Tour Italy LogoTour Italy Logo
Opening Times - Mon to Fri: 9am to 6pm
Things To Do in Lombardy

Things To Do in Lombardy

Sharing a border with Switzerland in Italy’s northwest, Lombardy offers a wealth of artistic and historical treasures. Explore cities rich in history and perfectly preserved medieval villages, along with breathtaking alpine landscapes that include soaring mountains, alpine lakes, and lush rolling hills. It’s a haven for foodies and wine lovers, art and architecture buffs, famous for Lake Como, the Livigno ski resort, and the Duomo of Milan.

Lombardy even boasts the highest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in all of Italy. Milan, the region’s capital and the country’s second-largest city, serves as the pulse of the nation, forward-looking and very fashionable yet with many notable highlights beyond its cathedral, such as Santa Maria delle Grazie home to one of the world’s most famous works, Leonardo di Vinci’s The Last Supper. No matter what your interests you’ll find plenty to love about Lombardy, with a long list of things to do, including these top picks.

Milan Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is Milan’s central piazza. It’s a great spot to observe life in the city, with shops, cafes, and street performers nearly always attracting the fashionable Milanese crowds. The square is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for its four architectural masterpieces: Milan Cathedral, Campanile di Giotto (the bell tower), the baptistry, and the Campo Santo.

At the center is a statue of the first king of united Italy, Vittoria Emmanuel. The Duomo is the highlight. Built over 600 years in Italian-Gothic style, its exterior is stunning with beautiful stained glass windows, statues, and towers while the interior features paintings, tapestries, wooden models, and more. You won’t want to miss the chance to climb to the roof, one of the best observation points in the city. You’ll see one of the most unforgettable views of the Alps through the marble spires and pinnacles of the cathedral.

Santa Maria delle Grazie/The Last Supper

You can’t visit Lombardy without seeing The Last Supper. You’ll find the 15th -century Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece at Santa Maria delle Grazie in the western part of Milan. The Renaissance building belongs to a Dominican convent with the painting that depicts the last time Jesus dined with his disciples in the convent’s refectory.

The church and convent were bombed in 1943 during the Second World War and the refectory was razed to the ground, but some walls were saved, including the one holding da Vinci’s remarkable work. As it has been reproduced so many times, some may question the point of seeing it in person but there is no reproduction that can truly capture the emotion of the original. The artist achieved greater luminosity by using tempera paints on drywall after sealing the stone with dried plaster and adding a white undercoat, unlike frescoes that are painted on wet plaster, requiring a fast completion time.

Milan Museums

Milan is home to many outstanding museums, including the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, the largest of its kind in Italy and Europe’s most important institution for science and technology. Housed in a former monastery that was built in the 6th century, it contains a vast collection, but the highlight is the Leonardo da Vinci area which includes many of da Vinci’s sketches and blueprints, reconstructions of his flying machines, and model cars created from the artist’s drawings.

Milan’s archaeological museum is a must for anyone with an interest in history. It covers the city’s ancient past including the Middle Ages, the ancient Greeks, and the Etruscan civilization with a focus on Roman history as the city was the capital of the Roman Empire from 286 to 402 AD. As a capital of design, visitors can learn more about Melian and Italian design at the unique Museum of Italian Design too.

Lake Como Tour

Lake Como is one of the top destinations in Lombardy and you’ll have the chance to take a variety of boat tours from the town of Como (among others, like Bellagio) along its shores to discover the highlights. Many include a visit to Isola Comacina, the only island in the lake, and an open-air museum with medieval ruins.

You might visit 18th century Villa Carlotta which now serves as a museum with neoclassical works of art as well as hosting lush gardens. There are boat tours that can bring you to see beautiful towns like Varenna, Tremezzo, and Bellagio as well as options with itineraries that will take you around the southern shores. Some of the most magnificent villas are here, including Villa Oleandra which belongs to actor George Clooney, and Villa Fontanelle, the former Versace villa. No matter where you go there will be stunning photo ops with the majestic Alps in the background.

Villa Melzi Complex, Bellagio

One of the top things to do in Bellagio is to visit the Villa Melzi complex. Created as a summer residence for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, the vice president of the Italian Republic founded in the early 19th century by Napoleon, the neoclassical villa itself isn’t open to the public but the vast botanical garden that surrounds it is. Designed by architect Luigi Canonica and agronomist Luigi Villoresi, a walk through offers the chance to marvel at the villa’s architecture and enjoy the natural beauty that begins at the boat dock with a long avenue of plane trees.

Surrounding the villa are some huge rhododendrons and azaleas. There’s a hidden cave and an artificial Japanese-style pond, and visitors can enjoy serene views of the forested shoreline, lake, and mountains too. The Orangery that sits adjacent to the villa houses a small museum displaying memorabilia related to Napoleon is also well worth visiting.

Como Walking Tour

Enjoy the gorgeous views in the town of Como while learning more about its past by embarking on a walking tour that will bring you to see its highlights. Found over 2,000 years ago, it’s rich in art, architecture, and history, and boasts a long tradition of silk weaving along with some interesting stories like the mysterious statues at the cathedral. The historical center is where many begin, with multiple landmarks like the Duomo, the last of the gothic-style cathedrals to be built in Lombardy, dating all the way back to 1396 and completed 400 years later.

