Lombardy, Italy: travel guide and places to visit

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The Lombardy region of central-northern Italy reaches high into the mountains in its northern regions. Best known for the impressive scenery of the Lombardy Lakes, the region also has a good number of fascinating historical towns and villages to explore and some stunning mountain scenery

Lombardy - a guide and places to visit

For a summary of the most popular sights in the region see also Lombardy places to visit.

Lombardy includes several of the most visited highlights in Italy, such as Milan and the very popular lakes such as Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda. We discuss the highlights below by dividing the region into (1) the north, (2) the lakes across the centre of Lombardy, and then (3) highlights to the south. Of course, you can visit the lakes and venture into the mountains...

Northern Lombardy

Valtellina region of north Lombardy

The Valtellina area is to the north of Lombardy, on the border with Switzerland and north of Lakes Como and Maggiore.

Most of the highlights here are natural with beautiful river valleys and vineyards, mountains and orchards to enjoy as well as small traditional villages.

Year round mountain and outdoor activities are popular, with several ski resorts to be found in High Valtellina during the winter and popular cycle routes along the river valleys

Among the many places to visit here are the towns of Chiavenna, Bormio (at the end of the Stelvio Pass), Sondrio and Tirano (famous for the Red Train through the mountains to Saint-Moritz).

The stunning scenery of the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio continues to the east of the Valtellina region and in the high Alps while the beautiful Val Camonica area is to the south-east.

Central Lombardy Lakes

Sirmione on Lake Garda

Each of the lakes has its own particular charm and attraction - you could just about see all the lakes in a very busy two week visit or spend all your time at just one of them, depending how active you want to be! Travelling from west to east across central Lombardy the principal lakes are:

Lake Maggiore (on the border with the Piedmont region), with towns including Arona, Stresa, Verbania and Cannobio and the lovely Borromean Islands in the middle of the lake. To the south-east of Lake Maggiore the town of Varese has some grand 19th century villas to see. See Lake Maggiore guide.

Varenna on Lake Como

Lake Como: with Varenna, Menaggio, Tremezzo (with Villa Carlotta) and Bellagio among the lakeside towns in the middle of the lake, Gravedona to the north and Como, Cernobbio and Lecco to the south there are also many other pretty small resorts around the shores of Lake Como, connected by frequent ferries. See Lake Como guide.

Lake Iseo: one of the smaller lakes in Lombardy but still with a great deal of charm and the town of Lovere toards the northern end. See Lake Iseo guide.

Lake Garda (on the border with the Veneto region) includes the popular lakeside resorts of Gardone and Salo to the west;  Sirmione, Desenzano and Peschiera del Garda in the south; and Malcesine and Riva del Garda at the north of the lake (outside the Lombardy region). See Lake Garda guide.

Southern Lombardy

Milan

First stop here will almost certainly be the attractive town of Milan which has many places of interest, and perhaps a visit to the nearby cathedral at Monza.

South of Milan you can enjoy the historical highlights of Pavia - especially the famous monastery at Certosa di Pavia - while the town of Voghera (south of Pavia) also merits a visit.

West of Pavia you can see a different aspect of Italy if you explore the Lomellina region, an area of paddy fields around Vigevano, Lomella and Mortera. See Vigevano for tourist information.

Cremona

The medieval town of Lodi to the south-east of Milan is also very attractive, as is Crema to the east of Lodi, where many important art works can be seen. North of here, Bergamo is also a pretty town, visited most for the old town (Citta Alta), and there is an impressive medieval castle at Soncino.

The south-east of the Lombardy region contains the interesting city of Brescia, and a little further south the towns of Cremona, Sabbioneta and Mantua each have their own charm and interest for the visitor - Mantua in particular is a very attractive city.

The important Benedictine abbey complex of Polirone Abbey is to the south of Mantua at San Benedetto Po.

Lombardy highlights - a photo gallery

  • bergamo
  • brescia
  • lake-orta
  • limone
  • malcesine
  • milan-galleria-vittori
  • ticino-river
  • tremezzo
  • vineyard

Beautiful Villages in Lombardy

The following Italian towns and villages in Lombardy are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Bienno / Castellaro Lagusello* / Cornello dei Tasso / Fortunago / Gradella / Gromo / Lovere* / Mazzo di Valtellina / Monte Isola / Oramala / Porana / San Benedetto Po* / Soncino* / Tremezzo* / Tremosine* / Zavattarello

Orange Flag Tourism towns in Lombardy

The following Italian towns and villages in Lombardy are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy'(a national tourist award):

Bienno / Castellaro Lagusello / Chiavenna / Clusone / Gromo / Menaggio / Sabbioneta / Tignale / Torno

See also:

Map of Lombardy and places to visit

Places to visit near Lombardy

Bellagio

Bellagio

The harbour village of Bellagio is a pretty village on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy

Bellagio

Bergamo

Bergamo

Bergamo, with its palaces, cathedral and medieval towers, is an interesting town to visit in Lombardy

Bergamo

Bormio

Bormio

The ancient town of Bormio is best known as a ski resort and spa town, and well placed to explore the Alps of northern Italy

Bormio

Brescia

Brescia

Slightly off the usual tourist trails, Brescia has a castle and a cathedral among its historic highlights

Brescia

Cernobbio

Cernobbio

Cernobbio is an attractive small town to the south-west end of Lake Como in Lombardy

Cernobbio

Certosa di Pavia

Certosa di Pavia

The Carthusian monastery at Certosa di Pavia is one of the finest examples of a gothic style monastery in Italy

Certosa di Pavia

Chiavenna

Chiavenna

In Chiavenna you will enjoy exploring the narrow medieval streets and visiting the Collegiate Church of Saint Lawrence

Chiavenna

Como

Como

Como is an important historic town at the southern end of Lake Como

Como

Crema

Crema

In the center of Lombardy, Crema has an interesting historic centre with a cathedral and baptistry

Crema

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona has an attractive historic center around its cathedral, and is famous as the birthplace of Stradivarius

Cremona

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano del Garda is a lively resort surrounded by UNESCO listed fortifications

Desenzano del Garda

Gardone Riviera

Gardone Riviera

Gardone Riviera, on the banks of Lake Garda, is well known for the lovely villa and gardens of Il Vittoriale

Gardone Riviera

Gravedona

Gravedona

Gravedona, on northern Lake Como, is well placed to explore the surrounding mountains and practice water sports on the lake

Gravedona

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is the most western of the Lombardy lakes, with the Borromean islands just one of the popular attractions

Lake Maggiore

Lecco

Lecco

Lecco, at the southern tip of Lake Como, has a harbour with lovely views across the lake and mountains

Lecco

Lodi

Lodi

The Piazza della Vittoria in Lodi is surrounded by medieval palaces and a cathedral and the focus of your visit to the town

Lodi

Lovere

Lovere

Lovere is pretty village with an impressive basilica at the northern end of Lake Iseo

Lovere

Mantua

Mantua

One of the loveliest town squares in Lombardy can be seen here in Mantova, with a great number of imposing monuments to see

Mantua

Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio, on the western shore of Lake Como, is a pretty town and well placed to explore the lake

Menaggio

Milan

Milan

With its imposing cathedral and famous shopping, Milan is a much visited city in Lombardy

Milan

Monza

Monza

Monza is an interesting excursion from nearby Milan, to see the Royal Villa and the basilica, among others

Monza

Pavia

Pavia

Best known for the Charterhouse, Pavia itself is interesting with medieval towers, several ancient churches and a castle

Pavia

Sabbioneta

Sabbioneta

Sabbionetta is unique as a renaissance period 'new town' with a carefully designed 'perfect' town layout

Sabbioneta

Salo

Salo

Salo is a picturesque old town, promenade and harbour on the western shores of Lake Garda

