Northern Italy

Exploring the Treasures of Northern Italy

Northern Italy is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, culturally prosperous cities, and delicious cuisine. There are abundant attractions to discover, from the stunning coastlines of the Ligurian Riviera to the picturesque lakes and mountains of the Piedmont and Lombardy regions.

The Cinque Terre – Liguria

The Cinque Terre along Italy’s northwestern coast is a scenic gem. This UNESCO site consists of five villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – perched dramatically on rugged cliffs overlooking the sea. Each offers unique charm, from Monterosso’s beach to Vernazza’s harbour views. Hiking trails connect the towns, some portions requiring sure feet. For optimal experiences, walk this coastal path, taking in vineyards and turquoise waters.

Alternately, the local train provides scenic rides between villages. By boat, admire the colourful towns from the sea. Sample seafood and focaccia in the early morning or evening for authentic cuisine to miss crowds. Indeed, the Cinque Terre is one of Northern Italy’s most picturesque destinations worthy of your visit.

Genoa – Liguria

Genoa offers a glimpse into history along Italy’s northern coast. As a cruise port, many spend only a day, but its medieval Old City and cultural attractions are worth longer exploration. Wander narrow alleyways amid architectural gems, discovering Columbus’ museum or hidden piazzas. Indulge in the city’s famous fare like focaccia, pesto and seafood from stalls. For panoramic views, ride the aquarium elevator or hike less travelled streets.

History buffs can visit opulent Rolli palaces, now UNESCO sites. Iconic is the lighthouse Lanterna jutting into the sea. Truly experience this underrated gem over 2-3 days soaked in atmosphere. Beyond beaches, Genoa rewards those who linger among its cultural richness.

Portofino – Liguria

Portofino is nestled along the coast and lures celebrities to its harbour with colourful buildings and luxury yachts. It is best explored via the scenic coastal train from Genoa, taking in sea views. Wander boutique-lined streets before stopping to savour an Aperol spritz with marina views. Hike Castello Brown or the lighthouse for panoramas of beach-lined coves.

Though prices are high, affordable seafood spots like Trattoria da Paolino and Ristorante Puny satisfy. Every visit is complete with indulging in this iconic Riviera town’s charm, best in shoulder season to avoid crowds. Nearby, Cinque Terre and Genoa complement each other with coastal beauty and history, perfectly filling a week along this scenic coastline.

Cortina d’Ampezzo – Veneto Region

Cortina d'Ampezzo - Veneto Region

Nestled in Italy’s Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo offers outdoor splendor. Surrounded by scenic peaks and valleys, this alpine town is a paradise for nature lovers. In summer, hike through wildflower meadows with stunning mountain views around each turn on trails ranging from leisurely to challenging. Cable cars and chairlifts provide access to routes and huts serving meals with panoramic backdrops.

Winter transforms Cortina into a world-class ski destination, hosting the 1956 Olympics with over 120km of powdery slopes. Beyond adventures, explore charming pedestrian alleys lined with shops, cafes and elegant hotels. Be sure to see the Church of Santa Maria Assunta frescoes. Book accommodations well in advance, or consider nearby Colle Santa Lucia. Cortina truly is a gem that belongs on any Northern Italy itinerary.

Venice – Veneto Region

No Northern Italy trip is complete without Venice, genuinely unique as the lone city not on land. First, walk St. Mark’s Square, taking magnificent sights like the basilica and campanile. Then, explore the warren of alleyways and hidden squares away from crowds. The best way to navigate 118 islands is by water – whether a romantic gondola along the Grand Canal or a Vaporetto to atmospheric Burano and its colourful cottages. Be sure to sample cicchetti and sarde in saor.

Also, catch the illuminated basilica at sunset in Piazza San Marco. Venice deserves at least three days with its shimmering canals and medieval architecture. With Cortina’s natural beauty in the Dolomites, spending a week between these Veneto gems allows you to fully experience their cultural and scenic riches.

Turin – Piedmont Region

Turin retains a regal aura with elegant arcades and grand squares perfect for people watching from cafes. Must-sees include the majestic Mole Antonelliana Tower, Holy Shroud Museum and Egyptian Museum, all accessible via panoramic elevators. Foodies explore the historic Quadrilatero district, sampling Piedmontese treats like bagna cauda, tajarin pasta and bicerin chocolate at eateries. A scenic day trip visits the lavish Venaria Palace gardens. Car enthusiasts tour Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Pininfarina factories. With top museums, vibrant arts and relaxing aperitivos in Porta Palazzo and along the Po River, Turin blends culture, cuisine and attractions beautifully for a memorable long weekend in its royal yet contemporary ambience.

Lake Como – Lombardy Region

Nestled in the Alps, glacial Lake Como offers scenic splendour. Its sapphire waters are framed by lush greenery and villages clinging to hillsides. Top stops like Bellagio, the “Pearl”, boast charming promenades overlooking the lake. Varenna offers walks and wine bars on the eastern shore. Nearby, Villa Carlotta boasts gardens and art. Ride ferries or hike trails for panoramic views between towns. Accommodations range from luxury hotels to family inns and farm stays, all within an hour of Milan by train. Spend at least three days exploring scenic towns and trails and sampling local wines with stunning lake panoramas. Lake Como will surely provide lifetime memories for its picture-perfect natural beauty.

Valtellina Valley – Lombardy Region

Valtellina Valley - Lombardy Region

Nestled between the Rhaetian Alps and Lake Como, the scenic Valtellina Valley is renowned for its Nebbiolo-based wines. Base yourself in medieval Sondrio, then sample bresaola beef, buckwheat pizzoccheri pasta and prized Valtellina Superiore DOCG red paired with cheeses at local wineries. Hike well-marked trails through Alpine meadows with views of snowy peaks or visit villages like Teglio for handcrafted nativity scenes—Immerse in history aboard the Rhaetian Railway, a UNESCO site winding along the Adda River. Rich traditions paired with stunning landscapes among mountains and lakes make the valley ideal for those seeking culture, nature, and acclaimed Italian fare on a Northern Italy trip.

Milan – Lombardy Region

Milan exudes sophistication through attractions like the ornate Duomo, with views from its roof terrace and Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces. Shoppers adore boutiques along the gilded Quadrilatero and Europe’s oldest mall, while evening strollers sip aperitivos amid live music in the lively Navigli district. Foodies must sample saffron risotto, breaded veal cutlets and Da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper. Milan offers an authentic, considerable city experience in Northern Italy with world-class art, fashion, and buzzing nightlife. Its scenic landscapes, deep culture and renowned cuisine ensure something for every traveller.

Read More: 10 Best Things to Do in Lake Como Italy


In closing, visiting Northern Italy promises breathtaking scenery, cultural riches and culinary delights around every turn. From hiking through Dolomite peaks to relaxing on Lake Como’s shores, each destination offers its unique allure. Whether your interests lie in historic cities, coastal villages or mountain adventures, Northern Italy delivers memorable experiences to last a lifetime. With so much natural beauty and cultural heritage on display, it’s no wonder this region attracts travellers worldwide.

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