Financially the most important city in Italy, Milan gets approximately six million visitors a year – and it’s not hard to see why. Not only do people travel to the city because of its proximity to Lake Como and the Italian Alps, Milan has its own magnetic attraction that keeps visitors coming year after year. Famous for its fashion week, Milan boasts historical sights in its old city center, as well as a vibrant selection of nightlife, including canal-side drinking and eating in the Navigli area.
The historic core of Milan is easily traversable on foot. But like all good cities, there are many things to see outside of the central hub. Each of Milan’s nine administrative zones has something different to offer. Not only is it an industrial center of Italy, but it’s also the country’s fashion capital and home to several buzzing student districts. This means affordable accommodation and fun nights out to match.
In this post, we'll cover:
Top Milan’s Neighborhoods
Catch sight of The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie, or discover a modern side of art in the cool district of Brera. Either way, you’ll get around easily thanks to the metro system and a very advanced tram network. With three international airports on its doorstep and accommodation from high-end and historical to unfussy budget options, there is a whole lot of choice for a whole lot of people in Milan.
The historic center of Milan is where you are going to find most of the iconic sights the city has to offer. These include the La Scala Opera House, the luxurious Quadrilatero – an upscale shopping area – as well as the towering Duomo di Milano, which dates back to the 14th century.
It’s not just the historic buildings themselves, however; here is where you can explore the Museo 900, filled with 20th-century modern art – from Braque and Matisse to Klee, Kandinsky and even Picasso. Being this central means you’ll be able to wander from sight to sight easily without having to rely on public transport.
It’s a convenient place to stay, especially if you’ve only got a few days. At the same time, you’ll have to pay for this privilege! Hotels in Centro Storico are, for the most part, high-end and boutique in flavor, with many of them set inside heritage buildings for that extra authentic vibe.
Where to Stay in Centro Storico
- Château Monfort – Set within a historic 20th-century art nouveau building, the 5-star Château Monfort is a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection. With a mixture of antique and modern, the hotel is themed around different fairy tales and operas. Each enchanting guest room comes with parquet floors and a private bathroom, as well as its own unique décor – from mirrors to heart-shaped chairs. Guests will have access to an extraordinary Italian restaurant, a late-night lounge bar, and a spa and wellness center that won the World Luxury Spa Award in 2017.
- Hotel Dei Cavalieri – Located inside a palatial-looking classical building overlooking the Missori Metro Station, the 4-star Hotel Dei Cavalieri has an enviable central location. The rooms have a timeless and classic style, with subtle tones, wooden décor, and either plush carpets or parquet flooring. Guests will have access to a cozy Italian restaurant all year round, and an additional restaurant on the top floor during the summertime that boasts a gorgeous open-air terrace overlooking the statues and piazza below.
- Hotel Palazzo Delle Stelline – Set within a renovated 15th-century building with a beautiful arched cloister that once formed part of an orphanage, the 3-star Hotel Palazzo Delle Stelline overlooks a central green courtyard. Inside, warm-hued and simply styled bedrooms offer everything you could need for a comfortable stay – a satellite TV, minibar, free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, and a daily buffet breakfast that includes both sweet and savory options, fresh seasonal fruit, and a corner dedicated to gluten-free or sugar-free diets.
Located in the northern area of the city, Brera is a cool place to stay in Milan if you are a keen fan of art or can appreciate a nice bit of aesthetic architecture. Still located in the historic Zone 1 of the city, Brera was initially located outside of Milan’s city walls.
Today, you’ll find the Brera Academy of Fine Arts and Brera Art Gallery, both of which are in the bustling Plaza Brera. With art on the brain, Brera is a bohemian area where art students and intellectuals hang out; it’s often referred to as Milan’s answer to Paris’s Montmartre.
The cobbled streets are dotted with art shops, fortune tellers, boutiques, and bars, as well as nightclubs. Along with cool, budget-friendly hostels, there are chic hotels to choose from in Brera to enjoy the nightlife. This is a good spot to stay if you want to be central but avoid the tourist crowds.
Where to Stay in Brera
- Bulgari Hotel Milano – The 5-star Bulgari Hotel Milano, with its lush green spaces and elegant courtyards, is luxury personified. A stylish boutique hotel located within a renovated 18th-century palatial building, it boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, an ultra-luxurious Bvlgari Spa with a mosaicked, golden and emerald green design, and a 4,000-square-meter private garden that forms part of the neighboring botanical garden. Guests can look forward to an array of tasteful rooms and suites, an indoor pool, and a series of gourmet eateries on the property.
