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18 Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy (Ranked!)

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Also known as Settentrione or II Nord, the Northern part of Italy has eight separate regions. These eight regions include Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto, and Lombardy. These are the best places to visit in Northern Italy.

Northern Italy is known for its picturesque locations and rich history. It has coastal regions and an impressive mountainous region. It is known for the dramatic and impressive landscapes of the Adriatic Sea and the Alps.

For the tourist, the best of Northern Italy is all about storied locales that are yet to be explored. From the Alps in the north to the enchanting island city of Venice, there are endless places to see and things to do in Northern Italy.

In the central part of Northern Italy, like Turin and Milan, you will see various interesting attractions and sites that are a must-see. Due to the varied landscape of the area, its history, and fine cities, there is something for every traveler in Italy.

Let’s get into our ranked list of places to see in Northern Italy.

Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

18. Friuli Venezia Giulia

Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

Bordering Germany, the Adriatic Sea, and Slovenia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a unique position. Its geographical position makes it a popular wine region. There are several hills nestled between the two rivers and the Slovenian border.

You will notice many family-run vineyards across the valley in different directions. As the seasons change, the landscape and the color will also change.

17. Bergamo

Old Town of Bergamo, Italy

Located in Lombardy, Bergamo is known as The City of the Thousand. It is a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site.

The city’s upper town is a maze of medieval streets enclosed in a Venetian wall. Medieval buildings and Majestic Baroque look out on the southern plains. Include it in your itinerary when you visit Northern Italy.

See Related: Top-Rated Restaurants in Italy

16. Udine

Colorful Square in Udine, Italy

Udine is a must-visit for its castle. The 16th-century castle is a significant landmark. Udine is close to the border of Slovenia and is influenced by other cultures that cross the border.

Other important structures include the Cathedral of Udine, Loggia del Lionello, and Chiesa di San Giacomo. There are many parks, museums, and Piazzas to explore here too.

See Related: Best Car Museums in Italy

15. Ferrara

Castello Estense in Ferrara, Italy

Ferrara is located right between Bologna and Venice. It is an ideal base for those who want to explore the eastern part of Northern Italy.

Ferrara has many sites worth visiting, and it is known for its beautiful structures. It is famous amongst tourists for Estense Castle, which sits on a lake and is an important symbol of Ferrara.

You will also find the Palazzo dei Diamanti, an Archaeological museum in the city center. The Cathedral of Saint George is also a must-visit. A medieval city in the past, Ferrara had a very defensive network and is a Northern Italy must-see.

See Related: Things to Do in Italy

14. Monza

Square in Monza, Italy

Located in the metropolitan part of Milan, Monza is a great tourist destination. You can take a day trip to Monza from Milan. It is an ideal location and one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.

Monza is famous for the Formula One Racing Track for the Italian Grand Prix and the Parco di Monza. This park covers a massive area with stunning wooded areas, villas, and gardens. You can spend hours at the park walking through its trails.

Autodromo is a great place to visit inside the park; if you are fortunate enough, you can watch the Formula One race here. Besides the park, there is the Ponte dei Leoni and the gorgeous Duomo di Monza.

See Related: Our Ultimate Travel Guide to Visiting Italy

13. Alessandria

Duomo di Alessandria

Located in the Piedmont area of North Italy, Alessandria is a place you must visit. It is small in size and is less touristy. It has efficient transport links to Genoa, Milan, and Turin. You will find the Cittadella di Alessandria here.

It’s a very popular site located on the banks of the Tanaro River. You can reach here by crossing the footbridge. Head to the Museo Delle Divise Militari if you love military history and displays.

See Related: Best Museums in Florence to Visit

12. Trieste

Panorama of Trieste Bay, Italy

Located in the eastern part of Northern Italy on the coast of the Gulf of Trieste, the city of Trieste lies close to Slovenia, and its border can be reached in less than 20 minutes. It is near Slovenia and has a very different feel and culture from the rest of Italy.

Trieste has been influenced by Slovenian culture due to its proximity. Its harbor is an excellent place to explore, connects Canale Grande, and is known for beautiful architecture. Trieste is one of the must-see places in Northern Italy.

Trieste also has multiple castles, religious structures, and Roman ruins. Take a stroll down the Molo Audace, a 300-meter-long promenade that goes out into the sea.

11. Brescia

Lonato del Garda in Brescia

Located near Verona and Lake Garda, Brescia is in the heart of Lombardy and is a beautiful city. It is an important industrial region.

One of the best places to visit in Northern Italy, Brescia has various historical sites and some gorgeous places of natural beauty. Regarding architecture, Brescia has the Roman Tempio Capitolino, the historic Broletto, and Duomo Nuovo.

