Italy is a country which is packed with inescapable beauty, whether you’re flying in for Milan in a day, off on a Tuscan road trip or taking a train around the country.
From the stunning architecture of the Milan Cathedral in the north all the way to quaint beach side towns or Naples and Palermo in the south of the country, Italy is always a good idea.
The sights are beautiful, the traditional cuisine is scrumptious and the weather, especially in the summer months, is warm and lovely.
Milan is a major European fashion capital, and the beach side cities draw a large crowd of tourists every year.
Every city in Italy, whether it’s in the north or south, has something special to offer visitors and Northern Italy is packed full of unique sights and tourist attractions.
If you’re planning a vacation to Northern Italy, you may be overwhelmed at how much there is to do and see! Hopefully this guide will help.
Following are tips on how to enjoy Milan in a day, as well as five of our top picks for the best of northern Italy.
Milan in a day – visit the Cathedral
Among the many things to do in Milan in a day, visiting the Duomo is certainly the most important and memorable one.
The Duomo di Milano, which translates to the Milan Cathedral is a key monument that attract millions of tourists every year.The original building was constructed in the late 14th century and it took a full six centuries to complete, with construction finally ending in 1965.
However, there have been several renovations since then, with the most recent taking place in 2009.
The Duomo of Milano is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, under only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.
The architectural style of the church features broad naves, flying buttresses, openwork pinnacles and spires, as well as the highest Gothic archways of any fully completed church.
When visiting the Milan Cathedral make sure to take a trip to the roof, the most amazing sculptures are located there and you will get to admire the entire city from above.
Certosa di Pavia
Another fantastic place located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy is the Certosa di Pavia – a beautiful monastery with a rich history.
Its construction took 100 years and was finished just before the turn of the 16h century.
“Certosa” is named after a group of Carthusians, who were typically known for their plain architectural style. However, the Certosa di Pavia, ironically, is one of the most exuberant and intricate buildings in Italy.
It has features of both renaissance and gothic architectural styles, evident in the Latin cross path and gothic arches.
The massive building has several paintings done by famous artists, as well as decorative stained glass windows.
If you love architecture and history this is a perfect place for an interesting afternoon.
After visiting the Certosa it is highly recommended to head south and explore the lovely town of Pavia located just 15 minutes away.
Autodromo di Monza
If you aren’t as intrigued by the rich history of old buildings and architecture, there are still plenty of places to visit in Northern Italy- one of which is the Autodromo di Monza.
This historic race track is located to the north of Milan and third purpose-built motor racing circuit to exist in the entire world.
The Autodromo has three tracks and several races take place there annually. For all car and race-track fans, visiting the Autodromo di Monza could be an absolute dream come true.
If you ever see any pictures of Italy featuring a crystal blue lake in a valley, surrounded by lush green hills and white-capped mountains, that’s Lake Como.
Set at the base of the Alps, Lake Como is a posh resort area. Located in the Lombardy region, Lake Como is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the country, measuring 146 square kilometers in area and 400 meters in depth.
The lake stretches to meet the cities of Bellagio, Como and Brunate, amongst many others. For those interested in visiting, you can see Lake Como during a day trip or opt to stay in accommodation like lakeside villas.
The Brunate Lighthouse, also referred to as the Faro Voltiano di Bronate or the Volta Lighthouse, is located in Brunate near Lake Como.
The lighthouse was named after Alessandro Volta, a famous Italian physicist and chemist who made significant contributions to power and electricity.
It was constructed in 1927 on the 100th anniversary of Volta’s death. Brunate Lighthouse stands a whopping 29 meters tall and features a light that flashes red, green and white that can be seen as far as 50 km away. The colors symbolize the invention of the battery, which is said to have been invented by Volta. Though a steep climb, the trip to this large octagonal structure is well worth it.
Sacro Monte di Varallo
A sacro monte is a mountainside building used by Christians to worship Christ. Directly translated as the Sacred Mountain of Varallo, the Sacro Monte di Varallo overlooks the quaint town of Varallo Sesia.
Varallo Sesia has a population of just over 7,000 people and is located in the Northern Italy region of Piedmont.
The Sacro Monte di Varallo grounds are fascinating, as they are surrounded by a garden, several chapels that narrate the life of Christ and many statues and sculptures that do the same. If you are interested in history, religion and culture, you won’t want to miss this place.
Barbara Mazz is the founder of crabintheair.com, a travel blog where she shares her passion for exploring the world. She loves writing about all the hotels visited, the wonderful cities discovered and the unique people met along the way.