Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour11 days Walking Tours
Let us handle the details
Expert Tour Director
Sightseeing with local guides
Personalized flight options
Maximum tour group size: 28 travelers
Recommended by 97% recommend this tour Read Reviews 
Overnight Flight 1 night
Day 1: Travel day
Board your overnight flight to Italy today.
Lake Maggiore Region 3 nights Hotel info
Day 2: Arrival in Italy
Included meals: Dinner
Welcome to Italy! Arrive in Milan and transfer to the Lake Maggiore region. Meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.
Day 3: Lake Orta & Sacro Monte walk
Included meals: Breakfast
Travel into a region famed for its classic Italian landscapes as you make your way to picturesque Lake Orta.
• Explore the UNESCO-recognized Sacro Monte, a series of small, fresco-lined chapels and ornate statues dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi
• Walk along the lakeside trail, relax and enjoy free time in the village
• Hop aboard a water taxi and cruise to San Giulio Island, a tiny island that is home to a massive, ancient monastery now serving as a convent for cloistered nuns
Day 4: Free day in the Lake Maggiore Region
Included meals: Breakfast
Enjoy a full free day in the Lake Maggiore region or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Lake Maggiore Cruise & the Borromean Islands $99*pp Details
The Borromean Islands, a three-island archipelago on the western arm of Lake Maggiore, prove that great things come in small packages. Cruise to Isola Bella, a tiny isle that boasts a 16th-century palace and stunning, terraced gardens. After exploring the estate, hop back on your boat and sail around Isola Madre, the largest island in the chain. End your excursion on Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island), the only continuously inhab¬ited member of the group, with 50 year-round residents. The traditional fishing village contin¬ues to pride itself on its heritage—look out for fishermen untangling their nets on shore. You’ll have the chance to sample the island’s special¬ties during an included lunch at one of the local restaurants.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $109)
Dolomite Region 3 nights Hotel info
Day 5: Valpolicella vineyard walk & wine tasting
Included meals: Breakfast, Light lunch, Dinner
Included entrances: Wine tasting
Leave the waters of Lake Maggiore behind for the rolling vineyards of Valpolicella, a countryside region acclaimed for its olive groves and superior wine vintages.
• Embark on a Tour Director-led walk, beginning in the village of San Giorgio
• Explore the Romanesque ancient pieve, a rural church in the village of San Giorgio
• Head to a local wine estate to have lunch and taste some of the region's most famous labels: Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto
• Continue to Bolzano, the region’s capital set against the otherworldly Dolomite mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 6: Sightseeing tour of Bolzano
Included meals: Breakfast
Discover Bolzano (or Bozen in German), a city comprised of two very distinct cultures. A local guide introduces you to the charming contrasts.
• Starting in the main city square, Piazza Walther, make your way through the famous open markets to the Gothic-style Bolzano Cathedral
• Step into Piazza del Grano, the heart of Bolzano’s medieval village
• Tour the main streets, including Via dei Portici-Laubengasse with its famed arched windows
Enjoy a free afternoon in the Dolomite region or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Earth Pyramids & Panoramic Landscapes of Ritten $95*pp Details
Experience the stunning landscapes of Northern Italy up close (and from nearly every angle). Begin by boarding one of the world’s longest-running cable cars and riding through the Dolomite-dotted skies to Soprabolzano, a provincial village set on a plateau. From here, jump aboard the panoramic railway to Collalbo, soaking in views of rolling pastures and soaring limestone peaks along the way. Once in Collalbo, journey on foot to one of Italy’s most surreal sights: the towering Earth Pyramids. After exploring these pinnacle formations, make your way back toward town, stopping to eat dinner at a local restaurant on the Ritten Plateau. Please note: The exact itinerary of this excursion may vary depending on weather conditions and seasonal closures.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)
Day 7: Dolomites walk
Included meals: Breakfast
Experience the Dolomites from Seiser Alm, a sprawling meadow set amidst the surreal limestone peaks. (Please note: Depending on local weather conditions, the activities and sequence of your included walk may change)
• Board a cable car and ride to the village of Compatsch to begin your walk on the scenic Bullaccia Ring Trail (Please note: Depending on the season, Compatsch may be reached by bus)
• Take in panoramic views of the surrounding stone spires and mountain valleys
Italian Riviera 2 nights Hotel info
Day 8: Transfer to the Italian Riviera
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Wave goodbye to the Dolomites as you travel south to the Italian Riviera.
