Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour11 days / Walking Tours
94.4% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
This is the different Italy—a region bursting with the happily unexpected. Go north and step into a land where rock spires rise above lush, green landscapes. Austrian influences overfill the local bars, filtering into the village streets. Tranquil lakes and perfumed vineyards spill across the horizon, stretching on for miles and miles. An epic coastline runs alongside towering cliffs and terraced vineyards. From Lake Maggiore and the staggering Dolomites to the "Five Worlds" tucked within the Riviera’s Cinque Terre, tread through Italian landscapes at their most surreal and surprising.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
9 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 1 lunch with wine tasting, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
4 escorted walks
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Vineyards as far as the eye can see in Valpolicella
Alpine peaks looming over Lake Maggiore
Cinque Terre is the Riviera at its most authentic
Experiencing Germanic culture in Bolzano & the Dolomites
Italy’s villages will exercise your mind, body & appetite
Standing among the green pastures of the Alpe di Siusi
Overnight Flight1 night
Lake Maggiore Region3 nights - hotel info
Rise and shine—now that you’re here, it’s time for la dolce vita
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
After you touch down in Malpensa airport and clear customs, a Go Ahead representative will collect you from the airport and escort you to your hotel in Stresa. Take some time to wander around nearby Lake Maggiore, soaking in views of alpine hills and snowcapped peaks in the background. Later, savor your first authentic Italian meal at your welcome dinner.
The classic, rustic Italian scenes we all envision—that’s San Giulio
Travel into a region famed for its classic Italian landscapes as you make your way to picturesque Lake Orta. Here, explore the nearby town of San Giulio’s UNESCO World Heritage site, Sacro Monte. Once a popular destination for religious pilgrims, Sacro Monte is comprised of dozens of small, fresco-lined chapels and ornate statues dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. After strolling along the lakeside trail, relax and enjoy lunch in the village. Then, hop aboard a water taxi and cruise to San Giulio Island. This tiny island is home to a massive, ancient monastery now serving as a convent for cloistered nuns. Look inside one of the sacred structures before heading back to the mainland and returning to your hotel.
Do as the Lake Maggiore locals do: eat gelato, unwind, repeat
Optional Excursion - Lake Maggiore Cruise & the Barromean Islands
Kick back on the glamorous Lago Maggiore, a destination renowned for its breathtaking surroundings and celebrity-laden shores. With a full day to yourself, you’re free to walk, bike, seek out la dolce vita at a nearby spa or just sunbathe between trips to the gelateri. If you feel like exploring with fellow travelers, join an optional group excursion to the lake’s Borromean Islands. This small archipelago still belongs to the wealthy Borromeo family, and each small island is full of incredible architecture and vibrant gardens.
Lake Maggiore Cruise & the Barromean Islands $99* pp
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.
Dolomites3 nights - hotel info
Wander the vineyards, then taste the vintages of Valpolicella
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Leave the waters of Lake Maggiore behind for rolling vineyards during an included stop on your way to the Dolomites. Arrive in Valpolicella, a countryside setting acclaimed for its olive groves and superior wine vintages. Embark on your Tour Director-led walk, beginning in the town of San Giorgio. Explore the Romanesque ancient pieve (rural church) before heading to a local wine estate. After taking in the region by foot, sit down for a taste of its best fare and famous labels: Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto. After lunch, head to Bolzano, the region’s capital set against the Dolomite mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend the rest of the evening winding down with your group over dinner.
You won’t know whether to say “ciao” or “guten tag” in quirky Bolzano
Optional Excursion - Earth Pyramids & Panoramic Landscapes of Ritten
Discover Bolzano (or Bozen in German), a city comprised of two very distinct cultures. Part Italian, part Austrian, the citywide divide is tangible from its architecture right down to its beer. A local guide introduces you to the charming contrasts, starting in the main city square, Piazza Walther. From there make your way through the famous open markets on to the Gothic-style Duomo, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Next, step into Piazza del Grano. Once home to the city’s grain market, the square remains the heart of Bolzano’s medieval village. After touring the main streets, including Via Laubengasse with its famed arched windows, you’re free to continue exploring on your own. This afternoon, opt to join the group for a cable car ride above Ritten’s green landscapes and a walk to view its geologic Earth Pyramids.
