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Northern Italy Tours and Trips


 
Northern Italy is a captivating region known for its rolling hills covered in vineyards, colorful coastal towns, dramatic mountains, and alpine lakes overlooked by elegant villas. Each of the eight regions in Northern Italy has its own gastronomy, cultural heritage, and natural beauty, inviting you to discover entirely different worlds, all within a day's walk or a short drive of each other.

From lakeside cycling in the Italian Lakes District and trekking among granite peaks in the Dolomites, to immersing yourself in history and culture on beautiful city walks in Venice, our signature tours take in the must-sees and hidden masterpieces. Connect with fellow travelers on our small-group tours in Italy or explore on your own with self-guided tours and itineraries.

And, of course, no Italian tour itinerary would be complete without food and drink. That's why our trips include plenty of stops to savor local wine, cheese, pizza, and fresh pasta dishes.

Our most popular Northern Italy trips

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E-bike option
8 Days From US$2040 without flights
Italy Walking and Trekking Trip code DW
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Center-based
8 Days From US$2390 without flights
Italy Walking and Trekking Trip code TOER
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8 Days From US$2210 without flights

Top Things to Do and See in Northern Italy

Covering eight different regions, landscapes ranging from coastlines to alpine mountains, and centuries worth of art, architecture, and culture, it can be hard knowing where to start when planning a trip to Northern Italy. That's why we're here.

From our years of experience exploring the northern reaches of Italy, no Northern Italy trip itinerary is complete without these essential must-dos:

Find Art, Fashion, and Architecture in Amazing Cities Like Venice and Milan

 

Many of Italy's top cities call the northern regions home including Venice, Milan, Florence, and Turin. Drift down canals and view national treasures like St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace in the floating city of Venice. In the art-filled metropolis of Milan, the new and fashionable stands hand-in-hand with centuries of fascinating history

See ‘The Last Supper’, visit the magnificent Duomo di Milano cathedral, and shop until you drop at the luxury boutiques along the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the capital of the Lombardy Region. Head to Florence to see masterpieces like Michelangelo's David at renowned art galleries and museums, and stroll the elegant boulevards and piazzas of Turin.

Discover the Majesty of the Italian Lakes like Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Maggiore


The Italian Lake District is home to the crystalline waters of Lake Garda and the graceful villas and Renaissance architecture of the lakeside city of Como. Although Lake Como is the most famous, other big lakes like Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, and Lake Orta are equally spectacular. Go for a boat ride, roam the streets of the famed Bellagio resort town, or go for walks and bike rides around the lakes to experience their serene beauty.

 

Fall Under the Spell of the Italian Riviera


This idyllic coastal region enchants travelers with its cliffside towns, pastel-hued houses, charming fishing villages, and seafood cuisine. Hugging the rocky coastline of the northern Mediterranean Sea, quaint towns like Portofino and the enclaves of Cinque Terre are among the best places in Italy to discover on foot, by hiking the scenic trails between towns or cycling along the towering cliffs above turquoise bays.

 

Seek High-Altitude Adventure in the Italian Alps


Forming part of the Italian Alps, the northeastern Dolomites is a mountain-lovers dream with limestone peaks, verdant valleys, and hidden alpine lakes perfect for outdoor exploration. After long days hiking and walking under the watchful eye of jagged peaks like the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, fuel yourself for the next day with hearty meals of Austrian-influenced regional cuisine.

 

Wine and Dine Your Way Around the Countryside


Foodies take note: Northern Italy is a culinary goldmine. Each region in Northern Italy offers its own local specialties, from Piedmont's rich variety of delicious antipasti to buttery fontina cheese from the Aosta Valley. Dishes to relish range from fresh seafood in the coastal zones to hearty alpine meals with plenty of meats and cheese up in the mountains. Paired with each meal are the visual delights of each region, from the undulating hills of Piedmont, peppered with charming tiny towns, to the jagged cliffs and rolling surf of the Riviera.

Northern Italy also encompasses some of the country's major wine-producing regions. Each has its own key grapes and varieties, such as Barolo from Piedmont, Amarone from Veneto, and Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna. Our culinary-themed tours like A Taste of Italy - Walking in Emilia Romagna and the walking tour around Piemont offer deep dives into the gastronomic delights of each region.

 

How to explore Northern Italy

Italy is a country of romance, appreciation and unhurried self-enjoyment. So the best way to discover her treasures and hidden gems is at the leisurely pace of a walking tour or a cycling tour. A guided walking tour through cobbled streets with a local guide, or a relaxed bike ride along country roads, offering magnificent views, will help you get to know Italy on an intimate level.

