Milan Canals: The Art of Aperitivo in Navigli

Milan Canals

Aperitivo is a tradition like no other in Milan! The pre-dinner custom can be seen all over the city, but our favorite place is on the canals of Milan. Navigli is a special area in Milan where colorful bars and restaurants line the water. Here you can experience one of the most unique neighborhoods in the city, and enjoy some delicious drinks and food with it!

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Quick History of Navigli Milan

First of all, you should know that the Canals of Milan are actually artificial. Yes, that’s right! The two canals were built between the 12th and 16th centuries to connect to the rivers of Ticino and Adda.

Much of the Milan Canals around the city were constructed between 1439 and 1475 using 25 different valleys. The legendary Leanardo da Vinci helped to create a system of dams in Milan. They were even used to transport marble for the construction of the world-renowned Milan Cathedral!

With the invention of trains and automobiles, the canals became less used over time for transportation. Although they do not rival those of the city of Venice, they still have plenty of historical significance.

Milan Canals: The word Navigli = Canals. Just so there’s no confusion! 

Navigli Milan

About the Milan Canals

Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese are the two main waterways of Milan. Today you won’t see as many boats in the water, but there is so much life in the evening! In fact, Navigli Milan is one of the best areas to experience nightlife in the city. 

Pavese is much quieter than its counterpart, as Naviglio Grande is where the majority of the restaurants are located. Here you’ll find every style and type of bar you’re looking for. Yet, the focus is of course on Aperitivo in Milan! 

Naviglio Grande Location


The Art of Aperitivo in Milan

Aperitivo is a special period after work and before dinner to socialize with friends. It’s a time in Italy to relax and enjoy a snack and typically starts around 6pm. However, in Navigli Milan it’s much more than that!

Many places will bring you a free snack of chips, olives, or popcorn. At many of the best spots, you’ll even have access to a whole buffet of food. This form of Aperitivo in Milan will cost between 8 and 12 Euros.

The buffets have everything from Italian cold cuts to fresh fruit, pizza, and pasta. If you couldn’t tell by the pictures, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth! For more of the best things to do in Milan check out our blog below. 

10 Fun Things to do in Milan Italy on Your First Visit

Aperitivo in Milan Guide

Best Aperitivo Bars in Navigli

There are so many great places to choose from in the Navigli district. Mag Cafe, Spritz Navigli Milano, & Manhattan were a few of our favorites, but there are endless spots to enjoy Aperitivo in this part of Milan! We recommend walking down one side of the canal before crossing the bridge and returning on the other. 

Aperitivo in Milan is the perfect way to start your evening off after a day of exploring. We should warn you that you better plan for a late dinner to fully embrace the Aperitivo life. Either way, it’s so worth it for this epic foodie experience in Milan! 

Navigli Milan Bars

Have any questions on the Milan Canals or want to share your own favorite Aperitivo bars in Navigli? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

 Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

Where to Stay in Milan Italy

Ultra LuxuryFour Seasons Hotel Milano – Located in Milan’s shopping district, this luxury hotel is an oasis in the city center. Built in a 15th-century convent, the Four Seasons has everything you could ask for from a luxury hotel. 

Unique HotelGalleria Vik Milano – High-end hotel set overlooking the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Each room has its own unique design and you’ll be near all of the best things to do in Milan Italy.

ApartmentESTH Suite Apartment del Don 8 – These stylish mini-apartments have a hotel feel with extra space and kitchenette included. Quiet area, yet not far from Piazza Duomo.

Hostel Life Ostello Bello – This popular and vibrant hostel has the perfect location. You can pick from dorm or private rooms and enjoy the full kitchen, sun terraces, and even hammocks! 

For more places to stay near the Milan Canals you can explore the latest prices here!

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Milan Canals

Italy Travel Planning 

Explore Italy: Bologna Portico di San LucaBologna Street Food 

 Flights: We always check Skyscanner and Kayak to search for cheap flights. That’s how we got from Rome to Venice for under $30 USD!

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Italian road trip! 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. Book a Florence winery tour, Capri Boat trip or street food tour with a local guide in Rome! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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