From Lakes to Landscapes: The Ultimate 7-Day Northern Italy Adventure
Road Trip Travel
Welcome to the captivating playground of Northern Italy, where luxury and adventure intertwine to create an unforgettable experience! From the breathtaking beauty of the Italian Lakes region, with its crystal-clear waters and charming lakeside towns, to the majestic peaks of the Dolomites, perfect for thrilling outdoor pursuits, this region has it all. Immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural wonders of cities like Milan, Venice, and Verona, where art, fashion and romance come to life. And of course, prepare your taste buds for a gastronomic journey through the region's world-renowned cuisine and delectable wines. Get ready for a luxury adventure like no other in Northern Italy!
The Fora Difference
Book with Jaycee to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.
Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you
Customized travel planning for your style
Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there
Where to stay
A luxurious mountain resort in the Dolomites perfect for nature lovers and avid adventurers alike.
Luxury property set in a 16th-century palace with elegant rooms near the Grand Canal.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
il Sereno Hotel
Lake Como's most contemporary luxury mainstay, with a dazzling infinity pool suspended over the water.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Jaycee to book your trip.
Day 1: Venice
Arriving in Venice, the city's iconic canals and unique architectural wonders will greet you. Your first destination is the renowned Bridge of Sighs. This historic bridge holds a romantic tale and offers a stunning panoramic view that encapsulates the charm of Venice. Be sure to have your cameras ready.
Next up, dive into the historical significance of the Doge's Palace. As the seat of power during Venice's glorious days, the palace showcases exquisite craftsmanship, ornate decorations and remarkable halls that narrate the city's grand past. It's like stepping back in time.
Venturing to Piazza San Marco, you'll find yourself amidst a vibrant hub of activity. This central square, surrounded by remarkable architectural feats, provides a perfect setting to indulge in Italian coffee culture and relish local delights like gelato.
After that, you can't miss the Basilica di San Marco. Trust me, this place is a real masterpiece. The golden mosaics, intricate designs and majestic domes will leave you in awe.
Stepping onto the Ponte dell'Academia, you'll be treated to a captivating view of Venice's enchanting landscape. This bridge allows us to see the city from a new angle, offering unexpected perspectives and hidden corners waiting to be explored. Insider tip: this bridge has one of the best views of the Grand Canal, and it's even better to visit at sunset. You're welcome.
Where to eat:
Rossopomodoro: This popular pizzeria is known for its authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. With fresh ingredients and a variety of mouthwatering toppings, you'll experience a true taste of Italy. From classic Margherita to creative combinations, Rossopomodoro will leave you craving more.
Suso Gelato: A charming gelateria located in the Cannaregio neighborhood that is known for serving some of the best gelato in town. Step inside, and you'll be greeted by a colorful array of gelato flavors, all made with love and the finest ingredients.
Osteria Alle Testiere: This intimate and charming osteria is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With a focus on seafood and seasonal ingredients, the menu at Osteria Alle Testiere changes daily. The dishes are prepared with passion and creativity, showcasing the flavors of the Adriatic Sea. Be sure to try their signature dishes like the spaghetti with clams or the grilled fish.
Antiche Carampane: For an authentic Venetian dining experience, Antiche Carampane is a top choice. Located in the heart of Venice, this family-run restaurant is known for its traditional seafood dishes and warm atmosphere. From the Venetian-style seafood risotto to the flavorful scampi, the quality and taste of the dishes are outstanding.
Day 2: Tre Cime and Lago di Braies
First up, we're heading to the majestic Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Picture towering peaks, dramatic cliffs, and jaw-dropping views. It's like stepping into a fantasy world! Hike, snap some mind-blowing photos and feel like you're on top of the world. Don't forget your hiking boots and a sense of adventure!
Next stop, hold on tight as we journey to Mordor (okay, not the real Mordor, but a seriously cool place). Inspired by the mythical realm from "The Lord of the Rings," this otherworldly location will have you feeling like Frodo on a quest. It's a place of rugged beauty, with mysterious landscapes that will ignite your imagination. And better yet, it's right next to Tre Cime so you don't have to drive anywhere.
Now, visit the stunning Lago di Braies, a true gem in the heart of nature. Imagine crystal-clear turquoise waters surrounded by majestic mountains. It's like a postcard come to life! You can even rent a rowboat and take a leisurely paddle across the lake and soak up the awe-inspiring views. And if you're feeling brave, you can even take a dip in the cold water.
Stay the night in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Day 3: Great Dolomite Road
First on the list is the Great Dolomite Road, which runs from Cortina to Bolzano. Buckle up and prepare for a scenic drive through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes nature has to offer. Wind through the majestic Dolomite mountains, taking in the dramatic peaks and valleys. It's like a rollercoaster ride through Mother Nature's very own masterpiece!
Next up, make a stop at the magical Karersee. This emerald-green lake is straight out of a fairy tale. Surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains, the Karersee is a spot where you'll want to pause and soak in the enchanting beauty.
Last but not least, visit the magnificent Alpe di Siusi. Imagine rolling meadows, charming chalets, and panoramic views that will leave you speechless. Whether you're an avid hiker or just want to breathe in the fresh mountain air, Alpe di Siusi is a dreamy destination that will make you feel like you're on top of the world.
Stay the next two nights in the Alpe di Siusi region. My personal favorite is Alpina Dolomites.
