When you’re moving to a trendy city like Milan, location is everything. That’s why our Milan Neighborhood Guide contains all you need to know to find the perfect area to live, study, or work. Milan is easily the best place to live in Italy for expats, so you’re in for a treat!
During the WWII bombings, a large part of Milan was destroyed. That’s why today the design mecca boasts a unique mix of skyscrapers, modern residential buildings, centuries-old landmarks, and Liberty-style architecture.
And each neighborhood has got a lot to offer! From quiet suburban areas all the way to areas swarming with young internationals. In this article, we will walk you through the best places to live in Milan.
Centro Storico or Milan’s City Center is the heart of Milan where you’ll find attractions, museums, and bustling squares filled with locals and tourists alike.
It seems as if the entire area is in the shade of the glorious Duomo cathedral. To the right of the Duomo, you can enjoy a stroll in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a lovely 18th-century arcade that plays home to various luxurious shops and restaurants. You’ll also be close to the 20th Century Museum, the La Scala Theater, and the art exhibits at the Royal Palace.
Centro Storico is one of the most international districts of Milan. The University of Milan and the downtown’s numerous attractions attract heaps of international students, tourists, and young professionals.
The downtown of Milan is considered one of the safest areas due to a high police presence around it. However, just as in any touristy city center, it’s a good idea to stay vigilant, especially when no one is around. So make sure to watch out for petty crime such as pickpocketing.
Porta Venezia is also known as Italy’s only true gay quarter. Via Lecco, the heart of the district, is flooded with gay bars. The entire area really blooms during Pride Week, when it fills up with rainbow flags, food trucks, and the shared spirit of love, liberation, and joy.
You’ll also find a variety of shopping opportunities for any budget at Corso Buenos Aires, one of Europe’s longest shopping streets. And if you walk down towards the second largest public garden Giardini Indro Montanelli, you’ll come to the Natural History Museum, Palazzo Dugnani, and planetarium. Modern art appreciators will enjoy contemporary selections in the Pavilion of Contemporary Art (PAC) and Galleria Arte Moderna (GAM).
To top it all off, Porta Venezia is very well connected to the rest of the city. You will be within walking distance from train and metro stations and an abundance of tram and bus stops.
Porta Venezia is an inter-enthnic and highly diverse neighborhood popular with expats and locals alike. Here, Milanese and immigrant families and retirees live alongside students and young professionals. To top it off, despite its proximity to the City Center, this area is often overlooked by tourists!
It’s a very safe, welcoming, LGBTQI+ and family-friendly neighborhood where you will quickly feel at home.
Brera is where art, fashion, and design merge, creating a unique atmosphere. The glamorous district boasts cozy, cobblestone streets, teeming with art galleries and trendy boutiques. You will find the widest selection of aperitivo bars with free snacks or buffets in this buzzing area. Those can be especially helpful if you're on a tight budget!
You can also relax or work in the park, visit Brera Botanical Garden, or even spend an entire day at one of the area’s top art museums, the Pinacoteca di Brera. In the southern section of Brera, you can take in the epitome of fashion in Milan at the Quadrilatero Della Moda’s luxury stores and high-end retailers.
Brera is located just outside of the city center, with plenty of public transportation options that can be reached in mere minutes. You can easily get to most of the parts of Milan from here by subway, tram, or bus.
Brera especially blooms during Milan Fashion Week and Milan Furniture Fair, attracting celebrities, high-profile models, and creatives. It’s also popular among professionals, young couples, and fashion students, being home to the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.
Brera belongs to some of the most prosperous and safe areas of Milan. This trendy neighborhood buzzes with restaurants, bars, and clubs until late at night. So, you never need to worry about walking through empty streets after dark.
Navigli and Porta Genova are popular districts filled with busy residents and plenty of exciting nightlife options. Since it’s located close to two canals and a dock, you’ll find plenty of dining options. Although the area can be quieter in the day, the districts transform into a party area by sunset.
Every Saturday, you can take in the local culture at the Fiera di Senigallia flea market, filled with antiques and used items. Those on a budget can save a bit of cash by buying a second-hand bike or shopping for vintage clothes. This area will also treat you with slightly cheaper rental prices and many public transportation options. You can choose from tram or bus or you can take a walk to Porta Genova railway station.
Navigli and Porta Genova are close to the Catholic University and IULM; so it’s easy to see why students flock there to search for housing. You will also come across many young professionals and their families who’ve found their home among canals and cast-iron bridges.
