Northern Italy Towns Weekend Roadtrip – must see’s and hidden gems
Different cultures have left their marks on Northern Italy towns, each one so different from the next. This year road trips are more popular than ever, with people avoiding public transportation as much as possible. The great thing about that is, one the road we can go places that are not usually easily accessible!
So this roadtrip itenerary for a weekend of northern Italian towns includes some popular highlights as well as hidden gems. It starts and ends in Venice and takes you to the Austrian influenced region of South Tyrol and back.
Ahhhh Venice… countless guides have been written about it, there is so much to see and do. I was surprised to find however, that the mayor highlights, I wanted to see I reached during a mere 2h walk through the city! Navigation with google maps works great, much better than printed maps actually, because Venice is a maze! Obviously, you’ll have to park your car off the island because there are no roads, just canals and footpaths.
Walk along the canals, admire the gondolas and arching stone bridges. Enjoy a cup of capuccino by the Canale Grande, near the Rialto Bridge. Then through the alleys past galleries and shops to St Mark’s Square. Including the walk back to the station this route including restaurant visit and dozens of picture stops took me less than 2 hours. An evening here is a great start to a weekend in Italy.
The drive to Trento takes you to the Dolomites, the Italian Alps. Much greener, wider valleys than in other parts of the Alps await. There are a lot of outdoor activities, depending on the time of year.
For cultural travelers, check out Buonconsiglio Castle, the MUSE science and natural history museum and Trento cathedral. The town center is easily walkable and you won’t need too much time to explore most of it.
The next day get on the road early to have enough time to experience Merano. Here people are just as likely to speak German as Italian, as this area used to be part of Austria-Hungary until about 100 years ago. Tradition remains and so did the language, cuisine and architecture.
Take the chairlift up to Tirol and enjoy lunch on the terrace of the Panorama Hotel. The name speaks for itself. You won’t find a better view over the valley.
Relax for a few hours at the spa “Therme Merano“, in their indoor and ourdoor pools at different water temperatures. They sell full day passes too, but even if you are a sauna enthusiast and enjoy those in addition to the pools, three hours suffice if you ask me.
Merano is one of those northern Italian towns with historic buildings lining the pedestrian streets in the center, home to shops, cafés and restaurants. It invites you to stroll and take in the ambiance. Right in the center there I can recommend the restaurant Kallmünz for dinner, to try local cuisine with great service.
Sunday – full circle
On your way back to Venice, drive along the Weinstrasse wine route and enjoy the view of vineyards lining the country roads. Stop in Tramin to stash some Gewürztraminer, the world famous grape that originated in this very village.
A few miles down the road, you’ll find the lake Kalterer See, a tip we got from locals. You can rent a boat, wind surf or paddle board at different locations along the shore. There is also a 7.5 km long trail around the lake that is great for hiking or biking. It’s a peaceful body of water amids the mountains of South Tyrol.
Stay for some food and drinks at one of the restaurant terraces at the lake shore before you drive back.
If you like road trips, also check out my itinerary for a road trip in Normandy, France!