A 14-Day Northern Italy Odyssey: From Venice to Milan

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Advisor - Kristen Kellogg
Curated By

Kristen Kellogg

  • Italy

  • Boutique Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Milan

  • Venice

  • Sightseeing

  • Romantic

  • Local Food

Boat on lake in the city flowing between buildings.
Curator’s statement

Northern Italy is home to the fashion capital of Italy, filled with delectable cuisine, but also some of the most stunning lakes, as well as history-forward towns. This itinerary gives you a great mix of what Italy is all about as you travel through the north of the country.

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Day 1-3: The serene city of canals

Red Boat on Body of Water Near White Concrete Building

Welcome to the breathtaking region of Northern Italy, a land of rich history, cultural wonders and stunning landscapes, and some of my favorite lakes. This 14-day itinerary is crafted especially for first-time visitors, taking you on a memorable journey through iconic cities, enchanting lakes and the majestic Dolomite Mountains. From the romantic canals of Venice to the scenic beauty of Lake Garda, and from the historic charm of Verona to the cosmopolitan allure of Milan, each destination offers a unique experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Let's embark on this northern Italy odyssey!

Your adventure begins in the magical city of Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of romance and beauty. Stroll through the narrow alleys and charming squares, and cross the iconic Rialto Bridge.

If you're visiting Venice, we always recommend a few nights instead of just a day trip since it’s so popular with day trippers to infuse money into the local economy.

Classics to explore are St. Mark's Square and its stunning Basilica, known for its Byzantine architecture and glittering mosaics. Don't miss the opportunity to take a gondola ride along the meandering canals, allowing the city's enchanting atmosphere to embrace you. The trendier neighborhood of Dorsoduro is also worth a walk as well as exploring the islands of Murano and Burano with a local tour guide meeting artisans and seeing how they work along the tour.

If you want to see some of the less traveled canals of the area, take the train to the town of Treviso, just a 45 min ride away. For a Luxe classic stay in the heart of it all, check in at the Aman Venice.

Day 4-6: Verona - romance and Shakespeare

Aerial view of castle overlooking the lake.

From Venice, head to Verona, a city renowned for its romantic ambiance and connection to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's House which you’ve well heard of is very touristy and a pass in my opinion, but there are some other gems worth seeing in the city.

Explore the ancient Roman Arena, still used today for opera performances and concerts. Wander through the historic center, filled with elegant palaces, charming squares and picturesque bridges.

For modern luxury accommodation in Verona, check in at Butterfly Boutique Rooms.

Day 7-9: Dolomites - majestic alpine beauty

Green Grass Field And Mountain Under Blue Sky

Venture into the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The Dolomites offer breathtaking scenery, with towering peaks, lush valleys and crystal-clear lakes.

Hike along scenic trails, take cable cars to the highest vantage points, and capture the stunning beauty of the landscapes with your camera. Visit iconic spots like Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Seceda and the Alpe di Siusi.

For a traditional authentic five-star wellness-focused stay, check in at Alpenroyal Grand Hotel.

Day 10-11: Lake Garda - serenity and charm

Lake Garda Italy tour.

Continue your journey to Lake Garda, my favorite less-traveled by Americans lake in Italy. It’s surrounded by picturesque towns like Sirmione, a stunning peninsula with thermal baths and a medieval castle. You’ll also find one of the 50 Best restaurants, Lido 84, which was well earned its Michelin Stars on the west side of the lake.

Visit the charming town of Riva del Garda, known for its beautiful beaches and watersport activities, and surrounding hikes. Enjoy leisurely boat rides across the lake, with views of the surrounding mountains and lush vineyards.

If you’re into adventure travel stay on the north side of the lake at Lido Palace where history meets luxury in Riva del Garda.

Day 12: Franciacorta - sparkling wine elights

White grapes on a vine.

En route to Lake Como, make a stop at the Franciacorta wine region. Known for its exceptional sparkling wines that rival Champagne, there are great wineries to taste at from small producers that never leave Italy to more established spots like Berlucci .

Discover the picturesque vineyards and learn about the traditional winemaking process. Franciacorta is a hidden gem, offering a more intimate and relaxed wine experience compared to other wine regions.

For a winery-focused stay, check in at The Albereta Relais & Chateaux.

Day 13-14: Lake Como and Milan - grand inale

Milan at sunset.

Arrive at Lake Como, the epitome of elegance and natural beauty. Explore the charming towns of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio, each offering their own unique charm and stunning lake views.

Take a private boat ride across Lake Como, with the majestic Alps providing a breathtaking backdrop. Visit Villa del Balbianello, a historic villa with magnificent gardens and Villa Carlotta, known for its art collection and botanical gardens.

Before heading home, make a stop in Milan, a cosmopolitan city that seamlessly blends modernity with history. Visit the magnificent Duomo di Milano, an architectural masterpiece that dominates the city's skyline and taste the delicious foods fo the region.

Explore Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Discover Milan's fashion and design culture at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Brera district.

Need to Know

Throughout your northern Italy itinerary, the most convenient and efficient mode of transportation is the train system. Italy's extensive railway network connects major cities and towns, making it easy to travel between destinations. In Venice, Verona and Milan, walking is the best way to explore the historic centers and discover hidden gems. For day trips to nearby locations, consider taking local buses or trains.

To explore the Dolomites and the Lake Garda region, we recommended renting a car if you want to explore the outskirts of the lake. This will give you the flexibility to reach remote areas and enjoy scenic drives through the mountains and countryside. For a resort stay, you can hire a private driver to get you there and back.

For Lake Como, boat rides are a popular and picturesque way to travel between towns and enjoy the stunning lake views.

This 14-day journey through northern Italy, where every destination will reveal delicious regional cuisine, history, cultur, and, of course, natural beauty. From the timeless charm of Venice and Verona to the Alpine wonders of the Dolomites and the serene lakes of Lake Garda and Como, each stop will leave you enchanted. Embrace the Italian way of life, savor the regional cuisine and create cherished memories to last a lifetime. Buon viaggio!

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Elena Federico’s guide, Romantic Weekend in Rome, Italy.

Advisor - Kristen Kellogg

Travel Advisor

Kristen Kellogg

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy.