Pizza and pasta and gelato, oh-my delicious! Welcome to Italy. If you’re looking for an exceptional 10 days in Italy, Northern Italy is a fantastic place to start. From train rides to road trips, you’ll be on the move to some of the best places Northern Italy (and Italy in general) has to offer. Need more? Ok, we’ll give. Lake side mountain towns, classic Italian cities and quaint picturesque coastlines await you. Swooning yet? You should be. Italy is, as they say, “Vita bella” – the good life, and we can’t wait for you to visit her!
10 Days In Italy – The Perfect Northern Italy Itineray
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Best Time To Visit Italy For a 10 Day Trip
There are two great times to visit Italy. 1) Spring and early summer, April to June and 2) Fall, September to October. Temperatures are comfortable and the crowds aren’t too crazy (keyword is “too”). Once the height of summer hits, Italy becomes a tourism mecca for not only Europe, but a lot of the world.
April, May and October tend to be a little easier on the wallet. So if you’re looking to save some Euro’s, aim to go during these months.
Day 1 – 2: Welcome Northern Italy’s Romantic and Bustling Milan
First up on your 10 days in Italy is the charming city of Milan. Milan is located in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and is the global capital of fashion and design. However, there is SO much more to Milan than exceptional fashion. Besides being a great jumping off point to arrive and start your 10 days in Italy, Milan has wonderful things to do, experience and explore.
Arriving Into Italy | Book your roundtrip airfare ticket in and out of Milan’s International Airport, Malpensa Airport (airport code: MXP). Once you’re through customs and officially stamped into Italy (yay!), catch the Malpensa Airport Express (train) to Milano Centrale (Milan’s Central Station). Once at the central station, grab a Taxi to your Milan accommodation. Alternatively, you can check with your hotel/accommodation to see if they are near a train stop. If yes, plan to disembark there instead of Milano Centrale.
Things To Do In Milan
- Visit the stunning gothic cathedral of Duomo
- Have an aperitivo at any Italian Cafe
- Stroll the canal of the Navigli District
- Sample Maliense classics like Risotto alla Milanese, Ossobucco and Cotoletta (just to name a few)
- Check out Sforzesco Castle
- View Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” masterpiece at Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Shop till you drop Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Catch an opera at Teatro alla Scala
- Meander through the Piazza del Duomo
- Catch a football (soccer) game at AC Milan’s San Siro Stadium
We highly suggest staying in Brera District or Navigli District. Brera is a short walk from the famous Duomo. Brera’s streets are narrow and cobbled that are full of art and boutique shops as well as many restaurants and bars.
Navigli District is situated on either side of a canal and quickly becoming one of Milan’s most popular neighborhoods. A short taxi ride away from some of Milans best attractions, Navigli District comes to life at night with quaint restaurants and bars lining its streets.
Day 3 – 4: Swoon Over Picturesque Cinque Terre
After a few amazing days in Milan, it’s time to say “Ciao Bella“, you’re off to Cinque Terre! The best way to get to Cinque Terre from Milan is by train. Depending on which train you catch, you can estimate the ride to be anywhere from 3 – 3.5 hours.
Cinque Terre is made up of five hillside villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These five villages are nestled along the Italian coastline whose stacked colorful homes overlook the Ligurian Sea.
Monterosso is the closest of the five villages to Milan, where Riomaggiore is the furthest. Each Cinque Terre village has it’s own special charm. Choose the one that speaks to you the most and book your accommodation. Our personal favorite? Manarola.
Check out: Milan to Cinque Terre to discover the best ways to get to Cinque Terre.
TIP: Our recommendation is to stay in one village and take the connecting train or walking trails to explore the other four villages. The villages are close together so there is no sense in moving accommodations if you don’t have to.
