The North Italian City of Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals, alongside Paris, London and New York. Not surprisingly, there are some exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods within the city. However, there are still some districts where your euro will go a long way. Milan is a large city with a population of 3.5 million and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. It is the capital of Lombardy, one of Italy’s administrative regions that’s home to 20% of the national population.
There is plenty of choice when deciding where to stay in Milan. Milan’s origins date back to Roman times. In later years, it was sacked by the Huns and then became an important city-state as it reacted to the power of the Holy Roman Empire. It had periods of peace and trading, making it one of Southern Europe’s most important cities, but it also struggled against its enemies. It had a period under Spanish control and Hapsburg rule, and it was not until the second half of the 19th century that the unified state of Italy became a reality.
In more recent times, Milan suffered under the Nazis as they retreated during World War II, so a reconstruction programme was required. The transport infrastructure is good so staying in the heart of the city is not essential. There is a subway system, trams and buses, and the option of taxis. Often a central location is the preferred choice for tourists, while business travellers are likely to select a place close to their business activities. Here are six neighbourhoods in Milan to investigate.
- Where To Stay In Milan
- Porta Romana
- Porta Nuova
- Centro Storico
- Porta Venezia
Where To Stay In Milan
Brera, now home to largely wealthy Milanese, has had a character change in recent times.
It was formerly a neighbourhood that attracted intellectuals, but some buildings have been converted into trendy art galleries and boutiques.
The bars serve more expensive drinks than the average places and not surprisingly, at night, the younger generation with money spend their evenings drinking and socialising.
Brera is close to the city centre, another reason the accommodation cost is higher than in many other neighbourhoods.
Anything cheaper tends to be shared accommodation between youngsters and students.
That said, family-friendly hotels are here for those wanting a central location.
Brera is known locally as the “District of Ideas” and it’s an attractive neighbourhood where you will find the Accademia di Belle Arti and the offices of “Corriere della Serra”, the top Italian newspaper.
Brera is both historic and modern at the same time.
Artisan workshops sell paint and canvasses, and those wanting inspiration will get that at the Accademia, where there are masterpieces by such as Raphael, Caravaggio and Mantegna.
Braidense Library, the Astronomical Museum and Botanical Gardens are also within Brera.
Visit during the day before the nighttime action starts, when musicians and stalls fill the cobbled streets.
If you want to shop, the Mercatino di Antiquariato e Brocantage is the local antiquities market, while Brera is also known for its perfume outlets.
Where To Stay In Brera
Luxury – Hotel Milano Scala
Hotel Milano Scala is just a short walk from Duomo, with La Scala Opera House even closer.
It is an eco-friendly hotel with a panoramic terrace and satellite TV in every room.
The choice of accommodation ranges from singles to suites that can accommodate three adults.
Facilities include bar, restaurant and fitness centre.
Mid-scale – Locanda Pandenus Brera
Locanda Pandenus Brera offers elegant rooms with TV, minibar and free Wi-Fi.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available while there is a shared lounge to relax with a drink.
The nearby metro provides ease of access to the city’s highlights.
Budget – Brera Prestige B&B
Brera Prestige B&B has rooms with air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, TV, safety deposit boxes and a private bathroom.
Duomo is just a short distance away, making this an affordable place close to several of Milan’s highlights.
This residential district is further away from the heart of the city but still only a few stops on public transport.
Porta Romana (Roman Gate) was once the main entrance to Milan, with the gate as seen today dating back to the 16th century when Northern Italy was under Spanish rule.
The origins of Milan’s gates and walls go back to the Roman Empire.
The best nightlife in Milan is close by in Navigli, so Porta Romana has some definite advantages.
This is a smart neighbourhood with well-maintained avenues hosting fashion houses, many excellent restaurants and fine residences with buildings often dating back to the 19th century.
Half of this district is upscale apartments, while the rest is more affordable with residential housing and boutique hotels.
You will also find good schooling and several embassies locally.
Porto Romano attracts yuppies with several trendy bars as well as craft markets, however, it is also a neighbourhood where accommodation provides real value for money, not only in terms of the long-term rental but also for visitors.
It is popular with students attending the nearby Bocconi and Catholic Universities.
