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7 Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

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View of Lake Grade and mountains in Torbelo, Italy

Lake Garda, Torbole, Italy

In a country with a plethora of beautiful and charming rural and urban areas, these seven best places to visit in northern Italy capture the essence of the popular Italian region.

Majestic mountains jut out against sparkling backgrounds, while quaint towns in glorious landscapes make the region a much-desired destination for any kind of traveler. Cities offer cultural and culinary delights, majestic architecture, and mouth-watering dishes served with flair, while lakes and vineyards add to the north’s aesthetic appeal.

Capture the spirit of the area at your pace, with these ideas of the best places in northern Italy taking you to new corners of the countryside and famous cities.

  1. 1. The Dolomites
  2. 2. The Lake District
  3. 3. Venice
  4. 4. Bologna
  5. 5. Milan
  6. 6. Turin
  7. 7. Bergamo
  8. Explore the Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

1. The Dolomites

 Val di Funes in The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites, Italy

Forming part of the Southern Limestone Alps, the northern Italian mountains line the landscape from the Adige River in the west to the Piave Valley in the east.

The dramatic peaks compliment stone pathways and green hillsides, inviting travelers to explore the region on foot. Attractive villages nestle where mountains meet grasslands, offering a picturesque and peaceful getaway in a truly outstanding setting.

Home to some of the most picturesque panoramas in Italy, the Dolomites are one of the best places to visit to see the rugged northern countryside. Dressed in snow during winter, you can also ski or snowboard in the region on Italy trips during December.

Highlights: Moena, Trento • Stelvio Pass • Alto Adige • Fairytales Val di Funes • Val di Non • Val di Sole • Ortisei • Santa Cristina

Recommended length of stay: 4-5 days

2. The Lake District

Streets and historic center of Lake Orta in Italy

Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta, Italy

Comprising lakes Como, Garda, Maggiore, Iseo, Orta, Lugano, and Varese, northern Italy’s lake district is a gem to visit on vacation, with options for every traveler.

You can enjoy romantic escapes to Lake Como, cruising across the waters during sunset, or find comfort at waterside restaurants sharing views of the sun-washed lake. You might choose to wander the quaint towns of Lake Orta or uncover the cultural history of Lake Garda, as you embrace the pleasures of the Italian Lake District.

From sailing, visiting villas, discovering century-old basilicas, and stumbling upon islands boasting royal palaces with landscaped gardens, activities in the district will take your breath away.

Highlights: Lake Maggiore • Lake Como • Lake Orta • Lake Varese • Lake Garda • Lake Iseo • Lake Lugano

Recommended length of stay: 4-5 days

Learn more: Lake Como Vacation Packages

3. Venice

Famous Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and gondolas in Venice, Italy

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy

Venice is a stunning place to visit in northern Italy’s Veneto region. Many couples retreat to the city for romantic gondola rides, while families visit to explore the culture, and seniors find the history immersive.

Beautiful bridges connect the city in grand style, while surrounded by treasured Renaissance designs. The captivating architecture will have you mesmerized from the moment you arrive, with squares and cafes inviting you to taste the best Venice dishes to try on vacation, including bigoli pasta and risotto with goby.

Museums showcase marvelous works of art that complement the modern charm of one of Italy’s most popular places, a city that is sure to capture your heart and imagination as you experience the best things to do in Venice.

Highlights: St. Mark’s Square • Rialto Bridge • Murano Glass • Bridge of Sighs • St. Mark’s Basilica • Gallerie dell'Accademia

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Venice Vacation PackagesBest Time to Visit Venice

4. Bologna

Asinelli and Garisenda Tower in Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy

Emilia-Romagna is home to towns and villages brimming with flavors and textures, and Bologna belongs at the top of that list.

As one of the best cities to explore the food of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna’s culinary heritage is reason enough to visit the charming city. You can wander cobbled neighborhoods to gourmet restaurants serving authentic spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, and more local dishes representing the best foods to try when visiting Bologna.

Discover the wonder of Italy’s motor valley, walk the quaint streets, and learn about the incredible history and architecture of one of northern Italy’s most popular destinations on itineraries to Emilia-Romagna.

Highlights: Bologna Cathedral • Maggiore Square • Nettuno’s Fountain • St. Petronio Basilica • Asinelli Tower • Towers of Bologna • Lamborghini Museum

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

5. Milan

Como Cathedral exterior in Milan, Italy

Como Cathedral exterior in Milan, Italy

Experience the cosmopolitan and fashion hub that is Milan, Italy’s second-most populated city and a strong example of old meets new, from Gothic architecture to modern-day marvels.

As one of the world’s top fashion capitals, a flair for extravagance can be experienced in shopping malls and restaurants, with city streets leading visitors through magnificent buildings and neighborhoods. Milan is a northern Italian city that travelers should make time to visit for a taste of Italy’s chic and boutique fashion culture.

Get a true taste of northern Italy’s cuisine as you pair wine with provolone cheese or spread bagnet verd on bread, a few of the best dishes to try when visiting Milan. You can also use bustling Milan as a base to discover the wonderful villages and countryside that surrounds the city.

Highlights: Milan’s Como Cathedral • Parco Sempione • Piazza del Duomo

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Milan Vacation Packages

6. Turin

Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy

Piazza Castello, Turin, Italy

Wander the historical streets of Turin, a cultural capital in northern Italy that embraces modern-day industry, while paying tribute to the elegance of 19th-century Europe.

Discover the art of master chocolatiers and savor culinary delights in Turin’s classic cafes, stand in wonder in museums or majestic castles, and learn more about the rich history of car making for which the city is known.

Rest for a bit in beautiful city squares to get a feel for the lavish ambiance or embrace Turin’s well-known associations with things like cinema to truly indulge in the city’s endless charm.

Highlights: Museo dell’Automobile • Piazza Castello • Palazzo Reale • Piazza San Carlo • Mole Antonelliana Cinema Museum

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

7. Bergamo

Medieval Town in Bergamo, Italy

Medieval Town in Bergamo, Italy

Bergamo is a city that travelers easily fall in love with, as art, history, architecture, and quiet passions combine to create a timeless charm. From Venetian designs to the divided city center, a remarkable beauty fills the streets stretching across a jeweled city often overlooked for more famous places in northern Italy.

The contemporary ambiance of the lower city creates the perfect place for window shopping along the wide boulevards, while the upper city retains a medieval wonder that stands out against Renaissance and Baroque additions.

Frescoes, tapestries, masters, and museums only highlight the city’s soft-spoken and much-deserved splendor, making it an iconic destination to visit in northern Italy.

Highlights: Citta Bassa • Citta Alta • Piazza Vecchia • Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore • Palazzo della Ragione • Accademia Carrara di Belle Arti di Bergamo

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Explore the Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Many of the regions, cities, and sites in northern Italy greet visitors with dramatic landscapes and mouthwatering treats. From wine to chocolate to some of the country's tastiest pasta dishes, you can indulge in the scenery or cuisine as you settle into the comforts of the north and experience the top things to do in Northern Italy.

Learn about the region’s rich motoring history or that of arts and culture, as you explore the famous region during the best time to visit Northern Italy. For more inspiration, visit our Northern Italy travel guide or explore trip ideas with our Northern Italy vacation packages.

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