The best 12 things to do in Northern Italy: from wine tasting to a gondola ride, discover all the breathtaking spots

Have you ever thought about visiting Northern Italy? Keep reading this article to find out the best 12 things you can do there and add them to your bucket list!



Northern Italy is not the first area that comes to tourists’ minds when they plan to visit this country. Centre and South are the most famous, and especially in summer, they get all the attention. But this doesn’t mean that the North doesn’t have its own gems.

There's so much to do and explore in Northern Italy. All the most beautiful lakes are located up here and the cities are so different from the other areas of Italy, and it’s really worth it to explore them. This is the place where you can find the most amazing hiking trails, enjoy great food, and find some unique beaches if you are a beach lover.

If you love the mountains, Northern Italy is the place. The worldwide famous Dolomites are here. If you want to try delicious food, there is no better region than Emilia Romagna. And what about the wine? The best wines are from Piedmont. This is the destination to go for all the foodies.

If you like adventuring, you will find a lot of fun activities to do in the North. And the mix of cultures is stronger up here than in any other area of Italy, because of the proximity of France, Germany, and Slovenia. You can see the different cultures in habits, languages, food, and architecture and it’s so interesting.

Keep reading: Where to go in Italy: know the country from north to south with the best 20 places to visit

Volunteering in Northern Italy

Before talking about the best things that you can do in Northern Italy, I wanted to introduce you to the possibility of a different kind of travel. Have you ever thought about volunteering during your travels? It is really a good way to meet locals and other travelers, improve your skills, and in exchange, you always get free accommodation. It is one of the best ways to travel the world.

Let me introduce you to Worldpackers, the best platform to use if you want to volunteer around the world. You can look for volunteering positions on the platform, all our hosts are verified. You just apply, and in exchange for some hours of work per day, you get free accommodation, and sometimes free board.

Using Worldpackers, you can find volunteering positions in Northern Italy, and that would be a very good way to get in touch with the local culture and learn so many new things while saving a lot of money.

Top 12 things to do in Northern Italy

The following list is all about the best things to do in Northern Italy. They are not in a particular order, it’s impossible to pick the best one because they are all amazing things to do, and you’ll probably want to try them all.

 1. Wine tasting in Piedmont

Piedmont has the best wines in Italy, and every Italian wine lover can confirm this. That’s why if you like wine, you should try a wine-tasting experience in Piedmont because it’s something so cool. 

The best place to have this experience is an area called Langhe, in which the grapes grow and they produce wine. The producers usually run also wine cellars in which you can taste their wine. This is one of the best experiences to try in Italy.

2. Have a romantic walk in Verona

Verona is the most romantic city in Italy, and not only if you travel as a couple because you’ll love it in any case. It’s a very pretty city, with amazing architecture and lovely streets to get lost in. Don’t miss the statue of Juliet and touch it if you are looking for some luck. 

If you want to learn something about permaculture and volunteer near Verona, you can have a look at this position in Schio.

3. Visit famous Lago Maggiore

Everybody talks about Lake Como in Northern Italy, which is amazing of course, and it’s a huge tourist spot, but I want you to discover another beautiful lake, less crowded but not less amazing, Lago Maggiore.

This lake is shared by Piedmont, Lombardia, and Switzerland, and it’s actually quite popular among the locals. It is less visited than other lakes in the North, and for this reason is also a little bit less expensive, but it is totally worth a visit.

You can walk in some of the nice cities on the lake like Stresa or have a cruise on one of its islands like Isola Bella.

You can also volunteer near the lake in an amazing historical old house.

4. Have a gondola ride in Venice

Venice doesn’t need any introduction, it's one of the most famous and loved cities in the world and it's located in Northern Italy. One of the best things to do in Venice is to have a gondola ride. The gondola is the famous little boat that you will find everywhere in Venice’s channels.

Going on a gondola is a very funny thing to do with friends or with family, but also a romantic thing, in fact, many proposals have been made on gondolas!

5. Go hiking in Val D’Aosta

Val D’Aosta is not the first region that travelers visit in Italy, but actually, some of the best hiking trails and views in Northern Italy are located there.