Earth Pyramids & Panoramic Landscapes of Ritten $95* pp
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.
The Alpe di Siusi translate to three things: peaks, pastures and peace
Take in the Dolomites from Alpe di Siusi, a sprawling meadow set amidst surreal limestone peaks. Trails of all levels wind through the flower-lined, sheep-dotted pastures, allowing walkers to absorb the serenity that fills the area. 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.) Along the walk, take in panoramic views of the surrounding stone spires and mountain valleys below. Take some time to eat lunch and grab a beer or glass of wine at a nearby rifugio, or explore at your own pace. Following your return to Bolzano, spend the evening as you like. (Please note: Depending on local weather conditions, the activities and sequence of your included walk may change.)
Italian Riviera2 nights - hotel info
Pull out your shades and prop up your feet on your way to the Riviera
Wave goodbye to the Dolomites as you travel south from Bolzano to the sunny shores of the Italian Riviera, stopping en route to enjoy some free time for lunch. After settling in to your Riviera hotel, raise a toast to your new locale at tonight’s group dinner.
Smell the salt water and citrusy lemon groves in Cinque Terre
Clinging to the cliffs of the Riviera coastline sits Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Translating to “Five Lands” in Italian, Cinque Terre encompasses five very distinct villages, all bound by a relaxed vibe and bright clusters of color-washed homes. Get a taste for the unique flavors of each village as you walk the peaceful promenades that connect them. Begin by meandering from Monterosso to Vernazza, absorbing the locral scenery as you traverse cliff-top bridges, terraced vineyards and low-lying valleys teeming with olive groves and lemon orchards. Continue to Manarola by train and walk the Via dell’Amore (“Walkway of Love”). As you make your way to the artsy outpost of Riomaggiore, you’ll find sweeping views of the sea and mountains at every turn. Later this evening, kick back and recuperate from the day’s adventures upon returning to your hotel. (Please note: Depending on the season and local trail closures, the activities and sequence of your walks in Cinque Terre may change.)
Florence1 night - hotel info
Look down on red rooftops and cypress trees as you walk the city walls
Trade the jetset 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 that enclose the city for 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, San Martino Cathedral, Guinigi Tower, San Frediano’s Church and San Michele in Foro. Cap off your tour with free time to peruse the local shops and enjoy your first Tuscan meal. After lunch, continue to Florence, where you’ll gather with your fellow travelers for one last dinner.
Flight homefor a day
Extend Your Stay
Add Florence $339*
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.
Florence2 nights - hotel info
Meet the city that hosted the masters, from Dante to Michelangelo
Optional Excursion - Florentine Dinner
Church of Santa Croce
The birthplace of opera, the Italian language and the Renaissance—Florence is just bursting with historical sites and artistic masterpieces. Uncover them with a local guide who will lead you through the city’s architectural landmarks, from Brunelleschi’s Duomo to the church of Santa Croce. Later this evening, opt to sample traditional Tuscan fare at our Florentine dinner.
Florentine Dinner $89* pp
Enjoy a traditional meal at a bustling trattoria in the heart of Florence, the capital of Tuscany. Sit back as you sip a glass of wine, charmed by the rustic restaurant's atmosphere and warm Italian hospitality. Enjoy a delectable and satisfying meal beginning with antipasto or soup. Then, enjoy a main course featuring pork, beef, veal or lamb, as well as seasonal vegetables. Finish with a dish of creamy gelato or biscuits and a glass of sweet dessert wine. This evening promises to be not only an exceptional dinner, but an authentic Tuscan experience.
Get your art fix at the Uffizi Gallery or sit back and sip Chianti
Optional Excursion - San Gimignano: Medieval Sights & Tuscan Flavors
There are endless possibilities for your free day in Florence. Check out the finest collection of Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery. Wander the romantic Arno River. View Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Galleria. Or, venture into the countryside on our group excursion to San Gimignano. After discovering the hilltown’s collection of medieval towers, sit back and sample regional wines, olive oils and balsamic vinegars from local producers at a wine tasting and lunch.
San Gimignano: Medieval Sights & Tuscan Flavors $79* pp
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 for a taste of the area's wines and a samples of olive oil and balsamic vinegar that you simply won't find anywhere else. Then, enjoy lasagna during a light lunch.
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.