Salo

San Benedetto Po

San Benedetto Po

The Polirone Abbey in San Benedetto Po was one of the most important 16th century Benedictine moasteries in Italy

San Benedetto Po

Sirmione

Sirmione

The most visited town on Lake Garda, on the Sirmione peninsula you can visit a castle, roman ruins and a pretty town

Sirmione

Soncino

Soncino

The principal visitor attraction in the Lombardy town of Soncino is the Rocca Sforzesca, a 15th century medieval castle

Soncino

Stelvio National Park

Stelvio National Park

In the mountains of northern Lombardy you can discover the stunning scenery of Stelvio Nationa Park

Stelvio National Park

Tirano

Tirano

Tirano in northern Lombardy is visited as the departure point for the Red Train that follows a scenic route across the mountains to Saint Moritz in Switzerland

Tirano

Tremezzo

Tremezzo

Tremezzo on Lake Como is visited for a walk along the lake and a visit to Villa Carlotta and its beautiful gardens

Tremezzo

Val Camonica

Val Camonica

The scenic Val Camonica is best known for the thousands of prehistoric engravings to be seen in the valley

Val Camonica

Valtellina

Valtellina

East of Lake Como, Valtellina is a region of vineyards and orchards, ancient towns and villages, and high mountain resorts

Valtellina

Varenna

Varenna

Varenna is a pretty town on the shores of Lake Como, with attractive villas and gardens

Varenna

Varese

Varese

In Varese you can follow the Sacro Monte pilgrimage walk and admire the grand 19th century parks and villas

Varese

Vigevano

Vigevano

Vigevano is well placed to explore the highlights of the Lomellina rice growing region of Lombardy

Vigevano

Voghera

Voghera

Voghera is visited for the imposing cathedral and the picturesque villages nearby

Voghera

Limone sul Garda

Limone sul Garda

Limone sul Garda is a small town with a beautiful harbour on the north shores of Lake Garda

Limone sul Garda

Padenghe sul Garda

Padenghe sul Garda

Padenghe sul Garda in Italy is a resort on Lake Garda with an interesting castle and small historic village, and a lake beach

Padenghe sul Garda

Sulzano

Sulzano

Sulzano is a small village and port and departure point for ferries to Monte Isola

Sulzano

Iseo

Iseo

Iseo is a pleasant town with a harbour and historic centre on Lake Iseo

Iseo

Sarnico

Sarnico

Sarnico is a town on south Lake Iseo with a small historic centre and a long promenade

Sarnico

Pisogne

Pisogne

Pisogne is a small town with a medieval tower and a 15th century church with remarkable frescoes

Pisogne

Monte Isola

Monte Isola

Monte Isola, with villages including Peschiera and Siviano, is a lovely island in Lake Iseo

Monte Isola

Malgrate

Malgrate

Malgrate is a small town on south-west Lake Como that has a modern promenade with attractive lake views

Malgrate

Como cathedral

Como cathedral

The cathedral in Como is the most important historic monument in Como, at the southern end of Lake Como

Como cathedral

Moltrasio

Moltrasio

Moltrasio is a small pretty village with a harbour on south-west Lake Como

Moltrasio

Piona Abbey

Piona Abbey

Piona abbey is a lovely 12th century abbey in a quiet location on north-east Lake Como

Piona Abbey

Domaso

Domaso

Domaso is a small harbour town on the north of Lake Como

Domaso

Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello is a lovely villa on eastern Lake Como, used as a location in Star Wars II.

Villa Balbianello

Lenno

Lenno

Lenno is a picturesque small town and harbour on Lake Como, near the Villa Balbianello

Lenno

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta is an 18th century villa on Lake Como, with extensive gardens to explore and an impressive art collection

Villa Carlotta

Ossuccio

Ossuccio

Ossuccio is a small village with two historic churches on Lake Como

Ossuccio

Sala Comacina

Sala Comacina

Sala Comacina is a pretty little harbour town on Lake Como

Sala Comacina