Cruising the canals of MilanMilan, Italy
Forget the famed canals of Venice, there’s a new Italian waterway that’s quietly stealing the spotlight away from its Venetian neighbours. The canals of Milan, also known as Navigli, were once busy trade routes used to transport goods, produce and water. Nowadays, they snake through some of the coolest parts of Milan, bypassing bars, restaurants, boutique shops and galleries.
There are five main canal systems, including Naviglio Grande, Naviglio Pavese, Naviglio Martesana, Naviglio di Paderno and Naviglio di Bereguardo. And sure, you can stroll along the paths that line these waterways, but we think the best way to explore is the traditional way – by boat!
Cruising this water network is easy, and there are plenty of route to choose from, all of them focusing on different aspects of the city or winding through different neighbourhoods. The Naviglio Grande is the largest, oldest and busiest canal, and is fed by the Ticino River. Markets and musicians line this waterway during summer, which makes floating down the canal (Aperol Spritz in hand, of course), an entertaining affair.
The Naviglio Martesana offers a quieter route, with the 40-kilometre canal weaving through hidden gardens and gorgeous villas, while the Naviglio Pavese, which connects with the Naviglio Grande, and is said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself, flows out into the Darsena harbour.
- Put your feet up and relax, cruising the canals is one way of sightseeing that won’t leave you completely exhausted.
- From the shop-lined waterways to churches, historic buildings and even the outer Milanese suburbs and countryside, a canal cruise will allow you to see more of Milan that you expect.
- If you spot a restaurant, shop or attraction you want to check out, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to just stop the boat and jump out. You’ll need to remember these places for when you’re back on dry land.