contents
Centro Storico: Best Milan Location For Tourist Attractions
Centro Storico is home to the world-famous Duomo di Milano, otherwise known as the Milan Cathedral.
Located in the heart of the city center of Milan, this neighborhood is busy all day, all night, and nearly year-round.
Being centrally located, flagship sights of Milan are within walking distance, making it a prime location to stay in Milan.
If you are visiting Milan to hit the top tourist attractions like the cathedral, the La Scala Theater, Museo 900, or the Galleria, Centro is the place to be.
But be aware: Centro Storico is the most bustling, busy area of Milan’s neighborhoods. If you can’t stand crowds, this isn’t the place to stay.
Top sights to see in Centro Storico
Centro is loaded with fun activities and landmarks. Here are amazing sights you will see if you stay here in Milan.
1. Duomo di Milano, The Milan Cathedral
The Duomo di Milano is the most popular tourist attraction in Milan, and for good reason:
This stunning cathedral is the second largest Catholic Church in the world, just behind Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
This landmark is what sparked our interest in coming to Milan in the first place!
Covering 109,641 square feet, you can literally spend hours here exploring the architecture, the thousands of statues, and the incredible history behind it.
We recommend going early in the morning for sunrise to beat the crowds, or at sunset to grab stunning pictures.
2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria is located just steps away from the Milan Cathedral, right in the plaza. Designed in the 19th century, it’s now an active shopping mall packed with high-end stores like Prada, Louis Vuitton, and more:
While the shopping is fantastic, the real treat is the stunning glass ceiling, incredible paintings, and immaculate detail on every square inch of the Galleria.
The Galleria is open from 12:00 AM - 12:00 PM daily. It’s nearly always busy, but can be less busy during the middle of the day.
3. II Cenacolo
Il Cenacolo is home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, one of the most popular, yet exclusive attractions in all of Milan:
Operating hours start at 8:15 AM and end at 7:00 PM. But, there is a catch:
You need tickets to visit, and they can sell out up to four months in advance.
Finding tickets at the last minute is nearly impossible.
If this is on your bucket list, be sure to snag tickets months in advance.
Best dining and drinking in Centro Storico
Drinking and eating in Centro is fantastic. With all of the walking around the Centro neighborhood, here are our top recommendations for food and drink.
1. Pizza Am: best pizza in Centro Storico
Pizza Am was one of our most enjoyable experiences in Centro.
If you are looking for an authentic Margherita pizza and a beer to cool off from the heat, Pizza Am is the spot to be:
2. Ugo: best cocktails in Centro Storico
Kelly and I are big fans of cocktails, especially whiskey-forward cocktails.
If you love a well-made drink, Ugo is the best cocktail spot in Centro.
With indoor and outdoor seating, you can grab high-end drinks with a younger crowd, and delicious small plates, too.
Best hotels and lodging in Centro Storico
Centro Storico is home to an endless sea of hotel and lodging options.
Whether you prefer to stay in an Airbnb or a hotel, you can find both.
Here are some of the best options in Centro for lodging:
If you’re looking for an Airbnb, this is one the most stunning ones in Centro Storico:
We personally stayed in Airbnb locations and loved them. Using our link will get you up to $55 off your booking!
What we love about Centro Storico
Being in Centro gives you nearly instant access to countless activities, making it one of our favorite places to stay in Milan.
With a vibrant city center vibe, you experience the full culture of Milan in a single area.
If you are short on time or focused on hitting the main attractions, Centro Storico is the place for you!
Navigli: Best Milan Neighborhood For Nightlife and Markets
Navigli is part of the historic district of Milan, flowing with canals that remind you of the streets of Venice.
Kelly and I stayed here on our latest trip to Milan and had the time of our lives.
With a younger crowd and plenty of nightlife, Navigli is fantastic for young singles or couples.
It’s also filled with vintage markets, locally-owned cafes, and artists, leaving nearly endless things to do.
Here is all you need to know about Navigli to decide if this is where you want to stay in Milan.
Top sights to see in Navigli
While Navigli is just a short ride to Centro Storico, it has attractions of its own that are worthwhile.
1. Basilica di San Lorenzo
The San Lorenzo Basilica in the Navigli neighborhood of Milan is the oldest church in all of Milan.
The basilica di San Lorenzo is open from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM Monday - Saturday, and 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Sunday. It costs just two euros for the entry fee.
The grounds of this church are very beautiful for relaxing, walking, and exploring.
If you are staying in the Navigli area or have the time, this is a must-see destination.
2. Centro Artistico Alik Cavaliere
Art galleries are very common in Milan, and some of the best are located in Navigli.
This gallery, in particular, is home to the works of contemporary artists Alik Knight, featuring paintings, sculptures, and more.
Best dining and drinking in Navigli
Navigli is a nightlife paradise, meaning food and drink options are nearly endless. Here were some of our favorite spots in all of Navigli for you to enjoy.
