Want to learn where to stay in Milan? Known as the capital of fashion and design and synonymous with Haute Couture, whether you love hunting down designer wear or trawling the many vintage stores Milan has a lot to offer. Not just for shoppers, however, Milan’s winding streets and beautiful architecture offer a lot to explore with everything leading back to the magnificent Duomo (cathedral), the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Culture vultures will be equally satisfied with the numerous art galleries in the city, including the chance to see Leonardo Da Vinci's famous fresco, The Last Supper in the 15th-century Convent of Santa Maria Della Grazie or catch a show at one of Italy's top historic opera houses La Scala. One of the finest cities to sit back in a coffee shop or a bar and just people watch, there’s plenty to see.
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Where to stay in Milan
Milan is known for being one of the more expensive getaway locations, and there is no escaping that, unfortunately. Nonetheless, there are some areas that lend themselves better to those on a budget. The city is split into nine different areas that are situated around the main Milan Duomo, this does mean no matter where you stay, you’re never far from the sights and the various things to do. Each district offering its own flavour and price point, this guide will help you pick the right spot for you.
San Siro - Budget area, perfect for sports fans
Why stay in San Siro
If you’re looking for a quieter stay while being just outside, via subway, the main hub of the city then this is ideal. There are cheaper accommodation options and plenty to do thanks to the 80,000 San Siro Stadium, one of the largest in Europe. Not just the major venue for soccer matches you’ll also find musical concerts there. Similarly, in nearby Ippodromo del Galoppo, you’ll be able to see the major Milano Summer Festival with big-name music acts every year and watch the local horseracing. If you’re here to catch some of the big events in Milan, then staying in San Siro is going to be ideal.
Why avoid San Siro
You are slightly removed from the city in a quieter up-and-coming residential area, you’ll see lots of local Milan life but will have to take the subway to the areas with more action. The accommodation here is more residential, mid-range so there aren’t as many luxury stays or dining options in the area.
Where to stay in San Siro
Navigli – Perfect spot for nightlife and markets
Why stay in Navigli
Artisan shops, cafes, and vintage stores are just one of the reasons to stay in the creative areas of Navigli, an area with a long transportation history due to its network of canals. Only two canals remain today but built around them you’ll find a bustling hub of bars, restaurants, art galleries, and shopping options. You’ll also find a huge open-air antique market on the last Sunday of every month. The nightlife in this area is great so if you want to be in the heart of Milan’s drinking culture then this is perfect. It’s also a perfect spot for people watching. There’s a wide range of accommodation in the area, as the original city centre, so there’s really something for everyone in Navigli.
Why avoid Navigli
The heart of the drinking culture in Milan, this may not be for you if you’re looking for a peaceful stay as it gets a bit crowded and rowdy in the evening. You’ll also have to catch public transport to many of the major sights in Milan
Where to stay in Navigli
Porta Garibaldi – Upmarket, financial hub
Why stay in Porta Garibaldi
Just north of Milan’s centre is the Porta Garibaldi, an impressive neoclassical city gate on the old road to Como and also a financial hub. Choosing accommodation near what you’re interested in is key for the area. Near the train station, you’ll find the trendy area of Corso Como, an area known for its avant-garde fashion, fancy bars, coffee shops, and nightlife. Of for a quieter time, you can choose to be near the more business orientated areas. The historic sights are just twenty minutes’ walk away and looking at the nearby Duomo and churches next to the financial skyscrapers offers a beautiful contrast. It’s also a good transport hub due to one of the main stations (Porta Garibaldi) being here.
Why avoid Porta Garibaldi
It can get a little quiet in the area since it’s generally geared towards people visiting for business and this is reflected in the accommodation options.
Where to stay in Porta Garibaldi
Citta Studi – Quaint, peaceful, academic area
Why stay in Citta Studi
Think Oxford but in Milan, this is the scholarly area of the city with tree-lined streets, bookshops, cafes, university campuses and libraries. The world-renowned science faculty of the University of Milan is based here and was constructed in 1915. There’s plenty of beautiful architecture by famous architects to admire in the area and the peaceful surroundings provide the perfect atmosphere to wander. Although quiet, the sights of the city are a short metro ride away and you can take an 18-minute walk to Corso Buenos Aries, the shopping district.
Why avoid Citta Studi
While perfect for a peaceful, classical stay where you can take lots of pictures, it’s not ideal if you like a lot going on in your area. The accommodation options are fairly limited in the area as most of the accommodation is geared towards students so book fast if you’d like to stay here.
Where to stay in Citta Studi
Porta Romana – Designer shopping and creative activities
Why stay in Porta Romana
Like porta Garibaldi, Porta Romana is a former city gate and dates back to the 16th century. This often overlooked neighbour near the city centre has a lot to offer in terms hipster spots with Bar Luce designed by Wes Anderson, a tram converted into a sauna, Milan’s only thermal baths, and lots of take-out only food establishments to pick from. If you like shopping, then Viale Monte Nero Shopping Street is a haven with Italian design and handcrafted goods galore. There are plenty of bars in the area and it’s within walking distance to the Duomo. Overall it’s far cheaper than the very centre of Milan making it a little easier for those on a budget without compromising on things to do.