94.4% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
Amazing amazing amazing
Giordano was an excellent guide, always upbeat knowledgeable, able to handle personal issues ie. money exchange dilemma. Made sure that everyone has maps, coordinates activities, offered helpful suggestions especially on best eateries. But the one thing that made him excellent was his passion for italy , his contagious enthusiam that showed his pride and love for his country and this i find very endearing. This is our very first go ahead tour . I shall remember it for the rest of my life and every tour that i take from now on shall be measured on this one. The dolomites experience is beyond my wildest expectations. To go there is to believe in the Higher power. Yes you get out of breath , yes your feet may hurt, but dear God the beauty of your creation makes the struggle of hiking this trail oh so worth it!,,, the panorama of alpe di suisi , the bulla cia ring trail that takes you 7000 feet high with its mountain valleys, the villages that makes one envious of people who inhabits them. This to me made the whole trip worth it, this is our highlight. My husband with teary eye as we reach one of the peaks looked at me in the eye and said, " thank you for taking me". My husband, a forever hesitant traveler, a doubter, is no more. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You made us feel very especial, very taken care of. Im already planning for next year
Amazing art, gorgeous scenery & Yummy Food!
I've been to Italy a few times before, but this "walking tour" was a little different than the others. It actually was more strenuous walking than I'd expected, and I thought I was in pretty good shape as I swim, walk and do yoga regularly. I'd probably title it a Hiking/Walking Tour as a couple of the "walks" were challenging for all on our tour as they were in a high elevation or had lots of stairs and vertical paths. It was a wonderful trip though with exceptional scenery throughout and worth every step! Our group was small, only 15 of us, and our guide "Ode" was terrific -- very energetic and enthusiastic about everything -- "Yipee" was her favorite expression when we reached our destination on a long walk. I had bought walking sticks for my husband for his birthday prior to the trip, and I'm glad I did as it really helped his enjoyment of the touring and being able to keep up with the pace. I even used of of them on the Cinque Terre hike and found it helpful. We went at the end of June and beginning of July. The weather was good most of the time, with only a little rain in the lake area. As expected, it was warm in Florence, but it cooled down in the evenings and was very pleasant. We had a chance to visit the Ufizzi Gallery and the Pitti Palace while in Florence, which are just filled with art treasures. Our guide helped with getting advanced sale tickets at the Ufizzi, which is highly recommended. We also climbed to the top of the Giotto tower which overlooks the Duomo and all of Florence -- well worth the 400 plus steps to get there! One of my favorite places was the town we stayed in while visiting Cinque Terre. It had a charming setting along the seaside and we took a boat ride from close to our hotel to access the villages along the Cinque Terre -- a wonderful way to visit the area. We only walked from the fifth to the fourth village, although some in our group also walked from the fourth to the third. We had free time for lunch and exploring the town on our own and then we all took the train to the end to meet up with our bus driver. It was great to be able to go at your own pace and not have to stay with the group. Be sure to allow time to visit that last village as it's very picturesque and I wished we had more time there to just take it all in. We all had fun trying the many gelato flavors everywhere we went. All the food was good everywhere. Many of us ordered the homemade apple streudel at the mountain cabin while we were hiking in the Dolomites -- the best any of us had ever had and we had gorgous mountain views to look at while we were eating -- what could be better!! I could go on and on about this trip -- it was a "10'!! - Joyce Robinson
Amazing and Wonderful!
No shortage of beautiful places to see during this amazing walking tour! From the lakes to the Dolomites to the Mediterranean coast and finally, Tuscany -- we saw the amazing sites of Italy with a great tour guide! The wineries we visited were lovely and the wines memorable. The walks and hikes were well-planned and served to build our stamina for the final along the hillside in Cinque-Terre. We had ample time for shopping and for romantic moments on our own. Met and made new friends from around the US, as well.
Challenging and fun
This is the fourth walking tour we have take with GoAhead, and by far the most strenuous. It isn't a casual stroll through a scenic woodland! On the other hand, there are gondola rides, alpine flowers, the sound of far-off cow bells, many ancient churches, a dip in the Ligurian sea, pasta, pizza, wine, and, best of all, the amazing, awesome, adorable Oda. She made even the struggling up the rocky path worth the effort. Lots of extras, and never a dull moment.