Day 4: Val di Funes and Seceda
Get ready to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Val di Funes. This enchanting valley is a nature lover's paradise, boasting rolling meadows, majestic peaks and charming villages. Prepare to be swept away by the serenity and wonder of this natural wonderland.
The first stop takes us to the picturesque Chiesa di Santa Maddalena. This charming church stands as a timeless sentinel against the backdrop of the Dolomites. With its quaint bell tower and idyllic setting, it's a perfect spot to soak in the tranquility and capture postcard-worthy photos.
Delve into history as you explore the Church of St. John. This ancient gem is a testament to centuries of culture and faith. The intricately crafted architecture and the stories held within its walls offer a glimpse into the past, making it a must-see for history enthusiasts.
Last on the list, Seceda. Take a ride on the cable car and make your way to the top of the peak. This mountain wonderland beckons with its dramatic vistas and hiking trails that seem straight out of a fairy tale. Whether you're an avid hiker or simply seeking breathtaking views, Seceda promises an amazing experience.
Day 5: Lake Garda
On the way to Lake Garda, stop at Madonna della Corona. Perched high on a rocky cliff, this breathtaking sanctuary will make you feel like you've stumbled upon a hidden treasure. As you make your way up the winding path, surrounded by breathtaking views, marvel at the intricate architecture and the peaceful atmosphere.
Next up, it's time to soak up the beauty of Lake Garda itself. Whether you choose to sail on its crystal-clear waters, lounge on the picturesque beaches or simply take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, this magnificent lake will captivate your heart. Don't forget to dip your toes in the refreshing water and let the gentle breeze kiss your face. Lake Garda is pure bliss!
Make your way to the enchanting Castello di Sirmione. This medieval fortress will transport you back in time as we explore its ancient walls, climb its towers, and admire the panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Last but certainly not least, venture into the fascinating Grotte di Catullo. These ancient Roman ruins will leave you in awe as you wander through the remnants of a grand villa, imagining what life was like centuries ago. With its magnificent arches, mosaic floors and stunning views of Lake Garda, this archeological site will transport you back to a bygone era.
Stay in one of the many towns or villages around the Lake.
Day 6: Lake Como
Start your day in the enchanting town of Como, located at the southern tip of Lake Como. Take a leisurely stroll along the elegant lakeside promenade and soak up the picturesque views of the water and surrounding mountains. Stop by a local café for a delicious Italian breakfast of cappuccino and freshly baked pastries to fuel your day.
Next, hop aboard a ferry and set sail across the calm waters of Lake Como. Enjoy the gentle breeze as you glide past charming lakeside villages and elegant villas. Sit back, relax and let the beauty of the surroundings wash over you.
Disembark at the lovely village of Bellagio, often called the "Pearl of Lake Como." Explore the narrow streets lined with colorful buildings, boutique shops, and charming cafés. Be sure to visit the beautiful gardens of Villa Melzi, where you can wander among exotic plants and enjoy stunning lake views.
Indulge in a leisurely lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants in Bellagio. Savor traditional Italian cuisine accompanied by a glass of local wine. Take your time to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the flavors of the region.
After lunch, continue your exploration of Lake Como. Head to the picturesque town of Varenna, known for its charming waterfront and romantic atmosphere. Take a stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, visit the medieval Castle of Vezio for panoramic views and relax by the lake at one of the cozy cafés.
Make your way to the beautiful Villa del Balbianello, located on a peninsula overlooking the lake. This stunning villa has been featured in several movies, including Star Wars, thanks to its breathtaking gardens and architectural beauty. Take a guided tour of the villa and immerse yourself in its rich history and stunning surroundings.
Stay in Como, Bellagio or Varenna or any area nearby.
Day 7: Milan
Start your day in Milan with a visit to Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage site that houses one of the most renowned artworks of all time – Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, as entry is limited!
Next, head to the Duomo di Milano, Milan's grand cathedral. This architectural marvel is a prime example of Gothic design, adorned with an intricate façade and stunning interior. Be sure to go up to the rooftop terraces for panoramic views of the city. This sight can be very busy, so I suggest visiting as early as you can.
Right next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This ornate shopping arcade, often referred to as Milan's "living room," is home to luxury boutiques, restaurants and cafés. Admire the exquisite architecture and take the opportunity to do some serious shopping.
Time to visit a hidden gem - San Bernardino alle Ossa. This small church is known for its ossuary, where human bones have been creatively incorporated into the interior decor.
End your day with a visit to Castello Sforzesco, a historical castle that has played a significant role in Milan's history. The castle now houses a collection of museums and galleries, including works by Michelangelo and da Vinci.
Where to eat:
Cracco: Led by renowned chef Carlo Cracco, this two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Milan's historic center presents a modern and sophisticated take on Italian cuisine. The menu showcases inventive dishes that combine flavors and textures in unexpected ways, while the stylish interior adds to the overall dining experience.
Trattoria Arlati: If you're looking for an authentic Milanese culinary experience, head to Trattoria Arlati. This family-run restaurant has been serving traditional Lombard cuisine since 1936. From classic risotto to ossobuco, the dishes here capture the essence of Milan's gastronomy in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Ratana: This trendy restaurant in the Isola district is known for its inventive and sustainable approach to Italian cuisine. Ratana focuses on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients to create dishes that are both delicious and environmentally conscious. The contemporary setting adds to the restaurant's appeal.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide, The Ultimate 7-Day Scotland Itinerary.
Get in touch with Jaycee
Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.
You can normally expect a response from Jaycee within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).
This guide is a part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy.