Every major district radiates in an artistic mood, in one prolific way or another.
Milan is often hailed as the design center of the world, and rightfully so. Every major neighborhood radiates in an artistic mood, in one prolific way or another. Since Milan was subjected to heavy bombing during World War II, the city had to rebuild itself throughout the decades after warfare. Today, you’ll see beautiful high rises, fashionable districts that captivate worldwide artists and designers. If you’re choosing where to stay, here’s our breakdown of Milan neighborhoods according to style and vibes.
Brera – chic & romantic
Similar to St. Germain in Paris, Brera is a chic and elegant area where luxury retailers and boutiques can be found. The cobblestone alleys are adorned with small yet refined art galleries. Locals who in Brera are considered the most wealthy and stylish of them all, check out Via Brera for bobo (bourgeoise-bohemian) coffee shops. Meanwhile, Via Montenapoleone is home to designer shops and art studios. To slow down a bit – especially during summertime’s high tourist season – visit Giardino Botanic for a nice stroll surrounded by nature’s beauty.
Zona Tortona – designers & fashionistas
What used to be Milan’s factory district during the 1960’s, Zona Tortona now plays host during Design Week and Milan Fashion Week when artists and industry players gather to attend vernissage and pop-up events. Many buildings and lofts were left abandoned during the 1970’s but transformed into creative spaces a decade later. Today, you can see Moncler and Ermenegildo Zegna showrooms in Zona Tortona. Not to mention, premium restaurants and posh cocktail bars line up busy alleys. If you’re staying in Zona Tortona during Fashion or Design Week, it’s better to stay in this area but make sure to make reservations early.
Navigli – hipster hub
Navigli is centered around several canals that were used for trade back in the day. Now, edgy bars and rustic chic restaurants embroider the canals, making Navigli one of the coolest neighborhoods in Milan. Far more casual than Brera, street art cover concrete walls that are also home to vintage shops, comic bookstores, and antique markets. When I visited Milan the second time around, I loved staying in Navigli, grabbing a cup of hot cappuccino in the morning at the café around the corner, then aperativos at Rita.
Porta Nuova – hi-tech urbanites
Porta Nuova has gone through major industrialization in recent years, it’s best known for The Unicredit Tower – Milan’s tallest skyscraper. In 2017, Porta Nuova became Europe’s richest district within any city by a GDP of €400 billion. It also manufactures much of Milan’s public transportation system, including: trains, trams, and buses. This neighborhood is catered to urbanites opting for modernity and fantastic restaurant selections aimed to make foodies enormously satiated. Check out: Nobu Milan, Joia (raw food and biodynamic), Ristorante Giannino dal 1899 (high-end trattoria), Flower Burger (vegan)…and many more.
Isola – digital nomads
Isola was once an isolated district but now preferred by digital nomads who yearn for a taste of local life with fun and easy accessibility thanks to the purple metro line. It seems that every major city nowadays encompasses an area where graffiti, luxe fashion boutiques, organic eateries, and thrift stores are all rolled into one. And Isola would be it for Milan. The location is close to the banking district, which translates to major property investments in the Isola. If you’re in Milan for a longer stay, then here would be a great choice. Cool kids hang out here, because weekend flea markets are forever hip. Cheap rent doesn’t hurt either.
Porta Romana – yay for yuppies
Porta Romana is where you’ll see the origins of the Roman walls and Milan’s former Spanish walls from the 16th century. During the times of ancient Rome, Porta Romana was the main imperial gateway into the city of Milan. During the day, this area is filled with the a wealthy bunch indulging in wine ‘n dine. The famous Fondazione Prada is located here, along with the ultimate Fashion Week nightclub, Plastic. Porta Romana is ideal for travelers who don’t want to be where the tourists are but wish to be in an up-and-coming district. For night owls, there are plenty fun wine bars and cocktail lounges to explore here, such as: Il Cavallante S.R..
Porta Venezia – made for shopaholics
Porta Venezia is a great fusion of the old and the new. The gate itself can be traced back to the Medieval and Roman walls of the city, with the name “Venice Gate” given in 1862 in the hope that Venice would accompany Milan in the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. Today, Porta Venezia is home to major shopping outlets including: H&M, Zara. But what might interest you even more are the vintage shops and thrift stores that carry items prior to their spotlights during Milan Fashion Week. Porta Venezia is also home to numerous art galleries, including: Spazio Maiocchi and Giò Marconi gallery. What makes this area even more special is the vibrant Eritrean population, making Porta Venezia a hub of tasty restaurants featuring anything from tsebhi (spicy beef or lamb stew) to birsen (lentils).