Best Cities to Visit in North Italy | Great Activities and Views

The northern part and northern cities of Italy are often underestimated and down-prioritized. For years, I believe there was such hype around Toscany, leaving little publicity to some of the other regions, which is a downright shame. 

I have visited the northern part of Italy at least twice a year since I was 8, and therefore it has its own little separate heart space, but I do believe it is a well-deserved spot. 

In my opinion, the northern part of Italy is just as (if not even more) great as the regions more south and there are a few obvious advantages to the north: 

  1. It’s more local and less touristy
  2. It is cheaper since it’s less-hyped
  3. The mountain and wine area is stunning
  4. There is such a broad spectrum of places to visit and activities to do
  5. The wine 
  6. The food 
  7. People are extremely friendly

Downsides? 

  1. People speak very little English. 

The good thing is that Italians will go far out of their way to understand you and for you to understand them. Also, this again proves how local and authentic everything is, which is a good alternative to tourist traps and overpriced options…

I think I should have convinced you by now if you were ever in doubt. The northern part of Italy is the place for you to go, and when doing so you absolutely must visit these cities and places. 

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WHERE TO VISIT IN NORTHERN ITALY?

MILAN

northern cities italy

On top of being the fashion mecca of Italy, Milan is also a beautiful historical city. 

This is the place to go, whether you wish to just slender around, look at stylish people and gaze at high-end stores, visit museums, or sightsee.

Spend some time in this beautiful city and enjoy the Piazza del Duomo. The amazing Gothic marble church is a reason to visit in itself. 

Head for my favorite area called “Navigli” and spend an evening there. The place is filled with great restaurants and bars, all by the canale where the vibe is perfect. 

Travel tip: download the Wanderlog app onto your phone (works for both Android and iOS) and keep a plan for your trip. It’s completely free and allows you to add everything you need such as important things scheduled, places you want to eat, reservations, and where you are staying!

Below I made a map and included my recommendations for you:

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

VENICE

Venice will win the prize of being the most touristy northern city in Italy, but also the most unique one. 

Everyone should go experience this place at least once in their life. 

Head to Venice for a day or two and get lost in the endless little streets. 

Eat cichetti and drink Aperol spritz like the true Venetians. 

Even though Venice is well worth a visit, it is small enough to be experienced in a short time – just before the tourist madness starts to hit. 

Be sure to see Sankt Markus church, the square around, Doge’s Palace, and the Ponte De Rialto. 

TURIN 

Even though this city is an economic and industrial hotspot in Italy, Turin still managed to keep its historical charm. 

Head to the center and have a great big walk around. Enjoy the beautiful arched ceilings. These we can thank an old Italian king for. He had them built so he could walk from the palace to the main square without getting wet in potential rain. 

Visit some of the amazing sites in Turin such as: 

  • Palazzo Reale
  • Palazzo Madame
  • Mole Antonelliana 
  • Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista
  • The Egyptian Museum

If you need a great area to sit down for an aperitivo, head for the area “Porta Posterla” just by the “Porta Palazzo”. You can also find some great options for aperitivo here

Turin is not the biggest tourist destination in Italy; therefore, it has a calm atmosphere. At first sight, it might not be as scenic as some of the other northern cities of Italy, but give it a little time, and let Turin do its magic. 

BOLOGNA

As the capital of the region of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is quite a large city. 

Bologna is, however, beautiful and well worth any traveler’s time.

Famous for its historical buildings and towers that dominate the skyline, Bologna screams Italy in your face with every step. 

Make sure to visit Piazza Maggiore, San Petronio’s cathedral, and stroll down Via Drapperie.

Bologna is a great place to simply walk around and soak up the true Italian atmosphere – preferably with gelato in hand. 

LAKE GARDA

northern cities italy

Sitting perfectly between a range of soft-looking mountains, Lake Garda is a stunning destination in northern Italy. 

With plenty of options for day treks, a bunch of cute cities to visit, and crystal-clear fresh water to swim in, Lake Garda covers all your needs. 

Visit some of the following towns: 

  • Bardolino
  • Desenzano Del Garda
  • Garda
  • Sirmione
  • Limone

ALBA

This is a cute city in itself to walk around in and spend a day, but the true gold of Alba is the area around the city. 

Here you have some of the most famous wine areas in the world and downright beautiful mountain scenery. 

You also find some of the most charming little cities in the northern part of Italy. 

Head for: 

  • Monforte
  • Neive
  • Treiso
  • La Morra
  • Serralunga
  • Castiglione Falletto

They are all great little towns around the wine area and have great options for both wine and food. 

Besides that, they are all extremely picturesque and the drive around to each is beautiful.

You can even do a great “Tour Di Vino” around the area and try some great wines from around. 

AOSTA VALLEY

The Aosta Valley is a great spot for many different activities. Besides being a beautiful site you can also have a lot of fun here. 

Activities include rafting, canoeing, hiking, and skiing in winter. 

The area around Champoluc is absolutely perfect for the last two. 

The Aosta Valley is a great destination all year round and is perfect for activity lovers. 

That was all for the greatest cities and destinations around the northern part of Italy. Hope you found some good inspiration and have a wonderful time. 

As always feel free to leave a comment below. 

//Josephine 

The article may include affiliate links, meaning that I may receive affiliate compensation at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. Read more in my Affiliate Disclosure.

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