Wanderlust Chloe

The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

Cinque Terre, Italy

From the stunning scenery of Lake Como, dramatic coastlines of Cinque Terre and the canals of Venice, to the culture, art and beauty of Milan, Florence and Rome, it’s time to plan the ultimate northern Italy road trip! 

When it comes to road trips, a journey through northern Italy offers some of the most varied scenery. One minute you’re faced with a view across a tranquil lake, the next you’re learning about the Romans with a trip around an ancient amphitheatre. 

There’s a variety of cuisines to sample too, with amazing fresh truffles in Turin and Alba, venetian cicchetti (snacks) in Venice and the delights of ‘appy hour’ (aperitivo hour) in Milan . You could even visit Emilia-Romagna, often referred to as the food capital of Italy, with cities like Bologna an absolute must-visit!

Oh and you’ve got a mix of activities on offer too. You can swim on the beaches of Cinque Terre, climb across the rooftop of Milan’s impressive Duomo, take a gondola ride in Venice or trace Romeo and Juliet’s love story in Verona.

Vineyards in the Treviso region of Italy

And the best part about a road trip through northern Italy? The freedom to veer off course from time to time! While I’ve suggested an Italy itinerary on the map below, I’d encourage creating your own route between places. It’s often when you find super special spots that aren’t in the guide books!

So rather than create one epic Italian road trip, I’ve divided the country in two! Read on for my northern Italy road trip or check out my route for an amazing  southern Italy road trip . 

Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

If you’ve got time on your side, then this northern Italy road trip is a great option. I’ve started it in Milan and ended in Rome, as they’re easy for flights. From the beauty of Lake Como to the gorgeous coastline in Cinque Terre, to impressive, historic cities including Venice, Florence and Rome, this Italy road trip has a bit of everything. It’ll definitely show you some of the most beautiful landscapes in Italy too.

If you’d rather break it up into smaller chunks, you could visit Milan, Lake Como and Cinque Terre across a week. I’d recommend taking a look at my guide to the best hidden gems in Italy too – you might find a few other stops to add to your route! 

Northern Italy Road Trip Map

I’ve used a map to plot the perfect route for your Northern Italy road trip . I recommend opening it another window to study in detail!

What to pack for your road trip

If you’re wondering what to pack for your trip, this guide to road trip essentials has you covered. From portable chargers to ways to stay entertained on long journeys, it’ll help you create your road trip packing list. I’ve also included lots of must-haves at the end of this post, to make the process much easier!

Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 1 – Milan

Milan, in Italy’s Lombardy region, is a unique blend of historical architecture, contemporary skyscrapers and well-known as a fashionista’s Italian city of choice. The icon of the city is the Duomo Cathedral. It’s the world’s largest gothic cathedral and is absolutely stunning!

I’d recommend heading up to the roof in the lift. I remember how stunning those views were, and you can literally wander all over the rooftop, taking in the details of the architecture and some vertigo-inducing views of the main piazza.

Duomo - Milan Cathedral

There are plenty more sights to see in Milan including the famous La Scala Opera House, a 15th century castle and Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. While you might associate Milan’s shopping scene just with high end designer stores, there’s actually something to suit every budget. One place you must go though is Galleria Vittorio Emanuale II – one of the oldest and most beautiful shopping malls in the world. It was constructed in 1867 to celebrate the unification of Italy and is decorated with stunning mosaics symbolising the different cities in the country.

Galleria Milan

On my last visit I learned all about the city’s love of ‘appy hour (the Italian version of happy hour!) Head to Navigli (Milan’s pretty canal area) and you’ll find plenty of great bars specialising in ‘appy hour! It’s not just about drinks – once you order a drink you get access to a buffet of small bites.

Navigli District in Milan

Milan is a great starting point for your northern Italy road trip. You can collect your car rental at one of the cities two airports, and after spending a couple of days exploring the city, you can head up to Lake Como or down to Cinque Terre.

READ MORE: One Day In Milan: A 24-Hour City Guide

Northern italy road trip: stop 2 – lake como.

Lake Como is just over an hour and a half from Milan , so you could easily visit for a day if you don’t fancy the overinflated prices of the area. It boasts spectacular alpine scenery, narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional pizzerias and boat trips across the lake. It’s a lovely contrast to Milan, so perfect if you want a variety of places on your Italy itinerary.

READ MORE: How to get from Milan to Lake Como

Lake Como Italy

I visited a few years ago and while there are dreamy hotels like Grand Hotel Tremezzo where you could splurge your entire Italian road trip budget, you can also visit Lake Como on a budget !  There’s a hostel, some cheap pizzerias and well… looking at the lake is free!

The pool at Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy

Como is the largest town and has a lively café culture, gothic-style cathedral and museums. Meanwhile, the famous town of Bellagio is a great place to shop for souvenirs, stop for a gelato or enjoy a romantic waterside dinner.

You can reach Bellagio from Como by boat for around 9.50 EUR (£8, $11) per person. If you’re visiting for a special occasion, I’d recommend stopping for lunch or dinner at Villa d’ Este , the location of many celebrity weddings and events over the years!

For a thorough plan, I’d recommend reading my guide to the top things to do in Lake Como – it’s full of handy travel tips.

Lake Como and Bellagio Mist

Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 3 – Verona  

Continuing from Milan or Lake Como you can travel east to Verona in the Veneto region, or southwest towards Genoa and Cinque Terre. If you choose the Verona route as part of your Italy itinerary you can look forward to exploring 1st century AD Verona Arena , Piazza Bra with its gelaterias and fine restaurants and the house which inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

northern italy road trips

For the best views of the city, climb to the top of Torre dei Lamberti in the heart of the Verona. I’d also recommend a walking tour of the city to learn all about its history.

Looking out over Verona

While you can drive to Venice, I’d say a less stressful option is to leave your car in Verona and catch the train to Venice. Otherwise you’ll find yourself paying for overpriced car parks, and negotiating some pretty chaotic roads! In comparison, the train journey takes just over an hour and costs approx 9.50 EUR (£8, $11) per person. 

Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 4 – Venice

No Italy road trip planner would be complete without a trip to Venice. Spend your days floating under the Bridge of Sighs, browsing handmade Venetian masks, learning how gondolas are built in Dorsoduro, or exploring the magnificent artwork of Doge’s Palace.

Beautiful views of Venice at dusk

For the best photos head to the top of St. Mark’s or Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. If you’re looking for unique souvenirs, consider taking a water taxi across the lagoon to Murano to see skilled glassblowers in action. In the evenings you can soak up Venice’s romantic vibes, with a drink in a wine bar, an evening at a jazz club or a delicious dinner right by the water. 

Colourful houses in Murano at sunset

Venice is hard to do on a budget, so if you’re lacking funds, consider my idea of basing yourself in Verona and taking a day trip to Venice by train.

READ MORE: The Best Day Trips From Venice

Northern italy road trip: stop 5 – cinque terre.

This picturesque coastal area of Liguria, Italy is famous for its boldly-coloured cascading houses, rugged coastlines and picture-postcard views. It looks too perfect to be real and has been on my dream Italy itinerary for a long time. I hope I make it there soon!

Cinque Terre translates as ‘five earths’ and consists of five villages – Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Manarola. As the villages are difficult to drive in with narrow winding streets, I’d recommend enjoying some hiking in Cinque Terre . Alternatively, head for La Spezia or Porto Venere and jump on a ferry or train from there. Once there, enjoy the food, stunning views, take a dip in the sea, hop on a boat and enjoy some world class sunsets!

Cinque Terre, Italy

It’s a magical part of Italy, and while it gets busy during the summer, if you can time your visit for just out of the peak seasons, you’ll have a great time. 

Cinque Terre, Italy - a great stop on your Italy road trip

Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 6 – Florence

Florence sits in the heart of Tuscany, and is within easy reach of Cinque Terre or Venice/Verona depending on what route you decide to take on your Italy road trip. The city is famous for its striking medieval cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, with its distinctive red-brick cupola.

Other must see landmarks in Florence include 13th century Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Galleries and Ponte Vecchio bridge, which is lined with jewellery shops. If you’re travelling to Florence on a budget start with a look around open-air Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria where you can check out some iconic sculptures of mythical legends for free. Feeling hungry? Don’t miss San Lorenzo Market – a great place to pick up some tasty Italian delicacies, including meats and cheeses.

Florence, Italy

Then for the best panoramic city views, walk to Piazzale Michelangelo across the Arno River. Photos from there are truly breathtaking.

Want to see a bit more of the region? Why not book a stay at one of these incredible vineyard hotels in Tuscany . They’re ideal locations for a couples break in the region.

Or if you fancy getting off the beaten track, I’d recommend planning some days out to see some of these beautiful towns and villages in Tuscany .

Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 7 – Rome

Take the scenic route from Florence to Rome , and you could divert from your road trip itinerary to squeeze in a lunchtime stop in romantic Siena or Grosseto. We’ve all heard our fair share of stories about the crazy drivers in Rome, so make sure you’ve packed your nerves of steel!  I’d also recommend checking if your hotel has parking, and consider walking or hopping in a bike to get around the city centre.

Views of Rome

If you have one day in Rome , you can’t miss the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain. Sit on the Spanish steps and mingle with locals or venture to Trastevere on the western banks of the Tiber River and enjoy its cobbled streets, charming tavernas and laid-back vibe.

Colosseum, Rome

To explore one of the world’s religious hubs, take the metro to Vatican City and marvel at Michelangelo’s artwork in the Sistine Chapel. After dark, Rome comes to life with bars, cabaret shows, live music, nightclubs and plenty more entertainment! Before visiting, I’d recommend reading these interesting facts about Rome – you’ll be amazed by what you learn! 

When Is The Best Time To Visit Northern Italy?

Italy has a Mediterranean climate and is a lovely destination to visit all year round.

Temperatures vary by region, but as a quick example, you can expect average temperatures of around 0°C in around Cortina (a ski resort in the mountains) in January, and as high as 37°C in July in cities such as Milan and Venice. Temperatures in the south remain mild in winter, making destinations like Puglia and Sicily great options for a winter holiday.

If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit northern Italy, I’d suggest planning a trip between April and June, or in September or October, just after the peak summer season.

The weather tends to be consistent in these months, but isn’t too hot. Plus, as you’re missing peak season, you should benefit from lower prices and fewer people.

Packing List For Northern Italy

Now you’ve got your route planned out, it’s time to decide what to pack! Here are a few quick suggestions of what to take, with some links to specific items I’d rate picking up before you travel.

Women’s packing list for Northern Italy

Women’s lightweight trousers – It’s good to have some conservative items and not flash too much skin. These are practical, lightweight but a bit cute too! Women’s sundress – Something pretty and not too short for when it’s appropriate. Women’s maxi dress – I quite liked having a longer item or two. If you pair it with a cardigan it’s more conservative too. Women’s midi skirt – I live in items like this in warm countries and have them in multiple colours and patterns. They’re comfortable and not revealing.

women packing list

Women’s shorts – I packed a few pairs. I’d recommend something loose and comfortable like these shorts , and then perhaps some classic denim shorts too. Women’s summer top – I wore a lot of things like this. Neutral colours work best as you can mix and match with shorts and skirts. Plus, you can dress them up or dress them down! Women’s zip up hooded jacket – A few places get chilly, so you’ll want to be able to layer up occasionally. A zip up hoody like this will come in handy. Women’s bikini – You’ll need to pack a couple of items of swimwear. There are so many cute bikinis out there to choose from! Women’s rash guard – Not essential, but if you burn easily (or plan to surf) I’d recommend one of these. This one is great as it has a built-in bra and comes with a pair of matching shorts. Women’s sports vest – I’d recommend one or two sweat-absorbing vests like this for adventurous activities. Women’s sports bra – Ideal for sporty or adventure activities. I prefer sports bras like this Puma one which has some built in padding for extra support. Women’s leggings – Leggings are great for active adventures. These Under Armour ones are great as they’re very lightweight. Sarong – A really useful item for any travels in warm countries! Use it as a towel, a cover up, to sit on, to lie on or for a cute addition to an outfit! Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat to protect yourself. Sunglasses – I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!

what to pack for italy for women

Men’s packing list for Northern Italy

Men’s casual shorts – I’d recommend several pairs of comfortable shorts for everyday use. Men’s chinos or jeans – I’d recommend a few pairs of chinos, jeans or cargo pants. Men’s T-shirts – Pack a few options of t-shirts too. Men’s shirts – A few shirts (long or short sleeved) are a good idea. I personally love these linen shirts . They look very cool!

men packing list

Men’s vests – If you sweat a lot, you might find vest tops more comfortable in the heat. Men’s zip up hooded jacket – You might want to layer up if it gets chilly in the evenings. Men’s jumper – A smarter option for keeping warm.   Men’s sports tops – For active days, something like this is really useful as it’s super-absorbent. Men’s sports shorts – If you’re doing some adventurous hikes or activities, you’ll want shorts you can move freely in. Swimming trunks – The more fun the pattern, the better! These ones have pockets and are quick dry too. Baseball cap – Look for one with a mesh back like this one , so it’s more breathable. Sunglasses – You can’t beat a classic pair of these Ray Bans !

what to pack for italy for men

Other general items to pack for Northern Italy

If you’re planning your trip, you should think about more than just clothing when you start packing. Here are a few items I’d recommend adding to your suitcase…

Insect repellent – There are plenty of really good insect repellents like this one . If you’re travelling with kids you might want to buy a specific children’s insect repellent too.

insect repellent

Bite relief – I usually take an after bite / anti-itch cream like this , that helps to soothe any bites. I also swear by this amazing Bite Away Pen , which sends a small electric shock to the itchy part of the bite. It takes a bit of getting used to at first (and sometimes hurts a tiny bit), but it does work. I’ve done a full review of the item (as it goes everywhere with me!!) so feel free to read more here . 

Travel towel – A fast-drying microfibre towel like this one will come in handy on your trip. These are great not only for when you fancy a swim, but also when you want to sit down on the ground or to wipe your sweaty face on a humid day!

microfibre towel

Sun cream – It’s important to apply suncream throughout the day. I’d recommend finding a brand which isn’t too heavy on chemicals, or is almost totally natural, like this one made by Sun Bum . 

sun bum sun cream

Sunglasses – It’s important to protect your eyes when you visit a holiday destination like this one. I’d recommend investing in some high-quality UV protected sunglasses. I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!

Ray Ban

Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat like this to protect yourself on all of those sunny days!

sun hat

After sun or aloe vera – Don’t forget some soothing cream incase you do burn. I really like this one made by Ultrasun . It’s lightweight and feels lovely on your skin.

Ultrasun after sun

Rain jacket – Be prepared for those sporadic rain showers. As you won’t need it for warmth, I’d recommend a lightweight waterproof jacket that packs down small. Something like this would be perfect.

lightweight womens waterproof jacket

Umbrella – I’d also recommend an umbrella for rainy season. I’d been looking for a super compact option for ages, and finally found this one which fits in my small handbag and is nice and sturdy.

Daypack backpack – I used a small backpack for day-to-day adventures, which could fit a water bottle, camera, sun cream and bug spray. I also took a small shoulder bag to use for going for dinner in the evenings. If you’re looking for something nice and small, lightweight, water-resistant and that will fit all your essentials, I’d recommend this daypack . It’s got some very handy zip-up pockets too!

lightweight daypack backpack

Reusable water bottle   – I always recommend packing a reusable water bottle for travel. Even if you can’t drink the tap water, it means you can top up from giant bottles or water coolers rather than buying lots of plastic bottles. Personally I’d recommend the  Chilly’s water bottles . I’ve got a few in different sizes and they are excellent quality! I also really like these bottles with straws . They’re really easy to drink from, they have a strap, never leak and hold a good volume.

Chillys water bottles are great for travel

Power bank – It depends how much you use your phone on holiday, but I used mine a lot during my trip, snapping photos and videos along the way. A portable battery pack is a great idea so you don’t have to worry about running out of charge at an important moment.

I have a few made by Anker and they’re great quality and have lasted for a long time. This is the one I’m using at the moment , which is really small (similar size to my phone) but stores lots of charge and has a fast charging capability. 

Plug adapter – I pack this universal travel adapter for all of my travels. It charges up to 6 devices at once, using a plug or USB sockets. Plus, it can be used anywhere in the world. It’s one of my fave travel gadgets!

Epicka plug adapter

Dry bag – I’m really happy I invested in a dry bag like this . It’s made from a thick plastic and is totally waterproof. These dry bags are perfect for adventures on the water, visiting waterfalls, or if you think it’s going to rain heavily. I’d recommend a small one for your phone and camera gear, or a larger one if you want to use it as your main bag for an activity.

Dry bag

Waterproof phone case – Similarly, if you want to take your phone out and about in the water, I’d recommend getting a waterproof phone case. There are quite a few to choose from, but I’d recommend reading the reviews! You need this to protect your phone and be 100% watertight after all! I bought these Moko cases myself and my partner and they’ve been great. We’ve used them on several trips snorkelling and to waterfalls now, and no leaks!

waterproof phone case

I hope you’ve enjoyed my northern Italy road trip! Looking to explore more of the country? Check out my southern Italy road trip itinerary ! 

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The ultimate northern Italy road trip

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More”

Italy is one of my favourite places to visit! I’m desperate to visit Milan, Cinque Terre and Lake Como! So many beautiful places to explore!

Thank you Jess! I hope you get to visit soon. I absolutely adore Italy – esp the food!

What about Lake Garda and the Dolomite area? There is so much to see there but only Italian and Germans seem to know about this area.

Love that area too! So many places to choose from but this felt like a great route to pack a lot in!

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Northern Italy Roadtrip Itinerary | 5, 10 and 14 days

northern italy road trips

Planning your trip to the Northern part of Italy is exciting but can be overwhelming as well. There’s so much to visit in the whole country, and the northern part is no exception to that. We’re here to help you plan the best road trip in Northern Italy. This article contains several road trip itineraries in length and activities.

With the Northern Italy Highlights – 10 days itinerary you’ll cross the most important highlights, cities and landmarks in the northern part of Italy. In the next part, you’ll find step by step itineraries where we explain the best stops, famous landmarks, and best places to stay. Also, we cover several itineraries for 5 and 14 days. Let’s start with the 10-day highlights!

10-day Itinerary – Northern Italy

For this Itinerary we recommend you to start in Milan. We chose for Milan as a starting point because it is easy to reach, either flying or overland. 

When you feel it is more convenient, you can also choose to start your road trip at Venice. The route will be slightly different.

We feel it is essential that you plan your trip with the best booking recourses. That’s why we selected the recourses we use all the time while booking our trips. You can find them on our recommendations page, or scroll down and read the ‘plan your trip’ part in this article. Also, we will recommend places to stay in each recommended city where you will stay overnight during this road trip.

Day 1 – 2 Milan – Lake Como

Our first recommendation is that you start in Milan. After you arrive in Milan, you probably want to relax a bit first. So the first day we don’t plan that much. But if you like, you can explore the city. On the second day you drive to Lake Como, but that’s only around 2 hours drive. So we recommend to stay in Milan until lunch, and after lunch drive to Lake Como. This way, you have enough time to explore the highlights in Milan.

Milan Highlights

The highlights in Milan are: 

  • Milan Cathedral (Duomo)
  • Church of Sante Maria delle Grazia
  • Sforzesco Castle
  • Galleria Vitoria Emmanuelle II
  • Teatro alla Scala
  • Brera Pinacoteca

It is easy to walk around the city center of Milan. The city itself is not that big. We recommend that you pick up your rental car right before you leave the city and travel to lake Como. It saves you a day in rental- and parking costs. And you don’t need your rental car while staying in Milan.

We wrote this article you might like, with in-depth information about the city of Milan.

Recommended places to stay in Milan

Milan has many accommodations where you can stay. Most of the time, we use Booking.com to book our accommodations. We selected two options, both with excellent customer reviews, which we think are great to spend one night.

  • Hotel Napoleon – is in the middle of the center, so easy to reach all the highlights in Milan. They get a review score of 8.5 on average 
  • Room Inn B&B – Also find in the center, offer rooms with breakfast. They get a review score of 9.3 on average. 

When you would rather looking for other accommodation, make sure to use this link , which will direct you to the best deals in Milan on Booking.com

Day 2 Milan – Lake Como

On the second day, we recommend you to travel to Lake Como, somewhere after lunch. It will take around 2 hours to reach the lake. You’ll need to follow the A9 north from Milan. We recommend staying in the town of Varenna, which is the easiest to reach, and on the road, you’ll need to follow the next day. From Varenna, it is easy to explore the lake.

Lake Como Highlights

The villages around the lake are great to explore, but Lake Como is renowned for its beautiful nature. The highlights you don’t want to miss are;

  • Cathedral of Como
  • Visit a lakeside villa; Villa del Balbianello A 16th-century building with a beautiful garden on the side of the lake
  • Take a boat trip to Varenna  This trip will stop at several villages, and you’ll get a great impression of the lake and its surroundings
  • Go hiking along the lake There are many different hiking trails at Lake Como. It is fantastic to spend a few hours in this beautiful nature. 

Recommended places to stay Lake Como – Varenna

Varenna is the best place to stay at Lake Como for this road trip. It is on the road you’ll take the next day, and also it is easy to explore the best highlights of the lake with the taxi boat that leaves from this village.

There are many accommodations to find in Varenna, but the two that stand out the most, regarding customer reviews are:

  • Hotel Beretta – in the town center
  • Hotel Olivedo – with splendid views over the lake

You can also look for other villages to stay if you wish, but we recommend staying at the eastern side of the lake, on the road SS36. This is the road you’ll need to take the next day.

Day 3 Dolomites

The next day you follow road SS36, 38, 39, 42 and 239 to the national park Adamello Brenta . This park in the heart of the Dolomites is probably the best stop for a day visit. The entrance of the park is around 3,5 hours drive from Varenna. We recommend leaving early in the morning, so you have enough time to reach the park. The road will take you through the dolomites, which is lovely. You’ll probably stop a few times just to enjoy the views.

The dolomites are great for exploring nature and hiking. However, during this trip, you don’t have that much time to explore the most significant hiking trails. We recommend staying close by the park entrance

Hotel Garnì La Soldanella   and  Hotel Villa Fosine   are both located around 5 kilometers from the park’s entrance.

Depending on your interests and fitness level, you can choose different activities. We recommend using the park’s website to find out the best hiking trails. It is also convenient to book a guided tour in the park and its surroundings, that way you make sure you’ll get the best things to see in the short amount of time.

Day 4 Lake Garda

After you woke up and enjoyed the beautiful mountain views, it is time to hit the road again. Today you’ll travel to Lake Garda. The biggest lake in Italy and Europe. Many people say the lake is less spectacular then Lake Como, but we think it is a must-visit while traveling through this area. 

Lake Garda is known for its beautiful historic villages and also beautiful landscapes. Two villages you don’t want to miss are  Garda  and  Sirmione . Sirmione is a historic town on a peninsula at the lake. Marvelous to visit!

There’s a lot to see at Lake Garda, so you might be interested in reading our article with in-depth information about this area.

To make sure you don’t spend to much time in the car we recommend staying somewhere around Lake Garda. Also, the countryside is renowned for its vineyards, so it is excellent to go for a local winetasting. Not much driving after that 😉

Our recommended places to stay are in two different villages.  Sirmione , which is a bit more expensive option, but probably one of the most romantic places you’ll ever sleep. The other option is staying in  Peschiera del Garda , a vibrant town next to the lake, also perfect for a romantic stay, but less expensive.

Day 5 Verona

The city of Verona is a maximum one hour drive from Lake Garda. This medieval town is great for a day visit. Verona is worldwide known as the city of love. Shakespeare’s love story Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona. And despite Romeo and Juliet is a fictional love story, it is possible to visit Juliet’s house. Millions of tourists travel every year to this renowned place. 

Luckily there’s much more to see in Verona, some of the famous landmarks are Castelvecchio, Ponte Vecchio, and the Verona Arena. Verona Arena is one of the best-preserved Amphitheaters in the world. Built-in 30 AD and today still used as a concert venue.

Verona is a great city to spend your day. We wrote this article about the city where you can read all the essential details. 

It is lovely to spend the night in Verona. However, we recommend you to drive a few hours to Venice during the evening and stay overnight in Venice. This way you can reach the historic city of Venice early morning and spend a few moments when it is not too busy. There are many accommodations to find in Venice. The city is known for its hospitality. We recommend staying a bit out of the center , which saves you tons of money. You can also stay at the neighboring island Venice Lido , from where you can easily take a taxi-boat to the historical center.

The upside is that you can explore Venice by night when you arrive not too late. And during the night, most tourists left the historic center, so it’s much quieter.

Our Venice hotel recommendations:

  • Ca’ Dei Dogi – Which is in the old center, but relatively cheap considering the location. And they are rated with a 9.3
  • Hotel New Reiter – Located at Lido di Venezia (Venice Lido), the island next to the historical center. This hotel gets a customer rating of 9.2

Day 6 Venice

Waking up early in Venice and arriving in the historical center before 10 a.m. is recommended. It is still busy, but starting from 10 a.m., it is getting swamped.

Exploring Venice by day is great, but you need to decide what things you definitely want to see.

A few of the highlights you don’t want to miss are:

  • St. Marks square
  • St. Mark Basilique & tower
  • Doges Palace
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Grand Canal
  • Bridge of Sighs

It is also great to visit the surrounding islands  Burano, Lido di Venezia, Murano , which is comfortable with one of the taxi boats.

To enter Venice, you’ll need to buy a ticket, which gives you also access to the taxi boats. At the Grand Canal, there are many taxi boats where you can hop on and off with your ticket. So when you want to save some money, don’t go to a traditional Gondola, but hop-on a taxi boat.

At the end of the day, we recommend to leave Venice, hop in your car and drive to Florence, which is still a 3-hour drive. But the advantage is that you can stay overnight in Florence, and the next day has all day to exploring another historic city.

It is a bit difficult to drive into the city center of Florence. The city is busy, and most roads are one direction only. So we recommend staying at the outside center ring, which makes it easy to park your car. Public transport in Florence is perfect, so the next day you don’t have any problems reaching the city center.

Our Florence hotel recommendations:  

  • Eden Rock Resort – which is around 5 kilometers out of the center, but a relaxing place to stay. They get a customer rating of 9.4
  • Hotel Rapallo – In the heart of the historical center of Florence. Perfect for a two-night stay or longer. They get a customer review of 9.3

Day 7 Florence

Florence is known as the heart of the Rennaissance. It is the capital of the Tuscany region. Florence was the center of trade and banking during medieval times. And the Medici Family, in particular, had significant influence at the modern banking system.

With many historical buildings, it is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Italy. Since 1982 the historic center of Florence is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. Many great artists and philosophers lived in Florence during the middle ages.  Medici Family,  who invented modern banking, but also a few popes came from this family. Artist like  Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Machiavelli  lived and worked in the city of Florence.

Florence is probably the city with the most historic architecture in Italy. Places you don’t want to miss while visiting Florence are: 

  • Florence Cathedral (Duomo)
  • Piazza Della Signoria
  • Ponte Vecchio
  • The church of San Lorenzo

When you want to visit the Duomo, you must reserve a ticket in advance . It is recommended to plan this a few weeks before your arrival. Tickets are often fully booked, and you need to choose a particular time slot to visit the Duomo.

You can also book a guided tour through the city, where you’ll explore the best highlights of Florence.

Day 8 – Roadtrip in Tuscany

Tuscany is often referred to as the most beautiful countryside in Italy. Tuscany is a bit different than the other regions in Italy. Mainly because there are so many medieval villages to visit. The people are friendly, and the food is fantastic. We always feel at home while traveling through Tuscany.

You can easily spend a few weeks in the Tuscany region, but during this road trip in the Northern part of Italy, we recommend that you stay in the west part of Tuscany.

Leaving Florence we recommend you to drive to  Siena – San Gimignano – Volterra – Pisa.  In Pisa, you’ll stay overnight.

This road trip through a small part of the countryside of Tuscany will take up the whole day, but it is probably the best drive you’ll have during the entire trip. The roads are good condition, and the views are just stunning.

Siena  is renowned for the largest medieval square and the famous Torre del Mangia. The historic center is one of the best-preserved medieval centers in Italy.  San Gimignano  is another great historic medieval village to visit. Walking into this village is like you’re stepping back in time. The center is closed for cars, so you need to walk here, which is easy. Because there’s no traffic, the vibe is even more unique. A perfect place to buy a fresh sandwich and enjoy your time at the main square of the village.

Volterra  is another small village on top of a hill. This walled village with a big cathedral dates back to the 8th century BC! It is one of the oldest places in Tuscany. Many people think this village was the scene for the movie  twilight.  However, the town Volterra in this movie is a fictional village and not the same as the historic Italian village.

Driving west from Volterra, you’ll reach the coastal city of Pisa. Known for its iconic leaning tower. Did you know the famous tower straightens every year?

Our hotel recommendations for Pisa:

  • B&B La Corte di Stelio – nice Bed & Breakfast with a local family. Customer review 9.1
  • B&B Live design – it is a bit out of the center of Pisa, but they score a 9.6, which is one of the highest in the region

Tuscany region is great to spend more time. You can find more information about Tuscany in this article , where we tell more about the different villages in this region. 

Day 9 Cinque Terre – Genoa – Parma

From Pisa, it is only a short drive to one of the most beautiful coastlines in Italy.  Cinque Terre  is a Unesco world heritage site. It is not a coastal city as many people think, the region consists out of five different coastal towns. The towns in Cinque Terre used the be fisherman towns. Nowadays the most important source of income is tourism. 

Cinque Terre is known for its beautiful coastline, colorful houses that are built into the cliffs, stunning nature and excellent hiking trails. It is fantastic to spend a half-day or full-day in this area. During this road trip, we planned a half-day in Cinque Terre, but if you want to spend more time along these coastal towns, you can skip Genoa or Parma in this itinerary.

We wrote an in-depth guide about Cinque Terre. Check out our article What is Cinque Terre Famous For?

Genoa  is known as the birthplace of Columbus, the renowned sea navigator. The city of Genoa was always an important harbor city for Italy. Nowadays it has the third biggest harbor in the Mediterranean Sea. Genoa is excellent to spend a few days and explore the extensive history. You can read all the details about Genoa in this

We wrote several articles about Genoa which we recommend reading before going to the city. Our recommended articles are: 

  • What is Genoa Famous For?
  • Beaches in Genoa

Driving from Genoa to Parma is a beautiful road when you skip the tollroads.  Parma  will be the last city on this itinerary before you head back to Milan. Parma is a city that will surprise you. The city is known for its parma ham and renowned parmesan cheese. But also many historic buildings are to find in this city.

We were pleasantly surprised during our visit to Parma, and recommend anyone to stay here and explore this lovely city.  Teatro Farnese  is a theater you should visit while in Parma, it is a 16th-century theater, built entirely from wood. And the first theater with a podium instead of the round square you’ll see in the amphitheaters.

Our hotel recommendations in Parma:

  • B&B Bsuites Parma – located in the heart of the center and a customer review of 9.3
  • Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati – Apartment/ Hotel located in the historical center. The get a customer review of 9.4, the location is perfect!

Day 10: Milan

The last day of this road trip itinerary is traveling back to Milan. Depending on your departure time you can either explore the city of Milan for a second time or maybe need to go directly to the airport. The drive from Parma to Milan is around 2 hours.

When you still have time for exploring, we recommend dropping your rental car at the drop-off and head to the city center. It is always fun to explore a city for the second time. Or maybe you didn’t have time on your first day to see all the highlights of the city.

Recommended route part 1 – Milan to Florence (Day 1 – 7)

You can use these Google Maps as a recommended route to follow.

Recommended Route Part II – Florence – Milan (Day 7 – 10)

5-day itinerary for northern italy roadtrip.

After reading the itinerary above, you might wonder how to shorten the itinerary to five days. Honestly, we think five days is too short to explore the best parts of Northern Italy. But sometimes you just don’t have more time. 

You’ll need to choose between some highlights when you have less amount of time to spend in Italy. But in five days you still can see a lot.

There are several options to spend five days in the Northern part of Italy. We have three recommendations, where we think you still see a lot of this beautiful part of Italy.

5 days Milan to Venice

In this road trip, we recommend you to start in Milan and leave the country from Venice. This way you’ll spend your time in the most efficient way possible. We will skip the Dolomites during this road trip because the drive is taking to much time. Also, you’ll stay in the northern part of the region. You won’t reach the Tuscany region.

Depending on your departure time you can explore the islands around the historical city of Venice or go directly to the airport.

5 days Milan – Dolomites – Milan

The other option to spend only 5 days in the northern part is excellent for hiking enthusiasts.

We recommend spending two full days to explore the Dolomites and do some hiking. You might even drive to  the Queen of the Dolomites – Marmolada.  It is the highest mountain in this mountain range. The drive is a bit far, around 3 hours from the national park Ademello Breno, but you’ll have the best views from the cable car of the highest mountain peak!  

5 days Milan – Cinque Terre – Florence (Tuscany Roadtrip)

Milan to Florence is a great road trip, where you see the best parts the Tuscany and Cinque Terre region. We recommend booking a departure from Florence because it saves you a lot of time. You’ll be able to use your time in the most efficiënt way.

The total length of this road trip is 388 miles (625 kilometers). You’ll drive around 62 miles (100 kilometers) a day, but that gives you enough time to explore the historical and traditional villages and countryside. 

 Don’t forget to book your sightseeing tickets for Florence in advance. The city is bustling, and if you don’t book your tickets in advance, there might be a chance you miss out on visiting the historic Duomo. Or that you need to wait a long time in line.

5 days Milan – Italian Lakes Roadtrip (Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Garda)

The northern part of Italy is renowned for its beautiful mountain lakes. Lake Garda is even the biggest lake in Europe, and Lake Maggiore and Lake Como are set in some beautiful environments.

If you’re into hiking, watersports, or just want to experience the beauty of nature, this road trip might be something for you.

In five days you’ll visit the three biggest lakes in Italy before heading back to the vibrant city of Milan. Note; the road from Lake Maggiore to Lake Como takes you a few miles through Switzerland. You can also go around Switzerland and stay in Italy, but that’s a longer drive.

Lake Maggiore is in the second largest lake in Italy, and also crosses the border with Switzerland. The lake is the largest in the southern part of Switzerland.

There are some splendid botanical gardens and excellent hiking trails around the lake. The Borromean Islands are the main attraction at Lake Maggiore. Three rocky islands that were bought by the Borromean family centuries ago. They made these islands in the beautiful botanical gardens which they are now. It’s worth a visit!

The two best lakes for watersports like kite- and windsurfing are Lake Como and Lake Garda. There’s a constant wind blowing from the mountains which makes both lakes favorable for a fun sports day on the water.

This road trip is around 500 kilometers, maybe a bit more depending on where you go around the lakes. Approximately 100 kilometers driving a day should be your maximum, so you have enough time to explore the beautiful lakes.

The drive back from Lake Garda to Milan is around 2 hours, so make sure you plan that properly according to your departure.

14-day Itinerary for Northern Italy Roadtrip

When you have more time for a road trip, we recommend using it. 5 days is very short, and you need to make some choices in what places you’re going to visit. 10 days is great, but also a bit short with so much to see around this part of Italy.

14 days or even longer is perfect for a road trip. 

 So if you’re lucky enough to spend more time on the road and enjoy your holiday, this itinerary is for you. The basics are the same as the 10-day itinerary for Northern Italy, but we added more stops and more time for sightseeing and exploring.

Also, we recommend leaving from another city. So you can use your time in the most efficiënt way.

14 days Milan – Venice – Florence

This itinerary takes you all the way from Milan to Venice, and from Venice to Florence. You’ll see the greatest highlights and have enough time for sightseeing, hiking and learn about the Italian culture. 

In some places, we recommend staying two nights, so it is more relaxed, and you allow yourself to really get to know the city or village.  

Recommended route day 1 – 8

Recommended route day 8 – 14, 14 days milan – venice – florence – rome.

The big Italian big four road trip. Many people want to visit these cities while visiting Italy, but especially Rome is a bit far regarding the other cities. However, if you have more then 10 days for your holiday, it is easier to manage.

We recommend starting in Milan and plan your departure from Rome. You can also choose to do this road trip in the other way around. It just depends on what you feel is more convenient.

From Florence to Rome it is about 3 to 4 hours drive. The road trip to Rome will take up a half-day. If you decide to avoid the toll roads, which is a more scenic route along the western coastline of Italy, it will take you even around 5 hours.

We recommend taking the scenic route, though. You’ll see a lot more of the beautiful countryside of Italy.

Rome is a special city to visit. It is one of our favorite cities in Italy! There is so much to find in Rome, historic building, culture, and great food! Of course, you’ll visit the famous landmarks as  Colleseum,   Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and Vatican City.  For drinks and dining, we recommend you to go to the  Trastevere  neighborhood. Here you’ll find many small traditional restaurants, the best place to have a relaxing night after much walking in the city!

You don’t need a car when in the city of Rome. Most of the landmarks are in walking distance, and public transport is excellent. So we recommend dropping your rental car when arriving at the city. You can easily take public transportation from and to the airport.

The bus from or to the airport can take up to 1 hour though.

We wrote some articles about Rome, that might interest you:

  • What is Rome Famous For?
  • City Guide to the Best of Rome

Planning & Packing tips

There are many options for a road trip in the Northern part of Italy. Our road trip itineraries cover the different highlights in this part of the country. We tried to be as thorough as possible and make different routes for different interests.

Best Time to Visit Northern Italy

The best time to visit the Northern part of Italy is between the months of May and September. During these months you’ll have the best weather conditions, less rain and most chance of sunshine. However, the Dolomites can be cold year-round, especially when you go high into the mountains. Make sure to bring some warm clothes, even in summer!

The months July and August are the high tourist seasons, so it is busier during these months. But for the cities of Venice and Florence, it is busy year-round.

Temperatures on average in the Northern part of Italy are favorable. The below charge are average temperatures in the Milan region. The weather around the lakes and in the mountains can vary heavily day to day.

Planning your trip

It is essential to plan ahead while planning a road trip in Italy. At every place where we recommend staying overnight, we put some recommendations for hotel bookings. If you rather look up a hotel yourself we recommend using the searching tool:

Tip: We only book accommodations on Booking.com that are rated with an 8.5 or higher. This way we make sure we get the best places to stay. 

Renting a car in advance can save you a lot of money. We always use rentalcars.com for booking a car. Their search engine gives the best and most affordable results. We also find that their customer service is excellent.

You can use this link to check the latest prices on rental cars in Italy

We found that insurance can be a tricky thing, but since we’re using Rentalcover.com for our rental insurance, we stopped worrying. Rentalcover offers the best coverage for a rental car, and it is cheaper than insurance via the rental company. We recommend using rentalcover. Use this link or the banner below to get a quote.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is essential for your belongings and healthcare while traveling.  WorldNomads   insurance is what we feel is the most comprehensive and reliable travel insurance you can buy. They cover over 150 activities, even some extreme sports and have 24/7 emergency assistance when necessary. 

Hopefully, you’ll never use it, but when you need it, it is good to know there’s a company out there helping you. Click on the banner to get more information on the website of World Nomads.

Packing tips

We love taking pictures and videos during our travels, but also like to be organized with our stuff. We don’t want to bring too many things, because simply you don’t need that much while traveling. Over the years we tested a lot of stuff, check out our full list of recommendations for packing gear and camera stuff on the recommendations page Here are some things we recommend you to use during your Italian road trip:

  • Camera: GoPro Hero 7 (Check the latest price on Amazon) – Easy to use, waterproof, and excellent quality.
  • Backpack:  North Face Duffel Bag (Check the latest price on Amazon) – has a lot of space and you can use it as a duffel bag or backpack.
  • Packing Cubes:  Eagle Creek packing cubes (Check the latest price on Amazon) – to organize your clothes in your backpack.

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Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary: An Epic 8 Weeks + Map

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It’s safe to say that this is the ultimate northern Italy road trip itinerary. I’ve based it on our eight-week trip, which was a little different from your average itinerary since we drove around the northwestern regions of Italy. 

We visited some of the top spots but also went off the beaten path . Since there are plenty of itineraries out there that follow a very similar route, I wanted to share our experience and something a little different to give you some unique ideas. 

In combination with our trip and the itinerary guides already in circulation (which focus more on Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna), I’m sure you’ll be able to plan an epic road trip that not only visits some of Italy’s favourite sites but also its hidden gems.

In this itinerary, I’m sharing my complete guide to road-tripping around Northern Italy’s western regions. We’re heading to Piedmont, Liguria, and Tuscany. You’ll find personal insights, tips, and practical information to help you plan your trip.

I’m Going On An Adventure contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. I will earn a small commission if you purchase through any qualifying links at no extra cost to you.

About This Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

San Gusme, in Tuscany during a North Italy Road Trip.

Last autumn, Jack and I set off in our self-converted campervan (we call “her” BB) for the road trip of dreams. 

Initially, we planned to drive around the whole of Italy, but it was a loose plan, and we ended up staying longer at each destination. We also stayed for two weeks in Frances’ Alsace region, which was not part of the plan.

The beauty of a road trip is that you can change plans, stay longer, leave earlier, or go somewhere completely unexpected. My biggest tip when planning a road trip is to stay FLEXIBLE!

Valleys in northen Italy, Alagna Valsesia

Today, I’m sharing with you our eight-week northern Italy road trip itinerary in its entirety; however, it can be split into smaller sections. 

This guide will include locations around Upper Piedmont, Tuscany and the Italian Riviera (Liguria). Our favourite towns and villages and which attractions we enjoyed the most.

Still, we’ve included a quick overview of the best stops in the northeastern regions of Italy to help you build the perfect itinerary.  

Which Regions Encompass Northern Italy?

The beautiful Nord Italia consists of eight regions: Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Emilia-Romagna. Tuscany isn’t technically part of “North Italy”; however, we’ve included it in this road trip itinerary for fun.

These regions stretch across the top of upper Italy from the Ligurian Sea in the west to the Adriatic Sea in the east. They feature the Italian Alps, including the popular Dolomites, numerous mountain lakes, the famous Italian Riviera, and the Plains of the Po Valley.

At A Glance | Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary 

Here’s a quick summary of the stops we’ll be making on this itinerary.

THE PIEDMONT REGION | 2 Weeks

Lake maggiore, valsesia valley, the liguria region | 2 weeks, cinque terre, the tuscany region | 2 weeks.

  • Marina Bibbona

Monte Argentario

Val d’orcia, san gimignano, chianti valley, additional stops | 2 weeks.

  • Venice 

Planning Your Northern Italy Road Trip

Before we crack on with the itinerary and help you plan your trip, we’ve put together some practical information to build your North Italy dream.

Valsesia Valley in Piedmont, northern Italy is a great place to add to a road trip itinerary.

Where to Start Your Road Trip

We entered Italy from Switzerland, so our first stop was Lake Maggiore in Piedmont. However, I’ve created this North Italy itinerary to be circular so you can start at any location. 

For example, if you’re coming from southern France into Italy, I recommend starting your road trip in Sanremo, as this will connect wonderfully to a Côte d’Azur itinerary.

If you’re not driving to Italy in your own vehicle, you’ll want to start in one of the cities. Turin, Florence, Milan, and Venice have large international airports , although some of the other cities also have airports.

⭐ Pro tip >> Car rentals are readily available at all airport terminals. I recommend picking up your rental car from the airport. This will allow you to avoid navigating Italy’s busy city streets, which can be challenging at the best of times. 

road trip and car rentals

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Best Time to Take a Road Trip in Northern Italy

The route you take will also be impacted by the time of year you visit Italy. We were there in autumn, September through November. We tried to do the most northern parts first and moved south as the season progressed into winter.

With this in mind, if you’re travelling in autumn, you’ll want to head north first and then south towards the Italian Rivera and Tuscany to stay ahead of the weather. If you’re visiting during springtime, I suggest heading south first and then into the northern mountains. 

Read more: For a complete month-by-month guide to Italy’s weather, we’ve written a comprehensive guide here.

Jack in Pigna, a small village in Ligurian Hills.

Spring is a lovely time to visit Italy; April and May are good months. 

April is an exciting time with both Easter celebrations and Liberation Day, although a little cooler. During early April, North Italy remains somewhat wet and cloudy, but the temperature is mild. Towards May, the days turn bright and sunny with bursts of colour throughout the country as flowers bloom.

Typically, temperatures range between 11°C and 20°C (52°F to 68°F). Although prices have started creeping up, it’s still an affordable time to visit. 

⭐ Pro tip >> Evening temperatures become chilly and windy, so pack appropriate clothing for both summer and cooler evenings/mornings. That said, afternoons are warm and comfy and perfect for enjoying sunsets.

SUMMER 

Summer in Italy runs from June through August, which is the peak tourist season. 

Average temperatures range from 18°C-29°C (65°F-85°F). However, it is also the most crowded and expensive time of the year. June hosts various festivals, which draw larger crowds to major cities. July and August are the hottest months of the year, with occasional afternoon showers. Occasional heatwaves have been occurring, too. 

Personally, I don’t recommend taking a road trip to Italy in the summer . It’s too busy, and you’ll need to book accommodations and attractions ahead of time to avoid disappointment. This goes against my number one tip for road-tripping: stay flexible.

⭐ Pro tip >> Areas of northern Italy can still feel chilly at night, so be sure to pack some warmer layers. Otherwise, with little rainfall, the north of Italy is dry, warm, and bright.

Autumn is an excellent time to visit Italy. We took our road trip from September through (early) November, but September to October was best. 

The weather is pleasant, with temps between 14°C and 27°C (57°F to 81°F) in September and 12°C to 21°C (53.6°F to 69.8°F) in October. As the crowds start to disperse and local tourists head home, it’s the perfect time for outdoor activities. 

Italians harvesting olives along the road in Tuscany.

⭐ Pro tip >> The northern territories are perfect to explore in early September as the weather is perfect and it’s not busy. October is harvest time, and there are plenty of food and drink festivals to enjoy. However, November is typically wet and gloomy, so you’ll want to head home by then.

Choosing Your Vehicle | Campervan or Car?

We will always choose a campervan; I just love them. However, each has its benefits. The first thing to think about is what type of vehicle is best suited for your trip. 

Consider these questions:

  • How many people are travelling with you?
  • How much luggage will you be taking?
  • What type of roads will you be driving on?
  • How important is comfort to you?
  • Are you planning to sleep in your vehicle?
  • Are you conscious of reducing your carbon footprint? Hybrid and electric vehicles can be good options if so.
  • What is your budget?

Sanremo on the Italian Riviera in Northern Italy is a great stop to add to a road trip itinerary

Campervans are great if you like home comforts. You can make them cosy and literally take your bed with you. There’s no need to book accommodation (if you’re happy with street parking) and you can easily save money by cooking your own meals.

Renting a car is more practical . It’s easier to manoeuvre through narrow streets and find parking. Car rentals are also cheaper than campervans, but you’ll have to pay for accommodation.

Ultimately, it depends on your travel style. After all the costs are considered, there’s not much in it price-wise. 

Where Will You Stay | Hotel or Campsite?

If you choose to rent a car, you’ll be staying in hotels. If you’re in a campervan, there will be campsites and street parking.

Street parking in Italy is easy, and you’re unlikely to encounter any problems. There are “official” caravan parks, which in Italian are called “Area Sosta”. In autumn, we had no issues finding spaces; however, I’ve heard that summertime can be a different story, especially in the touristy areas.

Campervan parked up on Italian Riviera

You’ll also encounter service facilities where you can empty and refill tanks. Sometimes, this is paid, but it’s often free. Italy is set up for van life, and we loved how easy it was to park, refill, and move on.

⭐ Pro tip >> If you’re travelling in a campervan, we recommend using the Park4night App . It’s an excellent resource for finding camping spots worldwide. The app is free , although there is a paid version, which isn’t much but makes it much more useful. 

Hotel prices fluctuate depending on which regions you’re visiting and the time of year. The shoulder seasons are generally cheaper; however, June through August is more expensive. 

That said, Italy has plenty of affordable accommodation options alongside luxury villas, so you’ll be able to find the right place for yourself.

BUDGETING TIPS

  • Overnight stay in Area Sosta averages about €20 to €30 (prices vary depending on the season and location).
  • Service facilities ranged between €2 to €10.
  • I had a quick look, and car rentals average around  €140 per week (small car). I recommend renting a small car. During peak season, this price doubles.
  • Campervan rentals tend to cost about €70 a night. Rates also increase slightly in peak season.

Get The Travel Guides We Used!

  • Italy Road Trip Guide
  • Lonely Planet Italy Planning Map

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

We used Adrian Flux to insure our van while we were in Europe. Adrian Flux is the UK’s largest specialist motor insurance broker, and we got the best deal with them.

Insurance

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Northern Italy Road Trip Map & Route

Piedmont | Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Two weeks in Piedmont is just about right to experience the best of the region. It’s a beautiful area with mountains, lakes, and stunning scenery. Swimming, sightseeing, and hiking are the perfect activities to do here. The cuisine is hearty and filling, excellent for warming the soul, and there are plenty of national parks and hiking trails to explore. 

Piedmont is for nature lovers, and nature lovers we are!

Recommended reading : We’ve written a compact 7-day road trip itinerary for visiting Piedmont. I’ve mentioned all the places below but have gone into a lot more detail on where to stay, things to do, and the best day trips to add to your itinerary.

Lake Maggiore in Piedmont, part of a Northern Italy road trip itinerary

Our first stop is Lake Maggiore, a peaceful yet exciting place to visit. 

Lake Maggiore is the second-biggest lake in Italy . It’s laid-back and home to beautiful lakeside towns, most of which have Riviera vibes, with colourful buildings adorning the waterfront. Although just as stunning, it’s less touristy than its sister lakes, Como and Garda. This makes it an ideal place if your aim is to avoid crowds.

For historians and architects out there, you’ll love the grand neoclassical villas that draw your eye, as well as castles, palaces, and monasteries to explore. There are plenty of lakeside beaches, lidos and watersports, plus the surrounding landscape is perfect for hiking.

As for places to visit, head to Stresa and visit the Borromean Islands . In Verbania, add the Taranto Botanical Gardens to the itinerary. Arona and Baveno are also worth a visit, and be sure to check out the Sunday market at Cannobio.

Read next: For a complete list of attractions and things to do, we’ve written a guide to visiting Lake Maggiore.

How I recommend splitting your time:

  • 3 Days: Stresa, Cannobio & Arona
  • 1 Day: Lido Beach Club Baveno ( official website )
  • 1 Day: Borromean Islands 
  • 1 Day: Verbania & Taranto Gardens
  • Recommend parking >> Sosta Camper – Stresa

⭐ Suggested activity: Hop-on-hop-off boat ticket for Borromean Islands.

The smaller, lesser-known Lake Orta sits over the mountain from Lake Maggiore and is a treasure trove of medieval villages. 

Jack and Abi in Orta San Giulio with Isola San Giulio in the background on Lake Orta.

Our favourite was Orta San Giulio . It’s a charming town on the lake shore with several attractions, such as the Sacro Monte di Orta and Isola San Giulio , an island monastery. Motorboats take you to the monastery from the main square, but you can also head to Pela, a small town across the lake.

Then there’s Omegna , another picturesque town with a historic centre, plenty of shops, restaurants and home to the Alessi Factory Store. It’s a great place to visit if you’re after an authentic Italian coffee maker! 

Aside from the villages, Monte Mottarone is a lovely place to visit for a hit of nature. It’s the mountain between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta and is perfect for a day of hiking. From Armeno, you can reach the top of Mottarone along the “Via Mottarone”; there is a car park at the top.

⭐ Suggested tour: Private walking tour of Orta San Giulio with a local guide.

  • 1 Day: Omegna
  • 1 Day: Orta San Giulio
  • 1 Day: Monte Mottarone ( official website )
  • Recommend parking >> Area Sosta Camper –  Orta San Giulio

Varallo Sesia, Northern Italy makes a great addition to a road trip itinerary.

We loved exploring Valsesia Valley. Due to the snowfall, this area of Upper Piedmont is often thought of as a winter destination; there are several ski slopes. However, visit during the warmer months, and it becomes a haven for hikers and adventure sports . 

We only made two stops, but the drive along the Sesia River was beautiful and a splendid part of the trip.

The first place to visit is Varallo Sesia , which is often just called Varallo. It’s a large town with a historical and cultural allure. The Sacro Monte di Varallo is the biggest attraction, and a visit here is a must, even if you’re not religious. The views from here are breathtaking.

The other is the mountain village of Alagna Valsesia . It’s the last accessible village in the valley and a charming snow resort in winter. In summer, it’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The best part was a hike we did into the mountains to a small Refugio with a clear view of the Monte Rosa Massif. 

We both said we’d very much like to return here and complete the hike to the glacier! 

  • 1 Day: Varallo 
  • 2 Days: Alagna Valsesia
  • Recommend parking >> Parcheggio Camper –  Varallo

Turin, Italy.

We didn’t visit Turin on this trip, as I had already done years ago; however, if it’s your first time in Piedmont, you should absolutely add a stop at its capital city. Turin is a superb place with an interesting history and architecture. It is also famous for its food and wine, especially the red wines of the Piedmont region.

Some of Turin’s popular attractions include the Mole Antonelliana, a famous landmark that houses the National Museum of Cinema, the Royal Palace of Turin, which was once the residence of the Royal House of Savoy, and the Turin Cathedral, which is known for the Shroud of Turin. 

  • 2 Days : Turin

Liguria | Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Moving into Liguria, otherwise known as the Italian Riviera, this next part of our Northern Italy road trip itinerary was filled with coastal beauty, valley villages, and authentic Italian vibes. The southern portion of this region is well-travelled and loved (aka Cinque Terre); however, we spent most of our time in the northwestern parts. 

Expect forgotten villages, ancient seaside towns, and, do I dare say, some of the best cuisine in Italy!

Recommended reading: We’ve written a detailed guide to Liguria for an in-depth road trip itinerary , helping you find the best attractions, tours, and places to stay. 

The views over the city of Sanremo are worth the climb to the top!

Sanremo is one of the most popular cities in northwestern Liguria, and for good reason. It’s an exciting, happening place that retains an authentic Italian atmosphere. Although it’s not a huge favourite among overseas tourists, Italians flock here during their summer holidays. 

The city has numerous attractions and fantastic historical value. One part of the city not to be missed is La Pigna , the city’s old town. Others are the Church of the Madonna, Sanremo Casino, and the Russian Orthodox Church, which has a stunning dome roof. 

Recommended reading: We’ve written a more comprehensive guide to visiting Sanremo here . It highlights the best attractions and things to do and includes a practical guide to visiting the city.

Two villages in the Nervia Valley are close to Sanremo, which you absolutely must include on your road trip itinerary!

Dolceacqua is a charming village nestled over the Nervia River. It has a beautiful old town, a castle, and the famous Monet’s Stone Bridge.