- Carlyle Brera Hotel – Situated within a modern seven-story building, the elegant Carlyle Brera Hotel is set right in the middle of the historic center. Walk beneath the jungle tendrils hanging over the entranceway and you’ll find a lobby bar, a restaurant, and an outdoor terrace. The comfortably furnished guest rooms feature timeless wooden flooring and all the creature comforts you could need, such as a luxury pillow menu, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries.
Fiera & San Siro
The two adjoining neighborhoods of Fiera & San Siro are located northwest of Milan’s city center and from a predominantly residential area. Of course, this makes Fiera & San Siro a friendly and more laid-back place to stay in Milan; it’s an excellent area to base yourself if you are traveling with children.
There are a whole lot of public parks to stroll through and play in here, such as the grassy Parco del Cave – a former quarry with bike trails tracing through it. There are also street side cafes and decent transport connections via Milan’s metro. It’s an ideal spot for the football fans amongst you: this is where the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is located (AC Milan’s home ground).
Fiera & San Siro also boasts more reasonably priced accommodation than other areas; this means larger rooms set in more contemporary buildings. Enjoy a convenient location and city life without spending too much.
Where to Stay in Fiera & San Siro
- Meliá Milano – The 5-star Melia Milano is a stylish boutique hotel located inside a renovated building with an earth-colored façade. Guests are greeted with a grand marble staircase and sophisticated marble floors, with pops of color added through plants and plush red armchairs. The rooms are just as stylish, with a fresh and modern design, wooden floors, and lavish bed linen for an excellent night’s sleep. The hotel also boasts a buffet restaurant, a glamorous cocktail bar, and a pampering spa with a hot tub, sauna, and steam bath.
- Antares Hotel Rubens – Antares Hotel Rubens is set within a unique-looking building in a convenient and central location. Stay here, and you’ll have access to a fitness center, a wine bar, and a rooftop restaurant with a stunning roof garden. Opt for the full catering service and have every meal prepared for you – from breakfast through to dinner. Take your pick of comfortably furnished single, double, or family rooms, or perhaps a junior suite for more space. Each room comes with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a satellite TV.
The busy Stazione Centrale area – slightly north of the Centro Storico – is where Milan’s central station is located. So it is the ideal place to stay for those arriving or leaving by train, or if you’d like to explore more of the city using the metro.
The station itself is an impressive building dating back to 1931. With an intricate facade and beautiful arrivals hall, it is one of the largest train stations in Europe. From here, it’s simple to catch high-speed trains to Venice, Turin, or even Lake Como.
Though not filled with many sights itself, it certainly isn’t hard to get from here to any other area of the city. For example, the Duomo is just three stops from the Stazione Centrale.
Accommodation here is good value for money, ranging from modern boutique lodgings and unfussy guesthouses near the station to the Hotel Principe di Savoia, an elegant 5-star offering.
Where to Stay near Stazione Centrale
- Excelsior Hotel Gallia – Set within a fully restored heritage building with a Liberty-style façade, the Excelsior Hotel Gallia is a pleasure to look at. A 5-star hotel in every sense of the word, this luxury hotel has everything covered, with a 1000-m² world-class Shiseido spa, a rooftop restaurant, and Italian-style rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows and lavish Trussardi toiletries. Guests staying at this stylish hotel will get around in style: they’ll have complimentary use of a glamorous Maserati courtesy car.
- Andreola Central Hotel – Andreola Central Hotel is located inside a refurbished 19th-century historic building that features a cream-colored façade and an interior characterized by Portuguese pink and French red marble columns. Each room is elegantly furnished, with plush carpets and wooden floors as well as a minibar and air-conditioning. You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips at this 4-star hotel – a generous buffet breakfast, a hotel bar, and a top-floor restaurant with panoramic views over the city.
- Ibis Milano Centro – Spread across ten floors inside a modern Italian-style building, the Ibis Milano Centro boutique hotel offers soundproof, colorful, and contemporary-styled rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and private bathrooms. Spend your days dining on traditional Milanese cuisine at the on-site restaurant, sipping aperitifs at the 24-hour lounge bar with a view of the lush gardens, or working it all off at the hotel’s fitness center – the choice is yours.