Porta Romana is at the conjunction of several major streets, Corso Lodi, Viale Montenero, and Corso di Porta Romana, which leads to the Duomo.
Where To Stay In Porto Romano
Luxury – Grand Visconti Palace
Grand Visconti Palace, close to the metro, is comfortable accommodation with a wellness area including a swimming pool, sauna and hot tub.
The gourmet restaurant on the 5th floor overlooks the city.
Elegant rooms are sound-proofed and include TV and mini-bar. A large garden surrounds the hotel.
Mid-scale – Palazzo Porta Romana
Palazzo Porta Romana is a 4-star hotel close to Palazzo Reale and Museo Del Novecento.
Guests have private bathrooms, room service, Wi-Fi and 24-hour reception. All rooms have air-conditioning, desk, kettle, minibar, TV and safety deposit box.
Budget – Hotel Palladio
Hotel Palladio is air-conditioned accommodation in a historic building, with each room having a private bathroom and TV.
Drinks are available from a vending machine while bars and restaurants are nearby.
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Porta Nuova was once an industrial district in northern Milan, but today, it attracts people because of its affordable housing.
It is a neighbourhood that visitors often describe as having the feeling of village life.
While it is not busy, there are still several fine dining places, boutique shopping and popular bars.
It has grown in popularity over the last two decades as accommodation costs have risen closer to the city centre.
World Expo 2015 gave Porta Nuova the final push, so today, you will find all you want, day and night.
Business is still important in “New Gate”, with the infrastructure reflecting that.
Italy’s tallest building, the Unicredit Tower, is here, dominating the skyline and there are three towers, with the highest being 231 metres (758 feet).
It was the design of Cesar Pelli, and once the spire was attached in 2011, the project was complete.
It is said that the total cost of the construction was US$ 7.2 billion.
It looks even more impressive at night because it is covered in LED lighting whose colours can change with the circumstances; green for a Christmas tree, with national flag colours available to commemorate events, including condolences.
It is a district where the GDP makes it a rich European city, with many companies headquartered here.
Its regeneration resulted in heavy industry being replaced by everything from high-tech businesses and offices to accommodation that began at the end of the last century.
Where To Stay In Porto Nuova
Luxury – NH Collection Milano Porta Nuova
NH Collection Milano Porta Nuova is just a short distance from Piazza Gae Aulenti and Corso Como.
The hotel offers air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and a gym. Rooms with private bathrooms include satellite TV, a safe and a minibar. With a bar and restaurant, guests will find all they need.
Budget – Hotel Siena
Navigli, as previously mentioned, is Milan’s top nightlife neighbourhood where during the day, things are relatively quiet but it comes alive at night and ino the early hours.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants.
The weekend market on Saturdays, the Fiera di Senigallia flea market, sells a wide range of products, new and second-hand.
You will find quiet corners, cafes, bookshops and boutiques in a relaxing environment.
With IULM and the Catholic University nearby, students form part of the neighbourhood’s population.
Affordable accommodation is an excellent reason to choose Navigli as a base for holiday accommodation.
Historically, Navigli was a trading neighbourhood with two canals and a dock.
Its origins date back to the Romans, who constructed a river port that ultimately connected to the sea.
This was very much historic Milan with numerous canals, Venice-like if you like.
Two major canals, Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Grande greet the visitor. The latter’s bridges are a fine sight at sundown.
The Science and Technology National Museum Leonardo Da Vinci is a favourite of anyone interested in Italian inventions.
Art Hotel Navigli is an attractive hotel with a collection of modern art sculptures and paintings the reason behind its name.
Air-conditioned rooms have TV, Wi-Fi and a minibar. The metro is nearby, with the district known for its pubs and restaurants.
Facilities include a gym, wellness centre, sauna, and Turkish bath.
Luxury – Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum
Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum is a 5-star luxury, ultra-modern with suites offering everything a guest might expect.
The wellness centre has a gym and Turkish bath. There is TV, leather and wooden furnishings, a library, bar and a restaurant.
Mid-scale – Hotel La Vignetta
Hotel La Vignetta is a clean and comfortable accommodation with air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and TV.
It has convenient transport connections via the metro, tram and rail.
