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Top 6 Things to Do in Northern Italy

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Picturesque village in Valle d'Aosta, north Italy

Aosta, Italy

Charming, historic, and adventure-filled, northern Italy offers you the opportunity to discover a wealth of unforgettable experiences, and our top six things to do in northern Italy will help you create timeless memories.

Dive into sensational cuisine that captures the spirit of a local neighborhood and fabulous wines that reflect a unique landscape. Explore historic city centers and wander through the winding lanes to intriguing piazzas as you explore the region’s diverse treasures.

Take time to admire the breathtaking countryside, explore mountains, witness reflections on calm lakes, or visit cultural and artistic highlights as you discover the best things to do in northern Italy.

  1. 1. Hike and Kayak to Experience the Great Outdoors
  2. 2. Explore Classic Cultural Sites in Historic Neighborhoods
  3. 3. Indulge in Culinary Delights Native to Northern Italy
  4. 4. Embrace a Flavorful Adventure with Wine Tasting
  5. 5. Explore Winding City Streets on Walking Tours
  6. 6. Discover Breathtaking Art and Architecture
  7. Experience the Top Things to Do in Northern Italy

1. Hike and Kayak to Experience the Great Outdoors

Santa Maddalena Village in the Dolomites, Italy

Dolomites, Italy

With vast spaces comprising majestic mountain ranges and glistening lakes, discovering the beauty of northern Italy’s outdoors is easy and fun when hiking or kayaking.

The former is popular, with mountain trails and coastal paths through national parkland, up challenging slopes, and against windswept beaches. From the Dolomite’s difficult routes to the leisurely pathways passing by Cinque Terre towns, Europe’s best hiking destinations in Italy offer great ways to experience northern Italy’s outdoors.

Kayaking is another option for adventurous travelers on any one of the popular lakes dotting the landscape. Take time out from walking to paddle across the glistening waters on Lake Como vacations or picnic alongside the lakes near hidden villages.

Best Places for Hiking or Kayaking: Gran Paradiso National Park • Lake Como • Dolomites • Orobie Trail

2. Explore Classic Cultural Sites in Historic Neighborhoods

Certosa di Pavia Monastery, Milan Lombardy, Italy

Milan, Lombardy, Italy

With such a rich history and charming culture throughout the country, discovering ancient and interesting facts and finds in northern Italy’s historical neighborhoods is a wonderful way to spend a day.

Uncover traditions and pastimes that are still in place today and let local guides step you through museums and around monuments. From the romantic balcony of Juliet’s House in Verona, which you can visit on a day trip during Venice vacations, to the medieval fortress of Castello Sforzesco, northern Italy’s cultural sites transport you through time.

Embrace local events and admire classic northern Italian architecture in city squares and hillside wonders as you enjoy historic neighborhoods in iconic towns and cities.

Best Places for Cultural or Historical Tours: Castello Sforzesco • Boccadasse Neighborhood • Juliet’s House • Certosa di Pavia Monastery • Grotte di Catullo

3. Indulge in Culinary Delights Native to Northern Italy

Homemade pasta served at a restaurant in Italy

Bologna, Italy

Italian cuisine has long been a favorite worldwide and the country offers many delicious options, with several destinations in northern Italy gateways to uniquely regional dishes and flavors.

Enjoy the region’s specialties in courtyard cafes and vibrant piazzas, indulging in the slow-paced atmosphere locals enjoy. From authentic Tagliatelle Bolognese in Bologna to classic Prosciutto di Parma in Parma, you can savor the culinary traditions as you explore the best cities for food in Emilia-Romagna, a culinary capital of northern Italy.

Learn the intricate art of pasta making and find your favorite Italian cheese, ending the day with bold, unforgettable flavors during your stay in food hotspots of northern Italy.

Best Places for Food Tours: Parma • Bergamo • Bologna • Valdobbiadene

Learn more: Italy Food Tours & Vacations

4. Embrace a Flavorful Adventure with Wine Tasting

Vineyard in Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy

Piedmont, Italy

Escape to northern Italy’s countryside for a flavorful wine-tasting adventure revealing the distinct differences between northern and southern Italy’s vintages.

Spend time in picturesque vineyards enjoying the delights of Italian reds and whites, and savor the tiny bubbles with thirst-quenching sparkling wines, from a bold glass of Amarone to an effervescent sip of Lambrusco. Northern Italian wine stands out with sensational nuances typical of the regional conditions contrasting the traditional Mediterranean climate of southern Italy.

Enjoy harvest time in the fall, entering caves and cellars in seemingly remote locations, perhaps enhancing your wine-tasting experience with a robust meal during your stay at the best wine-tasting regions in Italy in the northern half of the country.

Best Regions for Wine Tasting: Piedmont • Lombardy • Trento-Alto Adige • Pavia • Liguria

Learn more: Italy Wine Tours & Vacations

5. Explore Winding City Streets on Walking Tours

Piazza del Nettuno in Emilia Romagna, Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy

Whether visiting one of the world’s top fashion capitals or taking time out to sip a caffè normale, a term used to describe an espresso, in a charming courtyard, walking tours of northern Italy let you partake in daily life and discover city secrets.

From northern Italy’s modest and medieval towns and villages to its bustling and modern cities, the vibrant places will impress you with exceptional culture and remarkable history as you walk from one street to the next.

Wind your way through cobbled walkways in off-the-beaten-path locations or strut along a high street in a bigger city. Discover breathtaking sites as you embark on walking tours during Milan vacations or learn about the changes that may have taken place where you stand in other famous locations.

Best Places for Walking Tours: Milan • Venice • Bologna • Mantova • Trento • Parma • Genoa

6. Discover Breathtaking Art and Architecture

Duomo in Milan, Italy

Duomo in Milan, Italy

From a maestro’s modest beginnings to artists who called northern Italy home, discover the brilliant art culture that exists in this part of the country in galleries and historic museums.

Architectural delights, such as duomos and cathedrals, blend in with modern-day designs, while ruins and remnants line unsuspecting corners of the landscape. From signature museums in Milan to the ancient architectural neighborhoods of Verona, northern Italy is a reservoir of emblematic art and architecture.

You can also try your hand at the techniques famous artists used with small group or private classes, taking commemorative works home with you as tokens of your artistic endeavors in northern Italy.

Best Places for Art and Architecture: Cremona • Verona • Milan • Aosta • Padova

Experience the Top Things to Do in Northern Italy

Lake Como in Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Northern Italy has beautiful mountains, enticing winelands, and breathtaking architecture in cities and secluded villages, each offering activities to visitors with varied interests exploring the best places to visit in northern Italy and beyond.

Whether looking for a private gondola ride in Venice or a unique cooking class at the alps’ foothills, you can take a look at the possibilities in our northern Italy tours and itineraries. You can also find helpful information on the best time to visit northern Italy and more in our Northern Italy travel guide.

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