10 Must-Do Things in Milan at Night - Recommended by a Local

By Emily Saylor An American currently living her Italian adventure in Milan.

Updated: 16 January 2020

It is no secret that Milan’s rich history and forward-thinking design scene make it one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. But, there is sometimes a common misconception that there isn’t much to do in Milan at night, besides going out for food and drinks. Well, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t true! Since the turn of the century, the city has modernized greatly, and now contains a great selection of unique experiences. Alongside this, Milan’s nightlife continues to be some of the most extravagant and exciting on the continent. I want to celebrate this, and share all my favorite things to do in Milan at night. There’s so much more to Milan's nightlife than aperitivo - although it's a good place to start!

Have a night at the Scala Theatre

Content page entry image Have a night at the Scala Theatre

If you're looking for a unique experience in Milan at night then a visit to the magnificent Scala Theatre is a must! It's located at the Piazza della Scala square opposite the Palazzo Marino. The theater is considered one of the most prestigious ballet and opera theaters in the world. Just seeing the inside of the multi-tiered hall is breath-taking. This is one of the more exclusive things to do in Milan at night, and ticket prices can be quite high, especially for the more sought-after events. There are sometimes tickets available at the door, but it's best to book in advance. You can book tickets at the box office, which is open seven days a week. Even if you’re just spending a short time in Milan, it’s worth checking the website to see what’s on. If you do choose to indulge in one glorious night at the Scala, make sure you dress appropriately - no sneakers or jeans!

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Go for a night out in Brera District

Content page entry image Go for a night out in Brera District

Once this area of Milan was the creative hub of the entire city, filled with inspired writers, painters, and sculptures hoping to make a name for themselves. Now, it’s been transformed into the center of Milan’s fashion and design industries, housing many high-end shops and design boutiques. It also just so happens to be one of the most exciting and luxurious places to go to in Milan at night. World-class restaurants and bars spill out onto the sidewalk underneath some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. Have an afternoon spritz in the incredibly stylish Emporio Armani Caffè, located on the 7th floor of the Armani Hotel. Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm, and dress code is smart. You could also enjoy some amazing aperitivo in Fioraio Bianchi Caffè on Via Montebello, a part restaurant part flower shop that’s one of the most unique places to eat in the city. But spending an evening here is not the cheapest of things to do in Milan at night, so if you’re traveling on a shoestring, it wouldn’t be your first choice.

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Get city views at Torre Branca

Content page entry image Get city views at Torre Branca

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Spending a day lounging around in the city’s historic Sempione park is already one of the most popular free things to do in Milan. The park contains countless sights that should be high on anyone’s itinerary, but one of the best is the Torre Branca viewing platform. This is a steel structure that stands over one-hundred meters high, making it one of the highest points in all of Milan. What makes it truly unique is that it is open until midnight most nights, making it the best place to visit for those looking for some great Milan night-time sightseeing. Visit during sunset or even when it’s dark to see all of the city’s famous landmarks illuminated below. There is just a small fee of four Euros, and then you can take the elevator to the top for some amazing city views. This is one of my favorite ways to round off a busy day of sightseeing! Torre Branca is closed on Mondays, and each day has slightly varying opening and closing times, so check the website on your chosen day to make sure you’re not caught out. 

Explore the Porta Nuova district

Content page entry image Explore the Porta Nuova district

This neighborhood has turned from an industrial landscape into one of the top tourist attractions in Milan that features some of the city's most daring architecture. Walking around this area at night is one of my favorite things to do in Milan because there is always such a buzz, and the buildings look spectacular. Highlights include Milan's tallest building, the Unicredit Tower, and the Bosco Verticale, a stunning skyscraper that has greenery overhanging from every balcony. There are also many bars and restaurants in this area, especially in the Piazza Gae Aulenti area within the Unicredit tower complex. The district has become an important part of Milan nightlife, so make sure you stop for a drink one night during your trip. 