 

You can also choose how easy or difficult your tour is. If you prefer to take leisurely bike rides along the shores of Lake Garda, or meander between vineyards, laid-back trips like the self-guided Piedmont walking tour are the perfect fit. If you would like something more challenging, you can explore the mountainous terrain of the Italian Alps.

 

Northern Italy Tours FAQ

Learn more about the region and what to expect on our Northern Italy tours below. You can also check out our Italy Travel Tips for more information.

What is Northern Italy known for?


Northern Italy has many claims to fame, from historic cities and culinary traditions to its diverse landscapes. Here, you'll find art-filled cities like Milan and Venice that are just a short drive from incredible nature. You'll also find the most picturesque towns and villages in beautiful natural settings like the Lakes District or the rugged cliffs of the Riviera.

 

When is the best time to visit Northern Italy?


The best time to visit Italy depends on what you'd like to see and do:

Outdoor Adventure: If you plan to spend the majority of your visit outside, April to October is the optimal time to visit. The sunny spring, summer, and early fall months bring long days and warm weather, which are perfect for outdoor activities like our walking and cycling tours. As it's further north, winter in Northern Italy can get pretty cold, especially up in the Dolomites.

Food- and Wine-Tasting: Although you can enjoy Italian cuisine any time of year, May through October are among the best times to visit. You can spend more time outdoors among the vineyards, see the harvest in the fall, and go for hikes between bites (more room for more food) in fair weather.

Culture, Museums, and Art Galleries: If the main goal of your trip is to immerse yourself in local art, there's no bad time of year to visit as you'll likely be spending the majority of your time indoors. However, visiting in the fall or winter means you'll find fewer crowds at popular museums and attractions.

Less Crowded: Italy is an extremely popular destination, meaning that the summer high season can be very crowded. Planning your visit for spring (April and May), fall (September, October, and November), and even winter brings fewer crowds and more space for you to enjoy your trip.

 

Do I need to learn Italian to visit Northern Italy?


Although it's a good idea to learn some basic phrases (like thank you, please, I would like..., etc.) to help you communicate with the locals, most Italians in the major tourism areas like Venice, Milan, and the Riviera speak English. Traveling with a tour guide on one of our small-group trips, you'll also have someone who can assist with translating.

 

How many days do I need in Northern Italy?


Five days to a week is usually enough to do all the highlights, plus have some free time, in a particular region or city. But if you plan to explore multiple regions in one trip, you'll likely want to plan for up to two weeks of travel.

 

Do I need a visa to visit Northern Italy?


As an American citizen, you can enter and explore Italy for up to 90 days as a tourist without a visa. You will need a valid passport.

 

How do I get around Northern Italy? Can I do a self-guided walking tour?


From intercity train travel to buses and ferries, Northern Italy offers a well-developed and connected transportation network. Many travelers also opt to rent cars to get around at their own pace. This makes Northern Italy, and Italy in general, a great destination for solo trips and self-guided walking tours, as you can take things at your own pace.

 

What are the benefits of small-group tours in Northern Italy?


Offering a more intimate travel experience, small-group tours are another great way to explore Northern Italy. Small-group tours with a guide benefit from having a local expert to provide information and background on each destination and experience, as well as having all your accommodations and transportation arranged and booked in advance. This type of tour is also ideal for a family vacation, as the itinerary is already planned with free time built in.

 

Is Northern Italy safe for travelers?


Apart from pickpocketing at crowded tourist sites and in some major cities, Northern Italy is very safe for travelers.

 

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine to visit Northern Italy?


Currently, you do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter Italy. It is recommended that you be vaccinated and up-to-date, however.

 

What should I pack for my Northern Italy trip?


You can find more tour-specific packing recommendations on your tour page. But in general, breathable, comfortable and sturdy shoes for either cycling, hiking or walking are a must. Layered clothing that you can take off as the day heats and cools is also recommended, as well as waterproof jackets, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

 

What is included in my Northern Italy tour?


The specifics of what is included vary from tour to tour, but accommodations and some private transport options are included across the board. On guided tours, one of Explore's expert guides will be with you every step of the way, offering guided activities and information. Included meals vary by itinerary.  

 

What is the physical difficulty of the walking and cycling tours?


The physical difficulty ranges from mild to demanding depending on the tour.  Most of our Italian walking tours are easy to moderate, with the most challenging option being the multi-day Tour du Mont Blanc mountain trek. The cycling tours like the Dolomites, Lake Garda, and Venice itinerary are all fairly easy, with no major ascents or descents. Individuals in good shape and good health should have no problem with the physical activities on the tours.  
 

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