Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex

Do you only have 7 days available for visiting the northern part of Italy? Do you need help in organizing your itinerary so that you can make the best out of your time and get to see as much as possible?

You’ve come to the right place because we lived in Italy and traveled the country extensively (especially the north) so we can help with shaping the perfect itinerary.

The biggest mistake we see people making when planning an itinerary for Italy is trying to fit in too much in a too short period. We understand that you want to see as much as you can, but sometimes less is more.

And by choosing to see only 3 or 4 places in 7 days you will get to live La Dolce Vita and experience all the country has to offer.

So, without further ado, here are 3 great options for a 7-Day Italy itinerary.

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7 days Northern Italy itinerary – 3 great options

Option 1: Milan, Lake Como, Lake Garda, The Dolomites

Fly in: Milan

Fly out: Venice

How to get around: by car

Overview:

Day 1 – 2: Milan

Day 2 – 4 Lake Como

Day 4 – 5: Lake Garda

Day 5 – 7: Dolomites

By following this itinerary you will enjoy Italy’s beautiful nature and mountains. You will get to explore Milan, but also hike the Dolomites, cruise on a boat on Lake Garda, and explore the stunning villas on Lake Como.

Here are a few useful information and tools you will need when planning this or any other Italy itinerary:

Renting a carDiscover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good Cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change. You will most probably need a car to get to most of these places, especially if you want to keep a schedule. Get your offers here!

Train Tickets – ItaliaRail is a great train ticket provider for trips within Italy. They cover all types of trains, it is easy to use, and you have instant access to your ticket. Book your train ticket now!

Travel insurance – Our go-to travel insurance is EKTA – they offer great deals for people who travel. Everyone between the ages of 3 and 85 can buy it online on their website and save lots of time (and money).

Your policy will be sent to your inbox within 2-3 minutes, and you get 24/7 multilingual client support. Get the best deal for your travel insurance here!

Day 1 – 2: Milan

Milano
Photo by Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash

Start your day at the iconic Duomo di Milano, an awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral, where you can climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of the city. Book your ticket here!

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glamorous shopping arcade filled with high-end boutiques and charming cafes.

Stroll through the historic Brera district, characterized by narrow streets, art galleries, and the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery.

Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the local trattorias to savor Milanese cuisine.

In the afternoon, visit Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, housed in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (book tickets in advance).

Conclude your day in the trendy Navigli district, known for its picturesque canals, fashionable boutiques, and vibrant nightlife.

Indulge in an authentic Italian dinner at a local osteria, savoring the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Milan in one unforgettable day.

Where to stay in Milan

Choose between San Lorenzo, the most romantic neighborhood; Brera, the best for sightseeing in Milan; Navigli, the best for nightlife.  

Two of our favorite options to look into are the Hotel Morfeo and Hotel Tiziano – Gruppo Mini Hotel.

Check out the best hotel rates in Milan here!

Day 2 – 4 Lake Como

Lake Como
Photo by Lewis J Goetz on Unsplash

You can either choose to stay in Milan and go on a day trip to Lake Como, so you save one day or choose to spend the night by the fabulous lake.

Driving from Milan to Lake Como takes a bit less than 1 hour and a half.

However, the easiest option is to take the train from Milano Centrale to Como S. Giovanni station (40 minutes).

If you are traveling with luggage, you can always book a private transfer and forget about any worries.

Begin your day with a visit to the charming town of Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of Lake Como.”

Wander through its narrow cobblestone streets, lined with colorful buildings, boutiques, and lakeside cafes.

Enjoy a boat ride on the azure waters of Lake Como, where you can take in the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and elegant villas.

Don’t miss Villa del Balbianello, a stunning lakeside estate with lush gardens and terraces that have been featured in several films. Indulge in a leisurely lakeside lunch featuring local delicacies.

In the afternoon, explore the enchanting Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, renowned for its botanical gardens and art collections.

