It's aperitivo o'clock: explore Navigli in Milan

Blog       It's aperitivo o'clock: explore Navigli in Milan

Which is a must-have experience you can’t miss during your stay in Milan? This city is an incredible place for young professionals and students - we could say the best destination in Italy for those who pursue an international career. It has so many things to offer, to see and activities to do; but what you absolutely have to try at least once when you’re living here, is the famous “aperitivo” with your friends and roomies.

What is an aperitivo? The art of aperitivo is an actual Italian tradition that took place first in Milan. It is a drink/light meal - a kind of Italian version of the Spanish tapas - at the end of the workday: we can call it a warm up to dinner, since the meaning of this pre-meal is to whet the appetite. The concept of modern aperitif was created by Benedetto Carpano, the inventor of the vermouth in Turin, back in 1786. That’s why this kind of happy hours includes alcoholic beverages combined with aromas and flavors to stimulate the appetite, such as the famous Aperol Spritz (or wine for those who love classics).

If you want to enjoy this typical Milanese experience, Navigli is the best place where to go. So, here’s tips for your gatherings at aperitivo o’clock. Explore Navigli in Milan with us!

The best way to visit Navigli

If you don’t know this area yet, we are going to introduce it to you quickly: Navigli is the heart of the nightlife in Milan. It’s a bustling and charming area, home to uncountable bars where to go for delicious cocktails and where the famous aperitivo tradition comes to life. This area is split by the two canals Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, and both hosts several venues for your gatherings. Here you’ll be able to find both locals and  young internationals cheering and having the best time. 

You can explore Navigli in many ways; by walk, by bike, by living a unique food&wine experience or by exploring its hidden gems.

Discover the Navigli District 

Brief introduction for those who didn’t know it: Milan used to be a city of water, just like Venice. Don’t you believe it? Today it might look a modern metropolis, stuck in traffic jams and home to many skyscrapers and modern huge buildings. But, believe it or not, the river was the main character in Milan city, and the canals (Navigli, in Italian), nowadays, are the witnesses of this history. Let’s introduce them: Bereguardo, Naviglio Grande, Paderno, Pavese, Martesana. These five canals have been constructed to connect the city to the neighboring lakes, Como and Maggiore and to the Po’ river, in order to allow the transportation of food, groceries, arms and to develop of any kind of trading commerce.

Nowadays, Naviglio Grande is the most popular among them all. Here you can find a bohemian atmosphere spread around this bustling neighbourhood, with its many bars, cafes, trendy shops, flea markets, that makes it quite different from the other areas of the fancy Milan.

Aperitivo Tour in Navigli and wine tasting in Milan

Milan local people use to gather here and chill after a day of hard work, to enjoy the sunset over this amusing watery landscape. Check the following places, some of the favourite ones among the foodies of the city:

  • Capetown Café: not only good drinks. A true Italian aperitivo includes a buffet, where you can pick the best culinary local goods such as meat, cheese, pasta and much more.
  • Rita: this one of a kind cocktail bar is a little far from the crowded Navigli canals, hidden in a cute narrow street. This is the right place if you want to try some delicious finger food and enjoy some well-mixed drinks.
  • MAG Café: a more intimate space, where a glass of wine or a quality cocktail and a plate of ham and Italian cheese will be the perfect witnesses of your conversations, surrounded by a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Ginger Cocktail Lab: for those who want to have a vegetarian or vegan experience, this lovely bar is the perfect place, where to try a delicious food buffet and creative cocktails made out of fresh ingredients.
  • Carlo e Camilla in Segheria: welcome to a magical garden resembling the atmosphere of “Alice in Wonderland”. Here you can find unique drinks accompanied by typical Italian plates, with touches of modern cuisine techniques.
  • Fonderie Milanesi: is the place where the traditional vibes come back to life dressed up as modern and elegant place, boasting a beautiful outdoor garden. Here you can try several quality dishes from the local tradition and drink the delicious Aperol Spritz or choose one among the wide variety of experimental cocktails.

Explore the secret places in Navigli

What is a stroll around Navigli without spotting some of the most beautiful sights hidden in this enchanting neighborhood in Milan? Here are some places you can’t miss:

  • The “Darsena”: recently renewed, it was the ancient dock of the city, where Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese meet. Once a port, today it turned into a nice walkable area where to taste an ice cream with your friends.
  • “Vicolo della Lavandaia” and “Botteghe degli artisti”: running off of Naviglio Grande, you’ll find Vicolo della Lavandaia (washerwoman), where in the past women used to come to wash and scrub clothes on the stone. Nowadays is a lovely street surrounded by other narrow and colored paths, where to find cute handicraft shops.
  • Vintage Flea Market: every city, also the most incredibly modern ones, has a unique flea market where to find some vintage treasures.Here, Mercatone dell’Antiquariato takes place every Sunday.
  • Mercato Metropolitano: located close to Porta Genova, this is the perfect place where to stop and refill for a lunch break or to shop. It’s been designed as a farmer’s market and here you’ll be able to find sustainable shops, street food, vegetable gardens, areas for workshops and also an open-air cinema!
  • San Cristoforo sul Naviglio church and Basilica di San Lorenzo church: as a typical Italian city, Milan boasts uncountable churches. In Navigli you’ll find two beautiful places that worth visiting. San Cristoforo church is one of the most ancient of the city and what makes it truly unique is the view it offers overlooking the Naviglio Grande. While with San Lorenzo church you can admire a combination of styles: an old Roman amphitheatre meeting a beautiful Byzantine chapel. 

Milan is home to many beautiful places that will make your stay unforgettable. Don’t wait more, pack your bag and explore them with your friends!



Marketing and Communication Coordinator

Beatrice, an italian passionate about coffee (and food) that fell in love with Madrid, its international vibes and its latin rhythms. She's a dreamer that loves telling stories and travels through her photos.


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