Centro Storico is the place if you want to be closest to the major attractions in Milan.
It tends to be full of tourists with plans to see Milan’s highlights, such as the Duomo, Palazzo Reale and the Museo del Novecento, with Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II very close.
If your time in the city is limited, this may be the first place you should be looking to.
Here you will find fashion events and all the people associated with them, and celebrities in general. Not surprisingly, prices are among the highest in Milan.
At one time, this district was confined within ancient walls. Not surprisingly, it is a compact area, remembering the scale of ancient cities.
As a result, it is easy to explore on foot and well worth the effort, as it’s packed with monuments, landmarks, shops, cafes and restaurants.
The Duomo is the highlight, the cathedral that took six centuries to complete, starting towards the end of the 14th century on a site where an original cathedral was built 10 centuries earlier.
Basilica cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Nascente is a landmark where you can enjoy its impressive interior.
San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, as well as the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore are other fine religious sites.
Museums, galleries and a library add to the highlights of Centro Storico.
One of the most impressive streets in the city is here.
Via Dante is a pedestrian avenue between Piazzale Cordusio and Largo Cairoli, where you will find the city castle.
There are street vendors, restaurants and cafes, street art, boutiques and people, many looking for the quality shopping found here.
Where To Stay In Centro Storico
Luxury – Park Hyatt Milano
Park Hyatt Milano faces the entrance of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the heart of the fashion area of Milan.
There are spacious, luxurious rooms with marble bathrooms. And some with private terraces providing views of the city.
The spa and fitness centre and fine dining are among the facilities available.
Luxury – Hotel Spadari Al Duomo
Hotel Spadari Al Duomo, close to Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral, is filled with original artwork.
Rooms are all air-conditioned with Wi-Fi and TV.
La Scala is a short distance away, while shopping is nearby.
Mid-scale – Hotel Gran Duca di York
Hotel Gran Duca di York was once part of an 18th-century palace with period frescoes on display.
You can expect a brightly-decorated room, minibar and buffet breakfast.
Transport connections are good, while places like the Duomo Cathedral and the shopping arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, are within walking distance.
Porta Venezia was another of Milan’s historic gates, but the present one dates only to the 19th Century.
It has taken over as the neighbourhood most closely associated with the artistic community and is certainly a district to investigate if you are visiting Milan.
If you love art, it is the first place to look with art galleries and museums, including the Galleria d’Arte Moderna and Padiglione D’Arte Contemporanea.
The Giardini Pubblici Indro MontanelliIis here, a park that helps to give Porta Venezia a romantic vibe.
While it was settled many centuries ago, the architecture is no older than the 19th century neoclassical and art nouveau.
Important buildings include Palazzo Saporiti, Villa Reale, Palazzo Serbelloni, and Palazzo Castiglioni.
The Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium are in the Gardens of Porta Venezia.
Despite Duomo being nearby, this area is not crowded, so balancing crowds with accessibility to landmarks, Porta Venezia deserves your research.
Walking around, you will find everything from beautiful churches to lovely gelato (ice cream) shops.
It is an area known as LGBT-Friendly, with the Porta Venezia Metro Station becoming a Rainbow Station with rainbow-coloured wallpaper.
Its long history of foreign immigration has meant Porta Venezia is a multi-ethnic district with “African” and “casbah” words often used to describe it. Among the things that reflect that is the cuisine.
You will find a wide range of food, including African, Asian and South American dishes.
Where To Stay In Porta Venezia
Luxury – Milano Porta Venezia Suite Centro
Milano Porta Venezia Suite Centro is in the heart of an exclusive district in Milan.
Some of its units have a terrace or balcony, with all having a well-equipped kitchenette with microwave, oven, fridge and dishwasher.
It’s an ideal place for those wanting independence and self-catering.
Mid-range – Hotel Teco
Hotel Teco is close to the train and metro and was renovated in 2012.
Facilities include Wi-Fi, TV with a snack bar and reception open 24 hours.
Each room is air-conditioned with a private bathroom, safe and phone.
Budget – Milano Dreams
Milano Dreams is a guest house with each room having a private bathroom, air-conditioning, and a desk.
Transport is close by, with airport shuttle services also available.