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Navigli Canals: Tickets and Tours

While Venice is the most famous Italian city for its winding canals, Milan also has its own picturesque streams of water. Since the waterways were created in the 12th century, they have been used for transportation and in more recent times, tourism.

Leonardo Da Vinci played a large role in the design of the canals. The neighborhood itself is filled with bustling bars, unusual boutiques and antique market stalls. Combined, this all makes a tour of Navigli canals an essential part of everyone's Milan itinerary.

Where are Navigli canals located?

The Navigli canals are named after the neighborhood they meander through. The Navigli district is situated in the southwest of the city and is easy to access from Milano Centrale station.

The line 2 subway takes you directly to the area and takes just over 20 minutes. The ticket costs just €2. If you choose to take a taxi, the journey to Navigli takes around 10 minutes and you can expect to pay between €13 and €16.

What are the best things to do in Navigli canals?

Vicolo dei Lavandai

Known as the "washerwoman alley" in Navigli, the Vicolo dei Lavandai is an enchanting place. You can close your eyes as you amble along and imagine its past life as a hub of laundering.

You can see remnants of the past in the alley with its hand-built structures. While it may no longer be used for washing, the street is lively and full of restaurants and bars.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

The church of San Lorenzo was originally built in the 4th century and has subsequently been rebuilt and repaired many times since. The church is Milan's oldest and is decorated with artistic mosaics.

If you want to see relics from thousands of years ago, head to the crypt to see ancient Roman artifacts from a nearby amphitheater. It is free to enter and opening times are 8:00 AM until 6:30 PM Monday to Saturday and 9 AM until 7 PM on Sundays.

The Naviglio Grande is the bigger of the two Milan canals and can be explored on or off the water. If you choose to hop on a boat, you'll be enthralled by the cultural sites dotting its banks.

By land, Naviglio Grande is a culinary delight lined with an abundance of bars and restaurants. The Mercatone dell’Antiquariato is a weekly market that happens every Sunday next to the canal, with hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of unique items.

What are the best tours to visit Navigli canals?

There are plenty of tours of Navigli and its canals to interest everyone.

A private walking tour is the best way to see any neighborhood through the eyes of its locals. You'll have full control over your jaunt and your guide will cater your tour to your personal interests. You'll find hidden gems that only residents know about and have plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Some of the local hot spots you'll see on your walking tour of Navigli canals are the Basilica of St. Eustorgio as well as the Naviglio Pavese and the Naviglio Grande. You'll receive an explanation of the twisting canal network and how it has been used throughout time, dating back to the Middle Ages.

Milan 2-hour private segway tour

For a fun tour of the city streets, choose a private segway tour that covers much more of Navigli than you would see on foot. Having a licensed guide helps you to discover Milan in a new light.

Starting in the center of Milan, the tour cruises gently along visiting cultural gems and landmarks. These include the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie which is home to the painting of "The Last Supper".

Continuing on to the waterside, you'll head to the port of La Darsena and learn about the importance of the canals in the city.

Italian cooking class in a loft near Navigli or a historical palace

For those who are more interested in cannelloni than canals, a traditional cooking class is just one of the many activities by Navigli canals.

With the dedication of a private guide, you'll learn how to make delicious fresh pasta or gnocchi, followed by the mother of Italian desserts — tiramisu. You can choose your location and wine is included in your cooking experience.

Bike tours in Navigli are a casual affair. You'll hop on your bike near Porta Romana and take a slow cycle towards the canals. There will be a quick stop at the castle for a historical rundown of the magnificent building.

Journeying on, you'll take a break from cycling with a drink in one of the many bars on the bank of the canals. As the watering hole fills up, you'll have a chance to rub shoulders with the locals.

1-hour Navigli canal cruise

There's no better way to experience the canals than by cruise, and this water experience is limited to a small group of just 10.

You'll see various points of interest from the boat and you'll have an audio guide to fill you in on their significance. Among the sites are the founding place of Mascarpone cheese, the San Cristoforo church and the Vicolo dei Lavandai.

What are the prices of Navigli canal tours?

Walking tours of Navigli canals start at just €30 but you can expect to pay around €180 for a private guided excursion.

2-hour private segway tours include a guide and the rental of your Segway and safety equipment. The prices start at €70.

For an authentic Italian cooking class, you'll pay upwards of €65 and the class takes around 3 hours. You'll make two courses of fine Italian specialties and have wine included.

A bike excursion to Navigli canals with an Aperitivo costs €50 and includes bike rental, one drink, unlimited snacks and a guide.

Lastly, you can expect to pay €19 for a canal cruise that includes an audio guide and lasts an hour.

Where do Navigli canal tours start?

Tours in Navigli meet in a variety of locations depending on the activity. Walking tours in Milan in often start outside the Basilica Di Sant'Eustorgio, in the piazza.

Segway excursions begin in the center of the city, close to the Cordusio station on the red metro line, and travel out to Navigli. For activities near Navigli canals such as cooking classes, you'll be supplied with a direct address in the district.

Evening bike tours start at the Mc Donald's Piazzale Medaglie d'oro which is close to the Porta Romana station on the yellow metro line. Canal river cruises meet from an agreed-upon departure point next to the water.

When is the best time to visit Navigli canals?

Once you've visited the main monuments in the center of Milan including its famous Duomo, consider spending the rest of your trip exploring its neighborhoods.

It's worth taking an excursion to the Navigli canals where you'll experience a different and more relaxing view of the city.

While the district is a fantastic place to visit during the day, if you want to feel its heart, travel there at night. As the sun sets, Milanese residents flock to its many waterside bars and restaurants filling the neighborhood with life and soul.

Sunset is the perfect time for a tour of Navigli canals as the orange glow shimmers on the water and the street lights flicker on.

Travel tips

  • Many tours on Navigli canals and the surrounding area involve a lot of walking so be sure to wear appropriate shoes.
  • It's not necessary to wear activewear on a bike tour. Rather, you should just wear comfortable clothing.