The Best Way To See Italy!
I booked this trip 10 months out. Making payments was a great way to go and keep the excitement up. The reality of the trip was beyond my expectations! Our tour director, Tini, was fabulous. She knows the region and gave us a lot of great history. The hikes were fun, the food and wine fabulous! There was time to be a lone and a lot of time for the group to interact. As a solo traveler I would recommend this trip, As a couple it is a romantic trip. Next time will be with my boyfriend! One of the best things was no TV or phone use for the entire trip. Absorbing in the Italian culture was wonderful!
Splendid Northern Italy
My wife and I have been on several Go Ahead tours over the years. And they continue to be the best value around..quality properties and top notch guides..Giodano was amazing at conveying g his passion for his beloved Italy. Hikes were challenging enough to make it interesting and got plenty of good advice on restaurants and things to do..wonderful and comfy bus. Just right for our 8 passenger trip..terrific driver Illario made for safe rides at all times.. We have been to Italy numerous times in the past but never to many of the spots that this trip took us to.. lake Maggiore and Ortay were outstanding..Bolzano was simply amazing. Especially the home in the Dolomites..vista were spectacular and a great lunch at the top of the trail..bring a hiking stick..very helpful.. Bring extra chips for your digital camera""you can't stop clicking one great shot after another. Extra stops in Verona were a big plus..Cinque Terre should be on everybody's bucket list..you think you've eaten Gelato before in your life...you are wrong..you were eating Gelato-like products..eat the real thing on this trip..Pesto to die for ...wonderful and beautiful Lucca..walking tour by Giodano at night in Florence was true magic...local guides along the way all very good..only negative was one dinner at Sheraton in Bolzano. That needs to go. lunch at the Dante family winery was memorable..we loved this trip..don't miss this great experience.
Secret and beautiful parts of Italy
My wife and I wanted to try a walking trip. With some hiking included as well..the locations in Northern and central Italy were magnificent and not well known to traveling Americans in Italy who typically do Venice,,Rome and Florence on trips. We fell in love with the Lake Maggiore,, Balzano,,Cinque Terre, Verona,, and Lucca locations..the hiking in the Dolomites and other spots was a bit tiring..but well worth the efforts. Our guide Giordano could not have been more helpful and generous with his advice and time..he made the trip special.. Florence walk thru at night was a highlight for us..Small group of 8 like minded fellow vacationers made the trip so nice..properties were terrific..hotel dinners left something to be desired especially in Balzano Sheraton. That needs to be adjusted..bus was just the perfect size and very comfy with a great driver. cinque Terre should be on everyone's bucket list..a special and unique experience. Loved this trip very much and we have been to italy several times in the past but never experienced it in this beautiful way. bravo Go Ahead.. Luncheon at Dante Winery was a memorable experience..a Fantastic touch.
Great tour. Tour director went beyond for everyone. Beautiful mountains ,lakes, sea! Good hotels. Driver very accommodating. Transportation was a bus, train, boat, ferry, and cable car. Wonderful variety. Nice walks. Beautiful small towns. Great food. Great wine tasting on optional turn in Florence.
First and certainly not last!
Our first Go Ahead tour - what a success!. The itinerary appealed to us as it covered 3 areas of Italy we had not visited. We weren't disappointed. The tour director, Tini, was a star. She made us feel very welcome and managed the group exceptionally well (mind you, it was a happy & harmonious group). The hotels were good-to-excellent. The welcome meals were a little basic but in terms of value for money - no complaints. Tini's food & wine suggestions were always a good option when we were out and about. The bus was always on time. The highlight: Lake Maggiore/Lake Orta. We highly recommend this tour. The walks are easy-to-moderate. The first 30 minutes of the Cinque Terra walk were strenuous but this was the exception. Well done Go Ahead. We are 2 Aussies who will be back for more.
Hiking fun with Oda
We had a wonderful time on our hiking tour, each day got better and better. Our group was fun and our tour director, Oda, was awesome! I really like the way go-ahead can change the times/plans to fit the group..There were times we squeezed in some extras that really meant a lot to our group.We were lucky with the weather which is important on the walking tours. Glad I took my stick, some of the terrain was uneven.Of course the food was great and my eyes were having a party the whole way. Love my pictures now that we are back, thanks for creating this trip, leslie