Last updated on May 2, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in the European Alps & North of Italy

Where to stay in Milan | 5 BEST AREAS & HOTELS

I grew up in Milan, I attended the University there and I am back every year. It’s a big city, made up of many areas, some of which should be avoided (more on this later).

This complete guide to where to stay in Milan will help to identify the neighbourhood that fits better your type of trip.

There are good places to stay in Milan for families looking for a quiet time as well as for couples or adults looking for some nightlife.

You can find accommodations on a budget as well as some amazing boutique and designed hotels.

And now comes the best of this guide. I have organised a comparison table to show quickly and easily what to expect in the different areas of Milan.

And I made a video too. Really all you need to take a decision on what neighborhood works best for you

Best areas to stay in Milan – Key points

Most of the best areas to stay in Milan are in the central part of the city.

They are all well served with public transportation and they are safe day and night. Obviously, take always precautions as in any big city.

The table below compares the major neighbourhoods based on average cost ($-$$$$$), bars/restaurants, character and other factors (1-5 with 1 being the lowest score). I added also links to suggested hotels in the area.

Click on the area name to read much more information about it, with an extended list of pros and cons of booking there, besides tips on hotels, cafes, restaurants etc.

Area
NBHD
Best forAvg. CostSuggested
Hotel
Bars &
Restaurants
TransportationCharacterNightlife
Old City
Centre
Unique,
First time
$$$-$$$$$Wonderful
Penthouse
5453
BreraCharacter,
romantic
$$$-$$$$$B&B Brera4352
San MarcoGreen,
Family stay
$$-$$$$EasyHome2431
Central StationBudget,
1-night stay
$-$$$Ostelzzz3522
Porta Garibaldi
Porta Nuova
Practical
short stay
$$-$$$Antica
Locanda
4534
NavigliNightlife,
charming
$-$$$Easy Milano5245
Comparative table of the best areas to stay in XYZ
Best areas to stay in Milan
Best areas to stay in Milan (from Google Map)

I have also organised a video with more information that may be useful in the selection process

My 3 best hotels in Milan

The Old City Centre – Duomo & shopping

  • 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for sightseeing 🏩 Prestige Boutique Aparthotel is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: Character, historic landmarks, plenty of sightseeing, shopping, practical, bars/restaurants, first-time visitor
  • 👎 Cons: Expensive, very popular

This is the best area of Milan if you want to stay near the attractions, without being involved too much in public transportation.

The centre has been designed all around the Duomo, the iconic Cathedral of Milan. From there, you can have a walk to the glass-covered Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade, another symbol of the city.

Walking around the Duomo
Walking around the Duomo, direction Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

There are museums and theatres left and right, all within walking distance. You can find some of the best restaurants and cafes, for any style and budget.

My tip: for lunch or a quick snack, try out one or more panzerotti (a small tart pizza style) at the Panzerotti Luini Bakery. This was our go-to place during university time, cheap (3€) and so tasty, besides being so characteristic of Milan. I am addicted to it

One of the best shopping streets in Milan is right behind the cathedral, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II with plenty of clothing and fashion shops, from office to casual style. The Urban Outfitters is one of my favourites.

Via Monte Napoleone is still the place to go for luxury fashion, where you will be very likely to stumble upon celebrities and football players while enjoying some window shopping.

The Old Centre of Milan is the place to be (together with the area of Brera) if you are planning a weekend in Milan and you want to be close to theatres, restaurants and shopping. You get them all here.

It works so great if it’s your first time in the city because you will be also close to all the things to do in Milan.

This is a neighbourhood where you will find mostly boutique and luxury hotels and the convenience of the great location does not come cheap, in fact, this is probably the most expensive area to book your hotel in Milan.

Here are 3 great accommodations in the area

This Wonderful Penthouse ($$$) in the heart of Milan is a unique quirky place that you will love from the moment you step in. Amazing details, eccentric features, great value and so close to the Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and so much more.

Prestige Boutique Aparthotel ($$$$-$$$$$): Superb location in central Milan with stunning Duomo views. Friendly and helpful staff, offering memorable service like room upgrades for special occasions. Cozy terrace.

The Street Hotel Milano ($$$$): This is one of the best hotels near Duomo in boutique style. Modern rooms, excellent breakfast, and the luxury of a spa bath in select suites.

Brera – The trendy place to stay in Milan

  • 🌎 Best area for a romantic breakaway 🏩 Grand Hotel et de Milan is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: Boutique area with plenty of character, lovely restaurants and friendly bars, galleries, very romantic at night
  • 👎 Cons: Expensive, 10-15 minutes walk to the Duomo/Old Centre
  • 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Mandarin Bistrot, Osteria di Brera

North of the historical Milan City Centre you will find one of the most beautiful and boutique areas in Milan, Brera, bordering on the southern side the Teatro alla Scala, and on the northern side the Sforzesco Castle.

I worked there for 10 months, many, too many years ago. I loved the tiny cafes, wine bars and bijou family-run restaurants. Not to mention the boutique shops and small galleries all around.

If you visit Milan for the Last Supper Museum (Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece) then you should also check out the Pinacoteca di Brera, where you will discover different interpretations of Leonardo’s masterwork from other iconic artists like Raffaello and Caravaggio.

The inner yard of the Pinacoteca
The inner yard of the Pinacoteca

Brera is very trendy both during the day and at night. It’s very popular with the “Milano bene“, the locals from the high class, mostly a mature quiet crowd.

In Brera, you will have more of a local vibe, especially if compared with a stay in the city centre. In saying that, you will be within 10 minutes of walking distance from the best Milan attractions like the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

My tip: Plan an aperitivo, and maybe dinner, at The Mandarin Bistrot, very popular with locals and tourists. You won’t be disappointed.

Another restaurant I like to suggest in the area is the Osteria di Brera, a lovely and characteristic taverna in the heart of Brera.

This neighbourhood is perfect if you are looking for a romantic getaway in boutique accommodation, close to the attractions but still far enough from the hectic centre. Unfortunately, it does not come cheap and that’s the only drawback.

Best Milan hotels in the Breara neighbourhood

Grand Hotel et de Milan ($$$$$): One of the best luxury hotels in Milan in the heart of the shopping district, with exceptional service, and luxurious rooms adorned with 18th-century furniture.

Bulgari Hotel ($$$$$+): Something else but it comes at a cost. A great hotel for a unique experience in the world.

B&B Brera ($$$): Simply decorated bed and breakfast that is ideal for a short trip to Milan. On-site bar and restaurant free Wi-Fi, private parking and an airport shuttle.

The impressive Duomo Square
The impressive Duomo Square

San Marco – Best neighbourhood to stay in Milan for families

  • 🌎 Best area for families 🏩 EasyHome is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: the greenest of the central neighbourhoods, parks and playgrounds for kids, well served by public transportation
  • 👎 Cons: 2-3Km to the Old Centre, average expensive

North of Brera you can find San Marco, a nice residential area between two of the biggest parks in Milan, the Sempione Park (around the Sforzesco Castle) and the Indro Montanelli Gardens.

This is a great neighbourhood to stay when travelling to Milan with small kids. You will have easy access to playgrounds for some rest time and you will be in the Duomo square in no time.

In San Marco, you will find 4 metro stations to choose from. You can reach the centre with an easy and flat 20 to 30-minute walk (2km) or just 5 minutes by metro (from any of the 4 stations).

Overall this area provides great value for money, not just in the better-priced and usually larger accommodations but also with bars, restaurants and supermarkets.

If you are on a family trip, you may also consider the neighbourhood of Porta Nuova, still close to the Indro Montanelli Garden, although far from the Sempione Park.

Best family accommodation in San Marco

EasyHome ($$$): 1BR apartment ideal for small families and couples too. Its location is just perfect, walking distance to Brera and the city centre and a stone away from the Indro Montanelli Gardens

Loft apartment ($$$): Located south of San Marco, basically in Brera. Clean, comfortable rooms, and a well-equipped kitchen. Great value for money.