1. La Prosciutteria: best wine, cheese, and meat in Navigli
La Prosciuterria is well known in Navigli for those seeking cheese, prosciutto, and wine pairings:
But, they also serve pizza, cocktails, kebabs, and more.
The food is outstanding, and it’s always vibrant with young locals and travelers alike.
Located right on a canal, the setting couldn’t be any more romantic.
2. Rita cocktail bar: best cocktails in Navigli
Rita cocktail bar is one of the most trendy locations in Navigli, with house-made cocktails that won’t disappoint.
Cocktails come with snacks like olives, bread-sticks, and pickles, all for free.
The staff is extremely friendly, and the locals frequent this bar, meaning it’s not just filled with thirsty tourists.
If you are looking to soak up the essence of Navigli nightlife with a trendy atmosphere, Rita is the bar to visit.
Best hotels and lodging in Navigli
Navigli is located in the historic district and has less formal lodging options. Here are some of the best hotels in the area:
Personally, we stayed in the following Airbnb and absolutely loved it:
It was located right on the canal and equipped with bikes for us to explore the city.
What we love about Navigli
Navigli is a trendy neighborhood with contemporary art, vintage shops, and some of the best food and drink in Milan.
We loved staying here right off the canal, biking and walking around the local shops.
There are always young locals at the top bars and restaurants, making it a fun place to live like a local in Milan.
Brera: Best Place to Stay in Milan For Art
Brera is just a short ride or healthy walk from the Milan Cathedral and the Centro Storico district of Milan.
Because of this, Brera is one of the best places to stay in Milan.
Just walking the streets of Brera is a sight in of itself:
With densely populated old-style architecture and countless restaurants, you’ll find yourself spending hours here at a time.
Filled with diverse culture, art, trendy shops, and upscale stores, Brera has a taste of all things Milan.
Top sights to see in Brera
Brera is just barely north of the Milan Cathedral but also has great sights in its own area, too.
1. Pinacoteca di Brera
The Pinacoteca in Brera is an art gallery that was established back in 1809.
Art in the Brera Gallery is focused mainly on pieces from areas that were conquered by the French, giving unique perspectives on the country, climate, and policy.
The Pinacoteca di Brera is open daily (except on Monday) from 8:30 AM to 7:15 PM.
You can take self-guided tours, audio tours, and group tours here.
2. Orto Botanico di Brera
Orto Botanico, otherwise known as the Botanical Garden of Brera at the University of Milan, was started in 1774, and is one of the most relaxing, quiet, and peaceful sections of the city.
Orto Botanico in Brera was our favorite spot to relax and enjoy the nature, animals, and tranquility after hectic streets in Centro Storico. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the birds chirping under a shady tree.
If you need some relaxation, there is no better place in Milan.
Best dining and drinking in Brera
Dining and drinking in Brera is more than just tasty, it’s quieter and more secluded than most parts of Milan.
Due to its complex side streets, restaurants aren’t all lined up in a row with thousands of tourists.
Instead, they are scattered in back alleys with stunning buildings surrounding them.
Here are two of our favorite spots in Brera.
1. Gelateria Toldo: best gelato and coffee in Brera
Gelateria Toldo in Brera has an incredible selection of Gelato and even better espresso.
It’s less touristy than many cafes in Brera, attracting a local crowd due to its inexpensive pricing.
If you are looking to beat the heat or grab a croissant and coffee, this is your go-to spot.
2. Cinc: best bar in Brera
Cinc is one of the best spots in all of Milan to grab some craft cocktails and finger-food.
Located in a back street in Brera, you are surrounded by stunning old-town architecture. The cocktails are top-notch here, and they also have a large selection of beer.
Grab yourself an ice-cold beer or a cocktail and enjoy the peaceful location, perfect for an aperitif.
Prices are standard for Milan, so you won’t be paying more despite the high quality of drinks and service at this bar.
Best hotels and lodging in Brera
Brera has some great lodging and hotels, but they can often be more expensive than places like Navigli due to its centralized location.
Here are some of the best hotels in Brera to pick from:
If you decide to stay in an Airbnb, this is the top-rated one in all of Brera:
Airbnb is our preferred method of staying as we feel like locals and experience true Milan living.
What we love about Brera
Brera is home to multiple art museums and a beautiful section of botanical gardens.
We loved the quiet, quaint streets of Brera that were filled with outdoor restaurant seating and great drinks.
If you need somewhere less crowded from the streets of Centro Storico, come to Brera to take a load off.
Fiera / San Siro: Best Milan Location For Families
Fiera / San Siro is further away from the city center of Milan, making it wonderful for larger families that might need to rent large apartments for their stay.
With a stellar metro system, reaching the attractions of Milan doesn’t take long.
Staying in San Siro can help you escape the crowds of the city center, and it’s so safe that your kids can walk the streets at night.
Staying here makes you feel like a full-time resident of one of Milan’s greatest semi-suburban areas.
Top sights to see in Fiera / San Siro
While San Siro isn’t as packed with attractions as Centro, it has two distinct attractions that you might want to explore if you stay here.
