Where to stay in Milan with video and comparative table
I grew up in Milan, I did the University there and I am back every year. It’s a big city, made 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 couple 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 – In a Nutshell
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 your 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.
I have also organised a video with more information that may be useful in the selection process
The Old Centre of Milan
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for sightseeing 🏩 Wonderful Penthouse 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 are looking for a place for sightseeing, next to 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 arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, another symbol of the city.
There are museum and theatre left and right, all at walking distance. You can find some of the best restaurants and cafes.
For shopping, from the Duomo walk down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II: plenty of clothes shops, from office to casual style. The Urban Outfitters is one of my favourites.
Via Monte Napoleone is still the place to go for the big labels, where you will be very likely to stumble in celebrities and football players.
The Old Centre is the place to be (together with Brera) if you are planning a weekend in Milan.
It works so great for first time visitors, because you will get the lot at your doorstep
You really are close to everything. Bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping, sightseeing, it’s all metres away.
In saying that, this is also the most expensive area to stay in Milan.
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.
Brera and “Milano Bene”
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for a romantic breakaway 🏩 B&B Brera is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: Boutique area with plenty of character, lovely family run 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
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.
And then the Pinacoteca di Brera, exhibiting works from Raffaello and other iconic Italian artists.
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.
Booking accommodation in Brera will give you easy walkable access to the centre of the city, staying in an area popular more with locals than tourists.
You will be within 10 minutes walking distance of the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
The Mandarin Bistrot is a great trendy place for aperitivo and dinner. Impossible to get disappointed. Very popular with the locals.
The Osteria di Brera is a lovely characteristic restaurant in the heart of Brera.
Unfortunately, it is not a cheap area to stay, however, you can find some amazingly designated boutique accommodations.
The establishment features an on-site bar and restaurant and offers access to amenities such as free Wi-Fi, private parking and an airport shuttle.
It is a short walking distance away from the main town center which gives you the freedom to explore the area one your one day off.
San Marco, between parks
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for families 🏩 EasyHome is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: the greenest of the central neighborhoods, parks and playgrounds for kids, well served by public transportation
- 👎 Cons: 2-3Km to the Old Centre, average expensive
This is a great area to stay in Milan for a family with small kids.
When I travel with my family and kid (9y old) I always like to have parks around me, possibly with playgrounds.
I like to tour the destination, however, at the same time, I also understand that kids love playing at the park.
I guess there is a time for everyone.
In this respect, San Marco (north of Brera) is a great area to stay, between the two of the biggest parks in Milan and with 4 metro station to choose from.
The centre is reachable with a 20 to 30 minutes walk (2km) or just 5 minutes by metro (from any of the 4 stations)
Accommodation is a better value than in Brera or the centre.
If you are on a family trip, you may also consider Porta Nuova, still close to the Indro Montanelli Garden, although far from the Sempione Park. It’s, however, better value for money.
The 2 bedrooms LUVI apartment is a fantastic option located in this area, walking distance from Porta Garibaldi (direct trains from here to the airport and other Italian cities) and Corso Como, famous for its bars, restaurants and galleries
It is very well priced, perfect for a family trip with a cozy home away from home aesthetic (see photos here).
The Navigli, bars and restaurants
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for nightlife/restaurants 🏩 Easy Milano 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 area to stay in Milan if you like your aperitivo in a romantic place, followed by a nice dinner in one of the many restaurants 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 area of Milan even more nostalgic, especially in the 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.
It can be quite noisy at night and in this respect, I would not suggest it to the family with kids.
Spritz Navigli is one of my favourites. Such a great buffet, with a wide choice too.
Then move to Ego, a charming cocktail bar on the boutique size, not as noisy, perfect for a chat and a drink.
Close the night at Nibada, a small place with live music and a great vibe till 4am.
The monthly Mercatone dell’Antiquariato sul Naviglio Grande (antique market) is a reason by itself to stay in this area or spend a weekend in Milan.
It’s a more economical area to stay, however, you will need to take public transportation to reach the centre and most of the touristic attractions.
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
If you love to be out and about especially at night while on vacation then Easy Milano is ideal for you in Milan.
The location is just perfect, metres from the happening, however, hidden enough to be quiet all night long
It is also conveniently close to the tram line, for those nights that you want to spend in the city centre till late
Central Station, next to the trains and metro
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan 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 area of Central Station 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 Milan if you have an early flight and you need transportation to the airport. Or you have an early train to the next destination.
If you are flying to/from Milan using the Linate or the Bergamo/Orio Al Serio airport then book your hotel close to Milano Centrale,
You can catch from there a direct bus to both airports. Very handy, especially if you have an early flight to catch.
It works also fantastically well if you have just one day in Milan. You will be metres from any kind of national/international transportation and the Metro line will take you everywhere in the city in no time.
The Central Station is an attraction by itself. Built in 1931, it is a blend of architectural styles that reminds somehow the Union Station di Washington.
Inside you will also find a shopping centre.
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.
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 here offer some of the best values in Milan with some budget options which are hard to beat, especially considering the easy access to transportation.
It has a pod-style lodging design 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.
In case you want to stay walking distance to Central Station then I would suggest the Ostello Bello Grande.
The stop for the Airport Shuttle Bus is meters away, so handy.
This is a cosy new age hostel with a contemporary style and even a rooftop to enjoy a drink (see photos here). Close to everything.
Porta Garibaldi & Porta Nuova
- 🌎 Best area to stay in Milan for a short stay 🏩 Antica Locanda Solferino is the recommended accommodation in the area
- 👍 Pros: new trendy 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 the Central station (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 Malpensa airport.
Only 30 years ago both areas were not great, almost to avoid at night.
Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi are today the new business district with innovative apartments complexes as the Bosco Verticale, two new residential towers with a vertical forest, and the new home of Google Italia…and growing, in a sustainable way.
Corso Como is the place to go for the day and nightlife.
It’s a pedestrian area with galleries, bars and boutique restaurant.
The disco club Hollywood is still very trendy, 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.
On the first floor, they often host events (photography exhibitions are not uncommon). Just be aware that prices are on the high side.
This is another area with great value accommodations. True, you will need to take the metro(10 minutes) to reach the centre but you definitely want to be back to enjoy the aperitivo and dinner in Porta Nuova.
The Antica Locanda Solferino is a great accommodation for a one night stay in Milan due to its proximity to major transit stations.
The beautiful, contemporary-themed hotel (see photos here) offers amazing street views.
The best part is the fact that it is a five minutes walk to Porta Garibaldi Station and a 10 minutes bus ride to Central Station.
If you have an early arrival or a late departure from Milan and you do not know where to leave your bags then I suggest checking out LuggageHero.
This is a tremendous website listing places where you can leave your luggage meanwhile you visit the city. So handy!
If you are far from Central Station and Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi areas, I personally suggest pre-ordering an airport transfer that will wait for you directly at the airport and will take you straight to your hotel. So easy.
Milan neighbourhoods to avoid
The areas you want to avoid during your stay in Milan are mostly in the suburbs, outside the edge of the city:
- Quarto Oggiaro: no 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 to be a problematic part of Milan
- Lorenteggio: drugs and underground business
Via Gola, close to the Navigli, and Corso Buenos Aires in 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.
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