The vibrant Navigli neighborhood southwest of the center is an area of Milan once home to a network of canals used to transport goods around Milan; it’s named after the Naviglio Grande Canal.
There are only two of these canals remaining, but nowadays, it is all about the nightlife in Navigli. In the daytime, you can peruse art galleries, boutiques, and independent coffee shops. There’s also the monthly antique market – Navigli Gio Pavese – and old churches like the Basilica Sant Eustorgio, dating back to the 4th century AD.
At night, Navigli hots up around the area where the two remaining canals meet. Sit along their banks wining and dining before heading out to dance the night away at one of its clubs, such as Porto Alegre.
Staying here means a whole lot of design-led boutique hotels, as well as being able to catch the metro easily into other parts of Milan.
Where to Stay in Navigli
- Hotel Magna Pars – Hotel Magna Pars is a fashionable hotel tucked inside a modern building built in the 20th-century. One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this 5-star hotel is surrounded by lush trees, fragrant flowers, and a secret garden. Guests will have access to a restaurant, bar, wine cellar, and a deluxe wellness center with a gym and Turkish bath. The collection of ultra-luxurious suites offer all the comforts of home with added indulgences – oak wood floors, leather sofas, and a living room with an exclusive book collection.
- Art Hotel Navigli – If you’re an arts and culture vulture, you’ll love the Art Hotel Navigli. This 4-star hotel is tailored for the creatives and boasts an impressive collection of modern artwork and sculptures located within a cheerful yellow building. The roof garden on the sixth floor of the hotel is one of the main attractions. Other features include a garden, lobby bar, and a wellness center that encompasses a gym, sauna, and Turkish bath. Each room comes complete with air-conditioning and an American-style buffet breakfast; some also have the added benefit of a private balcony.
- Hotel Des Etrangers – Surrounded by potted plants, the 3-star Hotel Des Etrangers is housed within a historic Italian-style building with a modern glass-fronted entrance. Inside, the seven-story hotel has comfortable guest rooms for all types of travelers, sleeping one to four people in each, as well as a lounge bar and private parking. All the guest rooms come with creature comforts such as air-conditioning, a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and daily breakfast.
The suburban district of Bicocca is named after a villa which was built here in the mid-1400s. But until the 1980s, Bicocca was predominantly an industrial area. The historic buildings of the industrial zone have been converted into interesting creative spaces; these include the Hangar Bicocca. Compared to the Tate Modern in London, this hosts cutting-edge modern art, workshops, and exhibitions.
Bicocca is an up and coming area and definitely a different sort of place to base yourself in the city of Milan. Thanks to this area being home to the University of Milano-Bicocca, there are good student bars and a great atmosphere in this part of town.
It’s also connected to the center of the city via a tram system. Here, you will find budget-friendly hotels as well as bigger, 4-star options for a range of places to stay in this out-of-town but original area.
Where to Stay in Bicocca
- Hotel Degli Arcimboldi – The multi-story Hotel Degli Arcimboldi is a modern hotel with exceptional views of the city and surrounding mountains. Perfectly situated for history buffs looking to explore the city’s architecture and culture vultures looking to catch a show at the neighborhood’s celebrated theaters, the hotel caters for all. Guests can find a choice of rooms sleeping one to three people, each with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom, as well as a lounge bar that caters to aperitif evenings and family brunches.
- Hotel Zara Milano – Behind its cream-colored façade, the 3-star Hotel Zara Milano offers a collection of comfortable and modern guest rooms. Each minimalist room comes with amenities such as air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom. Start your day off with a typical Italian breakfast every day of your stay, with a choice of steaming cappuccinos and sweet pastries as well as gluten-free options. Other perks include a garden, a hotel bar, and a 24-hour snack bar for hungry bellies.
Often overlooked, Porta Romana is a fantastic place to stay in Milan – if you don’t mind staying out of the city center, that is. Set to the southeast of the city center, it is actually named after the old Roman-era gate to the city; in its current form, the impressive entrance dates back to the 16th century.
The area itself is adjacent to the city center, with the same distinct 19th and early 20th-century architecture and characteristics, but is essentially a cheaper place to stay. Porta Romana comes in two parts: a wealthier side – home to Milan’s well-to-do; and the opposite side, which is less luxurious but more exciting, boasting a variety of cool restaurants and bars.