Its façade is one of the most important examples of late gothic-style architecture in northern Italy. Casa del Fascio of Como, or Palazzo Terragni, as it’s also called, is a modern architectural masterpiece in Piazza del Popolo that you’ll get to learn all about, and you’ll likely enjoy strolling the picturesque lakeside promenade too.

Wine Tour

Wine enthusiasts will enjoy touring the Lombardy wine region, which is primarily known for its sparkling wines from Oltrepo-Pavese and Franciacorta. The region also produces rosé wines in the areas around Lake Garda and red wines from Nebbiolo grapes in Valtellina. Lombardy includes 13 IGT designations, 20 DOCs, and 5 DOCGs. While there are many wine tours to choose from, a private guided wine tasting is an ideal way to enjoy a variety of samplings without having to worry about a designated driver while avoiding large groups.

You can be accompanied by your own professional driver/guide who will bring you to one or more wineries to meet the winemakers and taste some of the best local wines alongside local bites like cheeses, bread, and bresaola (salted beef or pork). Many wineries are family run, making it possible to hear about the family’s long winemaking tradition, the process, and how their heritage is being preserved.

Northern Italian Cooking Class

If you enjoy northern Italian cuisine and have any interest in cooking, taking a cooking class will allow you to bring home one of the best souvenirs – new Italian cooking skills for sharing a slice of this beautiful region with friends and family back home. There are classes hosted throughout the region, with Milan offering the most options. Most follow a similar format with the class learning how to cook three typical dishes following Italian traditions, with instruction provided by a professional chef in a relaxed atmosphere.

You’re likely to learn about ingredients you’ve never heard of, and you’ll pick up some new cooking techniques as well. Dishes might include bruschetta parmigiana baked with aubergine and cheeses, handmade gnocchi with sauces, or handmade tagliatelle with a modern ragu. A dessert is usually included such as traditional tiramisu. After helping to prepare the meal, you’ll sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor with regional wines.

Scaligero Castle

Scaligero Castle, or Castello Scaligero, guards the entrance to the medieval town of Sirmione, located about a two hour drive east of Milan. It’s perched on a thin strip of land stretching into Lake Garda and almost entirely surrounded by water, looking as if it’s floating with turreted walls that rise from the sapphire lake. Incredibly picturesque, Sirmione has been a popular resort town since the 1st century BC thanks to its natural hot springs, but today, it may best be known for its castle.

Built in the 14th century, it’s one of the lake’s most famous sights and has had various incarnations over the centuries, including use as an armory, military barracks, a police station, and a jail. It’s one of the most well-preserved castles in all of Italy and now serves as a museum. By climbing the 146 steps to the ramparts, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the harbor from by the castle battlements.

Livigno Skiing

Lombardy is also a popular region for skiing and other snow sports. Unlike some areas of the country that practically shut down in the winter, the resort town of Livigno is a paradise for those who want to enjoy a snowy wonderland and the opportunity to whiz down epic slopes. Nestled in the Italian Alps near the Swiss border, it’s the flagship resort of the Alta Valtellina with snow virtually guaranteed from late November through early May.

There are over 71 miles of slopes with 32 lifts and six gondolas offering both skiing and snowboarding, with options for all experience levels. The advanced can enjoy heli-skiing while beginners have access to ski schools, although intermediate skiing is the standout with the opportunity to explore both areas above the village without worries of getting stuck on a challenging, advanced piste. The après scene is legendary and there are 250 shops for taking advantage of the resort’s duty-free status.

Neolithic Carvings, Val Comonica

If you want to take a trip far back in time to explore Lombardy’s ancient past, be sure to see the neolithic carvings in Val Camonica. The rock drawings make up the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, over 140,000 symbols and figures have been formally recognized and new discoveries bring that total to between 200,000 and 300,000, spread throughout all surfaces of the valley, with the highest concentration found in the areas of Capo di Ponte, Darfo Boario Terme, Cimbergo, Nadro, and Paspardo.

They range from geometric patterns to weapons and elaborate carvings of people and animals, including dogs, elk, and deer. Many were made over a period of 8,000 years, preceding the 1st millennium BC. The petroglyphs from the last period have been attributed to the people of Camuni. The earliest carvings date back to the 8th – 6th millennium BC and were the work of passing nomadic hunters.

Monte Isola in Lake Iseo

Monte Isola is the largest lake island in Italy and the town of the same name located here is often ranked among the country’s most beautiful towns. As a lush, green mountain floating on Lake Iseo, it’s a paradise with no cars, only bicycles, mopes, and a few buses that connect the main centers of the island. There are both lakeside and mountainous hamlets along with impressive historical landmarks, including churches built from the 15th to the 17th centuries with frescoes, statues, and altars.

There are a number of paths that lead to the island’s peak where pine forests and monasteries meet. Unless you have your own boat, you’ll take a ferry to get there. Upon arrival, many enjoy walking or biking the coastal road, with most of it skirting the edge of the lake for about six miles. There are multiple places to take a break, relaxing with a view of the lake.