Italy is a beautiful country famous for its historical sites, food, wine, art, and of course fashion. It’s the birthplace of the renaissance and home to the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world. The north of Italy is home to some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, the world’s fashion capital, one of the most prized castles in the world, etc. but in this article, we’ll not be focusing on them. We’ll just cover some of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy that don’t make it to most tourist guides but are still worth visiting.
But before we begin, let’s cover a few important steps…
Helpful Resources For Visiting Italy
If you’re looking for an affordable international flight to Italy, Qatar Airways always has some great deals (this link gets you up to 15% off on all flights to Italy).
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For car rentals in Italy, get 15% off with this AutoEurope special offer.
It’s also important to check if you need a visa before entering the country. If you do and you want to get an Italy visa, consider using IVisa. The price they charge is just slightly higher than getting a visa in the embassy, but their team will do all of the work for you.
Last but not least, you should never forget about travel insurance. I personally always use World Nomads. Their insurance plans are on the expensive side, but the coverage they offer is also far superior compared to most competitors, and no matter where you travel in the world, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
With that being said, let’s continue and show you some of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy.
Aosta Valley (Aosta)
Located in the furthest northwestern corner of the country, Aosta Valley is a dream come true for all travelers seeking a remote vacation destination. The valley is famous for its beautiful ski mountains, hot springs, scenic trekking routes, as well as delicious cheese and salami varieties. The single biggest reason to visit the valley is probably its ski terrains which offer the best ski experience in the entire country but, even if you’re not into winter sports, Aosta Valley is a great place to visit throughout the year.
Looking for a great tour that will introduce you to Aosta Valley? Check out this private walking tour (with food and wine tasting).
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Aosta and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Lake Orta (Piedmont)
Located north of Milan, Lake Orta is one of the most beautiful lakes in Northern Italy. It’s often referred to as a more pristine, less crowded version of Lake Commo. The scenery surrounding the lake is typical for this part of Italy with the beautiful Alpine mountains and remnants of Medieval Italian architecture. And if that’s not enough of a reason to visit, the island lying in the middle part of the lake (San Giulio island) makes the views of the lake even more spectacular.
With its iconic brownish lands that give the illusion of heaven meeting earth during sunset, Alba is one of the most Instagrammable places in Italy. It’s been gaining popularity in recent years but there are still a lot of people who don’t know about this place which is why we’re choosing to include Alba in this list of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy. In addition to the unrealistically beautiful landscapes, Alba is also famous for its white truffles and for being home to the world’s most popular hazelnut chocolate spread, Nutella.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Alba and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Val Di Susa (Piedmont)
Susa is a small town located in the northwestern part of Piedmont. The town is nestled in the alps located around 50 kilometers away from Turin and is named after the valley which surrounds the town (Val di Susa). The views of the town are dominated by Rocciamelone, a 3,000-meters high mountain, and the Porta Savoia, the town’s entrance gate which was constructed more than 1,800 years ago. That’s right, the town dates back to Roman times and as such, has a lot to offer in terms of history and landmarks, including the Novalessa Abbey (the oldest Benedictine monastery in the Alps) and Sacra di San Michele, one of the most beautiful remote religious complexes in Italy.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Susa, you can use our Booking affiliate link to get up to 10% off on your stay.
Comfortably situated along the western shore of Lake Maggiore, Intra is surely one of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy you probably didn’t know existed. The town is known for its picturesque promenade, the beautiful Basilica di San Vittore, the colorful houses, and charming cobbled streets.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Intra, you can use our Booking affiliate link to get up to 10% off on your stay.
La Morra (Piedmont)
La Morra is one of the most beautiful hidden towns in Northern Italy. Even though it’s located in the heart of the Piedmont wine region, La Morra is surprisingly unfrequented when it comes to tourism (at least compared to some other similar towns in Italy). The town was built during Roman times and has been continuously inhabited since the 12th century, making it one of the older towns in Europe. Some of the reasons to visit La Morra include the beautiful mountain landscapes, the surrounding nature, the town’s historical landmarks, and of course, its famous Barolo wine.
