Northern Italy & Cinque Terre Walking Tour 11 days / Walking Tours
100.0% 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
Private deluxe motor coach
Multilingual Tour Director
4 escorted walks
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 viewing these pinnacle formations, make your way back toward town, pausing to eat dinner at a local restaurant on the Ritten Plateau. Following your meal, recline and digest on your bus ride back to Bolzano.
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 local 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 $329*
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 $99* 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.
100.0% 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
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
Everything went well almost but the weather was gloomy most of the time and we missed the Mediterranean sunshine which is so prominent in travel brochures. I wish GoAhead had the godly power of changing it but . . .
Best Tour Director
Oda was our Tour Director and made a good trip into a great trip with her enthusiasm, knowledge, patience, sense of humor and personal attention to each individual. The value of this trip is extraordinary because one gets to see so much of this beautiful country and experience each area's history, beauty and culture. There is a balance between activities and personal time, altho one can never get enough time in Italy! We met interesting people and I loved the hikes! I do think that there were a few people who were not quite physically up to some of the hikes. Perhaps the intensity of the "walks" should be better described. We loved our trip and will be taking another as soon as we can!
Northern Italy and the Cinque Terre Walking Tour showed that Italy is beautiful from top to bottom. Lake Maggiore and Orta were lovely. the Alps di Siusi walk was breathtaking...really gods country!! Then down to the Cinque Terre and the pretty little villages. Oda our guide was great fun to be with and we all loved her . Oda's knowledge and people skills were excellent. She did little extras like called ahead so we could all go to Portofino by ferry as soon as we got to town and when we got to Florence she made sure we had time before dinner to walk around the city. I think the guide makes all the difference and in 3 trips, 3 great guides!
Arianna and the bus driver were magnificient. The only problem was the hike in Cinque terra. It was really too strenuous. The rest of the tour was great, as usual in the Go- Ahead fashion
Buy a walking stick!
Really the best advice we got was to buy a walking stick and we found them for 10 euros (a real bargain) at the top of Alpe di Suisi. Many people had bought them before the trip for $75 or more in the US and the ones we found there were just as good. They also compress down so they fit in your suitcase to bring home. One of the highlights was a lunch / wine tasting / tour at a vineyard that belongs to Dante Alighieri's family. Food, wine, ambiance, staff were all excellent and it broke up a long bus ride.
Italy in a New Way
This tour provided an experience of parts of Italy not usually on the major cities tours many tourists take. We saw the lakes, the mountains and the sea with very little hassle getting from place to place. We had enough time to explore places on our own and the optional excursions were excellent. Lots of walking (some of which I would describe more as hiking). We were outdoors a lot - saw "regular" life in smaller towns and villages and several World Heritage sites. We were not constantly running into other tourists or tour groups. Our guide, Matteo, was accommodating, knowledgeable about an amazing number of subjects, fun and entertaining. Grazie (did I spell that right?)
A Wonderful Tour!
This tour to Northern Italy was a wonderful tour! Matteo was our tour director and made sure everything went well. All the areas we visited were beautiful, from the lakes region to the mountains to the Cinque Terre on the coast and finally Florence. Some of the walks were more challenging than I expected. Good sturdy hiking shoes and walking sticks should be recommended. We enjoyed each region we visited. The Dolomites was my favorite; the scenery was spectacular. The cable car ride and walk in the Dolomites made for a perfect day and wonderful memories. It was great to have the Cinque Terre included in this tour too. This is a region I have always wanted to visit. All in all, it was a most enjoyable tour.
walking tour of northern italy
very nice part of italy