Put it as you might: one week or 7 days in Italy still makes for the perfect vacation in my view.
No matter how many times I go back (and I have to admit I do, at least once every year, twice if I’m lucky – and this year is one of that kind of lucky years when apart from red Bologna, I’ll be seeing Puglia and the Amalfi Coast), I still can’t help but fall in love with Italy with every new encounter.
Whenever I visit, I normally spend just a long weekend, linking a few holidays to the weekend. But if I were to have one full week, that is 7 days in Italy here is what my perfect Northern itinerary would be.
Sure, you can do it all and see a new place daily, but I honestly think that you must take things slower and enjoy the week in Italy. That’s why my comprehensive Northern Italy itinerary won’t have you running up and down the country. On the contrary, you’ll have the time to experience the real Italy – everything I love most about this country.
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Before we start, here is some useful information worth having for your trip, no matter where you choose to go in the end.
Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. They have a pretty good Cancellation policy that would give you options in case your flight or travel plans change. You will most probably need a car to get to most of these places, especially if you want to keep a schedule. Get your offers here!
Travel insurance – If there’s one thing we learned in recent times, is that we don’t want to make travel plans without insurance. My go-to travel insurance is Safetywing – it works like a subscription, you can use it within or outside the US, and it offers flexibility. You can sign up even if your journey has started, children under 10 are included for free, and much more. Get the best deal for your travel insurance here!
7 days in Italy – Option 1: the Northern Italy itinerary bucket list destinations
First stop: 2 nights in Venice
No itinerary in Northern Italy should not leave unvisited one of the most iconic and romantic places there is – Venice.
Even though two nights in Venice are not quite enough, my Northern Italy itinerary would include just that.
Spend the time getting lost on the many canals (allow yourself to step away from the touristic paths, and step into the real Venice), wake up early and visit the Dodge’s Palace, take a picture on the Ponte dei Sospini, enter San Marco Basilica, go at Libreria Acqua Alta, spend a fortune on a gondola ride, take home a painted carnival mask as a souvenir, and do not miss the most colorful village with its Instagram perfect houses – Burano.
You can however always choose to spend more time in Venice since there is plenty more to explore on day trips from here. I would include hiking the Tre Cime, seeing famous Verona on a day trip, exploring Lake Garda, or even going all the way to Trieste.
Useful things when planning a trip to Venice and other Venice activities
- Take a Murano and Burano half-day tour – see one of the most colorful towns in the world and buy some famous Murano glass souvenirs
- See the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
- Discover the 16 prisons of the Venetian Republic with the Casanova’s Prison Walking Tour
- Looking for a unique experience in Venice? Book a ticket for the Venice Collegium Ducale Orchestral Concert
Where to stay in Venice?
Check out the most comprehensive list of hotels in Venice or get some inspiration from the options below.
When it comes to Venice, you can always choose between the more affordable version of staying in mainland Mestre which is only a few minutes away from the actual city on the water, or living it to the fullest with a stay on the canals.
I’ll help you out with inspiration for both options, right below:
- Hilton Garden Inn Venezia Mestre – offering 4* accommodation, inside and outside pools, shuttle for Marco Polo airport, and lovely views over a park.
- Chiara Lodge – only a few minutes’ walk from Venezia Mestre Railway Station, you can stay in an authentic Italian villa and live like locals, while still seeing one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I must admit that choosing only one place in Venice is very damn hard because I can’t help but let myself be charmed by the old Italian architectural style, the views over the canals, and the perfect locations for sightseeing.
Thus, without further ado, here are just a few options to have in mind when booking your 7 days in Northern Italy itinerary:
- Hotel Danieli a Luxury Collection Hotel – it had to be first, top of the list, just because it might be one of the most famous hotels in Venice. A few minutes away from San Marco Square and Grand Canal, the hotel has a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy your drink with the Doge’s Palace insight. Have I convinced you yet?
- Hotel Antiche Figure – not another 5* stay in Venice, but with a charming old Venetian flavor, only a few minutes away from Venice Santa Lucia train station, and a great price tag for Venice. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a room overlooking the canal.
- Palazzetto Madonna – I just love this place! I mean what’s not to love about it? The very Italian old building on the canal, the sophisticated interiors, and the amazing terrace, are within walking distance of St Mark’s Basilica, Piazza San Marco, and the Rialto Bridge.
Second stop: 1 night in Genoa
After two romantic days in Venice, hop on the fast train (le frecce = the arrows) and head directly to Genoa.
I’m not including Milan in my 7 days in Italy itinerary because I have never been a Milan fan. Sorry! I just like Genoa better.
Extra tip: if you book the train way in advance on the Railway Europe website, you can get really great prices and get from Venice to Genoa in a few hours.
One night and one day in Genoa should be enough (if you don’t want to explore Liguria and its beautiful small villages) for one to see two of the beautiful palaces – Palazzo del Principe and Palazzo Reale, walk to the old port and maybe go in the Genoa Aquarium, climb the hill and take the whole city in from Spianata Castelletto, and maybe take a taxi up to Boccadasse. Or even take a trip to Portofino, one of the loveliest destinations on the Italian riviera.
Make sure to try the focaccia Genovese and Genovese pesto. You won’t find it better anywhere else!
Other things to do in Genoa
- Take a food tour and taste some incredibly delicious Genovese food.
- Take a day trip to Portofino and Santa Margherita, the most exclusive places in Liguria.
Read also: 30+ Italian gifts for Italy lovers
Where to stay in Genoa?
Genoa is not such a tourist attraction (especially for people visiting from outside of Italy), but it is still charming and you will find plenty of nice accommodation options.
Here are only a few of the hotels in Genoa:
- Hotel Le Nuvole Residenza d’Epoca – stepping into the lobby of this hotel you won’t feel like you’ve left Venice, even so, the rooms have an airy minimalist design. The hotel is perfectly located for sightseeing and shopping in Genoa.
- La Piazzetta Rooms – maybe not a perfect choice if you are looking for a hotel, but this small 3 rooms place is perfectly located in the heart of Genoa.
- Melia Genova – if you don’t want to step outside of your comfort zone and prefer an international chain hotel, with an indoor pool, a sauna, and a Turkish steam bath, Melia is the place for you.
- Grand Hotel Savoia – the gem of the list, the elegant 5* hotel is everything you’ve dreamed of. Soak in a jacuzzi after a full day exploring Genoa, or just sip a cocktail on the rooftop terrace with the whole city at your feet.
Third stop: 2 nights in Cinque Terre
Only 2 nights? Well, that’s all we have on this trip, unfortunately.
I would easily spend 7 full days in Cinque Terre, but with the itinerary on hand, we only have 2 days. And trust me, if you only want to see the 5 small villages linked by a train, take a boat ride on the coast, have breakfast at Nessum Dorma, eat some of the best misto fritto there is for dinner at one of the Michelin stars restaurants, see the sunset over Riomaggiore and look at the beautiful buildings under the sunset light, 2 days are enough.
Or do it differently, but however, take at least a Cinque Terre day trip.
You won’t have time to trek the narrow roads hanging on the edge of the sea, linking the villages, but that would be a reason to come back here, right?
Other things worth doing in Cinque Terre
- Take a romantic sunset boat tour and see how colors change once the sun sets over one of the most iconic places in Italy.
- Who doesn’t want to taste some wine in one of the best world producers? Especially when in Tuscany! Book a Cinque Terre wine tour and tasting and let yourself be seduced by authentic Italian experiences.
- Don’t leave without doing some hiking and take an unforgettable guided hiking excursion.
- I won’t exaggerate when I say the Cinque Terre is where I’ve tasted the best pesto in the world. Even thinking of it my mouth waters! Book an authentic pesto making class in Manarola and steal all the secrets so you can make your own.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre?
Accommodation in Cinque Terre is so vast and you have so many villages to choose from, that I cannot possibly advise you on only one place.
During our 3 days in the Cinque Terre trip, we chose an Airbnb with an amazing view of Riomaggiore, but I have to admit that narrowing it down to that one location was hard enough because there are so many amazing hotels in Cinque Terre.
But just not to say I’m not helping, here are just a few options to have in mind:
- Affittacamere Le Giare – in Riomaggiore, meaning rooms for rent Le Giare, the place offers the best view you could have over Riomaggiore.
- Ca’ D’Andrean, Manarola – with an on-site bar and a garden, this could be the perfect place to spend your evenings after the full days of Cinque Terre exploration.
- Affittacamere L’Oblo, Portovenere – I must admit that Portovenere was the best discovery and revelation we had during our trip. I loved this charming town so much that I wished we could have stayed here as well.
Fourth stop: 2 nights in Florence
I visited Florence while I was in Rome for a few months and I can easily say that the Ponte Vecchio is one of the most romantic (and thus crowded) places in Italy.
In two days you will have plenty of time to visit the Florence Duomo and climb up to the top of the cupola from where you will have a perfect view over Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, Ufizzi Art Gallery, Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery, eat a bistecca alla Fiorentina, and go wine tasting since you are in Tuscany.
Read next: my one day in Florence guide
And that’s it, one perfect 7 days in Italy itinerary that will take you through some of the most iconic places in the country of love, gelato, and wine.
Other things to experience in Florence
- Visit Basilica di Santa Croce, the main church of Florence, and learn about Florence’s history and Michelangelo’s life. On top of that, this is the burial place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini, and others.
- See Florence from a Hop-on Hop-off tour.
- See the Basilica San Lorenzo – the burial place of some of the Medici family members.
- Feel the real Tuscany with a day trip to San Gimigliano, Siena, and Chianti.
- Take a day trip to Siena and explore another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tuscany
Where to stay in Florence?
Romantic Florence is one destination not to miss. If you’re wondering where to stay in Florence, rest assured nowhere have I seen so many accommodations rated as superb, and I honestly think it has something to do with the city itself.
Thus, no matter if you will choose a budget stay or a luxurious one, Florence won’t disappoint because it is enough just to step outside and you’ll feel that vibe.
But here are a few options for some hotels in Florence:
- Relais Piazza Signoria – moments from the Uffizi Gallery and Piazza della Signoria, its terrace with views of the Palazzo Vecchio won me over.
- Tornabuoni Suites Collection Residenza D’Epoca – another 4-star property with a rooftop terrace and amazing views located in the heart of Florence.
- Palazzo Guicciardini – in this place you’ll feel like a museum, but you’ll still have to visit the Ufizzi Art Gallery!
- Ponte Vecchio Suites & Spa – modern design in the heart of old Florence, with a jacuzzi and Turkish baths for you to relax after a long day.
How to travel for 7 days in Italy trip
I would totally do it by train.
Trains in Northern Italy are fast and efficient. And when you book way in advance, you can get a decent price without having to worry about parking or narrow streets. I always use Skyscanner.com and find some pretty amazing deals.
7 days in Italy – option 2: the Northern Italy itinerary off the beaten path
If you want to spend 7 days in Northern Italy but want to skip the crowds, I’ve put together this option for an off-the-beaten-path itinerary.
This will be an itinerary for those that have been to Italy in the past or those that simply want to skip the crowds and experience authentic Italy on their trip. Some of these places have been added to my list of less known Italy destinations and my Italy hidden gems.
By following this plan, you will get to see some of the most beautiful natural landscapes Italy has to offer and could include also famous towns like Venice or Milan.
You can choose to land in Venice and depart from Milan, or the other way around.
First stop: 2 nights in Treviso
If you want to be close to Venice, but skip the crazy crowds, while enjoying a beautiful old town, the perfect place to stay in is Treviso.
Firstly because it has its own airport and it will be so easy to get there. Secondly, because here you will be close to many unique destinations you will want to travel to for a day trip.
With its historical defensive fortifications still standing today, Treviso makes for a great less known Italian destination to include during your next visit to Northern Italy.
Day trips from Treviso:
- Chioggia – a small town that resembles Venice a lot, but at a much lower scale.
- Padua – home to Italy’s second-oldest university, a town that will charm you with its old center.
- Castelfranco Veneto – is a small old town surrounded by medieval walls, dating back to the 1200s.
- Conegliano – drive your way towards the town of Valdobbiadene and the Prossecco Road.
- Belluno – with the mountains as background and a charming historical old town, this is a place you will come to love for sure.
Best place to stay in Treviso
Second stop: 2 nights in Trieste
This city adopted me for half of the year and showed me the real face of Italy. Here is where I’ve learned how to party, love sunsets by the sea, and do aperitivo like a local. Whenever I close my eyes and think about this place, the first thing that comes to mind is the smell of salty water and the noise of coffee mugs in the morning.
Why you should not miss it if you get the chance? Simply because you will fall in love with its magic and romance. And who doesn’t want to drink a delicious Illy coffee right in the place of origin?
Day trips from Trieste
- Muggia – my favorite escape when I wanted to enjoy a quiet moment. Take the boat and head to the center of this small and charming town for a delicious lunch.
- Miramare Castle – not a day trip since you will get there by bus in less than 20 minutes, but the castle perched on the cliffs by the sea must be on your list of places to see.
- Palmanova – a special small town that would be more impressive looked at from the sky. That’s because it has the shape of a star. If you don’t believe me, just look at it in Google Maps.
- Grado – a charming and colorful lagoon city.
- Duino Castle – a mix of history and nature.
- Osmiza – simply drive around the countryside and look for houses with branches at their door. That means that you can have a local traditional meal with some delicious wine in one of these gardens.
Where to stay in Trieste
Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta – an amazing option for Trieste, the 4* hotel is located in the heart of the city. Wake up and take breakfast in the square with the sun on your face and the sea in front. Check it out here!
3rd stop: 2 nights in Bolzano
Stop here not only for the town in itself but also for everything that the region has to offer!
The best way to get around is by car, and you will want to include some hikes in the area in your 7 days in Italy itinerary.
Day trips from Bolzano
- Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Lake Resia with the underwater town showing only the bell tower
- The whole Trentino Alto Adige region and its beautiful nature
Where to stay in Bolzano
Gloriette Guesthouse – this place! Seriously, you will be lucky to find a spare room, thus plan your stay way in advance. I’ve seen it first at one of my Instagram friends, and I was just wow-ed, and just have a look, I bet you will be as well. Luxury and simplicity at its best, in the heart of the mountains with an infinity pool that offers the wow factor. Check out more here!
Last stop: 2 nights in Lake Garda
Peschiera del Garda, Sirmione Sul Garda, Gardaland the amusement park, a day trip to Verona, the Madonna Della Corona Church, are only a few of the things you shouldn’t miss while here.
Where to stay at Lake Garda
Hotel Eden – only 100m away from the castle, with a terrace over the lake, this is a perfect 4* accommodation option. See more here!
Villa Cortine Palace Hotel – a superb hotel with a beautiful Italian garden, a pool, and a tennis court where you will feel like a royal. See it here!
7 days in Italy – option 3: Italy for foodies
The 3-rd itinerary option is another easy-to-follow that will take you through some of the most popular destinations. You can fly to Venice, and travel around by high-speed train. Fly out of Florence and you will have the perfect itinerary.
I won’t go into too many details as far as the things to do and see in the various stops because I have already covered that above.