Val D’Aosta is full of national parks to go hiking, like Gran Paradiso. This region has amazing views from the mountains and fascinating little villages at high altitude. If you love nature and hiking, it is definitely the place to go.

6. Have a taste of the most amazing food in the world in Bologna 

If you want to have some of the best typical food in Italy, you have to go to Bologna

Forget about spaghetti Bolognese, which is not a real Italian dish, and start to think about lasagna, which comes from Bologna. And then become familiar with tortellini, another pasta dish that was born in this city. And how not to mention all the delicious salumi that you can find here, like mortadella

You could literally spend an entire week eating in Bologna, every day a different dish.

If you want to volunteer in the nearby area, you can have a look at this permaculture position.

7. Visit best Northern Italy beaches in Liguria

They say that the best beaches in Italy are located in the South, but if you are a beach lover and you are heading to Northern Italy, don’t worry, because in Liguria you can find some beautiful beaches that are just as awesome as the southern ones.

The most beautiful sea in the North is in Liguria. Beaches are mostly made of rocks, and the water is so clear and blue. And the villages are so colorful and nice, like the super famous Cinque Terre.

You can find eco programs volunteering positions in Liguria, like this one.

8. Rent a bike and explore Lake Garda

We talked about Lago Maggiore, but there is another great lake that deserves to be visited in Northern Italy, and it’s even more famous: Lake Garda. Lake Garda is huge and you can do a lot of activities on it.

The most famous one, apart from going on a boat, is going cycling. If you love riding your bike, in Lake Garda there is one of the most beautiful and scenic bicycle lanes in Europe. This is entirely on the lake, with amazing views of it, and it’s something to do even for first-time bikers because it’s really wonderful.

9. Enjoy city life in Milan

There is no better city in Italy to live and experience the big city life than Milan. A very modern city, but still with some artistic spots like its famous church Duomo

In Milan, you can find everything, especially if you are looking for fancy restaurants and bars to have the typical Italian aperitivo, or you want to do shopping in some of the most famous Italian clothes shops. Milan is the city of fashion and business, the city in Italy that never sleeps.

10. Have fun in the great nightlife of Romagna 

If you love to have fun, Milan is not the only place you can go. There is another one, mostly known by the locals, but full of discos and Italian nightlife, and also less expensive than Milan. I am talking about Riviera Romagnola, the most famous spot on the East coast of Northern Italy.

This is the place to go to relax on the beach, have fun in some of the best discos and pubs, and of course, try some typical delicious food like piadina.

11. Go adventuring in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are some of the most beautiful mountains in the whole world. Their sceneries, hiking trails, and activities are so famous and loved by locals but also by tourists from all over the world.

If you love mountains, hiking and nature, this is a place you definitely have to visit in Northern Italy, and it’s also one of the most famous places up there. And it’s amazing in all seasons, especially summer for hiking, and winter if you want to ski.

You can even relax all day in a beautiful spa if hiking and skiing are not your things. There is something to do for everyone.

Dolomites can be a bit pricey, but if you volunteer there you can save money on accommodation costs. You can have a look at some volunteering positions in organic and eco places like this one.

12. Visit the border town of Trieste 

If you want to reach the border limit between Italy and Slovenia, Trieste is the place to stop and visit. This city is a border city and the influence of different cultures is very strong. You can see it in the language, in food, and in the architecture.

Trieste is a very nice city, with the biggest square with a sea view in all of Europe, and the beautiful Miramare Castle, on a cliff. Everybody stops in Trieste just to rest a bit between crossing the border, but they end up falling in love with this city. 

I hope this list of the 12 best things to do and see in Northern Italy inspired you to pack your things and plan your trip to this amazing country. And if you want to try a new way of traveling and improving your skills, getting free accommodation, don’t forget to subscribe to one of Worldpackers plans to start volunteering during your travels.

Maybe you could find more inspiration by reading other articles from Worldpackers community:

The ultimate Worldpackers Italy travel guide

The 20 best cities to visit in Italy

Teaching English and becoming part of an Italian family in Genoa

Leave your comment here

Write here your questions and greetings to the author

More about this topic