Things To Do In Cinque Terre
- Eat as much pesto, seafood and gelato as you can
- Hike the Cinque Terre Trail (Blue Trail) that connects Riomaggiore to Monterosso
- Hire a boat and see all 5 Cinque Terre villages by water
- Eat dinner at Nessun Dorma in Manarola
- Take a dip in the Ligurian Sea from Fegina Beach in Monterosso or Vernazza Beach in Vernazza
- Jump off the rocks in Manarola harbor
- Meander the village streets and shop local
- Climb the tower at Doria Castle in Vernazza
- Stroll the hillside vineyard in Manarolla
- Enjoy a Aperol spritz at sunset
Like we said earlier, there are 5 villages that make up Cinque Terre. Each bring a little something special that the others do not. Whichever village you choose to stay in, trust us, it won’t disappoint.
Day 5 – 6: Explore The Port City of Genoa
Eat one last bite of fresh pesto and say “arrivederci” to those beautiful coastlines, you’re heading north to the lovely city of Genoa. Genoa is known for its monumental squares, artisan shops, maritime past and old world architecture. It’s quaint but it bustles, it’s charming but modern, it’s a perfect Italian city.
Genoa is often skipped by so many tourists that flock to Italy and in the words of Julie Robert’s from Pretty Women, “big mistake. huge.” The best plan for Genoa? Wander aimlessly and be prepared to fall in love.
From Cinque Terre to Genoa, you’ll catch the train and ride the rails for 1.5- 2 hours until you reach Genova Piazza Principe, Genoa’s Central Train Station. Once in Genoa, plan to catch a Taxi to your accommodation.
Things To Do In Genoa
- Visit Christopher Columbus’s house, Casa di Colombo
- Take a stroll down Via Garibaldi and swoon over the Renaissance buildings
- Check out San Lorenzo cathedral
- Relax at Boccadasse, an old mariners’ neighborhood
- Fuel up Italian style with €1 espresso’s
- Stroll through Piazza de Ferrari
- Check out Genoa’s harbor
- Pass through the Porta Soprana gatehouse
- Take in the views from Spianata Castelletto
- Chow down on some focaccia
One word, Boccadasse. Boccadasse is an old mariners’ village that is located just outside of the city center, but don’t let that make you think it’s not worth staying in. Boccadasse is perfection. It’s nestled along the coast, has pastel-colored houses and a handful of amazing little eateries.
Day 7: Sip Some Italian Wine in Asti
With another Italian charmer of a city under your belt, it’s time to head out. You have some Italian wine to taste! On your way from Genoa to Lake Como, you’ll pass right along one of the best wine regions in Italy, Piedmont. Within the region of Piedmont, you’ll find the city of Asti. Asti is world-renowned for it’s wine like Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti and Moscato d’Asti.
From Genoa to Asti to Lake Como: While taking a train from Genoa to Lake Como is a completely acceptable form of transportation, in order to visit Asti along the way, you’ll need to rent a car. Plan on renting a car from the Genoa Airport. If renting a car makes you nervous you can catch the train straight to Lake Como (Como Nord Lago Train Station) and opt out of visiting Asti. Or spend one more day in Genoa, and opt to take a day trip to Portofino.
From Genoa, Asti is about a 1.5 hours drive north. On your way to Lake Como, plan to stop for a wine tasting and lunch at Braida Winery. Take a tour through the cellars, learn about how they make their wines and, of course, taste each one. Plan to spend a few hours at Braida before continuing 2-2.5 hours north to Lake Como.
Day 8 – 9: Marvel At Stunning Lake Como
The last stop on your 10 days in Italy is at Lake Como, a gorgeous 96 square miles (146 square kms) lake that rests against the foothills of the Alps. The scenery is dramatic and will leave you saying “wow” (at least) one hundred times. Along Lake Como (or Lago di Como in Italian) you’ll find quaint and charming Italian towns nestled along its banks. Whether it’s rest and relaxation, shopping, ogling at Italian architecture or outdoor fun, you can do it all in Lake Como.
Things To Do In Lake Como
- Rent a scooter and explore the lake and towns
- Shop till your drop at the shops in Bellagio
- Rent a boat and cruise around Lake Como
- Visit Villa del Balbianello
- Walk the promenade in Bellagio
- Hike the Lake Greenway trail (Colonno to Griante)
- Visit the Como Cathedral
- Hike up toward to Cappelletta degli Alpini to get amazing views of Tremezzo and the lake below
- Take the Funicular up to Brunate
- Enjoy a espresso or aperitivo at one of the many cafes that line Lake Como
- Take the passenger ferry and explore the towns of Como, Menaggio, Tremezzo, Bellagio and Varenna
Day 10: Say Arrivederci To Italy
Yes, yes, always the worst part of the any trip, saying goodbye. From Lake Como, make your way back to Internal Airport, Malpensa Airport (airport code: MXP). If you’re driving, the drive will take around 1 hour and 15 – 30 minutes. If you’re catching the train (Como Nord Lago to Malpensa Aeroporto), it’ll take around the same time as driving, 1 hour and 15 – 30 minutes.
Once at the airport have one last Apéritif as you wait to board your flight back home. Until next time!
Have More Time Than 10 Days In Italy?!
If you have a few extra days to spare, consider adding two amazing Italian destinations to your northern Italy itineray. Within a few hours drive/train ride from Lake Como, you have the canal town of Venice and Bolzano, the gateway to the Dolomites, the Italian alps.
- Lake Como to Venice | 5.5 hours by train | 4 hours by car
- Lake Como to Dolomites (Bolzano) | 5-7 hours by train | 4 hours by car
You can easily add two to three days onto your “10 days in Italy trip” to make a visit to one of these amazing places. Or, feel free to swap in Venice or Dolomites with one of the above places! It’s your trip, make it everything you want it to be 🙂
How To Get Around Italy in 10 Days
Italy is a well-oiled machine when it comes to trains! Trains link to just about every city and town from North to South, making train transportation a great way to get around Italy. The plus side of trains, you don’t have to worry about finding parking or driving in crazy cities – Italian drivers are unforgiving 🙂
Plus, it’s really nice to hop on and not have to stress about “where the next turn is”. On the other hand, the downside for trains are they tend to take a little longer than driving and your schedule is dependent on the train time tables.
“Should you rent a car in Italy?” We did and LOVED it. However, we are not you, so….should you rent a car in Italy?
Italy can be a bit intense for some foreign drivers. So if you’re a nervous/unsure driver, we advise against renting a car in Italy. If you are going to big cities, finding parking can be difficult and paying for parking can add up. Also, it’s a must that you have an international drivers license, if you get stopped by the police, er, well, it won’t be fun.
Now, now, it sounds like renting a car in Italy is all doom and gloom. Its not – far from it. If you like to travel on your own terms and time, renting a car is for you. If you’re exploring some rural regions, i.e. Piedmont, renting a car is great. Really, it’s up to you and your comfort level.
in all honesty, driving and trains are our first choice of transportation options when we are in Italy. We love the scenery and there is ALWAYS something amazing you’ll experience along the way. However, we’re not here to nag on flying in Italy. Flying in Italy is great, especially when you’re limited on time and want to explore far apart regions or places – i.e. Milan and Sicily.
To Buy Plane Tickets & Check Prices | Cheapoair.com
Is 10 Days In Italy An Expensive Visit?
This is always a doozy for us to answer/provide an opinion on simply because finances are personal and different to each person. But generally, yes, Italy tends too lean to the pricier side of a holiday. Below are some ranges that can give you a general idea of cost per day that can help you plan your travel budget for Italy.
- Estimated Shoestring/Cheap Budget: $60 – $80 USD a day/person
- Estimate Mid-Range Budget: $125 – $150 USD a day/person
- Estimated High-End Budget: $200+ a day/person
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)