In summer, this part of Milan gathers a diverse crowd of hippies, students, tourists, and locals who enjoy having a drink with a picturesque view. If you enjoy surrounding yourself with a youthful and active atmosphere, Navigli or Porta Genova would be a safe choice.
If you're searching for cheap accommodation for students in Milan, it can never be too early to start looking.
Navigli and Porta Genova’s vibrant nightlife makes these neighborhoods very safe to live in.
Porta Romana has quite some great spots up its sleeve; from its own food district with some of the most affordable restaurants to a lively weekly market via Crema. And, of course, the unmissable Fondazione Prada art center located in the old Largo Isarco distillery. Not far away, you’ll find Plastic, a legendary gay-friendly nightclub, once frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol.
This safe, mostly residential area is just a few stops away from the City Center of Milan. You will have some great transportation options such as taking a bus, tram, or metro.
This area is predominantly populated by students and professionals as it’s close to many universities and co-working spaces. It’s also one of the best places to go celebrity spotting!
Porta Romana is a quiet and safe neighborhood to live in. It’s a good option for those who prefer a more laid-back surrounding but want to be close to the bustle of the city.
Città Studi and Lambrate are located in the northwest of Milan. What used to be an industrial area has been revitalized into a flourishing hub of innovation. Factories and old warehouses were converted into galleries and designer lofts.
If you’re a student looking for cheap student housing, Città Studi and Lambrate might just be the way to go. Though it is outside of the City Center, you’ll find yourself within walking or biking distance from Polytechnic University and several science departments of the University of Milan.
And don’t worry, of course, you can find public transportation options that can get you to other areas of Milan in mere minutes. You can also find dining, nightlife, and affordable shopping in these Milanese suburbs.
The neighborhoods of Città Studi and Lambrate are especially popular among students coming from other Italian cities and abroad. However, you’ll also find a presence of the local tradition due to a strongly rooted local working class.
Lambrate in particular is deemed as the Italian Brooklyn. During Milan Design Week, Lambrate Design District hosts hundreds of creatives from all over the world.
This thriving lively residential zone is safe (and fun!) to live in.
Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi used to be considered industrial zones as well. Yet, the city, needing more areas for locals and visitors alike, began to redevelop it a few years ago. Today, this hip and modern business district is very popular with young professionals. It is loved for its bustling train station, trendy architecture, coworking spaces, and numerous business headquarters.
In the center, you’ll find the Gae Aulenti square. It’s home to the 231-foot Unicredit Tower, the highest building in all of Italy. Nearby is another pair of skyscrapers, the Vertical Forest, which won the International Highrise Award in 2004. This sustainable residential housing covered in more than 20.000 plants could be a dream home for an expat family. Dreams, oh dreams!
These modern neighborhoods are a popular location for business travelers, professionals, and locals. And, well, anyone who can afford to live in this urban utopia! Need we say that this is an excellent area for students interested in architecture. Thankfully, you can find all different types houses for rent in Milan.
Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi are some of the wealthiest districts of Milan where you (and your family) would feel safe at all times.
Average rental prices in Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi:
Want to live in the heart of the city? With a generous budget in mind, you can immerse yourself in Milan’s lush history and culture in Centro Historico.
If you’re looking for a multicultural and LGBTQI+ friendly destination, Porta Venezia is a no-brainer.
Fusing art and history, Brera would make an excellent choice for those in pursuit of a bohemian lifestyle, and can afford it. It’s one of the most wanted places to live in as an expat. It offers access to a variety of facilities and entertainment without the hustle and bustle of the nearby City Center.
For students and young professionals seeking adventure, Navigli or Porta Genova might be the destinations to consider. The abundance of bars and vintage shops makes it an exciting area to live in.
Living close to the center for relatively affordable prices is possible in Porta Romana. It’s one of the quieter areas that would fit families and students on a budget.
Students on budget should look into housing options in Città Studi and Lambrate. But keep in mind that these areas are in high demand due to their affordability. So make sure to start to search rental apartments in Milan early.
Looking for a fast-paced metropolitan vibe? Professionals with a high disposable income might find their dream home in one of the luxurious residencies of Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi.
Now that you’ve reviewed our Neighborhood Guide for Milan, you're all set to choose the perfect rental in this attractive, welcoming city. A fantastic adventure now awaits you, whether you will be continuing your education in one of Milan’s acclaimed universities or beginning to climb the corporate ladder.
Enjoy your time in Milan and, as the locals like to say it, in bocca al lupo! (Good luck!)
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