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.
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7 days in Italy – the Northern itinerary
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 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 cand always choose between the more affordable version of staying in mainland Mestre which is only a few minutes away from the actual city on 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 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 in sight. 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, the amazing terrace, 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 Trenitalia 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.
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’s producer? Especially when in Tuscany! Book a Cinque Terre wine tour and tasting and let yourself 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 in 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 in Riomaggiore, but I have to admit that to narrow 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 have 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.
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 in 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 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.
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.
- Who wouldn’t want to see Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Rome in 8 days? Book the Highlights of Italy and enjoy Italy’s best destinations.
- 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.
- Want to spend more time in the North? Book the 14-day Ultimate Italy vacation. Start from Rome and build your way up to Tuscany, see the amazing villas in Lake District near Milan, and finish it off with a Venice visit. Get to feel the real Italian countryside in Montepulciano, taste some of the most famous wine produced in the region, see the colorful Cinque Terre, take the funicular to Brunate, and much more.
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.