Northern Italy is the country’s industrial and financial heart, with Milan as its heartbeat. Filled with masterful artwork, much history, and beautiful natural scenery, there is much to see, do, and explore in Northern Italy. While you can change many things, let’s explore together a charming one week Northern Italy itinerary that will give you a beautiuful taste of Italy.
While you can easily spend a lot more time exploring Northern Italy, it’s possible to see the best of Northern Italy in one week. This Northern Italy itinerary allows you to take in the historical and cultural highlights of Milan, Venice, Verona, Padua, Soave, and Sirmione; along with the beauty of the Dolomiti Mountains, Lake Garda, and the Friuti-Venezia Giulia farmlands and forests.
A quick look at the places on my Northern Italy itinerary tells you that you can easily extend this trip by adding day trips and in depth walking tours.
1. Milan ( 1 day )
Outer wall of the Castello Sforzesco seen from Via Dante in Milan
See my photos from Milan
Your Northern Italy itinerary begins in Milan, Italy’s largest city. The country’s business, financial, and fashion capitals, Milan is filled with history, architecture, and culture, with the most significant historical sites being its churches. The Duomo is one of Europe’s largest houses of worship and is home to a museum containing impressive artworks. The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
Parco Sempione, filled with statues and sculptures, extends from the Arch of Peace to the Castello Szforsesco, a medieval Renaissance castle with museums and prized artworks. Piazza della Scala, Milan’s main pedestrian square, is home to the Teatro alla Scala opera house.
Via Dante’s stores and restaurants attract visitors while Milan’s most elegant boutiques are in the Quadrilatero della moda shopping district.
You can easily spend more than one day in Milan, but there are many other destinations on the Northern Italy itinerary to visit.
Plan Your Trip to Milan
See Da Vinci's Last Supper. Unfortunately the official Italian site no longer sells tickets for visiting Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper. However, you can get skip-the-line tickets to see Da Vinci's Last Supper by joining this popular local tour.
Stay in Milan. You can stay at Milan San Siro Idea Hotel where we stayed. It is close to the subway and it has free breakfast and parking. It's a great value in a good location. You can also find more budget hotels in Milan.
Milan Walking Tour
2. Verona ( 1 day )
Beautiful old buildings and Lamberti Tower in Piazza dele Erbe
See my photos from Verona
The next city on the Northern Italy itinerary is Verona, which proclaims itself the “City of Love,” as it’s the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Juliet’s House, Casa de Giulietta, is a symbol of Verona. Piazza Bra, Verona’s largest Piazza, is home to shops, restaurants, and the Arena di Verona. The Arena di Verona is one of the largest Roman amphitheaters still in use. Piazza Delle Erbe, Verona’s central square, was the Forum, or center of life in the Roman era. Palaces, monuments, and a market surround the Piazza, which makes a great base for this portion of the Northern Italy itinerary.
Plan Your Trip to Verona
Book a local tour. This locally conducted walking tour of Verona will take you to the most important areas. This option is great if your time in Verona is limited.
Stay in Verona. Find budget hotels in Verona. Verona has plenty of accommodations for every budget.
Trains run frequently between Milan’s Centrale station and Verona’s Porta Nuova station. Regular trains make the trip in one hour fifty-five minutes while high speed trains take only an hour fifteen minutes. From the Porta Nuova rail station, it is a 20-minute walk to Piazza Bra.
Verona Walking Tour
3. Treviso and Dolomiti Mountains (1 day)
Lake Barcis and the small tourist village with the Dolomiti Friulane mountain range in the background
See my photos from Barcis
The next destinations on the Northern Italy itinerary are Treviso and the Dolomite Mountains. Upon arriving in Treviso, rent a car and drive north for two hours to Lake Misurina, the Dolomites’ largest alpine lake, and Lago di Landro. Both lakes offer spectacular views of the Dolomites, with nearby hiking trails. At the Falzarego Pass, 45 minutes west of Lake Landro, you can ride a cable car to the top of Mount Lagazuoi, which sits 9,300 feet above sea level.
Having a rental car allows you to take an optional side trip is to take the A28 and SR251 through the agricultural and forest lands of Friuti-Venezia Giulia. The A28 takes you to the industrial city of Pordenone. On the SR251, you will pass Lake Barcis, a couple smaller lakes, and Vajont Dam before returning to the highway leading to the Dolomites. This side trip adds one hour to the driving time but is well worth adding to the Northern Italy itinerary.
Plan Your Trip to Treviso & The Alps
Stay in Treviso. For a great location and experience, stay at beautiful Palazzina 300, which is located right across the clock tower. You can also search for more budget hotels in Treviso or in the surrounding Veneto area.
Book a local tour of Treviso. The easiest way to experience Treviso is to book a beautiful walking tour of Treviso led by a local.
By Train. From Verona’s Porta Nuova train station, the journey to Treviso’s Centrale station takes between an hour and a half and two hours, with a transfer required at either Venice’s Mestre station or the Vicenza station. Car rental agencies are located at Treviso Airport, a 15-minute taxi or Uber ride away.
Treviso Walking Tour
4. Venice (2 days)
Vaporetto and other boats seen next to old buildings near San Marco square.
See my photos from Venice
The next two days of the Northern Italy itinerary will be spent in Venice and the Venetian Islands. Upon arriving by train, follow the signs marked Per Rialto. The signs will direct you through a series of narrow, car-free streets to the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge crossing Venice’s Grand Canal. From there, it is a seven-minute walk to Piazza San Marco, Venice’s public square and the home to the Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, the Museo Correr, and the Campanile bell tower.
After spending the night in Venice, take a vaporetto, or water bus, to the next stops on the Northern Italy itinerary: the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass, with factories utilizing centuries-old glass making techniques, a glass museum, and shops selling decorative glass. Burano is famous for both its brightly painted houses and its lace, with a lace museum and lacemakers who sell authentic Burano lace clothes and linens.
