For a 10 day Northern Italian Lombardy road trip, consider your next adventure starting at Milan, via Lake Como and back to Bergamo. This journey allows you to experience the start of the route at the busy fashion capital of Italy, followed by stunning lakeside scenery around the famously known lake, and back via another city.
Lombardy, situated in northern Italy, is a region characterised by its rich historical and cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and economic significance.
The capital of Lombardy is Milan, which is famously known for as global fashion and design hub, hosting iconic landmarks like the stunning Milan Duomo Cathedral and the historic Teatro alla Scala.
Lombardy also has a vibrant art scene, evident in institutions such as the Pinacoteca di Brera, housing renowned artworks.
This Italian region boasts diverse landscapes, from the serene beauty of Lake Como to the rolling hills of Franciacorta, known for its exquisite wines.
Lombardy’s culinary tradition is equally renowned, with dishes like risotto alla milanese and world-famous cheeses like Gorgonzola originating here.
Lombardy Road Trip Route
This road trip is based on our personal experience with our visits to the location. You can of course decide to tweak the route yourselves based on if you would prefer to stay longer or shorter, as well as starting from elsewhere. But we hope this gives you a good insight and inspiration to enjoy a road trip like this!
The 10 days road trip, we have highlighted in this post the following locations per night:
- 2 nights in Milan
- 1 night in Como
- 2 nights in Menaggio
- 2 nights in Varenna
- 3 nights in Bergamo
What Season Is Best For This Lombardy Road Trip?
This itinerary is to be chosen, in our opinion, in either Spring or Summer while with a car. It can be done with a local bus and public transportation too.
If you were wanting to visit outside of the touristic season, the route and locations are still great of course! But you may experience some activities not available or restaurants closed, such as for winter season. As well as the obvious reason of colder temperatures.
Starting Point: Milan, Italy
Stay for: 2 nights
Starting in Milan, spend a 2 nights here if you can.
Milan as you may know is a dynamic metropolis, standing as a global center of fashion, design, art, and commerce.
Renowned for its cosmopolitan vibe and historical significance, Milan seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. The city’s iconic symbol, the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), is a breathtaking Gothic masterpiece that dominates the central Piazza del Duomo. We highly recommend that you visit also the rooftop of the Duomo, with beautiful views all around the city and a great experience.
Fashion enthusiasts also flock to Milan for its prestigious Fashion Week and designer boutiques. So if you like fashion, Milan is the place to be!
We have visited Milan many times, being such as social city and great place for shopping.
Gelato Tip: Stop at Amorino in the Galleria Vittorio for the most prettiest and delicious gelato in the central area.
What To See In Milan
- Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano): This iconic Gothic cathedral is one of the largest in the world and features intricate spires, sculptures, and stunning stained glass windows. Visitors can also access the rooftop for panoramic views of the city.
- The Last Supper (Cenacolo Vinciano): Housed in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural “The Last Supper” is a masterpiece of Renaissance art. Booking tickets in advance is essential to view this delicate painting.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: This grand 19th-century shopping arcade is not only a hub for luxury shopping but also an architectural marvel with its glass dome and intricate mosaics.
- Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco): A historical fortress turned museum, Sforza Castle houses a collection of art, including works by Michelangelo. Its courtyards, gardens, and imposing architecture make it a captivating site.
Milan To Como
Stay for: 1 night
From Milan, drive up to Como and stay 1 night. It’s a lovely little city with a cute market, boutique shops and a funicular to Brunate for stunning views.
With a history dating back to Roman times, Como seamlessly blends its rich past with modern allure. The iconic Como Cathedral (Duomo di Como) stands as a testament to its architectural heritage, showcasing Gothic and Renaissance elements.
In Como, its a great place to shop for those wanting to spend some euros. There are many unique stores here as well as some of the well known brands. Locals from surrounding areas visit Como for their shopping as well.
Como has a wide range of restaurants too, most serving delicious Italian cruise but also a few international treats. There are also restaurants selling fresh lake fish dishes and traditional Lombard cuisine. We suggest stopping at a restaurants near Piazza Alessandro Volta, such as:
- Vintage Jazz Food & Wine
- Mediterranee Bistrot di mare Pizza
What To See In Como
- Como Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta): This magnificent cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and features intricate sculptures and artwork. Its stunning interior and impressive facade make it a must-visit landmark in Como.
- Funicular to Brunate: Take a funicular ride from Como to the charming village of Brunate on a hill overlooking the city. The journey offers panoramic views of Lake Como and the surrounding area.
- Villa Olmo: This neoclassical villa on the shores of Lake Como boasts elegant architecture and beautiful gardens. It often hosts cultural events and exhibitions, making it a cultural hub in the city.
Como To Mennagio
Stay for: 2 nights
From here, drive to Menaggio for 2 nights, stopping at the many little villages along the way.
Menaggio is one of Lake Como’s charming villages, renowned for its captivating beauty and serene atmosphere. Surrounded by the Italian hillside and framed by the blue waters of the lake, Menaggio offers a perfect blend of natural splendor and historical charm.
Menaggio has a beautiful lakefront promenade, where you can sit and enjoy the views from one of the many benches. You can also choose to sit at one of the restaurants here.
