Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour11 days Walking Tours
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Expert Tour Director
Sightseeing with local guides
Personalized flight options
Maximum tour group size: 28 travelers
Recommended by 96% 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 Basilica of Santa Croce to the iconic Florence Cathedral.
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 legendary Florence Cathedral, known as the Duomo
• 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 Piazza della Signoria
Enjoy a free evening in Florence or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Florentine Dinner $89*pp Details
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.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $99)
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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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.
A unique and amazing tour!
I have done a considerable amount of independent travel and this is my first organized tour. I am 53 years old, work out and consider myself to be in pretty good shape which I only mention to give some context to the strenuous nature of the walks. I found this tour to be enjoyable, a good value and fairly vigorous. The tour was a mix of sightseeing, guided tours, moderate walks and two challenging hikes. We covered four very distinct Italian cultures, the Lake Region, the Italian Dolomites, the Italian Riviera and Tuscany. The towns visited were unique and interesting and we enjoyed some of the most amazing vistas and landscapes imaginable. The tour lists Florence as one of the towns visited, but please note that you will arrive right before dinner. If you don’t add on the extension, you won’t be seeing much of Florence. The trip was well planned and organized and our tour guide, Emilio was excellent at keeping the group accounted for and on track. It was a good mixture of structured touring and free time but it felt a little hectic at times as we quickly moved from city to city. The hotels were typical Italian hotels varying in luxury and amenities depending on which room you were randomly assigned. All but the Bolzano hotel was located in the center of town. Be aware that some of the hotels did not have air conditioning. This was not a problem as we visited in May, however it might be intolerable during the summer months. I found the included meals to be mediocre to good but they tried to give you a good sample of the regional foods. Keep in mind I’m a self-professed foodie and others on the tour thought the food was good. The first hike, the Bullacia Ring trail in the Italian Dolimiti, starts off with a steep mile long incline but then levels off. It’s challenging hike with uneven terrain and some narrow paths but the payoffs of amazing views of the Dolomites and views of the quaint towns in the valleys are well worth the effort. This jaded traveler was floored! The Cinque Terre hike on the Italian Riviera had a very different feel from that of the Bullacia ring but was no less visually amazing. We took the ferry from La Spezia to the town of Monterosso and hiked to the charming town of Vernazza. This was another challenging hike, probably the most challenging on the tour, with a steep climb up the jagged mountain path on uneven terrain and with picturesque views of the seaside town below. Again, it was well worth the effort if you choose to participate. The hike is designed so that everyone may proceed at their own pace. Alternatively, you can choose to omit the hike altogether and take the train (using the supplied daily train ticket) and see each of the five towns with considerably less effort. Please note that Vernazza is the most popular town of the five and was extremely crowded. The trains were also very crowded so please keep this in mind as you plan your return back to La Spezia. Also, worth mentioning is the visit to the Masi winery which was entertaining and informative. We were treating to a wine tasting of three of their most popular wines (including Amarone) which were paired with an assortment of delicious meats and cheeses. This was my favorite of the included “meals” the tour provided. I also recommend the two optional tours: the Borromean Islands in the lake region and the earth pyramids in the Dolomites. Both were highlights within their respective regions. You could theoretically see both of these sites on your own but you would be missing out on important commentary provided by the local guides. Overall I would highly recommend this tour provided you go into it fully understanding that it is more than a simple walking tour as it will require a bit of exertion for some of the hikes. We were blessed with a great group of co-travelers, a wonderful itinerary and an excellent guide which all made for memorable trip.
The areas included in this trip were spectacular! The combination of challenging hikes with backdrops of pristine lakes, terraced vineyards, jagged mountains and coastal villages and cliffs resulted in an amazing tour. Our guide, Emilio, was wonderful throughout the trip but especially in helping us plan activities for our extension in Florence. All in all, we had a great time and I would highly recommend this tour! Be advised, Cinque Terra is very crowded.
This is a fantastic trip. It is very well organized. Hotels were wonderful. The ring hike was stunning . I loved the vineyard walk,tour,and lunch. We had a wonderful group of 28. We extended in Florence on our own for 2 nights and go ahead was great arranging everything.
Another Great Adventure
We just returned on Oct. 3, 2014 was “Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour”. It was a great trip with 18 great fellow travelers. I will admit that some of the walking and the mountain climbing was a bit too challenging for my husband and myself. However, it is a great itinerary for a little younger and more “fit” people. I don’t think we drug the others down, we kept up but did so in a slower manner. At the last of the trip in the Cinque Terre we just elected to not do the “walking” and just took the train from village to village. Upon request Go Ahead Tours booked our air and we arrived in Stresa two days before the other 18 in our group. We also stayed an additional 6 days so we could go to San Gimignano and Riomaggiore on our own. All and all it all turned out perfectly. Oda, was our excellent tour director. She was indeed a joy, and it was obvious that she loves her job. Her favorite expression was “yippee” and she was always encouraging and helpful. It was a great itinerary. My husband & I have traveled quite a lot but had never been in northern Italy except for Florence. We now have seen the beautiful lake region, the dramatic rocky Dolomites, and the rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera known as Cinque Terra. As your information says, “this is a different Italy.” Very, very enjoyable trip and we are really glad that we did it. I have a travel blog and I just added this delightful trip. If you want to see what this trip is all about, and want to look at the photos of some of the breath-taking places we saw..... then please go to my travel blog: http://thefarmersmeanderings.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/northern-italy-cinque-terre-walking-tour-san-gimignano-riomaggiore-italy/ Thanks for a great adventure!
This was my first trip of this type and only second one overseas so I don't have much to compare it to. I did thoroughly enjoy it. Our guide was great. She seemed to be very knowledgeable and was very personable and entertaining. Our first hotel was beautiful but the subsequent two diminished in luxury (and air conditioning). Also, the breakfast meals seemed to have a set menu, we didn't get much variety. Beautiful country. We loved the tour of the vineyard. Don't be fooled by the name, this is a "hiking tour"
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!