While the charming canals and bustling restaurants make this Milan neighbourhood perfect for a daytime stroll, it’s at night that Navigli comes to life.
Any local will tell you that a trip to Milan isn’t complete without visiting the vibrant and bustling Navigli district. Once the sun sets, Navigli turns into one of the city’s liveliest spots for a drink, with a vast array of watering holes to suit any vibe or budget. Check out our guide for the bars that should be at the top of your hit list.
Keen for a fancy night out? Look no further than Carlo E Camilla In Segheria. Situated in a spectacular former sawmill with exposed concrete walls, sky-high ceilings, contemporary art pieces and enormous crystal chandeliers, the atmosphere is undeniably dramatic. Enjoy luscious handmade pasta and meat, or skip the food and head straight for the exceptional cocktails. One favourite is the Desperados – tequila, rose and Timut Pepper beer, lemon, agave honey and crusco pepper.
The first bar of its kind in Milan, Iter (‘travel’ in Latin) aims to bring all the flavours of the world to Italy. Every six months, the entire team of chefs and bartenders travels to a new country for a week to learn about the cuisines of other cultures. The resulting menu and drinks list is then inspired by that country, reinterpreting traditional dishes and flavours with a distinctly Italian twist. You can eat here from breakfast onwards, and it’s worth a visit if only for the innovative cocktails, and to sit amongst the explorer paraphernalia – globes, adventure hats, maps and relics.
Custom motorcycle and clothing brand Deus Ex Machina opened their third Milanese location in Navigli, serving the same high-quality food and impressive selection of cocktails, beer, spritzes and wine. The interior is at once polished and beautifully rough-around-the-edges, filled with custom motorbikes, surfboards and murals. Drawing on Deus’s international lineage, the menu brings together dishes from across the world as well as Italy. Don’t miss the Indonesian nasi goreng and the Bucatini cacio e pepe.
Launched in 2015, The Botanical Club was the first ever Italian gin micro-distillery. The distillery has three bar/restaurant locations in Milan, but the Via Tortona location is arguably the best. Alongside the bespoke Botanical Club cocktail menu, there is a solid wine list that includes some organic options. The food menu, like the chic interior design, takes inspiration from the South Pacific and features dishes like poke, which is especially refreshing at an aperitivo hour. During the week, it attracts both the financiers of neighbouring Deloitte and the fashionable from the surrounding design and fashion studios.
Step back in time at Ugo, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar nestled deep in the heart of Navigli. Faux taxidermy deer heads, antique tennis racquets and oil paintings on floral wallpaper are illuminated by the beautiful standing lamps and candelabras dotted throughout the interior. The cocktails are as delicious as they are imaginative, with creations like the Trique (made from vodka, white vermouth, celery, green apple, lime and liquorice) attracting large crowds every night.
Milan’s premiere gin bar, Gin012 boasts over a thousand variations of gin, stacked high against the exposed red-brick walls. Whether you like your gin served neat, on the rocks, with tonic or as part of a cocktail, there are plenty of options. While traditionalists can always take solace in an excellent gin fizz, those looking for something a bit more unusual can try creative options like the Tea-cinese, comprising Beefeater 24 infused with Chinese black tea, homemade Earl Grey tea syrup, lemon and bergamot, served in a mug.
Warm, cosy and welcoming, a visit to Mag Café feels like having a drink at an old friend’s house. Mismatched antique furniture from the owner’s trips to Argentina and the quirky framed pictures adorning the walls make this eclectic bar a favourite with hipsters and university students. As it transitions from a café during the day to a cocktail bar at night, the menu and clientele change slightly, but the relaxed vibe remains.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Sophia Karner.
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