Plan Yout Trip to Venice
By public boat. From the Ferrovia vaporetto stop at Venice’s Santa Lucia train station, it takes one hour ten minutes to reach Murano. The vaporetto trip between Murano and Burano takes 35 minutes while the trip from Burano back to the Santa Lucia train station takes an hour and a half via two vaporetti.
By train. From Treviso’s Centrale station, frequent trains take between thirty and forty minutes to arrive at Venice’s Santa Lucia station. It is a 20-minute walk from the Santa Lucia train station to the Rialto Bridge.
If you want to skip Treviso and come to Venice straight from Verona, it’s good to know that trains run frequently between Verona’s Porta Nuova station and Venice’s Santa Lucia station. Regular trains make the trip in a little over two hours while high speed trains take about an hour and a half to make the journey.
Venice Walking Tour
5. Padua ( half day )
Sculputures line up the Prato della Valle square in Padova
See my photos from Padua
It takes less than an hour to travel from Venice to Padua, the next city on the Northern Italy itinerary. From the Padova train station, a fifteen-minute walk along Corso del Popolo will take you to Piazza Eremitani, where you’ll find the Museo Civico Eremitani, the famous Cappella degli Scrovegni decorated by Giotto. Continuing walking South through the historic Piazza delle Erbe we come to the impressive Prato della Valle and the imposing Duomo di Padua, which are the highlights of this portion of the Northern Italy itinerary.
After spending a half day in Padua, you’ll travel west to Sirmione and Lake Garda. An optional side trip is to get off the train at San Bonifacio, then transfer to a local bus for a ten-minute ride to Soave.
Plan Your Trip to Padua
Stay in Padova. You can stay at Hotel Donatello which is my favorite budget hotel in Padova (great location, free parking and breakfast included) or simply search for budget hotels in Padova.
By train. There is frequent train service between Venice’s Santa Lucia station and the Padova station in Padua. The trip between Venice and Padua takes 45-50 minutes by regular train while high-speed trains make the trip in 30 minutes.
Padua Walking Tour
6. Soave ( few hours )
Beautiful Soave Castle seen on the hill from the village below. The castle is a military bulding typical for the Veneto area of Italy
See my photos from Soave
When you arrive at the next destination on the Northern Italy itinerary, the village of Soave, you’ll marvel at the high, imposing, well-preserved medieval walls. From the Soave bus stop, it is a 25-minute walk to the Scaligero Castle of Soave. A pleasant way to finish this portion of the Northern Italy itinerary is to stop at one of the wineries within walking distance of the bus stop and taste Soave white wine.
Plan Your Trip to Soave
Stay in Soave (20+ properties) or in the surrounding Veneto Area (12,000+ properties).
Rent a car. Soave is best reached by car as the nearest train station is about 3 miles from the town and you would need a bus to make it practical.
Trains between Padua’s Padova Station and San Bonifacio’s Station run twice an hour. Regional trains make the journey in 50 minutes while fast regional trains take 35 minutes. Once at San Bonifacio, it’s a ten-minute ride on ATV Verona bus #130 to the Soave bus station.
Soave Walking Tour
7. Sirmione and Lake Garda ( 1 day )
Water canal and beautiful old buildings at Sirmione
See my photos from Sirmione
The beautiful, fortified town of Sirmione, the final city on the Northern Italy itinerary, sits on a peninsula surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. In two minutes, you’ll walk from the Sirmione bus station to the historic courtyard and stone buildings of Scaligero Castle, part of Sirmione’s old town.
To the northeast of Scaligero Castle, you’ll find Santa Maria Maggiore church and its beautiful frescoes. Walking down Sirmione’s narrow, cobblestoned streets, you’ll also see the Church of San Pietro in Mavino; opera singer Maria Callas’ villa, and the Grote di Catullo. Side streets take you to several small piazzas, harbors, and beaches with fantastic Lake Garda views. The piazzas, harbors, and beaches are perfect places to spend the final afternoon of the Northern Italy itinerary.
Plan Your Trip to Sirmione
Stay in Sirmione or in the Veneto area.
Look for Lake Garda activities. Search for a Lake Garda boat tour, or for a day trip to Venice, Verona or Milan.
By bus and train. From Soave, take ATV Verona bus #130 to the San Bonifacio train station. From San Bonifacio, trains run hourly to the Verona Porta Nuova station, where you can transfer to a train heading to the Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station. At the Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station, take Arriva bus #26 to Sirmione. The total travel time is two hours.
Returning to Milan, there is hourly bus service on Arrive bus #26 from Sirmione to the Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione train station. From the the Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station, take a standard or high-speed train to the Milano Centrale station. The entire journey between Sirmione and Milan takes between an hour fifty minutes and two hours fifteen minutes, depending on train speed.
Sirmione Walking Tour
Can you see Northern Italy in 1 Week?
You can see Northern Italy in a week. By following the Northern Italy itinerary, you’ll explore the culture and history of Milan and Venice, see major artworks like The Last Supper, visit the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, explore well-preserved medieval castles and villas, soak in the majestic natural beauty of Lake Garda and the Dolomite Mountains, and travel through the Friuti-Venezia Giulia farm and forest lands.
- Charming Northern Italy Itinerary
- Walking tour of Milan
- Charming walking tour of Verona
- Venice Main Island walking tour
- Walking tour of Murano Island
- A colorful walking tour of Burano Island
- In the Dolomites at Barcis
- Treviso is a surprising destination
- In-depth walking tour of Padua
- Short tour of quaint Soave
- In-depth walking tour of Sirmione
- In-depth walking tour of Genoa
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