Pigna is a picturesque hillside village that has almost been forgotten. It features a unique old town and scenic mountain views. Both offer fantastic hiking opportunities.

  • 2 Days: Sanremo 
  • 1 Day: Pigna 
  • 1 Day: Dolceacqua
  • Suggested parking >> Area Camper Piani Di Poma ( Google Maps ) in Sanremo, and we parked in this car park for Dolceacqua ( Google Maps ).

The beautiful old town of Porto Maurizio in Imperia, Northern Italy, is the perfect addition to a road trip itinerary.

Moving east along the Italian Riviera , we reach Imperia. Now, to be honest, we only spent one day here, although I suggest two. We missed a significant portion of this city (due to lack of research), which I’m totally gutted about. 

It’s a great city that gets busier in warmer months due to local tourism, but if you’re looking for a lesser-visited city spot, Imperia is a good option. The city is split into two areas, each with two distinct characteristics: Oneglia and Porto Maurizio . 

We visited Oneglia. It features the Museo dell’Olvio (our main reason for stopping), the delightful Basilica of Saint Giovanni Baptist in the centre of a revivified old town, and the old port of Calata Cuneo , which is lined with restaurants and bars. Villa Grock is also worth checking out.

Over the river westward is Porto Maurizio; it’s considered the prettier part of Imperia. Although we didn’t visit, the old town here is its biggest attraction, with breathtaking views of the Riveria. There is another Basilica and Convent to visit. 

Recommended reading: If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a complete guide to Imperia that includes all the best attractions, things to do and places to eat. Plus, tips from our visit.
  • 2 Days: Imperia (1 day for Ongelia and 1 day for Porto Maurizio)
  • Suggested parking >> This is where we parked for the night ( Google Maps ).

Genoa, Italy.

Genoa is the capital of Liguria , and as expected, it’s a bustling, colourful city. It oozes culture, history, and grandeur. The historical centre is UNESCO-listed, and with countless attractions to see, you could easily spend a long weekend in Genoa. 

It’s one of the best stops on this northern Italy road trip itinerary if you’re a fan of architecture and maritime history and interested in witnessing Christopher Columbus’s birthplace. It’s also renowned for its pesto sauce!

⭐ Suggested activity: Pesto-making class .

Not far from Genoa is the Portofino Peninsula . A treasure in itself, the peninsula is most known for the small medieval town of Portofino. This affluent area has superyachts moored in the bay and designer shops lining narrow streets.

Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino Peninsula is a great addition to a Northern Italy road trip itinerary

As lovely as Portofino is, there are other locations on the Peninsula that deserve your time. These include Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo . Camogli is an excellent option if you’re after a less touristy spot on the peninsula.

There are plenty of activities. The area is best explored on boat or foot, and hiking trails lead to famous sites such as Castello Brown, Faro di Portofino, and the Abbey of San Fruttuoso.

  • 2 Days: Genoa 
  • 2 Days: Portofino Peninsula
  • Suggested parking >> Area Sosta Camper Genoa ( Google Maps ) or Camping Miraflores ( Google Maps ) .

Jack and Abi in Manarola, Cinque Terre

Oh, how everyone loves Cinque Terre! But if I’m honest, it was my least favourite place in Liguria. Not because it wasn’t beautiful but because it was too crowded. Still, I think it deserves a spot on your northern Italy road trip itinerary; just don’t visit during peak season. 

The cliffside villages are stunning, and visually, the 5 Terre are picture-perfect. You’ll find plenty of activities to do, from wine tastings to boat trips. My favourite villages were Monterosso Al Mare, Corniglia and Manarola , and I don’t think it’s necessary to visit all five. 

⭐ Suggested tour: Kayak trip from Monterosso al Mare.

One of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is hiking, and the high mountain path from Riomaggiore to Portovenere is panoramically breathtaking. With this in mind, if you’re not a fan of hiking, consider skipping Cinque Terre since the hikes make it incredible. 

Cinque Terre national park is a wonderful addition to any Northern Italy road trip itinerary

Interestingly, both of us enjoyed Portovenere more than we expected. It surprised us in a good way and makes a great addition to any Cinque Terre itinerary. Be sure to visit the Church di San Pietro, Grotta di Lord Byron, and Castle Doria and stroll around the Porta del Borgo (old town). 

Recommended reading: I detail our experience visiting Cinque Terre and the reasons for and against visiting the UNESCO site in our Cinque Terre Guide.
  • 2 Days : 5 Terre Villages
  • 1 Day: High Path & Portovenere
  • Parking suggestion >> Area Camper La Spezia ( Google Maps )

Tuscany | Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Although technically not part of Northern Italy, Tuscany can’t be missed from your road trip itinerary. The region is one of the best-known in Italy and is loved for its scenic beauty, bold wines, and quaint hilltop villages. I was so excited to visit Tuscany, and when we got there, it didn’t let us down. 

We had a magical time driving in Tuscany through the Chianti Valley and down the coast. Sometimes, it’s forgotten that Tuscany isn’t just rolling hills and olive groves—it’s also got a fantastic coastline!

Read next: For your road trip to Tuscany, we’ve put together a detailed 10-day road trip itinerary to help you plan the details!

Abi holds up the leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

I really enjoyed Pisa. There’s a lot more to do in this city than it’s given credit for, and you could easily spend more than a day there. However, for this itinerary, I’ve allocated one day to explore the best of Pisa , aka the Square of Miracles.

The celebrated Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the Square of Miracles alongside the Pisa Cathedral, Cemetery, and Baptistery. The plaza’s grounds are lovely to walk around, and there are tons of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can grab a meal. 

Recommended reading: If you want to know more about Pisa, we’ve written the ultimate guide highlighting all the reasons we feel Pisa is worth visiting , including other attractions outside the Square of Miracles.

How I recommend splitting your time

  • 1 Day : Pisa
  • Parking suggestion >> Parcheggio Via di Pratale

⭐ Suggested activity: Best of Pisa small group tour with admission tickets .

Livorno 

Jack is on the beach at Marina Bibbona, on the Tuscan coast of Italy.

Livorno has a lot of appeal due to its historic charm, beautiful seafront and delicious seafood. The city is well known for its historic canals and fortresses , which were built to protect it from pirate attacks. While you’re there, head to the seafront promenade and visit the colourful Mercato Centrale for fresh produce, and grab a meal at one of the seafood stands. 

A bit further south is Marina Bibbona , a popular spot with local tourists during the summer months. Visit anytime before or after, and you’ll encounter a beautiful, peaceful beach with only a handful of people. The beach is perfect for lounging on soft black sand. I liked to call this place the never-ending beach because it just goes on for miles. 

Marina Bibbona is a lovely place to spend the night and soak up the sun’s rays. It’s one of Tuscany’s most natural beaches, backed by pine forests and gentle sand dunes. This beach is a treat for nature enthusiasts. 

Both locations offer an authentic Italian escape, and you’re unlikely to encounter many overseas tourists. 

  • 1 Day : Livorno
  • 1 Day : Marina Bibbona 
  • Parking suggestion >> Area Sosta Camper Barsotti –  Via dei Cipressi, 11, 57020 Bibbona LI, Italy

Beach Le Cannelle, Monte Argentario, Tuscany

Another superb part of our northern Italy road trip itinerary was beach hopping around Monte Argentario . We arrived in early October and spent as much time as possible driving around the island peninsula. The temperatures were still hot and perfect for beach days!

Monte Argentario is a circular peninsula in the south of Tuscany near the Lazio border. It’s a dry and arid part of the region with wild hiking trails and rugged beaches. The scenery is simply breathtaking.

The main town on the island is Porto Santo Stefano . In the summer, it’s a busy little town, usually occupied by super yachts docked in the marina, but in October, it’s a tranquil, laid-back town with pastel-coloured buildings gently tumbling into the sea. Again, it has Riviera vibes, and if you enjoy the Portofino Peninsula but want somewhere a little less pompous, you’re going to love Monte Argentario . 

Jack and Abi on a Tuscan beach in Monte Argentario in Italy.

Good to know >> A few of our favourite beaches include Cala del Gesso, Feniglia Beach and L’Acqua Dolce. In town, head to the top of the hill and visit the Spanish Fort.

  • 1 Day: Porto Santo Stefano
  • 2 Days: Beach Hopping
  • Parking suggestion >> Camping Feniglia –  Localita’ Feniglia, 58019 Porto Ercole GR, Italy

Val d'Orcia is worth adding to a Northern Italy road trip Itinerary.

Have you ever watched the Gladiator film with Russel Crowe? One famous filming location is along the Campi Elisi hiking route in the Val d’Orcia, just outside the town of Pienza. It’s a gorgeous part of Tuscany with sensational views across the countryside. 

Pienza is wonderful too and somewhere you’ll want to spend an entire day. The historic centre is charming, with many little artesian shops, restaurants, and enotecas (wine shops). If you love cheese, the best Pecroni cheese is from this area, and you’ll find it for sale everywhere. The views from Via S. Caterina are a must; we witnessed a spectacular sunset here.

Pienza sunset in southern Tuscany, Italy.

Also, visit the Palazzo Piccolomini, a decorated Renaissance palace with a terraced garden and Pienza Cathedral, built in the 15th century with Gothic & Renaissance elements.

⭐ Suggested tour: Cities, Cheese and Wine Tour in Pienza & Montepulciano

Then there are Montalcino and Montepulciano , both on either side of Pienza and well-known for their wines. The towns feature captivating historic centres with winding streets, gorgeous ancient buildings, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. 

While you’re in the Val d’Orcia, you can enjoy wine-tasting tours , explore the region’s historic landmarks, and take an authentic cooking class to learn how to make traditional Tuscan dishes.

  • 1 Day: Montepulciano 
  • 1 Day: Pienza
  • 1 Day: Montalcino
  • Parking suggestion >> Area Sosta Camper – Pienza

Tuscany_Road_Trip_10_day_itinerary_Siena_Palazzo_Publico

We also enjoyed Siena (we actually enjoyed it everywhere; it was a fab trip!) and spent a day wandering around the city, browsing through art shops and galleries, and admiring the Gothic architecture. It’s a fairly big city, but not too big, so you can’t fit the main attractions into a day trip.

⭐ Suggested tour: Siena Duomo and City Walking Tour

Siena’s history is fascinating. During the Middle Ages, it rivalled Florence in wealth and power as a major centre of trade. This led to a period of artistic and architectural growth, which resulted in the construction of several magnificent buildings and works of art that still exist today. 

Keep in mind that if you’re walking from where we parked, it’s a long uphill trek to reach the centre, but it’s worth it. There are some incredible sights to explore, including Piazza del Campo , Siena’s main square, often considered the most beautiful piazza in Tuscany, Siena Cathedral , and Torre del Mangia . Also, visit Palazzo Pubblico and the Medici Fortress.

⭐ Pro tip >> Don’t miss the annual horse race, Palio di Siena, a popular bi-annual event taking place on 2 July and 16 August in the Piazza del Campo. It celebrates the victory of the Battle of Montaperti over the Florentines in 1260.

P.S. We had the worst pasta dish ever here at Du Versi . Omg, it was so bad, like so bland. I never thought I’d say I had the worst pasta of my life in Italy! Haha.

  • 1 Day: Siena
  • Parking suggestion >> Viale Pietro Toselli

Views of the towers in San Gimignano

San Gimignano was probably my favourite place in Tuscany, alongside Pienza , but there are slightly more activities to do here. Nevertheless, the highlights can be done in a day, and if you’re there on a Thursday, it’s market day. The market is small and in the town centre, but it’s still a great place to pick up materials, accessories, cheese, and some hot food.

The market is quaint, but there is a caveat: it can ruin your views of the Cathedral Square and Piazza della Cisterna.

Besides market day, other attractions you must visit in San Gimignano include climbing to the top of Torre Grossa and visiting the San Gimignano Cathedral . Other fun activities were visiting the torture museum and admiring the views from P utno Panaramico.

Outside of the city, you’ll find numerous walking trails leading to viewpoints looking back towards San Gimignano. It is, after all, most famous for its stone towers, and it’s important to appreciate them from afar. 

⭐ Suggested tour: Private Tour in San Gimignano

  • 1 Days: San Gimignano
  • Parking suggestion >> Area di Sosta camper S. Lucia

Tuscan Countryside: Best and worst time of the year to visit Italy

There are many picturesque locations in the Chianti Valley, but unless you’re dedicating an entire road trip to this area, you won’t see it all. Don’t worry, though, as we have visited many places, and I’ve got a list of my favourites.

There is the undeniably adorable San Gusmè , which is like a miniature toy town. Its historic centre is tiny, and all you’ll need is half an hour and a quick coffee break to admire the views. Afterwards, visit Castello di Brolio for a castle tour and wine tasting in the renowned Ricasoli winery.

I enjoyed Gaiole in Chianti . We spent the day hiking to the hilltop hamlet of Vertine, passing vineyards and olive groves. We then bar-hopped along the (small) high street and tried all the region’s wine varieties. 

Tuscany_Road_Trip_10_day_itinerary_Gaiole_In_Chianti_Jack_Wine

Panzano is another destination that is not to be missed if you can reach it on a Sunday. Market day in Panzano was one of our favourites from the entire road trip (and we visited many markets). Since the town is small, the market’s ambience is more intimate; local vendors sell produce from fresh veg to fashion, and it’s easy to enjoy a glass of wine amidst the welcomed chaos.

Afterwards, stop by the charming hilltop village of Montefioralle , which offers stunning views of the Tuscan hills. Then head to Greve in Chianti to end the day at Antica Macelleria Falorni, where you can enjoy a fantastic charcuterie board and a bottle of Chianti Classico.    

  • 1 Day: San Gusmè and Castello di Brolio,
  • 1 Day: Gaiole in Chianti  
  • 1 Day: Panzano, Greve in Chianti and Montefioralle
  • Parking suggestion >> Area Sosta Camper di Greve and Parcheggio Pubblico Panzano

Local artists exhibit works all around the cathedral

Florence is one of the most well-known cities in Italy. It’s renowned for its history, cultural heritage, and stunning Renaissance architecture. Did you know that the Romans founded the city in the 1st century BC? That’s old! It became a significant centre of trade and commerce during the Middle Ages. This led to enormous economic growth and allowed the city to flourish. 

We enjoyed Florence and always recommend visiting if you love architecture, art, culture and history. It’s full of captivating attractions, including many historic landmarks and museums, such as the famous Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo di Firenze. 

⭐ Suggested tour: Florence also has a delicious food scene, with traditional dishes like bistecca alla Fiorentina and ribollita soup. I highly suggest this food tour, which is the same one we did, which was excellent.

  • 2 Days: Florence
  • Parking suggestion>> SCAF – Area Sosta Camper Gelsomino .

Additional Stops | Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

You could add these additional stops to your itinerary for the perfect circular route. Although we didn’t make it to northeastern Italy, these destinations are must-visits and will complete a Northern Italy road trip itinerary!

Bologna: 2 Days

Bologna is a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It’s a popular destination for its delicious cuisine and historical landmarks, including the famous Two Towers, the Basilica di San Petronio, and the Palazzo dei Banchi. Be sure to enjoy the city’s food scene, with traditional dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and mortadella sausage.

Venice: 3 Days 

Did you know Venice is viewed as one of the most romantic cities in the world? And in truth, we’ve yet to visit, imagine! I hope to get there one day.

Venice’s famous winding canals, stunning architecture, and historic landmarks, including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs, have made it appear on all Italy Bucket Lists, so don’t miss it.

Lake Garda: 2 Days

The beautiful Lake Garda is the largest in Italy. It’s loved for its breathtaking natural beauty and scenery. Interestingly, it sits over the three regions of Lombardia, Veneto, and Trentino, where you’ll find crystal-clear waters, beautiful green hills, and charming lakeside towns. There are also a variety of outdoor activities, including scenic hiking trails and water sports. 

Trento: 2 Days

Trento is a small city in the Trentino-Alto Adige region above Lake Garda. The city is old, having been founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. There are lots of attractions to fill your time, including the Castello del Buonconsiglio, the Cathedral of San Vigilio, and the Torre dell’Aquila. There are also a number of museums, art galleries, and cultural festivals.

Lake Como: 2 Days

Lake Como is another beautiful lake in the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s very popular with tourists and is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, scenic views, and charming towns. Like most lakes, it offers tons of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, and water sports.

Milan: 2 Days

Milan is the capital of Lombardy and is known as a global centre of fashion and culture. There’s a lot to do, including visiting the famous Duomo di Milano and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. There’s is also the Castello Sforzesco. The city is also renowned for its delicious cuisine, with traditional dishes like risotto alla Milanese and panettone.

Resources For Italy

Is it your first time visiting Italy?  We’ve written lots of useful posts to help you plan your trip. You can check them all out on our  Italy Page here ,  but below are some of our most popular articles:

  • Read this post for our hand-picked selection of the best day trips from Stresa .
  • For a list of the most charming towns on the Italian Riviera, head here.
  • Find out what we thought of the Boboli Gardens in Florence .

⭐ Pro tip >>  If you’re going to be using your phone, don’t forget about overseas data roaming. You’ll get charged for using your data. Try  Airalo’s eSIMs and download a digital data pack. It’s quick and easy ; great if you’re in a hurry.

The End | A Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

As always, I’ll finish this northern Italy road trip itinerary with a few final thoughts. Overall, a road trip around Italy will be incredible. We had a fantastic time and enjoyed experiencing the different regions, learning about the culture, tasting wines, and eating our body weight (and then some) in food.

I did have a few favourites, but I enjoyed all the stops we made. For those that you can’t miss, I loved Pienza and San Gimignano in Tuscany, plus a market day in Panzano. In Liguria, I loved the authenticity of the destinations in the Imperia province; Dolceacqua was my favourite, but Liguria was my favourite region overall. As for Piedmont, I couldn’t get enough of the mountain scenery, but the hike we did from Alagna Valsesia was genuinely captivating.

However you decide to plan your northern Italy road trip, I hope this itinerary has been helpful, and I’m sure you’re going to have a blast! 

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Abigail Dalton is the owner and creator behind I’m Going On An Adventure, a blog which helps travellers find unique destinations worldwide. She focuses on offbeat travel and road trips, giving first-hand experiences to help her readers plan their perfect trips and make the best memories. She also helps travellers plan their dream holidays with bespoke travel services where she creates fun-packed itineraries. When she isn't writing about her travels you'll find her on long country walks foraging for mushrooms or enjoying a cool fruity white under the sun, toes tucked in the sand.

She Wanders Abroad

The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

Panoramic view from La Villa/Stern in the Dolomites

A Northern Italy road trip means enchanting lakes, astonishing mountains, and romantic cities. Along the way, you will experience delectable Italian gastronomy, adrenaline-pumping hikes, and fascinating museums and art galleries.

There is so much to take into account when planning the perfect Northern Italy itinerary so my travel guide is here to help you get started.

In this 2 weeks in Northern Italy article, you will find all the necessary information about where to visit, where to stay and what to do, along with many useful travel tips and information about the region. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

* Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link. *

Table of Contents

Overview of Your Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Rather than proposing what to do each day of your 2 week Italy road trip, I have split your itinerary into 6 sections that cover a different region.

Each segment contains useful information about how to get there, where to stay and where to eat as well as the best things to do in that specific area.

Breakdown of your 2 weeks in Northern Italy

  • Milan: 2 days
  • Lake Como: 2 days
  • Lake Garda: 2 days
  • Verona: 1 day
  • Dolomites: 5 days
  • Venice: 2 days

You can choose whether you start in Milan and end in Venice, or go in reverse. This Northern Italy road trip itinerary works either way!

Map for your Northern Italy road trip

Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations you’re going to visit on this Northern Italy road trip itinerary.

I marked the different parts of the road trip with different colors so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit in each area.

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

Milan (2 Days)

Milan is the Italian equivalent of Paris with its hundreds of boutiques, splendid landmarks, and fashion-centric identity.

The city was subject to devastation during World War II although fortunately the monuments such as the Duomo di Milan were salvaged and resurrected. That being said, Milan has the most modern vibe of the cities featured on this Northern Italy road trip.

Although it’s a huge city, most of the tourist attractions are centrally located so 2 days in Milan is sufficient time for getting to know the city. 

Milan skyline with modern skyscrapers

Best things to do in Milan

Duomo di milano .

The most iconic landmark in the city, the Duomo di Milano (Cathedral of Milan) is the perfect place to start your 2 weeks in Northern Italy.

You can admire the gothic architecture from the outside and visit the rooftop for panoramic city views. I strongly recommend doing both!

Make sure to book your tickets in advance to skip the line . Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Girl in a yellow dress twirling in front of the Duomo di Milano in Italy

Piazza del Duomo

The Cathedral Square is the center of Milan and is a great place to hang out with an espresso or gelato while you take in the sights and observe stylish Milan locals going about their day.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall in Italy. You can browse luxury stores in this elegant 19th-century arcade or just visit to take photos.

It’s beautiful at night when it’s illuminated by street lights and if you want to have it all to yourself, make sure to be there before 8 am.

Girl in a yellow dress twirling inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy

The Last Supper

Did you know that one of the most famous paintings in the world is located in Milan? Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is housed in the 15th-century basilica, Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

Tickets are usually sold out months in advance so it’s important to book a ticket online the moment you know the exact dates of your Northern Italy road trip!

Castello Sforzesco

Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza (the Duke of Milan), the Castello Sforzesco is wonderfully preserved and it’s one of the most beautiful castles in Europe to this day.

The castle is free to visit and you can visit the current art exhibition at the museum for a minimal fee.

Sforzesco Castle in Milan, Italy

Royal Palace

This impressive 18th-century palace was formerly a governmental seat but now it hosts historic artworks in an opulent setting. It’s worth coinciding a visit with the Modern Art Gallery to note how styles have evolved. 

San Siro (AC Milan) Stadium

Perhaps not for everyone but if you are a football fan you might want to book a tour of the AC Milan Stadium and Museum.

The museum houses historic and contemporary memorabilia while the tour includes the VIP stand, interview room, and dressing rooms. 

Navigli 

This bohemian neighborhood features funky canalside trattorias and floating bars.

After lots of art and landmarks, it makes a nice change to your Milan itinerary and is a great place to spend an afternoon pottering around flea markets and vintage stores or an evening of laid-back drinks. 

Sunset in Navigli, Milan, Italy

Where to eat in Milan

  • Caffè Vergnano 1882 : Situated within walking distance to the Duomo, this is a great place to grab a morning pastry and fresh brew before you dive into a day of sightseeing.  
  • B : B operates a restaurant and a cafe within walking distance of one another. Both are set within chic interiors and give you the chance to enjoy authentic Italian. Visit B for artistic fine dining and wine and B Cafe for gourmet sandwiches and cocktails.
  • Macha Cafe : Because you’re going to be eating a lot of Northern Italian dishes over the next few days, spice things up with some fresh Japanese food. Sushi, poke bowls and stacked pancakes served with matcha are on the menu at this cute string of restaurants. 
  • Rita : One of the coolest bars in Milan, this canalside bar mixes innovative cocktails and serves a mix of comforting Italian dishes 
  • Pavé : If you love the combination of delicious pastries with a heavenly cappuccino, drop by this cute cafe for a hearty breakfast or a quick afternoon snack. Each product is carefully crafted and beautifully presented so it’s a real feast for the eyes and the soul as well!

Breakfast at Pavé Milan

Where to stay in Milan

As you are only spending 2 days in Milan, I recommend that you stay centrally, especially if this is your first time in the city.

The Centro Storico is the heart of the city and this is where you can discover all of the major cultural attractions as well as shops and places to eat. More affordable accommodation is located on the outer rim of the historic center, in Brera and Navigli.

Milan’s center is fairly walkable and has good public transportation so it’s enough to pick up your rental car before leaving. This way you can save some money on the rental time as well as on parking. 

If you want to read more about the different neighborhoods, make sure to check out my in-depth article about where to stay in Milan .

If you’re in a rush, below you can find my top picks for hotels in Milan for different budgets.

  • Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Milano
  • Mid-range: Sina De La Ville
  • Budget: Acca Palace

Lake Como (2 Days)

Located in the Lombardy region at the foot of the Alps, Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy.

The azure water is surrounded by cute little lakeside towns, each with its own portfolio of stylish hotels, trendy restaurants, historic churches, landmarks, and museums as well as boat piers that connect to other towns.

Its dramatic setting means that you have viewpoints from pretty much anywhere. Swimming is possible in Lake Como but be prepared for the deep water to be cold even at the peak of summer.

Due to the peculiar shape of the lake (like the letter ‘Y’) the perimeter of the lake is 171 km (106 miles) and this makes it tricky to drive around the entire lake during this Northern Italy road trip itinerary.

Bellagio is strategically positioned to enable you to drive to other nearby towns and hop on boats to those further afield.

Driving time: 1 hour (56 km/35 miles) from Milan to Lecco, 1.5 hours (70 km/44 miles) from Milan to Bellagio or Varenna

Colorful houses in Varenna, Lake Como

Best things to do in Lake Como

Even if you choose to stay elsewhere during this leg of your road trip to Northern Italy, you should still consider spending at least a few hours in this picturesque lakeside town. Wander the cobblestone streets, dip into cafes and soak up the atmosphere – you won’t be disappointed!

Girl in a pink skirt looking at the waterfront in Bellagio, Lake Como

Sail Lake Como

There are plenty of opportunities to hire a motorboat or board a sailing trip to explore Lake Como from the water. This Sailing Boat Experience gives you the chance to have a go at playing captain and swimming opportunities. 

Villa del Balbianello 

Right out of a fairytale, this villa is set upon the Lavedo headland and juts out to provide splendid lake views from its grounds and terraces. The villa has been used for special events and as a film set many times over the years, if you’ve seen James Bond or Star Wars it may ring a bell.

Girl in a white dress in Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como

Villa Carlotta 

A short drive south of Menaggio, this luxurious 17th-century lakeside villa is set within 14 acres of botanical gardens. The residence showcases masterpieces including The Kiss by Francesco Hayez and exhibits how the stately home would have looked in the 19th century. 

View of Villa Carlotta, Lake Como from the water

Isola Comacina

Isola Comacina is the solo island of Lake Como and is located in the southwest part of the lake. Boats shuttle tourists to the island from Ossuccio as well as towns further afield.

For a small place, Isola Comacina has a large history that you can discover via its churches and historic buildings before slashing out on an upscale meal at the island restaurants.

As one of the largest towns, Lecco has a monopoly on some of the most interesting attractions in Lake Como. Tour the Palace of Fears and the Manzoni Museum of Municipal Art and walk along the Lungolago di Lecco.

There are numerous short hiking trails that are accessible from Lecco if you have some extra time.

Panoramic view in Lecco, Lake Como, Italy

Como-Brunate Funicolare

Ride the Funicolare Como-Brunate from Como Town to the mountain town of Brunate for magnificent views.

You’ll find restaurants at the top or you can hike to the summit of Monte Boletto. This 11.7 km (7.3 miles) hike is moderate to challenging and takes approximately 3-4 hours in total. 

Sunset from Brunate, Italy

Where to eat in Lake Como

  • Kitchen : Located in Como, Kitchen puts a modern twist on traditional Italian staples within an exquisite setting that’s perfect for special occasions.
  • Trattoria Corte Fiorina : Hidden away down one of the oldest streets in Lecco, this lovely restaurant features an outdoor courtyard and a sophisticated internal dining room. The risotto is highly commended.
  • Gelateria del Borgo : Homemade ice cream, milkshakes, and cakes to go or savor in a tranquil courtyard in beautiful Bellagio. 
  • Osteria Il Pozzo : This rustic trattoria in Menaggio has a compact menu but every dish is loaded with flavor and the place has a casual ambiance. 
  • Babi Como : Located in Como, this lovely cafe serves the most delicious and aesthetic dishes ever. If you’re looking for a delicious brunch in a beautifully decorated cafe with all the good vibes, don’t miss out on this one!

Breakfast in Babi Como

Where to stay in Lake Como

As Lake Como comprises many small resort towns you have plenty of choices available with accommodations varying from basic guesthouses to luxury villas.

Bellagio is perhaps the most idyllic and most convenient place to stay in Lake Como. However, Como, Lecco, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna are all worthy contenders. 

You can decide whether you want to book 2 nights and stay in the same hotel or spend the two evenings in different towns.

Whichever one you choose, make sure to ditch your car during the day and use the public boats and ferries to get around Lake Como as driving (and especially finding a parking spot) would be a big hassle.

To get you started, below you can find my personal recommendations for staying in Bellagio or Varenna for every budget which is a great base for your Lake Como itinerary .

If you want to know more about where to stay in Lake Como, check out my detailed guide about the best places to stay in Lake Como which includes 7 different towns with pros-cons and hotel recommendations!

Best places to stay in Bellagio

  • Luxury | Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
  • Mid-range | Hotel du Lac & SPA
  • Budget | Hotel Bellagio

Best places to stay in Varenna

  • Luxury | Hotel Royal Victoria
  • Mid-range | Hotel Olivedo
  • Budget | Hotel Montecodeno

Bar Giardino at Hotel Royal Victoria, Varenna

Lake Garda (2 Days)

In terms of surface volume, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. As with Lake Como, Lake Garda is a popular destination for international and domestic tourists alike and it’s the most family-friendly of Italy’s lake destinations.

The glorious sapphire water is framed by resort towns with historic sites and lively restaurants. If you wanted to drive around Lake Garda in its entirety, it would take approximately 3 hours, subject to traffic, to complete the 140 km (90 miles) radius. 

The northern end of Lake Garda almost resembles a system of fjords and arguably is the most impressive visually. As with Lake Como, swimming is possible at Lake Garda so add your swimmers to your Northern Italy road trip packing list. 

Driving time: 2.5 hours (150 km/93 miles) from Bellagio to Sirmione or 3 hours (185km/115 miles) from Bellagio to Riva del Garda

Beach at Limone sul Garda, Italy

Best things to do in Lake Garda 

Rocca scaligero castle.

The main landmark of Sirmione is the moated 13th-century Scaligero Castle. Open to the public, you can pay to tour the interiors and clamber around the towers for sprawling lake views. 

Rocca Scaligero Castle in Sirmione, Lake Garda

Thermal baths 

Sirmione is known for its thermal baths which are believed to have healing benefits. There is a selection of bathhouses on the peninsula or you can drive further afield to Parco Termale del Garda or Villa dei Cedri. After all, 2 weeks in Northern Italy calls for some indulgence, am I right?

Cruise Lake Garda

Watersports and sailings are rife in Lake Garda and provide a unique way to experience the surroundings. You can choose from short boat tours by speedboat , four-hours cruises , and sunset sailings . 

Panoramic view of Limone sul Garda

Monte Baldo hiking trail

Lake Garda provides a wealth of hiking trails that are accessible without a guide. The Monte Baldo circuit is a moderate 8 km (5 miles) trail that takes around 4 hours to complete.

To access the trailhead you will need to ride the cable car from Malcesine to the top of Monte Baldo, which is worth doing regardless of whether or not you want to hike. 

Riva del Garda promenade

Riva del Garda’s backdrop with the towering mountains and greenery really helps make the pastel-colored buildings pop. Take the time to wander the promenade or take a boat ride to appreciate the postcard-perfect landscape even if you don’t choose to stay in the town.  

Colorful houses in Riva del Garda

Lake Garda markets

Traditional Italian markets operate most days in the towns of Lake Garda and give you the opportunity to purchase fresh local produce and souvenirs such as leather goods and ceramics. You can check the schedule for the current locations and timings of the Lake Garda markets online. 

Gardaland 

Italy’s leading amusement park is located right next to Lake Garda and provides white knuckle rides and family-friendly alternatives to appease all. If you’re traveling with children or teenagers, Gardaland is a fun addition to factor into your Northern Italy road trip.

Where to eat in Lake Garda 

  • Jamaica Bar : Nab yourself a spot at one of the most scenic parts of Sirmione and soak up views of Lake Garda over a sunset cocktail. 
  • Mamba Beach Club Limone : Providing incredible views of the lake, a pool and sun terrace, artistic dishes, and flashy cocktails, this is a great spot if you want to indulge in some lakeside luxury. 
  • Hosteria Croce d’Oro : A small family-owned trattoria in Desenzano del Garda that serves homemade pasta, succulent meat, and wholesome seafood with an expansive wine menu. 
  • Aril Pizzeria : An unpretentious diner in Malcesine with an ample pizza menu at budget-friendly prices. 
  • Ristorante Al Vaticano : Situated in a quintessentially Italian courtyard in Riva del Garda, the environment is just as pleasing as the hearty Italian fare. 
  • La Darsena : Operated by Grand Hotel Fasano, this lakeside restaurant offers an extensive outdoor space shaded by chestnut trees right by the lake. They serve aperitifs and cocktails along with authentic local cuisine such as homemade pastas and delicious pizzas.

Dinner at La Darsena at Lake Garda

Where to stay in Lake Garda 

Similar to Lake Como, I recommend booking accommodation for two nights in Lake Garda but consider splitting your accommodation across two towns.

As you approach from the south, you can start your Lake Garda road trip in the southern end and book a hotel in the peninsula town of Sirmione or historic Desenzano del Garda.

For your second night, I suggest either Malcesine in the shadow of Monte Baldo or the colorful resort towns of Riva del Garda or Limone sul Garda. 

All of these proposed towns are well-equipped with amenities, restaurants, and attractions for your road trip to Northern Italy. But, of course, you might prefer to book somewhere more remote along the lakeside – it’s totally up to you!

If you want to know more about the best towns to stay at the lake, make sure to check my in-depth guide about where to stay in Lake Garda .

If you don’t want to spend too much time with searching for accommodations, check out my recommendations below for different budgets.

  • Luxury: Hotel Olivi Spa & Natural Wellness
  • Mid-range: Du Lac Et Du Parc Grand Resort
  • Budget: Albergo Ristorante Montebaldo

Outdoor pool at Grand Hotel Fasano

Verona (1 Day)

Verona is a small medieval city that’s teeming with ancient sights. The historic center, Città Antica, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a number of landmarks that predate the Rome equivalents.

Verona is also the gateway to the Valpolicella wine region and while you’re in the city you can sample the esteemed local reds for yourself, best enjoyed with a delicious Verona meal.

It’s a small city so spending 1 day in Verona is sufficient for your Northern Italy road trip.

Driving time: 50 minutes (45 km/28 miles) from Sirmione to Verona or 1 hour 10 minutes (85 km/53 miles) from Riva del Garda to Verona

Panoramic view of Verona, Italy

Best things to do in Verona

Piazza brà.

The beating heart of Verona, Piazza Brà, is where you most likely start your day in Verona. It’s a lovely spot and believed to be the largest public square in Europe.

Note the statue of Italy’s original ruler, King Vittorio Emanuele II, in the center and spend some time admiring the historic buildings and walls of the Verona Arena. 

Juliet’s Balcony

Sure it’s a little touristy but seeing the legendary balcony that Romeo wooed Juliet from is worth adding to your Northern Italy itinerary.

The square that Casa di Giulietta is located in is tiny and gets crowded so you should visit as early as possible in the day to snap a photo. Romeo’s house is just around the corner! 

Juliet's Balcony in Verona, Italy

Torre dei Lamberti

Situated in Piazza del Erbe, the Torre dei Lamberti is a Medieval bell tower that dates back to the 12th century. You can tackle the stairs or hop into the elevator and take in the panoramic views across the rooftops of Verona from the top.

Verona Arena

This Roman amphitheater is so fantastically preserved that it’s still used to this day for opera. You can tour the arena or even watch a live performance if your visit coincides with a concert.

A number of walking tours operate in town that include skip the line entry to Verona Arena . 

Verona Arena

Castel San Pietro

An alternative option for getting a birds-eye view of Verona: ride the funicular to this ancient fortress that was built upon a castle.

To access the funicular station, you will cross over the ornate Ponte Pietro which is a sight within itself.

Castel San Pietro in Verona, Italy

Wine tasting

Enjoy a tipple of Valpolicella in one of Verona’s world-class restaurants or book a Valpolicella Wine Garden Visit with Wine Tasting for deeper insight.

Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore

Another one for the Shakespeare fans, the crypt of the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is where the marriage of Romeo and Juliet took place. The Romanesque-style church was constructed between 967-1398 AD in honor of St Zeno of Verona. 

Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore in Verona, Italy

Where to eat in Verona

  • Trattoria Reale : Positioned down a photographic alleyway, this elegant eatery serves a mix of classic Italian dishes. 
  • Elk Bakery : Fluffy pancakes, delicious toasted bagels, and americanos that will satisfy those seeking a reprise from espressos; this is a great little breakfast spot to squeeze in. 
  • Ziga Bar : A cozy vegetarian restaurant that also has excellent vegan options. Perfect for plant-based foodies seeking brunch, lunch, or dinner.
  • Amorino : For anyone seeking their daily gelato fix, the servers at Amorino will present it sculptured into the shape of a flower.

Where to stay in Verona

As you will only spend 1 day in Verona I suggest that you stay close to the Città Antica, the historic center. Cittadella and Borgo Trento are alternatives where accommodation is a fraction cheaper or where parking spaces are more likely to come by.

Below you can find some of the best places to stay in Verona for every budget.

  • Luxury: Due Torri Hotel
  • Mid-range: Hotel Giulietta e Romeo
  • Budget: Hotel San Marco Fitness Pool & Spa

Dolomites (5 Days)

The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising razorblade peaks as well as alpine lakes and fairytale meadows.

The area spans the three provinces of Belluno, Trentino, and South Tyrol and you will notice that many towns, lakes, and landmarks have both Italian and German names due to the close proximity to Austria and Switzerland. 

My advice is to split the Dolomites section of your Northern Italy road trip into West and East with 3 days in the Western Dolomites and 2 days in the Eastern Dolomites.

From each base, you will be able to plan short hikes and check out picturesque churches and turquoise lakes. 

To plan this part of your Northern Italy itinerary in more detail you can read my ultimate Dolomites road trip itinerary for 5 days .

Driving time: 2 hours (190 km/118 miles) from Verona to Ortisei, then 1.5 hours (65 km/40 miles) from Ortisei to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Best things to do in the Dolomites

Alpe di siusi (seiser alm).

Hiking at Alpe di Siusi is one of the best hikes in the Dolomites as it enables you to see right across this alpine meadow and at the peaks of the Western Dolomites.

You can get there by riding the cable car from Ortisei during the day but if you want to visit for sunrise or sunset, you’ll have to drive up to Compatsch and hike for about an hour to reach the scenic viewpoint.

It’s important to know that you can only drive to Compatsch and not further, and it’s not allowed to drive up between 9 am and 5 pm.

You can't miss the picturesque Alpe di Siusi on your Dolomites road trip

From Ortisei, you can ride the cable car high into the Puez Odle Nature Park and follow a short hiking trail to see the shocking ridgeline of Seceda with its huge dropoff.

You can continue by walking across the ridge if you have time and you can choose to take some longer hikes in the area as well. 

Churches of the Dolomites

Two of the prettiest churches in the Dolomites are within driving distance of Ortisei. Framed by the Odle mountain range, Santa Maddalena Church is located in the town of the same name.

From here you can choose to walk or drive to the neighboring St. John Church in Ranui which is said to be the most photographed church in the entire Dolomites.

Girl in a white dress sitting on a bench, looking at Santa Maddalena church in Val di Funes, which is a most visit on a Dolomites road trip

Passo Gardena 

This high-altitude mountain pass connects Sëlva in the Val Gardena with Corvara in Val Badia. This is the best way to connect with Cortina d’Ampezzo where you will spend the next few days of your 2 week Italy road trip. Make sure you stop at Rifugio Frara where you can find a fantastic viewpoint!

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)

There are many beautiful lakes in the Dolomites but perhaps the most famous of all is Lago di Braies. During the summer season, you can rent a rowing boat and sail yourself across the water.

Visit as early as possible to beat the crowds, otherwise, you might not be able to snag a parking spot later!

Lago di Braies, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

This relatively easy yet utterly scenic hike provides jaw-dropping views of the famous three peaks. It’s a relatively easy hike that can be completed within 4-5 hours and requires no special skills.

Read my complete guide to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike and put this at the top of your list of things to do in the Eastern Dolomites.  

Cadini di Misurina

This is a short hike that rewards you with one of the most spectacular viewpoints that you’ll see during your 2 weeks in Northern Italy.

It’s not a very popular find and it’s generally hard to find information about it online so make sure to check out my Cadini di Misurina hiking guide before you go!

Girl in a cave overlooking Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Where to eat in the Dolomites

  • Caffè Val d’Anna : This apres joint in Ortisei dishes up comforting South Tyrolean dishes and light Italian dishes. Their apfelstrüdel is touted as the best in the Dolomites!
  • Baita Resch : A warm and cozy restaurant with warming plates that will provide nourishment after tackling the local hiking trails around Cortina d’Ampezzo.
  • Dolomiti : Feast on freshly baked bread and pastries to start your day or wind down in the evening with a glass of wine at this friendly restaurant and bar. 

Where to stay in the Dolomites

Head to Ortisei (Urtijëi) in the valley of Val Gardena and make this your base for the first 3 days where you will explore the Western Dolomites. This is the largest and prettiest of the three Val Gardena towns.

Then you can relocate to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the province of Belluno for the last 2 days. Considered the ‘Pearl of the Dolomites’, this is an alpine ski resort that offers excellent summer hiking. 

If you want to learn more about the best areas to stay in the Dolomites, make sure to check out my detailed post about where to stay in the Dolomites which contains pros and cons, and hotel recommendations for each area.

In case you don’t want to spend too much time for searching, check out my recommendations for staying in Val Gardena and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Best places to stay in Val Gardena:

  • Luxury: Hotel Angelo Engel
  • Mid-range: Garni August
  • Budget: Hotel Edda

Best places to stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo:

  • Luxury: Grand Hotel Savoia Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • Mid-range: HOTEL de LEN
  • Budget: Hotel Meuble Oasi

Hotel Angelo Engel in Val Gardena, Dolomites

Venice (2 Days)

As one of the most beautiful cities in Europe , Venice is swimming in evocative views and attractions to make your heart swoon. A cluster of around 100 islands within the Venetian Lagoon form the city of Venice.

The main six sestieri (districts) are wrapped around the Grand Canal but further afield you have other islands such as Burano and Murano that have a different identity of their own.

Venice is a pedestrianized city so you can discard your rental car for the final two days of your 2 week Northern Italy road trip. Regardless of where you choose to stay in Venice, you can get to most places easily on foot or by water taxi (Vaporetto). 

As Venice is a paradise for photographers you might want to check out my guide to the best Venice Instagram spots which contains some essential shooting tips along with the exact coordinates for each location. 

Driving time: 2 hours (160 km/100 miles) from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Venice

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

Best things to do in Venice

St. mark’s square & st. mark’s basilica .

Start your Venice exploration in the core of the city from where you can access the top tourist attractions and photograph the landmarks.

While you’re there you can also dip into St. Mark’s Basilica and ride the elevator to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile for the best panoramic views over the city.

Girl in a pink dress twirling in front of the St. Marks Basilica in Venice, Italy

Doge Palace

Doge Palace is an ornate complex comprising exhibition halls brimming with artworks, armor, and the famous golden staircase.

It’s worth planning ahead and booking a Doge Palace skip the line ticket which shortens the time spent queuing. 

Bridge of Sighs 

A splendid bridge with a darker history, the Bridge of Sighs is where prisoners released one final breath in daylight before being imprisoned next door to Doge’s Palace. Gondolas usually take you beneath it but it’s worth visiting on foot as well for a different perspective.

Girl in a pink skirt sitting on a stone bridge in front of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice

Gondola Ride

Although the costs will raise any eyebrow, riding on a traditional Venetian gondola is such a special occasion it’s really worth doing it.

Prices are steep, usually around €120 but you might be able to negotiate a little bit. 

Rialto Bridge 

Originally constructed during the 12th century (with subsequent reconstruction), Rialto Bridge is the oldest in Venice and one of the city’s most arresting sights. Pay a visit to take some photos and watch the passing gondolas. 

Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy

Murano is another one of Venice’s islands that is accessible via Vaporetto and is a joy to explore on foot. Visit the Glass Cathedral of Santa Chiara which all makes sense once you’ve educated yourself on the island’s glass-blowing heritage at the Glass Museum.

Another island you can spend a half day exploring, Burano is known for its colorful architecture, lacemaking, and seafood. Find Bepi’s House, cross the Love Bridge, and order the catch of the day.

Girl in a pink skirt sitting in front of a pink house in Burano

Where to eat in Venice 

  • Cantina Do Mori : It’s tricky to find hidden restaurants in Venice but this historic local joint fits the bill. Come with a hunger for Cicchetti (Italian tapas) and a thirst for wine.
  • Ristorante Wistèria : Fresh, authentic Venetian fare crafted from seasonal produce that suits vegetarians and carnivores alike. Book ahead to secure a table in the canalside garden.
  • Gelatoteca Suso : Rumored to be the greatest gelato in the world, this gelateria is conveniently positioned next to the Rialto Bridge and even offers vegan options. 
  • Caffè Florian : Said to be the oldest cafe in Europe, this is a lovely place to grab a coffee, negroni, or signature hot chocolate in a charismatic setting. Although dining at Caffé Florian is truly a once in a lifetime experience, be prepared that you will have to pay big bucks for it!
  • Trattoria Al Gatto Nero : Stop for the freshest calamari and seafood linguine at this historic Burano trattoria. 

Breakfast in Venice, Italy

Where to stay in Venice 

Although central Venice spreads across six sestieri, the city is far smaller than you might think, therefore 2 days in Venice is all you need to explore the best sights.

San Marco and San Polo together form the touristic center of the city which means that there are lots of accommodations available within walking distance of the major tourist spots, although they are on the pricier side.

Cannaregio is a great alternative that’s still super convenient but a tad more affordable.

To learn more about the different parts of Venice, make sure to read my in-depth guide about where to stay in Venice . And if you want to make your stay even more memorable, you can stay in one of the most incredible Venice hotels with canal views !

Below you can find my personal recommendations for the best places to stay in Venice for different budgets.

  • Luxury: Baglioni Hotel Luna
  • Mid-range: H10 Palazzo Canova
  • Budget: Hotel Bel Sito e Berlino

Useful Info for Your Northern Italy Itinerary

How to get to northern italy .

As you can start this Northern Italy road trip itinerary in either Milan or Venice, you will need to fly to either Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) or Venice Airport Marco Polo (VCE).

Both are international airports that connect to other Italian cities and destinations in mainland Europe and you can usually find budget flights so keep an eye on upcoming sales. Nonstop flights operate between New York JFK and Milan. 

If you are already in Italy then you might want to take the train to your starting point and then pick up your rental car. Milano Centrale Railway Station (Milan) and Santa Lucia Train Station (Venice) connect to most major Italian cities.

If you’re coming from another European country that is not so far away from Italy and you own a car, it’s worth considering bringing it with you.

This way you can save a lot of money by not having to rent a car but on the other hand, you will need to calculate with the extra fuel usage for getting to Italy from your home country.

But since you’ll be spending 2 weeks in Northern Italy, having your own car is a lot better financially!

Beautiful canal in Venice, Italy

Best time go on a Northern Italy road trip

Italy experiences four seasons and the climate is a fraction cooler year-round in the north in comparison to the south. You can practically visit Northern Italy anytime and you’ll be greeted with beautiful scenery! But let’s see what are the absolute best times for your Northern Italy road trip itinerary.

The shoulder seasons of April, May, June, September, and October are the best times to visit and do this 2 week Italy road trip. This way you will benefit from the most pleasant weather and you will be able to visit everywhere on my itinerary including the hiking trails.

The months of July and August are considered as the peak tourist season which means everywhere will be busier, accommodation rates higher, and the weather at its hottest.

However, if you don’t mind these factors then summer is a wonderful time to visit Northern Italy for seeing the wildflowers in full bloom!

That said, if you like winter wonderlands you’ll love seeing the Dolomites when they’re topped with snow. Although please keep in mind that most of the hiking trails in the Dolomites will be closed during the winter and you will need to take some extra precautions for driving in the snow.

On the other hand, you can go skiing in the mountains which can be a nice addition to your Northern Italy road trip.

Lago di Carezza is a must stop on every Dolomites road trip

Tips for driving in Northern Italy

When planning your dream road trip to Northern Italy don’t forget to check the local driving laws and prepare any paperwork before you pick up your rental. Here are some quick tips to help you get started.

Driving License

If you’re coming from overseas, you will need to carry your driving license from your home country as well as an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) while driving in Northern Italy.

If your driving license was issued by one of the member states of the European Economic Area, you will not need the IDP as your license is valid in Italy.

Seatbelts & Speed Limits

Seatbelts are compulsory in Italy so remember to buckle up. Speed limits in Italy are usually 130 kph (81 mph) on major highways, 110 kph (68 mph) on non-major highways, and 90 kph (56 mph) on local roads. Always check for signs. 

Driving on Autostradas

When driving on autostradas (toll roads) you are required to pay at the booth as you exit the autostrada. Make sure to check the boards above each line in advance because it’s very important to stand in line at the correct one!

Avoid the yellow board that says “Telepass” and choose either the blue board that says “Carte” where you can pay with credit cards or the white board that indicates cash payment only.

Most toll roads accept credit cards but it’s worth having cash in your pocket in case the machine doesn’t work (it happens more than you would think!).

Driving in the Dolomites

When you reach the Dolomites region of your Northern Italy road trip itinerary prepare for narrow winding roads. Err on the side of caution and drive slowly if you are less confident behind the wheel.

Parking lots in the Dolomites are very limited so you will need to arrive early to grab a space at viewpoints, lakes, and trailheads. 

Parking in Northern Italy

When booking accommodation make sure that the hotel provides parking and check whether you need to reserve it in advance or pay extra to secure a spot. Parking in Northern Italy is hard to come by!

There’s no need to drive in the cities as they are generally walkable and you will find the public transport is less stressful. In case your hotel doesn’t provide parking, it’s best to find a parking house and leave your car there while exploring the cities.

View of Santa Maddalena Church in Val di Funes, Dolomites

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The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks”

Would love to follow your great itinerary leaving from Milan but also returning to Milan for our flight home. We have visited Venice but would like to stay one night in Verona before returning to Milan. Do you have suggestions for a scenic, interesting drive from Verona back to Milan? Would like to avoid the Autostrada completely if possible. Thanks for any help with this!

Hi Tish! During our Northern Italy road trip we only used the autostrada between Verona and Milan so unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions for a scenic drive. But if you’re not planning to stay at Lake Garda, maybe you can drive around the lake before returning to Milan from Verona? It’s a super scenic road for sure!

This is the most professional, complete, informative, awe inspiring and beautiful travel blog / guide I have seen. Well done! I plan to use this as a travel guide for sure. I did not see any dates as to when you took this adventure, nor an estimate of costs along the way and overall, but this would be very helpful too. Thank you Kriszti. 😁

Thank you so much for your lovely feedback!

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The Crowded Planet

Northern Italy Road Trip – 1 Week Itinerary

Updated April 29, 2024

// By Margherita

Planning a visit to Italy? A Northern Italy road trip is an incredible way to experience a wide range of beautiful and world-famous cities in a very short space of time. Among the Northern cities are Turin, Milan, Verona, Venice and Como, all within a 400 km straight line.

Heading to Northern Italy? It can be busy – make sure you book your tours and entry tickets ahead of time to avoid queues!

  • Magic Turin Tour: Dark Arts and Black Magic – discover the dark side of Italy’s most mysterious city
  • Milan: City Center & Last Supper Walking Tour – you can’t miss the LAST SUPPER in Milan!
  • From Milan: Lake Como & Bellagio by Bus & Private Boat Tour – best-rated Lake Como tour!
  • Verona Arena Skip-the-Line Guided Tour – the perfect way to skip the long lines to the Arena
  • Venice Doge’s Palace Priority Entrance & St. Mark’s Square Tour – 2 Venice must-sees

Are you planning to travel to Italy? I’m sure you’ll be aware that high-speed Italian trains are an excellent way to move around the country – for example, you can travel from Milan to Venice in just 2 hours, and all the way from Milan to Rome in 3!

However, by travelling fast you’re bound to miss those unusual sights and offbeat places that make travelling to a country like Italy so special. But guess what – we have the solution. How does a Northern Italy road trip sound?

Driving around Italy is a great way to discover individual regions and escape the crowds, visiting Tuscany in spring or Sardinia in winter for example, but it’s also a fun, hassle-free way to move between major cities, while discovering smaller villages and scenic locations along the way. 

That’s why we put together a road trip from the West to the East of Northern Italy – starting in Turin , the home of Fiat and the first capital of Italy, and ending in Venice via Milan, Lake Como and more. 

Our Northern Italy road trip itinerary is a week long , but you can easily extend it to 10 days, two weeks or more, depending on how much time off you have.

We’ve included some practical tips and frequent questions for a Northern Italy road trip, plus a full itinerary including what to see, and how to travel between cities – the quick and the scenic option!

triennale

Northern Italy Road Trip Practical Tips

What do i need to rent a car in italy.

If you have a valid car driving licence issued in a EU country , you can simply rent a car in Italy with that. If your driving licence was issued in the US, Australia or elsewhere, you’ll also need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Not all car rentals might require an IDP, but we highly recommend having yours on you at all times – if you’re pulled over for a check, or you’re involved in an accident, you’ll DEFINITELY need it.

You’ll also need a credit card , since all car rentals will want one as a guarantee. Prepaid or debit cards are not usually accepted.

What is the best way to rent a car in Italy?

We highly recommend renting for your Northern Italy road trip only from international brands like Hertz, Avis, Europcar and the like.

You’ll find them at all major airports , including Turin, where this itinerary begins, and Venice, where the trip ends. Alternatively, all major cities also have car rental offices in town, usually near the station or in the centre. 

You may find local car rentals advertising cut-price fares – from experience, we can tell you that very often scams are a possibility. Save yourself a headache and only rent from reputable brands like the ones mentioned above. 

When you collect your car, make sure you also check and double-check the body of the car for dents and scratches , no matter how tiny, and take photos. Italian car rentals have the reputation of being very pedantic for body damage and charge hundreds of euros even for tiny dents – if you can, get extra insurance!

Do I need visas to travel to Italy?

That depends on your passport. Italy is part of the Schengen area , alongside 25 more EU countries, so Schengen visa requirements apply to Italy.

Currently, many nationalities (including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more) can access the Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days.  

Make sure you double-check Schengen visa requirements well before your road trip to Italy, so that you have enough time to gather all documents you need!

rifugio cespedosio aerial 1

Is driving around Italy dangerous?

Italian drivers have a reputation for being reckless and hot tempered, but to be honest, having driven in dozens of countries, I can safely state that driving around Italy is no more dangerous than driving around any other EU country. 

Just make sure you use common sense – never drink and drive, try to drive during the day rather than at night if you’re not familiar with the roads, and avoid driving in and out of cities at peak hour. 

