Are you planning your next road trip to Northern Italy and looking for an itinerary? We are here to help!
Northern Italy is an amazing place to visit. Northern Italy is considerably different from the south and is renowned for its gorgeous mountain ranges, magnificent lakes, and charming cities.
A perfect road trip in northern Italy is a wonderful way to discover the variety and beauty of the country’s regions, customs, and history. You will see magnificent lakes, artistic and historical cities, the stunning Mediterranean coast, and UNESCO sites located away in tiny Italian towns as you drive south across Italy.
So, are you ready to take off on an unforgettable road trip to Northern Italy? Let’s get this party started!
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Where is Northern Italy?
In Italian, the term “Northern Italy,” or “Nord Italia,” refers to the region that runs starting with the Southern Alps south to the valley of the Po along the Tyrrhenian Sea’s most northern coastline to the Adriatic Sea’s coast on Italy’s northeast side. Eight administrative districts make up the area: Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Piedmont, and Piedmont-Liguria.
Northern Italy is one of the best regions for Italian road travel because of its varied terrain, which includes fertile rolling hills, the flatlands of the enormous Po River, magnificent mountain lakes, and the majestic Dolomites.
How to reach Northern Italy
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a road trip to northern Italy by car, motorcycle, or campervan; self-driving is unquestionably the finest way to experience this breathtaking area of Italy. You can make as many stops as you like, try out new things, go to locations you come across, and alter your plans at any time.
Rent a campervan or motor home in Italy for a true adventure. Because of their wide selection of fully equipped vehicles, aggressive pricing, and outstanding customer service, we highly suggest AutoEurope.
Driving in Italy
Many people will tell you that renting a car in Italy is crazy, that the roads are terrible, and that it is dangerous to drive there. Take a road trip to northern Italy despite your concerns about driving in this stunning nation. Take it slow and be ready for the different driving habits from home as you navigate different parts of Italy.
Best time to take a road trip to Northern Italy
With temperatures rising around the nation, spring is a great time to travel to northern Italy. Spring is a great season to drive in Italy because of the blooming wildflowers, lush mountain scenery, and opening of outdoor cafés.
The north of Italy experiences lovely summer weather, breathtaking coastlines, and opportunities for outdoor dining and swimming. It can get very hot, especially in the lowlands, and the roads, cities, and attractions will be at their busiest.
A Road trip to Northern Italy is ideal in the autumn. Crops and grapes are being harvested, food festivals honor the land’s wealth, and you may experience an Indian summer when the vines’ fall hues catch fire.
Northern Italy’s winters can be quite chilly and rainy. Although some sights may be closed, the main draw of visiting northern Italy in the winter is the lack of other tourists.
Italy’s fashion city, Milan, is a stunning fusion of the old and the new. Il Duomo di Milano is the city of Milan’s most recognizable landmark. The Milan Cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic design from the outside. You may get sweeping views of the city from the cathedral’s rooftop terrace by scheduling a tour.
A visit to Santa Maria delle Grazie is a must for art lovers on a road trip to northern Italy. The Last Supper, a work of unparalleled brilliance by Leonardo da Vinci, is located at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This well-known painting, which was created between 1495 and 1497, ushers in a new era in the development of art. Northern Italy is a unique location for cultural exploration and discovery because of the chance to see such a big piece of artistic history.
Accommodation in Milan
If this is your first time visiting the city, I advise staying in the center. You can find all of the major cultural sites, as well as shops and restaurants, in the Centro Storico, which is the city’s historical center. The neighborhoods of Brera and Navigli are on the periphery of the old district and provide more cheap lodging.
Things to do in Milan
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano (Cathedral of Milan), the city’s most recognizable landmark, is the ideal site to
Begin your road trip to Northern Italy! Visit the rooftop for sweeping city views and observe the gothic architecture from the balcony.
Piazza del Duomo
Milan’s Cathedral Square is a nice area to relax with a coffee or gelato while taking in the surroundings and watching the chic Milanese go about their daily lives.
The Last Supper
Did you know that Milan is home to one of the most well-known paintings in the entire world? The Santa Maria Delle Grazie basilica, built in the fifteenth century, is where Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is kept.
Because tickets are frequently sold out months in advance, it’s crucial to reserve one as soon as you know the precise dates of your road trip to Northern Italy.
Formerly a seat of government, this magnificent mansion from the 18th century now houses historical artworks in a lavish setting. It’s beneficial to visit concurrently with the Modern Art Gallery to observe how fashion has changed.
Where you can eat in Milan
Add some fresh Japanese food to the mix since you’ll be eating a lot of Northern Italian food over the next three days. This adorable chain of eateries serves sushi, poke bowls, and matcha-infused stacks of pancakes.
Stop by this adorable cafe for a filling breakfast or a speedy afternoon snack if you enjoy the taste of delectable pastries with a cup of divine cappuccino. Each item is expertly made and exquisitely displayed, making it both a feast for the eyes and the soul.
Depending on the amount of traffic and the route you select, a road trip to northern Italy from Milan to Lake Como only takes around one hour. You can use the SS340 and SS639 roads to travel to the towns near the lake once you are in Como.
Visitors to Lake Como have a choice between unwinding and taking in the breathtaking scenery or filling their days with a range of activities. Take a boat excursion around the lake, go to a wine tasting in the Damaso region, paddle around the lake, or explore the hiking paths in the neighboring mountains.
Accommodation in Lake Como
Since Lake Como is home to numerous tiny resort villages, there are various options for lodging, ranging from budget hotels to luxurious villas. The most attractive and practical lodging option near Lake Como is Bellagio. Como, Lecco, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna, however, are also deserving of consideration.
Things to do in Lake Como
Sailing in Lake Como
A speedboat can be rented or you can go on a sailing excursion to discover Lake Como from the water. You can try your hand at being the skipper and go swimming with this sailing boat experience.
This villa is situated on the Lavedo coast and offers magnificent lake views from its grounds and terraces. It seems like something out of a dream.
If you’ve seen James Bond or Star Wars, you might recognize the villa because it has been used for special occasions and as a film location numerous times throughout the years.
Lake Como’s sole island, Isola Comacina, is situated in the lake’s southwest corner. Visitors are transported by boat to the island from Ossuccio and other nearby villages.
Isola Comacina, while small, has a rich history that you may explore by visiting its churches and landmark structures.
Lecco has some of Lake Como’s most intriguing sites, so be sure to include it in your itinerary while planning your road trip to Northern Italy.
Lecco, one of the bigger cities, has exclusive access to some of Lake Como’s most intriguing sights. Explore the Manzoni Museum of Municipal Art and the Palace of Fears, and stroll along the Lungolago di Lecco.
Where you can eat in Lake Como
This Lake Como restaurant offers classic Italian dishes with a contemporary touch in a beautiful environment that is ideal for special occasions.
This charming cafe in Como offers the most mouthwatering and beautiful food imaginable. Don’t pass up this opportunity if you’re seeking a wonderful breakfast in a cafe with positive energy.
Trattoria Corte Fiorina
Trattoria Corte Fiorina is a charming restaurant with an outdoor courtyard and a posh interior dining room that is tucked away down one of Lecco’s oldest streets. The risotto deserves praise.
Resort communities with historical attractions and bustling restaurants frame the magnificent Sapphire Ocean. If you wanted to drive around Lake Garda, it would take you around 3 hours, depending on traffic. The distance is 140 kilometers (90 miles).
The northern end of Lake Garda, which is undoubtedly the most spectacular visually, almost resembles a network of fjords. You can swim at Lake Garda, just like you can at Lake Como, so make sure to carry your swimsuits for your Northern Italy road vacation.
Accommodation in Lake Garda
If you’re coming from the south, you can begin your Lake Garda road trip from the southernmost point and reserve a hotel in Sirmione on the peninsula or the famed Desenzano del Garda.
All of these suggested cities are well supplied with conveniences, dining options, and tourist attractions for your road trip to Northern Italy. It’s entirely up to you if you choose to reserve a more secluded location along the lake.
Things to do in Lake Garda
Castle Rocca Scaligera
The moated Scaligera Castle, built in the 13th century, is Sirmione’s most notable feature. The interiors are available for public tours, and visitors can climb the towers for expansive lake views.
Cruise on Garda Lake
Sailing and other water activities are common in Lake Garda and offer a special opportunity to explore the surroundings. Speedboat tours that last only a few minutes, four-hour cruises, and sailings at dusk are all options.
