The Most Beautiful Places in Northern Italy
If you plan to visit Northern Italy and want to avoid the crowds, there are hundreds of lesser-known yet beautiful places worth adding to your itinerary. If you visit Italy for the first time, for sure all your favourite cities like Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice will be on your list. But the real beauty of Italy goes well beyond the surface of the main attractions. You will be surprised to see how many charming villages and small towns the boot-shaped BelPaese has.
Some of the best places to visit in Northern Italy
I grew up in Italy and returned to reside back in 2004. I have been travelling in my home country for decades and love to explore new things and experience the extraordinary about the lesser-known and secret places in Italy.
From naturalist escapes to food and gourmet regions, in this post, I am showing you some of the best places to visit in Northern Italy, especially in Italy’s North East, an area that boasts small heritage sites and naturalistic treasures that you will love.
Trieste, the pearl of North-East Italy
Last but not least, Trieste, located in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the North-East Italian city on the border with Slovenia, will amaze you. Although it feels a bit isolated from northern Italian towns, it will be difficult to leave once you get there. I often call Venice’s sister town on the mainland because of its canals and the spectacular, beautiful Piazza D’Unità D’Italia on the sea.
From there, a short stroll along the Molo Audace, a 200-meter paved walkway, takes out to sea. Triest is the pearl of the Karst Plateau, where you can take beautiful walks along the Rilke Trail or the Strada Napoleonica (Napoleonic Way). Another good thing to do in Trieste is walking along its beautiful 6 km promenade that leads to the Miramare Castle, a white castle perched on a small promontory and surrounded by a vast lush green park.
If you are a food and coffee lover, you should know that Triest is a top place for coffee and food. The city is home to the worldwide famous coffee brand, illy coffee. The beautiful contrasts and the rich heritage makes Trieste an ideal destination for a weekend gateway when exploring Northern Italy.
You can also travel to Croatia and Slovenia, as Trieste is located on the border to Slovenia. In a couple of hours, you can get to the beautiful coastal town of Baska Krk Island.
There is something magical about Venice that I cannot put into words. As a local, no other place in Italy makes me feel like strolling on Venice’s Calle. Having visited Venice since I was a kid and throughout my life, whenever I get out of the train and start walking through the Venetian Calli, I always think I am visiting for the first time.
There is always a hidden small place, hundreds of little “calli” (dead-end alleys) to discover and get lost. And many small islands on the Venetian Lagoon that are a real treasure. You can go on a heritage tour and explore more of its naturalistic beauty: go biking, walking, and bird watching.
These are some of Venice’s most unusual places that are not on most tourists’ plan when they come to see Venice.
Vittorio Veneto, a small heritage town in Northern Italy
Not many people know that there are so many little charming villages and heritage sites just in a short drive or one-hour train ride from Venice. One of these is Vittorio Veneto, with its beautiful medieval castle and many old buildings from the Renaissance era. Vittorio is one of the most beautiful Italian cities that must be on your bucket list as a day trip from Venice.
The Prosecco Road in Veneto, Italy
Welcome to the best region for all Italian sparkling wines. I’d say the area that can best compete with the French Champagne. There are many types of Prosecco, and the only area where the vineyards grow here is Veneto. You can get to visit the best Prosecco Wineries and go through some fantastic Prosecco hills and lush landscapes.
You can also hire a car and drive through the famous Prosecco Road from Conegliano to Vittorio Veneto and further down to Valdobbiadene. This triangle-shaped land encompasses the top white wine region of Italy. In my Summer Italy Tour of the Dolomites, we will be going on a gourmet Tour by tasting the best Prosecco and walking through the picturesque Hills of Vittorio Veneto.
The Northern Dolomites, a UNESCO heritage site
The Italian Dolomites stretch between three regions in North-East Italy: Trentino & South Tyrol, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Julia. Most people tend to choose Cortina, which is very popular with tourists in summer and winter.
I would suggest visiting the surrounding Cadore Region from San Vito and Pieve and Auronzo and more small Dolomites towns like Bolzano. The landscape is truly picturesque. Many hiking trails and green emerald lakes make it for a perfect mix of relaxation and outdoor adventure in one of the best Unesco World Heritage sites you can visit in Europe.
While you can go to the Dolomites on a day trip from Venice, you can also join a tour that encompasses all the above places in northern Italy.
How to plan a trip to Northern Italy
If you plan a trip around Northern Italy and beyond, during or after COVID-19, one of the most comfortable ways that will save you time and hassle of booking your accommodation is to go on a road trip across Italy with an RV.