Also, make sure never to leave valuables in your car , especially if it’s parked in the street or somewhere unattended. Car break ins are very common!

What is the best time for a Northern Italy road trip?

Personally I would say any time is good to road trip around Italy , except for summer. June-August is peak season in all of Italy, and it’s usually very hot. Holiday destinations are booked out months in advance, and places like Venice and Lake Como will be very, very crowded. 

Autumn is a great time for an Italian road trip , especially from October onwards, when you’ll find lots of food-related events in smaller towns. Winter is also a good time if you don’t mind the cold , and it’s the best time to visit Venice with no crowds.

If you want warm weather, just visit in Spring, but try to visit before Easter – that’s when high season starts again!

1 Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Turin (1 day).

turin road trip architecture

Where better to start a Northern Italy road trip than Turin ? The capital of the Piedmont region is packed full of attractions, the roads are not too busy, and it’s a great starting point for a day trip to the Alps – perfect if you’re visiting in Winter!

Turin is also worth a visit for two main reasons – first and foremost, it was Italy’s first capital , and it still houses many points of interest from the time. The easiest to visit is Piazza Castello , surrounded by stunning buildings including, Palazzo Reale , the former home of Italy’s royals, UNESCO-listed Palazzo Madama , and Teatro Regio , Italy’s first theatre.

Another unmissable point of interest in Turin is the Duomo , housing the Sindone (also known as the Turin Shroud), which is exhibited once every 10 years, drawing crowds of worshippers.

The second reason to start your Northern Italy road trip in Turin is that the city is home to Fiat , the car manufacturer behind the Cinquecento and so many other cool cars. The historic headquarters of Fiat are in Lingotto – the building has now been turned into a shopping centre, but you can still check out the test track on the roof, from where you get great views over Turin. 

Finally, for more amazing views, don’t miss climbing to the top of the Mole Antonelliana , the most iconic building in Turin, housing a great cinema museum. 

The centre of Turin is a little busy to drive and park, so you can venture to the Northern outskirts where you can tour the iconic Allianz stadium, Juventus’ 41,000 capacity football stadium .

Looking for some unusual Turin tours? Have a look below!

  • Turin and Piedmont Card
  • Turin Mysteries and Legends Tour
  • Private Tour: Piedmont Wine Tasting of the Barolo Region
  • Turin Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 24 or 48-Hour Ticket

Here are some of the best Turin hotels!

  • Turin Palace Hotel – retro charm a few steps from Porta Nuova
  • Principi di Piemonte – luxurious and modern rooms near the Egyptian Museum
  • NH Piazza Carlina – stay in a 17th century palazzo with two rooftop terraces
  • Allegroitalia Golden Palace – colourful hotel near the centre with a great spa!
  • Palazzo del Carretto Art Apartments – if you want your very own Turin apartment, full of art pieces
  • Cascina San Vito – a haven of peace not far from town, with great mountain views
  • Villa Erre Literary B&B – perfect for road trippers, this literary B&B is in a small town a quick drive away from Turin

Lake Como (1 Day)

lake como moody sky

Road tripping to Lake Como is fun! True story, the lake is easy to visit by train from Milan , but you’ll be stuck in Como and Bellagio with all the other tourists.

If you have your own car, you can visit smaller villages like Lenno , to visit the amazing Villa Balbianello, or places like Dervio and Varenna, that only see a handful of visitors. 

Lake Como is worth including in your Italy road trip because of the stunning scenery – the lake is surrounded by mountains, and on a sunny day, with the sun sparkling over the calm waters, it’s a place of rare beauty.

Hiking lovers will also be pleased to know that the Lake Como and surrounds are full of trails , allowing you to explore on foot at your own pace. A nice easy trek is the one from Brunate to Faro Voltiano – or if you want to extend your trip, you can hike the 4-day Sentiero del Viandante (Wanderer’s Trail) along the eastern branch of Lake Como. 

Turin to Como – Direct Way:  A4 to the outskirts of Milan, then A8/A9 to Como. Distance 167 km – travel time 2 hours

Turin to Como – Scenic Way: follow provincial and minor state roads to Vercelli, Novara, Busto Arsizio and finally Como. Distance 165 km – travel time 4 hours, or more depending on stops!

Looking for some fun Lake Como tours? Have a look below!

  • Lake Como with Bellagio and Lugano Day Trip from Milan
  • Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna: Full-Day Tour from Milan
  • Lake Como: Classic Tour and Cruise to Bellagio
  • Lake Como and Lugano Day Trip from Milan

Here are some of the best Lake Como hotels!

  • Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como  – probably the BEST Lake Como hotel!
  • VISTA Palazzo Lago di Como  – stunning views and charming surrounds
  • Palazzo Albricci Peregrini  – stay in a period Palazzo
  • Hotel Villa Flori  – boutique hotel surrounded by nature
  • B&B Vista Lago  – to enjoy lakeside Italian hospitality
  • Ostello Bello Lake Como  – great value for money in the Lake Como chapter of famous Ostello Bello! 

Milan (2 Days)

milan duomo side

After chilling on Lake Como, it’s time to visit Milan , my hometown and favourite city in Italy! There’s so much to see and do in Milan – the city boasts an incredible blend of contemporary city skyscrapers, historical sights, industrial architecture and more!

We recommend spending at least two days in Milan , especially if it’s your first time. The main unmissable sight is the Milan Duomo , arguably the most iconic gothic cathedral in the world. 

Make sure to book your tickets in advance and allow at least half a day, to have time to visit the interiors and to climb to the top for great views of Milan from above. 

The second big-ticket Milan attraction is Leonardo’s Last Supper , located in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie. For the Last Supper, it’s crucial to book tickets in advance as only 25 people are allowed in at any time – but it’s really worth doing!

Another great thing to do is walking along the Navigli , Milan’s two surviving canals, and a lively nightlife area. Just one piece of local advice – skip the touristy happy hour buffets! Food is really poor quality. Opt for one of Milan’s best cheap restaurants instead!

Como to Milan – Direct Way: take the A9 and A8. Distance 51 km, travel time 1 hour.

Como to Milan – Scenic Way:  follow the SP31 to Saronno, and then keep following the blue ‘Milano’ signs through the Brianza area and Milan’s northern suburbs. Distance 53 km, travel time 1 hour 40.

Looking for some fun Milan tours? Have a look below!

  • FREE Milan guided tour
  • Skip-the-Line Tour of the Duomo and Rooftops
  • The Best Of Milan Tour With Last Supper Tickets & Milan Duomo Rooftop
  • Milan Sforza Castle Guided Tour
  • Milan Sforza Castle and Leonardo Skip-the-Line Tour

Here are some of the best Milan hotels – or else, check out our full Where to Stay in Milan post!

  • Park Hyatt Milan – only steps away from the Duomo, with a stunning rooftop terrace
  • Four Seasons Milan – luxury rooms in a 15th century convent with a secret garden
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia – the most iconic luxury property in town, with lavish rooms and a decadent spa
  • Armani Hotel Milano – completely furnished by Armani and located above the Armani flagship store!
  • Ostello Bello – great value stay in this luxury hostel offering lots of perks
  • Palazzo Segreti – modern comfort in an 18th-century palazzo
  • Klima Hotel Milano – perfect for road trippers! Large, comfortable business hotel near the A4 exit, it’s also pet friendly!
  • Hotel Milano Scala – luxury property with a special attention to sustainability, perfect for eco friendly travellers!
  • Nu Hotel – with Asian-inspired decor and plenty of parking space nearby

Verona (1 Day)

160 km East of Milan you will find Verona , with its picturesque historic centre which includes the Verona Arena , a Roman amphitheatre completed in 30 AD.

The Arena is almost 2000 years old and it is still used today for opera and ballet performances, seating 30,000 spectators!

There are also several castles to visit in Verona and magnificent religious buildings , like the Romanesque Duomo, Sant’Anastasia with its Gothic architecture, and the Basilica of San Zeno , dedicated to the city’s patron saint.

Verona also has their own version of Rome’s Arch of Constantine, known as Arco dei Gavi , which was built in the first century AD as a defensive gate into the city.

You’ll noticed that I failed to mention the best known tourist trap in town , Juliet’s Home – please, instead of wasting time rubbing boobs or sticking chewing gum on a wall, head for a walk along the Adige river or for an aperitivo in Piazza delle Erbe, or follow this Verona tips from a local!

Milan to Verona – Direct Way:  just take the A4 motorway, or the A35 to Brescia and then the A4. Distance 160 km, travel time 2 hours.

Milan to Verona – Scenic Way:  you could even take a full day to drive from Milan to Verona, even though distance is only 160 km. Some of the points of interest you can check along the way are Bergamo and Soncino castle , but definitely make sure you also stop on the southern shore of Lake Garda , in Sirmione for example.

Distance 160 km, travel time from 4 hours to the whole day!

Looking for some fun Verona tours? Have a look below!

  • FREE Verona Walking Tour
  • Verona: Private Pasta-Making Class at a Local’s Home
  • Verona from Above: Lamberti Tower Skip-the-Line Entry
  • Verona: Vineyard and Winery Tour with Wine Tasting
  • The Highlights of Verona Small Group Walking Tour

Here are some of the best Verona hotels!

  • Fiore d’Arancio – truly stunning Baroque-inspired two bedroom apartment with lots of golden details!
  • Due Torri Hotel – classic luxury hotel with over 700 years history!
  • Byblos Art Hotel – contemporary art in a period villa
  • Hotel Trieste – great value and lots of 20th century art in this colourful hotel 
  • Relais I Tamasotti – perfect for roadtrippers, a country retreat in the hills around Verona
  • Hotel Villa Malaspina – historical residence away from the centre, surrounded by nature
  • Locanda Al Vescovo – with a great spa and chromotherapy rooms

Venice (2 Days)

milan to venice grand canal

Venice is the perfect place to end your Northern Italian road trip . First of all, cars are not allowed in the historic centre – so we highly recommend selecting Mestre or Venice Airport as your rental car drop off point, and making your way into Venice by water bus for a truly scenic arrival.

With 118 small islands, floating around Venice will be a nice break from all that driving – definitely spend one day checking out the main sights in town, like San Marco Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and Grand Canal , but also allow some time for some smaller island in the Lagoon – Murano and Burano are a popular and fun option for a day trip. 

Venice is a busy place, especially in summer or times like Carnival – however, don’t let this deter you. You can always get away from the busiest tourist hotspot and wander around places like Dorsoduro or the Jewish Ghetto , or head to the island of Giudecca , where locals still outnumber tourists. 

Verona to Venice – Direct Way: take the A4 and A57 motorway. Distance 120 km, travel time 1 hour 20.

Verona to Venice – Scenic Way: you have two options – drive north along regional roads, through Vicenza, Castelfranco and Scorzè, or south via Este then following the edge of the Venetian lagoon. Either way, it’s amazing!

Distance 150 km – driving time 4 hours

Looking for some fun Venice tours? Have a look below!

  • FREE Venice Walking Tour
  • Venice Gondola Ride for only €20!
  • Boat Tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello
  • Underground Venice: Legends and Ghosts
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica: Introduction and Skip-the-Line Ticket
  • Hidden Venice: Unusual Walking Tour

Here are some of the best Venice hotels!

  • Hotel Danieli – legendary luxury hotel not far from St. Mark’s Square
  • Belmond Hotel Cipriani – quite simply, the best hotel in Venice, with its own saltwater pool and Michelin-starred restaurant
  • Cà Pozzo – simple yet modern, friendly boutique hotel
  • Arcadia Boutique Hotel – great service in this boutique hotel, not far from the station
  • The Gritti Palace – lavish 15th-century palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal
  • Cà Maria Adele – luxury Baroque-themed suites just steps away from Santa Maria della Salute

When is the Best Time for a Northern Italy Road Trip?

The best times for a road trip around Northern Italy are definitely Spring or Autumn. In Northern Italy, the climate is continental, with warm summers and chilly winters – add to that that most of the itinerary above follows the Po Valley, getting boiling hot and humid in summer, cold and foggy in winter.

So, Spring and Autumn are the ideal times to visit Northern Italy. Spring starts in late March, and April is usually a busy time with Easter and some public holidays – read our post about Italy in April to get the exact dates. March may be a little chilly, but May is also a great month for a Northern Italy road trip. Temperatures should be around 20/25°C during the day, dropping to 15/18°C at night. Early June is also a good time – by the middle of the month, the school year ends and the tourist high season begins.

When talking about Autumn, the best period is between late September and early/mid-October. Temperatures are similar to those found in Spring, and crowds are usually smaller, but as October progresses the weather cools down considerably and the time changes, leading to early sunsets (around 5 pm).

If you don’t mind the cold, winter can also be a good time for a road trip around Northern Italy. It’s normally quite dry, but it can be foggy and cold – in January, the coldest month, daytime temperatures are around 5°C dropping below zero at night. The good thing is that it’s also the quietest time to visit, and you’ll be able to snag good deals on accommodation and car hire!

Is there anything else you’d like to know about planning the ideal Northern Italy road trip? Let us know in the comments!

A Lovely Planet

The Ultimate Two Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know Italy is my favourite place in the world.  The food, scenery, beaches and people are all wonderful – so much so that I married an Italian! So the hubby and I decided to take an epic northern Italy road trip and explore some of the beautiful regions in North Italy, and eat as much food as we could along the way. 

Mozzarella and tomato

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Where to start your Italy road trip?

As this Italy road trip follows a loop, you can start and finish at any point of the itinerary. We started in Enrico’s home town of Treviso, which is easily accessible by two airports; Treviso and Venice. This 14 day Italy itinerary crams in a lot, and can easily be slowed down if you have more time. I’ve also offered options to add on other locations if you’re travelling for longer too or adding Italy to part of a longer Europe itinerary . 

Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary Summary

Day 1-3 veneto.

  • Day 4-6 Emilia Romagna 

Day 6-10 Tuscany 

Day 10-11 liguria.

  • Day 12-14 Lombardy/Veneto

Northern Italy Road Trip Map

Camper or Car?

Either option is great for a road trip of Italy. If you’re driving a motorhome or campervan, there are lots of ‘area di sosta’ where you can often park for free – many with waste disposal and water facilities. There are also paying campsites with excellent facilities in some prime locations. If you’re travelling Italy by car, then you’ve got lots of accommodation options to choose from – just make sure they offer parking as it can be hard to come by in the cities. All suggested accommodations in this article offer parking (some at a fee). 

Hire a car in Italy.

Hire a motorhome or camper in Italy.

Camping in Italy in a motorhome

Tips for driving in Italy

Italians use the horn often – but don’t get offended – it’s just to let you know they are there. Be careful of your speed when driving through towns and villages – even if there isn’t a sign to say so – it’s likely the speed limit is 50km/h, and there are often speed cameras.

This northern Italy itinerary includes all the things that make Italy great: gastronomy, architecture, art and beaches. Whilst there are plenty of famous and fantastic cities in the North of Italy, we have only included a few as driving in Italian cities is not always enjoyable and one of the benefits of having a car is that you can visit some of the places off the beaten track (and tourist route). 

Check out our southern Italy road trip itinerary.

Veneto Map

Treviso 

We began our Italy trip in Treviso in the Veneto region in Italy’s northeast. I’m obviously completely biased as Enrico is from this area but I think it’s such an underrated and incredible region to visit. 

Treviso is known for a number of things, including being the origin of the popular Italian dessert tiramisù and more importantly, the home of Prosecco. So visiting a few wineries or at the very least, sampling a few glasses is a must while you’re here. 

I recommend spending a morning in the city of Treviso, it’s a walled city with lots of canals and little laneways filled with bars, restaurants and shops. Due to its proximity to Venice, it is often overlooked, which means you’ll find fewer tourists and more locals. 

Treviso

Things to Do in Treviso  

  • The five domed Treviso Cathedral 
  • Walk the ancient city walls
  • Visit the Isola della Pescheria (fish market on an island) 
  • Eat radicchio – a Treviso speciality (usually available between Autumn and Spring) 

Where to Stay in Treviso 

Budget – Dafne B&B offers rooms just outside the city walls. There is a garden and a fully equipped kitchen for guests to use.

Mid-Range – Locanda Ponte Dante is set in a historic building, 500 m from Piazza dei Signori square.

Luxury – Maison Matilda Boutique Hotel has luxurious rooms located next to Piazza Duomo.

Campsites – There is an area di sosta with water and waste facilities on Via Castello d’Amore – outside the city walls. 

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Treviso

Venice 

Venice is hugely popular and with good reason, it really is like stepping into a fairytale. It’s worth spending 2 days in Venice , or at least a day and a half to see the main sights.

Rialto Bridge in Venice

Things to Do in Venice

  • Hire a gondola and admire the city from the water 
  • Eat cicchetti and drink a spritz along Fondamenta dei Ormesini 
  • Admire the colourful buildings and lacework in Burano 
  • Visit a glass-blowing factory in Murano 
  • Marvel at the the  Basilica di San Marco  (a Byzantine marvel), the  Torre dell’Orologio  and the  Doge’s Palace  in Piazza di San Marco
  • Visit during Carnevale or the Biennale for an added experience

Colourful buildings in Burano, Venice

Where to Stay in Venice

Venice is really not the place to bring a car, so I recommend leaving your car in Treviso and catching the train in – it takes about 30 minutes. You can also park at Mestre and take the train from there (20 minutes). If you want to drive into Venice, there is a multistory in Piazzale Roma which costs €39 for 24 hours.

Budget – B&B Exclusive features Venetian-style rooms with shared bathrooms a 5-minute walk from Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station and Piazzale Roma.

Mid-Range – Ca’ Amadi is set in a 13th-century palace, a 5-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge.

Luxury – Residenza d’Epoca San Cassiano overlooks the Grand Canal and is a 5-minute walk from Rialto Bridge. The 14th-century villa is furnished with antiques and Murano glass chandeliers.

Super Luxury – Baglioni Hotel Luna is a 5-star hotel set 80 m from Saint Mark’s Square, with views over the lagoon.

Campsites – Venice Utility Park in Mestre has a free shuttle service to Venice Island. For €20 per night for a camper. But I’d recommend leaving your camper in Treviso and taking the train from there.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Venice

Conegliano and Valdobbiadene 

Next, head 40 minutes north of Treviso to Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. This picturesque area has DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controlla/Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) status for Prosecco, meaning only Prosecco produced in these two towns can be awarded the prestigious DOCG classification. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with undulating hills covered in vines with a mountain backdrop. I honestly think it is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. I love it so much that Enrico and I got married here in 2019. 

Things to Do in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene 

  • A visit to some of the wineries for prosecco tasting – my recommendations are Cantina Vigne Matte (we held our wedding reception here and aside from the excellent wines, the views don’t get much better)
  • Osteria Senz’Oste – a hillside spot with Prosecco vending machines and an honesty bar for delicious Italian charcuterie and cheese
  • Molinetto Della Croda – a 17th century water mill (and where we got married!)
  • Cycle the Strada del Prosecco (Prosecco road)

Couple getting married at Molinetto della Croda

Where to Stay in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene

Budget – Oasi di pace nel sito UNESCO del Prosecco DOCG is an apartment with a kitchen, living area and terrace.

Mid-Range – Agriturismo due Carpini is located above Salis restaurant a short walk from Osteria Senz’Oste in Valdobbiadene. We stayed here after our wedding and enjoyed some delicious meals at the restaurant and relaxed by the pool with views of the vines.

Due Carpini

Luxury – Hotel Villa Soligo is a gorgeous 18th-century Venetian villa with lovely grounds and a swimming pool. We stayed here during our wedding with all our guests and it was fabulous! It has just undergone major renovations.

Hotel Villa Soligo

Campsites – There is an area di sosta in Valdobbiadene on Via della Pace. 

Day 4-6 Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna Map

Emilia Romagna has some amazing towns and cities. If you have lots of time, then I recommend visiting Bologna, Parma, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Ferrara. If you’re sticking to two weeks then follow the itinerary below. Otherwise, check out our 4 day Emilia Romagna itinerary. 

Read our Emilia Romagna itinerary here.

Reggio Emilia

Depart Treviso and drive an hour and a half to Ferrara for a lunch stop. 

Things to Do in Ferrara

  • Wander the ancient streets (the whole city is a UNESCO site) 
  • Visit the Estense Castle and Palazzo dei Diamanti – named for its diamond-patterned walls
  • Grab a Pasticcio di Maccheroni (a macaroni pie) for lunch

Pasticcio di Maccheroni in Ferrara

Continue on your north Italy itinerary to Modena. Take the scenic route through the countryside and stop at an Acetaia – a balsamic vinegar producer – such as  Acetaia Paltrinieri  and sample some of the world-renowned Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP.

Balsamic Risotto at Acetaia Paltrinieri

Then stop at a winery or two to try the region’s specialities – Lambrusco and Pignoletto. Cantina Vini Garuti and Vini Zucchi  are both less than ten minutes drive from the Acetaia. 

Modena 

Modena packs a lot into a small city. It’s the home of Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati, the birthplace of Pavarotti and also a gastronomic paradise with one of the world’s best restaurants.

tortellini in Modena

Things to Do in Modena

  • Explore the covered Albinelli Market – full of delicious Italian food
  • Eat at three Michelin star Osteria Francescana – winner of the world’s best restaurant in 2016 and 2018. (Book at least 6 months in advance)
  • Admire the UNESCO listed Duomo di Modena
  • Watch an opera or concert at the Luciano Pavarotti Municipal Theatre

Modena Cathedral

Where to Stay in Modena

Budget – Ostello San Filippo Neri is located 700m from Modena Cathedral and has rooms with shared and private bathrooms. There is a shared kitchen and living area.

Mid-Range/Luxury – Vittorio Veneto 25 has modern rooms a short walk from the centre.

Super Luxury – Hotel Rua Frati 48 is a 5-star hotel with frescoed rooms, a restaurant, private parking, a fitness centre and a bar.

Campsites – We slept at Cantina Vini Garuti which offers camper parking. Closer to the city, Mutina Camper Club has paid spots.

Find accommodation in Modena

Wines growing at Vini Garuti

If you’re a fan of cheese, then get up early the next day for a visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano factory. We visited  Fattoria Scalabrini and watched the cheese masters at work, before sampling some of the delicious cheese. Book in advance .

Parmigiano Reggiano factory

Next on your Italian road trip is the popular region of Tuscany. There is so much to do in Tuscany and you could easily spend your entire road trip in this region alone. 

Read our guide to the best things to do in Tuscany. 

Tuscany Map

It’s difficult to pick only a few places to visit in Tuscany, with so many stunning towns and villages. This northern Italy road trip sticks to the northern part of the region, but I’ve included other recommended places to visit further south if you have time. 

Val D'Orcia

Florence needs no introduction as one of Italy’s most famous cities.

Things to Do in Florence 

  • Eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
  • Stroll across Ponte Vecchio 
  • Visit Piazza della Signoria and admire Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and Perseus with the head of Medusa
  • See Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Galleries
  • Admire the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Florence Cathedral/Duomo)

northern italy road trips

Where to Stay in Florence 

If you’re staying in the centre parking can be tricky – so make sure you book a hotel that has parking. Alternatively, stay a little further outside the city and take the train or bus in. 

Budget – Residenza Conte di Cavour & Rooftop is situated 200m from Accademia Galleries and has a rooftop terrace.

Mid-Range – Relais Piazza Signoria is located on the corner of Piazza Signoria and offers studios and apartments, some with terraces.

Luxury – The 4-star Hotel Berchielli is located on the River Arno, with views of Ponte Vecchio. Rooms are decorated in a classic style with antique furniture and details.

Campsites – Florence Park Scandicci is a 15 minute drive from the city centre with regular buses.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Florence

From Florence, drive south to San Gimignano. On the way stop at one of the chianti wineries for a tasting, such as Antinori nel Chianti Classico , Villa Mangiacane  or Castello di Verrazzano . 

San Gimignano

This small town is known for its many towers – 14 to be exact (Although at one time there were 72!). Spend the afternoon and evening here. 

San Gimignano

Things to Do in San Gimignano 

  • Eat delicious gelato at prize-winning  Gelateria Dondoli  in Piazza Della Cisterna
  • Visit the Florentine fortress – Rocca di Montestaffoli
  • Enjoy a glass of Vernaccia at the wine museum
  • Climb the Torre Grossa – the tallest remaining tower 

Where to Stay in San Gimignano

Budget – Hotel La Cisterna in Piazza Della Cisterna – a few steps from the gelateria! We stayed here and you couldn’t ask for a better location.

Mid Range – Casa Torre Margherita has a terrace overlooking the hills, set in a renovated 13th-century building.

Luxury – Located a 5 minute drive from San Gimignano in a converted Franciscan convent. Hotel La Collegiata has stylish rooms and a large outdoor pool.

Campsites – There is an area di sosta at Strada Comunale Di Santa Lucia, which is an 8 minute bus from the city. 

Find accommodation in San Gimignano

Hotel La Cisterna

The next morning, drive 50 minutes north to San Miniato. 

San Miniato

There is a tasty reason for stopping in this sleepy Tuscan town: truffles. You can take a tour with Massimo from  Truffle in Tuscany  and his dog Mela, who is incredibly skilled at sniffing out truffles. During our trip, Mela found two and we were then treated to some delicious truffle dishes after the hunt. 

A truffle dog searching for truffles in Tuscany

Continue north on your road trip in Italy to Lucca. 

Growing up, I spent many summers in Lucca and it’s one of my favourite Italian cities. Lucca is a walled city, and its 16th-century wall is still intact. Inside it has cobbled streets and laneways full of restaurants and bars. 

Things to Do in Lucca 

  • Hire bikes and cycle around the 4km path on top of the walls
  • Visit Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a huge circular piazza that was once a Roman amphitheatre 
  • Climb Torre Guinigi to enjoy the views and check out the trees at the top

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro in Lucca

Where to Stay in Lucca

Budget – Rooms at Al Tuscany include breakfast. We had a lovely room here with views over the city.

Mid Range/Luxury – Palazzo Rocchi  offers double rooms with breakfast included. We loved our stay here – such opulent decor.

Campsites – Parking del Borgo is located a 5 minute walk outside the city walls and has paid camper spots.

Find accommodation in Lucca

Palazzo Rocchi

If you have more time, then I highly recommend driving south to Siena and to Montalcino and Montepulciano – famous for wines of the same name. Another hour’s drive southwest is Val D’Orcia, a region of incredible natural beauty (so much so it was a filming location for Gladiator). And nearby are the San Filippo Thermal Springs. 

Read more about Montalcino, Siena, Montepulciano, Val D’Orcia and San Filippo here. 

Bagni San Filippo

From Lucca, drive an hour to Lerici. Stop along the way at Viareggio – a glamorous seaside resort. 

Liguria Map

Lerici 

Located in the Bay of Poets, Lerici is a seaside town with a sandy beach.

Lerici

Things to Do in Lerici

  • Visit a mussel farm 
  • Enjoy the beaches in Lerici and nearby Fiascherino 
  • Eat pesto, focaccia and Ligurian honey (the region’s specialities) 

Italian lunch in Fiascherino

Where to Stay in Lerici 

Budget – B&B Camera Bellavista has views of the coastline a 10 minute walk from the town.

Mid-Range – Hotel Byron has modern rooms, some with sea views, 1 minute walk from the beach.

Luxury – Located in the centre of Lerici, Doria Park Hotel has a terrace with views of the Gulf of Poets, the castle, and the old town. We had a lovely stay here.

Campsites – There is a paid area di sosta at Località Vallata which has no facilities. Alternatively, there is a cheaper site in La Spezia at Viale San Bartolomeo.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Lerici

Cinque Terre National Park 

On your second day in Liguria head to Cinque Terre National Park. Cinque Terre means five lands in Italian, and the park is made up of 5 main villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These picturesque villages are well photographed and you’re bound to have seen images of the colourful houses overlooking rocky beaches. It’s a very popular spot and parking is limited here, so I recommend taking the train from La Spezia station (20 minutes drive from Lerici). Train tickets cover the whole area and can be used as many times as you like in a day. The first village of Riomaggiore is only 8 minutes by train from La Spezia. 

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre 

If you prefer to stay in Cinque Terre there are a few accommodation options with parking. 

Budget –  Villa Caribe is set in Monterosso al Mare village, 800m from sandy Gigante Beach.

Mid-range – Also in Monterosso al Mare village, Locanda A Cà Du Gigante is 50 m from Gigante Beach. Parking is €15 per day.

Luxury – Stellio Affittacamere is a guest house in Riomaggiore. Parking is available nearby at €15 per day.

Super Luxury – Arpaiu has rooms and apartments with sea views in Manarola. Parking costs €60 per day.

Campsites – Il Poggio is a camper area within the Cinque Terre National Park in Monterosso al Mare. Campers cost €25 per night which includes transfers to the village. Booking is advised. 

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Cinque Terre

If you have more time in Liguria, then visit the pretty town of Portovenere. Read about it here . 

Portovenere in Liguria

Read our full guide to Liguria here. 

Travel 3 hours northeast on your road trip of northern Italy to Lake Garda. On the way stop in Parma for lunch or take a small detour into the countryside to Bré del Gallo – a Culatello cellar. Culatello is a delicious cured meat and though it’s not as famous as Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello is considered the king of salumi.

Bre di Gallo

Day 12-14 Lombardy/Veneto 

Lombardy and Veneto

Lake Garda (Lago di Garda)

Beautiful Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake, with mountains to the north and beaches to the south. There are lots of lovely towns and villages dotted around its shores and it can be hard to pick one or two to visit. Our recommendations are: 

Lake Garda

Salò is located on the western shores of the lake in the Lombardy region. With a mountain backdrop, it’s an attractive town, particularly the historic centre – which is full of quaint lanes and small piazzas. It has the longest lakeside promenade on the whole of Lake Garda.

Things to Do in Salò

  • Relax on the beaches 
  • Admire the view from the Rocca (castle) – known as the ‘balcony of the lake’
  • Shop at the Saturday market 
  • Enjoy canoeing, fishing and sailing on the lake 
  • Admire the Romanesque cathedral and the Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower)

Salo

Where to Stay in Salò 

Budget – Rivalta Life Style Hotel is located 150 m from Lake Garda promenade. Breakfast is included.

Mid-Range – Hotel Vigna is situated in the historic centre of Salò, with a gorgeous terrace with panoramic views across Lake Garda.

Luxury – Hotel Laurin is located in a charming Art Nouveau style villa from the early 20th century, 5 minutes’ walk from Salo town centre. The hotel features a large outdoor swimming pool and an excellent restaurant.

Campsites – Paradiso is located on the shore of Lake Garda and has 50 paid spaces.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Salo

The next stop is Malcesine. Drive to Limone del Garda – considered the prettiest town on the lake and take the car ferry across to Malcesine. If you’re travelling outside of the summer season, this ferry doesn’t run but you can take a ferry from Maderno to Torri del Benaco. 

Malcesine 

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, Malcesine is a picturesque town with cobbled lanes and a castle at the foot of Monte Baldo.

Things to Do in Malcesine

  • Take the cable-car up to Monte Baldo for hikes and impressive views 
  • Wander the cobbled streets
  • Visit Castello Scaligero and its museum 
  • kitesurf or sail on the lake (the best spot for kitesurfing is Torbole – a 20 minute drive north)
  • Visit the Palazzo dei Capitani
  • Taste local olives

Malcesine

Where to Stay in Malcesine 

Budget – Hotel Lago Di Garda has a roof terrace with views of Lake Garda. 

Mid-Range – Hotel Antonella features an outdoor pool and restaurant, 600m from the lake. Free private parking is available on site.

Luxury – Hotel Castello Lake Front has panoramic lake views and a private beach with parasols and deck chairs. Parking is free.

Campsites –  Camping Priori has twelve pitches a few metres from the lake and 150 meters from the cable car.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Malcesine

From Malcesine, drive south along the coast for an hour to Verona. Along the way stop at some of the lakeside towns including Garda and Bardolino.

Verona 

Considered one of the most romantic cities in Italy, if not the world, there are plenty of reasons to visit Verona . It is full of ancient buildings, has fantastic food and wine and was also the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

Things to Do in Verona

  • Visit Juliet’s Balcony 
  • See an opera at Verona Arena 
  • Drink Amarone (a delicious red wine from the region) or eat risotto all’Amarone
  • Visit Castelvecchio 
  • Stroll through Piazza Delle Erbe in the heart of the historic centre

Juliet's Balcony in Verona - a highlight on a Northern Italy itinerary

Where to Stay in Verona 

Budget – La Nuova Corte Rooms are 600m from the Verona Arena. Many have a balcony or terrace. Parking is €15 per day.

Mid-Range – Relais Ponte Pietra is located in front of Ponte Pietra bridge and 350m from Verona Cathedral in the centre of Verona, in an elegant 13th-century building. Free parking is available at Relais Ponte Pietra.

Luxury – Hotel Accademia is set in Verona’s centre, just 350 m from the Verona Arena, in an 18th-century building. Parking is €21 per day.

Super Luxury – Due Torri Hotel has a large roof terrace with views of the historic centre and is a 5-minute walk from Juliet’s balcony. Parking is €35 per day.

Campsites – Camping Castel San Pietro is located within the ancient city walls, surrounded by lush gardens. 10 minutes walk to the city centre.

northern italy road trips

Find accommodation in Verona

From Verona, it’s the final stretch on your northern Italy road trip back to Treviso. It’s an hour and a half drive and it’s worth stopping in the walled city of Padua along the way. 

Longer than 2 weeks in Northern Italy?

There are plenty of options to extend your trip:

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

Instead of returning to Treviso after Verona, continue north to the Dolomites. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed area offers fantastic skiing in winter and amazing hiking in the summer, with a fusion of Italian and Austrian culture. 

Lago di Sorapis

Things to Do in the Dolomites

  • Row a boat on Lago di Braies  
  • Ski at Cortina d’Ampezzo (or check out the glamorous shops and restaurants in the summer)
  • Hike to Lago di Sorapis – A stunning blue lake 
  • Hike to Tre Cime di Lavaredo – The three peaks 
  • Try a Bombardino
  • Snowshoe in the winter

Lago di Braies

Read our guide to the Dolomites here. 

Where to Stay in the Dolomites 

Budget – Chalet Planvart is located 100m from the Santa Croce ski lift in Badia and 45 minutes drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Mid-Range – Ristorante Rifugio Ospitale is a traditional mountain-style hotel with a restaurant in Rufreddo. 12 minutes drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Luxury – Sporthotel Tyrol is located in the centre of San Candido and has an indoor pool, a spa and panoramic views of the Dolomites. We had an awesome stay here.

Luxury – Hotel Leitlhof Dolomiten has an indoor pool and wellness centre in San Candido, 800m from the Haunold ski slopes.

Campsites – Camping Cortina International is a campsite with a pool and buses to the ski lifts.

Find accommodation in the Dolomites

Sporthotel Tyrol

Have you taken a road trip of northern Italy? Leave us a comment below. 

How long do I need for a Northern Italy road trip?

Ideally two weeks or more. In two weeks you can explore a few of the regions in Northern Italy. If you have more time you can travel at a more relaxed pace, spend longer in each destination and add a few additional stops.

What is the best time of year to visit the south of Italy?

Spring, Summer and Autumn are all great times to travel in Northern Italy. In the summer you will have the highest temperatures, but the biggest crowds. In the shoulder seasons, you can enjoy exploring the towns, cities and countryside with fewer people while generally still having warm weather. Some parts of Italy, such as  the Dolomites  may be cold during Spring and Autumn, so pack accordingly.

What are the most beautiful towns in Northern Italy?

Tuscany  is famous for its beautiful walled towns, such as San Gimignano, Lucca and Siena. Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the  Ligurian coast  is also home to some incredibly scenic towns and villages, such as the towns of the Cinque Terre, Portovenere and Portofino.

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Thank you for sharing. I have been looking for tips and guides in planning my trip, with husband in northern Italy. You have give lots of details and information I’ve been looking for, especially where to find affordable accommodation in those different regions. Can you tell if I need to pre book accommodation prior traveling? I will be renting a car before leaving Florence.

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Thanks Jackie. I would recommend booking accommodation in advance, especially if you’re travelling in the high or shoulder seasons. I was in Italy again in September and October and it was very busy. Have a lovely time!

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Thanks so much for this. We are planning a northern Italy road trip for next summer and this has given me so much inspiration!

You’re welcome! Have an amazing trip!

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Northern Italy Road Trip: Itinerary, Map & Tips

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Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip from Milan to Rome

A northern Italy road trip is a great way to experience the diversity and beauty of Italy’s regions, cultures, and history. As you travel south through Italy, you will experience picturesque lakes, artistic and historical cities, the beautiful Mediterranean coast, and UNESCO sites tucked away in small Italian towns. 

A north Italian road trip offers a wealth of experiences! From exploring charming lakeside towns and the beautiful Italian countryside to admiring the region’s famous art and architecture, you can also take time to stop and visit local wineries, and sample delicious Italian cuisine on this road trip through northern Italy.

We’ve spent months exploring Italy and in this northern Italy road trip planner we share travel tips, the best routes between towns and cities, things to do and see along the way, and hotel recommendations to help you plan your perfect Italian itinerary.

Northern Italy road trip

Where is Northern Italy?

Northern Italy, or in Italian Nord Italia , is an area that stretches from the southern Alps south to the Po valley, and from the northernmost coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea across to the coast of the Adriatic Sea on the northeastern side of Italy. The area consists of eight administrative regions: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Technically and geographically speaking, that is! But we’ve decided to also include the regions of Tuscany and Lazio, to add even more experiences and diversity to this northern Italy road trip.

The landscape of northern Italy is made up of fertile rolling hills, the flatlands of the vast Po River, deep mountain lakes, and the dramatic peaks of the  Dolomites , making the region one of the best for Italian road trips.

Is this your first time visiting Italy? Get all the information you need in our Italy Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there, and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Getting to Northern Italy

Whether you’re taking a road trip to northern Italy in a car , motorcycle, or campervan, self-driving is absolutely the best way to explore this spectacular region of Italy.

You can stop whenever you want, try new activities, visit places you see along the route and have the freedom to change plans at the last minute.

Fly into Milan Malpensa Airport to start your north Italy road trip. With direct flights from America, Europe, and the UK, we recommend booking through Skyscanner for live deals and the best prices.

Are you planning to rent a car in Italy? As one of the largest car hire aggregator companies in the world, we recommend Rentalcars.com because they have massive purchasing power which enables them to secure the best car rental prices, which benefits you when you’re planning a road trip.

For a real adventure, hire a motorhome or campervan in Italy. We recommend Motorhome Republic , an aggregate booking site who pull together all the best deals from a number of rental agencies, to offer you a wide choice of options alongside an excellent English speaking expert motorhome Concierge Team.

Travel Tip: Non-EU visitors planning to rent a vehicle car in Italy may require an international driving permit (IDP) as well as their driving license. You can find out if you need an IDP here . 

Driving in Italy

Lots of people will tell you that renting a car in Italy is madness, that driving through Italy is dangerous and the roads are dreadful.  

Don’t let your fears about driving in this beautiful country put you off taking a road trip through northern Italy. Take your time as you drive Tuscany and be prepared for the differences in driving styles from back home. Follow our driving in Italy tips to stay safe and stress-free!

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Italy . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

Best Time to Take a Road Trip in Northern Italy

March to may.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit the northern part of Italy, with temperatures warming up across the country. Blooming wildflowers, vibrant greenery in the mountains and the outdoor cafés opening up mean spring is a fantastic time to experience Italy by car. You’ll find the roads and cities less crowded, and most attractions will be open.

June to August

In summer, the north of Italy enjoys beautiful weather, stunning coastlines, and the prospect of swimming and dining al fresco. However, the roads, cities, and attractions will be at their busiest and it can get really hot, especially in the lowlands.

September to November

Autumn is a fantastic time for northern Italy road trips . The grapes and crops are being harvested, food festivals celebrate the bounty of the land, and you might enjoy an Indian summer, with the fall colors of the vine aflame.

December to February

The winter months in northern Italy can be very cold and wet. But, the big attraction of a northern Italy trip in winter is that there is no one else around, although some attractions may well be closed. If you travel from late January through February, you’ll get a taste of northern Italy’s loud and colorful carnivals, the most famous being the flamboyant Carnival of Venice .

Looking for the best SIM card deals in Europe for your trip? Check out our guide to the best data SIMs in Europe and get the best deal for your trip to Italy.

Northern Italy Road Trip Map & Route

This two week northern Italy itinerary is best started in Milan and ended in Rome. These cities are easily accessible and span the largest portion of northern Italy, and driving from Milan to Rome is an exciting and scenic journey through some of Italy’s most beautiful and historical regions. 

We’ve even added a couple of side trips, which help you to see more of Italy as you drive between destinations!

Starting in Milan, your first stop should be Lake Como, known for its picturesque towns, elegant villas, and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. When you head to this area of Italy, the towns of Bellagio and Varenna are must-see destinations, with their charming streets, picturesque harbors, and beautiful gardens.

After your trip north from Milan to Lake Como, you can begin journeying south, via Lake Garda, to explore the cities of Verona, Venice, and Bologna. 

On your northern Italian road trip, it is worth finding the time to explore the west coast and Cinque Terre, and the city of Pisa, famous for its Leaning Tower. 

Continuing further south into the Italian region of Tuscany, you will pass through the city of Florence and smaller towns including San Gimignano and Siena, all of which are rich in history.

Finally, our north of Italy road trip ends in Rome, the Eternal City. Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world and it is easy to see why!

Top Tip: The northern Italian road trip is simplest when following the Italian motorways, which connect the vast majority of this route. However, we would recommend seeking out local SS roads which offer a more scenic experience.

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Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Milan – lake como – verona – venice – bologna – cinque terre – pisa – florence – san gimignano – siena – rome.

  • Distance 1312km
  • Duration 10-14 days
  • Drive Time 17 hours

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Milan 

Milan, known as the fashion capital of Italy, is an incredible blend of old and new. The most iconic site in Milan is its Il Duomo di Milano. From the outside, the Cathedral of Milan provides an incredible example of Gothic architecture. By booking a tour of the cathedral , you will receive panoramic views of the city from the cathedral’s rooftop terrace.

Following closely in terms of importance is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where you can see The Last Supper , the unrivaled masterpiece painted between 1495 and 1497 by Leonardo da Vinci, whose work ushered in a new era in the history of art.

Another must-see site is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, which is perfect for those interested in luxury brands.

If you have an extra day in Milan, take a day trip to Turin , Italy’s first capital. With diverse architecture and a well-preserved historic center, the city is best known for the Turin Shroud, housed in the Duomo de Torino. Make sure to look out for the Campanaria Duomo di Torino, the only flying equestrian bronze statue in the world!

Travel Tip:  Milan is split into distinct districts. The Navigli district, known for its picturesque canals, is perfect if you’re looking for bustling nightlife and late-night shopping, while the Brera district is Milan’s artistic neighborhood, home to art galleries and museums, such as the Pinacoteca di Brera.

  • Where to Stay in Milan

Upmarket: Portrait Milano – Lungarno Collection – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Aparthotel Meneghino – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: 21 House of Stories Città Studi – Booking.com | Agoda

aerial view of a city square from the top of a gothic church with many spires

The drive from Milan to Lake Como is a relatively short journey of around an hour, depending on traffic conditions and the route you choose to take. Once you reach Como, you can take the SS340 and SS639 roads to get to the towns around the lake. 

Visitors to Lake Como can either enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and incredible scenery or fill their days with a variety of activities. Cruise on a boat tour around the lake , enjoy a wine tasting in the Damaso region, explore the lake by kayak or discover the hiking trails in the surrounding mountains. 

The towns of Como, Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna, and Tremezzo are worth visiting. Bellagio, referred to as the Pearl of Lake Como, is famous for its elegant, lakeside villas, as are Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna.

Como is the largest town on the lake and is home to the Cathedral of Como, which dates back to the 14th century, and the Broletto, a medieval town hall. You can easily catch ferries between the lakeside towns and experience incredible views of Lake Como from its waters.

Travel Tip: Brunate, a small town next to Como, is home to a cable car that, for a few euros, will take you high above Como’s city center and give you spectacular views of the surrounding Alps. 

  • Where to Stay in Lake Como

Upmarket: Villa Lario Resort Mandello – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Casa Olea Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Residence Caffè Maya – Booking.com | Agoda

A yellow painted Italianate villa by the side of a lake, surrounded by pink oleander plants and conifer trees

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts , and road trip songs for the journey!

Verona 

The driving time between Lake Como and Verona takes around 2-3 hours along the SS36, which connects Como to Lecco and then to Verona. You will pass the picturesque towns of Brescia, Desenzano del Garda, and Peschiera del Garda on the shores of Lake Garda. If you have time to stop, Lake Garda is blessed with spectacular views of the Italian Alps.

Travel Tip:  The cable car from Malcesine up Mount Baldo, on the edge of Lake Garda, is a must-see attraction. It travels 580 meters, turning 360 degrees, to give draw-dropping views of the Italian alps. 

Verona’s Roman Arena is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why not take a tour of the Arena di Verona and learn about its incredible history? Our recommended Verona arena guided tour includes skip-the-line tickets so you can make the most of your time in the city.

Alternatively, Verona offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of enjoying a live opera performance within the amphitheater walls. Listening to Aida , Carmen , Il Barbiere di Siviglia , Rigoletto or La Traviata in the world’s largest amphitheater is an experience not to be missed!

A trip to Verona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza dei Signori, charming squares in the heart of the city, the Castelvecchio, a 14th-century fortress that houses the Castelvecchio Museum, and the famous balcony of Juliet’s House, the alleged home of Romeo and Juliet’s heroine.

  • Where to Stay in Verona

Upmarket: Due Torri Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Accademia – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Leonardo Hotel Verona – Booking.com | Agoda

terracotta roofs on medieval buildings around a square, with a red brick square tower in the corner of the square

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Venice .

The drive from Verona to Venice is most enjoyable along the SS11. The drive will take you through the Veneto region, where you can see the charming town of Padua, known for its historic center and the Scrovegni Chapel.

With 14 million annual visitors, a day trip to Venice will be the busiest stop on your trip. Make sure to take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, the main waterway in Venice, and admire the city’s beautiful architecture. 

Travel Tip: A gondola ride will set you back €80 before sunset and €100 after sunset; it is definitely worth budgeting for this iconic experience!

Other top tourist destinations within Venice include St. Mark’s Basilica, a stunning Byzantine church, the Rialto Bridge, a beautiful stone bridge over the Grand Canal that offers views of the city, and the Piazza San Marco, the main square of Venice filled with lively cafes.

Travel Tip: No cars can enter Venice. As you arrive, head for Garage San Marco (you can reserve a space online in advance) in Piazzale Roma. From here you can walk or catch a water bus to Venice’s historic center. Booking a private water taxi into the city offers unrivaled views as you head into Venice, and it absolutely the best way to arrive!

RELATED POST: One Day in Venice – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Venice

Upmarket: Sina Centurian Palace – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Palazzo Veneziano – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Saturnia & International – Booking.com | Agoda

an elegant red brick church in the background, looking over blue waters and and gondolas

Bologna 

Taking the SS309 and SS16 from Venice to Bologna will take you through the picturesque countryside of the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna regions. This route will offer spectacular views of small towns including Ferrara, known for its historic center, and Rovigo, situated on the Adigetto River.

Known as ‘ la Rossa, la Grassa e la Dotta ‘, meaning the red, the fat, and the learned, Bologna has so much to see and do. Red is in reference to the terracotta red rooftops of the historic center, fat refers to the delicious food and produce found in Bologna and the wider Emilia-Romagna region, and learned refers to Bologna University, founded in 1088, and one of the most ancient and prestigious universities in the world.

Once you reach Bologna, the city of towers, you will be able to admire the beautiful architecture, art, and food that the city has to offer. Make sure to look out for the porticoes of Bologna, which UNESCO listed in 2021, and the two towers, the famous symbol of Bologna.

You can take a tour of the nearby Lamborghini and Ferrari Museums , visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca , or take this highly-rated secret traditional food tour and experience the delights of the local cuisine.

Travel Tip: If you’re on a budget or prefer to manage your own time, grab our free self-guided Bologna food tour and experience the best of Emilia-Romagna’s food. With suggestions for a DIY lunch in Bologna’s oldest osteria and information about the best delicatessens and wine bars, as well as tips about where to see authentic Italian pasta being made, this self-guided tour is a must for gastronomes!

  • Where to Stay in Bologna

Upmarket: Grand Hotel Majestic gia’ Baglioni – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: PHI Hotel “Al Cappello Rosso” – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: The Social Hub Bologna – Booking.com | Agoda

diners eating al fresco under sun shades on a leafy street lined with historic buildings

Bologna Side Trips

These are the perfect side trips for foodies , and are literally off the road between Bologna and Cinque Terre!

First up is Modena , home to Balsamic Vinegar DOP or aceto balsamico , a delicious syrupy and intensely flavored vinegar made from grape must, and aged in wooden barrels. Balsamic vinegar is a quintessential Italian ingredient and must be produced exclusively in either Modena or Reggio Emilia to qualify for the highly prized protected designation of origin status. Find out more when you take this tour of an authentic balsamic producer and get to taste their vinegar with local foods.

Neat, head to Parma , home to Prosciutto di Parma DOP, uncooked, unsmoked, and dry-cured ham. Parma ham pairs wonderfully with Emilia-Romagna’s other famous food, Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan cheese, also of protected origin. See how both are made and sample each with local wine on this highly-rated guided food tour .

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, containing the five charming towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare, all stacked on the rugged cliffs of the Liguria coast. 

Three unique ways to experience the unique national park of Cinque Terre are its hiking trails, which link the villages, relaxing with a boat tour to see the Cinque Terre from the water, and trying the locally caught seafood! Nessun Dorma in Manarola offers delicious seafood with views of spectacular Mediterranean sunsets.

Top Tip: If you decide to stay in Cinque Terre, head for delightful Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the Cinque Terre towns. Parking in the five villages is very restricted – we suggest parking your car at Park Centro Stazione’s secure   underground parking garage at the La Spezia Centrale train station and getting the Cinque Terre express train or passenger ferry to Monterosso.

  • Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

Upmarket: Sesta Terra – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Ca’ D’Andrean – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: La Taverna del Metallo Rooms – Booking.com | Agoda

Colored houses atop a rock next to a turquoise blue sea

The SS1 and SS326 connect Cinque Terre and Pisa in roughly an hour and a half. The SS1 will take you through coastal towns including Forte dei Marmi which provides incredible views of the Apuan Alps, or you can take the short detour to visit the Rennaisance-era city of Lucca.

A trip to Pisa wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Leaning Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climb to the top of the Leaning Tower for unmatched views across Pisa. If heights aren’t your thing, capture the iconic photo supporting the Leaning Tower in your own two hands!

Other notable landmarks in Pisa include the Cathedral of Pisa, the Baptistery, and the Camposanto Monumentale.

A visit to Pisa would not be complete without a visit to the Ristorante Trattoria da Mario . Just a five minute walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this highly regarded hidden gem serves an array of traditional Tuscan food and wine. 

  • Where to Stay in Pisa

Upmarket: Palazzo Cini – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Di Stefano – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel La Pace – Booking.com | Agoda

a leaning tower, domed cathedral seen beyond the roofs of a city at dusk

The drive from Pisa to Florence takes roughly 1 hour, depending on the traffic conditions. For a scenic drive through the Tuscan countryside, take the SS67 and visit the small town of San Miniato, known for its truffles, the hunting of which is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Once you reach Florence, you can visit famous landmarks including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known for its beautiful dome, the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous art museums in the world, and Ponte Vecchio, the medieval bridge over the Arno river.

A trip to Tuscany isn’t complete without a visit to a local winery. Surrounding Florence is the Chianti region, famous for its full-bodied red wines, olive oils, and meats. Take a tour of this area from Florence and experience rolling hills, historic stone castles, and iconic cypress trees. 

RELATED POST: One Day in Florence – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Florence

Upmarket: Hotel Spadai – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Soprarno Suites – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Perseo – Booking.com | Agoda

San Gimignano  

The trip from Florence to San Gimignano is roughly 60km, taking just over an hour to travel south. We recommend taking a detour to the Azienda Agricola Montefioralle Winery , a small, family-run winery serving Chianti Classico paired with Tuscan food. This incredible vineyard offers spectacular views of green, rolling hills synonymous with Italy’s Tuscan region. 

San Gimignano is a small town known for its medieval architecture, including its 14 towers that have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We recommend stretching your legs and using the local hiking trails to enjoy panoramic views of this Italian region. Alternatively, relax and explore the town’s many shops and restaurants. 

A vineyard wine tasting and lunch in the heart of Tuscany is on everyone’s bucket list. San Gimignano, with its excellent wineries, is the perfect spot for this experience. In fact, San Gimignano has its own famous white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which has been produced in the area since the 14th century.

RELATED POST: Tuscany Road Trip: Itinerary, Map & Tips

  • Where to Stay in San Gimignano  

Upmarket: Agriturismo Mormoraia – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Bel Soggiorno – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Relais Cappuccina – Booking.com | Agoda

northern italy road trips

The short drive from San Gimignano to Siena will take you through attractive towns including Monteriggioni, famous for its medieval walls that give stunning views across Tuscany.

Siena is a beautifully preserved historic city at the height of Tuscany. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for the Palio horse race that takes place around the Piazza del Campo twice a year in July.

The city also boasts the magnificent Cathedral of Siena, a gothic masterpiece with intricate marble floor mosaics, the Torre del Mangia, a tower offering panoramic views of the city, the Basilica of San Domenico, the Museo Civico, and the Palazzo Comunale. 

Top Tip: Make sure to stop for lunch at one of the many lively restaurants lining the streets around the main square and sample delicious ribollita , a traditional Tuscan soup made with vegetables and bread.

  • Where to Stay in Siena

Upmarket: Palazzetto Rosso – Art Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Athena – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Palazzo di Valli – Booking.com | Agoda

clay brick buildings around a round central square, with a tall tower in the forground

Siena Side Trips

As you head south through the wonderful landscape of Tuscany, there are a few places you may want to stop and enjoy.

The first is the hill village of Montepulciano , famous for the classic, rustic wine of the same name, and a masterpiece of ancient city walls, cobbled streets, charming piazzas, restaurants, and craft shops that can easily draw you in for a deliciously pleasant afternoon and evening. The town is also one of the best spots on this itinerary for a  wine-tasting tour of a local vineyard , to understand the history and process of making wine in Italy.

From Montepulciano, take a detour east on the scenic SP146 to San Quirico d’Orcia, through the iconic Val d’Orcia, one of Europe’s best driving routes . This journey will take you through vineyards and olive groves, and you’ll pass row upon row of majestic cypress trees lining the roads and on the skyline, and you might even spot the famous house from the film ‘Gladiator’, some of which was filmed in Tuscany.

The final stop on our northern Italian road trip is Italy’s capital city, Rome . The drive from Siena to Rome takes over two and a half hours and can be particularly busy due to traffic during the summer. Once you arrive in Rome, we suggest parking your rental car in a parking garage, or dropping it off at the airport and exploring the main attractions on foot.

Rome’s world-famous landmarks include the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. The Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, is also located within Rome and is home to the Pope and priceless artworks and architecture, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. 

Other popular attractions include the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona, and the Roman Forum. As the Italian capital, unsurprisingly the city offers a wide variety of delicious Italian cuisine, from pizza and pasta to gelato and wine!

RELATED POST: Rome in a Day – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Rome

Upmarket: Casa Fabbrini – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Tree Charme Augusto Luxury Suites – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Viminale View Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

northern italy road trips

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip.

A northern Italian road trip, from Milan to Rome, offers a spectacular route to experience the diverse culture and history of Italy, making it one of the best road trips in Europe . Along the way, you can visit some of Italy’s most iconic cities, including Milan, Florence, and Rome.

You can take in the beautiful countryside, indulge in delicious Italian cuisine and wines, and explore the many museums, art galleries, and UNESCO world heritage sites that the region has to offer. 

Overall, a northern Italian road trip will be an unforgettable adventure that you will cherish for a lifetime!

Northern Italy Road Trip Resources

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in Italy.

  • Search for affordable flights to Italy with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in Italy with Booking.com
  • Find and book the best campsites in Italy with Eurocampings
  • Book the cheapest and most reliable car rentals in Italy with Rentalcars.com
  • Find and hire your perfect motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic
  • Get highly rated, reliable, and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

Are you looking for more road trip inspiration? Check out these top posts…

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My Path in the World

North Italy Road Trip: Best 7-Day Italian Lakes Itinerary

There’s no denying that Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world . It makes a perfect destination for a scenic road trip, especially in iconic areas like Tuscany and northern Italy, and my one-week north Italy road trip itinerary will surely tick all the boxes for you.

Visiting this region is one of the best things to do in Italy for travelers who love charming small towns, picturesque views, excellent Italian drinks and food (the best food in the world!), and scenic hiking trails .

To help you make the most of your holidays on Lake Garda, Lake Como, and Lake Maggiore, here’s my full itinerary.

* This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure ). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

* I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

Looking for the perfect northern Italy road trip travel Itinerary? Read my one-week north Italy itinerary recommendation for the Italian lake district including beautiful places to visit, things to do in Lake Garda, things to do in Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, and travel tips

Table of Contents

North Italy Itinerary Summary and Map

Here’s a quick summary of my road trip in northern Italy (fly to and back from Milan, and pick up and return the car at the airport):

Half day 1 – Lake Garda: Tremosine sul Garda and Limone sul Garda (suggested hotel: 3 nights at Appartamenti Ca’ nei Vicoli or Casa L’Andrunèl in Limone sul Garda, Lake Garda).

Day 2 – Lake Garda : Bardolino, Borghetto, and Peschiera del Garda.

Day 3 – Lake Garda : Tenno, Riva del Garda, and Malcesine.

Day 4 – Lake Garda : Sirmione (suggested hotel: one night at Maison Blanche near Varenna, one of the most beautiful towns of Lake Como ).

Day 5 – Lake Como : Varenna and Bellagio (suggested hotel: 2 nights at Villa Lucciola in Stresa, Lake Maggiore).

Day 6 – Lake Maggiore : Stresa and the Borromean Islands.

Day 7 – Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta : Cannobio and Orta San Giulio + flight back from Milan (if you have one more day and want to spend the night in Orta San Giulio, you can stay at the highly-rated Villa Crespi , a 19th-century villa turned into a 5-star hotel and restaurant).

Click here to access the My Maps interactive map of this road trip.

Tip: After accessing the map, you can also open it on your Google Maps app. Simply open your app, tap the ‘saved’ icon at the bottom, scroll down and tap the ‘maps’ icon, and choose the MyMaps map you want to see (you can do the same on your computer).

If you want to change this itinerary a bit and visit some more places in northern Italy (while still basing yourself on the lakes and without driving), here are a few highly-rated day trips you might find interesting:

  • To see the best of Venice in one day , take a full-day tour from Lake Garda to Venice
  • A full-day tour from Lake Garda to the Dolomites , the perfect area for nature lovers
  • A full-day tour from Lake Garda to Verona , the city of Romeo and Juliet
  • Lake Garda full-day tour
  • A half-day wine-tasting tour from Lake Garda

North Italy Road Trip Day 1 – Getting to Lake Garda

We picked up our car at Milan’s airport and hit the road at about 4:00 PM. We had landed three hours before, but the lines at the passport control and the car rental company were crazy, so our first day was only a half-day.

Our accommodation on Lake Garda was in the town of Tremosine Sul Garda , located on the western side of the lake (which is also home to one of the best motorcycling roads in Europe – Strada Della Forra).

Getting there from Milan took us about two hours, but the road got strikingly beautiful very quickly. After accommodating ourselves, our journey began.

Where to Stay in Tremosine Sul Garda

I stayed at an apartment hotel called Hotel Residence Campi . Our apartment was spacious and clean, and we had some amazing views from the balcony.

The entire complex offers many facilities like a gym, mini-golf court, and a pool, but we haven’t used them. There’s also an on-site restaurant that offers great Italian food.

The downside of this accommodation is that the road leading to it is very steep and parts of it don’t have street lights. Its location might also be the reason the wifi was quite slow.

Other highly-rated accommodations in the area you might want to check out :

Mid-range: Located in Limone sul Garda (a few miles away from Tremosine), both Residence La Madonnina and Appartamenti Ca’ nei Vicoli offer fully equipped apartments (some with lake views) and free parking nearby. Also located in Limone sul Garda, the 3-star Garni Gianmartin offers spacious rooms with lake views, breakfast, an on-site bar, and free parking.

Luxury: Housed in a historical building in Limone sul Garda, the b&b Casa L’Andrunèl offers spacious rooms and suites for 2-3 people, an on-site restaurant, and free parking.

A charming house in Lake Garda

Limone Sul Garda

I would have liked to see more of Limone Sul Garda in the daylight, but even when it got darker, it still looked like a postcard.

We took advantage of what was left of our day and spent some time eating dinner and strolling around town.

North Italy Road Trip Day 2 – Southern Lake Garda

Bardolino is one of the sweetest towns on Lake Garda, located on its southeastern shore.

Apart from its colorful streets, it is famous for its Thursday open-air market, a 1-km market stretching along the promenade. Amongst the different stalls, you can find local food and wines, souvenirs, and clothing.

For more info on other markets around Lake Garda, read here.

In Bardolino, you can also book a wine tour and tasting at a local cellar.

North Italy Road Trip: Bardolino

Since Borghetto sits on the River Mincio (only a few km away from Lake Garda but not on the lake itself), it remains a hidden village that many travelers skip out on, and that’s why I loved this place.

It is a small village, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. With ancient watermills, a medieval bridge, colorful houses, and the river passing through it, the charming Borghetto is well worth a visit.

If you’re looking for the best food in Italy, it’s also a fantastic place to devour local tortellini called Nodo d’Amore (translated to ‘Love Knot’ and connected to a legend about an impossible love story ).

northern italy travel itinerary - borghetto

Peschiera Del Garda

Peschiera del Garda might seem like just another Italian town, but it has great historical importance.

Its Venetian defense walls are impressive and well-preserved works of the Venetian Republic, and they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After spending some time exploring this town, we had the most amazing gelato at La Gelateria HomeMade (Via Rocca, 4). I recommend trying the Nutella-flavored gelato as it was heavenly!

peschiera del garda

North Italy Road Trip Day 3 – Northern Lake Garda

I am obsessed with lakes, lagoons, seas, and oceans with dreamy colors. Luckily, not too far from the north shore of Lake Garda, hides this magical turquoise little lake.

To thoroughly enjoy it, try to visit Tenno in the morning for the best weather and before the crowds arrive.

tenno lake

Borgo Medievale DI Canale DI Tenno and Castello DI Tenno

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Italy and you love medieval villages as much as I do, then Borgo Medievale di Canale di Tenno will steal your heart!

Only a few km away from Lake Tenno, you’ll find cobbled alleys, stone houses, and archways that will take you back in time.

best places in northern italy - medieval village

Make another stop at Castello di Tenno (right next to the hotel and restaurant Antica Croce), a castle that hides a few more charming medieval alleys behind it.

I have to say that as tiny as these places are, they are seriously some of the most enchanting spots I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.

Not too far from there, you can also visit the Varone Waterfall.

tenno village

Riva Del Garda

Riva del Garda is famous for being a perfect spot to enjoy all sorts of water sports, but it is also great for a casual stroll, so visiting it is definitely one of the best things to do in Trentino (one of the two provinces of the Trentino-Alto Adige region).

It has a few historical points of interest like Torre Apponale and Porta di San Michele, incredible views, and a vibrant yet laid-back atmosphere.

Of all the towns on Lake Garda, Malcesine has to be my favorite one. Of course, they are all colorful and beautiful, but Malcesine is off the charts!

You’ll inevitably fall in love with its port and maze of narrow cobbled streets filled with restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Go souvenir shopping, grab a cup of coffee or eat some gelato, and wander around to enjoy a pleasant afternoon in this magnificent place.

north Italy road trip - malcesine

North Italy Road Trip Day 4 – Lake Garda’s Pearl

A week in northern Italy would not be complete without visiting Sirmione, one of the main reasons why Garda is one of the best lakes to visit in Italy .

Besides being a famous resort town and home to some of Lake Garda’s best thermal baths and water sports facilities, it’s full of enchanting alleys and stunning views, and also has a rich history.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places to visit in northern Italy , especially in the region of Lombardy . You might have already seen the photos of the Scaligera Fortress and the views seen from it on Instagram .

The fortress dated back to the 13th century; the Grottoes of Catullus, the remains of an ancient Roman villa; the old churches; all these landmarks prove that Sirmione is more than just another pretty town and why it’s called ‘the pearl of Lake Garda.’

Bonus tip: Challenge yourself, and try to pick a few gelato flavors out of 120 at Gelateria Mirkoz (Via Vittorio Emanuele, 26).

In Sirmione, you can also take a short boat tour along the peninsula , book a half-day boat tour around the area (with wine tasting) , or take a sunset boat tour .

sirmione

Optional: IL Leone Shopping Center

Before continuing to our next accommodation on Lake Como, we made a stop at Il Leone Shopping Center, where we had some shopping time and a quick meal. I dedicated one day to Lake Como, but you can spend 1-2 extra days there.

North Italy Road Trip Day 5 – Lake Como

Where to stay in lake como.

You’ll find plenty of amazing places to stay in Lake Como , but it’s important to choose the right town for you.

We stayed at a bed & breakfast in a village called Dorio (which was very close to the famous and popular town of Varenna ), but unfortunately, it is not available at the moment.

Here are other highly-rated places to stay in that area of Lake Como (not too far from Varenna):

Maison Blanche : Located about 15 minutes drive away from Varenna, this bed and breakfast offers cozy double rooms, some with a balcony and lake views. Read more about it and book it here.

B&B Valle dei Mulini : Located a 5-minute drive away from Varenna, this bed and breakfast offers double, triple, and quadruple rooms with lake or mountain views. You’ll also have access to a shared terrace and free private parking. See the latest prices here.

Being one of the most picturesque towns in Lake Como, Varenna is more than worth the visit.

I recommend getting here early in the morning before the crowds arrive. You’ll have Varenna all to yourself, and you’ll be able to explore it and photograph it quietly and without interruptions.

Some of the best things to do in Varenna include walking freely through its picture-perfect alleys, visiting Villa Monastero, and strolling along the promenade known as the Lovers’ Walk.

Extra tip: You can also hire a boat on Lake Como (in Varenna for example) if you want to see more of the lake without driving around it.

north Italy - varenna

Being a popular tourist resort town and famous for its villas overlooking the lake, Bellagio has both a luxurious and cozy atmosphere. This bustling small town offers countless cafes, restaurants, and shops, flower-adorned alleyways, and perfect lake views.

We spent our afternoon and evening sitting on the waterfront and exploring its streets.

To finish off our visit to Bellagio, we had a great dinner at the rooftop restaurant Bilacus ( Salita Serbelloni, 32). Although we did not get to sit on the lovely terrace, we still enjoyed the inviting decor and some fresh pasta and seafood.

From there, we continued our journey to our accommodation near Stresa on Lake Maggiore, which is not only a part of Italy – it’s also one of the best lakes to visit in Switzerland .

northern italy itinerary - Bellagio

Read more about Italy:

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  • Places to visit in Italy in winter

North Italy Road Trip Day 6 – Lake Maggiore

Where to stay on lake maggiore.

We stayed at an apartment in Stresa , but apart from the incredible lake views, our stay could have been much better.

Stresa itself is still a good place to find accommodation on Lake Maggiore, so here are a few highly-rated options to consider:

Villa Lucciola : This B&B offers fully equipped and spacious apartments for 2-6 people, free private parking, and garden & lake views. Read all the reviews and browse the latest prices here.

Hotel La F ontana : This family-run hotel offers rooms for 2-4 people (some with a balcony and lake views), continental breakfast, and free private parking. Browse availability and prices here.

Views of Lake Maggiore

THE BORROMEAN ISLANDS – ISOLA BELLA, ISOLA MADRE, AND ISOLA DEI PESCATORI

The  Borromean Islands  are a must-visit when you only have 1 week in northern Italy. They are a group of islands and islets near the town of Stresa. Their name comes from the Borromeo family, which started owning them in the 16th century.

The three islands that are open for visits are:

Isola Bella

Once a deserted piece of rock, Isola Bella has become home to a luxury Baroque summer palace and impressive wide gardens where you’ll also see some white peacocks wandering around.

Touring the palace and gardens along with the surrounding lake views provided some enchanting and memorable moments. The admission is €18, but if also visit the palace and gardens of Isola Madre, you can buy a combo ticket for €25.

Isola Madre

This is the largest of the islands and is also known for its palace and gardens which date back to the 16th-19th centuries.

After paying for the entrance to the palace and gardens on Isola Bella which were magnificent, we decided not to spend money to enter the gardens at Isola Madre, so our stop there was unnecessary.

The admission is €15, but if also visit the palace and gardens of Isola Bella, you can buy a combo ticket for €25.

Isola Dei Pescatori (Or Isola Superiore)

As tiny as this island is, it houses quite a few hotels, shops, and restaurants. It is charming and picturesque and makes a nice extra stop.

north Italy road trip - isola

Getting there: The access to the islands is by ferry/boat. You can either  book a hop-on hop-off boat tour (that doesn’t include tickets to the palaces), book a package of a boat transfer + entrance to the palaces , or purchase ferry tickets directly at Stresa’s ferry terminal (like I did) and get your palace tickets at the ticket offices on the islands.

Alternatively, you can book a Borromean Islands day trip from the town of Cannobio.

Visiting season: The islands are open to the public from March to October. You don’t have to visit all three islands, and you can buy tickets according to your preferences.

After a long day of island hopping, we spent a couple of hours walking the beautiful streets of Stresa’s city center.

Like all towns in the Italian lake district, Stresa also flaunts its cobbled streets, cute shops, and little cafes and restaurants. However, each town has its unique flavor and rhythm.

Not too far from Stresa, you can also visit the gorgeous Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto, which are open to the public from mid-March to October.

Read more about northern Italy:

  • Is Turin worth visiting?
  • Best things to do in Turin
  • A weekend in Turin
  • Turin chocolate guide
  • Cafes in Turin
  • Tips for traveling to Turin
  • Where to stay in Turin
  • Turin in winter
  • Hidden gems in Turin
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  • 4 days in Milan
  • Things to do in Milan in the rain
  • Non touristy things to do in Milan
  • Day trips from Milan in winter
  • Things to do in Milan in December
  • Milan or Turin
  • Places to visit in Aosta Valley
  • Best places to stay in Aosta Valley
  • Is Aosta worth visiting
  • Northwest Italy road trip itinerary

North Italy Road Trip Day 7 – Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta

We had some spare time on our northern Italy itinerary, so we decided to visit two unique places before heading back to Milan to return the car.

Cannobio sits on Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region , quite close to Italy’s border with Switzerland. After wandering a bit through its streets, we walked along the colorful promenade, enjoying both the breeze and the views around us.

Bonus tip: Stop at Pasticceria Castello (Via Francesco Magistris, 30) for the perfect little tiramisu (and other delicious Italian desserts)!

You can also take a guided tour in Cannobio and even a cooking class .

northern italy road trip - cannobio

Orta San Giulio

Sitting on Lake Orta , Orta San Giulio is a small medieval town you do not want to miss in the region of Piedmont and a northern Italian hidden gem . Besides its undeniable beauty, it has a relaxed and authentic vibe that will make you want to stay forever.

It also overlooks the  Island of San Giulio,  a cute little island whose main attraction is the Basilica di San Giulio. We have not visited the island, but it is accessible by boat.

orta san giulio

Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary – General Tips and Notes

We found a great one-week deal on Avis , but I always start by comparing multiple car rental companies’ prices on Rentalcars . You can browse the latest car rental deals here to find the best one for you.

I’ve planned a circular northern Italy road trip from Milan , so the starting point was the city’s airport. As for picking up the car, you need patience. The Italian guys working in those car rental companies (not only in Avis) can drive you nuts sometimes.

They work slowly and try to find problems instead of making this process easy for you, and it can be frustrating, so patience is key. On the other hand, returning the car went smoothly. Also, be sure to bring your driving license as well as an international driving permit.

Tip #1: Many car rental companies offer deals on one-week bookings, so sometimes it’s cheaper to have a car for 7 days instead of 6 (and even one hour beyond the six days counts as the seventh day).

Tip #2: If possible, go for a small car because you’ll be driving through the lakes’ narrow roads.

Views of a town in Lake Garda with the mountains behind

Driving in Northern Italy

I know that driving in Italy can seem intimidating (thanks to the stereotype of crazy Italian drivers, which is sometimes true), but driving in northern Italy was actually okay for me.

On highways, they just go faster than you, and on the winding roads of the lakes, they usually honk to let you know that they’re about to pass you.

As long as you’re in the right lane, it really is fine (though you should always be extra cautious when driving in a foreign country).

When to Visit Northern Italy

To enjoy the lakes without the crowds and have the most amazing weather, plan your trip in late spring or early fall. If it’s not raining, this area is definitely one of the best places to visit in October in northern Italy .

Other Things to Know

Parking (that doesn’t belong to your accommodation) is never free, so one of my biggest Italy travel tips would be to make sure you have spare change for the parking meters. You should also have some change for toll roads.

This north Italy travel itinerary also takes into consideration driving times; since the lakes are big and the roads are winding, moving between towns takes some time.

places to visit in northern italy - borghetto

Did you like this Italian road trip itinerary? You might also want to read:

  • Best road trips in Spain
  • Andalusia road trip
  • Northern Spain road trip
  • Best road trips in Portugal
  • Lisbon to Porto road trip
  • Northern Portugal road trip
  • Places to visit in spring in Europe

If you prefer to avoid driving, here’s how to plan an Italy itinerary using only public transportation!

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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

14 thoughts on “North Italy Road Trip: Best 7-Day Italian Lakes Itinerary”

Can you elaborate on exactly WHY you chose this itinerary? You have a very curious weighting of spending most of your time on Lake Garda, (the “middle” lake), then heading East to Lake Como but only for 1 day, then backtracking past Lake Garda to Maggiore.. I found this very confusing – why would you not just start on either Como or Maggiore and just head in one direction?? Also, why most of the time around Garda, and little at Como? You didn’t explain any of this above.

Hey David, I’m not sure why you’re calling Garda the “middle” lake because you can see in the map that the lakes from east to west are Garda, Como, and Maggiore (and Orta), so Como is the “middle” lake and I was headed in just one direction. Garda is also the largest lake and there were a lot of towns I wanted to visit, so I needed 3-4 days. That said, I didn’t want to spend the entire week in Garda, so I chose to spend a bit of time in Como and Maggiore and see their highlights. I hope I answered your questions.

Planning a trip for my husbands 50th this year. Your blog has been incredibly helpful.

Thank you, Heidi! I’m so happy I could help 🙂

Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful info specifically the last part. I care for such info much.

Thank you, Ezekiel!

Fantastic suggestions – thank YOU! We’ll be going in September after a trip in the Mont Blanc area. So, great tips:))

Thank you, Jeannette! I hope you have a fun & safe trip 🙂

HI, we are planning a trip next year and are looking at our options. We were thinking of doing a week in northern italy so your article is helpful thank you. We are also looking for a similar style itinerary for florence, venice and rome – do you have any any recommendations?

Hi Merrilyn 🙂 I’m happy this post is helpful 🙂 I’ve taken a 5-day road trip through Tuscany with 4 more days in Rome, but it was a while ago so I don’t know how relevant my tips are. Besides Florence, I loved Greve, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Pitigliano, and the hot springs of Saturnia (which are free to visit!). Personally, Rome was just OK for me so 3 days might be enough.

Hi, One question. There are public beaches were you can swim after you walk around?

Hi Trinidad! Yes, many towns on all three lakes have public beaches (including some of the towns I’ve mentioned like Sirmione and Riva del Garda). As you drive around, you’ll also see a lot of places along the way where you can just stop the car and get in the water. Let me know if you have more questions 🙂

Italy is such a beautiful country. I went there a couple times and there’s so much to see and do! Love the Lake Garda area. Your pictures are beautiful!

Thank you! I could never get enough of Italy 🙂

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Hi, I'm Or!

I'm a passionate traveler obsessed with traveling in Europe and discovering hidden gems in each place I visit. For me, it's not about ticking destinations off the bucket list but experiencing each one of them to the fullest. Read more about me and my story.

northern italy road trips

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Northern Italy Road Trip: The perfect itinerary for your road trip in Northern Italy

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

Are you planning your next Northern Italy road trip and looking for an itinerary? We are here to help!

Northern Italy is such a beautiful destination. Famous for its beautiful ranges of mountains, stunning lakes and romantic cities, Northern Italy is very different from the south.

It’s a great place to visit if you love the outdoors and like art.

In this northern Italy road itinerary, we tell you everything you need to know to plan your driving tour of northern Italy. This includes the best places to visit as well as accommodation recommendations and travel tips.

Please note that you do not have to follow this itinerary exactly as it. It can be customised to meet your needs.

So, are you ready to go on the ultimate road trip in Northern Italy? Let’s get started!

🔎 Table of Contents

How to get to Northern Italy

The best way to get to Northern Italy is by plane. You will find quite a few airports there but the best place to fly to is Milan.

There are two airports in Milan: Malpensa and Bergamo.

The great thing about the airports in Milan is that you can score some really great flight deals there.

Also, Milan is an excellent starting point so, that’s just perfect.

To find the best fares, check out Skyscanner here.

Alternatively, you can also opt for a flight to Turin and drive from there to Milan (or take a train) or to Venice and just use this itinerary the other way round.

How to hire a car in Northern Italy

Car in Italy

TOP CAR RENTAL COMPANY IN NORTHERN ITALY: Discover Cars

They will show you the best deals from both international car rental companies and local ones. Discover Cars also provide great insurance options.

Northern Italy is one of the most popular road trip destinations in Europe so hiring a car is a common thing to do. You will find many car rental places in airports and cities .

Hiring a car in Italy is not much different than anywhere else however, you should always make sure that you have insurance.

Unfortunately, Italians aren’t as careful with cars as you may expect them to and better be safe than sorry.

To find the best deals, the best way is to head to Discover Cars and compare the prices.

Discover Cars is one of the most useful travel tools out there and it will tell you within seconds what are the cheapest options.

From there, you can choose the company you like the most.

Alternatively, you can also check directly the Europcar and Hertz website. They are always a trusted value when it comes to car hire in Europe.

What about my driving license? If you hold an EU or UK driving license, you can drive in Italy with this one.

If you are from the US or Australia, you will need to get an international driving permit.

Either way, it’s always recommended to take your international driving license when driving abroad.

Even if you don’t need it, better safe than sorry.

The ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Stop 1: milan.

Duomo of Milan in Italy

Recommended time: 1 to 3 days

As one of the most fashion-forward cities on this Northern Italy road trip itinerary, Milan is one place that you won’t want to miss. It’s well-known for its arts, culture, and impressive history.

Historically, Milan has been inhabited by many different people since 400 BC, including the Spaniards and the Celts. It served as a place of safety for many years, and there have been many fights over the city. 

By the early nineteenth century, Napoleon had officially re-seized Milan for the country of Italy. It soon became known for its Italian pride. Today, it’s considered a fashion capital, just like Paris, France.

Here are a few things to see and do in Milan:

  • The Duomo di Milano is arguably the most-visited attraction in all of Milan. This Gothic cathedral began construction in the late fourteenth century and was recently finished in the late twentieth century. It is a stunning edifice to look from the square but if you should also go up to the terraces. The views are wonderful. See prices here.
  • Walking tour. Milan is an important city and there is plenty to know about it. If you want to discover the city centre with a local guide and hear all the stories, make sure to join a walking tour.
  • Sforzesco Castle is a fifteenth-century castle that’s exceptionally well-preserved. Inside, you can find a lot of the city’s greatest art pieces.
  • Exploring the Navigli. This neighbourhood is becoming incredibly popular and trendy. Here, you’ll find beautiful canals with cute local shops and amazing restaurants. Ideally, go there in late afternoon so you can shop around for a bit and then go for a drink and meal. You can also book a guided tour of the Navigli quarters.
  • A north Italy road trip would be deemed incomplete without a stop at Santa Maria dell Grazie . Inside this church, you can find the famous Da Vinci painting, The Last Supper. You should buy tickets in advance as it’s a very popular attraction. You can also get a skip-the-line ticket with a tour. See prices here.
  • Take some time to relax and explore Sempione Park , a magical garden filled with beautiful plant life.
  • Food tour. One of the best ways to discover a new city is by joining a food tour. Milan is no exception! Here you can find delicious Italian food and desserts. By joining a food tour , you’ll get to try some of these local delicacies as well discovering interesting stories.

WHERE TO STAY IN MILAN:

Here are some recommendations of places to stay in Milan:

  • Luxury: Château Monfort – Relais & Châteaux is absolutely gorgeous hotel ideally located on Corso Concordia. From here, you can reach all the attractions in Milan. This is truly a stunning hotel with a castle look and although it is considered as luxury, you can get really good deals here!
  • Mid-range: Ibis Milano Centro will be ideal for everyone looking for a good hotel without having to spend a fortune. As a general thing, Ibis hotel are always a good value and well located. The one in Milan is no different, it’s very close to the main attractions and the station.
  • Budget: Un posto a Milano is a super cool hostel set in a 17th-century house. It is truly a cool place to stay and it’s pretty affordable. It is located in Porta Romana which is not exactly in the city centre but you can easily get there with the metro.

PRO TIP: Do not rent your car as soon as you get to Milan. Instead, stay in Milan, enjoy the city (car-free) and rent your car only when you are ready to leave. Carparks are very expensive in Milan and having a car won’t be helpful. It will only cost you money. You might as well save yourself some money and hassle.

Stop 2: Lake Como

Next stop on this Italy road trip is Lake Como.

From Milan, rent your car and head straight to Lake Como, one of the northern Italy highlights. Lake Como will make you feel like you’re entirely in another country, as it has heavy Mediterranean vibes!

Lake Como is said to have roots from the Ice Cage, and similar to Milan, it’s been ruled by many different countries over the years. It was finally back in Italy’s hands in 1859, thanks to Guiseppe Garibaldi.

Famously located in the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como is right next to the gorgeous Italian Alps. It truly feels like a paradise on earth. The area is home to lots of resorts, history, and can’t-miss culture. 

PRO TIP: Arguably the best time to visit Lake Como is during the spring or fall when tourists don’t visit as often, and prices are more affordable. As one of the most famous destinations in the whole country, Lake Como tends to book out accommodations months in advance.

Here are a few things to see and do in Lake Como:

  • Sailing . If you love water activities then going on a sailing tour on Lake Como will be an excellent thing to do. This is the perfect summer activity. So much fun!
  • Take a guided tour of Villa del Balbianello , a gorgeous residence in Lenno. It has epic views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Como and also has top-notch gardens.
  • E-bike tour of Lake Como . Lake Como is a rather large lake so opting for a electric bike tour is an excellent way to cover more ground without coming exhausted.
  • Visit the famous Castello di Vezio near Varenna . It’s home to impressive statues and is known for its falconry. 
  • Explore the history of the fifteenth century Duomo of Como . It’s free to visit and has beautiful architecture that will take your breath away. 
  • Snap some photos at the Hotel Villa Cipressi . While this is a hotel, it was built back in the fifteenth century and is home to the most breathtaking gardens in Lake Como set right along the lakeside.
  • Kayaking on Lake Como . One of the best ways to explore Lake Como is from a kayak. If you want to be sure to discover the best spots, you can join a kayak tour. The guide will take you to the best spots which include the Rockefeller cliffs, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and Bellagio beach.
  • Food tour of Como . If you want to discover the local culture at its best, joining a food tour will be an excellent way to do so. You will be with a local guide who will bring you to the best food spots! You’ll also get to sample many local delicacies and learn local stories.

Stop 3: Bergamo

Bergamo is a must-see on this northern Italy vacation itinerary because of its striking Venetian walls and true beauty. It’s not that far from Milan and has an authentic medieval feeling to it, and it’s right next to the mountains.

This city used to be inhabited by a tribe and was later struck by the hands of Attila the Hun. For a while, it was also lived in by the Celts. It dates back to 196 BC, though a lot of what is still there today was built during the sixteenth century. 

Now, Bergamo is one of the most underrated places to visit in northern Italy. It’s known as a hub for Italian architecture, culture, and art.

  • Be sure to stop by the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a twelfth-century church built in the Baroque and Romanesque styles of architecture. 
  • Make your way to the top of the Campanone, a tower from the twelfth century. You can get some of the best views of Bergamo and the surrounding landscape at the very top!
  • Walk around and explore Piazza Vecchia, a gorgeous square that is hustling and bustling during the day. There’s a fountain and lots of shops to visit here. 
  • Take your time to check out the City Gates, which were built by the Venetians hundreds of years ago. 

Stop 4: Lake Garda

Garda Lake in Italy

The best itinerary for northern Italy would not be considered complete without mentioning the breathtaking Lake Garda! This is one of the most-visited lakes in the whole country, so why not include it on your northern Italy road trip?

Lake Garda is located right next to the Dolomites, and almost everywhere you visit, you can get amazing views of both the lake and the Alps. It’s home to lots of incredible viewpoints, historic castles, and museums.

For the longest time, Lake Garda was called Lacus Benacus, up until the ninth century. Austria also ruled it until almost one hundred years ago!

  • Don’t miss out on Scaligero Castle in Sirmione. It served as a fortress during medieval times and has some of the best sweeping views of Lake Garda.
  • Ride the cable car up to the top of Monte Baldo, part of the famed Italian Alps. The cable car begins in Malcesine. It only takes about twenty minutes to get to the top!
  • Do you love the arts? Be sure to visit the Vittoriale degli Italiani, where Gabriele d’Annunzio, an Italian writer, lived up until the early twentieth century. 
  • The Archaeological Site of Grotte di Catullo dates back to the first century BC and is filled with ruins. Historically, an ancient Roman villa used to be located here, and now it’s a top-visited spot.

Stop 5: Dolomites

Dolomites in Italy

For fans of adventure, the Dolomites are one place you can’t miss while driving northern Italy. They’re the huge mountain range in the north part of the country, and their presence is demanding.

Some of the most popular activities to partake in here include skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and participating in water sports. Anyone who lives and breathes outdoor adventure will feel right at home in the Dolomites.

At their highest point, the Dolomites stand at 3343 meters (10968 feet). Luckily, no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to experience their beauty. It almost feels like Switzerland or Austria, but it’s in Italy!

  • Bask in the beauty of Lake Misurina, a gorgeous lake set against the mountains. In 1965, this lake was even where the Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympics were held! 
  • Explore the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, a beautiful town with some of the best views of the mountains. It has a very historical feel to it, with roots dating back to more than a thousand years ago.
  • Spot the rainbow lake, Lake Carezza! It often reflects many of the colours in the surrounding landscape, which is why it got its nickname. 
  • Go on at least one hike; there are tons in the Dolomites. They have varying ranges of difficulty, so make sure you do your research and pick one that you know you can do safely. 

Stop 6: Venice

Venice is easily one of the most-visited cities in the entire country, so it must be included on this north Italy itinerary. It’s essentially a city with streets made of canals, and it’s well-known for its gondolas which can take you from place to place.

The Floating City dates back to the fifth century AD when the empire in Rome was decimated. More people were leaving the area and founded Venice. Before long, they turned the islands into a habitable place for themselves.  It’s always been seen as a relatively affluent city.

Today, Venice is popularly a top destination because of its incredible uniqueness. Plus, it hosts lots of festivals throughout the year and is a truly magical place.

  • You absolutely can’t miss out on Saint Mark’s Basilica, a church that began construction in the eleventh century. It’s completely free to visit!
  • Stop by Doge’s Palace, a fourteenth-century attraction that served as the ruler of Venice’s residence for years. Since the early twentieth century, it has become a famous museum.
  • Visit the Rialto Bridge, an absolute must-see on this northern Italy trip itinerary. It was built in the twelfth century and has tons of shops right on it, which is unique!
  • One place you can’t help but visit is the Grand Canal, which is considered one of the main areas of Venice. 

Stop 7: Padua

Founded in 1183 BC, Padua is said to be the most historic city in all of northern Italy. That’s what makes it one stop you absolutely must make on the northern Italy itinerary.

It’s located not that far from Venice and was notably founded by someone who supposedly escaped Troy, Antenore, according to legend. He was said to be a Trojan prince. Besides the legend, Padua is often also visited because it’s home to the University of Padua, a college that Galileo taught at for twenty years.

In addition, the city is filled with lots of Renaissance works, including art, architecture, and more. It’s also home to one of Europe’s largest squares!

  • The Basilica of St. Anthony is a church from the fourteenth century that is arguably one of the top sights in Padua. Historically, it served by those who partook in a pilgrimage to northern Italy. 
  • Prato della Valle is the most popular square in all of Padua! It’s also famous for being one of Europe’s biggest squares. It consistently hosts markets and is filled with lots of impressive statues.
  • One of the best things to do in Italy is eat, and at Ragione Palace, you can do just that! What was originally a meeting place for counsellors in the thirteenth century has since become a town hall food hall! 
  • Villa Pisani is one of the most breathtaking palaces in this area of Italy. It was built in the eighteenth century by the Pisani family. Alvise Pisani was a doge at the time, and many villas were made for the family. 

Stop 8: Verona

Made famous by Shakespeare for Romeo and Juliet, Verona is a gorgeous village dating back to the first century AD. It’s considered to be one of Italy’s most romantic places to visit.

On your northern Italy road trip itinerary, you can’t miss out on Verona. It was ruled by a few different groups over the years, including the Scaliger family and later the Republic of Venice. Verona quickly gained dominance because of its location.

Verona is now the perfect place to visit if you’re a fan of Shakespeare or if you like exploring medieval towns. One of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world is also in Verona, which is worth visiting.

  • You absolutely can’t miss Juliet’s House, made famous by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet . 
  • Be sure to stop by Piazza delle Erbe. What once served as a meeting place historically for the Roman Empire has since become a bustling square. 
  • The Verona Arena was built in the first century and is one of the most-visited attractions in the city. It was used as a fighting stadium and is still in use today! Don’t worry, today it hosts operas instead, which you can attend.
  • Finished by the fourteenth century, the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is a striking cathedral. It’s famous because it’s said to be where Romeo and Juliet’s crypts were in Shakespeare’s famous play. 

Stop 9: La Spezia

Located near Cinque Terre, La Spezia is often overlooked as a place to visit. That’s why it’s included on this north Italy itinerary! 

It’s popularly seen as just a port cit to visit other destinations, like Cinque Terre, but it has a history of its own. It wasn’t written about in history until the thirteenth century, though historians believe it’s much older than that. A lot of what is still there today is from the nineteenth century. It was also unfortunately partly destroyed during WWII.

La Spezia is home to many beaches, historical sites, and an abundance of museums. Plus, there are also lots of beautiful castles that make La Spezia well worth visiting.

  • Explore the island of Palmaria, which is known for its caves. Set against the beauty of the Mediterranean, this is one epic place you won’t want to miss. 
  • Take in the fantastic views from the historic Castello San Giorgio. It was built in the fourteenth century and served as a fortress. Today, it is a museum holding lots of great exhibits about the area’s history.
  • The most well-known museum in La Spezia is the Technical Naval Museum. It provides lots of history surrounding the Navy in Italy and is very affordable to visit and explore.
  • For a beach day, head to Baia Blu, a gorgeous place to sit and relax. Plus, the views are extravagant.

Stop 10: Cinque Terre

Beautiful town of Manarola in Cinque Terre Italy

Cinque Terre is made up of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Manarola. For years they were fishing villages and have since become one of the most beautiful places to visit in northern Italy.

The villages are picture-perfect, with every building being painted a vibrant colour. Seriously, there’s no way to take a bad photo of any of the villages here!

Keep in mind that the villages can only be visited via train or boat, and you’ll want to purchase your tickets well in advance. This is especially true if you happen to be visiting during peak season.

  • Go on a hike to get from town to town. If you purchase a hiking pass, you can access the trails that go right along the Mediterranean Sea and connect each town. 
  • Take in the view from Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero in Riomaggiore. This nineteenth-century castle church has become popular as a hiking destination for its striking views of the area.
  • Try all of the food in Vernazza. From focaccia bread pizza to the tastiest gelato in Cinque Terre, there is no shortage of places to eat in Vernazza.
  • Watch the sunset from Manarola, the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre. Find the hiking trail that leads upwards near the water to get a picture-perfect view of Manarola that you won’t want to miss.

Stop 11: Genoa

Genoa is a northern Italian city that became popular for its maritime history. It’s also filled with beautiful cathedrals, museums, and lots of portside attractions. The architecture in Genoa, in particular, is unique.

This city has history dating back to the fourth century BC because of its excellent location. It served as a port city for centuries and continued to prosper over the years. Austria ruled it for quite some time, and it became part of Italy in the nineteenth century.

It’s an absolute gem to visit on a northern Italy road trip, not only because of its excellent sea-side views but because of its true beauty.

  • Walk Via Garibaldi, one of the most famous streets in all of Genoa. It’s in the historical part of the city and has roots dating back to Renaissance times, which is evident in the gorgeous architectural style.
  • Visit the fourteenth-century Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. It has a striking exterior and is filled with lots of great art from Italy’s past.
  • Stop and explore Piazza De Ferrari, which is Genoa’s most-visited and central square. It’s located right near the old and new areas of Genoa and features a gorgeous fountain and lots of statues. 
  • To explore lots of Italy’s greatest art, stop by the Strada Nuova Museums. Inside are many great exhibits and art on display.

Stop 12: Turin

Last but not least on the north Italy road trip is Turin! The year that Turin was founded is unfortunately lost in history but is said to date back to 218 BC, at the least.

Turin is said to have been discovered by a tribe named Taurini, which was Celtic. This is the very same tribe that took over a lot of Spain at the time. It got its name from the tribe and has a close connection to the word mountain.

The city has since become a great destination because of its rich attractions and for being the capital of the Piedmont area of Italy. Plus, it offers excellent views of the nearby mountains you can see from almost anywhere in town.

  • The most popular museum in Turin that you won’t want to miss is the Egyptian Museum. It’s one of the biggest collections of Egyptian artefacts in the world.
  • Stop by the Royal Palace of Turin, which dates back to the sixteenth century. It historically served as the House of Savoy’s residence and has since been turned into the museum that it is today.
  • Explore the beauty of the Parco del Valentino, one of the biggest parks in all of Turin. Visit during the spring or summer to see the park and gardens at their best and most beautiful!
  • The Basilica of Superga is a genuinely unique church from the seventeenth century in Turin because it doesn’t look like many other churches in the country. It’s yellow on the outside with a striking dome on top, along with a bell tower. 

You may also be interested in:

  • 18 Best Places To Visit in Italy in winter
  • 15 Best Books about Italy
  • What is Italy famous for? 19 Extraordinary Things Italy is known for
  • 14 Famous Cities in Italy You Must Visit
  • 18 Reasons to Visit Italy (That will make you want to book your trip now!)

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Founder of Beeloved City, I am originally from France and have been living in the UK since 2016. I've travelled to 25 countries as a backpacker, travel coordinator and for holidays. I spent a year in Australia before eventually settling down in Manchester, England

Travel Blog

Amazing Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary (With Map)

Planning the ultimate northern Italy road trip, and have no idea yet where to go? Then I got you covered!

My husband and I have taken the perfect 10-day Italy road trip and I can tell you – the planning was a hassle! Since the trip turned out to be so perfect, I would say it was worth it!

So you can skip all the tedious planning, I will share all the details about our road trip in this post.

This includes an amazing 10-day Italy road trip itinerary and a two-week Italy trip itinerary, hotel recommendations, and the best things to do in each town.

Let’s get to it!

venice gondolas

Table of Contents

Important information for your italy road trip, how to get around northern italy, the best time to go on a northern italy road trip, 10 day northern italy road trip itinerary at a glance, 2 week italy road trip itinerary, milan things to do, milan food lovers tour, historic milan tour with skip-the-line last supper ticket, milan duomo, archaeological area & rooftops private fast-track guided tour, treasures of milan: fashion and design private tour, where to stay in milan, lago di garda, things to do in verona, best tours in verona, where to stay in verona, where to stay in venice with a car, things to do in venice – northern italy road trip edition, best day tours in venice, things to do in florence, where to stay in florence, best tours and excursions in florence, where to stay in pisa, best tours in pisa, cinque terre, last stop on our northern italy road trip: milan, making it a two week northern italy road trip, conclusion: northern italy road trip itinerary, faq: 10 day northern italy road trip itinerary, about the author.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Read my  disclaimer  for further information.

🚗 Plan your route and destinations. I suggest picking the hotels below because they have great on-site parking and are very centrally located. This saves a lot of stress

🚗 Pack essential supplies for the drive, including water and snacks. Make sure your car has a first-aid kit and an extra wheel.

🚗 Get your vehicle serviced before hitting the road. If you have a rental car, you don’t need to worry about that one. The company will take care of it. I suggest booking with DiscoverCars, we had great experiences with them always.

🚗 Bring a physical map or have offline navigation options. Sometimes there is no phone reception, so unless you have GPS in your car, I suggest bringing a travel guide with a map.

🚗 Carry emergency supplies like a first aid kit.

🚗 Enjoy the journey and embrace unexpected detours. Don’t get worked up about detours, they can be fun!

🚗 Italy requires you to pay tolls on the road, keep that in mind while budgeting! Usually, they take credit cards but make sure to bring some cash.

🚗 In case of an emergency, for immediate medical attention or to call an ambulance dial 112  from any telephone in Italy.

🚗 Make sure you have an international driving permit.

🚗 Make sure to inform about the country in detail, there are a lot of useful things you need to know about Italy before you go.

🚗 Check out this list of 20 Italy travel apps to download from my friend Jade.

We booked a rental car with DiscoverCars and picked it up in Milan. This is a great way to get around Northern Italy for your road trip.

DiscoverCars offers amazing deals and is super reliable. Make sure to check it out for your road trip.

Do you need travel insurance in Italy? Yes, travel insurance in Italy is highly recommended. Avoid nasty surprises and travel worry-free with EKTA.   EKTA offers worldwide travel insurance  with 24/7 service and no hidden fees or restrictions.

The best time to go on this road trip is definitely off-season. All of the cities on this trip are quite busy, so it is best to avoid peak travel times.

We went during the Christmas holidays and over New Year’s Eve – which made the trip extra special! If you have the chance to go in winter, I can highly recommend it! Everything is beautifully decorated and it is not too cold to explore.

However, it can also be great to go during different times of the year. I have made a small breakdown of the seasons in Northern Italy and the weather!

  • Spring (March to May): Spring is a beautiful time to explore Northern Italy as the weather gradually becomes warmer. The landscapes come to life with blooming flowers and it is an ideal time for outdoor activities and sightseeing without the intense summer crowds. It might be too cold for swimming, so if you want to jump in the ocean, go at the end of May.
  • Summer (June to August): Summer in Northern Italy is the peak tourist season, I would avoid that if possible. The weather is generally hot and sunny, especially in July and August. This can be quite uncomfortable. However, if you don’t mind the crowds, summer offers longer days and the opportunity to enjoy festivals, outdoor markets, and outdoor dining.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another excellent time for a road trip in Northern Italy. The temperatures start to cool down, and the landscapes show stunning fall foliage. September and October are particularly pleasant, with mild weather and fewer tourists. It’s a great time to explore vineyards, taste local wines, and visit picturesque towns. It is too cold for swimming after September, so keep that in mind.
  • Winter (December to February): Northern Italy experiences colder temperatures and occasional snowfall during winter. Cities like Milan and Venice, have a quieter atmosphere. Winter can be a good time to experience the holiday season and enjoy attractions without the usual crowds. I prefer winter for the Northern Italy road trip.
  • 2 nights in Milan
  • Quick stop in Lago di Garda
  • 1 night in Verona
  • 3 nights in Venice
  • 1 night in Florence
  • 1 night in Pisa
  • 1 day in Cinque Terre
  • 1 night in Milan

For the 10-day Northern Italy road trip itinerary, I definitely suggest visiting famous cities such as Milan, Venice, and Florence. But also the smaller cities, such as Verona and Pisa are worth visiting.

As for beautiful scenery, we have added Lago di Garda as well as Cinque Terre to the itinerary. Both destinations are extremely beautiful and definitely worth a visit.

We have started and ended our road trip in Milan. Milan has the best airport connection in the area. Also, rental cars are cheaper if you return them to their original destination, so we planned this as a round-trip.

10 day northern italy road trip itinerary

  • 1 night in Lago di Garda
  • 2 nights in Venice
  • 2 nights in Florence
  • 1 night in Cinque Terre
  • 1 night in Genoa

10 days is a good time for this road trip itinerary. However, we felt like we could have used some additional days at some of the stops.

I don’t recommend adding more stops to the already busy itinerary, but I would add some more nights to Florence, Lago di Garda, and Cinque Terre.

Milan – Begin of the Northern Italy Road Trip

We chose Milan as a starting point for our ultimate Northern Italy road trip. The city is easy to reach by plane and we could easily find a rental car there. We decided to sleep in Milan for two nights, so we would have enough time to explore the city.

Milan is a vibrant city in Northern Italy and it is known for fashion, design, and finance. The city is a shopper’s paradise, there are many high-end fashion boutiques and the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Milan is also renowned for its culture and arts scene. The city has also a rich historical and cultural heritage, so there are many beautiful sights you can visit. Stunning Gothic churches and castles are awaiting you!

Milan hosts major international events, like Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair. If you are interested in these, make sure to check out the dates before you plan your road trip.

Food enthusiasts will absolutely love the traditional Italian cuisine. Make sure to check out risotto alla Milanese and panettone.

The city’s also has a great nightlife scene. There are lots of trendy bars, clubs, and rooftop terraces. Make sure to not stay out too long – otherwise driving is not safe the next day!

Milan is a beautiful city and has many great things for you to see. First and foremost, I suggest a nice walk through the city to pass by some famous landmarks. My three favorite things to see in Milan were the Duomo di Milano, the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, and the Sforzesco castle.

If you are planning this stay ahead of time, you might want to reserve a spot to see the famous Last Supper painting.

Football fans will be drawn to the San Siro Stadium, which is the home of AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The famous La Scala opera house is the place to be for lovers of the theater. You should also explore world-class museums such as the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology.

The Santa Maria Delle Grazie is an amazing place to visit as well, this is where Leonardo Da Vinci painted The Last Supper.

If you are not sure where to go, I have a couple of great suggestions for tours and day trips in Milan you that you can choose from. Booking some day trips or tours ahead of time can save a lot of hassle and is a convenient way of exploring a city.

Guided Day Trips and Tours in Milan

My favorite tour in Milan is the food-lovers tour. You will tour Milan for two hours and be tasting local delicacies along the way. The tour is private and guided by a local, so this is a great way for Slow Travelers, that are more interested in learning about the culture.

The historic Milan tour is a great way to experience the city and its most important historical landmarks in three hours. Additionally, you will get to see the famous Last Supper painting without having to wait. This tour is definitely worth it – as you will see so much!

This private Milan tour is everything you need if you want to see some stunning archaeological sites as well as hang out on some impressive rooftops. I always recommend booking private or small-group tours for a more in-depth experience. This is definitely one of my favorite tours in Milan.

Fashionistas will absolutely love this private Treasures of Milan tour. Y ou will explore the Navigli district and see its canals as well as discover a few hidden fashion gems – and of course major international brands. Your informative guide will tell you everything you need to know about fashion in Milan.

We stayed in the AC Hotel by Mariott in Milan . The location is great and the service is amazing. Also it has a downstairs parking garage, so it was very convenient for our rental car.

We mainly chose to stay in the Mariott hotel chain on this trip, because they all have car garages and we could book them one day in advance without paying extra.

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele decorated for Christmas

After leaving Milan early in the morning we headed towards Verona. On the way, we stopped at the Lago di Garda for lunch and to explore a bit. We loved this small pit stop because everything was lovingly decorated and very quiet at the time.

Lago di Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It offers stunning natural beauty with crystal-clear waters. I absolutely loved the picturesque landscapes. Garda’s shoreline is dotted with beaches, promenades, and waterfront restaurants, perfect for a lunchtime snack on the water.

Lago di Garda is surrounded by charming towns and villages, such as Sirmione and Malcesine. Both of them are great places for a lunch stop.

In summer, the lake is ideal for water activities like swimming, sailing, and windsurfing. Historical sites like the Scaliger Castle and Roman ruins should definitely be on your list!

If you are wine enthusiasts, like us, you can explore the nearby vineyards and taste the local wines, such as Bardolino and Lugana. I also suggest bringing some wine home with you, it is usually cheaper when buying directly at the vineyard.

We only stayed there for a couple of hours, but if you have the time, make sure to book a full-day Lake Garda tour.

We did not stay overnight on this Northern Italy road trip. If you have time available, I suggest staying at least one night at the Lefay Resort and Spa – the view from their terrace is to die for!

Authentic Italian pizza prosciutto

Verona – Home of Romeo and Juliet

Our second (actual) stop on our 10-day northern Italy road trip was Verona. The small city of Verona is famous for being the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. We arrived late in the afternoon in Verona and strolled around the city. There were beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere.

  • Visit the iconic Verona Arena! It is an ancient Roman amphitheater that hosts opera performances and concerts. It looks also super stunning from the outside
  • Explore Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta) and its famous balcony! It is a popular spot for lovers and fans of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It was my favorite thing to do in Verona.
  • Wander through Piazza delle Erbe. This is a vibrant square surrounded by colorful buildings, cafes, and a lively market. A great spot for an Aperol Spritz!
  • Take a stroll along the Adige River and enjoy the picturesque views of Verona’s bridges and historic architecture.
  • Visit the stunning Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore. This is an impressive Romanesque church with beautiful frescoes and a beautiful courtyard.

If you are not comfortable with exploring by yourself or would rather have a guide, I suggest taking a guided tour. I love small-group or private guided tours, so I can learn a lot about the history and culture of a place.

Take a food tour or cooking class to learn about the culinary customs of the city!

I have hand-picked a couple of great guided tours in Verona for you:

  • Verona City Sightseeing Walking Tour of Must-See Sites with Local Guide
  • Verona Highlights Walking Tour in Small-group
  • Verona Gelato Making Class
  • The Verona Food, Wine & History, Lunch/sunset aperitif & skip the line cable car
  • Fascinating Verona: in the Footprints of Romeo and Juliet

We stayed for one night at the Hotel Leon d’Oro in Verona. The hotel was within walking distance of all major sights, we got free breakfast and the rooms were very nice and spacious.

The Due Torri Hotel in Verona is also a great option.

Lit up arches welcoming you to Verona

From Verona, we headed on straight to Venice. Including Venice in the road trip was slightly difficult, because you can not bring cars into the city. However, we still desperately wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Venice, so we made it happen! And it was much better than I could have imagined.

Venice is a unique and enchanting city in northeastern Italy. Venice is commonly known as the “Floating City.” It is built on 118 small islands, and they are connected by a network of canals and bridges.

Venice is especially famous for its picturesque canals, gondolas, and beautiful architecture. You can find many charming streets in Venice, and see hidden gems, cute little shops, and local restaurants.

The city is also renowned for its art and culture. Every year, Venice hosts the Venice Biennale art exhibition. Venice is above all famous for its annual Carnival. There is an impressive parade with colorful masks and stunning costumes.

Sadly, Venice is also facing some challenges. Rising water levels and over-tourism impact the island. They are trying to fight both, sadly to not much avail. However, it is still one of my favorite cities in the world – one you absolutely need to see.

Gondolas in Venice by sunset

The best option to stay in Venice with a car is on the Lido di Venezia. That’s a small island just off the coast of Venice city. You can reach it by ferry, which is super easy and cheap. We stayed at Hotel Villa Laguna and it was in my opinion the best stay on this trip.

The small boutique hotel is designed like a luxurious little Inn, with just a few suites. From our suite, you could see right over to the famous San Marco Square.

We watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks right from our bed and it was amazing!

The hotel offered free parking and a big breakfast buffet. I can totally recommend New Year’s Eve in Venice.

We spent our first day in Venice exploring the famous sights of the old city center. Strolling alongside the canals, walking over the Rialto bridge, and eating a pizza to go.

We checked out the bridge of sighs, took a gondola ride , and marveled at the Campanile and the San Marco Square. We visited the Doge’s palace and had a coffee in one of the oldest cafes in the world, Caffe Florian.

Venice is pretty easy to explore on foot. You can just dive right in and walk around the little island. The charm of Venice lies definitely in the picturesque little alleys with a mystical feel to them.

On the last day of the old year, we spent touring the small islands of Murano and Burano. They are famous for their colorful houses and their arts and crafts, such as glass blowing.

You can take a water taxi or a guided tour to the islands, or simply catch a ferry! This is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Venice and on this 10-day northern Italy road trip!

Small alley with beautiful coloured houses in Burano

Taking a guided tour or a day trip is always a good idea. I have taken many tours and trips in Venice in the past, and I can recommend the experience. I have selected a couple of my favorite day tours in Venice for you here:

  • L egendary Venice St. Mark’s Basilica with Terrace Access & Doge’s Palace
  • Private Excursion by Typical Venetian Motorboat to Murano, Burano, and Torcello
  • Eat Like a Local: 3-hour Venice Small-Group Food Tasting Walking Tour

Our next stop on the 10-day northern Italy road trip was Florence. After a bit of a drive, we arrived in the beautiful city and checked into our hotel. There are many amazing things to do in Florence .

Florence is located in the heart of Tuscany. The city is renowned for its rich history, art, and architecture. It is also considered the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Florence’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is filled with stunning architecture, charming streets, and lively piazzas. It is an amazing place to sit outside and enjoy a glass of Italian wine.

The city is also known for its culinary delights, including traditional Tuscan cuisine, world-class wines, and gelato.

We explored the beautiful city center on foot and checked out the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore , the famous Ponte Vecchio , and the Galleria Uffici. Uffizi Gallery is home to an impressive collection of Renaissance masterpieces. You can see Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”

Another great thing to explore in Florence is the famous David statue from Michelangelo. Make sure to book a tour for this part of the trip, so you can skip the endless lines and see the statue with a guide.

Explore the Pitti Palace and its Boboli Gardens. They are a stunning oasis of beautiful lawns, fountains, and sculptures.

Also make sure to discover the beauty of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the final resting place of renowned figures such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.

Florence is only a short trip away from Rome, in case you are looking for day tours from Rome.

Our hotel experience in Florence was somewhat of a surprise. We booked the AC Hotel Firenze by Marriott and we got upgraded to their best suite because of our Marriott Members Status.

Our suite had a private sauna and hammam, a rooftop terrace as well as a super fancy bathroom. We will never forget that stay. If you feel like treating yourself – make sure to book that suite!

Even without the upgrade, it is an amazing hotel and something I can recommend. It is within walking distance of all major sights and has a great parking space.

  • David & Accademia Gallery Tour – Florence 
  • Skip the line: Uffizi and Accademia Small Group Hidden Highlights Walking Tour
  • Uffizi Gallery Small Group Tour with Guide

Amazing Florence architecture lit by the evening sunlight

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

We continued our 10-day northern Italy road trip towards Pisa. This is also great for any Tuscany Road Trip.

Pisa is a historic city in Tuscany. It is mostly famous for its iconic Leaning Tower but there is a lot of other cultural heritage to see as well.

Aside from the Leaning Tower, the Piazza dei Miracoli is also home to the magnificent Pisa Cathedral and the Baptistery. Both are extremely impressive to see.

The city’s historical center is also a great spot to check out. It features medieval architecture, including the well-preserved Piazza dei Cavalieri. This used to be the political center of Pisa.

Make sure to stroll along the Arno River and enjoy the atmosphere of the Lungarni, the picturesque waterfront promenades. Try some typical Tuscan dishes, such as Cecina (chickpea flatbread) and Cacciucco (a seafood stew).

This is a relaxing stop on the road trip itinerary, but one we enjoyed immensely.

We opted for the AC Hotel Pisa by Marriott again because of its great location and parking spaces.

The rooms are spacious and comfortable and we enjoyed some Gin & Tonics in their amazing bar downstairs.

The hotel is only a short walk away from the city center and all of the attractions, which makes it a great place to stay for a road trip.

Pisa Food Tour – Do Eat Better Experience

Private Pisa Discovery Walking Tour with Leaning Tower Access

Amazing church next to leaning tower of Pisa

A dream of mine was visiting the famous five villages of Cinque Terre. So we added the stop at the last minute to the itinerary.

Cinque Terre , the five towns, is a string of five old fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera in the region of Liguria. The towns are called Riomaggiore , Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso .

We did not stay overnight, but we had a full day to explore since the drive from Pisa is very short.

During the summer months, these villages are incredibly touristy and impossible to explore. We were grateful to have them almost to ourselves. Make sure to bring good shoes, there is a lot of walking down steps involved.

I have also visited Cinque Terre on my Western Mediterranean Cruise, in case you feel like exploring the area on the water.

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre with impressive cliffs

After visiting Cinque Terre, we drove back to Milan. Because the drive was quite long, we stopped for dinner in Genoa. I

In Milan, we stayed one last night at the AC hotel, before heading to the airport on the next day.

This brought our amazing 10-day northern Italy road trip to an end.

If you have a bit more time on your hands, then I suggest making this a two-week northern Italy road trip. We felt slightly rushed with our itinerary, and we would have loved to spend an extra night in Cinque Terre, Florence, or Genoa.

In my opinion, two weeks is a great amount of time for this northern Italy road trip and if I had to do it all over again, I would stay even longer!

Not ready to end your time in Italy just yet? After Northern Italy, you should check out the beautiful Puglia region .

I really hope that this Northern Italy road trip itinerary will help you have the trip of a lifetime. All of the stops on this itinerary are incredibly interesting and beautiful.

The typical Italian cuisine, stunning architecture, and history make Northern Italy a great place for a road trip. The streets are in great condition and driving is luckily very easy. This Northern Italy itinerary covers all the highlights you need to see!

If you love Italy, speak Italian, and are looking for employment opportunities, check out such job listings on  Jooble .

If you don’t have enough of the road trips just yet, make sure to check out my Austria Road Trip Itinerary

Yes, driving in Italy is generally safe. However, it is important to be aware of certain factors. Italian drivers can be assertive and the traffic can be hectic, particularly in larger cities. It is advisable to follow traffic rules, be cautious while navigating narrow streets, and be prepared for parking challenges. Additionally, familiarize yourself with local driving laws and consider purchasing insurance coverage for your trip.

No, Italy does not drive on the opposite side of the road. Like most of mainland Europe, Italy follows right-hand traffic, where vehicles drive on the right side of the road.

If you are looking for a Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary, I suggest starting in Milan. Go from there to Verona, Lake Garda, Venice, and Florence. You can also visit Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Genoa on the way back to Milan.

Driving in Italy can be challenging, particularly in busy cities with narrow streets and aggressive drivers. However, if you are an experienced and confident driver, it can be manageable. Familiarize yourself with local traffic rules, be prepared for heavy traffic, and exercise caution while driving. Consider using GPS navigation and allow extra time for parking, as it can be difficult to find parking spaces in some areas.

I suggest taking at least 10 days to explore Northern Italy. Two weeks is the perfect time to explore Northern Italy and see the most famous cities, such as Venice, Milan, and Florence. This also gives enough time to see Lake Garda, Tuscany, and other beautiful spots

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, originally from Austria. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.

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10-Day Northern Italy Itinerary: 2 Perfect Routes

Last Updated on January 3, 2024

by Maggie Turansky

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

northern italy road trips

If you’re planning a Northern Italy itinerary, it can be tough to map out the ideal route if you only have a limited amount of time. There is a lot to see in the north of this diverse country — from beautiful cities to storied lakes to incredible coastline — that there is absolutely no way one can pack everything into just 10 days in Northern Italy.

However, if you know what you want to see and adequately plan out your time, you can see a lot in 10 days if you simply prioritise your top destinations.

Whether you’re after a Milan-Venice-Lake Como itinerary or you’re searching for something that loops you through Emilia-Romagna and Liguria, the routes below are sure to help you plan out your perfect trip to Northern Italy!

Table of Contents

Getting To & Around Northern Italy

Whether you’re looking to map out a route by train or would like to opt for a North Italy road trip, it is important to discuss A) how to get to your desired destination and B) how you plan to get around whilst there.

We will start with the first point. Both of the routes outlined below begin in Milan and that is for good reason – Milan Malpensa Airport is the second highest traffic airport in Italy and it’s also the second-largest city in the country. This means that it is the most logical starting-off point if you’re visiting Northern Italy.

There are a few other airports near Milan that can also be a point of entry into the region – especially if you’re flying a budget airline from elsewhere in Italy or from Europe in general.

I’m speaking of the Bergamo airport, which is often billed as the “Milan Bergamo Airport” but do keep in mind that this airport is in the city of Bergamo and is located about one hour from Milan’s train station itself – though it is easy to reach Milan.

Venetian Walls of Bergamo

There are other airports in most of the cities that are mentioned in both routes, including Venice, Bologna and Genoa, however, they are smaller and not as many flights go to them from as many destinations.

When it comes to getting around on your trip to Northern Italy, you also have a few options open to you. By far the easiest way to go on either of the routes listed below would be by car. This will help you save time and also allow you to make stops along the way and reach further-flung places.

Driving in Northern Italy is easy and holds none of the stressors that you may experience in the south of the country.

You don’t need a car to get around the major cities like Milan, Venice, Bologna, Bergamo, Verona and Genoa, meaning that it makes the most sense to find a place to park your car and use public transit (or your own two feet) while in these destinations. However, having your own vehicle can make day trips exceptionally easy and convenient.

Having your own car is also ideal for exploring Lakes Como and Garda as, again, it gives you a lot more flexibility. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices on rental cars.

However, if you don’t want to rent a car or don’t drive for whatever reason, both of the routes outlined below are also doable via train with a few considerations in mind.

You likely won’t be able to see as much as you could if you had your own vehicle just because coordinating timetables can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean you will have any less of a fulfilling trip to Northern Italy. You can browse schedules and book train tickets here.

Milan Tram Network

Lombardy & Veneto in 10 Days

This itinerary for Northern Italy is perfect for those who want to see the well-known highlights of the region including Milan, Venice and Lake Como. There are also a couple of lesser-visited gems on this route to ensure you have a varied and interesting time exploring the Lombardy and Veneto regions – two of the best places in Northern Italy to visit.

Day 1 – Milan

Plan to spend the first day of your Northern Italy trip exploring the highlights of Milan . Italy’s second-largest city has a lot to offer visitors and you need to spend at least 2 full days getting to know the city.

Your first day should be dedicated to seeing all of the main sites of the city. Begin your day at the iconic Milan Duomo – the city’s main cathedral. A visit here can take several hours and is truly spectacular. You can pre-book tickets here .

You can fill the rest of your day wandering by the Royal Palace, the Museo de Novecento, the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II and, of course, the famous Teatro La Scala. Plan to spend at least two nights in Milan before moving on to your next destination.

Duomo di Milano

Where to Stay in Milan

Lancaster Hotel  – If you’re visiting the Lombardy capital on a mid-range budget, then this classical hotel is a great option. Located in the centre of Milan within walking distance of the city’s top attractions, they have a range of great rooms to choose from and breakfast included for guests each morning.

Castello Guest House Milano   – This luxury guesthouse is an excellent choice for those after a bit of a splurge while visiting Milan. Well-located for exploring the highlights of the city within a stone’s throw, they have countless lovely rooms on offer and plenty of other amenities to enjoy, as well. 

QUO Milano  – Budget and solo travellers will love this centrally-located hostel. Well situated for exploring the best Milan has to offer, it is one of the highest-rated hostels in the city and they offer both dorms and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for?  Click here to browse more Milan hotels!

Day 2 – Milan

Your second day in Milan should be spent getting to know the city just a little bit better. Check out some of the city’s smaller churches, some cool areas and, of course, one of the most famous paintings in the world – da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

Start your day at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio before making your way over to the Chiesa di Santa Maria Delle Grazie where you can view the Last Supper. Afterwards, you can go over and explore Castello Sforzesco and tranquil Sempione Park.

End your day by exploring the hip and happening Navigli district, which is a great place to partake in Italy’s favourite pre-dinner pastime – aperitivo!

Navigli District

Day 3 – Lake Como

Day 3 of this North Italy itinerary takes you out of Milan and to beautiful Lake Como . Keep in mind that it is best and easiest to explore Lake Como if you have your own car, however, it is still possible to see a lot of the villages by relying on the extensive ferry system around the lake.

Many treat Lake Como as a day trip from Milan , however, it is best to spend at least a couple of days here to really get a good feel for this beautiful area.

Plan to spend your first day in Lake Como exploring the iconic villages around the lake – Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna. These three villages are well-connected by ferry and you can very easily enjoy this day without your own car.

Each village is small and has its own charm so make sure to take your time to get lost in the beautiful little streets and take in tons of incomparable lakeside views.

Arriving in Bellagio via ferry

Where to Stay in Lake Como

B&B Villa Rosalinda – This bed and breakfast in the quiet town of Dongo in the north of Lake Como is a great option for those looking for a tranquil escape on the lake. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms to choose from and offer breakfast to guests each morning.

Villa Lario Resort Mandello – Luxury travellers will swoon over this beautiful hotel located in the town of Mandello del Lario – about fifteen minutes south of quaint Varenna. They have countless luxe rooms to choose from and an extensive list of amenities to ensure that your stay is absolutely perfect.

Miralago B&B and Apartments – This bed and breakfast located just outside of Bellagio offers both en-suite rooms and some apartment options for those looking for a comfortable self-catering notion. They are in a great area for exploring Lake Como and breakfast is available upon request.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lake Como hotels!

Day 4 – Lake Como

Dedicate day 4 to exploring some of Lake Como’s larger cities and also taking in one of the lake’s famous villas and their beautiful gardens.

Spend your morning touring a villa – there are countless to choose from on Lake Como. It’s best to get to whichever villa you choose as early as possible as they can get very busy and popular, especially if you’re travelling in the high season.

Your afternoon can be spent exploring the cities of Como and Lecco, both located on either end of the south of the lake.

Keep in mind that if you’re keen to visit both of these cities in a day, it’s best if you have your own car. If you’re relying on the ferry system on Lake Como, then plan to simply spend your afternoon in Como and maybe go on a cruise or boat tour on the lake to enjoy it from a different perspective.

Como Cathedral

Day 5 – Bergamo

On day 5, it’s time to leave Lake Como and drive about an hour to the lovely city of Bergamo. Though its airport acts as a hub for a number of budget airlines across Europe, not enough visitors take the time to explore this delightful city and this is really a shame – it has a lot to offer.

Its compact nature means that you only really need to spend one day in Bergamo to do it justice. Split over two parts – the Citta Alta and Citta Bassa – the majority of the historic sites lie in the Citta Alta, so that is where you will likely dedicate the majority of your time.

You can take the funicular up to the Citta Alta before taking in Piazza Vecchia – Bergamo’s main square. Take another funicular up to the Castello di San Viglia where you can get fantastic views of the city from above. We recommend walking down and making a stop in the botanical gardens on your way.

Later, explore the Duomo di Bergamo and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. And if you want even more fantastic views of the city, head up the Campanone tower. Then make your way down, on foot, to the Citta Bassa. You will walk along the Venetian Walls, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

End your day in Citta Bassa for aperitivo and dinner with the locals.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo

Where to Stay in Bergamo

B&B Entro Le Mura – Located in Citta Alta close to all the top sites in Bergamo, this bed and breakfast is an excellent option for mid-range travellers. They offer a number of cosy rooms to choose from and, of course, breakfast is included for guests to enjoy each morning.

Petronilla – This luxury hotel located in Citta Bassa is great for those looking for a plush stay in Bergamo. Well located for exploring all this wonderful little city has to offer, they have a number of rooms on offer, there is an on-site restaurant/bar and they even allow pets.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bergamo hotels!

Day 6 – Lake Garda

From Bergamo, it’s time to head to the incredible Lake Garda for the sixth day of your itinerary. Though you could easily spend 2 or 3 days in Lake Garda, you can get a good feel for the lake and some of its towns in just one day, as well.

Where you decide to go in Lake Garda really depends on if you have a car or not, as the lake can be difficult to navigate without your own vehicle. Keeping that in mind, if you’re doing your Northern Italy itinerary by train, plan to explore the area in and around Sirmione, which has easy train connections.

If you have a car, you have the option to go wherever you choose on the lake, however, keep in mind that this is the largest lake in Italy and it may take some time to drive between places.

You can opt to spend the morning in Sirmione before heading up the western side of Garda and exploring the towns of Salo, Maderno and Gargnano.

Alternatively, you could spend your time at the north of Lake Garda and explore the towns of Limone and Riva del Garda before heading down the eastern coast to lovely Malcesine.

Plan to spend the next two nights on Lake Garda – there are lots of lovely towns to stay in on the lake .

Riva del Garda from above

Where to Stay in Lake Garda

Ambienthotel PrimaLuna – This hotel is an excellent mid-range hotel in Lake Garda. Located in the lovely town of Malcesine, they have a number of lovely rooms to choose from and there is even a great swimming pool to enjoy and a fantastic breakfast available for guests each morning.

Grand Hotel Fasano – Located in Gardone Riviera between the towns of Salo and Maderno on Lake Garda’s western side, this hotel is perfect for those after a bit of luxury when visiting Italy’s largest lake. They have a number of plush rooms to choose from, two swimming pools to enjoy and an on-site bar, spa and wellness centre.

Blue Sky Garda – This two-bedroom apartment can be a great option on Lake Garda if you’re after the convenience and privacy of your own flat. Situated in the town of Malcesine on the eastern side of the lake, its location is perfect for exploring the area.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Lake Garda hotels!

Day 7 – Verona

From Lake Garda, it’s time to head to nearby Verona. An oft-overlooked city in the Veneto region, Verona is perhaps most well known for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet , however, this city has a lot more to offer than just that.

Much like Lake Garda, you could easily spend 2 or 3 days in Verona , however, you can also see the highlights of this compact city in just a simple day trip , which is what we recommend here.

During your day in Verona, make sure not to miss the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house) and, of course, the Verona Arena.

The arena is an impressive Roman colosseum that attracts only a fraction of the crowds found at the most famous one in Rome. There are plenty of other Roman ruins to enjoy in Verona, not just this incredible arena.

Plan to spend your night on Lake Garda before heading to Venice the next day.

Roman Arena in Verona

Day 8 – Venice

Generally, no visit to Northern Italy is considered complete without visiting the iconic city of Venice.

This is a city that needs no introduction but keep in mind that the city has been struggling under the stresses of overtourism and it is important to spend a good amount of time here in order to travel a bit more sustainably and have the most benefit to the local economy. That is why we recommend spending up to 3 days in Venice.

Spend your first day in this city of canals taking in the top and most iconic sites. These include, of course, the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square. Make sure to take your time to simply enjoy the ambience of this incredible city and even get out onto the canals on a gondola!

Spend your evening in a cosy taverna eating local fare and simply enjoying the final destination on your fantastic itinerary through Northern Italy.

Venice Grand Canal

Where to Stay in Venice

Ca’ Angeli – This hotel in the San Polo neighbourhood only has 6 rooms on offer, but it is a great choice for those looking for a wonderful, central place to stay when exploring Venice. They have a number of great amenities for guests to enjoy along with a wonderful breakfast on offer each morning.

Riva del Vin Boutique Hotel – Located within spitting distance of the iconic Rialto Bridge, this is the perfect place for a luxury escape to Venice. Couples are sure to love the chic rooms on offer and there is also an on-site bar and wonderful breakfast included each morning.

Combo Venezia – Those looking to save as much money in notoriously expensive Venice as possible will love this small, locally-run hostel. Perfect for solo travellers, as well, it is located in the cool Cannaregio neighbourhood and they have a range of dorms and privates available along with great common areas.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Venice hotels!

Day 9 – Venice

Your second day in Venice should be spent digging a little bit deeper and enjoying some of the lesser visited neighbourhoods of the city – the places where the Venice locals live away from the tourist crowds.

Start your morning by wandering around the historic San Polo neighbourhood before making your way over to the lovely Dorsoduro neighbourhood. Cross over the Accademia Bridge back to the historic, central San Marco neighbourhood to round out your afternoon.

In the evening, head to the lively Cannaregio neighbourhood in order to get a real local feel and to dine at a wonderful Venetian restaurant!

Accademia Bridge in Venice

Day 10 – Venice

On the final day of your trip, you’re still in Venice and it’s time to explore some of the islands off the coast of this incredible city. The most famous of these islands include Murano and Burano, known for their incredibly colourful houses and charming atmosphere.

If the season is right, you could also use this day as a beach day, lounging on one of the many sandy stretches close to the city. You can book a tour here.

Alternatively, you could opt to go on a day trip to the nearby Prosecco region and sip some of the area’s eponymous Sparking wine. Another popular day trip option is to the town of Treviso, which is located just outside of Venice and worth the journey.

Colourful houses of Burano

Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna & Liguria in 10 Days

Also beginning in Milan, this 10-day itinerary is great for those looking for something different from the routes that include the lakes and Venice (such as the one outlined above).

Winding you through gastronomic Emilia-Romagna before ending in gorgeous Liguria, you’re sure to fall in love with this area of Northern Italy.

Begin day one of this route through Northern Italy in the vibrant city of Milan. As mentioned in the route outlined above, spend this first day exploring the highlights of the city centre, including the Milan Duomo and the Teatro La Scala.

End your day like the Milanese do with an aperitivo before heading out to dinner. Plan to spend three nights in Milan for this itinerary, though we will only spend 2 full days exploring the city proper.

La Scala

Your second day in Milan should be spent seeing all of the sites in the city that you didn’t get to on your first day in the city. This includes various churches, viewing Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and relaxing in a tranquil park.

Spend your evening exploring the hip and happening Navigli district where you can get an authentic taste of Milanese life away from throngs of tourist crowds.

Day 3 – Lake Como or Bergamo

The third day in Milan should be spent on a day trip – where to is up to you! Milan makes for an excellent base to explore a couple of nearby areas, so you have a couple of options open to you.

If you’d like to head to the Italian lakes, then a day trip to Lake Como is definitely in the cards. You can hop on a train to Varenna and spend the day riding the ferries between beautiful Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna itself. Alternatively, you can organise a guided tour here.

Alternatively, if you want to explore a city that isn’t on the radar of a lot of international visitors to the Lombardy region, consider going on a day trip to historic Bergamo.

Bergamo has a lot to offer visitors and it is an absolutely beautiful city to visit and spend some time in. One day is definitely enough to see all of the highlights of this lovely place.

Varenna on Lake Como

Day 4 – Modena

Day 4 sees you heading to the incredible Emilia-Romagna region. Your final destination for today will be the region’s capital of Bologna, however, make sure to make a pit stop in the charming city of Modena first.

Modena is known, primarily, for being the homeland of Balsamic vinegar and heading to an acetaia (the place where traditional vinegar is made) is an excellent thing to do in the city. However, there is a lot more on offer here than just that – especially if you’re into food!

Spend your day wandering through the incredible Mercato Albinelli to see what fresh produce and local pastas are made fresh here. Then simply take the time to get lost in the city. Wander through the winding streets and grand piazzas, take in the lively Cathedral and simply enjoy this lovely city.

Modena is located only about a 30-minute drive or train ride from Bologna, so it’s not difficult to end your day in the latter city.

Cathedral and Ghirlandina Tower in Modena, Italy

Where to Stay in Bologna

B&B Chez Moi Lame 57  – This cute boutique B&B is perfect for those after a romantic escape to Bologna. They offer a handful of chic, quaint, clean and comfortable rooms on offer and there is a breakfast voucher given to guests daily to dine in a nearby local cafe.

Hotel Metropolitan – If it’s luxury you’re after in Emilia-Romagna’s capital, then this plush hotel is the perfect option. They have an excellent location in the heart of Bologna, myriad chic rooms on offer and countless luxe amenities to ensure your stay is fantastic.

Dopa Hostel – Budget and solo travellers will love this hip hostel located in the centre of Bologna. They have a range of both dorm beds and private rooms on offer, breakfast is included each morning and it’s a great place to meet other travellers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bologna hotels!

Day 5 – Bologna

The fifth day of this route through Northern Italy sees you exploring Emilia-Romagna’s capital city of Bologna . Home to ragu bolognese and plenty of other gastronomic delights, Bologna has a lot to offer visitors beyond its food scene (but it’s totally fine to visit just for that, as well!).

Start your day in Bologna in the Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square. Take in the towers and the Basilica di San Petronio before wandering down Via Rizzoli, the city’s main drag filled with shops. Spend your afternoon and evening exploring the university area – Bologna is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities.

End your day in one of the city’s many restaurants dining on local fare and enjoying every minute.

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

Day 6 – Bologna

On day six of this itinerary, you have the option to either continue exploring Bologna or to go on a day trip to nearby Parma . If you choose the former, there are a number of things that you can choose to occupy your time.

One of the best things to do in Bologna is to go on a food tour – some of the most famous Italian dishes come from this city and it is a great chance to sample them with context.

If you choose to go on a day trip, you can’t go wrong with beautiful Parma. Parma is well-known for being the homeplace of such delicacies as prosciutto di Parma and, of course, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

You can sample these to your heart’s desire in Parma, along with exploring what is one of the most charming and historic cities in the region.

Day trips from Bologna

Day 7 – Cinque Terre

When you get to your seventh day of this trip through Northern Italy, it’s time to head to another region and area of the country – Liguria and, more specifically, Cinque Terre .

Literally translating to “five villages,” this area is made up of five lovely little towns situated on the dramatic Ligurian coast. These postcard-perfect towns are a can’t-miss destination on this itinerary!

Spend your first day in the main city near Cinque Terra, La Spezia. Though not one of the five villages itself, it is absolutely beautiful and it has a lot to offer visitors.

You can also use this day to explore two of the five villages. Take the time to wander around beautiful Riomaggiore and charming Manarola before calling it a day and resting up for another perfect day of exploration tomorrow.

Beautiful Riomaggiore

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

L’Approdo Dell’Ammiraglio – Those after a good mid-range place to base themselves for exploring Cinque Terre will love this guesthouse in La Spezia. They have numerous lovely and bright rooms on offer and an unbeatable location.

Miramare Apartments&Suites – This aparthotel is great for those after the convenience of an entire apartment with all the benefits of a traditional hotel. Located in La Spezia within easy reach of Cinque Terre, they have a number of different fully-furnished apartments available that range in size.

La Serra Sul Mare – Located in the town of Monterosso, this is one of the best places to stay in Cinque Terre for those looking for a luxury option. They have an unbeatable location within five minutes of the beach, all rooms have their own balcony and there are countless other amenities offered.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cinque Terre hotels!

Day 8 – Cinque Terre

Your second day in Cinque Terre should be spent exploring more of the five lovely villages. Start your day in Monterosso al Mare – the largest of five towns that make up Cinque Terre. Known for its beautiful beaches, incredible scenery and charming old town.

From Monterosso, head to the village of Vernazza. This is a gorgeous fortified town with, like all other villages in the region, incredible sea views to enjoy. In fact, this is a great place to enjoy a sunset cruise on the sea, if it suits your fancy.

Vernazza - one of the five towns of Cinque Terre

Day 9 – Genoa

The final destination for this particular 10-day Northern Italy itinerary should end in the Ligurian capital of Genoa. This seaside city is absolutely beautiful and full of interesting things to do – in fact, plan to spend 2 days in Genoa to round out your trip to the north of Italy.

Your first day in Genoa should begin by wandering down Via Garibaldi, the city’s main drag. After getting your bearings, head over to the Palazzi dei Rolli. Once you’ve explored this former palace, visit the San Lorenzo Cathedral.

Of course, no visit to Genoa would be complete without gorging yourself on delicious pesto pasta — the famous basil, pine nut and parmesan sauce hails from this city.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

Where to Stay in Genoa

B&B Dormire Dai Grimaldi – Mid-range travellers will love this quaint and cosy bed and breakfast in the centre of Genoa. They offer a number of different en-suite rooms, a lovely communal lounge area and there is a hearty breakfast included each morning.

Hotel Astoria – If you’re after luxury in the Ligurian capital, then this plush hotel is a great option. For those looking for a high-end option, then this luxe hotel is a great choice. They have an excellent central location for exploring Genoa and have a range of lovely rooms to choose from, along with numerous other amenities.

OStellin Genova Hostel – For those looking for a budget option or a great social atmosphere while travelling, then this hostel is a great option. They offer both private rooms and dorm beds and have an excellent location for exploring all Genoa has to offer.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Genoa hotels!

Day 10 – Genoa

Dedicate the final day of this itinerary to getting to know Genoa just a little bit better. Spend your morning in Genoa along the seaside and visit the renowned Genoa Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in Italy and the largest of its kind in all of Europe.

There is a lot to see here so plan to spend a good amount of time learning about all of the sea creatures here.

In the afternoon, take the time to get lost in the lovely Porto Antico (old port) neighbourhood along the harbour. Dine on delicious, fresh seafood and really make sure to savour you last day of your Northern Italian adventure.

Genoa, Italy

Have 14 Days in Northern Italy?

If you, for example, have 14 days in Northern Italy or more to spend, your options are virtually unlimited. There are so many incredible areas to explore that you won’t struggle to figure out where to go.

If you’re following the first route on this itinerary, you could easily add a visit to the Dolomites after exploring Venice. Spending time in getting to know the regions of Trentino and South Tyrol and taking in the incredible views of the Italian Alps is always worth it with stunning mountain peaks and lakes like Lagi di Braies.

Alternatively, a good place to visit when moving on from Genoa is the city of Turin . As one of Italy’s largest cities, it can be overlooked. However, there is a lot to do in Turin (and in the Piedmont region , in general) that it is definitely.

You could also choose to fuse the two itineraries together for a longer trip through Northern Italy. From Venice in the first route, head to Bologna, Cinque Terre, Genoa and beyond!

Beautiful Turin

Northern Italy is one of the most fascinating regions of the country to explore. With so much to offer, mapping out the ideal 10-day itinerary can be a bit overwhelming, but once you weigh out your priorities, you’re sure to have an exceptional trip.

Are you planning to visit Northern Italy? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

northern italy road trips

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About Maggie Turansky

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Hi Maggie. It was great reading about northern Italy. We’re planning a southern Italy trip soon. Naples and amalfi coast and around. Could you please send me an itinerary for 15-18 days. Thanks. Paul

Hi Paul, you may find some inspiration in one of our generic Italy itineraries ( https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/10-day-italy-itinerary/ ), our Amalfi Coast itinerary ( https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/amalfi-coast-itinerary/ ), our Puglia itinerary ( https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/puglia-itinerary/ ) and our Sicily itinerary ( https://www.theworldwasherefirst.com/sicily-itinerary/ ). Hope you’re able to plan a great trip!

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  • Travel Guide

Three Weeks In Northern Italy: A Travel Itinerary

Published: September 11, 2023

Modified: December 27, 2023

by Audrie Spires

  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Destinations

three-weeks-in-northern-italy-a-travel-itinerary

Introduction

Welcome to the enchanting region of Northern Italy, a land of rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and impeccable cuisine. Embarking on a road trip through this picturesque part of the country promises an unforgettable adventure filled with hidden gems, vibrant cities, and charming villages.

With its world-renowned art, mesmerizing architecture, and romantic ambiance, Northern Italy offers a perfect blend of cultural immersion and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, or a nature lover, this region has something for everyone.

During this three-week road trip, you will have the opportunity to explore three distinct areas: Venice, Tuscany, and the Italian Lakes Region. Each week will be dedicated to a different destination, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the unique charms and attractions of each area.

From the Venice’s canals and historic sites to Tuscany’s rolling hills and vineyards, and finally, the tranquil beauty of the Italian Lakes Region, get ready for an unforgettable journey that will leave you in awe of Italy’s timeless allure.

Throughout the itinerary, we will provide tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your trip, including must-visit landmarks, local delicacies to try, and off-the-beaten-path locations that will add a touch of magic to your adventure.

So, buckle up, prepare your camera to capture the stunning vistas, and get ready to embark on a road trip through the enchanting wonders of Northern Italy. Let’s dive into the first week of our itinerary: exploring Venice.

Week 1: Exploring Venice

Welcome to the romantic city of Venice, a floating masterpiece that has captured the imaginations of travelers for centuries. Known for its intricate network of canals, stunning architecture, and vibrant atmosphere, Venice is the perfect starting point for your Northern Italy road trip.

Begin your exploration by wandering through the narrow alleys and picturesque streets of the city. As you stroll along, you’ll discover hidden squares, charming shops, and quaint cafes where you can savor a traditional Italian espresso or indulge in delicious gelato.

No visit to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride along the famous Grand Canal. Drift through the labyrinth of waterways, passing under ancient bridges and majestic palaces, as the soothing sound of the gondolier’s song fills the air. It’s a truly magical experience that allows you to see Venice from a unique perspective.

Make sure to visit St. Mark’s Square, the heart of Venice. Admire the stunning Byzantine architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica and climb up to the top of the Campanile for panoramic views of the city. Nearby, the Doge’s Palace provides a fascinating glimpse into the history and politics of the Venetian Republic.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the bustling Rialto Market, where vendors display an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Take a moment to enjoy a leisurely lunch at a traditional bacaro, sampling cicchetti (small plates) paired with a glass of local wine.

To escape the crowds and discover a quieter side of Venice, venture to the lesser-known islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass-making tradition, and you can visit local workshops to witness the intricate craftsmanship firsthand. Burano, with its colorful houses and lace-making heritage, is a photographer’s paradise.

As the sun begins to set, find a romantic spot along the canals to watch the city’s golden glow and witness the breathtaking beauty of Venice by night. Indulge in a candlelit dinner at a waterside restaurant, savoring delicious Venetian delicacies such as seafood risotto or spaghetti alle vongole.

After a week of enchantment in Venice, it’s time to bid farewell to this captivating city and embark on the next leg of your Northern Italy adventure. Get ready to discover the timeless charm of Tuscany in the second week of our itinerary.

Week 2: Discovering Tuscany

Welcome to the picturesque region of Tuscany, a land of rolling hills, vineyards, and Renaissance art. This week, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of this renowned Italian region.

Start your Tuscany adventure by exploring Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Marvel at the magnificent architecture of the Duomo, climb the bell tower of Giotto’s Campanile for panoramic views, and visit world-famous museums like the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia, where you can witness Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David.

After soaking up the artistic treasures of Florence, it’s time to hit the road and venture into the Tuscan countryside. Take a scenic drive through the Chianti region, characterized by its picturesque vineyards and charming medieval villages. Stop by a local winery to taste the renowned Chianti Classico wine and learn about the winemaking process.

Continue your journey to Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its Gothic architecture and the spectacular Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s most stunning squares. Climb the Torre del Mangia for breathtaking views and indulge in a traditional Tuscan meal at a cozy trattoria.

From Siena, make your way to the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano, famous for its well-preserved towers that offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Explore the narrow streets, visit the local artisan shops, and sample the town’s signature gelato flavors.

Next on the itinerary is the charming town of Montepulciano, renowned for its Vino Nobile wine. Take a stroll through the historic center, visit the impressive Palazzo Comunale, and enjoy wine tastings at the local wineries.

Conclude your Tuscan adventure with a visit to the enchanting city of Pisa, home to the iconic Leaning Tower. Take the obligatory tourist photo, but also take time to explore the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli and visit the impressive Pisa Cathedral.

As you drive through the picturesque countryside, be sure to make frequent stops to admire the stunning landscapes, enjoy a picnic among the vineyards, or simply breathe in the fresh Tuscan air.

After a week of immersing yourself in the beauty of Tuscany, it’s time to pack your bags and head to the final destination of your Northern Italy road trip: the mesmerizing Italian Lakes Region.

Week 3: Venturing into the Italian Lakes Region

Welcome to the breathtaking Italian Lakes Region, a natural paradise characterized by serene lakes, lush landscapes, and picturesque towns. This week, prepare to be captivated by the beauty and tranquility of this magnificent area.

Start your exploration in Lake Como, famous for its elegant villas, crystal-clear waters, and stunning mountain backdrop. Take a boat ride across the lake to visit charming towns like Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como,” and Varenna, with its colorful houses and romantic atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in delicious local cuisine, including lake fish specialties.

Continue your journey to Lake Maggiore, the second-largest lake in Italy. Explore the Borromean Islands, a collection of stunning private islands featuring beautifully manicured gardens and lavish palaces. Visit the spectacular Isola Bella, home to the grand Borromeo Palace, and Isola dei Pescatori, a charming fisherman’s village where you can savor fresh seafood dishes.

From Lake Maggiore, make your way to Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. Discover the charming town of Sirmione, famous for its medieval castle and ancient Roman ruins. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade in Garda or enjoy a boat ride to explore the picturesque villages scattered along the lake’s shore.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, head to Lake Iseo, a lesser-known gem among the Italian lakes. Take a hike to the stunning Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe, or rent a bike to explore the charming lakeside towns and vineyards that surround the area.

Conclude your Italian Lakes Region experience with a visit to Lake Orta, a hidden gem known for its tranquil ambiance and picturesque beauty. Explore the enchanting island of San Giulio, home to a Benedictine monastery, and wander through the charming town of Orta San Giulio, with its narrow streets and colorful buildings.

Throughout your week in the Italian Lakes Region, take some time to relax and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. Enjoy lakeside picnics, savor the local wine, and be sure to capture stunning sunset views over the water.

After a week of immersing yourself in the beauty of the Italian Lakes Region, it’s time to bid farewell to this enchanting part of Northern Italy. As you reflect on your three weeks of exploration, you’ll cherish the memories of unforgettable experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and the warm hospitality of Italy.

As your three-week road trip through Northern Italy comes to an end, you can’t help but reflect on the incredible memories and experiences you’ve amassed along the way. From the enchanting canals of Venice to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the serene lakes of the Italian Lakes Region, this journey has been a feast for the senses.

Throughout your adventure, you’ve indulged in the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. You’ve marveled at the architectural wonders of Venice, immersed yourself in the art-filled streets of Florence, and explored charming medieval towns in Tuscany. You’ve tasted the flavors of Italy, from the delicate seafood dishes of Venice to the robust wines of Chianti and the fresh produce of local markets.

But it’s not just the famous landmarks and culinary delights that have left an impact. It’s the moments in between – the gondola rides through picturesque canals, the leisurely walks along the cobbled streets, and the breathtaking views of rolling landscapes – that have truly made this journey unforgettable.

As a road trip allows for flexibility and exploration, you’ve also had the chance to stumble upon hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path discoveries. You’ve chatted with locals in small villages, learned about traditional crafts, and found secluded spots to appreciate the natural beauty of the Italian countryside.

Northern Italy has welcomed you with open arms, exposing you to its rich history, captivating landscapes, and warm hospitality. It has provided you with a tapestry of experiences, each more captivating than the last.

As you bring your road trip to a close, take a moment to savor the memories and the lessons learned along the way. Embrace the beauty and diversity of Northern Italy, and carry these experiences with you as you venture back home, knowing that a part of your heart will forever remain in this enchanting region.

Until your next adventure, arrivederci Northern Italy!

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Venice Travel Tips

Northern Italy itinerary (10 days)

Veneto Region Last Updated · Jun 9th, 2024 · Maddy [post_comments before=""] -->

northern italy itinerary

Welcome to this comprehensive guide featuring my 10 day Northern Italy itinerary.

Whether you’re embarking on your first journey around this side of the country, or are a seasoned traveller looking to have the most refined experience, I believe this itinerary is perfect if you want to visit the main cities and towns in north east Italy .

This itinerary is designed to take you away from Venice, where the tour starts, and lead you through the picturesque landscapes of Veneto and Lombardy .

If your travel dreams include going for morning strolls along the shores of Lake Garda and discovering the charming mediaeval streets of Verona, then look no further!

This itinerary is just what you’re looking for. Join me, a girl born and bred in Veneto, on a journey that promises to unveil the beauty and charm of Northeast Italy .

join venice travel tips

What's in this guide?

In this northern Italy itinerary guide, I’ve tried to include the top destinations to not miss in northern Italy , especially if you’re interested in exploring the Veneto region .

I created a handy map that shows every stop of this itinerary. I’ll also explain how you can get around northern Italy , share some transportation tips, and finally my suggested itinerary with ideas on things to do and see for every destination .

Northern Italy itinerary map

I have created an itinerary map below. To download this Northern Italy itinerary map, simply click on it and Google Maps will automatically save it to your maps .

Keep it handy and use it as a resource to refer back to whenever you need, before and during your trip. To help you even more, I also included the must-see attractions for every single destination , so you have everything in one place!

How to get around Northern Italy

Getting around Northern Italy by car and public transport is as easy as can be. If you prefer to have flexibility and complete freedom , the best option is a car rental .

maddy driving northern italy

Completing this itinerary in low season or during the shoulder seasons is more convenient because you can find good deals with several car rentals. Highways in northern Italy are well-maintained but you pay tolls to access them.

As you can imagine, the main perk of driving is to stop as many times as you want and make some detours if you feel like it (or even stop off for snacks).

I also want to encourage renting a car to explore the Dolomites and Lake Garda . There are many lovely villages in both locations and all close one the other.

Despite their closeness, it can take some time to get from one place to the other by public transport. That’s why the car is the best option for these specific destinations.

Northern Italy by Train

For my readers that are not considering driving in Italy, you can still reach every location mentioned on this itinerary. Trenitalia and Italo high-speed trains can take you from Venice to Verona and then onto Lake Garda and Milan in no time.

northern italy train

From Venice, I recommend joining a tour or getting the bus to the Dolomites and arriving in Cortina. You can easily get to Lake Garda from Verona and vice versa by train or by bus . The positive side of travelling by train is that you don’t have to think about parking once you get to the destination, and just start your exploration!

For this itinerary I suggest combining both modes of transport as you can quite easily rent a car in Venice that will allow you to reach the Dolomites in 2 hours.

Once there, you can explore alpine villages at your own pace and then drive down Lake Garda. Here you can continue your road trip along the scenic Gardesana Orientale road and stop along the way to visit different lakeside villages and towns.

You can drop the car in Verona, visit the city and then get a high-speed train to Milan. After exploring Milan, you can simply get another high-speed train and travel back to Venice where this itinerary ends.

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travel insurance for venice italy

10 days in Northern Italy itinerary

With no further ado, let’s dive straight into this 10 days in Northern Italy itinerary and find out how you can spend your time in this magical part of the country!

maddy in verona italy

Before getting into this, I’d like to clarify that this itinerary starts and ends in Venice so you can plan your travel around one of the airports near Venice if you choose.

However, feel completely free to readapt it based on your arrival and departure airports that could alternatively be Verona or even Milan (see examples below):

  • Milano Malpensa,
  • Milano Linate,
  • Milano Bergamo.

As always, if you need my help and another pair of eyes to look at your itinerary/plan, or need more personalised plans, just email me at [email protected] .

Now…Let’s go!

Venice (Day 1 & 2)

For the first two days (day 1 and 2) of this northern Italy itinerary you’ll explore the unique streets and piazzas of Venice to get yourself acquainted with the region.

north italy itinerary

The city of canals and bridges is packed with things to do and see and 2 days are definitely not enough but you can certainly get a glimpse into its timeless beauty.

Since you’re currently planning your trip to northern Italy, I invite you to read my popular 2 days in Venice itinerary which contains a full schedule and personal tips.

While in Venice, don’t miss:

  • St. Mark’s Basilica: the religious heart of Venice, you can marvel at the outstanding Byzantine architecture and intricate golden mosaics covering its facade. For just 3 euros, you can get to visit the inside too.
  • Doge’s Palace: the former residence of Venice’s doge, the chief magistrate of Venice. It’s adorned with masterpieces by Titian and Tintoretto. No visit is complete without crossing the Bridge of Sighs. I recommend booking a guided tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace and skip the lines.
  • Gondola ride on the Grand Canal: a gondola ride lasts around 30 minutes so you can easily fit one in. I recommend getting the gondola from less touristy locations but with scenic routes, like from the pier Santa Maria del Giglio.
  • Rialto Bridge and market: one of the best places to take pictures of the Grand Canal! The Rialto bridge and market are the most vibrant places in Venice and the best to find fresh fish and seafood for your meals.

With 2 days in Venice you can indulge in some of the must-eat Venetian foods , visit the famous Libreria Acqua Alta and other lesser known gems, but also go for a stroll around the neighbourhoods of Dorsoduro and San Polo.

Where to stay in Venice

Here’s my personal selection of recommended places to stay in Venice:

  • Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel ($$$) : a stunning 16th-century palace inside and out, overlooking the Grand Canal with a in-house 2 Michelin star restaurant.
  • Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo ($$) : a 3 star hotel housed in a Venetian palace, only 10 minutes walk from the train station and Piazzale Roma.
  • Alla Corte Rossa ($) : this lovely B&B is only 2 minutes walk from the vibrant Campo Santa Margherita, in Dorsoduro. The perfect neighbourhood to enjoy the most authentic side of Venice.

There are so many other options, as you can imagine. See my guide that looks at where to stay in Venice in more detail to review more types of accommodation.

The Dolomites (Day 3 & 4)

The following stop of this itinerary are the beautiful Dolomites. This mountain range extends for nearly 16000 km in north east Italy , more precisely in the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige regions.

dolomites day trip from venice

From Venice, you can either join one of the organised day trip tours to Dolomites that will take you back to Venice once finished.

Alternatively, you can get the Cortina Express bus from Piazzale Roma that takes between 2 to 3 hours to get to Cortina . The bus stops in different places along the way such as Valle di Cadore, Borca di Cadore and San Vito di Cadore.

I suggest hiring a car in Venice (or Mestre) and driving to a village of your choice in the Dolomites. Any village near Cortina d’Ampezzo is perfect to explore the entire area. See my guide to driving in Venice for more ideas on how you can plan ahead.

These are some of the unmissable things to do in the Dolomites:

  • Trek the Tre Cime di Lavaredo: this group of mountains never fails to mesmerise people. I went hiking around the area a couple of times in the past and absolutely recommend it!
  • Get the cable car to Cinque Torri: take a scenic ride up to Cinque Torri for panoramic views of the Dolomites. If you’re into rock climbing you can embark on this activity too.
  • Marvel at the turquoise waters of Lake Sorapis: I also completed this hike in the past and have a vivid memory of this glacial lake. Over the years, tourists have taken over this place, but it’s still worth planning a trek to visit it (avoid the crowds by travelling on weekdays).
  • Visit Lake Misurina: It’s a perfect spot for leisurely walks and to take in the beauty of this side of the Dolomites.

Where to stay in the Dolomites near Cortina d’Ampezzo

Here’s my personal selection of places to stay in or near Cortina d’Ampezzo:

  • HOTEL de LEN $$$ : it’s a 4-star hotel only 200 metres away from Cortina’s city centre. Check out the spectacular views you can enjoy from this property!
  • B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci Cortina $$ : this cosy B&B is near Misurina Lake, the Tre Cime of Lavaredo, the Sorapis Lake. It’s basically the perfect place to stay to start exploring the side of the Dolomites.
  • Albergo Chalet Lago Antorno $ : the property overlooks the Antorno lake offering lovely views. It blends perfectly the typical alpine style with stylish and modern furniture.

Lake Garda (Day 6 & 7)

From the Dolomites, drive down to Lake Garda, your next destination of this northern Italy itinerary. By car you drive along the Gardesana Orientale road and visit a couple of villages and towns of your choice.

lazise sul garda

Some places you can stop by along the way arriving from the Dolomites are:

  • Torri del Benaco;
  • Lazise sul Garda;
  • Peschiera del Garda;

Lake Garda, which is also called Lake Benaco (did you know?) is located in north east Italy and it’s the largest lake in the country . Its coasts belong to 3 different regions: Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Lombardy.

By following this itinerary you’ll cover the main locations worth visiting on Veneto’s side .

Here’s some ideas on what you can do in each place:

  • Malcesine: Take the cable car up to Monte Baldo to enjoy spectacular views over Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains.
  • Torri del Benaco: Visit the Scaliger Castle, the mediaeval castle and stroll around the streets and piazzas of this charming village.
  • Bardolino: this town is famous for its wine production. You can visit a local vineyard to taste Bardolino wine and learn about the traditional wine-making process.
  • Lazise sul Garda: spend a day at the Thermal Park at Villa dei Cedri or simply visit the picturesque Lungolago Marconi, the promenade from where you can capture incredible sunset pictures.
  • Peschiera del Garda: this town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known for the impressive fortifications and charming canal-lined streets.
  • Sirmione: here you can visit the Scaliger Castle, the Grotte di Catullo and the thermal baths.

Where to stay in Lake Garda

Here’s my personal selection of recommended places to stay in Lake Garda:

  • Aqualux Hotel Spa Suite & Terme $$$ : this 4 star hotel in Bardolino is a brand new retreat space perfect for anyone looking for a luxurious stay and to make the most of the extensive spa facilities.
  • Bardoliners $$ : this lovely guest house is just in front of the beach of Bardolino and you can find good deals even if booking last minute!
  • Hotel Castello S. Antonio $ : is only 1.6 km from Lazise sul Garda. From this top rated property you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the lake and the surrounding hills.

Verona (Day 5)

From the southern shores of Lake Garda, you can reach Verona in less than 30 minutes and start your exploration of the famous City of Love.

verona arena

Verona is known for:

  • The beautiful Roman amphitheatre called Arena di Verona ;
  • The vibrant Piazza delle Erbe where you can stroll among the lively market stall and admire the towering Torre dei Lamberti, and Piazza dei Signori with at its centre the monument to Dante Alighieri;
  • Castelvecchio, Verona’s castle and most important defensive construction of the Scaliger family;
  • The Scaliger tombs , just a few steps away from Piazza dei Signori.

After dropping off your car, you can spend the rest of your time exploring all these attractions during your day 5.

Everything in Verona is within walking distance and you can get the Verona city card and skip the line access to the Arena and visit Juliet’s house and other city museums.

I also recommend going for a walk along the Adige river , crossing the Ponte Pietra and getting the cable car or walking up to Castel San Pietro . From there, you can admire incredible views of Verona from above and it’s a popular spot around sunset.

Milan (Day 8 & 9)

From Verona Porta Nuova, you can get a Trenitalia or Italo high-speed train to Milano Centrale , where you’ll spend 2 days.

duomo di milano italy

Milan is a cosmopolitan city, also called the Fashion capital city and you’ll pretty soon understand why, simply walking around its streets.

Despite its modern look, there’s a lot of history and architectural masterpieces to explore during your time here.

Here’s what you can do in 2 days in Milan:

  • Duomo di Milano: visit the impressive Gothic cathedral that stands at the heart of Milan. You can also get to its rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy amazing panoramic views of the whole city and beyond.
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: the 19th-century arcade features majestic glass and iron roofs and it happens to be one of the world’s oldest shopping malls in the world too!
  • Sforza Castle: this is Milan’s castle that houses museums and art collections.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie: this church that looks like many others is actually home to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ . It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important artistic sites in the world.
  • Navigli district: no stay in Milan is complete without indulging in the much beloved Milanese’s happy hour. Just go for a stroll down the Navigli promenade and stop for a drink (or two) along the way.

The rest of your time, I suggest going for long walks in the Brera district , in the Sempione park and do some (window) shopping in the Quadrilatero district and Corso Venezia.

Where to stay in Milan

Here’s my personal selection of recommended places to stay in Milan:

  • Sonder Missori $$$ : only a few minutes walk from Duomo, the 4 star property features modern apartment that blend contemporary style with comfort.
  • Zebra Naviglio $$ : located in the Navigli neighbourhood, Zebra Naviglio is a boutique 3 star guest house with artistic flair and modern amenities.
  • Hotel Repubblica $ : located near Milan’s central train station and major shopping districts, this 2 star hotel is the ideal choice for budget travellers.

Venice (Day 10)

From Milano Centrale, you can travel back to Venice, the starting point of this 10 day itinerary by high-speed train. You’ll arrive at Santa Lucia train station .

venice santa lucia train station

Depending on what time your flight is, you can either get a bus or water bus to Marco Polo airport or spend some extra time in Venice , exploring the neighbourhood of Cannaregio .

I like to recommend that visitor to Venice go to Cannaregio because it is one of the closest districts to the station and one of the best to explore with limited time.

Here in Cannaregio neighbourhood you can:

  • Walk past the Ponte delle Guglie ;
  • Visit the Jewish Ghetto , the oldest ghetto in the world;
  • Do some bacari hopping along Rio della Misericordia. Take a look at my Cannaregio walking bacari map to learn more!

To make sure you have all in order for the airport, check my guides to find out how to get from Venice city centre to Marco Polo airport or from Venice to Treviso airport .

ama box

This Northern Italy itinerary is perfect if you have 10 days to explore this side of the country, and even better if have a special interest in the Veneto region.

The good news is that you can choose to complete it by train, by car or ideally, combining these 2 modes of transport . What I like, and I think you will like about it too, is all the diverse landscapes that you get to visit in such a short span of time.

With it’s starting point in Venice, then heading up on over to the majestic Dolomites, then to some of the charming villages that surround Lake Garda and the rich cities of Verona and Milan, this itinerary has literally it all!

Feel free to complete the itinerary in reverse and change the arrival or even the departure airport (if necessary) to make it fit to your exact needs.

Also, if you have more time in Italy to spend, why not see this list of some of my favourite cities in Veneto for ideas on places that you can visit while in the region?

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About Maddy

I love to share tips, advice and resources to help visitors explore Venice and the Veneto region like a local. Learn more about me here.

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northern italy road trips

Itineraries

A Better Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

I actually lived in Naples as a kid, but really only remember the basics. So, it’s nice to go back. However, returning somewhere means forgoing the opportunity to explore a new place. But for any number of reasons, Italy’s been on our repeat list. And it’s worthy of being on that list.

Check out our complete Italian road trip itinerary below!

NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN SPONSORED AND/OR CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THROUGH WHICH I EARN A COMMISSION AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. SUPPORT A WOMAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS (LIKE MINE!) TODAY. (P.S. ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN. OF COURSE.)

  • How To Use This Itinerary

Our Northern Italy Road Trip Route

Getting downtown from the airport, getting around, piazzale michelangelo, eby’s bar.

  • Cinque Terre

The Sanctuary of the Madonna Di San Luca

The santo stefano complex, gardone riviera, ponte pietra, castelvecchio, giardino giusti, saint johann church, our italy road trip concludes, did you find this post helpful, how to use this itinerary for your road trip.

Use our road trip itinerary for wanderlust ideas. Helpful tips are included along the way. Check out our driving tips for Italy , too.

Each time we go back, we’re able to get more and more in-depth and discover new areas. If you’re interested in seeing this region of Italy, use this as a baseline and personalize it as you see fit. Go northwest to Milan instead of northeast to Trento. Replace Verona with another city in the area. (Though I highly recommend hiking in the Dolomites and Verona!)

We’re able to enjoy a little more of the slow travel philosophy on these trips instead of our usual power tourist style. Although , it’s entirely possible this still moves too quickly for most people’s personal tastes. I recommend adding or subtracting days in certain locations.

Whatever you do, just make it yours.

(Note: updated various prices and web links as of June 2024.)

Northern Italy inset

Now, for the fun part—the complete northern Italy road trip route. The following shows you the complete route of our Italy road trip. Yes, you’ll see we flew into Florence, not Rome. While a couple days in Venice is always nice—and there are some wonderfully romantic hotels in Venice —we skipped it. And we passed on touring Milan. This is because we’ve already done a lot of this in our prior travels; it’s tailored specifically to us. This is also why I advise using this as a baseline and modifying it to make it yours. Either way, there are some don’t-miss cities here for you and amazing sightseeing suggestions.

Northern Italy road trip itinerary map

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Start Your Italy Road Trip in Florence

Before we officially began our Italy road trip, we spent a couple of days adjusting to the time zone and touring Florence. (We also did a day trip to Cinque Terre .) Read all our deets and top sights.

The Florence airport is about twenty minutes from central downtown. Not a cheap cab ride, so we opted for the shuttle. Unfortunately, since then, the Vola In Bus shuttle has shut down. Luckily, there’s a newer, even cheaper alternative running nowadays: the tram.

  • The Tramway Line T2 is ridiculously cheap at just 1.50€ (just under US$2) for a one-way trip to downtown. For comparison, the shuttle cost 6€ when we visited.
  • Important: if you have more than two pieces of luggage, you’ll need to buy an extra ticket for the extra luggage. Tram’s gotta make up those cheap prices somehow.
  • The tram will take you from the airport to the main train station downtown, Santa Maria Novella (SMN)

For reference, the Santa Maria Novella train station is literally a 10-minute walk to the Duomo.

A colorful Florence side street with bicycle

So, we got our airport transfer handled. How did we get around the city in general? One of our favorite methods is by hop-on/hop-off bus . We got 48-hour tickets for Florence and basically used it as unlimited public transportation for that timeframe.

We specifically used it to take us to the sights that were further away, and just walked to the nearby sights on our other days. (Look at the big brains on Jordan!) I’ve provided a link to the actual bus we used at the bottom of the Florence section. I highly recommend them.

Florence Must-Sees

We had a day in Florence on the front end, and two on the back end of our Italy road trip. Just to make sure we gave ourselves some buffer time for our return flight. All told, we spent 3 days there and felt comfortable with that. I’ll break down my sightseeing favorites for you. Only the favorites, not everything. Everything would be a whole book.

  • Why visit: It’s the third-largest cathedral in the world, one of thee most famous landmarks in Italy , and, for someone who’s seen a bajillion cathedrals, it’s pretty impressive. Both in scale and in beauty. (It’s also green and pink. Like… whut.)
  • We usually refer to the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore as “The Duomo.” But the cathedral and the dome and the baptistry and the bell tower are all separate pieces. And they’re all treated a little separately—separate entrance times and some require tickets, some don’t.
  • The cathedral opens at 10, and the dome—if you want to climb it—opens at 8:30. It’s 463 stairs. 
  • The cathedral is free, but the dome requires reservations. Note: There is no ticket office at the dome.
  • You can purchase a ticket to see everything for 30€ per adult. I would recommend doing it online, ahead of time, and going first thing in the morning because the line is unbelievable .
  • You can opt for a private guide with skip-the-line tickets for a premium. People say it’s worth every penny. Check below with the bus info.
  • Helpful hint: Bring something to cover your shoulders and don’t wear shorts or skirts above the knee.
  • Fun fact: There’s a totally random bull gargoyle on the cathedral. See if you can’t find it!

The Duomo in Florence

  • Why visit: It’s a world-class art collection. Some might say  thee world-class art collection. And, even if you’re not an art buff, you’ll see a few things you recognize. Just think—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli…
  • Purchase tickets online for 25€, plus a 4€ entrance reservation. (Again, I recommend getting a reservation for first thing in the morning. We got in super fast.)
  • They offer free entrance for kids, students, journalists, etc. and they offer a 2€ for young EU citizens.
  • It’s closed on Mondays and a couple holidays, but otherwise open daily 8:15 am–6:50 pm. On Tuesdays, it’s open until 10:00 pm.
  • Helpful hint: The #AdventurePartnerForLife and I had reservations first thing in the morning and got there early. We wandered over to Ponte Vecchio, which is right around the corner, and were able to take photos of the sun over the Arno river with next to no people around. It was awesome.

Botticelli's Primavera painting in the Uffizi, Florence

  • Why visit: Take in an amazing view. Have some gelato, coffee, or a tasty beverage while you’re there.
  • It’s free. And it’s open all the time.
  • It’s on the far side of the river and on top of a massive hill. Take the hop-on/hop-off bus there.
  • Helpful hint: Since you took the bus up, take a walk down. Stop by the San Miniato al Monte on the way to the Pitti Gallery and Boboli Gardens. The whole thing is about a 30-minute walk.

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

  • Why visit: It’s a super cute little town on the outskirts of Florence with ancient ruins. A bit of a hidden gem while everyone is ogling downtown.
  • Also offers a great view of the city.
  • In addition to the Etruscan ruins, you can see some caves and stop by a monastery.
  • I enjoyed walking through the market in the main square. We stopped for lunch up there, too.
  • Helpful hint: It’s a really pretty drive up there and lots of people take bikes or hike there.

Piazza Fiesole outside Florence, Italy

  • Why visit: Stop in for one of the most creative and fun drinks you’ll ever have in your life.
  • People call the owner “Einstein” because of his hair and mustache, but he is actually Eby.
  • He decides what shot you’ll drink and you’ll drink it standing in front of him. (Don’t worry; just trust the process.)
  • They’re extraordinarily elaborate and Eby will tell you a story that accompanies the shot as he makes it.
  • You’ll usually sing a song or do a special toast.
  • The only fancy shot person is Eby, and he doesn’t show up until later. Like 8 pm or so.
  • Helpful hint(s): It’s cash only. The address is Via Dell’oriuolo, 5 (in the Santa Croce neighborhood).

Eby making creative shots in Florence, Italy

Spice Up Your Italy Trip with a Cinque Terre Tour

Yes, of the few times I’ve been to Italy, I had yet to visit Cinque Terre . So, it was one thousand percent on the list for this visit. We did an all-day trip straight out of Florence through Viator , so there was very little need for any planning on our parts. While I can’t advise on all the logistics of Cinque Terre for an itinerary, I can give you my notes and tell you some available options that struck my fancy. Also, see some tour options below.

  • It’s a long tour day out of Florence, upwards of twelve hours, so be prepared.
  • There are tours that stop by the Tower of Pisa, too, if you’re interested.
  • Bring water and a swimsuit. Bring sensible walking shoes. Not shoes that are comfortable for a few hours and look cute. Real walking shoes or sneakers or hiking boots.
  • You  can actually hike the length of Cinque Terre. I honestly wish I had the extra vacation and was in good enough shape then, because I would’ve done it.
  • If tours aren’t your thing, and hiking long distances isn’t your thing, there’s a train that goes between towns there.

Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre, Italy

Italy Road Trip Stop #2: Bologna

After a couple of days in Florence and a Cinque Terre day trip, we rented a Sixt car at the Florence train station and officially began our Italy road trip. I’d always wanted to explore the area between Florence and Venice, but was waffling between Bologna, Ravenna, and Rimini. Very different places, I know. Ultimately, we decided on Bologna. We mainly toured the downtown historic center, but there was a lot more to the city that we didn’t get to.

Bologna is very famous for a few different things: its porticoes; its tortellini (and tagliatelle and lasagna); its parmigiano; and, its cars. So, while the historic area of Bologna is small relative to Florence or Venice, I think some of the beauty of this city lies in cultural appreciation—learn how to make pasta, taste the cheese, have some wine. The #AdventurePartnerForLife and I rarely slow down enough to partake in more immersive experiences like this, but I would encourage anyone reading this to take that additional step if you have a couple days in Bologna, especially.

That being said, our favorite sights (what we  did see) and a few tips are outlines below…

The central historic district of Bologna is small and super walkable. Cars are off-limits in a lot of the downtown areas, so when booking a hotel, make sure you check for one with parking.

The porticoes of Bologna, Italy

Bologna Must-Sees

  • Why visit? Remember how I said Bologna is famous for its porticoes? Well, this is the mother load of porticoes. All in all, Bologna has just under 25 miles of arches. The Madonna Di San Luca has just under 2.4 miles of it. 666 arches. Yup, you read correctly. 666. The longest portico in the world.
  • They go  all the way up to the top of a steep hill where the sanctuary sits. We saw a lot of struggling people.
  • The sanctuary is free, but the times are wonky, so check “ Opening Time ” towards the bottom of the page.
  • Helpful hint: Drive up there. We had zero issues parking. Or take the little express train .

The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca overlooking Bologna, Italy

  • Why visit? It’s the site of the tallest leaning medieval tower in the world. And it’s  noticeably leaning.
  • There are two towers, obviously. (“Due” in Italian means “two.”) They’re called the Asinelli and Garisenda Towers.
  • Climb 498 stairs to the top of the leaning, Asinelli tower if you dare.
  • The regular entry price is 5€. Entry is free with the Bologna Welcome Card (25€). Just confirm that purchasing a card makes mathematical sense for you.
  • There are lots of neat streets to wander in the immediate area, so there’s more to see than just the towers.
  • Helpful hint: Tickets are for reserved time slots only, so purchase in advance .
  • Fun Fact: One of the formal tower rules is no smoking or eating inside… which just seems so very Italian to me.

northern italy road trips

  • Why visit?  It’s not super common to come across a plaza with seven churches. In Italian, Santo Stefano is known as “sette chiese,” or “seven churches.”
  • The piazza there is a bustling social center for the city of Bologna.
  • There aren’t seven churches anymore. Just four.
  • The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is my personal favorite.
  • The different areas have different opening and closing times, however, from 9:30am–12:30pm and 2:30–6:00pm all of the spaces are open.
  • Free entry, but donations requested.
  • Helpful hint: The complex is closed every Monday, heads up.

San Marino: the Technically Not-Italy Part of this Road Trip

It goes without saying that I just had to tick San Marino off the list, right? After multiple visits to Italy, it would seem silly to miss this entire other country in the middle of it. So, it’s really a San Marino and Italy road trip.

For those of you that don’t know, San Marino is one of three countries in the world that’s entirely surrounded by another country. (The other two being the Vatican and Lesotho.) It’s the fifth smallest country in the world and sits towards the east coast of [north-central-ish] Italy. Just check my map above to see exactly where it is.

It actually turned out to be one of the #AdventurePartnerForLife’s favorite stops this trip. We just did a quick day trip there and back out of Bologna, and it was all we needed.

  • Visit one of the world’s smallest countries and tour a castle at the tip top of a mountain!
  • While there are plenty of things to do in San Marino , you really won’t need more than a day.
  • I wouldn’t suggest paying for a tour of San Marino. The ones I’ve seen are fairly expensive and the place is honestly so tiny, I can’t imagine why you’d need a guide.
  • I highly recommend driving, but if you have to take public transportation, there’s a regularly scheduled bus out of Rimini. (Scroll down to “Get In.”)
  • Helpful hint: You’ll find a bunch of parking levels leading up the mountain to the castle. Park on Level 2, and take the funicular (or “funivia”) up. It’ll save you uphill walking.

San Marino Castle tower

Lake Garda for Gorgeous Road-Side Views

From Bologna, we drove to Lake Garda for a quick drive-by before heading to Verona for the evening. We just wanted to see it, period. I can’t recommend the best of the best things to do on the whole lake, but I can recommend both stops we made. I will say Lake Garda was sort of a perfect add-on to our Italy road trip since it’s such a pretty drive. Frankly, there are quite a few beautiful lakes to visit in Italy that are well worth a stop.

From an initial observation, it does seem like a car gives you the freedom to move around from town to town around the lake. And the towns aren’t always that close together. Parking, however, is tricky. Once there, consider the ferry or water taxi services.

Lake Garda Must-Sees

  • Why visit? Stop here for a waterfront lunch while driving through picturesque lake towns.
  • I could see staying on Lake Garda for a few days to relax. Definitely a slower pace kind of destination.
  • Allow more driving time than expected. We got caught in traffic on the small, winding roads in September.
  • Take a ferry ride out to Isola del Garda from here.
  • Helpful hint: I would definitely recommend driving here over other types of transportation, but parking was tight. We found the tiniest parking lot ever with the most available parking we saw for miles directly across the street from the Grand Hotel. There’s a stop sign on the street in the middle of the hotel. A very strange and out-of-place stop sign, but it’s actually on Google Maps Street View. You can take a left at the sign up this small hill. There’s a hidden parking lot there with stairs right down to the main street, and the promenade.

Grand Hotel on Lake Garda, Italy

  • Why visit? Sirmione is definitely a cool little spot. It’s got a castle right on the lake with a baby shopping area.
  • Visit Scaligero Castle and three churches—Sant’Anna della Rocca, San Pietro and Santa Maria Maggiore.
  • The castle is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8:30 am–7:30 pm. Entry is 8€ .
  • Helpful hint: We got lucky with parking and found a spot in the very front parking lot next to the castle, but we didn’t see any other spots until then. Suggest parking in a lakefront town elsewhere and taking a water taxi.

Sirmione Castle entrance in Lake Garda, Italy

Saving the Best for (Second-to-)Last: Verona

Ah, Verona. Verona was my favorite stop on our Italy road trip. It’s smaller, very walkable, and super authentic. It sort of has everything you’d expect a small Italian city to have—a castle right in the middle, a baby arena, a famous bridge… I would one thousand percent recommend Verona to anyone traveling in that area of Italy. It was such a pleasure to visit this pretty little city, even if just for a day.

Oof. So… it wasn’t that traffic downtown was terrible; that was fine. It was that our GPS directions didn’t match downtown. There were tons and tons of one-way streets that didn’t line up, and a lot of the streets were insanely narrow. We basically ended up using GPS to get in the general area of our hotel and then mapped it out ourselves from there. A note that much of downtown Verona is off-limits to vehicles, so make sure your hotel has parking. And make sure you know how to get to it.

The upside is that, as I mentioned before, it’s super walkable. Not at all a big area and lots and lots to see.

Verona Must-Sees

  • Why visit? It’s the oldest bridge in Verona and the perfect place to take a bajillion great photos. It’s also one of the film locations for “Letters to Juliet,” if you’ve seen it!
  • Located in the northeast part of Verona on the Adige River, up past Piazza delle Erbe.
  • Open 24 hours a day and completely free, of course.
  • Helpful hint: My hint for this sight is less logistical and more… for your enjoyment. I’d suggest hitting the bridge during a golden hour. We went first thing in the morning and there really weren’t that many people around, which was great. What would’ve made it better? A sunrise or a sunset.

Ponte Pietra in Verona, Italy

  • Why visit? Castelvecchio is basically the centerpiece of Verona.
  • The bridge is always open and free.
  • The museum is open Mondays 1:30 pm–7:30 pm, and Tuesdays–Sundays 8:30 am–7:30 pm. Tickets are 14€ per adult, but EU citizens between the ages of 18-24 get half off.
  • Helpful hint: Go at night. We got to explore and climb the walls and photograph the river to our hearts’ content.

Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy

  • Why visit? Literally the most beautiful garden I’ve seen. Ever. I could’ve spent half the day wandering around.
  • Open year-round (minus Christmas) from 9 am–7pm.
  • Tickets are 12€ each and worth every “penny.”
  • Helpful hint: For some reason, finding the entrance was a little weird for us, though I can’t remember exactly why. There’s an entire road called Via Giardino Giusti, but the doorway itself is really unassuming. I think the main entrance was closed when we went and we had to go around the corner on Via S. Zeno in Monte to a little gate. I doubt that’s typical, but keep an eye out and just be aware.

Giardino Giusti in Verona, Italy

Val di Funes for Road-Trippers Only

Our Italy road trip continued from Verona north to Val di Funes for a stop. Then, we came back down south to stay in Trento for the evening.

The main reason for driving this far north was for us to get a taste of the Dolomites, an insanely impressive mountain range in northeast Italy. You could easily spend several days driving or hiking in the Dolomites , but again, we just wanted to see it at all. If you venture out this way, careful of the altitude in certain parts of the Dolomites.

You’ll definitely need a car to get to Val di Funes. It is nowhere near any public transportation.

A side note that, while we didn’t do much there, Trento seemed really easy to get around. It’s a very small town, easily walkable. Parking was not difficult to find outside of the main pedestrian areas. There’s a centrally-located main bus station, too.

Val di Funes Must-See

  • Why visit? I really haven’t seen anything like it. For all the churches I’ve been to, this was probably the smallest, yet still extraordinarily gorgeous.
  • This region is on the Austrian border. We mostly overheard German. Hardly any Italian, if at all.
  • We had to pay a couple euro for access to the field where the church sits, though there’s very little information about this online. It’s a coin machine, so make sure you have change.
  • Enjoy the fresh air and the creek and have local food for lunch at the restaurant right there.
  • Helpful hint: There are actually two churches in fields up this way, but St. Johann is the famous one all by itself in a field. The other is Saint Magdalena. Just make sure you’re going to the one you want to go to.

Saint Johann Chapel in Val di Funes, Italy

We walked around for an hour or so in Trento the next morning, but nothing much was open. For anyone who’s interested, there’s [another] castle and [another] cathedral there. There’s a nice downtown area with shops and cafes, and there’s a mausoleum way high above the town on a mountaintop that you can take a funicular to.

After our morning stroll, we drove back to Florence and spent another day there before flying home. The drive from Trento back to Florence was just under four hours. And, thus, concludes our epic Italy road trip.

So, what’s next, you ask? A road trip through the south of Italy, of course. Have you explored this part of Italy much? Any great sights to add? Comment away, friends.

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Jordan Campbell

Jordan Campbell

I'm Jordan, and I'm a flashpacking, road-trip junkie with an insatiable appetite for the road less traveled. Follow me to 67 countries and all 50 states for off-beat misadventures and tasty libations you've never heard of.

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HH Lifestyle Travel

A Spectacular North Italy Road Trip Itinerary

This article may contain affiliate links. Read my ABOUT page for more disclosure information.

The north of Italy is some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. The vibrant cities, the mountains, and the incredible lakes make a north Italy road trip a special journey. If you’re a foodie, love lush landscapes, or just want to learn more about north Italy, then read on!

We have driven over to Italy (from France) a number of times, and each time we have discovered new and interesting areas. I have detailed some our favourite stops below, and included a bunch of useful information about road-tripping in Northern Italy.

I have split the itinerary ideas into 5 days, 7 days and 10 day options for exploration of the north part of Italy; to give you a taste of what ground you can cover in those periods. This is a taster tour, and will leave you wanting to come back or stay longer!

eBookers UK

Where to stay in Venice on a road trip

Road trip friendly accommodation in verona, where to stay in lake garda with a car, where to stay in bologna when driving, roads in northern italy.

The highways in northern Italy are wide and well maintained, with tolls being reasonable for the distances covered. The roads around the lakes can be narrow and winding, so campers may find it slow going. Read more road trip tips for Italy …

North Italy Itinerary Stops

5 days in northern italy.

Venice, the one and only. I have been to Venice before, but there is something special about showing someone else around this stunner of a city.

Sitting on the Adriatic coast of north Italy, Venice is as magical as the guidebooks say. But it is also hugely popular, so can get very busy. Therefore, if you’re looking to spend a weekend in Venice , I recommend going in the shoulder or off seasons.

You could spend all 5 days of your itinerary in Venice, but if you are just taking a taster-tour, then 1 day will allow you to see the highlights. Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, Peggy Guggenheim’s museum, a wander of the canals, and an Aperol Spritz and some cicchetti on Campo Santo Stefano.

Venice isn’t a place for cars, so I recommend you stay in Mestre, which is just over the bridge from Venice. There are quick buses and trains that run over the bridge in under 10 minutes, so it’s a really convenient option for road-trippers.

We stayed at the dog-friendly Four Points by Sheraton near the Mestre hospital. It is near a large supermarket, restaurant and shopping area; and is only 5 minutes walk from the hospital train station. It also has a secure parking area.

The Leonardo and the Plaza are also great options, as they are right next to Mestre’s main train station.

Endless gorgeous views of canals in Venice

Driving time between Venice and Verona: 1 hour 20 minutes

Verona is an absolute diamond, and you simply can’t visit northern Italy without paying the city a visit. And while people flock to Juliet’s balcony and the roman arena, there is much more to discover.

The delightfully wonky Piazza del Erbe, salami and liquors from Salumeria Albertini, the beautiful gothic Basilica di Santa Anastasia; and the marvellous climb up to Castel San Pietro. Verona has a very manageable centre – although be sure to bring your walking shoes.

You can experience many of the initial delights of the city of Verona in 1 full day, but I suspect you’ll want to stay longer.

Verona is a far more car-friendly city than many in Italy. Most hotels will offer paid parking (either onsite, or discounted public parking nearby). We stayed at the Leonardo Hotel , about half a mile outside of the old town – which came with free parking.

For a central option, but still slightly removed from the tiny central streets – try the B&B Il Relais dell’Abbazia , or the Residence Antico San Zeno ; both of which are near the convivial restaurants of the Piazza Corrubbio.

Juliet's balcony in Verona - Photo by Hannah Henderson

Driving time between Verona and Lake Garda: 45 minutes

Lake Garda is somewhere I keep going back to – it is tied for my favourite Italian lake! There is a great mix of calm and beautiful areas for relaxation, and historic cities and castles.

Our favourite areas include the city of Desenzano, Garda, Sirmione and the quiet bay of Padenghe sul Garda. If you ensure you stay at one of the many ferry ports around the late, it means you can explore easily. I recommend spending 2 days out of a 5-day itinerary around Lake Garda.

See more about things to do in Southern Lake Garda

Our favourite places to stay in Lake Garda are:

In Sirmione, at the bang for your buck Hotel Marolda , which is 1.5 miles walk / bus along the waterfront to Sirmione centre; and has free parking.

And the Hotel Piccola Vela on the waterfront in Desenzano del Garda – right by the ferry station, and 5 minutes walk from town.

Lazise, Lake Garda - Photo by Hannah Henderson

Driving time between Lake Garda and Bologna: 2 hours

Bologna really does epitomise the best that northern Italy has to offer. The ‘red city’ has 62 miles of porticos, grand squares, ancient churches, and an excellent foodie culture.

Climb a tower or two, walk the 666 porticos up to the sanctuary on the hill, eat as much tagliatelle bolognese as you can; and enjoy a negroni or two on one of the many cafes spilling out onto the squares.

If you have an extra day, spend it here.

Like any major city, driving in Bologna can be a challenge. I recommend staying on the edge of the centre, making parking a little easier. The AC Hotel by Marriott is not only a great brand of stylish hotels, but this one has parking at a reasonable rate; and is located on the other side of the train station from the main centre.

Porticos in Bologna - Photo by Hannah Henderson

7 Day Itinerary for North Italy

Lake maggiore.

Driving time between Bologna and Lake Maggiore: 3 hours 30 minutes

Lake Maggiore is so laid back and relaxing – it’s a wonderful place to escape towards the end of your busy road trip. It’s in stark contrast to the cities mentioned, time in Lake Maggiore is spent tootling around between the shoreline towns, the idyllic Borromean Islands, and various lakeside bars.

I recommend you stay at the Belvedere Hotel on the waterfront at Verbania Pallanza. Situated right opposite a ferry stop, there is free parking all along the promenade, cafes and wonderful bistros nearby, and a vibrant market on Fridays.

northern italy road trips

Driving time between Lake Maggiore and Torino: 2 hours

Now, I don’t mind telling you, Torino blew my socks off. We were free-styling our road trip, so arrived in Turin with no plans, but almost immediately found a hotel and booked it because we loved it so much.

Known for being the home of the Shroud of Turin, and for hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics. Oh, and it was the first capital of Italy, so is full of grand squares, boulevards and monuments.

But what really struck me was the diversity, cocktail and food culture, and interesting modernisms within the classical construct. The Fabio Viale exhibition of augmented classical sculptures at the Musei Reali was a delight.

Have dinner at Tre Galli – with modern and regional dishes, this restaurant served one of the best dishes of our Italy trip, and makes one hell of a negroni.

We stayed at the NH Hotel Santo Stefano , which is built behind a beautiful old bell tower. It is in an exceptional location, and there are plenty of public and secure parking facilities nearby. The church with the shroud of Turin is a few meters away, as is the Palatine Gate and many other attractions. Plus, the cool restaurant and entertainment district of Quadrilatero Romano is right nearby.

Palatine Gate, Turin - Photo by Hannah Henderson

10 Day North Italy Road Trip Options

Add Modena into the itinerary after Bologna : Drive time 40 minutes / Onward travel from Modena to Lake Como

If you have time, add a stop in Modena to your itinerary. While I always like to add to the local economy by staying overnight in a place… if you don’t have time, a day trip to Modena will give you a glimpse of the magic of this city.

This hip university town has a great vibe, immensely good food, and great shopping. Have lunch at Osteria di Modena Rossi opposite the palace – the giant tortelloni and bolognese sauce was beyond my wildest pasta dreams.

Duomo di Modena - Photo by Hannah Henderson

Add Lake Como into the itinerary after Modena, and before Lake Maggiore : Drive time 3 hours / Onward travel from Como to Maggiore is 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours

I’ll admit, Lake Como is my least favourite of the major Italian lakes in the north. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it; but it does attract the rich and famous to its dramatic shores and mansions. I’m not a fan of mansions or famous people, but I did appreciate the landscapes of Como – they are quite remarkable.

We stayed in the sleepy town of Nesso , and it was a great compromise. We enjoyed the soft sunsets and local hospitality; but stayed away from the tourist flux and expensive dinners of the cities.

Take a ferry and explore a few of the towns like Bellagio, and enjoy the views of the grand mansions (coo-ey Mr Clooney) from the boat. Start out early in the day, especially on the weekend, as Lake Como gets easily crowded.

Nesso, Lake Como - Photo by Hannah Henderson

North Italy Road Trip Itinerary

A road trip around the north part of Italy is guaranteed to be a few things: inconceivably beautiful, a great mix of calming and stimulating, and very very tasty! Be sure to bring your stretchy trousers, because Italy sure does deliver on the food and drink front. Toast a limoncello for me when you take your road trip in northern Italy – cin cin!

Italy brings me a lot of joy , and has done since first visited in 1999 – read more about my adventures in Naples ! Have you been?

All photos & content © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with a Canon DSLR T3i Rebel + Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM; and an iPhone.

A Spectacular North Italy Road Trip Itinerary - HH Lifestyle Travel

Advisory : Please follow the advice from official government sources and local authorities regarding travel restrictions. Read and be inspired, and pin it for later!

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Hannah Henderson Travel Writer : Photographer : Foodie : Kiwi in France via Scotland

Things to do in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

5 outdoor hidden gems to discover in paris, 8 thoughts on “a spectacular north italy road trip itinerary”.

I’ve done a southern Italy road trip, but looks like I need to go back and visit northern Italy on a road trip! So many beautiful places to stop on a trip, you really can’t go wrong. I love how you gave options based off how many days people have too – so helpful!

You definitely need to return and explore the northern part of Italy – it’s absolutely stunning!

You can’t go wrong with Northern Italy. The only problem is what to choose among the endless options, if you are short on time. So it really helps that the itineraries are different lengths.

Italy is my happy place. Any destination on your list would be awesome.

I have been to several of these locations. I loved Lake Garda, as well. So tranquil and beautiful. I would love to visit Bologna. So much to see there. The bolognese tagliatelle looks delicious. I would love to do a food tour there!

I fell in love with Venice and Verona. I would love to explore more on your northern Italy road trip itinerary. Looks perfect!

Hey! So, Garda, Desenzano, Simione and the bay are all different towns? and you are saying we could fit them into 1 day? We were going to make our base Lake Como, can that be a day trip from Como? Thank you xx

Hi Natalie, Lake Garda isn’t really day-trippable from Como – they are 2 hours apart. Are you travelling by car or train? Either way, it’s around 2 hours minimum. You can explore the southern part of Lake Garda in a day using the ferries, but I would recommend you stay overnight in a town like Sirmione or Desenzano – because the travel to and from Como would take too long. Garda and Maggiore are actually my preferred lakes over Como. So depending on what vibe you are after / what you want to see, you may choose to split your time 🙂

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A Spectacular North Italy Road Trip Itinerary - HH Lifestyle Travel

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Best Of Northern Italy Itinerary: 10 Days With Tips [2024]

  • Post author: Nicoletta
  • Reading time: 88 mins read
  • Post last modified: May 2, 2024
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Northern Italy itinerary 10 days

Northern Italy is one of my favorite places in Europe. Its stunning nature and the most outstanding European mountains are the  Dolomites . Not only that, but it’s also famous for its  incredible lakes ,  cute towns  and  cities , and the most touristy must-see city,  Venice .

I visited the Dolomites and northern Italy , as it’s been my dream to make a road trip through all these stunning places. After spending over 14 days in northern Italy, I’ve put together this itinerary so you can explore its highlights.

So take this road trip based on my experience and have a great time!

✈ Travel Resources For Your Trip ✈

Here are some of my favorite travel resources I use for my travel adventures.

Overview Of The Northern Italy Itinerary For 10 Days

Here is a quick overview for the ultimate Northern Italy itinerary for 10 days:

Map Of The Northern Italy Itinerary

Here is a map of this northern Italy road trip. Save it to your phone and navigate to the places once you travel:

How To Get To Northern Italy

The best way to get to northern Italy is to travel to Milan . It’s the biggest city in the area, has one of the biggest airports in Europe, and many connections to the nearby countries and cities.

Flying to Milan is the fastest and most convenient way to reach Northern Italy. It has great international connections.

➡ Get the best flight deals to Milan via Skyscanner here.

If you’re arriving in Milan from nearby countries like Switzerland , Slovenia , Austria , or southern Italy , you should consider taking a train.

Check Trenitalia for connections within Italy; when arriving from Switzerland, look up trains via SBB . I recommend taking the Railjet train (my favorite) from Austria.

➡ Check out the best train connections to Milan via Trainline here.

If you’re on a budget , you can also take a bus from neighboring countries. It’ll be a long journey, but the cheapest. Flixbus has great connections to Milan from major European cities.

➡ Look up bus connections to Milan via Busbud here.

How To Get Around Northern Italy & Make This Itinerary

The  best way to explore  Northern Italy  is by car . There is no better option than  making a road trip . So I recommend you  rent a car in Milan  and embark on the journey.

It’s especially worth it  driving through the Dolomites . Even if you don’t visit anything, just driving through its tiny  mountain roads  is an experience of a lifetime. You’ll love every second of it. The  views are spectacular , the environment amazing, and the  cute little Italian towns  are worth the stop.

There are trains between major cities like Milan, Verona, and Venice. The rest of the places on this itinerary are reachable by bus. But you’d lose a lot of time waiting for the connections.

So  rent a car in Milan for 10 days and make your 10-day itinerary. You can then return it to Milan.

RENT A CAR FOR YOUR ITINERARY

northern italy road trips

Rent A Car Via Discover Cars – best prices and big selection of car rentals. PRO TIP: Check ratings of the company you choose before booking ( ratings can be off ). Go on Google, see ratings of the car rental company, then book on Discover Cars.

0. DAY: MILAN ⇒ VERONA

If you want to stay in Milan,  arrive one or two days before  starting your itinerary. It’ll be an excellent place to fight the jet lag and relax.

Then, rent a car in Milan and embark on the journey. At the beginning, you’ll  drive from Milan to Verona .

Distance Milan ⇒ Verona: 2 hours by car (160 kilometers/100 miles)

Verona belongs to  my favorite cities in Italy . It’s not because of the Balcony mentioned in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet poem. It’s because of its beautiful architecture and atmosphere. Unfortunately, many people, for some reason, choose to skip it when traveling in Italy. 

Now, you’ll get to explore its beauty.

So check in to your accommodation and head for lunch or dinner in the city center, depending on your arrival time, and get a first glimpse of the city.

Where To Stay In Verona: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

SAN GIACOMO B&B – budget-friendly apartment HOTEL MILANO & SPA – mid-range hotel HOTEL ACADEMIA – luxury hotel NH COLLECTION PALAZZO VERONA – luxury hotel

Restaurants In Verona

🍕 Trattoria Pizzeria Impero 🍕 Trattoria al Pompiere 🍕 Antica Bottega del Vino 🍕 Locanda 4 Cuochi

Travel Itinerary Planning Services

👉 READ ALSO: Milan To Amalfi Coast: Ultimate Travel Guide

1. DAY: VERONA

Good morning to Verona. Today, you’ll have the entire day to explore the city with its hidden gems.

Ready? Let’s go.

Sightseeing In Verona

🔆 Juliet’s House 🔆 Piazza delle Erbe 🔆 Torre dei Lamberti 🔆 Piazza dei Signori 🔆 Castelvecchio 🔆 Arena di Verona 🔆 Garden Giusti

northern italy itinerary 10 days Verona

Verona’s best ‘attraction’ is walking around, strolling through its  tiny historical streets , and seeing some locals on their balconies.

So take it easy, and enjoy the city this way.

I recommend seeing the famous  Juliet’s House  (in Italian called  Casa di Giulietta ) in the morning with its balcony and Juliet’s statue (to avoid crowds). This house was featured as the residence of the Capulet Family in Shakespeare’s play  Romeo and Juliet . Thanks to its balcony, Verona attracts thousands of visitors each day.

Verona main square & Torre dei Lamberti

The house dates back to the 14th century. Many visitors come here specifically to  leave notes and love letters on its walls , asking Juliet to solve their issues (mainly related to romantic relationships).

You can also visit its museum and learn more about Shakespeare’s story and the house.

Suggested Itinerary For 1 Day In Verona

Admire the  Piazza delle Erbe’s  cute cafes and stunning architecture. Sometimes, it hosts  markets  so you can buy souvenirs.

From there, admire the  Torre dei Lamberti  built by the  Lamberti family  in the 11th century. It houses four bells, is 84 meters high, and offers panoramic city views.

Check out the  Piazza dei Segnori , too. I recommend eating the best pizza in the restaurant  Trattoria Pizzeria Impero .

Then walk to the  Castelvecchio , the most important museum in town. It was built in the mid-1300s by the  Scala family . Nowadays, you can explore many Renaissance sculptures, weapons, armor, jewelry from the past, and ancient bronze bells.

Verona

Finally, check out the famous  Arena di Verona . It’s the ancient Roman theater,  one of the largest arenas in the world , and the best-preserved structures in Europe. It’s been used as a filming location in several movies, including Quo Vadis and Letters to Juliet.

Nowadays, many  performances are organized  on its stage. It can accommodate up to 30000 spectators.

NOTE: Check out if there is a  performance in the Arena di Verona  in the evening . I highly recommend you experience it.

Verona Guided Tour

Join this guided tour of Verona and learn more about its history and culture with a local guide.

2. DAY: DAY TRIP FROM VERONA: PASTA, GELATO, WINE

Verona is a perfect place for some  great day trips . What would a visit to Italy be without participating in a  cooking class ,  gelato class , or a  wine-tasting tour ? So for now, we’ll stay in Verona, and you’ll have the entire day to make a day trip of your choice.

I’ve picked the  top 3 day trips from Verona  so you can choose which one you feel like doing.

One of them is  private   pasta making  in an Italian home. You’ll learn how to make Italian pasta and eat it with locals in their homes.

The other activity is  gelato-making class . You’ll learn how to  cook fresh fruit sorbet  and make your  Italian gelato . After, you’ll get to taste what you’ve made.

The last tour is visiting a  family-run winery  and  experiencing wine tasting  in their vineyards. You’ll taste the most  delicious Italian wines , enjoy spectacular views, and see the  17th-century old cellar  where they produce the wine.

So  book one of these three activities  for today, and enjoy Italian culture fully.

3. DAY: VERONA ⇒ ST. ULRICH ORTISEI (Dolomites)

Today, we’ll drive from Verona up to the northern part of Italy. It’s time to explore the most beautiful mountains in Europe – the Dolomites .

In the morning, drive from Verona to St. Ulrich Ortisei.

Distance Verona ⇒ St. Ulrich Ortisei: 2 hours & 20 minutes by car (188 kilometers/116 miles)

If you want, you can  stop in Trento  on the way. You can have lunch or  taste Italian delicacies , such as prosciutto, salami, pesto, and cheese, in local shops. Then, continue driving to St. Ulrich Ortisei.

St. Ulrich Ortisei (Dolomites)

Welcome to the  Val Gardena , one of the most beautiful parts of the Dolomites. We’ll stay overnight and explore the best attractions tomorrow.

St. Ulrich Ortisei is a small Italian town in the middle of the Dolomites. It’s famous for its  excellent outdoor activities , winter skiing, and summer  hiking trails .

The most famous mountain to visit in this region is  Seceda . You can take a funicular and a cable car up and enjoy the stunning atmosphere. Tomorrow, we’ll explore this place.

For now,  check in to your accommodation , enjoy the beautiful atmosphere with mountain views, walk around the town, and relax.

northern italy itinerary 10 days sankt ulrich ortisei dolomites italy

Where To Stay In St. Ulrich Ortisei: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

B&B VILLA ANGELINO HOTEL GENZIANA HOTEL ANGELO ENGEL

Restaurants In St. Ulrich Ortisei

🍕 Cascade Ristorante Pizzeria Bar 🍕 Restaurant Pizzeria Terrazza 🍕 Mauriz Keller – Restaurant – Pizzeria

4. DAY: SECEDA

Good morning to Val Gardena. Today, we’ll visit one of the most beautiful mountains and enjoy hiking with delicious food.

Seceda  was my favorite place in the Dolomites that I visited. It’s part of the so-called Odle  Group,  a subrange of the Dolomites mountains. You might also see the term  Sëceda  in the local  Ladin language .

Its elevation is  2,519 meters  (8,264 feet), making it a perfect spot to  admire the mountain views .

I’ll never forget getting up, seeing the beauty, and staying at the local mountain hut. I sat on the grass, ordered  Italian delicacies  (Bombardino and apple strudel with vanilla sauce), and kept staring at the mountains. It feels like heaven, and I’ll say it once more – Dolomites are the most beautiful mountains in Europe.

Seceda northern Italy itinerary 10 days Dolomites

How To Get To Seceda

So in the morning,  take a cable car from St. Ulrich Ortisei town  to the  Furnes . From there, take a huge  cabin car up to Seceda .

You don’t have to book your tickets in advance. Just go in the morning and  pay directly at the counter .

Take Cable Cars: St. Ulrich Ortisei Town ⇒ Furnes ⇒ Seceda

Things To Do In Seceda

Once you’re up at the Seceda, take your time to walk up to the viewing point,  Panorama Seceda . A big compass shows where other big European cities and mountain peaks are. You’ll be able to  see Switzerland and Austria  from there, too.

Then walk towards the famous  Seceda Ridgeline  and take some nice photos.

After, head to the mountain hut called  Baita Sofie Hütte . They have the  best apple strudel with vanilla sauce . You can also eat lunch and have it for dessert. Don’t forget to  try Bombardino , the famous Italian sweet drink made from alcohol and egg yolk liquor.  Add whipped cream  on top.

Seceda Baita Sofia Hut bombardino Italy

If you want to do some hiking in Seceda , here are my top picks:

🏞 Seceda Panorama Trail 🏞 Odle High Route 🏞 Adolf-Munkel Trail

Other two activities you can enjoy are  mountain biking  and  paragliding .

After, enjoy another evening in St. Ulrich Ortisei , get some good food, and relax.

5. DAY: ST. ULRICH ORTISEI ⇒ RIFUGIO LAGAZUOI (Dolomites)

Have some delicious breakfast, and  hit the road again . This is  the most scenic ride  on your entire road trip. So have your camera and phone ready.

You’ll be passing through the famous  Sella Ronda . It’s a  skiing route around the Marmolada mountain  in the Dolomites. You’ll cross several mountain passes and drive through curved roads. Stop whenever you can and  enjoy the views . Pay attention to the bikers as they’re everywhere, cycling on the side of roads.

Drive to the Falzarego Pass . Leave your car there. We’ll be visiting the beautiful mountain hut called  Rifugio Lagazuoi .

Distance St. Ulrich Ortisei ⇒ Falzarego Pass: 1 hour & 15 minutes by car (48 kilometers/30 miles)

Falzarego Pass

Once you’re at the  Falzarego Pass , you have two options to get to Rifugio Lagazuoi: hike up or take a cable car .

Falzarego Pass  has a small hut where you can use the bathroom, change clothes, have a coffee or a cake, and buy souvenirs. From there, you can continue up to Rifugio Lagazuoi. 

The  big parking next  to the hut is free of charge.

Passo Falzarego Dolomites on the northern Italy itinerary 10 days

Rifugio Lagazuoi

Rifugio Lagazuoi, an Italian word for a mountain hut, is located on  Mount Lagazuoi . It’s mainly famous for its role in  World War I . You can explore the  impressive outdoor Lagazuoi War Museum  below the mountain hut.

You’ll see the  hiding spots of soldiers  with wooden doors. Just imagine how the Italians and the Austro-Hungarian forces were fighting and shooting from those mountains.

Once you’re at the Rifugio Lagazuoi, take some time to walk around and enjoy the incredible views. After,  have a delicious Italian lunch  inside.

PRO TIP:  If you want, you can  first take a cable car up . Then,  walk back to the Falzarego Pass  and see the entire outdoor museum. You’ll only see a few shooting spots when you walk around the Rifugio Lagazuoi.

Rifugio Lagazoui Dolomites on the northern Italy itinerary 10 days

Stay Overnight At The Rifugio Lagazuoi

If you want, you can  stay overnight in the Rifugio , which is an amazing experience. You can enjoy the  sauna  at night,  watch the stars , and wake up to stunning mountain views.

NOTE:  Rifugio Lagazuoi is only open from June to September , so plan your trip accordingly.

👉 RIFUGIO LAGAZUOI – book rooms on their website at least 4 months in advance (they’re almost always fully booked)

Rifugio Lagazoui hut Dolomites

Alternatively, if you don’t like staying up in the mountains, return to the Falzarego Pass and drive to  Cortina d’Ampezzo .

Distance Falzarego Pass ⇒ Cortina d’Ampezzo : 30 minutes by car (18 kilometers/11 miles)

Where To Stay In Cortina D’Ampezzo: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

HOTEL COLUMBIA & SPA RADISSON RESIDENCES SAVOIA PALACE HOTEL LAJADIRA & SPA

6. DAY: RIFUGIO LAGAZUOI ⇒ VENICE

Good morning to the Dolomites. Whether you stayed at the Rifugio Lagazuoi or in Cortina d’Ampezzo, it’s time to leave the Dolomites today.

We’ll drive from the Dolomites down to the sea, visiting the romantic city of Venice.

This will be another stunning ride. I loved driving through the  impressive mountains  and slowly  descending to the sea . You’ll see a castle ruin, mountain lakes, and spectacular mountains. So enjoy until you come to the sea and reach Venice.

Distance Falzarego Pass ⇒ Venice: 3 hours by car (195 kilometers/121 miles)

Once you drive to Venice, I recommend leaving your car at the  Piazzale Roma Parking  garage . It’s the closest to the center.

Remember, Venice is a car-free town, where the  main transportation  is the water taxi called the  Vaporetto .

Where To Park In Venice: Piazzale Roma Parking

Piazzale Roma Parking is the one closest to the city . It’ll be slightly more difficult to reach it because of the traffic, but you’ll be fine.

Parking Price:  11 Eur for 3 hours, 21 Eur for up to 24 hours

Once you park your car, take the most important stuff for your 2 nights in the Venice center. Take only the things you need and  leave everything else in the car . You’ll only return to the car the day after tomorrow, so plan accordingly.

Once ready,  take a water taxi  (Vaporetto) from Piazzale Roma to San Marco. It’s the  water taxi line 2  (red one). It leaves from the Piazzale Roma  ‘G’ platform . You can buy tickets on the spot.

Venice northern Italy itinerary 10 days

What would an Italian itinerary be without visiting the most famous city of all, Venice?

It’s time to enjoy the  city of romance and  ride the Venetian Gondola.

Tomorrow, we’ll also visit  Murano Island , famous for its  glass-blowing factories . I love visiting this island and seeing how they produce beautiful glass things. So this is one thing you can’t miss in Venice.

Let’s dive into things you should see while you’re here.

Sightseeing In Venice

🔆 St. Mark’s Square 🔆 Rialto Bridge 🔆 St. Mark’s Basilica 🔆 St. Mark’s Campanile (Bell Tower) 🔆 Doge’s Palace 🔆 Gondola Ride 🔆 Murano Island – glass-blowing 🔆 Arsenal

Venice Gondola Ride

Suggested Itinerary For 1 Day In Venice

Once you arrive in Venice, check in to your accommodation and head to the city to explore it for half a day. First, go to  St. Mark’s Square  and enjoy its atmosphere.

Sometimes, there are  musicians  next to the restaurants, so enjoy the music and admire St. Mark’s Basilica and its Bell Tower (called  Campanile  in the Italian language).

If you want, you can also visit the  St. Mark’s   Basilica with the Doge’s Palace . To do so, I suggest buying  skip-the-line tickets . The lines are always super long, and you would waste time waiting to enter.

Venice St. Marks Square & Bell Tower Campanile

What I highly suggest you see is  Arsenal . During the 4th Crusades, Venetians built a massive fleet of ships to  transport the Crusaders  and feed the knights. Venice constructed a  naval facility  called Arsenal (translated from Arabic as the house of manufacture).

Later, this Arsenal became the  center of the Venetian state  and the  world’s largest military installation  producing weapons. Just imagine how much power Venice had in the past. It’s impressive to see the Arsenal and learn about its history.

In the late afternoon, ride the romantic Gondola  through the  Venice canals . It’s one thing I enjoy doing in Venice, even though I’ve already done it 5 times. It’s a  special occasion  and a unique experience.

Venice Gondola Ride

Book the gondola ride in Venice here and experience the best gondola ride in the city.

Where To Stay In Venice: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

HOTEL AI PIAVE ALL’ ANGELO ART HOTEL HOTEL DONA PALACE

Restaurants In Venice

🍕 Venissa Ristorante 🍕 Trattoria da Romano 🍕 Pizzeria Principe 🍕 Riva Rosa

👉 READ ALSO: 9 Best Hotels In Amalfi Town Italy

7. DAY: VENICE & MURANO ISLAND

I hope you had a great day in Venice yesterday. To be completely honest with you, Venice can be overcrowded and sometimes loses the atmosphere. It’s a tourist hotspot and not really my favorite city. But visiting it onces in a lifetime is worth it.

What is even better is the nearby Murano Island , which we’ll visit today. After breakfast,  take a water taxi to Murano Island  and see the  glass-blowing show .

You can  go alone  or  take an organized group tour , visiting Murano and Burano Island.

Take a water taxi  (vaporetto),  Line 7 , to Murano Island. It takes 27 minutes to get there.

The vaporetto Line n. 7 runs every 30 minutes , starting at 10:14 am. I recommend coming to the port at St. Mark’s Square earlier to get the ticket for the vaporetto ride. Or you can also buy the tickets in the evening before (better). The last vaporetto from Murano Island is at 4:45 pm.

Sightseeing On Murano Island

🔆 Glass Blowing Factory 🔆 Museo Del Vetro – Glass Blowing Museum 🔆 Campo Santo Stefano

🔆 Glass Blowing Factory

The most important thing to see on this island is the glass-blowing art . So you can’t miss visiting one of the local factories and, with some, even try making your own glass. Book some of the glass-blowing shows and experiences on Murano Island.

Some excursions include a water taxi from St. Mark’s Square, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

Venice Murano Island glass blowing show Italy

🔆 Museo Del Vetro

If you’re still interested, visit the glass-blowing museum ( Museo del Vetro ). First, you’ll learn the Venetian techniques and art of glass blowing, a tradition for centuries. After, you can also buy some unique glass pieces as a souvenir for your home.

🔆 Campo Santo Stefano

Campo Santo Stefano is mainly famous for its blue glass sculpture in the middle of the square. It’s officially called the ‘ Comet Glass Start. ‘ Walk to the square and take some photos.

Once you’ve seen the glass-blowing art on Murano Island,   head back to St. Mark’s Square ,

Enjoy the evening in Venice, have delicious dinner, and relax.

Guided Tour To Murano & Glass-Blowing

Join this guided tour to Murano & Burano Islands from Venice , ride on a private boat, enjoy the glass-blowing show, and hear interesting stories from your guide.

8. DAY: VENICE ⇒ BASSANO DEL GRAPPA ⇒ MALCESINE (Lake Garda)

Good morning to Venice. Today, we’ll be heading to our last destination. On the way, we’ll  visit one charming town  few people know about.

So take your luggage and the  Vapetto line no. 2 to the Piazzale Roma  parking in the morning.

After, start driving to Bassano del Grappa town.

Distance Venice ⇒ Bassano Del Grappa: 1 hour & 15 minutes by car (96 kilometers/59 miles)

Bassano Del Grappa

This cute Italian town is mainly famous for its beautiful  covered wooden bridge  over the River Brenta,  grappa liquor  produced in the area,  best pizzetta , and  ceramics .

I’ve brought you here to see its picturesque bridge over the River Brenta. Walk through the historic town and enjoy its atmosphere.

Stop at the  Bottega del Pane  for lunch to try the most  delicious pizzetta . Afterward, walk around the town and  buy some grappa liquor  to try later once you reach today’s destination.

northern italy itinerary 10 days Bassano del Grapa

Then, have a coffee and continue driving towards Lake Garda. I’ll use the official Italian name in this itinerary: Lago di Garda. It’s the largest Italian lake .

Distance Bassano Del Grappa ⇒ Malcesine: 2 hours & 10 minutes by car (167 kilometers/104 miles – drive via Vinceza & Verona)

Lago Di Garda & Malcesine

Lago di Garda has many small towns to visit. For tonight, we’ll sleep in the town named  Malcesine .

On the way from Bassano del Grappa, you’ll drive  alongside Lake Garda . Once you arrive in Garda, the road leads alongside the lake, and the scenery is spectacular . So enjoy it until you arrive in Malcesine.

Then check in to your accommodation and have a good dinner. Tomorrow, we’ll explore the town and enjoy the lake.

Lago di Garda Italy

Where To Stay In Malcesine: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

BREATHTAKING VIEW APARTMENTS HOTEL VEGA WELLNESS HOTEL CASA BARCA LUXURY APARTMENTS NATURA

Restaurants In Malcesine

🍕 Ristorante La Cambusa 🍕 Ristorante Pizzeria Italian da Nikolas 🍕 Taverna dei Capitani 🍕 II Covo della Taranta

👉 READ ALSO: How To Get To Capri Italy: Full Guide

9. DAY: MALCESINE & LIMONE DEL SUL (Lake Garda)

Good morning to Malcesine. Today, we won’t be driving , so you can relax.

In the morning, I recommend taking a boat to the other side of the lake, a town called Limone Sul Garda .

Enjoy the beautiful boat ride, which takes about 30 minutes .

PRO TIP:  You get the best views of the towns and enjoy Lake Garda the most from a boat. So this is a must-to-do activity.

Once you arrive in Limone Sul Garda, take your time to walk through the town.

Limode del Sur Lago di Garda Italy

Sightseeing In Limone Sul Garda

🔆 Stroll its streets 🔆 Walk the promenade 🔆 Eat delicious gelato 🔆 Visit Lemon Museum 🔆 Explore local shops

Limone Sul Garda  is a tiny place at Lake Garda with  just over 1000 inhabitants . The best way to enjoy it is to stroll through its streets,  eat as much gelato as possible , and explore local shops with  local production . 

My favorite activity is going to the local stores and  tasting various Italian products . You can taste things from  prosciutto  to homemade  sausages , Italian  cheese ,  pistachio cream , other  cream varieties ,  liquors , and more.

After, visit the  Lemon Museum  to learn how they grow and how locals care for them.

In the afternoon,  take the boat back to Malcesine .

Malcesine Lago di Garda northern Italy itinerary 10 days

Sightseeing In Malcesine

🔆 Scaliger Castle 🔆 Cable Car To Monte Balto 🔆 Malcesine’s Harbour 🔆 Stroll its streets

Scaliger Castle  is the most beautiful medieval castle on the shores of Lake Garda. It was constructed to control navigation on the lake.

I highly recommend you  take a cable car to Monte Balto . It’s truly spectacular. Firstly, it offers  unique views of Malcesine  town. Then, as you’re approaching the top of Monte Balto, the northern part of Lake Garda opens up in front of you. These  views are breathtaking .

Once you’re on the top, walk around, enjoy the views, and soak up the atmosphere.

After returning to Malcesine, walk through its promenade  to see the Scaliger Castle from a different side and  enjoy the sunset .

In the evening, have a good dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Lago di Garda Italy Lake Garda northern Italy itinerary 10 days

10. DAY: DRIVE AROUND LAKE GARDA ⇒ SIRMIONE ⇒ MILAN

On the last day of your road trip, we’ll do a  scenic drive around Lake Garda , the largest Italian lake, and drive back to Milan in the evening.

FUN FACT: Drive around Lake Garda is 150 kilometers long and takes about 2 to 2.5 hours .

In the morning, hit the road again and  drive north alongside Lake Garda  until you reach a small town called  Riva del Garda .

Then,  continue driving south . Today, you’ll drive almost around the entire lake. You’ll pass by Limone del Sul, which you visited yesterday. Drive further until you reach  Tremosine Sul Garda .

Below, I’m giving you a few stops and highlights of the drive .

📍 Tremosine Sul Garda

Tremosine Sul Garda is a unique spot as it offers some of the  best views of Lake Garda . However, the most beautiful town in this part is  Pieve , also known as the  paradise of cliffs .

I suggest  stopping  to enjoy the views from the observation deck named  Terrazza del Brivido . Or enjoy coffee in some of the local restaurants in Pieve.

📍 Strada Della Forra

Tremisone is mainly famous for its  beautiful road with tiny bridges . It’ll be the next sight to see while driving. Just above Pieve, you’ll reach the  Strada della Forra  road when you continue driving south.

Make sure you  open the windows  as you drive through the  cave tunnels  to hear the stream and waterfalls. This is the  most spectacular part of the entire ride  today. So enjoy.

PRO TIP:  When you’re in Malcesine on day 9.  ask locals if the Strada della Forra  leading from Pieve  is open . Sometimes, it’s closed, so make sure  what’s the status .

📍 Spiaggia Toscolano Beach

If you want to enjoy the lake, stop at the  Spiaggia Toscolano beach  for a while. Go for a swim or have a moment to look around.

Then, continue driving all the way south to  Sirmione . It’ll be our last stop at Lake Garda before leaving.

PRO TIP: I recommend stopping at this  Parking lot in Sirmione:  Via XXV Aprile, 98, 25019 Sirmione BS, Italy.

Sightseeing In Sirmione

Sirmione is the  most visited city on the lake , which is  often very crowded . It’s very popular with cruise ships, taking customers here for a day trip. Yet it’s still nice to see and a good spot to have lunch.

🔆 Castello Scaligero 🔆 Cruise around by boat 🔆 Explore the medieval city center 🔆 Take comboio to Grotte di Catulo 🔆 Visit Grotte di Catulo

The best way to see the city is to stroll through its tiny streets, see local shops, and enjoy the  best coffee and croissants .

BEST COFFEE & CROISSANTS:  You must go to  Caffè Grande Italia  for the best croissants. They also make  delicious cappuccino , so try it out for yourself.