Day 9: Cinque Terre walk
Included meals: Breakfast
Clinging to the cliffs of the Riviera coastline sits Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site that encompasses five very distinct villages. Get a taste for the unique flavors of each as you walk the peaceful promenades that connect them. (Please note: Depending on the season and weather, activities in Cinque Terre may vary)
• Meander from Monterosso to Vernazza, absorbing the local scenery as you traverse cliff-top bridges, vineyards, olive groves and lemon orchards
• Continue to Manarola by train to the Via dell’Amore, the “Way of Love”
• Make your way to the artsy outpost of Riomaggiore before taking the train back to your hotel
Florence 1 night Hotel info
Day 10: Florence via Lucca
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Trade the glamour of the Riviera for the tranquility of the Tuscan countryside as you head toward Florence. On the way, make a stop in the town of Lucca, where a local guide gives you the lay of the land.
• Walk along a section of the almost three-mile Renaissance-era walls
• Take in impressive views of the classic red-tiled rooftops, medieval churches and swathe of cypress trees below
• Descend into the center of town to view the Palazzo Pfanner, Lucca Cathedral, Guinigi Tower, San Frediano’s Church and the Church of San Michele in Foro
• Enjoy free time to peruse the local shops
Continue to Florence and gather with your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner.
Day 11: Departure
Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight home or continue your tour in Florence.
Add Florence $339 pp
Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.
Make your stay in Tuscany last a little longer with two more nights in Florence, the capital of the Renaissance. Once home to the world’s artistic, literary and architectural greats, Florence is bursting with beautiful things to explore, from the Church of Santa Croce to the iconic Duomo.
Florence 2 nights Hotel info
Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Florence
Included meals: Breakfast
Set off to see Florence, the city at the center of the Renaissance, with a local guide.
• Visit the Duomo, Florence’s legendary cathedral
• Pass Giotto’s Campanile, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture
• Step inside the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial site of many illustrious Italians
• See the medieval Ponte Vecchio and the Palazzo della Signoria
Day 12: Free day in Florence
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Enjoy a full free day in Florence or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - San Gimignano: Medieval Sights & Tuscan Flavors $85*pp Details
Travel the beautiful Tuscan countryside to discover the medieval village of San Gimignano. During the Renaissance, the rival Guelph and Ghibelline political factions flexed their muscles by constructing tall towers throughout San Gimignano; fourteen of those towers survive today. Later, visit a local winery to taste the region’s wines and sample of some of Italy’s most famous olive oils and balsamic vinegars that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Then, enjoy lasagna during a light lunch.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $95)
Day 13: Departure
Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Transfer to the airport to board your flight home.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Italy, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, contact the Italian consulate for your particular entry requirements.
Travelers should be reasonably fit (see “Walking on Tour” for more information). Take proper care for sun exposure. Consult your doctor at least eight weeks prior to departure about possible preventive measures and personal travel requirements.
Round-trip flights arrive at Malpensa Airport and depart from Florence. After you arrive at Malpensa Airport and clear customs, a Go Ahead representative will escort you to your hotel. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Destinations on tour are all easily walkable, although some local buses may be available.
Walking on tour
Will I be able to keep up?
This is a moderately demanding walking tour, but all walks can be carried out at your own pace. Travelers should be able to walk comfortably over hilly or uneven terrain while carrying water, and be prepared for some moderate inclines. Hiking boots or a pair of sturdy, comfortable athletic shoes are highly recommended. We also recommend carrying a walking stick.
What happens if it rains?
The day-by-day itinerary is an outline of daily activities. This kind of program requires maximum flexibility, and events are likely to be rearranged as local conditions demand. If you experience inclement weather, we will arrange more activities in town and fewer in the countryside.
Who is my guide?
