North Italy Road Trip: Indie’s fun-packed family itinerary

Difficulty

462 km

Distance

5 - 10

Recom. Days

Family, Culture

Trip type

Cora Harrison

Freelance writer for Indie Campers, currently trying to find herself in Indonesia but without much luck. Enjoys exploring weird and wonderful world cuisine — the less identifiable, the better.

North Italy Road Trip Itinerary: Milan Round-Trip

This North Italy road trip will instill in your children a taste for the good life early. Cuisine, culture, and a knack for having fun, Italy is easy to love. And in the north we find the country at its gorgeous and gregarious best. What’s more, there’s no age limit on the fun to be had here.

With plenty to captivate both kids and their culture-loving parents, set off on a family road trip through Lombardy and Veneto. From the historic glamour of Venice to the natural beauty of Lake Como, explore medieval towns, cycle through breathtaking scenery, canoe across pristine lakes, and sample the indisputably delicious Italian cuisine.

Top view from Lake Garda, a main point on your North Italy Road Trip
Pick-up in
Milan Depot
1

First up: the modern metropolis of Milan

Your North Italy road trip begins in Milan, Italy’s fashion and finance capital. The city has a reputation for being rather serious but from a tour of the San Siro football stadium to a children’s performance at the Teatro alla Scala, it’s easy to discover Milan’s fun side.

The city is also effortlessly stylish, so to teach your children a little something of “la moda italiana”, a visit to the Design Museum should definitely be on the cards. 

Milan Duomo is a must-visit on your North Italy Road Trip

But first of all is the mighty Gothic Duomo, with plenty of gargoyles to tempt the kids. Then take a tram ride in one of the traditional 1920s cars.

Next, there’s the Science and Technology Museum, dedicated to Da Vinci, whose legendary Last Supper can be seen in in the Santa Maria delle Grazie — just make sure to book your tickets in advance. Or wander the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest shopping arcade in the world, and sample the gelato at nearby Cioccolati Italiani.

Visiting

Milan

1

Recom. Days

Main route

40 km

from Indie Campers Milan depot

40m

drive from the depot

Visit

Antichi Vizi

Cabinet of morbid curiosities

San Bernardino alle Ossa

Ossuary built in 1210

Santa Maria Delle Grazie

Home to The Last Supper

Eat at

Pasticceria Marchesi

€€€€

Pastry shop serving 10 different types of brioche

Bar Luce

€€€

Designed by movie director Wes Anderson

Un Posto a Milano

€€€

Healthy eating at a farmstead restaurant

Parking

ADAUTO Lorenteggio

€€

22 minutes on public transport from centre

Stay at

Campsite Città di Milano

€€€€

45 minutes on public transport form centre

2

Continue on to picture-perfect Lake Como

Lake Como, iconic symbol of glamour and luxury. But you don’t have to be George Clooney to stay here (although he does own a place nearby). Families can also enjoy the delights of this tranquil waterside paradise.

Wooded hills, snow-capped Alps, and a winding shoreline of historic villages, elegant villas, and paradise gardens, Lake Como’s glorious scenery and equally glorious cuisine are next up on your North Italy road trip itinerary.

Colorful houses at Lake Como, a North Italy Road Trip destination

First things first: take your campervan on a ferry trip around the lake. Or perhaps some canoeing or water skiing? For more beach-based fun, head to Lido di Lenno, the perfect sunning spot where you can relax in Como’s warm waters and the kids can play in the sand.

Perhaps consider a pizza or gelato-making course? Or, depending on the age of your children, there’s the Greenway walk up into the hills around the lake where the views are spectacular.

Visiting

Lago di Como

2

Recom. Days

Main route

85 km

from Milan

1h40m

drive from Milan

Visit

Jungle Raider

Adventure park with ziplines

Valsassina

Picturesque valley above Lake Como

Villa del Balbianello

Beautiful lakeside estate

Eat at

Kitchen

€€€€

Outdoor terrace surrounded by gardens

Agriturismo Sorsasso

€€€

Traditional rustic cooking

Antica Trattoria del Risorgimento

€€€

Family-run trattoria

Stay at

Camping Spiaggia

€€€

Beautiful scenery, close to lake

3

Explore beautiful ruins in Brescia

The next stop on your North Italy road trip through Lombardy and Veneto is UNESCO-listed Brescia, sitting at the foot of the Alps and brimming with historic and cultural attractions. Not on the main tourist trail, the city escapes the crowds that flock to more well-known Venice and Verona.

Brescia is home to Roman ruins, a hilltop castle, striking religious artwork, as well as Mille Miglia, a vintage car race that takes place in May each year.

Piazza della Loggia, a must-visit in Brescia on your North Italy Road Trip

Head first to the Foro where you’ll see a temple dating from 73 to 74 AD, a theatre that can seat up to 15,000, and the dungeons of Palazzo Martinengo. Then there’s the gardens of the Santa Giulia museum — ideal for relaxing.

Brescia castle, with its secret passages, drawbridges, and towers, is a hit with young and old. And for amazing views, head to the Maddalena mountain with its vistas of Lake Garda, the Apennines, and the Monte Rosa, perfect for a hike or barbecue.

