Things to do in Lombardy

Things to do in  Lombardy

World heritage hot spot

Lombardy may be Italy’s financial and industrial capital, but this region—home to the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country—is also rich in history and culture. Visitors marvel at Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in Milan, hop on the Bernina Express scenic railway to Switzerland, soak in the rarified atmosphere of Lake Como and Lake Garda, explore the medieval hearts of Bergamo and Brescia, sip bubbly in the Franciacorta wine country, take on Livigno’s ski slopes, and visit the world’s largest collection of prehistoric petroglyphs at Valcomonica.

Top 15 attractions in Lombardy

Milan Duomo

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Offering the most exuberant example of Northern Gothic architecture in Italy, the spiky spires and towers of Milan's Duomo (Duomo di Milano) dominate Piazza del Duomo, the city's beating heart. One of the highlights of a visit to the cathedral is the view from the roof, where you can scope out Milan from the highest terrace surrounded by statues. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the Italian Alps.More

Da Vinci's Last Supper (Il Cenacolo)

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Each day, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) draws hundreds of art-loving visitors to the unassuming refectory of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie for just 15 minutes with the painting. Arguably Milan's most famous 15th-century wall mural, the artwork can only be seen by booking entrance tickets in advance or signing up for a guided city tour.More

Ponte Vecchio

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The historic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The three lower arches of this 14th-century bridge span the Arno River at its narrowest point between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, and a stretch of the famous Vasari Corridor runs along its top. Situated on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with pocket-sized jewelry shops and packed with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colorful palazzi lining the river bank.More

La Scala Opera House (Teatro alla Scala)

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La Scala Opera House (Teatro alla Scala), one of the world’s greatest opera houses, has hosted some of Italy’s most famous opera and other performances. Located in downtown Milan, this 18th-century theater and cultural landmark—magnificently restored in 2004—seats many of its 2,000 spectators in elegant boxes adorned with gold leaf and red velvet.More

Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco)

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Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is a medieval fortress built by the Visconti dynasty that became home to Milan’s ruling Sforza family in 1450. Stark and domineering, the historic brick castle has massive round battlements, an imposing tower overlooking the central courtyard and surrounding Parco Sempione gardens, and defensive walls designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Today the castle houses a number of world-class museums and galleries.More

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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In the fashion capital of Italy, the glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade—one of the oldest in Europe—never goes out of style. Sandwiched by the Milan Duomo on one side and the Piazza di Marino on the other, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a bright and airy 4-story center full of restaurants and shops. Come for the neoclassical architecture; stay for the brands and fresh baked panzerotti.More

Villa del Balbianello

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Villa del Balbianello is one of a number of elegant historic villas that sit directly on the water’s edge at Lake Como. On the tip of a small promontory on the lake’s western shore, Balbianello is particularly lovely, with luxurious interiors, scenic loggia, beautiful gardens, and romantic lake views.More

Villa Melzi Gardens (Giardini di Villa Melzi)

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One of a clutch of historic villas that ring Lake Como, the 19th-century Villa Melzi d’Eril is surrounded by lush greenery, the Villa Melzi Gardens (Giardini di Villa Melzi). While the villa is closed to the public, the botanical gardens offer walking paths directly along the lakeshore that make for a peaceful respite from the crowds of Bellagio.More

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie)

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Built by Duke Francesco I Sforza and later reworked by Bramante, the modest 15th-century Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie) is known for housing one of Italy’s most celebrated works of Renaissance art—Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which decorates the refectory wall of the adjoining Dominican convent.More

Brera

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Milan boasts a number of trendy neighborhoods thick with hip bars, restaurants, and clubs. Of these, the Brera district—a maze of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and cafés near the Duomo in the city center—is perhaps the most beautiful thanks to its laid-back pace and old-world charm.More

San Siro Stadium (Stadio San Siro)

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Milan hosts two top-division soccer (football) teams at San Siro Stadium, the largest in Italy. Also known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, the stadium was built in 1925 for the AC Milan team, and in 1947, the rival FC Internazionale team, known as Inter, also moved in. Today, up to 80,000 fans of Milanese football fill the stadium to watch live games.More

Accademia Carrara

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One of the most popular repositories of masterpieces in Italy, the Accademia Carrara is home to medieval and Renaissance canvases by Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Canaletto, and Mantegna. A highlight of Bergamo, the gallery is a must for art aficionados visiting this northern Italian city.More

Piazza Mercanti

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Centuries before Piazza del Duomo became Milan’s main square, medieval Piazza Mercanti was the heart of the city. Marking the center of Milan’s historic center, this charming space is lined by porticoed palaces dating from the Middle Ages and offers a picturesque counterpoint to the rest of the city’s stately majesty.More

Ducale Palace (Palazzo Ducale Mantova)

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For centuries, Mantua’s vast Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Gonzaga dynasty, one of the most powerful during the Renaissance. Explore dozens of the palace’s sumptuous rooms (there are 500 in all), admiring art and lavishly decorated halls such as the whimsically frescoed Camera degli Sposi.More