Conclude your day by taking the funicular to Brunate for a spectacular view of Lake Como from above.

Where to stay in Lake Como

Palazzo Albricci Peregrini, Tosca House in Varrena, or DBH – Boutique Hotel Lake Como are all great options for a few nights in Como.

Day 4 – 5: Lake Garda

Peschiera del Garda
Photo by Andrew Van Haasteren on Unsplash

Getting from Lake Como to Peschiera del Garda at Lake Garda is easily done by car or by train:

By car
By train

Begin your exploration at the historic center, surrounded by the robust Venetian walls that have guarded the town for centuries.

Wander through the charming streets, where colorful buildings, boutiques, and gelaterias create a lively atmosphere.

Explore the 16th-century fortress, Rocca Scaligera, which stands proudly at the entrance to the town, providing panoramic views of Lake Garda and the surrounding landscape.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the scenic promenade that encircles Peschiera, offering picturesque views of the lake.

For a relaxing break, indulge in a lakeside lunch at one of the local restaurants, savoring the flavors of Italian cuisine.

Discover the town’s maritime heritage at the Museo delle Fortificazioni e dell’Armamento, which showcases the history of Venetian fortifications and naval artifacts.

Go on a cruise on the lake with wine tasting for a unique experience.

Where to stay at Lake Garda

Choose to stay in Peschiera del Garda or Sirmione sul Garda.

Day 5 – 7: Dolomites

The best way to stay in the Dolomites so you can easily get around by train is in Valdaora.

However, getting from Lake Garda to Valdaora by train is complicated because of the 2 or 3 changes, and takes a lot of time (around 4 hours). The easiest option is to drive there.

Don’t miss a visit to Lago di Braies, one of the most stunning lakes in the region. You will take an easy hike but expect crowds.

From May to October you can also ride a boat on the crystal blue waters – the price is between 20-30 EUR for 30 minutes.

Go for a stroll in Dobbiaco and go there for dinner or lunch.

Stroll in the old town center of San Candido, visit the old churches, go hiking, and go for a ride on the funbob.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Don’t miss a hike to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and if you are in shape, go for a hike to the stunning Lago di Sorapis.

Option 2: Venice, Bologna, Verona, Lake Garda

Fly in: Venice

Fly out: Venice

How to get around: by car or train

Overview:

Day 1 – 3: Venice

Day 3 – 5 Bologna

Day 5 – 7: Verona and Lake Garda

For this 7-day Northern Italy itinerary, it is easy to get around by train, but if you want extra flexibility, renting a car might be an option for you.

You will get to see some of the most iconic destinations in Italy, eat your heart out in Bologna, and take the boat on the Garda Lake.

Day 1 – 3: Venice

North Italy Travel Guides

With 2 days in Venice, you will have enough time to get to see the most important attractions in town.

Here is an option for your itinerary for your stay in Venice.

Day 1

Morning at St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco): Start your day early at St. Mark’s Square, exploring iconic landmarks like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile, and the Doge’s Palace. Marvel at the intricate mosaics and architecture.

Visit Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs: Explore the Doge’s Palace, a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic architecture. Cross the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the palace to the prison and offers picturesque views.

Gondola Ride: Take a quintessential Venetian gondola ride through the narrow canals. It’s a romantic and traditional way to experience the city.

Lunch in a Bacaro: Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a traditional bacaro, a Venetian wine bar, sampling cicchetti (small snacks) and local wines.

Afternoon at Rialto Bridge: Walk to the Rialto Bridge, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Explore the Rialto Market nearby, where you can experience the vibrant atmosphere and fresh produce.

Explore Dorsoduro: Wander through the Dorsoduro district, known for its art institutions like the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Day 2

how many days in Venice

Morning at Murano and Burano: Take a vaporetto to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is renowned for its glassmaking, and Burano is famous for its colorful houses and lace. Explore the artisan workshops and enjoy the unique charm of each island.

Lunch on Burano: Have lunch on Burano, indulging in local seafood dishes at one of the charming waterfront restaurants.