Day 1-3 Venice
The trip by train between Venice and Bologna takes less than 2 hours (even 1h and 15 minutes by high-speed train and when you book in advance).
Day 4 – 5 Bologna
Read my comprehensive itinerary for 2 days in Bologna here for all the information you need for planning your stay in the city known for its delicious food.
Day 5 – 7 Florence with day trips to Pisa and Cinque Terre
The train ride from Bologna to Florence can take as less as 37 minutes by fast train.
7 days in Italy – option 4: the main Italian attractions
This itinerary might be the most common, yet the most popular because it will take you to some of the most amazing cities in Italy.
You can fly into Venice and fly out of Rome, or the other way around. Another thing I will let you decide on is the destination where you will want to spend the most time in. I would definitely spend most days in Rome, but both Florence and Venice have plenty of activities on display to choose from.
That being said, here is my itinerary proposal:
Day 1 – 3 Rome
Getting from Rome to Florence is easy and fast by fast train and you will be there in 1 hour and a half by fast train or a bit over 3 hours by regional train.
Day 3 – 5 Florence
The direct fast train taking you from Florence to Venice takes a bit over 2 hours.
Day 5 – 7 Venice
7 days in Italy – option 5 – Tuscan countryside
One can easily spend much more than 7 days exploring Tuscany without getting bored. Rent a car and drive along the hills and vineyards, go wine tasting, visit historical sites, and go at least for a day trip to the colorful Cinque Terre.
Here are a few valuable resources you will find helpful when organizing your itinerary:
The Perfect Tuscany Road Trip – a guide packed with information for where to go, what to see, where to stay, and how to get around Florence, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa.
I would choose to stay in Florence and go on several day trips to all the other destinations.
Southern Italy itineraries
If you are considering going further South, I have put together 3 itineraries for one week in Southern Italy.
By following this guide you will get to see Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Pompei, Puglia (with places la Alberobello or Matera), or Sicily.
Of course, you can always also spend one week in Sicily and drive along the island.
Other itineraries worth checking out:
Rome and Amalfi Coast itinerary – a perfect 10 day itinerary
Amalfi Coast and Puglia itinerary: 2 options designed for you
Tour Northern Italy
When you prefer an already set up tour that would take you through Northern Italy and some of Italy’s bucket list destinations, here are a few great options offered by GAdventures. Don’t waste time and money, and take advantage of their experience.
- Venice to Rome – spend 8 days exploring ancient ruins, history-packed towns, fresco-adorned churches, and Renaissance palaces. See Venice, Florence, and Rome in one trip, with pasta cooking classes in Florence and Venetian Mask Making in Venice. See more about the tour here!
- Iconic Italy – have more time on hand? Splurge on a 14-day trip from Venice, through Cinque Terre, Florence, Naples, Sorrento, and Amalfi. Visit a lemon farm in Sorrento, get to taste the world’s famous limoncello, see Pompeii with an Archaeologist, and much more. See more about this tour here!
- Want to spend more time in the North? Book the Local living in Tuscany vacation. Start from Rome and build your way up to Tuscany where you will spend the whole time exploring. Get to feel the real Italian countryside in Montepulciano, taste some of the most famous wines produced in the region, see the colorful Cinque Terre, take the funicular to Brunate, and much more. See more about the tour here!
Italy travel resources
- Have less time to spend in Italy but still want to live it up? Spend one day in Genoa on your way to the Cinque Terre. Or stop for one day in Rome on your way to some other amazing destination.
- Take the perfect pictures for your forever memories in these Instagram spots in Positano.
- Check out the ultimate Italy 10 days itinerary and plan your trip with these 2 options.
- How many days are just enough for seeing Venice and living it to the fullest? I’ve been there 3 times already and I think I have just the answer you are looking for, along with all the great things you shouldn’t miss in Venice.
- See a lot more with these fabulous day trips from Genoa.
- Cannot travel to Italy or do you want some inspiration? Check out these Italy virtual tours!
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