Sirmione Lago di Garda Lake Garda Italy

Another great way to see it is by  hopping on a boat  and doing a small cruise around the peninsula. This is the  best way to get unique views  of the city.

You can take a boat tour around Sirmione from this spot; Piazza Giosuè Carducci, 2, 25019 Sirmione.

Taking a comboio ( touristic train ) towards the  Grotte di Catulo  is a lot of fun, too. You can take it from  ‘II Trenino Delle Grotte.’  In the end, you can explore the Roman excavation Grotte di Catulo. These are Roman ruins that have been standing here since the 1st century BC.

Restaurants For Lunch In Sirmione

🍕 La Roccia 🍕 L’Accanto 🍕 II Vicolo (hamburgers)

Drive To Milan

In the evening, drive back to Milan. Or if you want, you can stay an additional night at Lake Garde.

Distance Sirmione ⇒ Milan: 2 hours by car (132 kilometers/82 miles)

This will be the end of our itinerary . I hope you get the most out of it, enjoy every second, and see as many places as possible.

👉 READ ALSO: How To Make A Day Trip From Rome To Amalfi Coast: Full Itinerary

14-Day Itinerary For Northern Italy

If you have more than 10 days, that’s perfect. In this case, I recommend adding Milan for a day (one day is enough). Spend an extra day in the Dolomites and go hiking or relax in a spa hotel. And visit Lake Como for 2 days before returning to Milan.

Here is an ideal 14-day itinerary for Northern Italy :

7-Day Itinerary For Northern Italy

If you have less time than 10 days, that’s also fine. You can still follow the basic itinerary as I designed above. I recommend skipping one place on the itinerary – either Verona or Venice – or spending only half a day driving around Lago di Garda (instead of staying there for 2 nights). Here is my suggested 7-day itinerary for Northern Italy :

Practical Tips For Visiting Northern Italy

To help you plan your trip to northern Italy even more, I’ve got some further tips for you. See how many days you should spend, when the best time to visit is, what to pack, and what budget you’ll need.

Passport & Visa To Italy

Check the  expiration date of your passport . Most airlines don’t even take you on board if your passport expires in 6 months . Avoid issues with boarding and on the road. Ensure your passport won’t expire in the next 8 months.

Check if you need a Visa to Italy. iVisa will give you detailed information on whether you need a Visa and other necessary documents to travel.

➡ Click here to see what kind of travel documents you need for Northern Italy .

How Many Days Do You Need For Northern Italy?

10 days is the perfect time to visit northern Italy and also the minimum time. If you can, spend up to 14 more days in the Dolomites or places you’ll enjoy the most.

But generally speaking, 10 – 14 days is the perfect time to explore northern Italy.

Best Time To Visit Northern Italy

The best time to visit northern Italy is June and September . These months have great weather, everything is open, and they’re less crowded than the peak summer months .

July and August are also good times, but expect many tourists, especially in cities like Venice or the Dolomites.

I don’t recommend visiting northern Italy in the winter , as some places are closed, and the scenery isn’t as beautiful as in the summer .

If you want, you can go skiing in the Dolomites in the winter – it has some of the best ski slopes in Europe.

Dolomites Italy

👉 READ ALSO: Italy In Summer: What To Do & Where To Go By An Expert

Tips For Driving In Northern Italy

Northern Italy has well-developed highways between major cities like Milan, Verona, Trento, and Venice.

Roads are smaller, narrower, and curvy if you drive through small towns alongside the lakes and the Dolomites. So, it gets a bit challenging.

However, you’ll be fine if you pay attention and give way.

Here are some of the tips I have for you to when road-tripping through northern Italy:

🚔 Italian highways don’t have a vignette – you pay for the toll at the toll gate when driving through the highway.

🚔 Italian highways are called ‘ Autostrada ‘ – I recommend stopping at Autogrill station to get delicious croissants and coffee.

🚔 The speed limit on the highway is 130km/h ; on bigger roads outside of cities, 90km/h , and in cities and towns , you can travel a maximum of 50km/h .

🚔 If you’re from the US or outside of Europe, you need an International Driving License to be able to drive in Italy.

🚔 It’s compulsory to wear a seatbelt .

driving in northern Italy Dolomites tips

What To Pack For Northern Italy

Northern Italy is the most diverse region in Italy , so you need to pack for different weather conditions, places, and situations.

You’ll visit the Dolomites and need hiking clothes for it. You’ll spend some time in the romantic towns of Verona and Venice and relax at the lake, so you’ll need some beach stuff .

Here is a quick packing list for northern Italy for you:

🎁 T-Shirts 🎁 Shorts/Skirts 🎁 Dresses 🎁 Good shows for walking 🎁 Sandals 🎁 Flipflops 🎁 Swimming Suit 🎁 Hat 🎁 Sunscreen 🎁 Hiking boots/trekking shoes 🎁 Hiking Pants/Shorts 🎁 Small Backpack For Hiking 🎁 Trekking pools 🎁 Download Maps.me (for hiking in the Dolomites) 🎁 Sunglasses

I’ve also designed a printable packing checklist for your trip to Italy. It’ll help you stay organized and plan your outfits for different parts of Italy.

Get my free packing list for Italy & the Dolomites by clicking on the image below:

printable packing checklist for italy

👉 READ ALSO: What To Pack For 12 Days In Italy: Complete Guide

Cost Of A Road Trip In Northern Italy

The budget for a 10-day Northern Italy itinerary per person ( mid-range traveler ) is $1535 . This is a very realistic budget for mid-range travelers who want to stay in nice hotels, rent a car and travel conveniently, enjoy hiking, and each location’s activities.

Here is a breakdown of this itinerary budget for each travel category (assuming you travel as a couple):

So the total budget for a 10-day trip to Northern Italy , without restricting yourself too much and enjoying everything the region offers, is $ 1535 per person .

Budget Breakdown For Different Traveler Styles

Here is a quick overview of the budget for every type of traveler:

➡ 10-day itinerary budget for backpackers and travelers on the budget: $700 ➡ 10-day itinerary budget for mid-range travelers : $1535 ➡ 10-day itinerary budget for luxury travelers : up to $3000

NOTE: This is an approximate budget based on my calculations and spending during my 10-day trip to Northern Italy. The budget will vary based on every traveler’s preferences .

I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about northern Italy. Check my answers below:

Where Is The Best Place To Fly Into Northern Italy?

Milan is the best place to fly into to explore Northern Italy. It’s the biggest city in the region with great international connections, whether you’re arriving from Europe, the USA, or Asia.

What Is The Best Way To Get Around Northern Italy?

The best way to get around Northern Italy is by car . Northern Italy has many beautiful towns and hidden gems (including the Dolomites), where buses and trains don’t go. So the best is to rent a car in Milan and drive around. You’ll be flexible and can get everywhere .

Is 10 Days In Italy Enough?

No, 10 days isn’t enough for the entire Italy. If you only want to visit a few places, then 10 days are fine. But Italy is big and offers so many beautiful places. So I recommend staying at least 20 days to explore the highlights .

How Easy Is It To Drive In Northern Italy?

Driving around Northern Italy is fairly easy , depending on where you go. Driving in the Dolomites is slightly more difficult because the roads are curvy and steep , and you’ll pass many mountain passes.

There are also many small villages , and the roads alongside the lakes (Lago di Garda) are tiny . But overall, if you pay attention, it’s fairly easy.

WRAP-UP: Northern Italy Itinerary

This is my ultimate northern Italy itinerary for you. It’ll show you some of the country’s highlights , with various activities. You’ll explore a lot of history and culture, enjoy delicious food and stunning mountain views in the Dolomites, and relax at Italy’s largest lake – Lago di Garde.

I made this road trip by myself and still reflect on it – it was one of the most magical times of my life. I’m sure you’ll love it, too.

If you have any questions or need help planning your trip , contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com . I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

More Tips For Italy Travel

Looking to visit more places in Italy? Check out my related articles:

Italy In Summer: What To Do & Where To Go By An Expert

Milan To Amalfi Coast: Ultimate Guide

9 Best Hotels In Amalfi Town Italy

How To Make A Day Trip From Rome To Amalfi Coast: Full Itinerary

Is Florence Worth Visiting? 19 Reasons To Visit & Best Things To Do

19 Unusual Things To Do In Florence

How Far Is Paris From Italy? Ultimate Guide

How To Get To Capri Italy

Is Naples Worth Visiting? 13 Reasons To Visit & Practical Tips

21 Italy Souvenirs To Bring Home: What To Buy In Italy

What To Pack For 12 Days In Italy: Complete Guide & Printable Sheet

Ultimate Day Trip From Milan To Switzerland

How To Make A Perfect Day Trip From Milan To Zermatt

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta  is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

ITALY: Interested in more articles for Italy? Check out my Italy Travel Page :

Italy Travel Page

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She Goes The Distance

The Perfect Northern Italy Itinerary: 5 Ideas For The Trip Of Your Dreams

The Perfect Northern Italy Itinerary: 5 Ideas For The Trip Of Your Dreams

All of Italy’s regions offer something unique, and in this guide the spotlight is on the north. If you are having trouble narrowing down the top places to visit for you or you’re starting from scratch seeking inspiration, you’ll find the perfect northern Italy itinerary for you in this post, along with tips for visiting this part of the country.

I live in northern Italy, so the area not only has a special place in my heart, but I’ve also traveled all around it!

There is truly so much to do and see that one trip may not be enough, which is why I have curated 5 northern Italy itineraries that play to certain strengths: one for those who want to see the most famous locations, one for outdoor adventurers, one for city-lovers, one for couples, and one for foodies, so you experience a little bit of everything.

Hopefully all these options make clearer what is at the top of your northern Italy bucket list!

Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure !

Creating The Perfect Northern Italy Itinerary

Before we get into the fun part (the destinations!), I must let you know all the practicalities of planning a northern Italy itinerary.

How Long Should A Northern Italy Itinerary Be?

The big question when planning a trip is always: how long you should spend in northern Italy?

Ideally, a robust northern Italy itinerary falls somewhere between 10 and 14 days.

If you have longer, great! You can go more off-the-beaten-path and deep dive into the culture, taking the slow travel route.

If you have less time and want to see a lot, plan out your transportation well and get ready for days jam-packed with things to do and breathtaking places to see!

I’ll be recommending the stops on the itineraries in a certain order, but not necessarily saying you should be spending one day here and two days there. That is up to you and the flexibility of your travel dates!

I will sprinkle in extra tips and suggestions based on my own experience (so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I have) and extra destinations as well, so you can play with how much extra time you have and be informed about other places in the area well-worth seeing.

Want specific help planning your northern Italy itinerary? Check out my trip planning services , where I give you a personalized itinerary with all the suggestions and tips specific to your desires and needs!

When is the best time to visit Northern Italy?

As a resident of northern Italy, I can share with certainty that the best time to visit is either June or September. In these two months you get the best weather, the very beginning or the tail end of the busy summer tourist season and, if you book ahead, you can get great deals on reservations for rental cars and accommodation.

For those adventure seekers and outdoor lovers, you may also enjoy traveling through the Italian Alps in winter during peak ski season , which is early December to late February.

Read my guides to Italy in Spring , Italy in Summer , Italy in Fall , and Italy in Winter to dive deeper into which season may be a better fit for you.

How To Get Around Northern Italy

Another necessary and important element of visiting northern Italy is knowing how you’ll get around. Northern Italy is the mostly well-connected by public transportation that can take you just about anywhere.

Northern Italy is, however, partially composed of the Italian Alps which presents a challenge for train travel. While you’ll easily be able to get from city to city and even town to town using regional trains, going through the mountains will mean there are less stops and train options, or there may just be no options at all.

I recommend for anyone visiting the Italian Alps either rent a car or plan to book a tour that handles transportation throughout the day’s activities.

Bus travel is also an option, but comes with its own challenges: one, understanding regional bus routes in a short period of time, and two, using coach buses means you’ll get dropped off in one spot and you don’t have much freedom to travel around.

Here’s a more in-depth look at how to get around northern Italy:

There are both national train lines and regional train lines, meaning you are well-connected between the major cities and there are also options to reach smaller towns. Trains are generally easy to navigate, so tourists shouldn’t be intimidated.

They aren’t as cheap as buses, but they’re less expensive than renting a car.

If you’re planning on taking a train around northern Italy, read all my Italy train travel tips so you know exactly how to prepare.

  • Mid-range price compared to bus and rental car travel
  • Well-connected between cities and towns (regional trains)
  • Can be less flexible

I use Omio for purchasing train tickets or go straight to the Trenitalia website .

Italy does not have a national bus line, so most buses are only regional or city. However, coach bus companies like Flixbus operate throughout the country and Europe, so you could travel between regions using their service.

Read about all of your options and how to navigate bus lines in my guide on buses in Italy .

Buses are usually the cheapest option for getting around , as Flixbus tickets are as low as $5. However, the travel time is the longest.

With regional buses you can typically reach small towns, while with Flixbus, you’ll mostly be limited to cities.

If you’re thinking of using regional or city buses, the real challenge is understanding the routes and planning your itinerary around the timetables.

I would only use the bus option if you are opting for a slow travel itinerary and have lots of time to spend in Italy, this way you save money but aren’t wasting half your vacation trying to figure out the buses.

Bus can also be a flexible and inexpensive option for airport transfer.

  • Can be super cheap & is overall less expensive
  • Least flexible
  • Takes time to understand routes of regional or city buses
  • Longest travel time

What’s more exciting than an Italy road trip ? It truly is the best way to visit the country and enjoy just how vastly different the landscapes are across the peninsula.

Renting a car in Italy is the most flexible yet most expensive option for traveling around northern Italy. If you’re hoping to visit many places that aren’t major cities or tourist spots, then I would absolutely recommend renting a car.

Any of these itineraries can be turned into a road trip itinerary – like I said, the country is best experienced by road trip!

  • Most flexible
  • Most comfortable
  • Most expensive
  • Have to get used to driving in Italy

5 Northern Italy Itineraries You Should Steal

The bucket list northern italy itinerary.

Wide canal on a sunny day lined with centuries old villas; The Grand Canal in Venice, North Italy

If you’re someone who’s embarking on their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, this itinerary is for you. Hit the 5 major areas on everyone’s northern Italy bucket list.

  • Cinque Terre

There is an airport in both Venice and Milan so you could start your itinerary in either place. Both these cities will be your home base on this itinerary.

Book your stay in Milan and spend time exploring the city, while using the next few days to visit Cinque Terre and Lake Como as day trips. Curious about more spots to hit? Discover more day trips from Mi lan to beef up your itinerary.

Then you’ll head to Venice, from which you can do a day trip to the Dolomites.

If you’re working with a 10 day northern Italy trip, you can make it simple by spending two days in each place, or do as I’m suggesting using Milan and Venice as your home bases to explore more with day trips.

Here are some in-depth guides to help you plan exactly what to do in each destination:

  • Milan in 24 hours
  • One Day Cinque Terre Itinerary
  • Lake Como in One Day: Varenna & Bellagio
  • 3 Day Dolomites Itinerary
  • Where to Stay in the Dolomites
  • Unique Things To Do in Venice

Check out this Google Maps Trip Planner with extra itinerary suggestions:

Explore the Italian Alps

northern italy road trips

Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with the Italian Alps. Whether you like hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter, the mountains are paradise.

The great thing is that even this itinerary is worthwhile for people who aren’t nature lovers but love the mountain landscape. You could engage in sports or you could visit to admire the views!

Here are the itinerary stops:

  • Western Alps: Courmayeur, Gran Paradiso National Park, Breuil-Cervinia
  • Central Alps : Lake Como, Bergamo, Val Brembana
  • Eastern Alps: Dolomites

This epic northern Italy itinerary begins in Valle D’Aosta, the smallest and most underrated of Italy’s regions. The entire area is made up of the Western Alps. You’ll find both French and Italian are spoken here because of how close the two countries are. But the true draw is the landscape!

Start as far west as possible in Courmayeur to visit Mont Blanc and the Val Ferret. Then explore Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso , the oldest national park in Italy, before heading north to the tiny town turned ski haven Breuil-Cervinia to see Monte Cervino – otherwise known as the Matterhorn !

Making your way from the Western Alps, you’ll cross Milan, Lake Como, and Bergamo in the Central Alps . Lake Como is a must stop also for mountain lovers: the peaks soaring above the lake are breathtaking. Dive deeper into the Val Brembana to the north of Bergamo to visit the villages of Branzi and Cornello dei Tasso.

Then head over to the Dolomites: the most unique of mountains with jagged grey peaks surrounded by the absolutely stunning valleys and green hills of Trentino Alto-Adige.

Check out the map to see this sample itinerary and extra suggestions on where to visit:

North Italy City-Breaks

Some travelers can’t get enough of a historic, bustling European city and Italy is rich with them.

From metropolitan Milan to the medieval hilltop city of Bergamo, the major cities in Italy all offer a different landscape to be explored.

The stops on this north Italy itinerary include:

You’ll probably start this itinerary in Milan, given that the most major airports are located just outside the city. However, if you’re flying from within Europe, you may want to consider flying into Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport, which is a hub for Ryanair flights.

Regardless, these two sister cities are only 40 minutes apart by car, but exhibit completely different landscapes. Milan is bustling, crowded, the energy is always high.

Bergamo is big in size, but quaint in spirit. Life moves just a little bit slower, especially up in Città Alta, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the medieval, historic old town that rests on a hilltop overlooking the more economic center, Città Bassa.

Head west to Turin , a financial and cultural hub like Milan, stylized by Baroque-style architecture and the famed Mole Antonelliana.

Head east and end your itinerary in Venice. There’s not much I need to explain as to why Venice is a good city-break: the uniqueness of its landscape and how it affects every aspect of life from transportation to food is crazy to experience in person.

Check out more in-depth locations for the perfect city-break itinerary to northern Italy on the map:

Most Romantic Places for Couples

Small side street in Verona Italy

It’s no secret Italy is one of the most romantic countries in the world to visit, so I’ve also curated a North Italy itinerary perfect for couples, whether on honeymoon, anniversary, or simply a romantic trip.

Between wine, fairytale villages, and intimate vistas, you’ll be feeling the Italian romance.

Here are some of the most romantic places in Italy :

  • Portovenere
  • Franciacorta

Portovenere is an underrated hidden gem on the coast of Liguria. From the views to the quiet harbor to the unreal swimming spots like Lord Byron’s Grotto and the untouched beaches of Palmeria Island , it’s a lover’s paradise and exudes Italian charm. Nearby Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure are a few extra stop ideas.

It’s no secret Lake Como is one of the most luxurious destinations in Italy and its exclusivity, plus the incredible views of villas and alpine peaks, makes it an intimate retreat. Make it easier to visit using my Lake Como budget tips , but don’t be afraid to indulge in visiting its most romantic places like Villa del Balbianello and the town of Bellagio .

The Tuscany of northern Italy? Franciacorta . Franciacorta is a territory between Bergamo and Brescia that produces sparkling wine or “spumante”, mostly Prosecco, Italy’s version of Champagne. If you love the idea of vineyard views on end and wine tasting with your partner, it must be added to your romantic itinerary.

Not far from Franciacorta is the region of Veneto, where the next half of the itinerary lies. Verona is the ultimate city of romance in Italy: the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, made up of rose-hued buildings and castles nestled over the Adige River.

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, but its small, cascading hillside towns make the atmosphere intimate. Visit Sirmione for its enchanting castle and Limone sul Garda for its quiet charm. Curious for more ideas? Read about all the best towns on Lake Garda .

Last stop for lovers: Venice! You can’t take a romantic trip to Italy without enjoying the swoon-worthy, picturesque atmosphere of Venice. Gondola ride for two?

Discover more specific destinations for loved-up travelers on the map:

A Foodie’s Northern Italy Itinerary

northern italy road trips

Italian food is in a league of its own, but you’ll soon find out when visiting northern Italy that the traditional dishes are not pasta and pizza.

Instead, the meals are heartier, which reflect the lifestyle of the historic types of people living here: industrial workers or those living in the Alps having to face long winters.

People in northern Italy also love their local ingredients. Here are some foods to try in every region on this itinerary:

  • Truffles in Piemonte
  • Seafood, Focaccia, & Pesto in Liguria
  • Polenta in Bergamo
  • Spaghetti alla bolognese in Bologna

Starting in Piemonte, the speciality is one of the most expensive and luxurious foods in the world: truffles ! The best time to visit is in the fall, also when the White Truffle Festival takes place in Alba. I highly recommend booking a tour with a local guide for the unique experience of hunting for truffles and do a Barolo wine tasting.

Next stop is Liguria for fresh seafood, focaccia, and pesto ! You can pretty much walk into any bakery in Liguria and get an amazing piece of focaccia. I love simple focaccia, made with just oil, but the bread is so versatile that you’ll find many different versions. The other dish I ordered at every restaurant in Liguria: Trofie al Pesto.

After heading to the sea, return to the mountains around the area of Bergamo. Here you’ll find two specialties: polenta and pizzoccheri. Polenta is a versatile grain made plain, with cheese or as Polenta Contadina, made with cheese, spinach, and local sausage. Pizzoccheri are a mix of short buckwheat tagliatelle pasta, potatoes, cheese, and greens. It comes from Valtellina, a valley in Lombardy bordering Switzerland.

Your last stop on this itinerary is tapping into a bit of central Italy territory, but it is a must stop for foodies. Bologna is the origin of many Italian food favorites : Parmigiano Reggiano, Mortadella, Ragù Bolognese, Balsamic Vinegar and Lasagne. Arrive on an empty stomach and take a traditional food tour !

Check out the map with extra suggestions:

The SGTD Take

I could go on and on about all of the beautiful places to visit in northern Italy, but this post would then be at least 10,000 words. I highly suggest taking a look at the embedded maps to discover places worth adding to your itinerary based on the amount of time you have available.

Also take advantage of the linked posts within this article to discover individual destinations in depth and ultimately allow you to plan your trip better.

Northern Italy is a diverse landscape: mountains, sea, lakes, floating cities, metropolitan centers, food-rich countrysides. It’s hard to fit it all into one trip, but hopefully you’ve found the perfect itinerary for your trip to northern Italy or at least sparks of inspiration!

Which itinerary is on your bucket list? Leave a comment!

Italy Trip Planning Resources

  • Accommodation : For Italy, I mainly use Booking.com to search and book places to stay.
  • Booking flights : I like to search for flights through Skyscanner , but I also book direct depending on the airline.
  • Activities & experiences : For things to do that require a ticket, and for more unique trip activities, I use Musement .
  • Road trip : For renting a car, I get the best prices by comparing companies with AutoEurope . I then use ViaMichelin to estimate road trip costs and Autostrade.it to find gas stations/have live updates on traffic.
  • Transportation : Traveling by public transportation is a great way to see Italy. I use Trenitalia or Trainline to book tickets for trains and Flixbus for long-haul bus trips.
  • Accessories : I always travel with this portable charger to stay connected and with a universal adapter to accommodate Italy’s plug types.
  • Need help planning an itinerary? Fill out my form for a custom itinerary request !

Save these itinerary ideas to Pinterest!

northern italy road trips

If you head out on your adventure using one of these itineraries or have questions for curating a totally customized itinerary, share with me – I’d love to hear how your trip has gone or help you further plan your dream northern Italy itinerary !

northern italy road trips

Michela is a travel writer and photographer living in northern Italy. She is passionate about helping people make the most of their travels by sharing advice gained from her personal experiences, off-the-beaten-path destinations and time-saving quick itineraries. Browse her top articles or have her help you plan your itinerary to your dream destination!

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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northern italy road trips

Hi Michela, I would love some suggestions on a 14 day itinerary to Northern Italy. We are coming from the West Coast of the US (California). This is our second trip. Our first trip we visited Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Genoa/Cinque Terre. We would really like to visit Bologna and Florence again and have to add Verona for sure due to business (just 1 day business meeting). I’d also like to see Lake Como, Lake Guardia, Dolomites and Piedmont but know we can’t fit it all in and I’m ok with making another trip some day. I was thinking of flying into Rome due to convenience and cost and flying out of Milan mostly due to convenience. We are not opposed to flying in and or out of any airport as long as it makes sense. I would love to hear your suggestions for an itinerary and how long to spend in each place

northern italy road trips

Those are all amazing places to visit! Since they are very concentrated in northern Italy, I would suggest flying roundtrip in and out of Milan. But if the price is better in Rome, you could always take a train to a major northern Italian city or find a cheap flight with RyanAir, for example.

As far as how long to spend in each place, here are my recommendations for a minimum amount of stay based on how much there is to do in each place (& my personal favorite spots!):

– Piedmont: at least 2 nights (Piedmont is a large region, so depending on how much you want to see, you could easily extend this a couple of nights) – Lake Como: at least 1 night – Bologna: at least 1 night – Florence: at least 2 nights – Verona: at least 1 night – Lake Garda: at least 1 night (or even a day trip from Verona & you stay in Verona 2 nights) – Dolomites: at least 2-3 nights

Planning the best order of visiting these places will depend on what airport you end up flying into, as well as what day your business meeting falls on! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out again!

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The ultimate Northern Italy road trip guide inclusive 5 best campsites

  • Published on December 21, 2020
  • Last updated on November 13, 2023

Northern Italy Road Trip - Cinque Terre Riomaggiore Couple

This summer, we got the chance to travel with a campervan for the first time, and we decided to go on a road trip through northern Italy. This blog post includes the best places we visited during our Italy road trip and the best Campsites to stay overnight along the route.

Italy is one of the dreamiest and most romantic countries for us. We explored many old and beautiful towns and had the best food, including lots of Gelato. 

Day 1 – 3 Dolomites

Our first stop on the ultimate northern Italy road trip is the beautiful Dolomites. This region of Italy reminded us a lot of our home Switzerland. It offers beautiful hikes and landscapes and the most magical blue lakes like Lago di Braies (Prager Wildsee). We highly recommend visiting the Dolomites to all adventurers and hiking lovers.

Top things to do in the Dolomites 

  • Sunrise at the famous Lago di Braies
  • Visit Lago di Carezza
  • Hike at Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen)  
  • Enjoy the dreamy landscape of Alpe di Siusi .
  • Lago di Sorapis – a stunning blue lake

Best Campsite in the Dolomites

If you want to be one of the first people at Lago di Braies, we recommend staying in the parking right next to it. It’s not much of luxury there and definitely best if you have a campervan with a toilet/shower inside. But it’s cheap, and you can walk 2 min from your van before sunrise and experience the most magical moment.

Dolomites Lago di Braies Couple Sunrise

Day 3 – 6 Venice

Venice is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and charming cities we have ever been to. All these lovely little streets where you can get lost and enjoy your surroundings combined with countless cute little bridges to cross the canals and the singing gondoliers make this city very special.

Top things to do in Venice

  • Piazza San Marco and Saint Marco Basilica
  • Bridge of Sights
  • Ponte di Rialto
  • Gondola Ride through the canals
  • Get lost in the beautiful streets of the city

Best Campsite in Venice

There is a parking spot called Venezia Tronchetto Parking at the city’s entrance, the closest place to park your home on wheels. It costs 60.00 Euro per night, which is a cheap way of staying in Venice. But be aware there are no toilets/showers because it’s only a place for parking vans, not a campsite. So it’s best to have a van with a toilet and shower inside if you stay here. But you will have electricity and water to fill your tank included. You can get to the city center by the water bus in about 30 min from the parking.

10 Best things to do in Venice

Best things to do in Venice - Exploring the many cute spots and canals

Day 6 – 9 Tuscany

It’s hard not to feel like in a romantic movie when exploring Tuscany. Whether we were relaxing in a natural hot spring or strolling through a dreamy city, tasting wine, or watching magical sunsets, every minute we spent in Tuscany was magical.

Top things to do in Tuscany

  • Visit Florence
  • Sunset Picnic at Winding Road
  • Terme di Saturnia
  • Explore Pienza
  • Bagni San Filippo
  • Stroll around Siena

Best Campsite in Tuscany

We found the ultimate campsite in Tuscany at the Agriturismo Podere Dell’Albergo . They offer space for campervans to park, and guests can use the bathroom, eat at their guesthouse, and even use the pool. It was so perfect for us, and the view from the campsite was unbeatable. In general, we recommend staying at one of the many Agriturismo in Tuscany. It is a much more personal and beautiful experience to stay with a family than in a hotel. We could have stayed here for weeks.

UPDATE: We got the information that this Agriturismo unfortunately closed its doors. We recommend agriturismo.it to find other agriturismos and park4night to find other campsites in Tuscany.

Best places to visit in Tuscany - Agriturismo Baccoleno Winding Road

8 Best things to do in Tuscany – The ultimate guide

Tuscany Couple Picnic Sunset Vines

Day 9 – 11 Rome

Oh, Rome! What a magical city. There is so much history to find and so many things to explore. Not to mention the incredible food choices.

Top things to do in Rome

These are the top sights you can not miss when visiting Rome.

  • Visit the Colosseum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Vatican City

Best Food in Rome

Italy is famous for the most delicious food, and we must say in Rome we found some very delicious restaurants.

  • Rifugio Romano – Best vegan Italian Food
  • Barzilai Bistrot – Excellent Bistro run by young people

And don’t miss Rome’s best Gelateria dell’Angeletto , which has the best Gelato we had on our whole trip. Also, with a big choice of Vegan Gelatos.

Top Tip: Their Vegan Nut Cream Gelato is so good! It tastes like Nutella but even better.

Best Airbnb in Rome

In Rome, we decided not to stay at a campsite and park our van for a few days to stay in an apartment in the city. The reason for that is that the campsites are quite far out of the city, and traveling back and forth would have cost us too much time. Also, we enjoyed the comfort of an apartment in the city so much. We found the best Airbnb in Rome , which was very cozy, at a great location, and had a fair price.

Italy Rome Colosseum Couple

Day 11 – 13 Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre the five famous and colorful towns in northern Italy. They offer lots of cute streets to stroll, hiking trails, delicious food, sunbathing on the rocks around the towns, and swimming in the crystal clear and blue water.

Top things to do in Cinque Terre

The best thing to do in Cinque Terre is, obviously, visiting the five colorful towns called Riomaggiore, Manarola (our favorite), Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

There is a hiking trail with spectacular views which you can follow while you go from one town to the other. Alternatively, you can buy a day pass for the train, which costs 16.00 Euros per person and allows you to drive around between the towns.

Best Campsite in Cinque Terre

When it comes to camping in Cinque Terre, it got a bit tricky. There is no way you can drive to these towns by car, especially not with a big one. We drove to La Spezia, parked the car on a parking lot , and drove to Cinque Terre by train. When we returned in the late evening, we decided to sleep there on this parking because the next camping would have been too far, and we wanted to return to Cinque Terre in the early morning. Well, it wasn’t too comfortable, but it’s doable when you have a campervan with a toilet/shower inside. If you stay longer, you will surely find a nice campsite close by. We recommend the app park4night to find the best spots.

Italy Cinque Terre Riomaggiore Couple

Day 13 – 14 Portofino

Before we were heading back home, we spent our last day in Portofino, and we totally fell in love with this place. The water is so clear and blue, and there are lovely places to relax along the coast. We decided that we definitely want to come back here for longer one day.

Portofino is another colorful lovely town you can explore. We decided to spend our day outside of the city by relaxing on the rocks and ocean swims. The bay where we took these photos with the beautiful colorful houses is called Baia Cannone .

Best Campsite in Portofino

Same as in Cinque Terre wild camping with your van around Portofino is a bit difficult. There are barely any places to find. We stayed at a parking spot which is next to Gio e Rino beach and which was the closest for us to walk to the Baia Cannone where we wanted to go swimming in the morning. We had an ocean view for dinner, met other vanlifers and the night was free so we were happy with this find.

Italy Portofino Bay Couple

Budget for a 2 weeks Italy road trip

  • Campsites: from free up to 60.00 Euro per night
  • Airbnb in Rome for 2 nights: 175.00 Euro
  • Food around 50.00 Euros per day (mostly cooked in the van)
  • Highway fees: We paid 80.00 Euro for 14 Days
  • Gasoline: 220 Euros for 14 Days
  • Train in Cinque Terre: 60.00 Euros for 2 days and 2 people
  • Boats in Venice: 30.00 Euros for 2 people

For this two weeks road trip around Italy, we paid around 1’500.00 Euro for two people. This is a low budget journey because we mostly cooked our meals ourselves and often wild camped overnight. This should give you an idea about how cheap an Italy road trip can be.

Italy really has our hearts. It’s one of these countries we keep going back to. It is effortless and close to get there for us from Switzerland, and there is so much to experience in Italy. During these two weeks, we had everything we could dream of during a summer road trip from hikes in the mountains to gelato in romantic Venice, sunset picnics in Tuscany with a good glass of wine, historical sighs and dreamy strolls around Rome, and refreshing dips in the Ocean in Cinque Terre and Portofino.

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Northern Italy Road Trip: 6 Must-See Places

  • July 23, 2023 July 23, 2023

Ciao, travellers! Do you also have the feeling that Italy has it all? Gorgeous beaches, fascinating history, cute architecture & excellent gastronomy? If yes, it is time for a little Italy Road Trip of yours. Welcome to your ultimate northern Italy road trip guide. What places should you drive to in Northern Italy, what is the best timing, and how much will this stunning trip cost you?

northern italy road trips

No wonder that Italy is one of the most visited countries in Europe. One can easily choose from picturesque rural villages, astonishing mountains, vibrant costs or fashionable cities with gourmet restaurants. If you are like me, and you don’t want to choose one place only, but want to experience it all – just get a car! Drive through Northern Italy within a week to experience a pleasurable mixture of hiking, beaching, history hunting and fabulous eating.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Why to Choose Northern Italy for Your Road Trip?

northern italy road trips

This was a road trip from the very beginning. We drove with my brother and his friend from my hometown, Partizánske, in the middle of Slovakia. Therefore, exploring the Northern part was the most practical decision. The second reason was my deepest wish to finally visit the area around Dolomites, and hey, they didn’t disappoint me. 

Reason number three was visiting our mama in Lake Garda, which is one of my most favourite places in Italy in general, and reason number four was fulfilling another travel dream of mine: a road trip in Cinque Terre, which turned into a train trip, explained in detail later on. 

northern italy road trips

When is the Best Time for an Italy Road Trip?

I personally believe that driving through Northern Italy must be enjoyable during the entire four seasons. You can visit Xmas markets and ski in Winter, Spring surprises you with all the freshness and blooming flowers, in summer you can confidently swim in the sea or lakes and Autumn, with its all blush colours, is just magical (as I describe in my Lake Garda in Autumn article).

northern italy road trips

This Northern Italy Road Trip of ours took place in summer, exactly at the beginning of July, during quite a big summer heatwave. Dolomites were hot but still doable with 27 – 30 degrees . However, driving through inland Italy to reach the Ligurian or Italian Riviera on the west was extremely exhausting. The temperatures were reaching above 36 – 40 degree s, and not even our non-stop air conditioning was able to provide us with sufficient refreshment. 

We sweated 24/7 after leaving Dolomites. Therefore, if you plan to visit southern and inland parts of Northern Italy, try to aim for colder months (June, September). It is not fun to be in the car driving for hours, and it is not fun to hike through Cinque terre villages during the heatwave. Nothing is fun until 10pm when you still have only a very soft warm breeze and your body is melting. 

northern italy road trips

How Much Time do You Need for a Northern Italy Road Trip

Again, this is very individual. Our driving holiday in Italy took 1 week, and we managed to see many places. However, it was pretty exhausting. If I were to repeat this Northern Italy Road trip again, I would go for 2 weeks, spend more time in each area and of course add more places, probably lakes and coastal towns. Despite the Italian road trip being intense, we enjoyed it greatly, not regretting anything at all. Maybe only driving a long distance to Livorno, not a very pretty city on the Ligurian coast.

northern italy road trips

Costs for Your Italy Road Trip

You have to count accommodation, which costs differently in every area; food, train or boat tickets, entrance fees, lots of water and of course, gas and tolls. Our Northern Italy Road trip cost us approximately between 1000 and 1200 euros each . However, we tried to save costs on prepping our own food. Yes, we enjoyed some lovely meals in restaurants, but the quality of food in Italian supermarkets is so great, yet it doesn’t cost much. Additionally, trust me, but you won’t have time to eat out three times a day on a road trip. 

northern italy road trips

The driving costs were around 600 euro in total , the tolls and parking included. Tolls and parking is a topic on its own. The price for the tolls depends on the region and the distance. We paid from 4 to 20 euros. The parking fees were somewhat unpredictable. The cheapest one was in Levanto, close to Cinque Terre, where we parked for several hours and the most expensive one was in posh Portofino and popular Venice, where a few hours cost us around 20 euros. 

northern italy road trips

Searching for parking wasn’t always roses, but we always managed to find a nice and safe spot. We used only googling and Google Maps, yet everything went just fine. For the accommodation we booked, parking was always included. Even though it is pretty straightforward, you want to find a place with a parking spot included. 

Your Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary Could Look Like This!

northern italy road trips

1. Dolomites: to Breathe in Some Fresh Mountain Air

This breathtaking mountain range popular within outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers has been on my bucket list for a while. There is always some internal feeling of satisfaction in being surrounded by tall, spectacular mountains for many of us. It makes me always feel that we humans are part of a bigger plan!

northern italy road trips

Dolomites completely met our expectations: the nature in the area is captivating. I truly recommend it for anybody into nature walking, hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding and even swimming as there are a few fabulous crystal clear lakes around Dolomites. 

Where to Stay in Dolomites?

I can’t say it was difficult to find a lovely place in Dolomites during our Italy road trip, but it might have been a challenge to choose from so many different options. Some of the accommodations we scrolled through were pretty basic, or way too old-fashioned and cramped with unnecessary accessories or possibly way too secluded, which didn’t fit our travel intent. 

northern italy road trips

At the end we stayed at B&B La casa di Loretta in Paderno – a small countryside estate surrounded by a Mountain View and forests. We spent only 2 nights in Dolomites, yet it was worth it! We hiked in the Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi, around a track called Osteria alla Stua. The most beautiful was the trekking through a gorge (unfortunately can’t find the name of it), filled with hundreds of crystal clear ponds and waterfalls. 

northern italy road trips

From there we drove to Lago del Mis which teal blue water overwhelmed us with its allure. Not all lakes in Dolomites are opened for swimmers, however Lago del Mis is an exception and many people enjoyed swimming and water games over there. 

northern italy road trips

What Are Dolomites?

For those who love not only the fresh breeze of the Dolomite’s nature but also a cute charm of rural villages, I suggest visiting a town of Feltre. If you get hungry, drive to Ristorante Pizzeria San Fermo with a gorgeous view to Felter and surrounding area. 

northern italy road trips

Aren’t you familiar with Dolomites? According to ChatGPT (never ever I thought of citing an AI in my blog), the Dolomites, also known as the “Pale Mountains,” are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. They are part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend across the provinces of Belluno, South Tyrol, and Trentino. The Dolomites are renowned for their breathtaking beauty, unique rock formations, and picturesque landscapes. (Well done, GPT!)

2. Venice: to Feel like Struck by a Romance

northern italy road trips

There is no need to introduce Venice – the unique and picturesque city built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges. Venice is one of the most visited places in Italy and even though two of our three part ‘Italian road trip’ gang have already been to Venice, we made a quick 1-day visit over there. 

northern italy road trips

Where to Park in Venice?

The city is prepared for millions of visitors annually, and there are several parking spots you can choose from, which are located at the beginning of the town near the station and the port. I truly don’t remember which one we chose, but it cost us 26 euros for around 4 hours of parking. 

northern italy road trips

In this very short time we managed to get a city ride through the canals on one of the boat buses, we took a short walk through the narrow enchanting streets, visit St. Mark’s Square and immerse ourselves in the city’s distinctive atmosphere .

Is Venice Worth Visiting for Less Than a Day?

I believe it is! Especially when you are on a road trip, you can come to visit the city for a half day or so. I personally saw Venice twice, always for a few hours and yes, there are plenty of corners and places my eyes have never seen. Yet, I was able to enjoy the atmosphere.

northern italy road trips

Venice is usually very crowded which feels overwhelming so if you want to experience the romantic sensation without getting annoyed after a while, a day trip to Venice is definitely enough to dive into the vibe of the city. Moreover, the city is not much of fun in a heatwave.

3. Pisa: for the Historical Chic Vibe

northern italy road trips

Wait, there wasn’t any stop in between Venice and Pisa? It is nearly a 4-hour ride! You’re sensing it correctly – there was something in between! We supposed to stay 3 nights in Livorno – a coastal city in Tuscany, situated on the western coast of the country, facing the Ligurian Sea.

This city unfortunately didn’t charm us enough and our accommodation didn’t meet even our modest standards. It was dirty, half broken and the town felt strange, not clean, not charming and with not many interesting things to do. 

northern italy road trips

We packed our stuff and cancelled the booking with many relevant arguments (the flat wasn’t basically meeting elementary standards of a holiday home). Afterwards we headed to our new home in Zoagli – a small coastal town located in the Liguria.

My brother – the main driver – wasn’t happy to get to our new holiday house as it was located at the top of a hill with many tiny curvy roads. His anger was swiped away by the picturesque views, heavenly silence and a real Italian holiday atmosphere. 

northern italy road trips

Can You Visit Pisa Within a Few Hours?

Back to Pisa! On our way from Livorno to Zoagli we stopped to see Pisa. Once again, it is a great place to add to your road trip through Italy. It doesn’t require a long stay, we popped in only for 3 hours, had a look at the historical buildings, walked through lovely Italian streets, took some drinks and ice-cream and headed to Zoagli. 

northern italy road trips

The plus of Pisa is that the most important stuff is located at the same square: Leaning Tower of Pisa (Campanile di Pisa), Pisa Cathedral (Cattedrale Metropolitana Primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta) or Baptistry of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni). 

The parking in Pisa was so cheap that we didn’t even list it in our budget Excel sheet. We literally paid around 2 or 3 euros! 

4. Cinque Terre: for Amazing Views & Fantastic Vibes

northern italy road trips

Cinque Terre, a renowned and picturesque coastal area located on the Italian Riviera in the region of Liguria, was my dream nearly forever! The place, translated as “Five Lands,” didn’t disappoint me. The five villages perched on rugged cliffs offer truly unique and astonishing views to the Ligurian Sea, terraced vineyards, scenic hiking trails, and colourful houses that cling to the cliffs.

What Are The Villages of Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage , consists of five colourful fishing villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore . You can easily visit all of them within a day if you wish so.

northern italy road trips

Each village in Cinque Terre has its distinct character and attractions. Monterosso al Mare is known for its beautiful beaches, Vernazza captivates with its picturesque harbour, Corniglia is perched on a hilltop, Manarola is famous for its charming streets and vineyards, and Riomaggiore is known for its colourful buildings and vibrant atmosphere. I truly can’t decide which one I enjoyed the most!

northern italy road trips

However, The views from Vernazza struck me the most. As well, my very first lemon pizza I tasted on the busy plaza. Corniglia also showed us its rough face. We walked down to see the stony beach and an area, which probably used to be a swimming spot with little bunks for getting changed, has turned into a place for homeless people.

northern italy road trips

It wasn’t anything dangerous in particular, but it felt incredibly change. It is easy to forget about social struggles on your trip, so things like this can really hit you.

Road Trip in Cinque Terre: Is it a good idea?

No, I don’t think that travelling around Cinque terre is a good idea. I can imagine that the road above offers you spectacular views, but it can be extremely time-consuming . The road is curvy, up on the hills and it would require lots of time to come down to the village, drive up back to the road etc.

northern italy road trips

We drove from our flat in Zoagli to Levante where we purchased 3 one day train tickets for only €54,60 so €18.20 each which is, in my opinion, a great price! With this ticket, you can move from a place to a place for the whole day!

Unfortunately, we didn’t manage any hiking because the w eather was unbearable for long walks. It was around 32 or 34 degrees and walking up and down the stairs ate all our energy. Alert: these villages are built on a hill, their visit requires lots of walking up and down!

5. Portofino & San Fruttuoso: for the Bluest Sea You Can Get

northern italy road trips

Portofino is a small fishing village and resort town located on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of Italy. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and exclusive destinations in the Mediterranean. Even though Cinque Terre felt like a dream, Portofino was definitely the highlight of the Northern Italian road trip for me!

northern italy road trips

The cobalt to midnight blue water in the area is eye-catching and has such a calming effect on your soul. The village is nestled between lush green hills and the stunning waters of the Ligurian Sea, creating a picturesque backdrop.

The waterfront is lined with pastel-coloured buildings, high-end boutiques, and waterfront restaurants. Even though it is considered of one of the most luxurious areas, it still keeps its natural charm – nothing tacky! 

northern italy road trips

One of the main attractions in Portofino is the Piazzetta, a small square that serves as the heart of the village. The Piazzetta is a hub of activity and a popular spot for people-watching. Visitors can enjoy a coffee or gelato while taking in the charming atmosphere.

Best Waters Are in Fruttuoso!

After a short walk around Piazzetta we decided to take a boat trip to Fruttuoso – without any expectations. What a blast swim we took over there! The return boat tickets from Portofino to Fruttuoso cost us €15 each, which is a very fair price for such an exclusive area. 

northern italy road trips

San Fruttuoso is a hidden gem along the Ligurian coastline, known for its historic abbey, stunning natural surroundings, and idyllic beach. It is a destination favoured by those seeking a peaceful retreat but mostly, enjoying the dark blue waters which feel like silk on your skin!

Let me reveal one of my weird phobias – sharks! I have a fear of being killed by sharks in an open sea, that is why I am extremely sensitive to the quality of the water. As soon as I can’t see the bottom or as soon as the colour of the water ‘doesn’t seem’ right, I start feeling uncomfortable. 

northern italy road trips

There are no fears in Fruttuoso waters! It feels just so beautiful. The depth of its colour is incredible: dark blue yet still crystal clear. Entering it just felt so welcoming. I didn’t want to go anywhere else, I wanted to merge with the water and become one!

Portofino and Fruttuoso are must-sees on your Italian road trip, even if you’re considering the south of the country. The Ligurian Sea at this coast was one of the most beautiful seas I have ever seen. 

northern italy road trips

6. Lake Garda: for Its Rural Charm and Nostalgic Vibe

It took my a while to see the main reason behind my Lago di Garda obsession. Yes, it is gorgeous, cute, the mountains are hugging from every corner and the lake shines like a diamond. But the real reason why I love this place is the nostalgic feeling it triggers in me.

The time stops there, the tall shadows hanging from the mountains are tingling my soul, the lemon trees feel like I am Sophia Loren in an old Italian film and that love awaits around every little corner! Oh man, I love that feeling!

northern italy road trips

Laka Garda was our last stop during our road trip through Northern Italy. We stopped there not only because we are constantly charmed by the place, but mostly as our mum was working over there. We stayed in Pai and visited Malcesine and Limone. 

I have written several articles about Lake Garda which you can read listed under Lake Garda tag. It was a wonderful closure of our road trip. Once again, get ready for many steps and hilly roads!

northern italy road trips

Tips for your Northern Italy Road Trip in July

  • The temperatures can be extreme, drink lots of water, take great amount of sun blocker, a hat or a cap, try avoiding doing physical activities during lunchtime when the sun is the strongest. 
  • Plan the structure of your road trip ahead and possibly stay at the coast where the heatwaves strike softer. Driving through the inland was extremely exhausting. 
  • The prices of tolls, parking and petrol vary so much that it is better to be prepared for any costs. 
  • Rent or take a white car if possible. We had a black one, and it was damn hot!
  • Take the car and travel insurance seriously. The coastal roads offer amazing views but are also a bit dangerous due to its surface, hilly form –  we had a little stone hitting our front window which crashed due to high temperatures. 
  • Be ready for never-ending tunnels! A big chunk of the coastal roads on the west are craved into hills or rock, and there is a special tunnel ‘schedule’. The tunnels are narrow and operate in both ways, so you may end up waiting for 15 minutes for your turn. The plus is that you can get off the car and have a little stroll around!

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Two Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary in 2024

Northern Italy

Anyone who has dreamed of Italy and listed it as one of their bucket list items is sure to have added Northern Italy as a dream destination. However, if you are anything like me and staying in one place is not an option, then a northern Italy road trip is the perfect way to see the best Northern Italy offers. 

Table of Contents

Northern Italy Road Trip Tips

There are many great places to visit on your Italian road trip, but the trick is limiting it to sites that will give you the most fantastic experience in the time frame you have to vacation in. This trip itinerary will help you plan an already well-driven route through some of the most beautiful places in Italy. 

church bells

Car Hire in Italy

Your road trip would not be complete without firstly organizing your car hire. Hiring a car from any of the airports in Milan is simple; I highly recommend  Discover Cars , where you can book online, choose the company with the best deal, and it will be ready for you when you land. Travel tip – Milan has three international airports: Malpensa, Bergamo and Linate, so ensure you book your car at the correct airport.

Important note: Many cities like Bologna are off-limit to parking in the city centre walls to protect the historic towns. It would help if you researched each city before entering; many  sites   will give you the correct information on parking.

Visa in Italy

Check that you do not require a visa for Italy. The   ivisa   website is a quick and easy way to check whether your passport requires a permit.

Travel Insurance in Italy

SafetyWing   is the world’s first International Travel Medical Insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers travelling or living abroad worldwide. I can not recommend travel medical insurance enough! For those who will be away for long periods, live and work abroad or are nomad travellers.

Lake Como hike

Northern Italy Road Trip planner

Book all your  accommodation online before you arrive, and then link your bookings, tours, reservations and transportation to your   tripit   app. The Tripit app is a game-changer and nicely maps your itinerary out before you begin your round trip to Northern Italy. Other apps that make your northern Italy itinerary planning more manageable are found here on my f avourite travelling apps  blog post. 

Northern Italy Road Trip Route

  • Day 1:  Milan to Lake Como
  • Day 2:  Explore Lake Como
  • Day 3:  Explore Milan 
  • Day 4:  Milan to Verona
  • Day 5:  Explore Verona
  • Day 6:  V erona to Trento
  • Day 7:  Trento to Venice
  • Day 8:  Explore Venice 
  • Day 9:  Explore Venice 
  • Day 10: Venice to Pisa 
  • Day 11: Explore Pisa
  • Day 12: Pisa to Siena
  • Day 13: Siena to Milan
  • Day 14: Explore Milan

Venice Northern Italy

Road trip around Italy for two weeks

Northern italy road trip: day 1 and 2 – milan to lake como.

Arriving in Milan is easy from any airport; follow the signs to pick up your car, check your tripit app for your address to your accommodation in Lake Como, and your road trip to Northern Italy begins. 

Travel time from Milan to Lake Como

Depending on the airport you are flying into, allow 2 hours (to be on the safe side). Parking in Como can be difficult, so check with your accommodation before arriving. Dish to try – Antipasto originated in the Alps and is a great meal to enjoy while you people watch in one of the alfresco restaurants.

como sunset

Accommodation in Como

Splurge –  vista palazzo  .

This small luxury hotel is in a prime location overlooking one of Italy’s most famous lakes. Everything about it feels luxurious, parking is available, and breakfast is included. When you only have a short time to spend in one of my favourite places in Italy, this location ticks all the boxes.

Budget –  Hotel Plinius

The Hotel Plinius is clean, basic, with friendly staff and in a great location. The room has an ensuite and a Juliette balcony overlooking the streets of Como. The beds are a little harder than I would like, but this place is ideal for the cost. It does have parking, which is a bonus in this part of Italy.

Things to do in Lake Como

If you only have one day to explore, you can walk around Como, visit the  cable car , have dinner at one of the fantastic waterfront restaurants or take a drive to neighbouring towns. The ferry pier is within walking distance and a beautiful way to visit  Menaggio . If you choose to spend more than one day here (which I highly recommend), then read ten  reasons why I fell in love with Lake Como   for more things to do in and around Lake Como.

Tour recommendation:   Lake Como and Bellagio tour

como

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 3 Lake Como to Milan

With Lake Como being only a short distance away, set off early and head to Milan to explore the well-known sites. Milan is known to be one of the world’s fashion capitals, and if you are there long enough, you can see why. Dish to try – Ossobuco, a speciality in this part of the country. 

Accommodation in Milan

Splurge –   the street milano.

Located at Via Santa Radegonda 14, Milan City Centre, 20121, walking distance to Duomo. The staff are friendly, and the rooms are modern, with an edgy feel topped off with the perfect rooftop breakfast area. There are parking facilities available and accessible wifi.

Budget –  Amabilia Suites

The location could not be any better. Perfect place with a direct view of the Duomo. The downfall to Amabilia Suites is there is no parking on-site, and children under 18 are not permitted. 

Things to do in Milan

Spend the entire day exploring Milan with major tourist spots like  La Scala Opera House , World Heritage site Santa Maria Elle Grazie   (where the painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci hangs),  Duomo di Milano   and  Castello Sforzesco.  

Tour recommendation:   3-hour walking tour

Milan

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 4 and 5 Milano to Verona

After breakfast, head out to Verona (the city of love), where the feel of Romeo and Juliette is dotted all over this beautiful city. This city is small but so beautiful. It does get very crowded during peak season, so ensure you book your tours and accommodation early. Dish to try – Baci di Giulietta; in English, it is Juliette’s kiss. Okay, so this isn’t a dish, but head to any bakery in Verona, where you will find these delicious treats.

Travel time from Milano to Verona

Depending on your route, allow 2-2 and a half hours. When you arrive in Verona, the streets are narrow, so parking is complex, and many areas are metred parking. 

Northern Italy

Accommodation in Verona

Splurge –  due torri hotel .

Due Torri Hotel is situated at Piazza Sant’Anastasia 4, Verona Historical Centre, 37121 Verona. This hotel is excellent, with a great location and friendly staff close to Sant’Anastasia and Romeo’s house. Private parking is possible at a place nearby, but a reservation is needed and will incur a daily cost. 

Budget –   The Best Western Armando

Best Western Hotel Armando is located in the heart of the historic centre of Verona, within walking distance to the Roman Arena, Piazza Delle Erbe and most of the tourist spots. The rooms are clean, and the staff are friendly, but no parking is available. 

Things to do in Verona

Spend the day exploring this romantic city and then relax by  Verona di Arena  with an aperitif in the afternoon. Better still, go during Opera season and enjoy a night at the Arena listening to the Opera. If you want a more detailed itinerary about what to do in Verona in 1 day, check out the post here .

Recommended tour:  3-hour bike tour

Aperol Spritz

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 6 Verona to Trento

After breakfast, head out to Trento. Trento is a beautiful city situated in the district of Trentino(just south of the Dolomite Mountains). Trento is very close to Lake Garda, where you can spend an extra day travelling to have more time. Dish to try – Gnocchi Cadorini is the best example of this region, bringing Germanic and Italian traditions to life. 

