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.
Carlo E Camilla In Segheria
Bar, Restaurant, Cocktail Bar, Italian, European, $$$$
Keen for a fancy night out? Look no further than Carlo E Camilla In Segheria. Situated in a spectacular former sawmill with exposed concrete walls, sky-high ceilings, contemporary art pieces and enormous crystal chandeliers, the atmosphere is undeniably dramatic. Enjoy luscious handmade pasta and meat, or skip the food and head straight for the exceptional cocktails. One favourite is the Desperados – tequila, rose and Timut Pepper beer, lemon, agave honey and crusco pepper.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Italian, European, $$$
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.
Bar, Wine Bar, Wine$$
Those looking for an authentic Italian experience should look no further than La Vineria. Behind the unassuming shopfront you’ll find an extensive selection of high-quality local wines and olive oil, as well as a small bar and tables outside for visitors to sample the produce. Have a glass of vino accompanied by simple, delicious snacks such as prosciutto and melon or buffalo mozzarella, or take home a bottle of wine filled straight from the barrel at a very affordable price.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Italian, Asian, European$$
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.
Rita and Cocktails
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Italian, Beer, Vegetarian, $$$
For some of the most inventive cocktails in Milan, make sure to check out Rita. With an emphasis on fresh, all-natural ingredients and unusual flavour combinations, drinks like the Banito (made with mezcal, cinnamon, house-made banana chutney, lime and tomato juice) are well worth the above-average price tag. Grab a seat at the bespoke wooden bar to watch the bartenders in action or head outside to the enclosed glass patio. As well as cocktails, Rita boasts a wide selection of Italian wines and local beers, as well as excellent nibbles such as grilled octopus and burgers with meat from the renowned Masseroni butchery.
Bar, Restaurant, Italian$$
If you’ve had one too many wines and spritzes during your time in Italy, head to BQ, Birra Artigianale di Qualitá, for their massive range of local and imported beers. While Italy was relatively late to the craft-beer trend, the increasing number of high-quality breweries and bars such as BQ has heralded a new era of beer appreciation in Milan. From bottled vintage brews like Westvleteren to a huge selection of birra alla spina (draught beers), you’ll be spoiled for choice.
The Botanical Club
Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Japanese, Sushi, $$$
Launched in 2015, The Botanical Club was the first ever Italian gin micro-distillery. The distillery has three bar/restaurant locations in Milan, but the Via Tortona location is arguably the best. Alongside the bespoke Botanical Club cocktail menu, there is a solid wine list that includes some organic options. The food menu, like the chic interior design, takes inspiration from the South Pacific and features dishes like poke, which is especially refreshing at an aperitivo hour. During the week, it attracts both the financiers of neighbouring Deloitte and the fashionable from the surrounding design and fashion studios.
Ugo Cocktail Bar
Bar, Bistro, Cocktail Bar, Italian, European, $$$
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.
Restaurant, Bar, Cocktail Bar, Italian, Seafood, $$$
Milan’s premiere gin bar, Gin012 boasts over a thousand variations of gin, stacked high against the exposed red-brick walls. Whether you like your gin served neat, on the rocks, with tonic or as part of a cocktail, there are plenty of options. While traditionalists can always take solace in an excellent gin fizz, those looking for something a bit more unusual can try creative options like the Tea-cinese, comprising Beefeater 24 infused with Chinese black tea, homemade Earl Grey tea syrup, lemon and bergamot, served in a mug.
Pinch – Spirits and Kitchen
Bar, Cocktails, Italian, European, $$$
Emulating a Prohibition-era bar, Pinch – Spirits and Kitchen has a reputation, not only for its delectable cocktails and wines, but also for serving food that perfectly complements the drinks. In summer, try to snag a table outside by the canal to people watch at twilight, and once the weather cools down, head inside and sink into one of the plush velvet sofas. A drinks list that changes every four months, live-music nights and special events makes Pinch a different experience each time you visit.
Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Italian, $$$
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.
Atmosphere:Boutique, Quirky, Loud, Nightlife, Outdoors, Relaxed
This article is an updated version of a story created by Sophia Karner.