In 2021 I did a 3-month road trip around Europe and Italy was definitely one of the highlights of this trip! In this post, I walk you through the route that I followed, I spent 2.5 weeks in northern Italy in total. I cannot take full credit for this 2 week road trip in northern Italy itinerary, I took a lot of advice from my lovely Italian friend Emanuela, the best advice comes from the locals!
I drove through Italy in a tiny Mazda Mx5 and camped throughout. One of the benefits of camping is I didn’t need to book ahead for accommodation (although I got caught out in Cinque Terre for this one, be careful there). I had a rough idea in my head of what I wanted to visit but changed it as I went depending on how I felt. I have included the campsites that I stayed at if you want to camp.
Why Visit Italy
Food, wine, nature and beautiful architecture; Italy has it all! Italy has a rich history to appreciate through museums and visits. The best way to explore Italy is through food and drink. Of course, there are amazing things to see and do, but add an ice cream or Aperol Spritz break and you are on to a winner. Take the time to eat out at local restaurants and appreciate the wide variety of food on offer in each region. This 2 week road trip in northern Italy will allow you to see the best Italy has to offer!
How to Get around Italy
I drove around Italy which I found very practical. As I was camping, it was not a problem finding parking spots. All big cities have public car parks that are available to pay per time used. Italy has a wide network of trains as well as buses that go between cities. I have used flixbus before and I found it really easy to use.
I arrived in Italy 1st September and left Italy on the 17th of September 2021. This was just outside of summer peak season but still warm enough to feel like summer and appreciate the warm weather.
2 Week Road Trip in Northern Italy: The Itinerary
A national park of 5 beautiful towns along the coast Cinque Terre is perfect spot to start your Italian Road trip. Spend 2-3 days here to appreciate each village. My top recommendation would be to walk between each village in order to see the view of the sea and the villages from different angles. Cinque Terre has become extremely popular in the last few years so make sure to book accommodation in advance, I had to go to 3 different campsites before I found one that had space.
What would a trip to Italy be without seeing the leaning tower? I think 1 day in Pisa is more than enough. Pisa is a beautiful town in itself but there is not a huge amount to see apart from the leaning tower with the cathedral and baptistery next to it. No trip to Italy would be complete without the classic photo next to the leaning tower of Pisa. I spent a day here and thought that was enough. There is a city campsite that is 15 minute walk from the tower which was great.
Super underestimated, Lucca was a lovely surprise! A fortified city with many incredible buildings and squares. I spent a day here and absolutely loved it. Get lost in the winding streets of this magical town. You can also walk around the old city walls for a I didn’t stay in Lucca but stopped off for the day between Pisa and Florence.
Woah. How to describe Florence (or Firenze in Italian). It’s lovely with so much packed to do. If you love cities this is the definitely the place for you. If you are time limited, Florence is my top recommendation if you have to miss out If you have the time, queue for one of the biggest and tastiest sandwich you’ll ever have: All’Antico Vinaio. Spend a couple of days here to get the most out of it. Walk along the river at sunset, get a view over the city from the Boboli gardens and take in the beauty of Santa Maria del Fiore. I stayed at Firenze camping in Town. It was on the more expensive sides of the campsites I stayed it but it is near the city centre with a beautiful pool so worth the money.
I actually didn’t stop at Milan because I had spent quite a while in cities and was craving some time in nature.
Bellagio, Lake Como
I stayed in Bellagio in Lake Como and oh my was it beautiful. Perfect scenery with a crystal clear lake accompanied by a lovely colourful village, this was just dreamy. I hiked up past Rifugio de Martina to get an incredible view over the whole lake. I camped in Camping Clarke which was within walking distance of Bellagio.
Lake Garda and Sirmione
I took time in lake Garda to chill out a bit from all of the excitement! I spent time paddleboarding and wakeboarding to cool off from the heat. A must visit for me is Sirmione on Lake Garda. Sirmione is a medieval village with beautiful cobbles streets to walk around. This was also the spot when I had possibly the biggest ice-cream of my life – winning! I stayed at Camping La Ca which was one of the cheapest campsites I stayed at for my whole trip. It has direct access to the shores of Lake Garda which is perfect for a few days of calm.
The City of Romeo and Julliette, this is the city to make you fall in love with Italy. Wander the streets, stop off at Juliette’s Balcony and take in the architecture of the colosseum. I didn’t stay in Verona but stopped off for a day between Lake Garda and the Dolomites.
If you are fan of mountains, you will love the Dolomites. The formation of the rocks is truly jaw dropping. I took the cable car up at Seceda and took a walk around the top. Just driving through the Dolomites is exciting enough, watching the scenery change as you drive is fab. I found one of the most special campsites here Camping Colfosco Almi. The campsite has a 360 degree mountain view and is really once in a lifetime waking up to that view.
A trip to northern Italy wouldn’t be quite right to this beautiful water city. Explore the canals, bridges and piazzas. Driving into Venice is impossible so you need to park outside of the city. If you are staying for a day only, use park petroli and there is a free bus into the city centre. This car park is closed overnight. I only spent 1 day in Venice as I has visited previously.
I spent a lovely morning in Trieste before crossing the border to Slovenia. Trieste is a port town that has lovely grand buildings perfect for a morning walk.
My favourites of my 2 week Road Trip in Northern Italy
Some of my personal favourite places in this 2 week road trip in northern Italy are not necessarily the most famous spots. My top 3 would be Bellagio on Lake Como, Seceda in the Dolomites and then Verona. In a very close 4th and 5th position is Cinque Terre and Lucca. But maybe I would choose Sirmione in Lake Garda as 5th. It’s so hard as I loved it all!!!