The Best Bars in Centro Storico, Milan

Centro Storico is right in the middle of the action
Centro Storico is right in the middle of the action | © Andrej Privizer / Alamy Stock Photo
Hugo Mc Cafferty

While it’s probably the city’s most expensive area to eat and drink, Milan’s historic centre can be a wonderful place to splash the cash and enjoy a cocktail surrounded by many of the city’s top sights.

Centro Storico is right in the middle of the action. With the dominating Duomo next to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and some of the city’s most important galleries and museums, it’s first up on most people’s visit to Milan. If you fancy an aperitivo after your art viewing or shopping, this glitzy location puts you right in the thick of the best of Milan.

1. Camparino in Galleria

Bar, Italian

The Camparino bar has been in situ since the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II opened in 1867 and is an institution in Milan. With a rich, ornate interior and views of the Piazza Duomo, it is almost a place of pilgrimage for devotees of Campari. Buzzing in summer and winter, the bar is a slice of 19th-century elegance brought up to date for today’s international visitors. Expect to pay over the odds for your cocktails, but take your time and linger over the history all around you.

2. Just Cavalli Milano

Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

This bar is about as Milan Fashion Week as it gets, but it can be fun as there’s always a lively atmosphere. The club and restaurant, brought to you by fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and architect Italo Rota, is located at the foot of Parco Sempione’s famous Torre Branca viewing tower. There’s an outdoor terrace for sweltering summer evenings, and after 11.30pm the music ramps up when Milan’s fashion crowd comes out to play.

4. Terrazza Aperol

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Italian

The Aperol-branded bar has one of the best views in the city, and the interior is fresh and fun. Of course, the spritz is a speciality here and if you’re feeling drained after walking the cobblestone streets of the Centro Storico, it’s perfect for a refreshing cocktail. Food is not an afterthought here, so come for aperitivo, when the Milanese flood in after work.

5. Terrazza Martini

Cocktail Bar, Italian

Terrazza Martini is another branded bar terrace experience that boasts seriously impressive views of the city skyline. Located on the 15th floor of the skyscraper in Piazza Diaz, the venue has been at the centre of Milan’s social life since the ’50s. If vermouth is your thing, then it’s perfect for a negroni or any of the splendid array of other Martini-based concoctions. The decor is ultra-modern with a special attention to design, which always feels so Milan. It’s definitely a place to dress well and put your best foot forward.

6. Terrazza 12

Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Italian

Take the lift to the 10th floor of the beautiful Brian & Barry building in Piazza San Babila and you will find Terrazza 12, a lounge bar with a decked roof terrace. It has a vintage flair with patterned rugs and furniture set among potted plants. This bar is an ideal place to start your evening – have aperitivo and watch the sun set over the city – but it’s also cosy enough to make it perfect for a nightcap.

7. Il Bar

Cocktail Bar, Italian

You can almost reach out and touch La Madonnina, the brass icon that sits atop the Duomo, from the terrace at Il Bar – it’s that close. The outdoor seating on Il Bar’s terrace offers the perfect refuge from the teaming masses of shoppers and tourists below. Fresh, cool decor allows you to unwind when the summer heat is overwhelming and provides a cosy feel in the colder months. Open all day and offering breakfast, aperitivo and tapas, Il Bar is a great spot to slow down, unwind and let the chaos of Centro Storico slip away.

8. Bar Martini

Cocktail Bar, Italian

Nestled in an off-street courtyard, everything about this cocktail bar is inspired by the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. From the dark, lush interiors to the fabulously well-presented bar staff, the place is both upscale and understated. A favourite of fashionistas who prefer to avoid the in-your-face glamour of some of the other fashion-themed bars, it’s the type of place where an aperitivo leads into a long, lazy evening with friends.

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