1. Certosa di Milano
Certosa di Milano, otherwise known as The Charterhouse, was founded in 1949 and is often called the Sistine Chapel of Milan.
Here you can find a beautiful public church for worship, monastery artwork, and detailed paintings.
While not common on the “must-see” list of attractions in Milan, if you are staying in the area you can’t miss this!
2. Museo dello Stadio Meazza
If you are a big futbol fan, you are in for a real treat. The Museo dello Stadio Meazza is a futbol museum in the heart of Fiera / San Siro complete with classic trophies and memorabilia.
While small and quickly browsed, it contains historic items from Italy’s best soccer teams.
Any futbol fanatic and history buff will love this spot.
Best dining and drinking in Fiera / San Siro
If you are planning to stay in the Fiera / San Siro area, be prepared for average food.
Since it’s further from the city center and tourists, fine dining and upscale restaurants are few and far between.
1. La Barchetta: best seafood in San Siro
La Barchetta specializes in seafood dishes but also serves up amazing pasta, pizza, and kid-friendly options.
With outdoor seating options and a quaint vibe, it’s the perfect family spot for a nice evening night.
Best hotels and lodging in Fiera / San Siro
Hotels and accommodations in this area are great for families as the spaces are larger and prices aren’t inflated for nearby attractions.
Here are some of the best accommodations in this area:
Hotels aren’t as widespread in this location. If you are looking for an Airbnb instead, this is currently the top-ranked Airbnb in the Fiera / San Siro area for families:
What we love about Fiera / San Siro
While we didn’t spend much time in Fiera / San Siro, we loved how being here gives you a real taste of how families live in the Milan metropolitan area.
It’s a nice location to escape the hectic city center and see how most people in Milan live.
Porta Romana: Best Budget Neighborhood in Milan
Porta Romana is one of the coolest neighborhoods we found in Milan.
While still close to the Duomo and city center, the cost of hotels and food are far lower than the average, making it extremely budget-friendly.
Containing public parks, pools, and stunning art, Porta Romana doesn’t disappoint.
Here are the top sights to see in Porta Romana that you will enjoy if you decide to stay here!
Top sights to see in Porta Romana
1. Bagni Misteriosi
Bagni Misteriosi is one of the most unique places in all of Milan. Featuring a massive outdoor pool, tons of seating, and cabanas, you can come here to relax from the summer heat.
With nightly aperitif specials and live music, it’s always a party here.
Everyone from younger crowds to families can be seen enjoying the pool here.
2. Fondazione Prada
Fondazione Prada is an exhibit in Porta Romana that features contemporary art and cultural features:
From modern statues and structures to an exceptional courtyard, the Fondazione Prada is a must-see if you are staying in Porta Romana.
The exhibit is open: Mon / Wed / Thu, 10 am – 7 pm and Fri / Sat / Sun, 10 am – 9 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays. Click here for directions.
Best dining and drinking in Porta Romana
Porta Romana may lack 5-star dining, but that doesn’t mean good food and drinks aren’t available here.
Prices are generally lower, yet the quality and authenticity of the food here are second to none.
Here are our favorite spots in Porta Romana to eat and drink.
1. Trattoria Dal Pescatore: best non-touristy Italian food in Porta Romana
Trattoria Dal Pescatore is about as authentic as it gets in Milan. If you hate tourist-traps and want a taste of real Italian cooking, look no further.
Plus, the bread is to die for! While most of the dishes are seafood-based, they also cater to vegetarian options with a diverse pasta offering.
Because of its popularity, be sure to call or visit in advance to make a reservation.
2. La Cieca: best wine bar in Porta Romana
La Cieca is a wine bar in Porta Romana that offers a wide selection of wines from all over Italy and beyond.
The staff here is extremely friendly, even if you know nothing about wine!
If you are looking to learn more, try new wines, and explore pairings, La Cieca is your home away from home.
Best hotels and lodging in Porta Romana
Porta Romana is budget-friendly, with most hotels costing less than 90 euros per night. Here are some of the best places to stay in Porta Romana:
If Airbnb if more of your style, this is a top-rated Airbnb in Porta Romana that we think you will fall in love with:
What we love about Porta Romana
Porta Romana offers walking distance locations to the main attractions without breaking the bank.
Our motto is adventuring for less, and Porta Romana embodies this wholeheartedly.
With amazing food, drink, and public facilities, Porta Romana is a hidden gem in Milan.
Where We Prefer to Stay in Milan
When we visit Milan, we prefer to stay in two distinct neighborhoods:
Centro Storico and Navigli.
Centro has all of the sights and landmarks just steps away, and Navigli has incredible dining and a vibrant nightlife.
On our last visit to Milan, we stayed in Navigli, right of the Linea Traghetti Gaggiano-Milano:
We couldn’t have asked for a better trip, and we can’t wait to return to Milan soon.
Affiliate disclosure: Please note, we may receive affiliate compensation if you click on a link in this post, at no charge to you. These help to keep our blog up and running to provide the best content we can for you.
Other posts we think you might like