Right near Lake Garda, Italy’s top amusement park offers thrilling rides and kid-friendly options to please everyone. Gardaland is a nice extra to include in your road trip to Northern Italy if you’re traveling with kids or adolescents.
Hikes in Monte Baldo
Lake Garda offers a variety of unrestricted hiking trails, including the Monte Baldo trail. The 8 km (5 miles) Monte Baldo circle is a moderate hike that takes around 4 hours to complete.
Where you can eat in Lake Garda
Mamba Beach Club Limone
On your road trip to Northern Italy don’t forget to stop at Mamba Beach Club Limone which has a beautiful place to indulge in some lakeside luxury because it offers stunning views of the lake, a pool and sun terrace, creative meals, and flashy cocktails.
Run by Grand Hotel Fasano, this lakeside restaurant has a sizable outdoor area that is directly by the lake and is shaded by chestnut trees. They provide aperitifs, drinks, and regional specialties including wonderful pizza and pasta prepared from scratch.
Jamaica Bar is another essential stop on your road trip to Northern Italy. Don’t forget to reserve a table and enjoy a sunset cocktail while taking in views of Lake Garda from one of Sirmione’s most picturesque spots.
While traveling through Northern Italy by car, Verona is a must-see city. Numerous historic sites may be found in Città Antica, a historic city that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is home to this tiny medieval city’s abundance of historical landmarks. An interesting historical excursion is provided by the city’s landmarks, which predate their Roman equivalents.
Verona serves as the entry point to the Valpolicella wine area, so while you’re here; try some of the renowned local reds. They go well with a mouthwatering Veronese cuisine.
Accommodation in Verona
Since you won’t be in Verona for very long, I suggest locating yourself near the Città Antica, the city’s historic center. Alternatives include Cittadella and Borgo Trento, which offer slightly cheaper accommodation or easier access to parking.
Things to do in Verona
The balcony of Juliet
Even though it is a bit touristy, it is worth adding to your itinerary to view the fabled balcony where Romeo courted Juliet.
You should go as early in the day as you can to Casa di Giulietta because the piazza where it is situated is small and congested. Romeo’s home is only a short distance away!
This Roman amphitheater is still in use today for opera because it has been so well preserved. If your visit falls on the day of a concert, you can take a tour of the arena or even attend a live performance.
There are several walking tours available in the city that offer skip-the-line access to Verona Arena.
Castel San Pietro
Ride the funicular to this historic fortification that was erected upon a castle as a choice for having a bird’s-eye perspective of Verona. You must cross the elaborate Ponte Pietro, which is a sight in and of itself, to get to the funicular station.
Enjoy a Valpolicella drink at one of Verona’s top-notch eateries, or schedule a Valpolicella Wine Garden Visit with Wine Tasting for more information.
Where you can eat in Verona
This is a wonderful little breakfast restaurant to squeeze in. It serves fluffy pancakes, delectable toasted bagels, and americanos that will please those looking for a respite from espressos.
The servers at Amorino will offer gelato that has been sculpted into the form of a flower to anyone looking for their daily gelato dose.
Trattoria Reale is a classy restaurant that offers a variety of traditional Italian meals. It is located down a photogenic lane.
An experience unlike any other is beginning a road trip to Northern Italy to the Dolomites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mountains of the Dolomites are home to razor-sharp peaks, alpine lakes, and fanciful meadows. Due to the region’s proximity to Austria and Switzerland, you’ll note that many cities, lakes, and landmarks have names in both Italian and German. The region is made up of the three provinces of Belluno, Trentino, and South Tyrol.
During your road trip to Northern Italy, to make the most of your time in the Dolomites my recommendation is to divide your time in the Dolomites, which are in Northern Italy, into West and East, spending a few days in each. From each base, you can arrange quick hikes to see gorgeous churches and emerald lakes.
Accommodation in the Dolomites
Spend a few days exploring the Western Dolomites while using Ortisei (Urtiji) in the Val Gardena Valley as your base of operations on your road trip to Northern Italy. Ortisei stands out as the largest and most beautiful town in Val Gardena. From here, you can go out on thrilling excursions to explore the Western Dolomites’ splendor.
Make your way to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Belluno region for the next phase of your tour. This alpine ski resort, often known as the “Pearl of the Dolomites,” has superb summer hiking options in addition to fantastic winter skiing. Cortina d’Ampezzo will wow you with its alluring charm and breathtaking scenery, making it an unforgettable stop on your road trip to Northern Italy.
Things to do in the Dolomites
Alpe di Siusi
One of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites is at Alpe di Siusi since it gives you a clear view of this alpine meadow and the Western Dolomites’ peaks.
During the day, you may travel there by taking the cable car from Ortisei, but if you want to see the sunrise or sunset, you’ll need to travel to Compatsch and climb for approximately an hour to get there.
The Dolomite churches
Near Ortisei are two of the most beautiful churches in the Dolomites.
Santa Magdalena Church is situated in the same-named town and is surrounded by the Odle mountain range.
Cadini di Misurina
One of the most breathtaking sights you’ll see during your road trip to Northern Italy is at the end of this short climb.
Check out my Cadini di Misurina hiking guide before you go because it’s not a very well-known location and it’s typically difficult to find information about it online.
Where you can eat in the Dolomites
After tackling the nearby hiking trails around Cortina d’Ampezzo, you can refuel at Baita Resch, a quiet café with warming meals.
Enjoy a breakfast of freshly made bread and pastries or unwind with a glass of wine in the evening at this welcoming restaurant and bar.
No road trip to Northern Italy is complete without visiting Venice, one of the most stunning towns in Europe. Venice, one of the most stunning towns in Europe, is awash with romantic scenery and sights that will melt your heart. Venice is a city made up of a group of about 100 islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
Do not overlook the famous Grand Canal as you go through Venice in northern Italy. The unique beauty and personality of each sector add to the city’s attractiveness. Visit Burano and Murano as well, two enchanting islands with their own distinct identities and alluring beauty.
Venice is a true photography lover’s delight with a ton of Instagram-worthy spots Enjoy the romance and allure of Venice during your road trip to Northern Italy by car and make lifelong memories.
Accommodation in Venice
Given that San Marco and San Polo combined make up the city’s tourism district, there are numerous lodging options, albeit more expensive ones, that are close to the city’s main attractions. A wonderful substitute that is somewhat more cheap and just as convenient is Cannaregio.
Things to do in Venice
St. Mark’s Square & St. Mark’s Basilica
Start the journey of Venice in the center of the city, from which you may reach the most popular tourist destinations and take pictures of the city’s historical sites.
You may also visit St. Mark’s Basilica while you’re there and take the elevator up to the top of the campanile for the most amazing cityscape views.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful bridge with a somber past—prisoners were forced to breathe their last daylight breath before being imprisoned near the Doge’s Palace.
It’s generally accessible by gondola, but for a unique perspective, it’s also worth exploring on foot.
Bridge at Rialto
Rialto Bridge, the oldest structure in Venice as well as one of the most striking sites in the city, was first built in the 12th century and later rebuilt. Visit the area to snap some shots and observe the gondolas as they pass.
Where you can eat in Venice
The Caffè Florian
A charming spot to enjoy a coffee, negroni, or their special hot chocolate in a charming setting. It is believed to be the oldest cafe in all of Europe. Even though dining at Caffé Florian is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, be aware that it will cost you a lot of money.
Fresh, genuine Venetian cuisine prepared from seasonal ingredients at Ristorante Wistèria is suitable for both vegetarians and carnivores. To reserve a table in the canalside garden, call ahead.
Cantina Do Mori
It can be challenging to locate undiscovered eateries in Venice, but this storied neighborhood spot meets the bill. Bring a thirst for wine and a desire for Cicchetti (Italian tapas).
And that concludes your road trip in Northern Italy itinerary! I wish you inspiration and success in planning your ideal holiday with this suggested schedule. Keep in mind that if starting in Venice is more convenient for you, you can reverse this schedule. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below. I always like answering them.
Is it safe to go on a road trip in Northern Italy from Milan to Venice?
Absolutely! Italy is renowned for its friendly people and secure surroundings. Like any trip, it’s important to use safeguards and keep up with local laws and safety precautions.
Does this road trip need me to speak Italian?
Although it can be useful to acquire a few basic Italian words and phrases, many inhabitants in tourist areas speak English. Having a translation app with you can be helpful as well.
How long does the entire road trip to Northern Italy take?
Your pace and the amount of stops you make will determine how long it takes. A well-paced road journey often requires two to three weeks to thoroughly appreciate each location’s charm.