Go Ahead Walking Tour Directors have been trained on how to lead a program of this kind. They not only have a comprehensive knowledge of the region, but also a genuine enthusiasm for Italy. All tour directors are bilingual.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Your Italian itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor use. Loose-fitting, layered clothing that can accommodate varying temperatures will probably be most comfortable. A sun hat, sunglasses, and a bathing suit are recommended. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are crucial. Occasional rain showers are common in the areas you will be visiting, so pack light rainwear.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
The euro is the currency you will be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Italy, although it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be exchanged for cash at local banks, as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
Undoubtedly one of the most exciting aspects of traveling to Italy is sampling the local cuisine. Eating isn’t just an activity here—it’s an art form. Be sure to sample the homemade pasta sauces and the vast range of cured hams, cheeses, rustic breads and desserts. Italian fare often varies slightly by region, and many cities and towns have their own specialities. Northern Italy is known for its meats and pastries. For more authentic meals, try the local trattorias—small, family-owned restaurants that tend to be set away from the main piazzas. Italians are known for indulging in long, often boisterous meals featuring wines and the occasional beer, followed by after-dinner drinks, such as grappa or limoncello.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/ CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.
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Don't Miss This Tour!
A group of 4 of us signed up for the Sept 2015 tour. No reviews that I read prior or pictures I saw posted on this site adequatly converyed how wonderful the trip would be. it was great and exceeded our expectations. There is so much more to the trip that what the itinerary describes and the tour director, Emilio, was fantastic. Also, group members in their 50's, 60's and 70's were able to participate in the walks. It was challenging, but not overwhelming. Everyone was able to go at their own pace. If you like walking and seeing amazing natural beauty this trip delivers.
Beautiful places..some of the walks were very challenging, but the end result was SO worth the walk. . My only complaint was the planned dinners... the food was satisfactory at best. Our tour guide Emilio was terrific.... we ALL Loved him.
Welcome home, Elizabeth! We are so pleased to learn that Emilio was a terrific Tour Director, and that you enjoyed the beautiful walks. We regret to learn that the meals on tour did not meet your expectations. We will pass your comment on to our Operations team, and will keep it in mind when reviewing these restaurants moving forward. Thank you for sharing your experience, and we hope you travel with Go Ahead again soon!
Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | October 08, 2015
You can't miss this one!
I recently returned from a beautiful family trip thanks to Go Ahead! We really aren't 'tour' people, so we were a little hesitant. Go Ahead exceeded all of our expectations! It is just so nice to not have to think about logistics and have everything planned for you while still having plenty of free time to enjoy your time with those you traveled with. The walks were spectacular with breathtaking views- but be weary- this is not just a stroll in the park. This is a walking/hiking tour and the 2 big escorted walks are tough. NOT for any with mobility issues or just looking to simply 'walk.' High elevation for the Dolomites and extremely steep. MANY steps in Cinque Terre, this is about 2.5 miles but it's all incline and steep NARROW dirt paths. The Tour Director, Emilio, did an outstanding job setting proper expectations with the entire group of difficulty. He even set up an extra walk for the group to Portofino! I don't know where Go Ahead finds these Tour Directors, but Emilio had so much patience and was great at knowledge of all the areas and coming up with extra activities the group could do during free time. Bravo, Emilio! You should know that when you are going to Bolzano/The Dolomite region, it does NOT feel like you're in Italy, as you are on the Swiss border and the language/people/food is a HUGE germanic influence, so don't be expecting eating your typical Pizza/Pasta in this part! The included meals were good for the value, nothing spectacular, to be honest the best meals we had were on our nights away from the group (thanks to our Tour Director for making us reservations at some of the neatest local places!) Most hotels were charming and beautiful, the one in the Italian Riviera was RIGHT on the water! The hotel in Bolzano was modern and your American standard typical Sheraton hotels, which is probably what most Americans want, however- it was too far out of the main town. A 15 Minute drive!!! Thankfully Emilio our Tour Director set up some extra transfers in and out of the city center for the group, which I was told usually does not happen. I would much rather has a smaller, boutique style charming local hotel in the town center than have this grandiose american style hotel. Needless to say, my family is now a fan of these group tours. Small group size,talented Tour Directors (if you get Emilio on this one you have hit the jackpot!), great itineraries. Thank you Go Ahead for making our family trip one to remember for sure!