Afternoon at San Polo and Santa Croce: Explore the districts of San Polo and Santa Croce, wandering through the labyrinthine streets, discovering hidden gems, and stopping at local shops.

Dinner in Cannaregio: End your day with a delightful dinner in the Cannaregio district, known for its authentic Venetian atmosphere and local trattorias.

Where to stay in Venice

Hotel Olimpia Venice, BW Signature Collection or Chiara Lodge  are both great budget accommodation options, while Hotel Antiche Figure  or Hotel Danieli a Luxury Collection are iconic places in Venice.

Day 3 – 5 Bologna

2 days in Bologna

It is easy to get from Venice to Bologna by train in just 1 hour and a half. The ticket price is very affordable and there are plenty of options throughout the day.

Spending 2 days in Bologna is just enough to get to experience the city.

Day 1

One day in Bologna

Morning at Piazza Maggiore: Start your day at Piazza Maggiore, the heart of Bologna. Visit the Basilica di San Petronio and climb the Asinelli Tower for panoramic views of the city.

Explore the Quadrilatero District: Wander through the narrow streets of the Quadrilatero district, known for its bustling markets, artisan shops, and local trattorias. Sample regional specialties like mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Lunch in Piazza Santo Stefano: Enjoy lunch in Piazza Santo Stefano, surrounded by medieval buildings. Visit the Basilica di Santo Stefano complex, often referred to as the “Seven Churches.”

Afternoon at Archiginnasio Palace: Explore the Archiginnasio Palace, home to the oldest university in the Western world. Visit the Anatomical Theatre and the Teatro Anatomico.

Dinner in Via delle Pescherie Vecchie: Experience the vibrant nightlife in the area around Via delle Pescherie Vecchie. Choose one of the traditional osterias for a Bolognese dinner.

Day 2

In the morning, take the San Luca Express and climb up on the hills, to the Basilica of San Luca.

The Basilica is perched atop the Colle della Guardia hill and is linked to the historic center by the famous Portico di San Luca.

Constructed in the 18th century, the basilica is dedicated to St. Luke, and its distinctive red-hued dome and long portico create a striking silhouette against the Bolognese skyline.

Head to Mercato delle Erbe, a lively food market, for a diverse range of fresh produce, cheeses, and local delicacies. Some stalls also offer prepared meals.

Immerse yourself in art at the National Art Gallery of Bologna (Piancoteca Nazionale), which houses a remarkable collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Giotto, Raphael, and Titian.

Take a leisurely stroll along Via Indipendenza, Bologna’s main shopping street. Explore the boutiques, cafes, and gelaterias along the way.

Head to the university district for dinner, enjoying the lively atmosphere and diverse dining options.

Where to stay in Bologna

Depending on your budget, choose to stay inside the city center, or a few minutes outside.

Here are 2 great hotel options we really like:

Hotel Touring – with a beautiful rooftop terrace, and a Summer jacuzzi from where you can admire Bologna’s skyline after a full day of exploration, what more can you ask from the perfect place to stay in Bologna?

Check availability and prices!

Boutique Hotel Liberty 1904 –  just a few steps outside of the city center, away from the crowded streets, this is the hotel we chose to stay in.

It took us roughly 20 minutes on foot through the many arches from the hotel to Piazza Maggiore, which is not much if you take into consideration the price.

The hotel is clean, with small rooms and not an amazing view, but the breakfast is delicious and we woke up every day with the smell of fresh warm croissants, looking forward to going down and eating some with a strong Italian cappuccino.

Check availability and prices here!

Day 5 – 7: Verona and Lake Garda

one day in Verona

Getting from Bologna to Verona is easy by train. Most trains are direct and the journey takes between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half.

bologna to verona by train

In one day in Verona, the city of love and Shakespearean drama, you can immerse yourself in its rich history, architectural wonders, and romantic ambiance.