LUVI apartment ($$$): Large 2BR apartment, within walking distance of Porta Garibaldi (direct trains to the best towns to stay in Lake Como) and Corso Como, famous for its bars, restaurants and galleries

Walking around San Marco neighborhood
Walking around the San Marco neighborhood
  • 🌎 Best area for nightlife/restaurants 🏩 Aethos Milan is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: Best nightlife in Milan, plenty of bars/restaurants, very charming, galleries, well-priced
  • 👎 Cons: It can be noisy (select carefully your hotel), far from the Old Centre
  • 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Spritz Navigli, Ego
  • 🧛‍♂️ Nightlife: Nibada

The Navigli is the best neighbourhood to stay in Milan if you like your aperitivo in a romantic place, followed by a nice dinner in one of the many places to eat facing the twin canals and a late drink in one of the many wine bars.

The area is famous also for its cobblestone streets that make this part of Milan even more nostalgic, especially in winter or in the early morning of summer.

Have a walk along the canals for some arty shopping, from the vintage stores to the contemporary art galleries. 

Unfortunately, it can be quite noisy at night and in this respect, I would not suggest it to families with kids. 

My tip: Milan is where the entire aperitivo movement started. I still remember when I could dine for the price of a drink. Things have changed nowadays but still, Spritz Navigli remains one of my favourite spots. Such a great buffet, with a wide choice too, besides the fabulous drinks.

Continue the night by visiting Ego, a charming cocktail bar in the boutique size, not as noisy, and perfect for a chat and a drink. Close the day at Nibada, a small place with live music and a great vibe till 4 am.

The monthly Mercatone dell’Antiquariato sul Naviglio Grande (antique & flea market) is a reason by itself to visit this area. You would be surprised by what you will be able to find.

Navigli is actually a well-priced area to stay, however, you will need to take public transportation to reach the centre and most of the tourist attractions. In this respect, I usually suggest this neighbourhood on a second or third trip to Milan.

The metro station Porta Genova is right there in the Navigli area. Not a big deal. There are also a few tram lines. Plenty of options

Accommodation in Navigli

Aethos Milan ($$-$$$): Stylish sports-themed rooms, exceptional service, and top-notch amenities including a fancy bar and cozy restaurant.

Easy Milano ($$$): Metres from the happening, however, hidden enough to be quiet all night long. Next to the transportation system.

Naviglio Grande in Milan
Naviglio Grande in Milan

Central Station – Best neighbourhood in Milan on a budget

  • 🌎 Best area on a budget 🏩 Ostelzzz Milano is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: budget stay, short stay, close to the main station and train/bus to the 3 Milan airports, inexpensive eating and drinking, practical to get around the city with the Metro
  • 👎 Cons: not as characteristic, far from the Old Centre
  • 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: Terrazza Gallia (exclusive), Pizzeria Napule, Pizzeria Spontini, Monkey Cocktail Bar, Pandenus Tadino

The Station area used to be one of the worst in Milan. It has been finally cleaned up, so much better, especially compared to what it used to be.

Today this is the best place to stay in the city if you have an early flight and you need quick and easy transportation to the airport. Or you have an early train to the next destination.

In fact, there are plenty of buses and/or trains to Milan Malpensa Airport, Linate and Bergamo/Orio al Serio Airport. You will find also direct trains to the best places to visit and stay in Lake Maggiore, which is another great bonus.

My tip: if arriving very late or departing very early in the morning, you should consider an overnight stay in Bergamo, maybe next to the airport itself (traffic in the morning can be a nightmare around Milan).

It works also very well if you have just one day in Milan. You will be metres from any transportation system and 10 minutes by metro to Duomo Square and the Historical Centre.

The Station is an attraction by itself. Built in 1931, it is a blend of architectural styles that reminds me somehow of the Union Station in Washington.

Central Station
The main entrance of the Stazione Centrale

For an exclusive dinner book (well in advance) at the Terrazza Gallia, the rooftop of the Excelsior, facing the station square. One of the top culinary experiences in Milan.

Pizzeria Napule is a great, more affordable, option. Pizzeria Spontini is another inexpensive restaurant offering great pizza, Milan style (lots of cheese). A must-try.