If you’re in the area and are looking for a fun tour, check out this truffle-hunting and wine-tasting walking tour.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in La Morra and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Over the last few decades, Lake Como became one of the most popular places to visit, but fortunately, there are still some hidden gems in Northern Italy surrounding the beautiful lake. One of those secret towns is Varenna, a colorful fishing town located along the hillside of Lake Como. Some of the town’s highlights include the central square, Piazza San Giorgio, the charming Riviera, the Botanical Gardens, and of course, the town’s charming cobbled streets.
Looking for some exciting activities in the area? Check out this kayak tour of Lake Como.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Varenna and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Moltrasio is another underrated town near Lake Como. It lies on the western side of the lake, close to the Swiss border. The town is home to a few historical places, such as the Church of Sant’Agata (1197) and Piazza San Martino (1207), and a handful of stunning viewpoints where you can get amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Moltrasio and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Enjoying this post? Then you may also like our guide to spending 3 days in Tuscany.
True, Bergamo is the third-largest city in Lombardy after Milan and Brescia but we felt the need to include it in this list of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy because we can’t help but feel Bergamo is criminally underrated. Bergamo is a city with a rich history that’s famous for being home to a plethora of old historic buildings that give the city its unique, irresistible medieval charm. And if that’s not enough, you should also know that Bergamo is also situated on a mountain, with a distinct upper and lower city that are connected to each other via funicular.
Looking for some fun tours in Bergamo? Check out:
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Bergamo and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Located right next to Bellagio, Pescallo is another beautiful town in Lombardy that’s surprisingly unfrequented, having in mind the crowded streets of its more famous neighbor. Pescallo is a small, charming village located off the coast of Lake Como within walking distance from Bellagio. The coast of Pescallo has many small boats anchored in the bay and the water in the village is so clean you can see the bottom of the lake. It’s the perfect place to go for a boat ride or if you’re more adventuristic, maybe even go on a kayak tour.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Pescallo and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Located just a short drive from Milan, Lecco (not to be confused with the beautiful coastal region of Lecce in Puglia) is a real hidden gem in Italy’s Lake District. Lecco is famous for lying on one of the vertexes of the Larian Triangle, overlooking Lake Como, and for being the place where Manzoni set one of the most invaluable Italian classics, “The Bethroned”. However, that’s not all the town has to offer. It’s also home to a few interesting civic museums, numerous hiking routes, a beautiful historic downtown dotted with old buildings, and of course, incredible local cuisine.
Looking for a tour that explores the city? Check out this exclusive tour of Lecco with breakfast, lunch, aperitivo, and dinner.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Lecco and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Ponte Di Legno (Lombardy)
If you’re looking to visit a typical Italian mountain town with cobblestone streets, authentic architecture, and beautiful nature, Ponte di Legno is one of the best choices you can make. The village is located in Camonica Valley in the Brescia province and can easily be reached via bus from Milan or Brescia. In the winter, Ponte di Legno offers some great ski opportunities and during the rest of the year, it’s a great hiking/mountain biking destination the city is also known for its natural spas.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Ponte di Legno and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Speaking of hidden gems in Northern Italy, we simply can’t forget about Camogli, one of the best-kept secrets of the Italian Riviera. Camogli is a beautiful, unspoiled, coastal town in Liguria, located a short drive away from Genoa and its much more famous counterpart, Portofino. Historically, Camogli has been a fishing village which is why the houses around here are so colorful (to help sailors find their way back home). If your calling is to enjoy a mix of seaside fun, relaxation, culture, and delicious food and wine, Camogli is the place to be.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Camogli and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Passo Gardena (Trentino-Alto Adige)
The beautiful mountain pass of Passo Gardena (translation- Garden Pass) is one of the most beautiful and pristine nature spots in the Dolomites and Northern Italy overall. The ones who are fortunate enough to discover Passo Gardena get the chance to indulge in trekking some of its scenic, blissfully unfrequented trekking routes or even go mountain biking.
And I know you might be thinking that visiting a mountain pass might be inconvenient because of the lack of tourist facilities, but there are more than enough accommodation options and convenience shops right on top of the pass.
Chiusa (Trentino-Alto Adige)
Chiusa is another beautiful historic town that is worth including in this list of hidden gems in Northern Italy. Chiusa is primarily known for being an art hub throughout the years and for its medieval buildings, gothic churches, and vintage accommodation facilities. The town also has a handful of interesting museums that are worth visiting and the local cuisine is often described as a perfect mix of Alpine and Mediterranean flavors.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Chiusa and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Val Di Funes (Trentino-Alto Adige)
When someone brings up Italy, most people think about Rome, Milan, or maybe Florence but charming mountain towns like Val di Funes serve as a reminder that the northernmost parts of Italy are more alpine than Mediterranean. Val di Funes is a beautiful town in the South Tyrol region nestled among some of the tallest mountains in Europe and a hikers’ paradise. If you’re looking to explore some of the most beautiful and yet not very frequented hidden gems in Northern Italy, Val di Funes should surely be on your list.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Val di Funes and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Trento (Trentino-Alto Adige)
Despite being the largest city in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, Trento still feels seemingly tucked away from the tourist crowds. The city is located along the banks of Adige in the heart of the region located a short drive away from Verona, Bergamo, and Venice. Despite having a population of only 100,000 residents, Trento is considered to be one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in Italy and a popular choice for Italian students from across the country.
As a regional hub, Trento has a lot of interesting historic landmarks, museums, and cultural events but the main reason to visit in my opinion is the beautiful surrounding nature and untouched trekking routes.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Trento and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Val Di Venosta (Trentino-Alto Adige)
Tucked away in the Alps in the northernmost part of Italy, close to the Austrian border, Venosta Valley is the definition of a hidden gem. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of most Italian cities, Val di Venosta is the perfect holiday for you. It offers a beautiful mixture of untouched nature, scenic views, tucked-away medieval towns, and some of the finest white wine varieties Italy has to offer.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Val di Venosta, use our Booking affiliate link to get up to 15% off on your stay.
And while you’re in the area, you should also definitely check out…
Lake Resia (Trentino-Alto Adige)
Located between the borders of Italy, Austria, and Switzerland, Lake Resia hides the story of the most famous Italian sunken city, the city of Curon. Curon was flooded after World War II when the construction of a large dam went wrong and today, the only visible remnant of what was once the city of Curon is the Romanesque bell tower of the city church. The fascinating history of the city of Curon combined with the unrealistically beautiful azure color of the lake should give you more than enough reasons to visit if you admire nature and like trekking.
Enjoying this post? Then you may also want to check out our guide to hidden gems in Florence.
Lake Tenno & Borgo Medievale Di Canale Di Tenno (Trentino-Alto Adige)
Located north of its larger, more famous cousin (Lake Garda), Lake Tenno is a gorgeous little lake waiting to be discovered. The lake’s vibrant blue color and beautiful surrounding nature make it a great destination for a relaxing day in nature or perhaps even a peaceful picnic. While you’re around you can also visit a 13th-century village named Borgo Medievale di Canale di Tenno that will blow you away with its rural, rustic charm.
Often dubbed as “Little Venice”, Treviso is a charming historic city in Northern Italy with a system of canals that mirrors the most popular canals of Venice. The city has been continuously inhabited for hundreds of years and some of its oldest buildings are still very well preserved which makes Treviso a great destination for history lovers. Some of the city’s highlights include the old City Walls and gates, the medieval San Pietro Cathedral, the Rennaisance Palace, Piazza dei Signori, and of course, the canals, and that’s just to name a few.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Treviso and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Pieve Di Cadore (Veneto)
Speaking of hidden gems in Northern Italy, we can’t forget about Pieve di Cadore, a small mountain town that’s considered to be a great starting point for exploring the Dolomite Mountains. In addition to being a great mountain getaway spot, Pieve di Cadore is also home to a handful of landmarks and museums, such as the Cadore Archaeological Museum, the Glasses Museums, the Tiziano residence (home to one of the greatest painters of the 16th century), and the Palazzo della Magnifica Comunita di Cadore.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Pieve di Cadore and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Bassano Del Grappa (Veneto)
Lying at the foot of Veneto’s Alps, about an hour and a half away from Venice, Bassano del Grappa is a gorgeous medieval town known for its own Ponte Vecchio Bridge (take that, Florence). You might think there aren’t a lot of interesting things to see in a mountain town, aside from beautiful nature but you’d be wrong.
The town is also home to a few interesting museums like the Poli Grappa Museum (where you can learn everything about the local grape-based brandy named after the town) and the Civic Museum (where you can learn everything there is to know about the town), architectural gems like the beautiful Sturm Palace and the Ezzelini Castle, and a handful of beautifully designed squares filled with cafes and restaurants where you can experience the best local cuisine has to offer.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Bassano del Grappa and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Sitting on the shoreline of a small Alpine Lake in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, Misurina is one of our favorite hidden gems in Northern Italy. The town is located at 1,754 meters above sea level and is surrounded by towering mountain massifs from all sides, including the iconic three peaks known as Tre Cime di Lavaredo that probably appeared on your Instagram feed at least a few times.
If you think that’s beautiful, just wait till you see Misurina in the winter when the lake freezes and the town puts its white, winter clothes on. If you’re looking for a remote, pristine retreat where you can truly unwind and give your mind a break, look no further.
The town doesn’t have a lot of accommodation options and tourist facilities, but you can still get some great deals on your stay in Misurina.
Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Often referred to as Italy’s forgotten city, Trieste is a beautiful, modern city located in the far northeast of Italy, right next to the Slovenian border. Today, Trieste is one of the main maritime ports of Northern Italy, one of the largest coffee producers in Italy, and one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country. Trieste was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for six centuries, something that can be noticed in the city’s architecture (and ethnography) even today.
If you’re a fan of different architectural styles, Trieste is perhaps one of the best places to visit. Here, you can find a lot of medieval buildings, beautiful lighthouses and stone piers, fascinating castles, ancient amphitheaters, and even a few beautiful Orthodox Christian churches.
For a great tour of the city, check out this Trieste private walking tour.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these accommodation options in Trieste and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Lago Di Fusine (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Lago di Fusine, also known as Belopeška Jezera among Italy’s Slovenian neighbors is one of the most gorgeous alpine lakes in the whole country. The glacial lake sits idly at the foot of the Mangart massif between the borders of Italy, Slovenia, and Austria. Lago di Fusine is connected to another glacial lake, Lago Superior via a circuit trek that can be completed in less than an hour. It’s not strenuous, almost anyone can do it, and the nature surrounding the beautiful lakes is surely a reason enough to add this trek to your Italy bucket list.
Gorizia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Gorizia is a beautiful medieval town located in the northeastern part of Italy. Similar to Trieste, Gorizia’s architecture and lifestyle absorb the influences of Italy, Slovenia, and Austria. Combine this with beautiful Habsburg architecture and you get one of the best hidden gems in Northern Italy. Some of the town’s highlights feature the 11th-century Gorizia Castle, the Museum of the Great War, the 17th-century St. Ignatius Church, the beautiful Coronini-Cronberg Palace, and of course the town’s most famous square, Piazza della Vittoria.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out accommodation options in Gorizia and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Lago di Predil (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Lago del Predli might be the second-largest lake in the region but for some reason, it’s still relatively unfrequented. The area is more or less a known destination among hikers but we couldn’t help to notice that Lago di Predli is much quieter than most surrounding destinations. The water at the lake is completely transparent but actually freezing, so going for a swim might not be the best idea but you’ll surely get some incredible photos and a bag full of nice memories.
Primarily known for race cars and vinegar, Modena might not be the most prominent tourist destination in Italy but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth visiting. If you’re into luxurious cars, you’ll be happy to hear that the city is home to the headquarters of Ferrari, De Tomaso, Pagani, and Maserati, and the Enzo Ferrari Museum will be one of the highlights of your trip. However, because of this, you usually don’t hear people talk about some of Modena’s other highlights which include beautiful Gothic architecture, dozens of beautiful palaces, art galleries, mind-boggling museums, and last but not least- delicious food.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out accommodation options in Modena and get up to 10% off on your stay.
Lastly, we round up this list of hidden gems in Northern Italy with Corniano, a beautiful small town near Bolzano along the South Tyrolean Wine Route. Among locals, Corniano is well-known for its hearty mountain cuisine and impressive varieties of fine wine, but also for the hundreds of kilometers of hiking (and/or cycling) routes surrounding the town. They say that small towns are the best place to experience the slow pace of Italian life and the legendary Italian art of doing nothing (Dolce far Niente). We agree!
Did you ever visit any of these places? Do you have any favorite hidden gems in Northern Italy? Do you think we forgot to mention some places on our list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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