The village boasts an array of charming pastel-colored buildings, quaint cobblestone streets, and inviting piazzas that exude a sense of timeless elegance. We highly recommend that you take your time to walk here. Menaggio in our opinion is less touristic than other villages on Lake Como, making it relaxing but just as enjoyable.
What To See In Menaggio
- Piazza Garibaldi: This central square is the heart of Menaggio, surrounded by historic buildings, cafes, and shops. It’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and soak in the local atmosphere.
- Chiesa di Santa Marta: The Church of Santa Marta is a beautiful 16th-century church located in the town center. Its elegant architecture and historical significance make it a noteworthy landmark to visit.
- Villa Mylius Vigoni: This historic villa is perched on a hill overlooking Lake Como and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It often hosts cultural events, conferences, and art exhibitions.
A personal suggestion in Menaggio is to also visit the beautiful Villa Carlotta.
Here you can enjoy also a day trip via boat to Bellagio, the famous little village opposite.
EXTRA: Lake como to Lugano day trip
While you are visiting Lake Como, you are very close to the stunning city of Lugano, Switzerland. If you want to extend your Northern Lombardy road trip and see a bit of Switzerland, we suggest for you to consider a day trip to Lugano from Menaggio – which is only a 40 minute drive!
Mennagio To Varenna
Stay for: 2 nights
From Menaggio, drive all the way up to Gera Lario and back down to Varenna, also stopping at many place if you can. There are some picturesque spots and restaurants well worth your time, even for just a coffee. The Northern part of Lake Como is less touristic, perfect for those wanting to escape busy touristic areas!
Stay 2 nights in Varenna for some relaxation and Italian village life.
Varenna is known for its enchanting waterfront promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants where one can savour local delicacies while enjoying breathtaking views across the lake. The village’s narrow cobblestone streets wind their way through centuries-old houses adorned with colourful flowers, creating a romantic ambiance that captivates visitors. You can walk around Varenna and find yourself easily lost between the alleyways!
What To See In Varenna
- Villa Monastero: This historic villa showcases both botanical gardens and impressive architecture. The lush gardens are a delight to explore, offering a variety of plant species, sculptures, and scenic pathways.
- Castello di Vezio: A short hike from Varenna leads to Castello di Vezio, a medieval castle perched on a hilltop. The castle offers panoramic views of Lake Como and hosts events, exhibitions, and even falconry demonstrations.
- San Giorgio Church: The Church of San Giorgio, located in the heart of Varenna, features a simple and charming interior. Its bell tower provides a fantastic vantage point to admire the town’s beauty and the lake.
Alternative Route For This Section
You can consider skipping driving all the way to Gera Lario and actually take the boat (with your car!) straight to Varenna. This is a very easy, max 30 min journey. You can check the times in advance for your trip online, but during Spring and Summer you can expect plenty of sailings throughout the day.
For the crossing, you can buy your ticket for yourselves and the car at the ticket office at the boarding location. There is often also a small waiting area for you to already park your car ready to be next in line for the boat.
Varenna To Bergamo
Stay for: 3 nights
Lastly travel to Bergamo in the South, for your last 3 nights. Still located in the Lombardy region, it’s a great little city full of welcoming ambience, cobblestone streets and cosy restaurants for those late nights out.
Bergamo has a captivating blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. It is often overlooked by tourists, but we think it’s well worth your time to visit during this Lombardy Road Trip route.
Divided into two distinct parts – Città Alta (Upper Town) and Città Bassa (Lower Town) – Bergamo offers a unique experience to visitors.
Città Alta, perched on a hill, boasts medieval and Renaissance architecture, cobbled streets, and magnificent piazzas. The iconic Piazza Vecchia stands at its heart, surrounded by historic buildings like the Palazzo della Ragione and the Civic Tower.
Descending to Città Bassa, a more modern ambiance prevails, featuring elegant boutiques, vibrant markets, and inviting cafes. Bergamo’s culinary scene beckons with local delights such as casoncelli pasta and polenta taragna.
For a bit of luxury, stay at Mercure Bergamo Centro Palazzo Dolci in the city centre.
What To See In Bergamo
- Città Alta (Upper Town): The historic Città Alta is a captivating medieval hilltop town within Bergamo. Encircled by Venetian walls, it boasts charming cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and picturesque squares, including Piazza Vecchia, which is the heart of the town.
- Bergamo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Bergamo): Dominating Piazza Duomo in Città Alta, this cathedral showcases a blend of architectural styles due to its long construction history. The interior houses beautiful artworks, and the panoramic views from the bell tower are breathtaking.
- Rocca di Bergamo (Bergamo Fortress): The Rocca, a medieval fortress atop Città Alta, offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape. It houses the Museo Archeologico, which showcases historical artifacts and offers insight into Bergamo’s past.
Lombardy Road Trip Summary
We hope our personal travels for this Lombardy Road Trip inspires you make a similar or same road trip.
We think it’s a good road trip based on seeing different locations, such as the busy city of Milan, to the quiet picturesque locations on Lake Como.
But we also definitely suggest that you take a day trip to the Ticino region of Switzerland too, which has some great things to see and do while nearby!