Italy is a totally diverse country to explore! Especially with the gorgeous spots in the south of Italy being totally different from the best places in northern Italy. And, truth be told, this is what makes Italy so great to visit in my opinion. It’s long history, gorgeous natural sights and the yummiest dishes.
From the imposing peaks of Italy’s national parks, the stunning Lake Garda and some of the finest Italian cities, you’re gonna be spoilt for choice. Now, as we’ve said time and time again, you’ll need an age to actually explore all of Italy. In fact, I’d go as far as saying you need years! So, to make things easier, we always try and explore Italy in bite-size chunks.
For instance, on one trip we might focus on Cinque Terre, another on the Amalfi Coast, whilst on another around Basilicata’s Matera. This way, you get to totally chill with your plans and organise an easier to manage a trip to explore some of Italy’s best regions.
This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the very best places in Northern Italy to visit on your next trip. It’s one of our favourite regions in Italy and can’t be missed.
Take a look, below, at the best places in Northern Italy to visit. Have the best trip!
One of the more iconic cities in Northern Italy, Milan needs little introduction! From the incredible cathedral, medieval plazas and the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you’re gonna be rushed off your feet in seeing everything.
Though, don’t forget to pack yourself an umbrella, too. The weather can be a tad more unpredictable in Milan than, say, the south of Italy.
Oh yeah, and Milan is a perfect city to start a wider road trip towards Lake Como or Lake Maggiore (Italian and Swiss), too.
Read more: Best things to do in Milan
Yep, you kinda can’t mention the best places in Northern Italy to visit without mentioning Venice. It’s a city that’s known the world over for its waterways, canals and totally unique island location. It’s stunning.
Of course, you’re going to visit St Mark’s Basilica, stroll through Piazza San Marco and find the Rialto Bridge; but there’s so much more to Venice, too. Filled with mountains of art galleries, museums and the quaintest little foodie spots, you’ll be stopping every few seconds as you stroll the city.
Don’t forget, for some of the best value (and tastiest) meals, steer clear of the main sights to eat. Stroll a few minutes away, down the alleys, and discover some of the gems of Venice.
Same goes for gelato, too!
Read more: Best things to do in Venice
Nestled south-west of Venice, Verona is a historic city that’s sometimes overlooked in favour of Venice or Milan.
Though, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be the case. Verona is gorgeous and well worth visiting for 3-4 days.
Once here, be sure to check out the incredible Arena di Verona that dates back to Roman times.
Here, at certain times of the year, they even host open-air opera and performances that are too good to miss. Also, head over to see Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony and head up Torre dei Lamberti for the views.
Read more: Best things to do in Verona
The city of towers, Bologna has a long history within Italy and before Italy, itself was formed. You see, the city has been here for centuries and so much of its history is still present to see to this day.
Whilst here, check out Piazza Maggiore, see The Two Towers and explore the Archiginnasio that’s one of the most important buildings in all the city. It really is one of the best places in Northern Italy to visit.
Afterwards, pop over to La Montanara for some of the tastiest homemade Italian cuisines. You’ll leave stuffed.
Read more: Best things to do in Bologna
Okay, so the Dolomites is a vast area in Northern Italy that isn’t quite like anywhere else beyond the mountain north of the country.
You see, the Dolomites are part of the Southern Limestone Alps and it’s easily one of Italy’s most iconic mountain ranges to visit.
Also, if you’re not heading that far north, you can easily include a hike (or two) around The Little Dolomites that’s perched between Trentino, Verona, and Vicenza. Just make sure to pack those hiking shoes!
One totally beautiful parts to visit is Tre Cime di Lavaredo that’s accessed by some incredible hikes or the Via Ferratas that are so incredible in Northern Italy. Though, always go with a guide (like we did) if you’ve never scaled these before. They are as high as they look! Also, Just be sure to arrive early at the nearby car parking areas, this place can fill up even before 9 am on peak days.
If you’re heading around the whole region surrounding the Dolomites, be sure to check out more around Seceda peak and head towards Santa Maddalena (Val di Funes valley). At the latter point, you’ll get to see the most stunning views over the mountains, which is especially beautiful just before sunset.
Finally, you can stop off for the views at the Church of St. John, too. Although you might not spend too long here, it’s one of the best places in Northern Italy to visit for views across the mountains. In my opinion, the photo point is actually much better than getting up close and personal to the church, too.
Plus, it’s only around 80-minutes drive from Trento, too.
6.) Lake Garda
So, Lake Garda is one of my favourite lakes in all of Italy to visit. Even more so that Lake Como or Lake Maggiore (and I love those, too).