Italy Comes Alive!!
We had a wonderful time walking and hiking in Northern Italy and the Cinque Terre. Our tour director, Sabra, tirelessly ensured we were always in the know about history, art, architecture, music and food and countless other topics. Sabra went out of her way to ensure all of our fellow travelers had an outstanding experience. The tour itinerary kept us very active and entertained. One of my personal highlights was the optional dinner in Firenze. This culinary feast should not be missed. I would happily choose Go Ahead for future journeys. Feel confident in using this travel company.
Taste of Northern Italy
I was attracted to this tour due to the diversity of areas in Italy it visited. For a first trip to Italy, it was ideal. It certainly has made me wish to visit Italy again, and given me ideas of where I will go next time. The success is in large part due to our tour director, Sabra. Her enthusiasm/passion for introducing us to the customs, culture, history, etc of Italy was remarkable, as was her energy and attention to detail. This trip ranks among the best and most memorable I've taken.
Perfect From The Mountains to The Sea
We were so fortunate to have perfect weather for our trip. The sights were beyond our expectations. The hikes were challenging and beautiful. Emilio was a perfect tour guide. He made everyone feel special. He made the trip stress free and added an extra level of expertise with information about the cultural, historical, and political aspects of each region we visited.
Best of 3 walking tours that we have taken
Comments from John and Virginia 1. Emilio was excellent. Always available, courteous, planned well, excellent recommendations for dining; any crisis, such as rough water, ready with a good alternative. 2. Hotels were clean and convenient to down town except that Bolzano hotel was out of town. Emilio also helped the tour group handle this. 3..Included meals were OK , if bland, except for Florence dinner, which was very good. 4. Suggest only one included meal in a day. Lunch at winery and dinner in Bolzano were too much. 5. With included meals, suggest that we have either a menu or a verbal presentation of the meal. With some meals the first course was plenty, but the second course would have been preferred, but it was not finished or not taken at all.. 6. Have been on two previous walking tours with GoAhead, but this was the best one. It was demanding for us but so rewarding, with beautiful scenery of the mountains, sea and villages. 7. May be difficult to do but suggest that the time riding on the bus be cut down to 2-2 1/2 hours from one location to another. 8. Not sure how this could be accommodated since travelers are arriving in Milan at different times. We arrived in midmorning. It would have been nice to spend the day in Milan and then on to the hotel. 9. A treat to be able to visit the museum with the ice age man. Suggest putting it on the itinerary. 10. Guides in city tours were hard to understand. Whispers would help.
We returned this week from our Northern Italy Walking Tour. What a great experience! This was our second go ahead walking tour having taken the Amalfi Coast tour a few years ago, so had an idea as to what to expect.We started at the lakes, moved to the mountains and then the shore in Northern Italy. Our group of 15 was the perfect size for some quick friendships with our new BFFs. Scenery was spectacular all around. Less crowded than Amalfi and the Sorento scene, even on the Riviera. Highlights for me were the Boromeo Palace on the Lake Maggiore tour, the ring walk in the Dolomites (although I think I had some difficulty breathing on the walk due to the altitude), and everything about the Cinque Terra/Riviera portion. Our tour had gotten behind schedule due to construction delays in travel from Bolzano to Cinque Terra. Our wonderful and resourceful tour guide, Emilio subbed a 2 mile walk along the shore to Porto Fino. The scenery was spectacular, I wish we could have had the time to rent a chaise at one of the beaches we passed. Anyway, we did have time for a biera at a cafe on the Marina, a real double highlight. Speaking of Emilio; he was always up, cheerful, informative, helpful, resourceful and would socialize with us outside of his "work hours," when many of the guides disappear. Brava Emilio! A few negatives of the tour: 1. Included meals, with the exception of the one at the hotel when we arrived at the Riviera which was very good, were average at best. The one in Bolzano was terrible, the food, location, and "chef" at the Trattoria was awful and a phony. Their policy of pursuing "value" is not working well. Firstly we didn't need a 4 course dinner, too much food. Better would be higher quality and 2 courses, which is closer to the norm when we went out on our own, or even better, when we shared dishes. The restaurants we went out to on our own varied from great to spectacular and averaged with a very good wine, 50 - 75 euros a couple. Food and wine, on our own in N. Italy were all great and cheap compared with the US. 2.There was virtually no down time on this tour. Had more on Amalfi, and became exhausted by the push, push. 3. Skip the Earth Pyramids optional. They're not that big a deal and you get the scenery and better the next day on the ring walk. And again with the food, the included Tyrolean dinner was only fair, and had a swarm of flies, also included for your included price. 4. Speaking of the optional tours, I don't like the concept. I think it's just another profit center. Everything should be included, and if you want to skip something, anything, you can just do something else at that location on your own. I hope that doesn't sound too negative, because the trip was really great, and a great value. Our director was great and helped pull it all together. I'm 66 and managed the walking OK. I think you need a pretty good level of fitness for this one, it is more challenging than Amalfi. We extended 3 more nights in Florence at the end of the trip, and if you haven't been, take this opportunity. We took in the great art, opera, scenery, and shopping, and of course dining in a more leisurely way from our central location. Don't miss the Florentine Steak! We will go back to Italia! Ciao!
Excellent Tour in every way!
The tour itinerary is very well planned as an introduction to Northern Italy. We started with smaller cities and advanced to larger Northern Italian cities. The primary reason I booked this tour was for the Cinque Terre hike but Baveno, Bolzano, Lucca, and of course Florence became my new favorite cities. Travel days were on Sundays when most tourist sites were closed and on long travel days we had a wine tasting or other activity to break up the bus ride. This was an excellent itinerary!! By the end of the tour I felt comfortable enough traveling in Italy to extend my vacation by several days in Rome on my own. I don't believe my stay in Rome would have gone nearly so well without this tour's introduction to Italy! Some of the walking events can be fairly strenuous but there was always the option to reduce or increase the walk to a level that met your physical abilities. I really appreciated the option to walk/hike to my own wishes and abilities. The only concern expressed was for our health and safety. The excursions planned throughout our trip were wonderful. I don't think I would have been able to discover sights like the Sacro Monte if I were planning the trip myself. The visit to Valpolicella Vineyard was delightful. The local tour guides at each site were remarkable and so informative - it was a joy to spend time with them. Our tour guide was wonderful. Andrea is intelligent, professional, and diplomatic when needed. He was always willing to assist with any issues that we encountered. He helped us with everything from planning added events to locating lost luggage. I never felt that we were a 'chore' or just part of his job. I know that he received several invitations to visit the group in the states and I sincerely hope that we will meet again. Our Bus driver Elario also became a friend - his skills in maneuvering the bus through small village streets was AMAZING! Overall this tour was a joy and I highly recommend it, I would suggest that the hotel in Bolzano be changed to a hotel closer to the city (if one exists?) and that the extended stay in Florence include the option to visit the Academia to see the statue of David. I can't imagine going to Florence without seeing the 'real' statue of David. This was a perfect vacation!!
A wonderful experience - except....
I enjoyed the trip very much even though I was not able to participate in some of the hikes. Before my husband and I booked the trip I spoke with your office to determine the length of the hikes. They seemed manageable according to what I was told. However, a better description of what the walks entailed would have been helpful, i.e. there is a long uphill climb to get to the Bullacia Trail which is also at high altitudes. The downhill at Valpolicella was also difficult and not expected. Perhaps, a more detailed description of the hikes and getting to the hikes would have prepared us more. At Cinque Terre the easiest trails were closed. Also, it was very crowded and very hot - in the 90s there and in Florence. The Royal Sporting Hotel in Portovenere was wonderful. Also the trip to the Borromean Islands. Because two of our flights were cancelled and we were late arriving we had to take a cab to Baveno. Also the wrong hotel was listed on our final itinerary causing us to leave the wrong information with our children.