The accommodation follows the same pattern; expect more classic style hotels towards the center, with affordable guesthouses and hostels located towards the outskirts of this district.
Where to Stay in Porta Romana
- Grand Visconti Palace – Set within a grand historic-looking building, the 4-star Grand Visconti Palace was built on the remains of an ancient Verga mill that dates back to the early 1900s. Surrounded by a 2500m² beautifully manicured garden, today, the tastefully restored hotel boasts a dazzling marble lobby, a gourmet restaurant with panoramic city views, tastefully furnished soundproofed guest rooms, and a spa and wellness center with an indoor pool, a sauna, and a Turkish bath.
- Hotel Piacenza – Located within a grand old building with pretty window plants, Hotel Piacenza has an air of elegance about it, with cherry wood furniture and cathedral style windows. Inside, the guest rooms are modern and comfortable, equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite and pay-per-view channels, and a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries. Guests will also be treated to a daily buffet breakfast as part of the package.
Sempione & Chinatown
Just north of the central Parco Sempione is the area of the same name, which also happens to be home to Milan’s Chinatown. Situated close to Garibaldi Station, the area which is now Chinatown was settled by a sizeable Chinese population between the two World Wars.
The Chinese heritage has developed; today, the district is known for its leather and silk shops – and for its bargains, if you look hard enough! Expect a lot of tasty Chinese food, too.
Centered around the mainly pedestrianized Via Paolo Sarpi, staying in Chinatown is affordable, but you’ll have to get used to walking since there aren’t any metro stops here.
Sempione is where you’ll find sprawling, tree-lined lanes that lead to Parco Sempione, established in 1888. Away from Chinatown proper, the accommodation is a little more upscale, with stays in modern mid-range hotels and heritage guesthouses down quiet streets the norm.
Where to Stay in Sempione & Chinatown
- Hotel Mozart – Located within a renovated traditional-style building, Hotel Mozart is a warm and welcoming space. With a mix of classic and modern décor with touches of gold throughout, each refined guest room comes with air-conditioning, a minibar, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV with satellite and pay-per-view channels. Guests staying at this 4-star hotel can enjoy drinks at the on-site American bar and a complimentary buffet breakfast every day of their stay.
- Hotel 38 – Set within a multi-story building with a rust-red façade, Hotel 38 doesn’t stand out immediately from the outside. But on the inside, it’s a warm and welcoming space with a collection of impressive works of art in the hallways. Guests staying at this 3-star art hotel can look forward to colorful and comfortable guest rooms that come complete with air-conditioning, a minibar, a TV, and a private bathroom.
The perfect place to stay in Milan if you’re traveling to the city and really need to watch your budget, this is a popping student area with diversity to match. A fun and fashionable place to stay, you can expect to be bar-hopping by night and soaking up cultural attractions during the day.
In this northeastern district, you will find another of Milan’s old city gates – the Porta Venezia. Currently dating to the 19th century, it is thought to predate even the Roman-era gate itself. The gate even has its own metro stop.
There’s also the Gardini Publici – beautiful gardens to stroll around in the center of Citta Studi – and even the longest shopping street in the city, the Corso Buenos Aires.
Nights here are all about drinking and eating in one of the many cheap restaurants and bars in the area. With a selection of hotels and hostels on offer, staying in Citta Studi also means being close – sometimes within walking distance – to central Milan.
Where to Stay in Citta Studi
- Hotel Lombardia – Located in an old building that dates back to the late 1950s, the 4-star Hotel Lombardia has been restored to its former splendor and provides a welcoming retreat for all types of travelers – solo travelers, couples, and families of three. Whichever room you go for, you’re promised amenities such as air-conditioning, a minibar, and a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries as standard. An on-site bistro serves up light Italian meals when you’re feeling peckish.
- Hotel Florence – The 3-star Hotel Florence is easily recognized by its pretty pastel-yellow exterior. The color scheme continues on the inside, with a variety of bright and comfortably furnished guest rooms sleeping one to three people. Each room comes with free Wi-Fi, a safe, a private bathroom with a hairdryer, and some with a balcony or terrace overlooking the gardens or the internal courtyard. The 24-hour snack bar is the perfect spot for a midnight snack, so come hungry.