See Related: Italy vs France

10. Verona

Sunset View Over Verona, Italy

Often overshadowed by major Italian cities, Verona sees fewer tourists than other cities. It is one of the best historical centers in the country and has some stunning sites.

An important site of Verona is the Arena, a huge structure that rivals the Colosseum of Rome and is equally spectacular. There is Castle Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio, which are exceptional structures to visit. They give a peek into Verona’s history.

The city has impressive structures like the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Verona Cathedral, and several Piazzas like the Piazza Bra and Piazza Delle Erbe. The city is close to Lake Garda, a great place to explore.

See Related: Day Trips from Rome

9. Parma

Parma, Italy

Parma is located between Milan and Bologna. It is known for its incredible prosciutto and various cheese varieties. Because of the long history of the city and its involvement in various factions and wars over the years, it has a range of structures and Piazzas.

One of the finest Romanesque structures in Italy is Parma Cathedral. The adjoining Baptistery is also very wealthy. Parma is one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.

It has many fantastic theaters like Teatro Regio and Teatro Farnese, which offer an ideal venue to see the show. When in Parma, visit the national gallery to look at the collections from Van Dyck and Da Vinci.

See Related: Things to Do in Milan, Italy

8. Turin

Cityscape of Turin, Italy

One of the main industrial cities in Italy, Turin is an economic powerhouse. It retains its charm and history and has several attractions and sites. Turin is located in the western part of Northern Italy and was once the country’s capital. The cityscape is set against the breathtaking outline of the Alps.

You will see cafes and baroque buildings line the boulevards and squares of the city. The dreamy villas and elegant townhouses are decorated with geometric stained glass windows and plasterwork with floral motifs.

You will see some exceptional sites like Palazzo Reale, the gigantic Mole Antonelliana, Palazzo Madama, and the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista. Do not forget to visit the Turin Egyptian Museum.

Read Also: Bologna or Florence: What’s Best?

7. Bologna

Bologna's historic tower and architecture against a clear blue sky
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One of the largest and the best places to visit in Northern Italy, Bologna is the capital of the Emilia Romagna region. It is popular for its strong economic presence in the financial industry. Bologna is known as the city of towers with several historical high-rise structures.

Visit the Torre Prendiparte and the leaning towers of Bologna for beautiful structures that are a prominent part of the city’s skyline. Besides the towers, there are several amazing Piazzas and buildings like Piazza Maggiore that are a must-visit.

If you want to enjoy arts and culture, head to the galleries and fine museums like the Archaeological Museum and the National Gallery. The place is famous for its architecture and culinary prowess.

When in Bologna, hike to the San Luca monastery at sunset for the most amazing view of the city. The red brick architecture will glow warmly and give you the experience of a lifetime. From this height, the city appears in all its glory.

See Related: Best Travel Books for Italy

6. Portofino

Bay in Portofino, Italy
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Portofino is a picturesque harbor town that is a must-visit for all. It has a bright harbor front and is a great place for designer shopping. You will see beautifully colored houses, several seafood restaurants, and high-end boutiques. There are several things to see and do here.

A path will lead you from the Piazzetta to the Castello Brown, a fortress and a museum. Most importantly, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Ligurian Sea and the town.

Apart from the fortress, you can visit the Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino, La Cervara, and Christ of the Abyss, an underwater statue and a huge attraction. Portofino attracts tourists worldwide and is a popular destination for celebrity spotting. It is famous for its pleasant weather and beautiful location.

5. Lake Garda

Lake Garda and Mountains

One of the best places to visit in Northern Italy, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and a popular destination for tourists and locals. The scenery and landscape around Lake Garda are jaw-dropping. You will see the perfect combination of forest-covered mountains and small terra cotta-roofed villages here.

Towns like Bardolino and Sirmione provide ideal venues to explore the lake. Take a boat trip to the lake and travel between the beautiful lakeside villages while soaking in the beautiful scenery.

The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda, is in Lombardy. On the lake’s northern side, Gruppo del Baldos mountains create an exceptional backdrop; in the middle, you will see small islands home to villas.

Garda is famous for several lakeside villages, and the town drips with Mediterranean plant life and fishing boats. You do not need to worry about where to stay in Northern Italy when in Lake Garda. There are several options for you.

4. Como

House on Lake Como

Como is a must-visit place in Northern Italy. It is known for its natural beauty and jaw-dropping mountainous landscapes. It is popular for its Renaissance architecture and the upside-down Y-shaped lake.

Every town and village gives a spectacular view of the Alps and the lake. The architecture in Como is popular amongst tourists. Take the Brunate funicular to look down on the majestic lake and enjoy mind-blowing views of the mountain landscapes.

You can also visit lakeside towns like Lierna, Dervio, and Bellagio if you have time. These towns offer excellent views across the lake.

3. Genoa

Church in Genoa, Italy
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

A magnificent city located on the southern coast of North Italy, Genoa lies on the Ligurian Sea. It is the sixth-largest city in the country and is a major port. Genoa has a strong significance for the country’s economy and has played a strong role in the history of Italy.

The walls of Genoa were expansive at one point in time, and the Porta Soprana is one of the remaining gates of this fortress. You will see some fine architecture in the city center, such as public spaces like Piazza Matteotti and Piazza Ferrari.

Genoa, Italy

Head to the Maritime Museum and the Aquarium to learn more about the history of Genoas port and marine life. Walk around the huge port and see the commercial shipping activity. Genoa is perfect for those who want to relax and explore Italy’s beauty.

2. Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy

One of the largest cities in Italy, Milan is one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy. It is popular for its culture, history, economy, and various shopping outlets.

Milan is famous for its architecture and various historical buildings that shaped Italy. Some important sites include the Duomo, the Sforzesco Castle, and the Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology. Milan is a wonderful city to visit, and it offers everyone the best things to do in Northern Italy- from museums to shopping.

See Related: Reasons to Travel to Italy

1. Venice

Venice

No trip to Italy is complete without visiting Venice. Dubbed the most romantic city in the world (something I’m sure Paris has a bit to say about), Venice does justice to its name. You can spend days walking through the canals and cobbled streets.

Venice is an island city located in the famous Venetian Lagoon. Since it is an island city, it is formed through a network of various islands joined together through bridges and canals. You can relax and soak up the sun at Golden Beach or make the most of Venice’s stunning architecture and history.

Visit the Bridge of Sighs, Doges Palace, and Rialto Bridge. One of the must-visit sites is the Grand Canal. Head to St. Mark’s Square to see the enormous bell tower and get mesmerized by the opulent cathedral.

Include these best places in your itinerary whenever you head to Northern Italy. There is so much more to Italy than touristy destinations, and there is something for every type of traveler. Every town and city will give you a peek into the beautiful destination’s rich architecture and unique culture.

Tours in Northern Italy

1. Venice In a Day: Basilica San Marco, Doges Palace & Gondola ride Top Recommendation

Enjoy a guided tour of Venice by foot, boat, and bike. Explore the winding backstreets of Venice’s charming neighborhoods as your guide reveals hidden gems and explains the city's history. Hop aboard a gondola for a romantic ride along the Grand Canal, enjoy skip-the-line entry to St Mark’s Basilica and explore the magnificent Doge’s Palace on a guided tour. With no language barrier to contend with and an expert guide at your side, you'll feel safe and confident in this unique city.

2. Bologna: City Center Walking Tour

A walking tour is a great way to explore the city and get an introduction to a new place. The walk will last 2 hours and at the end of the tour you'll be able to see the most important sights of Bologna. It's also a great way to meet people who share your interests, learn about local culture and customs, try new food, and find out more about the history of your destination.

3. Milan: Da Vinci's Last Supper Guided Tour

The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It is an icon, a symbol - and it is also a masterpiece. This tour will take you inside the old refectory of an ancient monastery where you can admire this fresco for 15 minutes with a guide who will tell you all about its incredible history and fascinating myths.

FAQs

What is northern Italy known for?

Northern Italy is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and world-renowned cuisine. The region is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Italy, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, and the Vatican City. Additionally, North Italy is renowned for its delicious food and wine, with famous dishes such as pizza, pasta, and gelato originating from the region.

What are some of the best places to visit in northern Italy?

Northern Italy is home to a wealth of cultural and historical landmarks, as well as stunning natural scenery. Some of the must-visit places in this region include the iconic city of Venice, with its winding canals and picturesque architecture; the charming city of Verona, famous for its Roman amphitheater and association with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; and the stunning Lake Como, known for its crystal-clear waters and luxurious villas. Other notable destinations in northern Italy include Milan, Turin, and the Dolomite Mountains.

Is Northern or Southern Italy nicer?

This depends on personal preferences, but northern and southern Italy have unique charms. Northern Italy is known for its stunning lakes, picturesque towns, and beautiful mountains.

Southern Italy, on the other hand, boasts a rich history, beautiful beaches, and delicious cuisine. Ultimately, the choice between North and South Italy comes from individual tastes and interests.

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