Why avoid Porta Romana
Despite being central, you’ll still have to the bus and metro system to go sightseeing in the area, also if you don’t enjoy the hipster aesthetic then this might not be for you. It’s quite a residential area so there’s plenty of accommodation options but they aren’t geared towards the high-end guest.
Where to stay in Porta Romana
Centro Storico – Historic centre, the heart of Milan
Why stay in Centro Storico
The historic city centre and the heart of Milan, this is where the pictures are taken, the architecture ranging from Gothic to Renaissance, and the tourists are many. You won’t be able to miss the Duomo di Milano or any of the other major attractions like the La Scala Theatre or the many galleries in the area. There’s plenty to keep shoppers happy with the luxury shopping district of Quadrilatero featuring all of the high-end Italian brands and plenty of bespoke designers and the Galeria Vittorio Emmanuelle. If you’re looking to splash out or want to stay in the very heart of Milan, this is it.
Why avoid Centro Storico
If the price is a big factor in your stay in Milan, then this area is best avoided as it’s the most expensive area in terms of accommodation and dining. You’re also going to have to contend with the crowds since this is the tourist hub
Where to stay in Centro Storico
Bovisa – Affordable area with a youthful vibe
Why stay in Bovisa
North of the city centre, and an affordable option for those on a budget, this is an area popular with students and young people reflected in the laid-back environment and youthful atmosphere. There’s plenty to choose from in terms of low-cost accommodation, affordable student-friendly bars and restaurants in interesting repurposed buildings. It’s an industrial area and isn’t immediately attractive but explore the streets and you’ll find plenty to do. This is a perfect area if you like live music and performances in general as there’s always something on.
Why avoid Bovisa
If you’re looking for an upmarket stay, then this won’t be for you. You’ll also have to hop on public transport to get to the attractions as there are very few things to see in the immediate area.
Where to stay in Bovisa
Porta Vittoria – Relaxing spot, perfect for families
Why stay in Porta Vittoria
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more relaxing and family-friendly, then Porta Vittoria could be what you’re looking for. Southeast of the city centre, this area is another hotspot for shopping but rather than the high-end offerings of many areas, this is where you come for unique souvenirs, handmade jewellery, and art. There are some fascinating modern art and immersive museums in the area as well as a museum based around comics around comics and graphic novels. With a lot more breathing room than other areas of Milan, this is a perfect area if you like to be outside the city centre but still have plenty to do.
Why avoid Porta Vittoria
If this is your first visit to Milan, it may be a little far away from the main tourist attractions for you and will require a lot of time on public transport. It’s a quieter area with little nightlife on offer so it won’t suit people who like a buzzing atmosphere after dark.
Where to stay in Porta Vittoria
Porta Venezia – Budget friendly shopping haven
Why stay in Porta Venezia
Perfect if you want to see how the average Milanese person lives and have plenty to do on your doorstep. Porta Venezia is just a stroll away from the historic centre of Milan but offers a far more budget-friendly alternative and a less touristy vibe. You can wander the streets (including the longest shopping street in Milan with over 350 shops - Corso Buenos Aires) for hours and find budget-friendly clothing boutiques and vintage stores alongside bigger department stores. There’s also plenty of family-friendly activities in the area like The Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium The area is close to the train station, budget-friendly, and has a lot to offer in terms of green spaces and 19thC architecture. It’s a diverse neighbourhood with plenty to offer.
Why avoid Porta Venezia
It’s more budget friendly than the city centre but more suited to people on a mid-range budget as it’s still a very popular area to be in. It can get very busy on the weekends due to it being a popular shopping district.
Where to stay in Porta Venezia
Milan's Chinatown – Great food and cheap shopping
Why stay in Milan's Chinatown
Every major city has its Chinatown and Milan’s is situated just a few minutes’ drive north of the city centre and was established in the 1920s. Typical for Chinatown, there are bright lanterns and excellent restaurants to be found in the area. The feature area is the Via Paolo Sarpi which is a pedestrianised shopping area perfect for wandering. Aside from a varied cuisine, the area boasts some fantastic shopping specialising in leather and silk goods - you can always find a bargain here far more easily than in the rest of the city. This a budget-friendly area with a range of affordable accommodation and a real clash of culture to observe.
Why avoid Milan's Chinatown
There are no metro stations here so you’ll need to walk a bit, the nearest stations are around five minutes away including the Garibaldi train station. This is an area more suited to those on a budget and can get quite noisy as there’s a lot of foot traffic
Where to stay in Milan's Chinatown
Ticinese – Hip, creative hub
Why stay in Ticinese
Easily one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Milan, the artists, young professionals, and academics all gather here. There are plenty of artisan shops, cute cafes, creative restaurants and art galleries to visit and some historical architecture to observe. There are plenty of bars lining the cobbled streets and alleys in the area too so this is fast becoming a popular area for nightlife; you’ll be busy right through the evening. Situated just outside the city centre, you’re not far from the main sights and get to mingle with a wide range of local people.
Why avoid Ticinese
It’s a popular area that closes late due to the bars and restaurants so it can be noisy. It’s an arty area so there isn’t much in the way of fine dining or accommodation here.