Travel time from Verona to Trento

Allow 1 to 1.5 hours, and enjoy the gorgeous countryside. Stop to take photos if you need to; this part of Italy’s travel is spectacular and should be appreciated more for its journey than just its destination. 

Northern Italy

Accommodation in Trento

Splurge –  hotel norge.

Hotel Norge is found at Trada Del Norge 3, 38123 Norge, about 5km from Trento city centre. The views here are hard to beat at any other place during this trip. The location might not be in the city centre, but wow, these views are stunning. It has a spa centre and heated pool, something hard to find on this trip.

Budget –  Al Cavour 34 

Al Cavour 34 is a pensione (bed and breakfast) with the most friendly staff, delightful rooms and cutest little balconies. Located in a central position in this gorgeous town. Wake up each morning to the sound of the cathedral bells and the smell of freshly baked cakes. Unfortunately, there is no parking at the pensione, but I am sure the staff will help you sort it out.

Things to do in Trento

This small town has many incredible tourist spots, from the Castello del Buonconsiglio   to the  Duomo di Trento . The city itself might be small, but it has a huge heart and lots of history to go with it. Whether you spend the entire day in the town or take a day trip to Lake Garda, there are many choices. If you would like a more in-depth itinerary, “ The best of Trento in 1 day . ” would be a great place to start.

Recommended tour:  Dolomites full-day excursion

Trento

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 7 Trento to Venice

This northern part of Italy is a must! Everyone knows Venice and wants to tick off the city of canals on their bucket list! Venice is everything you can imagine and more. There is so much to do here, which is why one day on this Road trip wasn’t enough. Drink to try- Aperol Spritz, although it was thought to have been developed during the Austro-Hungarian Empire when the soldiers found Italian wine too strong to drink, added a spritz to their wine!

Travel time from Trento to Venice

Give yourself 2-3 hours, depending on whether you take the scenic route via Lake Garda. If you do, stop by, take some photos and spend some time in this area; it is beautiful. You can not park your car in Venice, so park your car at Tronchetto Parking Station  first and then hop on public transport to your accommodation. To make things easier, you can purchase your  ticke t online. 

St marks Square Venice

Accommodation in Venice

Splurge –  st regis, venice.

Anywhere in this city is a splurge! However, you will find that accommodation is more expensive here than in most areas of your trip. St Regis is a beautiful hotel located at San Marco 2159, San Marco, 30124, in a great location, Venetian style decore and a fabulous view. The downfall is this hotel is for adults over 18 only! 

Budget –  Pensione Accademia – Villa Maravege

Anywhere in Venice is an excellent location because there is something special around every corner. Pensiones are your best choice in Venice, and Pensione Accademia – Villa Maravege is in a great area within walking distance of the Gallerie Dell’Accademia.

Things to do in Venice

There are many beautiful places to visit in Venice, but the must-visits are the  Basilica San Marco , The Rialto Bridge,  Doge’s Palace , and G allerie dell’Accademia . There is pretty much something spectacular around every corner, including a gondola ride through the canals.

If you want something unique, try booking tickets to Opera here , at one of the many venues in this fantastic floating city. If you have more time up your sleeve and choose to stay here a little longer, I would highly recommend an  island tour   as a day trip.

Recommended tour:  Venice walking tour

Gondola ride Venice Northern Italy

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 10 Venice to Pisa

After breakfast, make your way back to your car and head to the beautiful city of Pisa, where the Leaning town of Pisa is more striking in real life than ever captured on film or in a book. You can not help but be mesmerized by its beauty as soon as it pops its head into view! Finally, Cecina is a dish to try; not to be confused with the nearby town, it is a chickpea flour pancake; trust me when I say it is delicious!

Travel time from Venice to Pisa

This part of the road trip to Italy will take about four hours, so be prepared! You have a few options of places to stop off on the way. Firstly you could stop off in Ferrara (where the city centre has been included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list .

You could also stop at Bologna, where the famous dish Spaghetti Bolognese (or at least very close by) originated! Or, of course, the more well-known city of Florence where you will find the statue of David and course, try a gelato where this world-famous creation was born.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Accommodation in Pisa

Splurge –  borgo suite.

Borgo Suite is close to everything. The apartment has plenty of room and can accommodate three couples easily. The staff are friendly, and the Borgo Suite is highly sort after, so book as soon as possible! It is just under one km from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There is street parking available in this area.

Budget –  Hotel Villa Kinzica

For a budget accommodation hotel, Villa Kinzica is ideal for staying if you want the shortest walk to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This mid-18th-century villa should not be overlooked! Public parking is nearby, but apart from that, this is a great little hotel, rooms are clean, and the staff are friendly.

Things to do in Pisa

Book your ticket to the  Leaning Tower of Pisa  early , as this is where you will find the most extensive line, then continue on the day by exploring the square of miracles which includes: Museo dell Opera del Duomo, Cathedral Of Santa Maria Assunta, The Baptistery of San Giovanni, Camposanto, and Museo delle Sinopie. Other places to visit are The Palazzo dei Cavalieri and the River Arno. 

Recommended tour:   Three hours guided tours of Pisa

Pisa Northern Italy

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 12 Pisa to Sienna

Leaving Pisa after breakfast and heading to Siena’s beautiful medieval world heritage site. It is one of Italy’s most visited cities! So whether you are lucky enough to stay on the 16th of August when the Palio race (it’s still number 1 on my bucket list) or, like many others, you are there to discover why everyone loves this gorgeous city, you will not be disappointed. Dish to try – Pici alle briciole, a simple Tuscan pasta dish to ensure your mouth tingles when you finish. 

Travel time from Pisa to Siena

This part of your Northern Italy itinerary will take approximately 2 hours. There is some beautiful Tuscan scenery to enjoy along the way. When they say the sweeping hills of Tuscany, you will know exactly where that phrase comes from as you drive through an actual real-life painting. 

Pisa

Accommodation in Siena

Splurge –  grand hotel continental siena – starhotels collezione.

The name of the hotel says it all. The Grand Hotel Continental Siena is an architectural delight. In a great location, it’s worth staying just for the view of the city. This 17th-century building is within walking distance of the piazza Campo, and although there is no parking at the hotel, there is parking at a nearby parking station for a fee. 

Budget –  La Terrazza Sul Campo

The view from this place is incredible! The rooms are clean, the staff are friendly, and the proximity to Piazza Campo is hard to beat. The downfall is that there is no parking, but if you are willing to walk a little, you can find parking in other areas of the town. 

Things to do in Siena

Your north Italy road trip is almost ending, and what a place to end! This gorgeous little medieval town is jam-packed with touristy things to do and see. However, if you are here for the day, you must start at Piazza Del Campo, where you can visit Piazza del Duomo, climb to the top of Torre Del Mangia and take your photo at the Fonte Gaia.

Other places of interest include the Santa Maria Della Scala museum and Pinacoteca Nazionale (The National Gallery of Siena). If you decide to stay longer, try a dinner in the Tuscan countryside   or a   wine tour  around this fabulous world-class wine region.

Recommended tour:  Siena City tour

Siena

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day13 Siena to Milan

It is almost the end of your ultimate northern Italy road trip, and our final day is spent heading back to where it all began, Milan! There are a few places you can stop along the way, including Bologna, Parma, famous for both Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma, both Italian staples. Otherwise, you could take a detour along the coast and spend some time in Genoa (the birthplace of Christopher Columbus). 

Travel time from Siena to Milan

This will be your most extended day trip yet, especially if you choose the scenic coastal trip. It will take you a minimum of 4 hours without stopping! However, if you choose the more scenic coastal route, expect to add another hour to your drive. 

Duomo Milano northern Italy

Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 14 Explore Milan

Whether your last day in Milan is spent indulging in Milan’s local cuisine or riding the  on-off bus   to the places you have yet to explore, it is up to you! So relax and enjoy your last day in this beautiful country!

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Ultimate Italy Road Trip (North & South)

Italy Road Trip ideas and itinerary

Planning an Italy road trip? Here are itinerary ideas for Northern and Southern Italy, plus maps, route planner, best places to visit and more!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE road trip planner to help you keep everything organised.

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Italy Road Trip

Italy has an interesting reputation when it comes to road trips. It’s infamous for crazy drivers doing reckless things on tiny roads… and those stories aren’t entirely inaccurate.

Driving in Italy CAN be challenging. There are indeed crazy drivers who refuse to give way. There are some difficult routes and roads can be poorly maintained, especially in the south of Italy.

BUT, before you give up the idea of an Italian road trip completely, it’s one of our favourite countries in Europe to drive around. The weather is often wonderful (MUCH better than the UK), the people are welcoming (unless they’re driving and refusing to give way!) and the food involves pasta, pizza and copious amounts of ice cream. Seriously, what’s not to love.

It doesn’t matter whether you are travelling Italy by car, motorhoming or campervanning in Italy or exploring by bike- there’s plenty here for you to start planning your perfect Italy road trip. We’ve provided road trip itineraries, places to visit and more to help you have an amazing adventure.

Ultimate Italy road trip Planner

Don’t forget to grab your FREE road trip planner- this helpful guide will allow you to make notes on the places you want to visit in Italy and keep it all organised so you can remember it all.

Make planning your next road trip EASY (& fun!)

When you’re planning a road trip, keeping track & organising all your ideas is often the hardest part. Fix that TODAY with our printable pdf road trip planner. Grab yours FREE now

northern italy road trips

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Planning a driving holiday in Italy

Italian road trip basics.

Some quick tips for driving in Italy:

  • Italy drives on the right
  • Motorways are GREEN, dual carriageways are blue (opposite to the UK and much of Europe)
  • The maximum speed for private vehicles under 3.5t is 130kph (81mph) on motorways but speed limits are lower for cars towing caravans and for motorhomes over 3.5t in weight.
  • When on two-lane motorways, dipped headlights must be used.
  • If driving through towns and villages, only use the horn in an emergency.
  • Buses and trams have right of way.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory
  • In-car speed camera detectors and motorhome sat-nav systems warning of the presence of radars are illegal (whether they’re in use or not!)
  • Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal, but you can use a hands-free unit.
  • Minor traffic offences can result in on-the-spot fines.
  • UK driving licences are perfectly acceptable to use and you probably won’t need an IDP (find out the changes made to driving in Europe after BREXIT )
  • You will need a green card to prove you have insurance cover when travelling in Italy.

Best places in Italy for a road trip- campervanning in Italy tips

Speed limits in Italy

Speed Limits are as follows for cars and vehicles under 3.5t (unless otherwise signed!)

  • 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways
  • 110km/hr (30mph) on major roads
  • 90 km/h (50 mph) on minor roads (out of town)
  • 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas

In rain or snow conditions, the limit is lowered to 110 k/h on motorways and 90 k/h on trunk roads- this WILL NOT be signposted- you’re expected to know it

Fuel Stations in Italy

Fuel prices are comparable to France. and slightly cheaper than the UK. Buy fuel anywhere apart from on the main roads- it’ll be cheaper.

There is a ‘two-tier’ payment system in Italy. A cheaper option if you fill yourself (self-service), and a more expensive rate if you get a forecourt attendant to do it for you. There’s often a symbol of a man with a pump, but ‘con servicio’ or servizio for service and ‘self’ for self-service.

Many stations close overnight and on Sundays. Chiuso means closed in Italian and Aperto means open.

Petrol (Unleaded) is Benzina senza piombo/ “Benzina verde”. It’s also called Normale (95) or Speciale (98) and will be green handles at the pump.

Diesel is Gasolio / Diesel and will be black or yellow at the pump.

Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

CHECKLIST: Don’t forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

GEAR – If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here’s what we recommend.

Low Emission Zones and ZTL’s in Italy

Many major cities and towns are trying to reduce pollution levels by restricting vehicles into the centre. This is a ‘Zone Traffico Limitato’ or ZTL. Most ZTLs are for residents only, so if you drive into a ZTL you will receive a fine through the post. Also, NO rented vehicles are allowed in a ZTL at any time.

Low Emission Zones are becoming more common throughout Europe. If you do decide to drive into a city with no ZTL, check if there is an LEZ or congestion charge to pay. Alternatively, park outside the city and use public transport to access the centre.

Hiring a vehicle for your Italy Road Trip

If you don’t want to drive or are planning to fly in, you can hire a car or campervan for your Italy road trip. If you’re flying into Italy, you’ll need to pick an airport near the area you want to explore. Then you’ll need to find a hire company with a base near there and plan how to get from the airport to the campervan.

If you’re driving and then hiring, make sure the hire company has somewhere secure to park your car whilst you’re off touring around Italy.

Want to rent a vehicle for your road trip?

These might help:

  • Discover incredible deals for motorhome/ camper rentals
  • Find the best deals for car rental

READ: 10 essential questions to ask before you rent a motorhome

Driving in Italy- what to do in the event of a road traffic accident

You should have a European Claim Form provided by your insurer before you leave. In the event of an accident, all parties complete and sign the form at the scene and then send a copy to your insurer for assessment.

What to do at the scene:

  • Stop your vehicle immediately but safely- out of the flow of traffic if possible.
  • If a vehicle is blocking the road, use hazard lights and put the red warning triangle 30 metres from the scene to warn approaching traffic
  • Name and address of all the people involved in the accident
  • Vehicle registration numbers of all parties
  • Insurance company details of all parties
  • Take photos of damage using a camera, GoPro or phone

For more details, read our step-by-step guide on dealing with a road traffic accident in Europe

Best time of year to do an Italian Road Trip

As with all European road trips , WHEN is almost as important as WHERE.

We’ve enjoyed several road trips in Italy, both in a car and in our motorhome. We’ve visited in every season- and when you go definitely does make a difference.

Italy Road Trips in Spring

Spring is a great time to road trip in Italy. The later you leave it, the better the weather will be. Try and avoid Easter if you can- many places are closed for religious reasons, but it also gets busy as schools are on holiday.

Italian roadtrips in Summer

Summer is crowded pretty much everywhere in Italy. Although the weather is generally great, having to queue for major attractions in the heat can make you wilt. Also, many hotels and campsites book up months in advance.

Roadtripping Italy in Autumn

This is our favourite time to road trip around Italy. We toured the Dolomites in early October and the weather was perfect. See all our favourite places in Europe in Autumn

Italy road trips in Winter

Don’t dismiss Italy in Winter – there’s still plenty to do. Northern Italy does get cold and there’s snow in winter, so you’ll want to make sure you have proper heating in your camper or motorhome.

Obviously, the further south you go the warmer it will be. Sicily is where the Italians go to escape the chilly temperatures in the north, so that can be busy. Of course, if you want to go skiing with your motorhome, stay in the Dolomites and enjoy some of the best slopes in Europe.

Snow continues in Northern Italy all the way through until March. We did a tour from Rome to Florence (via Pisa) in February and there was still snow on the ground, it was freezing cold, but the lack of people was wonderful- we practically had some of the museums and popular sites to ourselves! If that’s too cold for you, here are the warmest places in Europe in February .

northern italy road trips

Italy Road Trip Route ideas

If you have the time, there are countless places and routes you could take in Italy. To help, we’ve separated the country into regions and sections for you, as well as giving the best places to visit in each area.

Road trip to Italy from UK- route planner

If you’re driving to Italy from the UK, you need to allow at least one day to reach the Italian border. There are several routes you can take.

If you’re planning a road trip through France to Italy, we’ve put together some of the best driving routes for motorhomes, campers, caravans and cars (complete with estimated toll charges)

northern italy road trips

Tolls in Italy

Italy doesn’t have a vignette- it has tolls (pedaggio). You collect a ticket at the machine as you enter the road system and pay (either a person or machine) at the end in cash or on a card. Tolls are generally more expensive than Spain but cheaper than in France.

You can use a tollpass/ telepass (like e-Movis) or you can pay-as-you-go by cash or card (we always recommend carrying some cash- just in case!) Signs indicate the means of payment accepted on each lane.

You can calculate the toll cost of your intended route here

Italy Road Trip- How long to spend touring Italy

Italy road trip one week.

It is possible to do an Italy road trip if you only have a week for your holiday. However, you will need to plan your trip carefully to make sure you get the most out of it. For only one week in Italy, we recommend staying in Northern Italy (unless of course you’re flying in and then renting a vehicle)

If possible, going for at least 10 days will allow you to see much more, and be able to relax and enjoy it.

Italy Road trip 10-14 days (two weeks)

Obviously, the longer you have, the more you can see. As a guide, we’d suggest two weeks for road tripping around Northern Italy, and 10-14 days for Southern Italy.

Driving from North to South Italy

If you’re desperate to see as much of the country (and eat as many of the different regional Italian dishes ) as possible, it takes about 12 hours (1160km) to drive from Milan in the North to Catanzaro in the South- according to Google maps. Personally, I think this is VERY optimistic and you should allow at least 2 days driving.

For the purposes of this guide, we’re calling Northern Italy anything from Rome north, and Southern Italy anything south of Rome.

New to motorhome or camper travel in Europe? You might find these posts helpful:

Tour Europe in a Motorhome; Motorhome Europe Travel

See all our Europe motorhoming posts here

NEED GEAR? If you need any kit or essentials for motorhoming in Europe, here’s what we recommend and where to find it

Northern Italy road trip

There are some spectacular places in Northern Italy to explore by road. In fact, we prefer Northern Italy to Southern Italy- but that’s mainly because we love the mountains. Here are some ideas for your road trip.

Driving in Europe after Brexit

Northern Italy Road Trip highlights and best places to visit

Some of our favourite places in Northern Italy include:

  • Gran Paradiso
  • Cinque Terre, Portofino and Portovenere
  • The Italian Lakes (especially Lake Garda)
  • The Dolomites

Stelvio Pass

Northern italy bucket list map.

Here’s a map of some of the places mentioned on our Northern Italy road trip itinerary, so you can find them easily.

You can find out more about each area below.

Northern Italy Road Trip Map

Italy North West Coast road trip

If you’re driving into Italy, especially if you’re driving from the UK, many people find themselves arriving in the North West- from France or Switzerland. If you are going motorhoming in Switzerland , remember you may need more than a vignette.

This is the perfect introduction to Italy. There are national parks, beautiful villages, amazing coastline and dramatic mountains. It can include Gran Paradiso National Park, Cinque Terre, Portofino and Portovenere, La Spezia and down into Tuscany.

Gran Paradiso National Park

northern italy road trips

The Gran Paradiso National Park was one of the first National Parks to be created in Italy and is popular for skiing, wildlife watching and hiking. 

Only 20% of the park is forest- the rest is scrubland, mountains or grassland, so if you want to see wildlife the forests are a great place to head to. You might even see the famous Ibex and Chamois.

The highest point is Gran Paradiso mountain, which stands at 4061m but there are plenty of other mountains and valleys to explore. There are many hiking trails and walks- and several guidebooks you can buy to stay on track. 

How long to stay in Gran Paradiso

You can get a taste of the park in a day, but if you’d like to do any hikes or see more of the highlights, stay in the area for at least 2 or 3 days.

Where to stay in Gran Paradiso?

If you’re in a campervan, be careful as wild camping is forbidden in National Parks, but there are plenty of campsites and Sostas around.

If you’re touring Italy by car or bike, here are some wonderful accommodation options for you .

northern italy road trips

We love the Bellevue Hotel and Spa – friendly, relaxing and right near the glacier.

Highlights of a road trip in Gran Paradiso National Park

Some of the best things to do in Gran Paradiso include:

  • See Gran Paradiso- the highest mountain
  • Drive the Colle de Nivolet- scenic mountain pass
  • See the views at Serru Lake
  • Drive Col Ferret- mountain pass
  • Cascate di Lillaz- 3-tier waterfall

Cinque Terre and Portovenere

northern italy road trips

Cinque Terre is one of the most famous regions in Italy- and for good reason! It’s a series of 5 beautiful villages, all carved into the incredible coastal cliffs of north-west Italy. 

Cinque Terre literally translates to “five lands”, which are the 5 villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore . It has been designated a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Portofino is just outside the Cinque Terre protected zone, but is well worth a visit too.

Driving into Cinque Terre

NOTE: Do NOT try and drive into Cinque Terre, even with a car and ESPECIALLY not with a motorhome or campervan. The roads are tiny and not easy for tourists, plus there’s little to no parking. Some hotels in the area do offer parking- if you’re driving to one of them try to avoid arriving at peak times, so the roads will be quieter.

Alternatively, find somewhere safe to park your vehicle for a couple of nights (such as in La Spezia) and leave it there whilst you enjoy a stay at a hotel in the middle of one of the prettiest places in Italy.

How long to stay in Cinque Terre

We did Cinque Terre in one day and it is possible, but it was a LOT of walking. Staying for 2 days is better- 3 if you want to see Portofino as well.

Where to stay in Cinque Terre?

northern italy road trips

If you want to leave your vehicle safely somewhere and stay in the heart of Cinque Terre, you won’t beat the views from Il Sogno di Manarola by The First

See all Cinque Terre hotels and deals here

Highlights of Cinque Terre

Some of the best things to do in the area include:

  • Enjoy the sandy beach at Monterosso
  • Walking the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza
  • Exploring Vernazza Harbour and Castle Doria
  • Riomaggiore
  • See the sunset at Manarola

Portovenere

Portovenere is further south along the coast. Whilst not technically a part of Cinque Terre, Portovenere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town looks like something from a fairytale and is well worth a stop on your itinerary.

If you visit in August, you’ll find the Madonna Bianca Festival when hundreds, if not thousands, of Roman torches are lit at night. Also, each Monday there is a market in the town centre. 

Italian Lakes Road Trip

northern italy road trips

The Italian Lakes are like a warmer version of the UK Lake District- with more pizza instead of scones. They’re all pretty, but our favourite lakes are Maggiore and Garda.

How long to visit the Italian Lakes for?

We stayed for a week and only really explored Lake Garda and Maggiore properly. So you can easily spend two weeks in the area and still find things to do. Of course, you can just spend a day or two here and get a taste.

Where to stay in the Italian Lakes

There are plenty of incredible hotels, BnBs and campsites around the Italian Lakes (many with lake views!). One of our favourites is Hotel Spiaggia d’Oro Boutique Hotel , with an incredible pool AND views across the lake.

northern italy road trips

See all options and current deals for Lake Garda accommodation

Highlights in the Italian lakes

Some of our favourite places in the lakes include:

  • Sirmione on Lake Garda. This picturesque town dates back to Roman times. The fortress is 12th century and is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy . You can book a tour around the inside if you wish- the views down the lake are even better higher up.
  • Grotte di Catullo- ruins of a Roman Villa built over 2000 years ago! Get here as early as you can because it’s a huge tourist attraction and by mid-morning it will be very crowded. 
  • If you are road tripping Italy in a car or motorbike (or want to rent one for the day), don’t miss the Strada Della Forra Gorge road on the west side of Garda- it’s spectacular. The road is literally carved into a gorge and it’s so steep and narrow that only cars and motorbikes are allowed up it. The tunnels through the gorge are so low that you couldn’t drive through in anything bigger than a large car- I think even a 4×4 might be too big! 
  • If you like heights, there’s a zipwire near Lake Maggiore which has been on my bucket list for a while!

Milan to Lake Como Road Trip

northern italy road trips

This Italian Road Trip was driven by Jamie from Travel Addict

The drive between Milan and Lake Como is only 1.5 hours, but don’t rush north without taking a short break to Monza. This utterly charming Italian village is the halfway point between Milan and Lake Como. Most of the ancient buildings date all the way back to the 1400s, but the town is currently best known as a Formula 1 racing circuit

You can drive around the loop of Lake Como, or take a ferry tour. The most popular towns on the lake are Como and Bellagio, for good reason. Some of the smaller towns have their own unique charm – Varenna, Lenno, Tremezzo and Menaggio to name a few worth visiting. And no drive on the lake is complete without a stop at one of the famous villas, such as Villa del Balbianello or Villa Carlotta.

TOP TIP: The roads are doable with a motorhome, but some of them are VERY small, so try to go early in the morning or well out of peak season.

Afterwards, head west to Lake Maggiore for more of Italy’s lake region, or East to the incredibly beautiful city of Bergamo to extend your journey a few extra days. Bergamo has a rich and long history, incredible architecture that spans a hillside, and a wonderfully authentic vibe.

northern italy road trips

If you’re feeling brave on your Italian road trip, head north from the lakes and drive the Stelvio Pass.

The Stelvio Pass is a high mountain pass carved into the Italian Alps. It has a series of 48 hairpin turns and rises to an elevation of 2,756m (9,045ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest paved roads in Europe.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, but the views are phenomenal.

TOP TIP: Drive Stelvio Pass early in the morning- before the crowds arrive and the road becomes even more crazy!

(And yes, it looks a lot like Trollstigen Road in Norway !)

Dolomites Road Trip

Dolomites road trip

The Dolomites are one of the most breathtaking mountain regions in Europe. The incredible rock formations, combined with the beautiful lakes, valleys and incredible roads make this one of the best road trip destinations ANYWHERE, not just in Italy.

Where are the Dolomites?

The Dolomites are in Northern Italy, about an hour north of Lake Garda.

Venice to Bolzano (the start of the Great Dolomites Road) will take you about 2 and a half hours (the distance is 267km)

Milan to Bolzano is about 3 and a half hours (the distance is 278km)

How long to spend in the Dolomites?

We spent 4 days roadtripping around the Dolomites and feel like we barely scratched the surface. If you want to just drive and see the scenery, 2 or 3 days will give you a taste. If you want to hike and enjoy the outdoors, you need at least 5-7 (and still will want to go back!)

See our full Dolomites road trip itinerary

Highlights of a Dolomites Road Trip

Some of our favourite places in the Dolomites include:

  • Tre Cime di Lavaredo (seriously, if you are doing an Italy road trip in a motorhome or campervan, you HAVE to stay up here for at least one night (we stayed for 2)
  • Driving the Great Dolomites Road – this was magic and Lake Carezza is on it too.
  • Lago di Braies
  • Val di Funes
  • Via Ferrata

Where to stay in the Dolomites

If you’re exploring the Dolomites by motorhome or camper, there are some wonderful campsites and aires with breathtaking views. Don’t miss a chance to stay at the top of Tre Cime di Lavaredo- it’s incredible.

If you’re not in a motorhome or camper, base yourself at one of these fabulous locations (many with views of the Dolomites!)

northern italy road trips

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world- there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in Europe . Avoid in high summer- it’s just too crowded to see anything.

You can’t go road tripping in Italy (especially Northern Italy) and NOT make a stop to see Venice. This incredible city has canals, history, stunning views- and it is utterly unsuitable for vehicles.

If you’re exploring Europe in February, don’t miss the Venice Carnival – it will be crazy busy but spectacular!

When is the best time to visit Venice?

We highly recommend visiting out of high season. Our favourite time to visit Venice is after summer- in fact, it’s one of the best places to see in Europe in October.

But no matter what time of year you go, do NOT try and drive into the city, especially with a motorhome or camper.

Where to stay in Venice

northern italy road trips

If you want to stay in the heart of Venice, the St Regis Venice has the most incredible views.

See all ideas and deals for Venice Hotels

East Coast Italy Road Trip

The east coast of Italy (The Adriatic Coast) has much to recommend it. You can actually drive from Venice to San Marino in about 3 hours, but the prettier route is using the coast roads and taking your time.

Where to go on the East coast of Italy

Some of the best places to visit on the Italian Adriatic Coast include:

  • Trieste: up near the Slovenian border
  • Comacchio: Don’t miss the Trepponti fortified bridge
  • Po Delta Natural Park: UNESCO World Heritage site protecting around 54,000 hectares and many species of local flora and fauna
  • Cesenatico: Don’t miss the Porto Canale, which runs through the historic city centre, or the Maritime Museum which houses several vintage boats.
  • Rimini: can be crowded, but out of season is well worth a visit. Don’t miss Tiberio Bridge- the historic Roman bridge crossing the Marecchia River or the former fishing district of Borgo San Giuliano which now has colourful houses and a great atmosphere.
  • San Marino- one of the oldest and smallest countries in the world!

northern italy road trips

San Marino is actually a totally different country. It’s totally surrounded by Italy, but is independent. San Marino is one of the oldest and smallest countries in the world- only 23sq miles and is mostly one city.

It was founded on September 3rd, 301. The people who live in San Marino are not “Italians” – they are referred to as Sammarinese. They are very proud of their independence from Italy.

NOTE: San Marino is not part of the European Union although they do use the euro as currency.

Spend at least a day enjoying San Marino. There are castles, museums and towers to explore- you won’t get to them all in a day!

Recommended by Pamela from the Directionally Challenged Traveler

Tuscany Road Trip Planner

Italy Road Trip ideas and itinerary

This Tuscan Road Trip itinerary was driven by Martina and Jürgen from Places of Juma

There are many highlights of a Tuscany road trip- the landscapes, the historic towns and the pretty stone villages. Tuscany is also famous for art and delicious cuisine. The infro-structure isn’t bad in most places, and it’s not too crowded, except in high summer.

Some of the best places to see in Tuscany include:

  • Siena- famous for the Piazza del Campo
  • Arezzo- the antique market is legendary
  • Val d’Orcia- UNESCO world Heritage and fabulous views
  • Montalcino- famous for its for its Brunello di Montalcino wine

How long to spend in Tuscany

Plan at least a few days to explore Tuscany. Many people spend 2 weeks just in this area along!

Where to stay in Tuscany

There are many lovely agritourism accommodations all over the place, so you can stay at vineyards, farms or local producers for the night if you want to taste their produce. There are also plenty of hotels and BnBs in the region- here are some wonderful ideas for you.

northern italy road trips

If you’re looking for a beautiful city in Italy, you need to head to Florence. This picturesque city is famous for the culture, renaissance art, architecture and monuments. It’s full of art galleries and museums including the famous Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti. 

The centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are plenty of churches, cathedrals- including the world-famous Duomo and idyllic streets to explore, as well as plenty of upmarket shops and unique boutiques to discover. 

As well as the galleries mentioned above, you should also visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, which contains the incredible marble sculptures by Michelangelo and others, notably David and Prisoners, Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines and Botticelli’s Madonna and Child and Madonna of the Sea.

Another must-see is the Ponte Vecchio, one of the most historic bridges in Florence. As well as being picturesque, shops line each side of the bridge, including jewellers, artisans and souvenir shops. 

Where to stay in Florence

If you are visiting Florence while campervanning in Italy, there are plenty of great campsites near the city but if you’d like to stay in the centre, head for the Laurus Al Duomo hotel and be awestruck at the views.

northern italy road trips

See all ideas and deals for Florence Hotels

northern italy road trips

Rome is the capital of Italy and the most visited tourist destination- and for good reason. We’ve been to Rome many times and never get tired of the history, the ancient sites, the architecture or the incredible views.

When is the best time to visit Rome?

We highly recommend visiting out of season. Rome is always busy and always open, so no worries about missing the best parts. In fact, Rome is one of the best cities in Europe to visit in Winter.

Having said that, our favourite time to visit Rome is in October, when the colours of the changing leaves look AMAZING against the backdrop of the city.

How long to visit Rome for?

If you’ve never been to Rome before, stay at least 3-4 days. There’s so much to see, and if you don’t plan enough time, you’ll miss out.

TOP TIP: Don’t drive into Rome- use public transport.

Where to stay in Rome

There are several campsites on the outskirts of Rome, where you could leave your camper. If you’re in a car, or here are some great deals on hotels for any budget.

northern italy road trips

If you’d like a central location, the Otivm Hotel has incredible views and is right in the heart of the city.

Southern Italy Road Trip

So, you’ve made it to Rome and want to keep heading south? Ok, let’s talk about Southern Italy road trips.

You’ll notice a difference in southern Italy in terms of road quality, and also in how many service points and fuel stations there are- so make sure to make use of them when you find them.

It takes about 2 and a half hours to drive from Rome to Naples. The A3/E45 autostrada is the fastest route and is fine for motorhomes/ campers. From Naples, you can start exploring the famous Amalfi coastline and other historical areas, like Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.

Be careful- parts of the Amalfi Coast route are unsuitable for motorhomes and campers.

Highlights and best places to visit on a Southern Italy Road Trip

northern italy road trips

Some of our favourite places to visit in Southern Italy include:

  • The Amalfi Coast
  • Pompeii and Herculaneun
  • Puglia and Alberobello
  • Cilento National Park and Paestum -the ancient Temple ruins
  • Sassi di Matera (Caves of Mattera)

Southern Italy Road Trip Map

Here’s a map of some of the best places to visit in Southern Italy. See below for more details on each.

Southern Italy Road Trip Map

Personally, we didn’t rate Naples at all, but we didn’t go into the city centre, which is apparently much nicer than the outskirts. Still, it is the home of Pizza, so I feel we need to return and give it a chance.

Pompeii and Herculaneam

Pompeii is the famous Roman city which was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. It’s incredible to be able to walk the streets and see shops, temples, houses and even the local brothel! There’s a great motorhome campsite just across the street, Camping Spartacus

If you get chance, be sure to visit Herculaneum, which is closer to Naples than Pompeii, but much less well-known and therefore less touristy.

Amalfi Coast Road Trip

northern italy road trips

The Amalfi coast is one of the iconic Italy road trips. Be warned, some of the route from Sorrento to Salerno is impossible with a motorhome or camper, so you won’t be able to drive the entire thing unless you have a bike or scooter with you!

Larger than many  towns on the Amalfi Coast , but warm and full of character, Sorrento is fun. The old town is absolutely delightful and has a great choice of restaurants. As the sunsets, relax with a glass of Limoncello, the local lemon liqueur. There are often street musicians on the promenade overlooking the sea.

TOP TIP: Be sure to get chips from the ‘Queens Chips’- often voted the best in the area.

Agerola & Positano

Agerola is the beginning of the ten-km hike called Path of the Gods. The views are stunning and at Vallone Porto, near Positano, a tumbling waterfall and canyon, mark the end of the walk. Positano is an amazing town, built vertically on a rocky precipice.

Amalfi and Ravello

These are two of the larger towns. Amalfi has the Duomo di Amalfi with its mosaics in yellow and green and there are a number of boat trips to enjoy or the chance to slow the tempo and simply relax on the beach.

Ravello’s treasures include two stunning medieval palaces with amazing views of the bay far below.

The last stop on the route is Capri. Take a boat trip to the grottos, or a cable car from the harbour up to the town with its snazzy boutiques and romantic restaurants. 

This Italy road trip itinerary was driven by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate

Cilento Region Road Trip

Cilento is one of the undiscovered gems in Southern Italy. For some reason, it’s not as famous as the other regions- which makes exploring it even better, as it’s generally quieter.

There’s a national park here, which is wonderful to explore, but the two highlights for me are the INCREDIBLE beaches- and the Paestum ruins.

Paestum Ruins

northern italy road trips

Paestum used to be an ancient Greek city and is now famous for the ruins of thre ancient Greek temples, dating from about 550 to 450 BC, which are in a surprisingly good state. The walls and amphitheatre are largely intact, and the bottom of the walls of many other structures remain, as well as paved roads. The site is open to the public, and is well worth a visit.

northern italy road trips

Honestly, much of the coastline of the Cilento region looks similar to this, but this town is a great place to stop for a night or two on your Southern Italy road trip. Thre’s not a huge beach, but the water in unbelievably clear and wonderful to swim in.

Puglia- the heel of the boot!

Puglia is on the Adriatic coast in the south east of Italy and offers a wonderful mix of crystal clear sea and ancient history.

northern italy road trips

Some of the highlights include:

  • Bari, the Capital of Puglia
  • Polignano a Mare
  • Alberobello- with the cone-shaped houses
  • Lecce and Otranto
  • The Cave of Poetry!

Puglia Road Trip itinerary

This Italy Road Trip idea was suggested by Ophelie from Limitless Secrets

You can easily spend one week exploring Puglia as there are many beautiful spots to visit! Start your Puglia road trip in Bari, the capital of Puglia.

Bari has an interesting Old Town that you might want to visit before taking to the road. Then head to Polignano a Mare, about a 30-minute drive away, which is a great place to enjoy the beach and some spectacular coastline views as it perched on top of cliffs.

The next stop is Monopoli, just 15 minutes down the coast. In this charming town you can wander in the Old Town- the Old Port is especially picturesque. 

northern italy road trips

After that, head inland to the beautiful town of Alberobello- famous for its trulli (cone-shaped) houses. It really does look like something out of a storybook. Alberobello is only 25 minutes from Monopoli.

Then head west to Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage built on the side of the Matera Gravine and full of caves (Sassi) which are amazing to visit.

Head south for 2 hours and visit Lecce- famous for the beautiful baroque architecture. If you want more beautiful coastline views, surprising rock formations and natural pools, be sure to visit the Cave of Poetry (Grotta Della Poesia), which is a natural swimming pool in Roca Vecchia village, just 30-minute drive east of Lecce.

northern italy road trips

Lastly, don’t miss Otranto. It doesn’t look much on the map, but the sea here is one of the clearest azure we’ve ever seen!

Where to stay in Puglia?

The best places to eat and stay in Puglia are the agriturismo: these are farms designed to also receive guests (for food or for accommodation). You will find plenty to choose from! 

Sardinia- another Italy Road Trip idea

northern italy road trips

This Italy road trip itinerary was suggested by Rachel of Average Lives

If you’ve explored enough of the Italian mainland, you can extend your Italy road trip to one of the islands nearby, such as Sardinia.

Sardinia is full of beautiful beaches, historic castles, and delicious food. You can enjoy. aroad trip in North Sardinia , from Olbia to Alghero, which will take around five days to a week, depending on your travel style.

Start by exploring the quaint streets and markets of the city of Olbia. After hop on an affordable ferry (with your car) to the nearby Archipelago of La Maddalena. In La Maddalena town, head to I Vittelloni for trendy vibes and the best aperitivo. Over the next couple of days, explore Caprera Island and visit Cala Coticcio, the Garibaldi Museum, and Cala Napoletana. You won’t want to leave, but you must follow the coast to Santa Teresa Di Gallura. First, eat breakfast, have a coffee, and then spend your day exploring the colourful streets, the Spanish Tower and watch the sunset at the nearby hippie village – Valle Della Luna.

The next morning visit Li Cossi for a swim in the emerald water before spending the evening in the medieval village of Castelsardo. After you have finished exploring, make your way towards Alghero and stop to cast your eyes on the ‘Elephant Rock’ and then enjoy the Catalan-style town. In Alghero, you can see sensational beaches and take a trip to Grotte Di Nettuno in Capo Caccia’s cliffs. Most importantly, you will have finished one of the most beautiful road trips in Italy and won’t want to leave the idyllic island.

How to get to Sardinia from Italy

It’s easy to reach the island by car or motorhome from mainland Italy because you can catch a ferry from Genoa to Olbia. Be warned- this ferry can be expensive, so book well in advance if you can, especially in the summer when it gets booked up quickly.

Other posts you might find useful:

  • How to plan a Europe Road Trip
  • Essential Kit you need to drive in Europe (with checklist)
  • Unmissable Europe road trip ideas
  • 15 essential tips for Europe road trips

See all our Italy road trip posts

See all our Europe road trip posts and tips

northern italy road trips

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

Find out how she went from stuck in the rat race to being a digital nomad and inspiring thousands of people to have their own epic adventures here.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

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northern italy road trips

10 Scenic Road Trips In Italy And Their Best Stops

  • Italy offers countless options for vacation spots, with historical sites, museums, sports, cuisines, and romantic sites captivating visitors worldwide.
  • Planning a road trip through Italy is the best way to explore and experience the country's beauty at your own pace.
  • From scenic drives through Tuscany to coastal road trips along the Amalfi Coast, Italy's diverse landscapes offer stunning views and unforgettable experiences.

There is no other better place to vacation in Europe than Italy. This southern European nation is home to some of the cheapest vacation spots in Europe and is blessed with many historical sites and attractions that captivate visitors worldwide. Arts, museums, sports, cuisines, and romantic sites fill this place, giving tourists countless options for things to do or see. Whether visiting the capital city, Rome, home of fashion, Milan, Palermo, or anywhere else, they are guaranteed unique attractions and world-class entertainment.

Planning a road trip through Italy is one of the best ways to explore and experience this country's beauty. Italian road trips reward travelers with dreamy views at their own pace. With well-connected cities and exceptional infrastructure, the nation is ideal to explore with a car. Here are the top ten scenic road trips that allow individuals to soak in the beauty of this nation.

Under the Tuscan Sun

The Heart of Tuscany, Florence, offers many things to do , but a drive between the city and Orvieto is an excellent way of experiencing the Tuscan side of Italy, which has many vineyards, fascinating cafes, and medieval hamlets. This road trip is great for wine tasting, food tours, or someone who wants to walk around the local region. Oenophiles and epicures love it. Remember to stop at Siena, about an hour from Florence, to visit the iconic and historic plaza, Piazza del Campo , historic churches, and the many art galleries. Pistoia and San Gimignano are other fantastic stopovers that lead individuals to captivating attractions.

  • Route : from Florence to Orvieto
  • Distance: 165 km
  • Best time to visit : late September to October, between April and May

Related: Florence After Dark: 10 Things To Do In This Italian City At Night

Naples To Calabria

Following the Southern Italy route, a road trip takes individuals to popular and off-the-beaten-path attractions. Along the route, they see several hidden gems and renowned stops. The trip starts in Campania, where one can explore the historic center and grab some delicious bites. Then, start the journey and stop at the secret Basilicata region , the oldest city worldwide and home to the Sassi di Matera caves . The next stopover is at Puglia, where one can find the caves of Grotto dell'Poesia and Santa Cesarea Terme thermal baths. The last stopover is in Calabria, where individuals laze around the stunning beaches.

  • Route: starting in Campania, Naples
  • Distance : 190km
  • Best time to visit : June, September, and October

Sicily's Southeast

Sicily is one of the Mediterranean’s largest islands worth a visit. Take a road trip along this island and enjoy the beautiful beaches, fascinating mini islands, epic monuments, authentic seafood cuisines, roadside stores, and vintage bars. The trip takes travelers through many medieval hamlets with many years of history. Pause to see fascinating architecture like Francofonte, renowned for red oranges, Vizzini, the oldest hamlet in the region , and Chiaramonte Gulfi , an area filled with churches, museums, and local food vendors. Don't fail to stop at The Valley of Temples in Agrigento, approximately three hours from Ragusa.

  • Route: Start from Catania
  • Distance : 103 km
  • Best time to visit: May to June, September to October

Rome to Terni

This soothing route is perfect for unwinding and taking a minute to soak in the beautiful scenery. The road trip uncovers some of the charms of Italy's countryside. The best stop is in the Riserva Naturale della Marcigliana , a nature reserve home to the beautiful Tiber River. Individuals can also take a short detour by passing The Apennines at Monte Terminilllo's foothills. This road trip allows individuals to experience Italian gastronomy and a relaxed way of life. Remember to pause and tour the different shops selling olive oil of great quality and enjoy food from different restaurants along the way.

  • Route: start at Rome
  • Distance: 113km
  • Best time to visit : September through October

Related: More Than The Roman Forum: Here Are Ten Ancient Forums Of Ancient Rome

The Amalfi Coast

Travelers who want a coastal vibe should take this scenic drive. The trip starts at Salerno and heads to Vieri sul Mare, a town known for ceramics and the proper start of the coastal road. Driving this route is challenging as the road is narrow, and the curves become tighter the further one goes. But the reward is beautiful dramatic views that leave guests in awe. Stop at the Amalfi, the main hub of the coast, and look around the Catterdrale di Sant'Andrea Landmark. Then, tour the Ravello above the hills. Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Ristorante Pizzeria Vittoria and epic views of the town's garden. Then, drive to Positano for breathtaking views and then to the Amalfi's Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel for epic seascape views.

  • Route: start from Salerno
  • Distance: 50km
  • Best time to visit : Mid-October and Late April

Florence and Tuscany

Tuscany is known for its many beautiful places to visit . But, the best route in this region begins from the countryside, Florence. At the start of the journey lies the Renaissance architecture that individuals are welcome to explore before heading out. Then check out the attractions of the walled city of San Gimignano . Stop at Poppi, a fantastic town with many things to do and see. From there, head north to check out the jaw-dropping views of the Apuan Alps landscape. Stop at the medieval fortress of Coreglia Antelminelli and the beautiful village of Castiglione di Garfagna.

  • Route: start from Strada Regionale 70
  • Distance : 321 km
  • Best time to visit: in the spring and fall

Verona to the Dolomites

The trip starts at Verona, one of Italy’s fantastic towns to visit with fairy-tale architecture. Spend a few hours or even days exploring the city before heading out. Then go towards Lake Garda and stop at Vecchia Malcesine-Malcesine's Micheline restaurant for a delicious lunch. Base close to Riva del Garda on the northern side of the lake to check out stunning villages and enjoy water sports. Continue with the journey to the Dolomites, stopping in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Alpe di Siusi, considered the largest alpine meadow of high altitude in Europe.

  • Route : starts in Verona
  • Distance: 124 km
  • Best time to visit : May and June, September and October

Stelvio Pass

This unique road trip leads travelers to the monumental mountain pass, among the highest in the continent. The route features 46 hairpin bends, a true test of one's driving skills. There's a lot of drama along the way, including the dramatic scenery on every turn and the steep road along the route. Stop at the snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, and lush green forests. The dramatic scenes make this route the greatest driving road worldwide.

  • Route: start from Prato allo Stevilio
  • Distance: 47 km
  • Best time to visit: May through October

The Gothic lakeside city of Como has many things to do , and this trip, starting from Como to Bergamo allows individuals to check out some great sites. The route is marked with fascinating lakes and views of the beautiful coastline. Those taking this route should continue exploring the historic museums and stop at the many theme and amusement parks heading to the Belgamo. Lord of the Rings lovers should create time to check out Casa degli Hobbit, a cute villa with a Hobbit theme, a few minutes after leaving Como. Museum lovers should stop at Museum Cozzi Fratelli and Rec & Play Museum.

  • Route: Start from Como
  • Distance : 92 km
  • Best time to visit : Between April and September

Related: Indulge In The Beauty Of Lake Como: The 10 Best Places To Visit & Things To Do

Along Sardinia

From Bosa to Capo Caccia, this is an ideal trip for beach babies. Travelers can experience rocky cliffs on one side of the road, beautiful beaches in Italy , and lush green landscapes on the other. Stop at the Alghero or The Little Barcelona for beach hopping, surfing, chasing the sunset, or grabbing some beer. One will also spot colorful houses. So get the camera ready for some great shots.

  • Route: start from Bosa
  • Distance : 71 km
  • Best time to visit : April to June

10 Scenic Road Trips In Italy And Their Best Stops

IMAGES

  1. This North Italy road trip itinerary spends eight days driving from

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  2. The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

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  3. The Ultimate Two Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

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  4. Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary 2022: Routes, Maps + Tips

    northern italy road trips

  5. The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

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  6. The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

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VIDEO

  1. SARDINIA, ITALY Road Trip 🇮🇹 by campervan

  2. Italy road trip 🏔️🚙 #travel #roadtrip #traveling #mountains #italy

  3. Family Trip in Northern Italy

  4. Italy Road Trip: Where To Go & What To See [BEST TRIP EVER!]

  5. a day in Italy road trip, travel vlog, Pienza, Montepulciano, Rome, Positano

  6. ITALY ROAD TRIP. Unexpected SNOW. Lake Misurina and Toblacher see

COMMENTS

  1. Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary: 2024 Guide

    Northern Italy Road Trip: Stop 1 - Milan. Milan, in Italy's Lombardy region, is a unique blend of historical architecture, contemporary skyscrapers and well-known as a fashionista's Italian city of choice. The icon of the city is the Duomo Cathedral. It's the world's largest gothic cathedral and is absolutely stunning!

  2. Northern Italy Roadtrip Itinerary

    Pisa. Day 9. Cinque Terre - Genoa - Parma. Parma. Day 10. Milan. Milan. With the Northern Italy Highlights - 10 days itinerary you'll cross the most important highlights, cities and landmarks in the northern part of Italy. In the next part, you'll find step by step itineraries where we explain the best stops, famous landmarks, and ...

  3. Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary: An Epic 8 Weeks + Map

    The beautiful Nord Italia consists of eight regions: Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Emilia-Romagna. Tuscany isn't technically part of "North Italy"; however, we've included it in this road trip itinerary for fun.

  4. The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks

    Breakdown of your 2 weeks in Northern Italy. Milan: 2 days. Lake Como: 2 days. Lake Garda: 2 days. Verona: 1 day. Dolomites: 5 days. Venice: 2 days. You can choose whether you start in Milan and end in Venice, or go in reverse. This Northern Italy road trip itinerary works either way!

  5. Northern Italy Road Trip

    Como to Milan - Direct Way: take the A9 and A8. Distance 51 km, travel time 1 hour. Como to Milan - Scenic Way: follow the SP31 to Saronno, and then keep following the blue 'Milano' signs through the Brianza area and Milan's northern suburbs. Distance 53 km, travel time 1 hour 40.

  6. The Ultimate Two Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

    Travel 3 hours northeast on your road trip of northern Italy to Lake Garda. On the way stop in Parma for lunch or take a small detour into the countryside to Bré del Gallo - a Culatello cellar. Culatello is a delicious cured meat and though it's not as famous as Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello is considered the king of salumi.

  7. Northern Italy Road Trip: Itinerary, Map & Tips

    Northern Italy: Emilia-Romagna Bradt Guide: including Bologna, Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Ravenna and the Republic of San Marino. Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary. Milan - Lake Como - Verona - Venice - Bologna - Cinque Terre - Pisa - Florence - San Gimignano - Siena - Rome. Distance 1312km. Duration 10-14 days.

  8. North Italy Road Trip: Best 7-Day Italian Lakes Itinerary

    Here's a quick summary of my road trip in northern Italy (fly to and back from Milan, and pick up and return the car at the airport): Half day 1 - Lake Garda: Tremosine sul Garda and Limone sul Garda (suggested hotel: 3 nights at Appartamenti Ca' nei Vicoli or Casa L'Andrunèl in Limone sul Garda, Lake Garda).

  9. Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary (11 stops + tips)

    Stop 1: Milan. Recommended time: 1 to 3 days. As one of the most fashion-forward cities on this Northern Italy road trip itinerary, Milan is one place that you won't want to miss. It's well-known for its arts, culture, and impressive history.

  10. Amazing Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary (With Map)

    2 nights in Milan. Quick stop in Lago di Garda. 1 night in Verona. 3 nights in Venice. 1 night in Florence. 1 night in Pisa. 1 day in Cinque Terre. 1 night in Milan. For the 10-day Northern Italy road trip itinerary, I definitely suggest visiting famous cities such as Milan, Venice, and Florence.

  11. 10-Day Northern Italy Itinerary: 2 Perfect Routes

    Day 9 - Genoa. The final destination for this particular 10-day Northern Italy itinerary should end in the Ligurian capital of Genoa. This seaside city is absolutely beautiful and full of interesting things to do - in fact, plan to spend 2 days in Genoa to round out your trip to the north of Italy.

  12. Three Weeks in Northern Italy: a Travel Itinerary

    Week 1: Exploring Venice. Welcome to the romantic city of Venice, a floating masterpiece that has captured the imaginations of travelers for centuries. Known for its intricate network of canals, stunning architecture, and vibrant atmosphere, Venice is the perfect starting point for your Northern Italy road trip.

  13. 10 day Northern Italy itinerary 2024 (With Map + Full Schedule)

    10 days in Northern Italy itinerary. This Northern Italy itinerary is perfect if you have 10 days to explore this side of the country, and even better if have a special interest in the Veneto region. The good news is that you can choose to complete it by train, by car or ideally, combining these 2 modes of transport.

  14. A Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

    Val di Funes. Our Italy road trip continued from Verona north to Val di Funes for a stop. Then, we came back down south to stay in Trento for the evening. The main reason for driving this far north was for us to get a taste of the Dolomites, an insanely impressive mountain range in northeast Italy.

  15. A Spectacular North Italy Road Trip Itinerary

    A road trip around the north part of Italy is guaranteed to be a few things: inconceivably beautiful, a great mix of calming and stimulating, and very very tasty! Be sure to bring your stretchy trousers, because Italy sure does deliver on the food and drink front. Toast a limoncello for me when you take your road trip in northern Italy - cin cin!

  16. Best Of Northern Italy Itinerary: 10 Days With Tips [2024]

    Cost Of A Road Trip In Northern Italy. The budget for a 10-day Northern Italy itinerary per person ( mid-range traveler) is $1535. This is a very realistic budget for mid-range travelers who want to stay in nice hotels, rent a car and travel conveniently, enjoy hiking, and each location's activities.

  17. The Perfect Northern Italy Itinerary: 5 Ideas For The Trip Of Your

    Some travelers can't get enough of a historic, bustling European city and Italy is rich with them. From metropolitan Milan to the medieval hilltop city of Bergamo, the major cities in Italy all offer a different landscape to be explored. The stops on this north Italy itinerary include: Milan. Turin. Bergamo.

  18. The ultimate Northern Italy road trip guide inclusive 5 best campsites

    Budget for a 2 weeks Italy road trip. Campsites: from free up to 60.00 Euro per night. Airbnb in Rome for 2 nights: 175.00 Euro. Food around 50.00 Euros per day (mostly cooked in the van) Highway fees: We paid 80.00 Euro for 14 Days. Gasoline: 220 Euros for 14 Days. Train in Cinque Terre: 60.00 Euros for 2 days and 2 people.

  19. Northern Italy Road Trip: 6 Must-See Places

    This Northern Italy Road Trip of ours took place in summer, exactly at the beginning of July, during quite a big summer heatwave. Dolomites were hot but still doable with 27 - 30 degrees.However, driving through inland Italy to reach the Ligurian or Italian Riviera on the west was extremely exhausting.

  20. Two Week Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary in 2024

    Northern Italy Road Trip: Day 3 Lake Como to Milan. With Lake Como being only a short distance away, set off early and head to Milan to explore the well-known sites. Milan is known to be one of the world's fashion capitals, and if you are there long enough, you can see why. Dish to try - Ossobuco, a speciality in this part of the country.

  21. Ultimate Italy Road Trip (North & South)

    Italian road trip basics. Some quick tips for driving in Italy: The maximum speed for private vehicles under 3.5t is 130kph (81mph) on motorways but speed limits are lower for cars towing caravans and for motorhomes over 3.5t in weight. When on two-lane motorways, dipped headlights must be used.

  22. Road Tripping Italy: 16 Italian Road Trips To Slow Travel North to

    From northern Italy to Sicily, these 14 options for good Italian road trips offer a variety of unique experiences for every kind of traveler. If you're thinking of slow traveling Italy, this is a perfect way to do it, with one of these regional road trips giving a richer, more in depth view of bella Italia than a tour of one particular city.

  23. 10 Scenic Road Trips In Italy And Their Best Stops

    Italy offers countless options for vacation spots, with historical sites, museums, sports, cuisines, and romantic sites captivating visitors worldwide. Planning a road trip through Italy is the ...