We love it!
You see, not only are there some incredible places to eat around Lake Garda but there are also some stunning towns like Sirmione that you can’t miss either.
It has one of the best castles in all of Northern Italy to visit.
Plus, if you’re venturing away from the shores of Garda, you can pop over to Lago di Tenno and even head upon a Via Ferrata overlooking the whole area.
Read more: Things to do in and around Lake Garda
Nestled within the hills of the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, Mantua is a gorgeous little city to visit for a long weekend trip! You see, it’s small enough to wander around by foot but not small enough to get bored (if you get my drift).
After checking into your lodgings, head over to explore the Basilica di Sant’Andrea, go inside the Ducal Palace and spot the Rotonda di San Lorenzol. It’s such a historic city, you can’t miss it.
Read more: Best things to do in Mantua
8.) Lake Como
I love a good Italian lake, and Lake Como is no exception! It’s a totally lovely (although sometimes pricey) area of Italy to explore but that shouldn’t put you off.
In fact, you don’t even need to stay around Lake Como if you really don’t want to, you can easily hop over for a long day trip around the lake for a whistlestop tour. Though, a few days relaxing and taking in the vibe is totally gorgeous, I must admit.
Along the way, be sure to stop off at Brienno, Tremezzo, Belaggio and Como itself.
Each has its own charm and history that’s lovely for a stroll. It really is one of the best places in Northern Italy to visit if you want a little slice of luxury!
Read more: A day exploring Lake Como
Okay, so Bergamo is sometimes forgotten in-lieu of bigger-hitting cities like nearby Milan.
In fact, you might even fly into Bergamo when heading towards Milan! Though this would be a mistake, it’s a stunning city, especially within the hilly old city centre (Città Alta) that’s just so picturesque.
You’ll see some incredible sunsets from this area of Bergamo and thousands of years of history too. With places like the Duomo di Bergamo and the Cappella Colleoni with its frescos, it’s incredible to explore.
10.) Cinque Terre
So, one of the furthest points south in Northern Italy I’m including, Cinque Terre is a region of five towns that’s totally timeless and completely beautiful.
Reached easiest by train from La Spezia, each of the towns has it’s own charm, beautiful little restaurants and plenty of little swimming spots to cool off in the summer months.
Just wear some comfy shoes and buy a day ‘hop-on-and-off’ train ticket that lets you dart between each of the towns. Oh, and if you’re flying, it can be quicker to land in Pisa airport and make a little overnight stay to see the famous Leaning Tower, too.
We’ve visited Cinque Terre a number of times and it’s just so incredible! You really can’t miss it.
Read more: Best things to do in Cinque Terre
11.) Lake Braies
Perched within the Dolomites area of South Tyrol, Lake Braies (or Lago di Braies), is one stunning spot to visit.
Though don’t assume you’ll have this beautiful spot to yourself, it can get very busy during peak holiday times. If you want to avoid the majority of the crowds, head across early in the morning (ideally around sunrise) and take a stroll (about an hour or two) around the lake itself.
Now, if you’re already heading over to the Dolomites, we’d definitely say to tag this onto a wider trip as it’s a long drive from the larger transport hubs.
After all, you want to see as many of the best places in Northern Italy as possible!
Read more: Best national parks in Italy
Nestled within the Julian Alps, Lussari is a picture-perfect town with its sanctuary that dates way back to the 14th Century.
Now, you can either get to the sanctuary by foot (via the Pilgrim’s Path) or, if you prefer an easy ride, hop on the cable car from Camporosso.
Oh, and make sure to brush up on your skiing skills! Mount Lussari and the Di Prampero run is incredible. Though, only attempt these if you’re an advanced skier.
Read more: Best hikes in Italy
13.) Bassano del Grappa
Situated within the Veneto region of Northern Italy, Bassano del Grappa is around 70-minutes from Venice by car.
Now, one thing that makes this city so gorgeous is its 13th-century Ponte Vecchio Bridge that straddles the Brenta. It’s totally stunning can’t be missed.
Afterwards, stop off at the Grappa Museum (I mean, you’re in the home of grappa) and even try a tipple or two, too! Plus, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, hop into the Museo Civico di Bassano which houses centuries-old paintings and artefacts.
If hunger beckons, hop into the unsophisticated Osteria Alla Caneva that serves up the most authentic Italian food. Their
Beef Ragu Fettuccine is everything.
Read more: Best places in Southern Italy to visit
12 Beautiful Towns In Southern Italy That You Must Visit