Begin your day at the iconic Arena di Verona, a remarkably well-preserved Roman amphitheater that hosts concerts and opera performances.

From there, wander through the charming streets of the historic center, reaching Piazza delle Erbe, the vibrant central square surrounded by colorful buildings and historic landmarks.

Explore the historic market square, Mercato di Piazza delle Erbe, where you can shop for local products and souvenirs.

Mercato di Piazza delle Erbe

Don’t miss Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta), with its famous balcony, a pilgrimage site for lovers worldwide.

Enjoy a delightful Italian lunch at a traditional trattoria.

In the afternoon, visit the Castelvecchio Museum, housed in a medieval fortress, showcasing an impressive collection of art and artifacts.

Verona Ponte Pietra

Conclude your day by crossing the Ponte Pietra to the Teatro Romano, an ancient Roman theater with panoramic views of the Adige River and the city. Wrap up your day with a leisurely dinner in one of Verona’s charming restaurants, savoring the local cuisine and wines.

Day 2

On your second day in Verona, go on a day trip to Lake Garda.

By booking an organized tour to Sirmione and Lake Garda, you won’t have to worry about a thing. And you will get to see some of the most beautiful places Lake Garda has to offer.

Discover the medieval Scaligero Castle, take in panoramic views of Italy’s largest lake on a boat tour, and take advantage of your guide’s knowledge.

As your trip is over, you can easily get from Verona to the airport in Venice by train.

Verona to Venice by train

Where to stay in Verona

We stayed in a small 2-bedroom apartment, boasting a rooftop terrace, from where you could see the red ceilings of the old buildings around. I absolutely loved the place and the fact that as we left the building we were a few steps away from most of the important sights in town. 

It had a small kitchen where we could make coffee and something for breakfast, that we could eat on the terrace, and a small supermarket was just around the corner. 

Check out availability and prices here!

Hotel Milano & SPA is another great option for when you want to have access to a stunning rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi overlooking the famous Arena di Verona. You won’t have to worry about breakfast, and you’ll be in the heart of the old town as well. 

See prices and room options here!

Option 3: Venice, the Dolomites, Milan + Lake Como

Fly in: Venice

Fly out: Milan

How to get around: by car or train

Overview:

Day 1 – 3: Venice

Day 3 – 5 Dolomites

Day 5 – 7: Milan and Lake Como

This itinerary is a bit similar to the first option, but you get to see Venice and skip Lake Garda.

You can follow the information from the previous 2 itineraries to choose what to do and see in each location.

Getting from one place to the other is easily done by train or by car.

Other FAQ

Is Northern Italy worth visiting?

Absolutely, Northern Italy is definitely worth visiting, offering a diverse range of attractions, landscapes, and cultural experiences.

Cities like Milan, Venice, Verona, and Bologna boast rich cultural heritage, featuring iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and historic architecture. Milan is a global fashion and design hub, while Venice is known for its unique canal system and art treasures.

Explore historic cities with architectural gems, including medieval castles, Renaissance palaces, and ancient Roman ruins. The well-preserved structures provide a journey through Italy’s rich history.

Moreover, Northern Italy is renowned for its delicious cuisine. Indulge in authentic pasta dishes, risotto, and regional specialties like Milanese osso buco.

What is the best month to visit Northern Italy?

For us, the shoulder months are always the best months to visit Italy, and that holds valid for its northern part as well.

Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to November) are perfect seasons for planning a trip to Northern Italy.

Is it difficult to drive in Northern Italy?

While Italians are renowned for driving a bit hectic, that is not so true for the northern part of the country.

Their great road system will make your trip easy, as long as you follow the basic driving rules and pay extra attention to your surroundings.

Other Italy Itinerary Options

Rome and Amalfi Coast itinerary – 2 perfect 10 day itineraries

10 days in Italy itinerary – 7 comprehensive options & maps

The ultimate one week Southern Italy Itinerary

7 days in Italy: 10 comprehensive itineraries


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