Mille Miglia Museum (Museo Mille Miglia)

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The Mille Miglia is one of the world’s most storied open-road races, featuring vintage cars that travel across Italy. The race is named after the original distance of about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers). The Mille Miglia Museum, set in the 11th-century Monastery of Saint Eufemia outside Brescia, celebrates the race and automobiles.More

Top activities in Lombardy

Historic Milan Tour with Skip-the-Line Last Supper Ticket
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Milan Duomo & The Last Supper Skip the Line Guided Tour
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Milan Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Duomo and Rooftop Guided Tour
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Milan Super Saver: Skip-the-Line Duomo and Rooftop Guided Tour

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Best of Milan Experience Including Da Vinci's The Last Supper and Milan Duomo
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Lugano, Bellagio Experience from Como with Exclusive Boat Cruise
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Swiss Alps Bernina Red train and St.Moritz tour from Milan
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Milan Bernina Scenic Train ride on the Swiss Alps. Small-Group
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Milan Half-Day Tour Including da Vinci's 'Last Supper', Duomo & La Scala Theatre
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Lake Como: Day Trip from Milan to Visit Como, Bellagio & Ghisallo
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Lake Como: Day Trip from Milan to Visit Como, Bellagio & Ghisallo

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Milan-The secrets to learn fresh pasta and tiramisù
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Small group Pasta and Tiramisu class in Como
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All about Lombardy

When to visit

Lombardy is lovely year-round, with balmy summers perfect for lake swimming and rarely too-cold winters. If you are heading to a quieter, off-the-beaten-track destination, avoid August when many locals take vacations to the sea or mountains, leaving restaurants and shops closed. However, if you’re in a tourist place like Milan, Como, or Sirmione, August is busy with lively celebrations for Ferragosto, Italy’s mid-summer festival. Make restaurant reservations well in advance for this public holiday, held on August 15, and enjoy fireworks lighting up the lakes.

Getting around

International visitors can fly to Milan Malpensa Airport, Milan Bergamo Airport, or Linate Airport in Lombardy, although Verona Villafranca Airport and Venice Marco Polo Airport are closer to Lake Garda. From these airports, you can access all cities or main lake towns easily enough by train, although if you plan to explore, you’ll need a car. Milan aside, ride-hailing apps and taxis are uncommon, and public transport options may baffle non-Italian speakers. Car rentals are available from the airports.

Traveler tips

If you’re on vacation in Italy’s lake region and want respite from the tourist hot spots, check out some smaller lakes nearby. Lake Iseo is between Lakes Garda and Como, while Lake Idro is a tranquil option closer to the west banks of Lake Garda. Both are easy to access by car, and offer a mix of public beaches and private beach clubs (lidos). Skip the busier weekend days, and head there mid-week for some beach lazing with mostly locals around.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+39
Language(s)
Italian
Attractions
78
Tours
1,814
Reviews
40,017
EN
00b87355-8c4c-42e8-957a-5e1d85303cae
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People Also Ask

What is the Lombardy region of Italy known for?

Lombardy is best known as the home of Milan, Italy’s commercial capital. The wider area is also a hub for industry, and, as such, it’s believed to be Italy’s wealthiest region. Commercial credentials aside, Lombardy is also known for its beautiful lakes and mountains as well as its hearty cuisine.

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Is Lombardy worth visiting?

With famous spots like Lake Como, Milan, and the Monte Rosa, Lombardy is definitely worth visiting. Home to Milan Malpensa (one of Italy’s largest international airports), the region is easy to access from anywhere in the world. Good train links also make exploring the region relatively hassle-free.

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Why should you visit Lombardy?

Visit Lombardy to shop in the fashion capital of Milan, go for a summer swim in the lakes, or enjoy winter sports in the mountains. Other reasons to visit include exploring history-rich towns like Cremona and Bergamo and checking out UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Sacro Monte di Varese.

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What food is Lombardy famous for?

The region is known for its hearty cuisine; the saffron-heavy risotto alla Milanese served with osso buco (braised veal shank) is Lombardy’s best-known dish. Polenta and risotto are also popular on restaurant menus, and delights like gorgonzola cheese and the holiday favorite panettone are made here.

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Which part of Italy is Lombardy in?

The region of Lombardy is in northern Italy. It borders the wine-producing region of Piedmont, to the west; the foodie-favorite region of Emilia-Romagna, to the south; and the mountainous Alto-Adige and Veneto regions, to the east. Lombardy also borders Switzerland, which sits to the north, across the Alps.

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What is there to see and do in three of the cities in Lombardia?

In Monza, pay homage to Italy’s supercar heritage at the Formula 1 track; gearheads can even book Ferrari track-driving sessions. In Cremona, learn about the city’s violin-making history at the Museo del Violino. In Varese, hike the Sacro Monte; the route takes you past 14 historical chapels along the way.

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