Due in large part to its population of young professionals, Milan is regarded as having one of Europe's best nightlife scenes. From bars to discos to divey pubs, locals take their partying seriously. The city may be Italy's capital of fashion and culture, but it also lays claim to another accolade as the best place in Italy for an "aperitivo." The happy hour custom of a drink or two accompanied by tasty snacks, aperitivo might have been invented in the city, but regardless of its origins, it definitely was perfected here and is central to nightlife in Milan.
Aperitivo is the first course in Milan's rich and exciting nightlife scene, which ranges from hipster craft cocktail bars, craft beer dens, and all-night discos to elegant terraces with city views, or jazz clubs hosting premier international musicians.
When it comes to nightlife in Milan there's something for every taste and there are even places where you can bring the kids. Read on for our guide to the best nightlife neighborhoods and venues in Milan.
Best Areas for Nightlife in Milan
Here are some of the top neighborhoods for going out after dark in Milan.
For an upscale evening out: Brera. Despite its artsy, shabby-chic appearances, this charming neighborhood north of La Scala opera house draws a fairly refined crowd to its cute sidewalk eateries and wine bars.
Boho hangout for locals: Navigli. Although tourists make it as far out as Navigli, this funky area roped in by two historic canals teems with cool bars and clubs mostly frequented by locals.
For drinks and views to savor: Piazza del Duomo. Classy bars and restaurants line the sidewalks on Piazza del Duomo as tourists and unjaded locals savor the views of the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and other landmarks.
Young and up and coming: Isola. Set northwest of Garibaldi train station and away from the touristic center, Isola is hip and a little divey, with a bevy of clubs for listening to live music.
Milan's gay nightlife: Via Lecco. A cluster of LGBT-friendly bars and businesses have earned Via Lecco the tag "gay street." Red Cafe, Leccomilano, and Mono Bar are the anchors here.
For velvet ropes and disco dancing: Corso Como. Don't even bother trying to get into any of the exclusive dance clubs along Corso Como and nearby streets near Garibaldi station unless you're dressed to impress and ready to slip the doorman 20 euros to get you on the list.
- Mag Cafè: A Navigli haunt with artfully poured cocktails, a vintage vibe, and good aperitivo snacks.
- Radetzky: This classic Milanese bar retains an '80s feel, does a great aperitivo hour, and is kid-friendly—they'll love the hand-cut potato chips.
- Dry Milano: Pizza might typically be paired with beer or wine, but at Dry Milano, it's pizza and cocktails in a posh setting—and it works! Near the hotel-laden Porta Nuova and Central Station zones.
- GinO12: There's lots to love about Milan's first gin bar, including its industrial-chic Navigli setting, long gin list, and one-of-a-kind cocktails.
- Dolce & Gabbana Bar Martini: As sultry and glamourous as a Dolce & Gabbana gown, this sexy bar serves lunch, aperitivo, or Sicilian-inspired dinners on stylish Corso Venezia.
- Rita & Cocktails: This Navigli institution is beloved for its bespoke cocktails and friendly, unpretentious ambiance.
- N’Ombra de Vin: A cavernous wine cellar with an unmatched selection in Milan, N’Ombra de Vin also does great antipasto plates of salumi and cheese.
- Nottingham Forest: Kitschy, eclectic decor and cocktails that are seriously creatively poured and presented make this Porta Monforte haunt worth the hike.
- Terrazza Triennale: This upscale, romantic spot in Parco Sempione boasts views of the city skyscrapers from a delightful outdoor terrace or glass and girders interior bar.
Discos and Dance Clubs
- Hollywood Rythmoteque: This glamorous, legendary Corso Como disco opens at 11 p.m. and closes at 5 a.m. Pre-book to avoid the wait at the door, or book an entire table to party in style.
- Tocqueville 13: Open Tuesday and Friday to Sunday nights, the themed parties here are the stuff of disco legend. You pretty much have to be young, sexy and well-dressed to get in.
- Amnesia Milano: Celebrity DJs, a casual dress code, and a dimly lit setting with fantastic light shows keep this club, set well east of Centro, packed on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Old Fashion Club: Set in Parco Sempione, this stylish restaurant and nightclub draws fashionistas to its nightly dinners and themed evenings, complete with go-go dancers, DJs, and live music.
- Il Gattopardo Cafè: Set in an old church with soaring ceilings, fashionable Gattopardo has a huge dancefloor and a regal ambiance.
- Bere Buona Birra: Near Porta Romana, this no-nonsense beer pub has simple decor, a rotating selection of beers on tap, and a bring-your-own-food policy.
- Lambiczoon: Also in Porta Romana, this place has a connoisseurs' selection of specialty beers, plus good burgers and antipasti in a no-frills setting.
- Birrificio Lambrate: A great selection of draft beers and comforting pub fare make this place, with two locations near Milano Centrale, a low-key favorite.
- Tipota Pub: It's fine to bring the kids to this friendly, uber-casual pub near the Navigli offering out-of-the-ordinary beers and pretty ordinary pub grub.
- Alcatraz: This enormous live music venue in Zona Farini is legendary in Milan and offers live music most nights of the week, including from known acts and indie bands.
- Blue Note: Sister to the famous New York jazz club of the same name, this Isola club offers dinner shows and almost nightly shows from top international musicians.
- Nidaba Theatre: Blues, bluegrass, country, and soul—plus a bar. It's all on the ticket at this delightfully divey Navigli concert hall.
Tips for Going Out in Milan
- Public transportation in Milan runs until 2:30 a.m. at the latest. Uber and taxis are available if you're out even later.
- Aperitivo hour typically runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Most bars will stay open until midnight or later. Discos, some of which don't even open until 11 p.m., stay open until the very wee hours.
- Cover charges will vary depending on whether live entertainment is offered. Most bars do not have cover charges.
- Tipping in Italy is a mixed bag. While it's not expected, servers appreciate you leaving a few extra euros, and if you get exceptional service, you should definitely leave a tip. In some places, "servizi" will have been added to your bill so be sure to check before tipping.