The Monkey Cocktail Bar has an unusual service. There is no drinks list, you talk with the cocktail maker and he will make one for you based on what you like. Hit or miss, but definitely an experience.

Pandenus Tadino is a good place to have an aperitivo. It may look expensive (euro 10-15) but it includes food too. Basically, you can dine there.

The hotels close to the main station offer some of the best values in Milan with some budget options which are hard to beat, especially considering the easy access to transportation.

Hotels and hostels near the station

Ostelzzz Milano ($-$$): Stylish low-budget hostel where you get your own small pod with a draw curtain for privacy. You could also splurge a little and get one of the larger spaces with actual doors.

Ostello Bello Grande ($-$$): The perfect place to stay for a cosy new age experience and even a rooftop to enjoy a drink. Next to the Airport Shuttle Bus station

Central Station Square
Station Square

Porta Garibaldi & Porta Nuova

  • 🌎 Best area for a short stay 🏩 Antica Locanda Solferino is the recommended accommodation in the area
  • 👍 Pros: new stylish area, practical for a short stay (bus/train to the airport), bars/restaurants, galleries, old/modern contrast, value for money
  • 👎 Cons: it can be noisy (select carefully your accommodation), far from the Old Centre
  • 🍷 Best restaurants and bars: 10 Corso Como Café

Porta Garibaldi is the second biggest station in Milan. From there you can catch a direct train to Milano Malpensa Airport (50 minutes). You will need to go to Stazione Centrale (by metro, 5 minutes) for transportation to the other two airports (Milano Linate and Orio Al Serio/Bergamo)

It is another great area for a short stay, especially if your flight is from/to Malpensa Airport.

Only 30 years ago Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi were dark, unfriendly and almost to avoid at night. Today this is the new business district, with stylish apartment blocks like the Bosco Verticale, two new residential towers with a vertical forest, and the new home of Google Italia.

Where to stay in Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi
Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi, new “sustainable” areas of Milano. See interactive Google Maps here.

Corso Como is the place to go for the day and nightlife. It’s a pedestrian area with galleries, bars and boutique restaurants.

My tip: Once here, have a check at 10 Corso Como 1st Floor. This is a space with multiple uses that host from time to time great exhibitions. I once found there one of the best photography events I have ever experienced.

Hollywood is still one of the most fashionable disco clubs in the city, especially with celebrities. Try the Milan-style pizza at Pizzeria di Porta Garibaldi, the base is higher and the topping selection is limited but the quantity of cheese is astronomical.

The 10 Corso Como Café is a must-visit, they do great coffee with fantastic pastries, in an old typical Milan building with a central yard. It’s very popular with aperitivo too, although they don’t come cheap.

Although you are well connected to the Malpensa Airport, it must be said that you will be not as close to the Historical Centre. Budget 15-20 minutes with the metro or the tram. And this is probably the biggest drawback.

Budget accommodation close to Stazione Garibaldi

A due passi ($-$$): Near Bosco Verticale, easy metro access, free WiFi, and a private kitchen.

La casa di Ludo ($-$$): Comfortable 1BR apartment with free WiFi, air conditioning, and a fully equipped kitchen.

Corso Como Cafe
10 Corso Como Cafe

Milan neighbourhoods to avoid

The areas you want to avoid during your break in Milan are mostly in the suburbs, outside the edge of the city:

  • Quarto Oggiaro: not much improvement for the last 40 years I think. It is the area controlled by the drug dealers. I ended up there once by mistake and likely I made it out without problems.
  • Barona and Corvetto: not as bad as Quarto Oggiaro
  • Via Padova: a long street with a few bars and clubs, popular mostly with foreigners. Unfortunately, it’s famous also for being a problematic part of Milan
  • Lorenteggio: drugs and underground business

Via Gola, close to the Navigli, and Corso Buenos Aires close to Milan Centre are also not suggested at night. They are probably not as dangerous as the above suburbs, however, they become quite dodgy in the late hours of the day.

Martini Building from Vittorio Emanuele Gallery
Martini Building from Vittorio Emanuele Gallery
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

1 thought on “Where to stay in Milan | 5 BEST AREAS & HOTELS”

Leave a Comment