Spend a night in a Christmas market

Content page entry image Spend a night in a Christmas market

This is very dependent on the time of year that you visit, but for me, this is one of the most magical things to do in Milan at night. There’s nothing more special than exploring one of the city’s many magical Christmas Markets and then ending the night sipping on mulled wine and a slice of traditional Milanese Panettone. Due to the city’s northern location, the temperature can drop to freezing around December, making it feel even more festive! There are many markets around the city, but the most popular one is Mercatino di Natale which takes place in the Piazza del Duomo. The market opens daily from 29 November 2019 to 6 January 2020 (excluding 25th December), and the opening ceremony will take place on 28 November 2019. The location underneath the spectacular Milan Cathedral makes this one of the most picturesque markets anywhere in Europe. Here you can find many stalls selling crafts, Christmas gifts and, delicious seasonal food and drinks.

Do an evening tour of Milan Duomo

Content page entry image Do an evening tour of Milan Duomo

A visit to the Milan Cathedral is probably one of the most popular things for tourists to do anywhere in Milan. The building dates back to the fourteenth century and is one of the most important historical sites in the city. Already one of the most beautiful buildings in Milan, it takes on an even more magical aura when statues and spires are illuminated at night. You can book tickets online, but entrance tickets for the Duomo Museum and the Archaeological Area are only available for purchase from the ticket offices. You can also book an evening rooftop tour of the Duomo, which will give you some of the very best views of some of Milan’s most famous landmarks as well as enable you to learn some of the fascinating history behind the building itself. There are options to book individual or group tours of up to 25 people. This is a must for those seeking some of the most unique Milan night sightseeing experiences.

Go to an outdoor cinema

Content page entry image Go to an outdoor cinema

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Milan offers a few great outdoor cinema options, but Cinema Bianchini is truly special. They aim to create cinemas in some of the most interesting and unique spaces in the city. Their most famous location is on top of the roof of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which offers some incredible views of the Milan Cathedral and the Galleria itself. Unfortunately, like many outdoor cinemas across Italy, this is only open in the summer months, so be sure to check the website for the upcoming summer dates. It isn’t all bad news though, as Bianchini has opened a winter pop-up cinema, on a boat in the canals of the Navigli neighborhood. This was open only until the 6th of January 2019, and there is no confirmation if it will return, but I’m sure that Bianchini will continue to innovate so keep track of their updates!

Nottingham Forest Bar

Content page entry image Nottingham Forest Bar

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Nottingham Forest is a popular bar which is recognized around the world as being one of the very best cocktail bars. Locals and visitors can never resist! Their ambition and creativity make for some of the most exquisite flavored cocktails. The bar has over forty years of experience in mixology and it's menu contains drinks that have been brought back from travels across the globe. The décor follows this trend, with items from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean hanging around the tiny bar space. It is located just over a kilometer east of the Milan Cathedral. So if you want to experience the very best of Milan nightlife, then a visit is nothing less than obligatory. The bar can, however, get very busy so make sure you come down early to avoid a queue. They are open from 6 pm to 2 am most nights, but are closed on Mondays.

Go for some late-night ice cream

Content page entry image Go for some late-night ice cream

When it comes to trying exquisite gelato, it’s no surprise that Milan has more than a few places I could recommend. The city has an incredible selection of ice-cream shops, both new and old, and the best thing is that they’re all open until late in the evening. One of the best is La Bottega del Gelato Cardelli, located near the Porta Nuovo district. It's open until 10 pm, making it a perfect option for a sweet snack at the end of a long day of shopping. Another gelateria which I’d recommend is located in the far south-west of the city, but well worth the trip. It’s called La Gelateria Della Musica and is a unique spot where all of the ice creams are named after songs or musicians. Their flavors are seasonal, so don’t arrive with a fixed idea in your head of what you’d like to try. 

Enjoy aperitivo in Navigli

Content page entry image Enjoy aperitivo in Navigli

In the southwest of the city lies the increasingly popular area known as Navigli. Its series of canals were designed by the great Leonardo da Vinci on a visit to Milan. Which unsurprisingly makes for one of the most picturesque places in the city. The area has become popular with independent design shops as well as many great restaurants and bars. This is a great area for aperitivo, a traditional Italian custom of sharing small plates and drinks. UGO Cocktail Bar and Trattoria Madonnina are some of the best places for aperitivo. Even if you only have a short time in Milan, aperitivo on the Navigli is a must!