Cafes and Restaurants

For the first time visitor to Milan, seeing the beautiful Duomo di Milano (a Gothic masterpiece) is a must. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away, and it is still one of my favorite things to see every time I am in the city.

List of Cafes and Restaurants

For the first time visitor to Milan, seeing the beautiful Duomo di Milano (a Gothic masterpiece) is a must. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away, and it is still one of my favorite things to see every time I am in the city.

In front of the Cathedral, Piazza Duomo holds court like the city’s grand reception hall. It is a busy spot, filled with people meeting and greeting, and then heading off to the shops and cafes that skirt the Piazza.

It is a wonderful area to see and experience, and I highly recommend spending some time there. If you have the time to explore a little deeper you can get further away from the crowds, discovering some of the history and beautiful spots of Milan along the way.

Here are a few of my favorite places in Milan. They are still in the center- and all are easy walks from Piazza Duomo, but I have listed the closest metro station in case you are short on time.

Neighborhoods of Milan

BRERA

Metro: Lanza (green line)

The Brera neighborhood, situated north of the Duomo and often described as bohemian and artsy, is filled with galleries, shops, restaurants, and the historic Pinacoteca di Brera.

Brera is a grat place to wander and get lost. Although it is small and not far at all from the Duomo, you feel like being in another world as you stroll down narrow streets and alleys, popping into shops or art galleries.

You can reach it from the center by walking to La Scala Opera house and turning down via Giuseppe Verdi which runs right into Brera.

Eat + Drink:

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè: A great place for lunch, dinner, coffee or aperitivo. You will love being surrounded by flowers in a lovely retro atmosphere.

Tramé: A newcomer to Milan, this casual + cozy place serves Venetian style sandwiches, snacks and delicious cocktails including the Spritzetti, their version of the Venetian spritz.

See + Do:

Pinacoteca di Brera: An important collection of Italian art at the historic Palazzo Brera in the heart of the Brera. Walk into the courtyard to see the bronze statue of Napoleon as the Roman god Mars.

Neighborhood Market: Thursday mornings at Piazza San Marco

NAVIGLI

Metro: Porta Genova (green line)

A lovely longer walk (or short metro ride) through the city leads you to the Navigli district, south-west of the Duomo.

Navigli is known for its restaurants, cafés and bars that stand shoulder to shoulder along the streets lining its canals. It is a fantastic place to people watch, anytime of day. The neighborhood buzzes with life after dark, it is a well known nightlife hotspot in the city.

The neighborhood of Navigli also hosts a monthly antiques market the last Sunday of each month. Its treasures spill out along the Naviglio Grande canal, which was designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

This historic neighborhood is a photographers (and treasure hunters) dream. Wander the hundreds of stalls and find everything from old records, antique furniture and vintage telephones, to furs, books and jewelry.

If your legs get tired, there are so many places to choose from for a bite to eat or drink.

Eat + Drink:

Taglio: A favorite café of mine, also a gourmet store, bar + restaurant. A great place to stop any time of day.

El Brellin: A beautiful restaurant with traditional Milanese cuisine and some modern menu items too. I love their romantic garden, tucked away from the canal.

Trattoria Pugliese Acquasala: Specialties of Puglia from land and sea in a lovely airy setting.

See + Do:

After exploring the Navigli, walk to Chiesa San Lorenzo Maggiore. This church is the oldest in Milan, dating from the 4th century A.D. and is unique with its octagonal floor plan.

Another reason this place is so special is the Colonne di San Lorenzo, a spectacular Roman ruin in the center of Milan. This Roman wall is even older than the church and is a popular meeting spot as there are many bars and restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood.

PORTA GARIBALDI

Metro: Moscova

I love this area- it is a great place to walk and shop, eat and people watch. Stop for coffee in Largo la Foppa, walk up Corso Garibaldi towards Porta Garibaldi. Shop at Eataly and one of my favorite shops, High tech. Visit 10 Corso Como and take in some art and the view from the roof top.

There are so many restaurants and cafes that line Corso Garibaldi and Corso Como, it will be hard to pick just one for your lunch or dinner…

Eat + Drink:

Pandenus Café (Largo la Foppa): A favorite on a lovely little tree lined square.

Eataly: Stop here for shopping and stay for coffee or lunch. (Many places to eat inside the store)

Artest- Il Thai Snack Bar: Along Corso Garibaldi, this little Thai café has outdoor seating and great lunch specials.

See + Do:

10 Corso Como: Hidden from plain sight, this ultra modern store also has a gallery (see below), bookshop, restaurant, roof top bar and a café in a gorgeous hidden garden.

Galleria Carla Sozzani (10 Corso Como): A free gallery with rotating exhibits- take the spiral staircase up and see the view from the rooftop deck while you are there!

High Tech: A hidden shop across the street from Eataly- it is a fun maze of rooms filled with gifts, home decor, kitchen items and more.

PIAZZA DUOMO

Back to the Duomo- it seems crazy not to share a few things with you about this area…Here are some ideas to make the most of your time there.

Definitely visit the inside of the Cathedral, and take the steps or the elevator to the viewing terraces on the roof. From the top there is an incredible close up look at the spires and architecture of the Duomo, as well as a bird’s eye view of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and surrounding streets.

Aperitivo with a view: The top floor of the department store La Rinascente is a food lovers paradise. Filled with gourmet food and small restaurants, it is definitely worth a visit. The best part of the 7th floor is the terrace with a view. Have aperitivo or lunch on the terrace and enjoy what may be the world’s best view of the Duomo. You feel like you can almost reach out and touch it!

Tip: if you don’t want to take 7 floors of escalators and wind your way through the crowded store, enter on the side street, via S. Raffaele. Look for the Rinascente entrance on your right and take the elevator straight up.

I love to stop for a drink at Bar Camparini, (aka Zucca) at the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Caffé dates back to 1867 when the Galleria was inaugurated.

It was an important meeting place for artists and thinkers of the time- including the great Italian musicians Puccini, Verdi, and Toscanini who would meet for drinks with friends and artists after the show at nearby La Scala Opera House.

It is a stunning space with colorful mosaic tiles on the walls and a wooden inlaid bar. Join the locals at the bar, rather than sitting at the tables where the price of everything is much higher.

Bar Camparino

Duomo di Milano

La Rinascente Restaurants