Visiting

Brescia

2

Recom. Days

Main route

170 km

from Lake Como

2h15m

from Lake Como

Visit

Tempio Capitolino

Impressive Roman relic dating from AD 73

Lake Garda

Italy’s largest lake

Monte Maddalena

Mountain with wonderful views

Eat at

Osteria Al Bianchi

€€

Small and popular trattoria, book in advance

Vasco Da Gama

€€

Relaxed Brescian cuisine

Zio's Pizza

Wide range of pizzas

Parking

Park Orio Aeroporto di Orio al Serio

€€€€

Airport park and ride

Stay at

QUAI camping, Lake Iseo

€€€

Lakeside camping 30 minutes from Brescia

4

Romance and history with a visit to Verona

“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…” Your kids are probably sick of you quoting this well-known line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But it’s thanks to the iconic romance that Verona is now the fourth most-visited city in Italy.

Visitors flock here in search of the star-crossed lovers and on arrival they find a city of picturesque piazzas, winding lanes, bell-towers, and an enormous 1st-century amphitheatre where the annual summer opera festival is held.

Ponte Pietra on sunset reflecting in the river, a unforgettable landscape on the North Italy Road Trip

Love-sick teenagers might enjoy a visit to the House of Juliet, thought to have once belonged to the Capuleti family. Climb the Torre dei Lamberti for breathtaking panoramas over the city’s terracotta roofs.

Explore mazes, fountains, gargoyles, and grottoes in the Giardino Giusti. Cross the Adige river on the city’s oldest bridge, the Ponte Pietra. And a visit to the Gardello Tower, former prison, is best combined with a stop at the popular ice cream parlour, Pretto.

Visiting

Verona

2

Recom. Days

Main route

72 km

from Brescia

1h

drive from Brescia

Visit

Castelvecchio

Castle fortress and museum

Castel San Pietro

An atmospheric fort

Santuario Madonna della Corona

Chapel built into a vertical cliff face

Eat at

Osteria da Ugo

€€€

Away from the tourists, popular with families

Osteria del Bugiardo

€€€

Ideal lunch spot

Bottega del Vino

€€€€

Pre-opera dining

Parking

Area Sosta Camper Verona

€€€€

Campervan parking 20 minutes from city centre

Stay at

Camping Castel San Pietro

€€€

Camping within old castle grounds

5

Next up: peaceful and picturesque Padua

With Venice stealing the limelight, Padua is the place to head to for peace and quiet. With its canals, arcade streets, churches, and markets, the city has an authentic buzz.

A university seat since the 13th century, its student population — who whizz around on Vespas and bicycles — lend Padua a youthful energy. Of course, the beautiful Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua, attracting visitors from around the world, also makes Padua a great stop on your road trip itinerary.

Restaurant tables outside with the Piazza dei Signori in the background, a stop on your North Italy Road Trip

On your North Italy road trip, take a tour of the city’s university, Italy’s second oldest, and give your kids a taste of what education used to be. Highlights include the 16th-century anatomy theatre where students watched bodies being dissected to the sound of lute music — to calm the squeamish among them.

Culture vultures will love Giotto’s frescoes or Titian’s St Anthony in the Scoletta del Santo. Pick up some bargains at the Saturday market in the Prato della Valle or relax in Europe’s oldest Botanical Garden.

Visiting

Padua

2

Recom. Days

Main route

96 km

from Verona

1h20m

drive from Verona

Visit

Villa Pisani

18th-century villa and garden maze

Museum of History of Medicine

Modern museum with kid-friendly exhibits

Marostica

Home to biannual chess match with humans as pieces

Eat at

Pizzeria Trattoria

€€€

Simple family-run trattoria

Pani

Unassuming, quirky, and popular with students

Shanghai

€€

Chinese cuisine for those after a change

Parking

Parking P1, Via Lviii Fanteria, 1

€€€€

Campervan parking 15 minutes from centre

Stay at

Camping Agriturismo Alba

€€€€

Camping within the beautiful Euganean Hills

6

Road trip finale: the floating city of Venice

Last but certainly not least on your North Italy road trip is Venice. One of Italy’s leading stars, Venice is built on more than 100 tiny islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Given this feat of engineering and architecture, it’s no wonder the city has a magical feel.

And, indeed, Venice is more beguiling and bewitching than any photo can suggest. The whole family will find themselves entranced by what is basically a historic theme park with an extra dash of culture.

Canal in Venice with boats floating and orange houses along is a must-visit point on the North Italy Road Trip

Tick off some of the main sights: Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile bell tower, and the Palazzo Ducale. Wander alleyways where getting lost is the goal. The Guggenheim Collection is great for kids and adults alike.

Enjoy an array of treats with a traditional Venetian cicchetti. Then a gondola ride is a must, before, perhaps, a ghost walk full of gory tales about the city. Because, Venice, while beautiful, can also be wonderfully creepy.

Visiting

Venice

1

Recom. Days

Main route

40 km

from Padua

45m

drive from Padua

Visit

Libreria Acqua Alta

Quirky and eclectic bookstore

Burano Island

Lagoon island with homes painted in rainbow-shades

Pellestrina

Fishing village best accessed by bike

Eat at

Harry’s Bar

€€€€

Iconic restaurant that welcomes children

Trattoria alla Madonna

€€

Great seafood and relaxed atmosphere

Acqua Pazza

€€€

Shaded terrace in Campo Sant' Angelo

Parking

Venice Camper Parking

€€€€

Tram to Venice 15 minute walk away

Stay at

Camping Rialto

€€€

15 minutes by bus from Venice

Drop-off in
Milan Depot

305 km

from Venice

3h

drive