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First published in 2018, last updated in April 2022
Photos Credits from Shutterstock
Photo no. 1. Trieste Miramare Castle
Photo no. 2. Serravalle Vittorio Veneto
Phooto no. 3 Burano Venice
Photo no. 4. Vittorio Veneto
Photo no. 5. Prosecco Hills Veneto
Photo no. 6. Dolomites Landscape
April 17, 2018 @ 2:25 am
I absolutely adore Italy and Prosecco, so I know I would love touring the region where Prosecco was invented! Thx for the tantalizing post!
April 30, 2018 @ 8:03 am
Hi Dorreen, thanks for stopping by. The Prosecco Road is a beautiful route in Veneto that shows you the best places for Prosecco tastings amidst lush-green hills and little villages. In July I’ll be running a hiking trip of the Dolomites with a break in the Prosecco hills, so if you are around, let me know, there are still a few places available on this tour of mine! 🙂
Debbra Dunning Brouillette
April 17, 2018 @ 10:19 pm
I’ve not yet visited Italy at all…but the northern region looks amazing. I hope I can make it there one day and enjoy all the beauty (and Prosecco!) that Italy has to offer.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers
April 18, 2018 @ 2:49 am
I’ve added Prosecco Road to my to-do list! Can’t wait!
April 18, 2018 @ 6:47 am
Mmm.. I have a friend in Triest, looks like I’ll need to pay a visit. Thanks for some great insights.
April 20, 2018 @ 2:26 pm
Such a beautiful post and you’ve totally inspired my Italy wanderlust! Now I want to go on the Prosecco Road and sip bubbly…and to Venice to glide down the canals. The colors of Burano are spectacular! Thanks – I really enjoy your posts!
April 23, 2018 @ 4:52 am
I like your suggestions of places to visit, including Prosecco Road — an area that I loved! I really enjoy the lesser-known gems of Italy. Although now I’ve been to Italy several times and have visited many places, my first trip was focused on the towns of Emilia-Romagna — an amazing experience.
April 23, 2018 @ 11:28 am
Italy is actually the most economically productive and has a host of important manufacturing regions that help give it one of the highest GDPs per capita in Europe.
April 23, 2018 @ 10:05 pm
You had me at ‘Prosecco’! But seriously, some of my family is from Trevino and the northeastern part of Italy, so I really should do more exploring there!
April 30, 2018 @ 8:26 am
Treviso is only 30 kilometers from Venice, a short train train. North East of Italy is beautiful, yet overlooked by most travellers who prefer to focus their first-time visit on the main Italian attractions. If you are coming you definitely have to include a trip to the Prosecco region and the Venetian Dolomites! 🙂
May 24, 2018 @ 6:41 pm
Hi, I’m really into The Italian Dolomites, so can you pls suggest some other “small Dolomites towns” for me? Thank you so much for your such helpful guiding post. I hope you will get much further in this field.
August 28, 2019 @ 9:15 am
Hi Susan, thanks for your comment. Glad you liked it. Watch out for this space to learn more about the beautiful small towns in the Dolomites! 😉
August 28, 2019 @ 1:04 am
I stumbled on your site and it looks wonderful. I’m in the very very early stages of planning a 2020 stay in N. Italy and thinking about four weeks in a town such as Verona, Padua or some other city as a home base. The town could be smaller. Any suggestions?
August 28, 2019 @ 9:10 am
Hello Matthew, thanks for reaching out. Verona is a lovely city to use as a base if you want to do day trips from there, you can go to Padua, Vicenza, Trento, Rovereto, they are all within reach and doable on a day. If you love to explore more of the fabulous North East, I’d suggest you spend time in Bolzano you can use it as base to explore the beautiful Dolomites. Hope that helps! if you have more questions feel free to contact me here. Thanks 🙂
July 6, 2022 @ 2:20 pm
Hey Michela, This is wonderful information. I was wondering if you could suggest a 3 day trip from Milan. We have Verona on the 4th day and will be taking your suggestions, Padua, Vincenza, Trento, Roverto and Bolzano while we are there and after Verona we are heading to Lake Como. But I am having a hard time with the first leg of the trip. (first 3 days) Thanks so much for all of your help.
July 7, 2022 @ 5:37 pm
Those places are a bit far away from Milano. I’d actually suggest nice towns and places nearby so that not much travelling is involved. Please reach out to me via our email to: info @ rockytravel.net and I’d be happy to help out. 😉