PLAN A PERFECT NORTHERN ITALY ITINERARY (7-14 DAYS)
- 1 PLAN A PERFECT NORTHERN ITALY ITINERARY (7-14 DAYS)
- 2 Travel Tips For Your North Italy Itinerary
- 3 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORTH ITALY IN 7-14 DAYS
- 4 CONCLUSION: NORTHERN ITALY ITINERARY
With many stunning destinations in the region alone, it is hard to create a perfect Northern Italy itinerary. However, here are my suggestions on spending fun 7-14 days in Northern Italy.
Italy is surely one of the prettiest countries in the world, and after spending about one month in that region (over several trips), I still want to explore more.
However, most of us are not fortunate enough to spend months exploring each part of this beautiful place. Here is how to see the best of the area in quite a short amount of time.
Travel Tips For Your North Italy Itinerary
Okay, let´s start with some important tips before talking about the best places to visit in Northern Italy.
Best Time to Visit Northern Italy
I suggest visiting Northern Italy from September to October, or in the spring. Summer tends to be extremely hot and even more crowded (Italy is one of the most popular places to visit globally) than it is at other times.
I figured out that the times I enjoyed Northern Italy the most were in September and June. It can be rainy, but overall, the weather is warm, and it is perfect for long strolls and beautiful hikes.
How to Get Around North Italy
I visited Northern Italy several times by car but also got to travel by plane and public transportation. If you don’t come from Germany, France, or Switzerland, I suggest flying into Bergamo and leaving Venice.
While traveling, you can either get around via car or by public transportation.
By Car / Motorcycle: Streets in Northern Italy are actually good, and driving is not as stressful as it probably is in central or even south of Italy. However, gas prices here are some of the most expensive in Europe.
And tolls are also costly in Italy (and while you can avoid them, this means longer travel times and narrower streets more often). Using the freeways costs around 0.80 or a bit more per 10km.
Also, many city centers are car-free (or just residents can drive there), and you have to pay high fines if caught driving there (even if your GPS tells you to). Parking can be tricky as well at popular hotspots, and of course, pricey.
Northern Italy is a heaven for motorcyclists – those serpentines (windy mountain streets) attract people from all over the world, so don’t be surprised if you see many in the summertime. Here are my tips for organizing a perfect road trip.
By Train: I would suggest taking the train for this 10-day trip. You don’t have that much flexibility, but neither do you have so much responsibility. And Italians tend to drive different… then, let’s say, Germans.
Train rides in Italy are actually pretty good and comparably affordable. Depending on the place you stay in the Dolomites, e.g., you also get a public transportation card and can use buses for free in a certain area. However, buses don’t run that often – except for cities – but in general, it is still easy and manageable to get around by public transportation in Italy only.
Where to Stay
Many places in Italy are quite expensive, including the places I name here. Though I have added a few hidden gems (that are less expensive), you will pay high prices in Venice or even Lake Garda. However, if you book in advance (or super last-minute) and do some research, you can find some good deals.
Italy’s standard isn’t the highest, but that doesn’t mean a three-star hotel is bad. I just read reviews carefully and haven’t had a bad experience – whether I booked a 5-star or 3-star hotel.
Every region in Italy has a different tax charged on top of the room rate (about 1-3€ a night per person).
Airbnb might be a good alternative if you like to save or stay with locals. If you have never stayed in an Airbnb before, you can use this code to save money.
Italian is the official language, though German and Landin are also official languages in South Tyrol. Basic English is widely spoken in the tourism sector.
Food in Northern Italy
Italy has amazing cuisine. As I eat plant-based, I probably enjoy the southern Italian cuisine more than the food in Northern Italy, but there is no doubt that pasta and pizza are just delicious in Bella Italia.
And so is ice cream/gelato. However, some tourist traps in popular tourist spots and prices can be totally over the top. I suggest looking for cafes and restaurants on the side streets.
Also, keep in mind that in Italy, there is a “Coperto,“ which is a kind of service charge. Not all restaurants have it, and it can vary (mostly around 2-3€ a person). When a coperto is charged, leaving a tip isn’t really necessary.
What to Pack For Your Northern Italy Itinerary
I have a detailed post on what to pack for your Europe trip – check it out here.
Security Tips for 7-14 Days in Northern Italy
Particularly in touristy places, pickpockets are common, and you should really watch your belongings. Never leave your valuables unattended, and exercise common sense.
If you travel by car, cover any items that might attract attention.
Other than that, I felt quite safe in Italy, and if you keep that in mind, you will as well.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
Map For Your Northern Italy Trip
BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORTH ITALY IN 7-14 DAYS
Let´s get started with the top attractions to see in 7, 10, or 14 days.
Bergamo – 1-1.5 Days
Depending on your arrival time, I suggest starting your itinerary by spending one full day in Bergamo.
Bergamo is a beautiful city located just one hour from Milan, and it is a real gem. It is less crowded and less expensive than Milan, but prettier. Yes, it is a must-see place in Northern Italy.
Places to Visit in Bergamo
- Explore the old town (Citta Alta) and fall in love with the pretty buildings, cute market square, and the lovely and stylish Italian people.
- Walk the Venetian Walls and enjoy the views from there – a fun and free activity to enjoy in Bergamo.
- Pay a visit to Cappella Colleoni. The beautiful interior makes this a travel highlight.
This itinerary doesn’t start with visiting Milan. While I understand the urge to visit the fashion capital, I can say that I was underwhelmed when I was there. Although I was unimpressed on my first visit, I visited it a second time. You know, give the place a second chance.
I still did not like it that much. The cathedral and the shopping center, Emmanuel, are beautiful. Still, it doesn’t have many interests like other places in Italy (no offense, dear people from Milano, just my impressions after two visits). Find out more in this detailed post with things to do in Bergamo.
Where to Stay in Bergamo
Bergamo does not have the same price tag attached that Milano or Lake Como has, so if possible, book a hotel right in the uphill old town (Cita Alta).
We stayed in an apartment (I visited with my parents and my dog), and it seemed to be a good choice for us (because we wanted to have our own kitchen, etc.), but a hotel in the old town would probably have been an even better choice.
If you can, choose Citta Alta (Upper Bergamo) over Citta Bassa (Lower Bergamo). It might be more expensive, but you are right in the most interesting district.
Also, keep in mind that there is an extra tax that often isn’t shown when booking a hotel (2€ per person a night).
Find out more about luxury accommodation in Bergamo and get the best rates.
Here are some great budget hotels and hostels in Bergamo.
Lake Garda – 2-2.5 days
When planning your itinerary, I highly suggest planning in at least 2.5 days at Lake Garda. However, if you have only 7 days in Northern Italy, I would probably only stay 1-2 days.I prefer Lake Garda over Lake Como (which I visited twice) because the towns of Lake Garda are prettier, and it is more affordable and fun (click here for my 1-7 day itinerary for Lake Garda).
I liked Lake Como enough to visit twice and really liked Bellagio; however, if I had to choose (which I have in this case), I really recommend Lake Garda even though it is more crowded than its snobbier counterpart, Lake Como.Places to Visit in Lake Garda
- Explore Limone (one of the cutest villages I have visited in Europe so far) and bring your camera. The harbor, the pretty houses, and the flowers everywhere make this place picturesque and charming.
- Head from Limone to Malcesine via boat in the afternoon. The boat ride is fun, and you get to see another beautiful town of Lake Garda.
- Stroll Sirmione. This is probably almost a full-day activity. With its pretty old town and the harbor, it is perfect for nice strolls.
- Got curious and want to find out more about the best places at Lake Garda? Then click here.
Where to Stay in Lake Garda
I have written a more detailed post about the best places to stay in and around Lake Garda. However, Sirmione and Riva del Garda might be some of the best places to stay.
Check out the hotels for Sirmione here:
Luxury – For a luxurious experience, stay at the Grand Hotel Terme, which offers great amenities and a full English buffet.
Mid-Range – If you are looking for a mid-range option, the Champagne Rooms would be a great choice, with helpful staff and a nice location. They also offer family suites, perfect if you’re traveling with your family.
Budget-friendly – Located right by Lake Garda’s shore, the lovely Hotel Porto Azzurro makes a good budget option.
Check out the hotels for Riva del Garda here:
Luxury – The Rivacentro is a popular, luxurious apartment hotel with helpful staff, modern rooms, and great amenities.
Mid-Range – For a mid-range hotel, you could stay at the Parc Hotel Flora, which offers spa access, views, and breakfast.
Check out hotels for Limone here:
My personal favorite place in Lake Garda was Limone, where I stayed. The place is tiny but yet my favorite place in the region.
Luxury – Hotel Splendid Palace is a lovely accommodation that offers many amenities and beautiful views from its rooftop pool.
Mid-Range – Garni Gianmartin provides a savory buffet and lovely lake views. A favorite among solo travelers.
Budget-friendly – Hotel Cristina has a nice location and offers lake views, a pool, and friendly staff.
Verona – 1 Day
Verona is an absolutely amazing city that should be on any Northern Italy itinerary. While it is mostly known as the setting for Shakespeare´s “Romeo and Juliette,“ it has so much to offer to its visitors.Things to Do in Verona
- Stroll the Piazza Delle Erbe and Piazza Bra. Both piazzas are colorful, fun, and lively.
- Admire the Verona Arena. Older than the Colesseum in Rome and located right next to the Piazza Bra, it is a must-see place.
- Visit Juliet´s house and balcony and experience some real tourist crowds.
- Stroll the Aldige River for a nice and less crowded place along the pretty Aldige River. And look out for some of the pretty bridges you will find along the way.
- Tip: To save money while enjoying the activities, get a Verona Card (I wish I had):
Click here to read my detailed post on Verona – with the best things to do and important travel information.
Where to Stay in Verona
We, unfortunately, did only a day trip but if I could change back the hands of time, I would stay at least one night in Verona – it was much more beautiful than expected, and with 10 days in Northern Italy, you could stay at least the night so you can spend your evening there, too.
I highly suggest picking a hotel directly in the city center, and I would choose this hotel for my next Verona trip.
With these places, you have seen some amazing places in Northern Italy already, but here are a few more places to come (though Turin is not mentioned here, you could add it to your itinerary as well).
Dolomites / Trentino – 2.5-3 Days
I have recently discovered a part of Italy that is absolutely amazing. Trentino and South Tyrol and do believe they are breathtaking.
Even after staying there for more than a week, I couldn’t get enough. And while I admit that it is a bit far from Venice (about two hours to the capital city of Trentino, Trento), it is worth it, and you will see completely different scenery. It looks nothing like the rest of Italy.
The Dolomites, a mountain range and UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located in the northeastern part of Italy and dominate the landscape, but it is more than just stunning mountains.
The most beautiful lakes in Italy are here, cute mountain villages, and of course, it is great for hiking or any other outdoor activities.
However, getting around here (either via car or public transportation) is often time-consuming as the region is mountainous, so you need to plan in some time for visiting each area.
If you enjoy more city life, then Trento can be your first stop. This hidden gem is authentic and real – you get a lot of Italy, which you don’t have to share with many others.Things to Do in Trento
- Visit the Piazza del Duomo and the old town. The old town of Trento is probably one of the most authentic Italian towns you can experience.
- Explore the Buonconsiglio Castle. This lovely castle, in the city center, offers great views and interesting art.
- Enjoy views from Sargadna Mountain. Get the funicular and enjoy views of the city of Trento, or just hike up. It is also a great place to watch the sunset.
- Find a detailed post on the best things to do in Trento here
Where to Stay in Trento
I guess that almost all hotels and official accommodations have the Trentino Guest Card for the guests. While you could even stay at Riva del Garda, located right at the pretty Lake Garda, and would still receive a guest card, I suggest booking a hotel right in Trento for at least two nights.
4-Star hotel Hotel Buonconsiglio is a well-rated hotel right in the town center. Find out more by clicking here.
The Grand Hotel Trento is another very well-rated 4-star hotel in Trento that offers a guest card to its visitors and is one of the best hotels in town. Get the best rates and find out more by clicking here.
The Albermonaco is a 3-star hotel that is more budget-friendly (close to the city center and offers the Guest Card to its guests). Find out more about the hotel here.
I stayed at this hotel – it was a good choice with a dog, and the location was charming. However, though it is close to the town center, you will still need a car to get to the town center. Also, there is no WiFI – but I was more than happy with my budget hotel.
Things to Do in the Dolomites
As mentioned above, the distances in the mountainous regions might not seem like much. Still, it takes time, so I suggest staying in Trento for only one day and booking accommodation close to Toblach, which is centrally located to the next few attractions you should add to your lake itinerary.
Visiting these four attractions in Northern Italy will take about two days. Of course, you could swap one place for a small mountain village (like Ortisei, which is absolutely lovely) but these three lakes are probably the prettiest in Italy.
- Visit Lago di Braies (Lake Prags or Prager Wildsee), which has become extremely popular. Though you might have to share this place with many other tourists, it is worth it because the lake is located in an absolutely amazing piece of scenery (and no hike necessary).
- Lago di Carezza is my favorite lake, though it might be disappointing when visited in winter or spring, as the water level isn’t high. But the backdrop is one of the best a mountain lake could have (no hike needed to arrive at this mountain lake).
- Hike to Lago di Sorapis. I chose this difficult hike, but even the easier hike isn’t easy. But if you are a bit experienced, you will be rewarded with Italy’s most unique mountain lake. Plan in at least half a day for this beauty.
- Hike around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Hiking around the most famous mountains in the region is perhaps the best hike you can take in Northern Italy.
Cristallo Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in the region. It is part of the Luxury Collections Resort and is located close to the town center of Cortina. Click here to find out about rates for the luxury hotel.
Hotel Montana – I changed hotels spontaneously and booked a night in Cortina at this hotel. My arrival was a bit disappointing, but once the receptionist and I solved the issues, I really liked it. The breakfast was quite good, and I liked the location (and it is great value for money). Click here to find out rates for Hotel Montana.
Hotel Sorapiss is a well-rated medium-priced hotel near Lake Sorapis (and so a good base). Find out more about prices and availability here.
Hotel Lago di Braies – If you want to stay near Lago Braies (also a good choice), then Hotel Lago di Braies is perfect if you like staying next to the lake (with all the perks that come with it, like enjoying the lake early in the morning when no one else is around). Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Hotel Lago di Braies.
Venice – 1-2 Days
Venice is probably the best place to end your Northern Italy trip if you arrive and leave via plane, as it has an airport. If you don’t fly out but do a road trip or get around via train, you could do Venice first and then head to the Dolomites (especially if you come here from Germany or Switzerland, etc.).
Venice, located more towards Italy’s northeast, is a main tourist hotspot for a reason – it is absolutely fantastic.
From Venice, it takes about 1.5 hours, but it is absolutely worth it. The city of bridges is as iconic as it gets. While you could spend more than 1.5 days in the city, this is the absolute minimum.
You will probably need one day in Venice and half a day to visit Burano, a small island that you can reach after a 40-minute boat tour from Venice.
Things to Do in Venice
- Stroll Piazza San Marco. Though this is not a hidden gem, it is one of the best things to do in Northern Italy.
- Visit St. Mark´s Basilica. Long lines are the norm, but if something is so pretty, everyone wants to see it, right?
- Enjoy the view from San Marco Campanile. Take a lift and enjoy the view from the tower. This is a fantastic way to see Venice from above.
- Walk the Grand Canal. If you want to do a gondola ride or just stroll the beautiful canal, this is a place not to be missed.
- Go on a half-day trip to Burano. It doesn’t get more colorful than Burano. I suggest adding it to your list even if you do not have much time because it is an extremely colorful place. And when I say colorful, I really mean colorful!
- Here is more on Burano, and I have also written a detailed post on Venice – just click here to read more.
- Tip: Venice is very crowded most time of the year – when visiting Venice make sure to book activities (like St. Mark´s Basilica) in advance if you don’t like to stay in line for hours. Find the best rates for tours and activities in Italy and Venice here.
Where to Stay in Venice
We stayed in Venice Lido, which meant we had to take a boat to get to Venice. It was a beautiful boat ride, and Lido was cute, so I would not mind staying there again.
Venice has some great 5* hotels like the Gritti Palace with a lovely view of the Grand Canal. You can check the prices for the Gritti Palace here.
There are also some 2*, 3* and 4* hotels, though accommodation is quite expensive in Venice, so make sure to check out the best prices for your Venice accommodation.
Liguria – 4 Days
Staying in 14 days in Northern Italy? First of all, this is a great decision, and you surely will not regret it. There are many more places that are absolutely jaw-dropping, and here is how I would spend the extra four days.
It is home to the famous Cinque Terre villages and more hidden gems on the coast and one of my most favorite cities in Europe – Genoa!
If you want to add Liguria to your itinerary, you can get there from Bergamo. Either head to Genoa directly (easy via train or car) or make La Spezia, near Cinque Terre, your base, and go on day trips.
Genoa – 1 Day: One full day in Genoa is the minimum for this amazing city! The waterfall (which seems no one knows about) is just one place to see, and while I am working on my one-day Genoa itinerary, you have some tips on what to do and see in Genoa here.
Cinque Terre- 1 Day: Then spend one more day in Cinque Terre (I know, this place is hyped and it is beautiful. but there are even prettier places around and in one day you can see the top places), here are my travel tips for Cinque Terre in one day or two.
Santa Margherita – Portofino – 1 Day: Portofino, a small fishing village on the Ligurian Coast, is very popular amongst visitors worldwide. It is quite small, so strolling the pretty village takes a few hours maximum, so I recommend combining it with a trip to Santa Margherita.
Since there is no train station in Portofino, my tip is to get by train (or car) to Santa Margherita (parking is expensive AF – 37,50€ for a full day and parking is limited), so I seriously consider getting there by train).
From there, take a bus or boat to Portofino, and on your way back, discover the pretty town of Santa Margherita. Both places are beautiful – I like the latter even more though it is not very famous amongst foreign tourists.
Porto Venere – 1/2 Day: This is probably one of my most favorite villages/places in all of Italy. You can get there easily from La Spezia by bus or boat, and it is quite small – so perfect for the last day before heading to one of the other destinations.
I think it is a must on any Northern Italy itinerary – and if you stay in the area for 7, 10, or 14 days try to fit Porto Venere in.Where to Stay in Liguria: As mentioned, I would not stay in Cinque Terre – it is great if you do not want to get around much. However, if you want to see all the places in Liguria I mentioned above, La Spezia would be the best choice.
From there, you can easily get around by car or train (however, I still recommend using public transportation in this area as it is pretty amazing and there is plenty of free public parking in La Spezia – unlike many other places in Liguria).
CONCLUSION: NORTHERN ITALY ITINERARY
I hope this post helps you to plan your 10-day Northern Italy itinerary (or anything between 7-14 days).
Of course, there are places like Florence that aren’t on the list, but this would have involved too much time in the train/car. I suggest coming to Italy and doing a more central tour and visiting Tuscany and Southern Italy.
Italy is so rich in beautiful places, and you could spend months or years exploring Italy without getting bored. You could even spend months in the area – since this is often not possible, I hope this post helps you to plan your trip.