Northern Italy: best cities and itinerary

Northern Italy is a great destination for several reasons. Beautiful nature, rich history and captivating cities can all be a part of one trip. What itinerary to choose to get the most of the region? Here are some of the most interesting cities and landscapes you absolutely cannot miss, that includes Milan, Florence, lake Como, Genoa, and many others. You can find the map below.


The largest city in northern Italy is Milan. It is the capital of Lombardy – the richest region of Italy. Milan has a lot of iconic landmarks like the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and La Scala.

The center of the city is a great place for long walks even if you don’t have a plan. Milan is also a fashion capital, and for high-end shopping you should go to Quadrilatero della Moda (streets Sant Andrea, Montenapoleone, Santo Spirito and Gesu). In this quarter there are many boutiques and jewelry stores of world famous brands.

There are many churches in Milan; you can walk into an inconspicuous-looking church and discover the unexpected richness of the interior with beautiful murals. The most famous mural, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, is also in Milan, in the church Santa Maria delle Grazie.

If you want to visit an unusual place, you should go to Cimitero Monumentale di Milano. This cemetery is not like the others, as ot ressembles more to a city with streets and big crypts that looki like buildings.

Lake Como

Lake Como is called one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Many lakeside cities are very chraming with colorful houses and narrow cobblestone streets. You can book a boat ride on the lake, a hike, a tour to see historical sites or just enjoy local cuisine.

The photos below were taken from Castello di Vezio – an ancient castle with breathtaking views. More information in this post.

The best cities to visit and stay are Lecco, Como, Varenna.

Peschiera del Garda

Peschiera del Garda is a charming town located on the southern shores of Lake Garda. It is known for its picturesque waterfront, historical landmarks, and scenic beauty. Visitors can explore the medieval fortress, stroll along the promenade, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the town. The tranquil beaches and crystal-clear waters of Lake Garda provide opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

You can get here directly from Milan by bus (travel time 2 hours) and by train. From Verona you can only get there by train.


You can’t miss Verona, first of all, for its association with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and secondly for a Roman amphitheater, which hosts opera performances, and many other architectural monuments.

There’s a small backyard with a Juliet’s balcony and visitors leave love notes on the walls.

It’s easy to get here from Milan by bus (2.5 hours) or train. There are also a trains from Peschiera and the towns on the Como coast.


Bologna has a lot of tourist attrcations: medieval towers, well-preserved architecture, quiet streets and crowses squares, such as Piazza Maggiore, where visitors can admire the stunning Basilica di San Petronio. Bologna is also home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna. Exploring the narrow streets, known as “porticos,” and indulging in traditional dishes like tortellini and mortadella are must-do experiences in Bologna.

It’s easy to get here from Verona, the bus takes 2 hours, the train costs twice as much and takes 1 hour.


Turin is not very popular among tourists, but is a very interesting city. The iconic building Mole Antonelliana is an experimental projest that became a symbol of Turin. Visitors can also explore the iconic Piazza Castello, home to the Royal Palace and the stunning Turin Cathedral. Turin is also renowned for its chocolate and coffee culture, with historic cafes offering delightful treats. Additionally, the city is a gateway to the Italian Alps, making it a popular destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.

You can get to Turin from Milan (the journey will take 2 hours); from Bologna and other Italian, Swiss and French cities.


Genoa is situated on the stunning Ligurian Sea, has a beach and offers beautiful views. Genoa has a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. The city’s historic center is filled with narrow alleyways, grand palaces, and beautiful churches. The best landmarks are the Palazzo Ducale, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, and the famous Genoa Aquarium, one of the largest in Europe. With its charming old port, delicious cuisine, and vibrant atmosphere, Genoa is a must-visit destination.

A trip from Turin or from Milan both takes 2 hours.


Aosta is a picturesque city located in the Aosta Valley. Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Italian Alps, Aosta offers breathtaking natural beauty and a rich history. The city is known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, including the Roman Theater and the Arch of Augustus. Visitors can explore the charming streets of the historic city center, visit the Cathedral of Aosta, and discover the local cuisine and wine. It is also a very popular ski destination.


Depending on the approach, Florence is classified either in the northern or in the central part of Italy. Many travelers on a trip to northern Italy include Florence in their itinerary, because it is easily accessible from any city in the north. This is one of the most fascinating Italian cities with many attractions, cultural values and history. There is so much to see here that it is better to prepare for your visit in advance so you don’t miss anything. However, aimless walks around the city can be very exciting. The most famous attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a unique architectural monument.


Venice, often referred to as the “Floating City”, is a unique and enchanting destination. Its intricate network of canals, charming bridges, and historic buildings make it a favorite among tourists. Exploring the narrow streets and taking a gondola ride along the Grand Canal are must-do activities in Venice.


You can often find cheap plane tickets to Milan, so it’s logical to start your trip here. You should plan at least one full day for Milan, or better yet two – it’s a really big and interesting city. The next city will be Turin (144 km), to see it most likely one day will be enough. Next is Genoa (172 km), where you should also spend at least a full day. Then you can take a scenic route along the sea to Florence. The trips is quite long (230 km), so if you are traveling by car, make a stop in one of the coastal towns.

Florence is an extremely sightseeing city, so it is worthy of at least two full days. The next destination is Bologna (106 km), where it will be calm and quiet, especially compared to Florence. Next is Venice (154 km), where, of course, you also need to stop for a couple of days. Then you can stop by Verona (121 km) and Peschiera del Garda (another 30 km), or go straight to Lake Como (300 km). Low-cost return flights are common from Venice, Verona and Milan, so you can end your trip in one of these cities.