12 must-see things to do in Lombardy

Panorama de la Piazza del Duomo, Milan

Want to discover Lombardy? Discover the 12 must-see cities and places to visit in Lombardy!

Lombardy is one of Italy’s best-known regions. Situated between Switzerland, Piedmont, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy offers its visitors exceptional places to visit. Mountains, plains, cities, museums, places of worship or gastronomy, there’s so much to visit in Lombardy!

But the region is also famous for its many lakes, attracting millions of visitors every year. It’s also one of Italy’s gastronomic hotspots! The Lombards are responsible for dishes such as risotto Milanese, polenta and gnocchi.

And with a population of ten million, it’s the country’s most populous region. From the Alps to Brescia and Cremona, you’ll soon realize that there’s more to Milan than meets the eye. Are you convinced? Discover the 12 must-do things to do in Lombardy!

1. Milan

Dôme de Milan

Photo credit: De Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock.com

Milan alone is enough to last a month! The capital of Lombardy offers countless places to discover. Between La Scala, fashion,

Castello Sforzesco

, the Duomo of Milan, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie,

the Last Supper and the San Siro, you’ll have no idea where to turn! And that’s just a brief overview. As you can see, Milan is THE city not to be missed when visiting Lombardy.

14 must-do things to do in Milan

2. Bergamo

La Città Alta de Bergame

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Bergamo is located northeast of Milan. The city has become famous for its Città Alta, an ancient medieval city that has kept its ramparts intact. A rare feat. In fact, it has earned the city a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

But Bergamo is also the perfect place for a gourmet visit. Indeed, the province of Bergamo is famous for its polenta taragna, a polenta combined with a local cheese (Branzi, or Valtellina in the Alps). Think polenta has no taste? You’ll change your mind!

3. Cremone

Crémone

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Cremona is a town on the banks of the River Po. The town is popular for its violin and its nougat, made from almonds and hazelnuts. Also worth a visit are the Duomo and the Baptistery. The Duomo also boasts a special campanile. In fact, the Torrazzo is the tallest tower in pre-modern times. Which makes Cremona a must-see when visiting Lombardy.

4. Lake District

Belle vue panoramique aérienne depuis le drone jusqu'à Varenna - célèbre vieille ville d'Italie sur la rive du lac de Côme.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / shirmanov aleksey

It’s also hard not to visit Lombardy without seeing some lakes! Lombardy boasts some of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Lake Maggiore

Lago Maggiore is a lake that serves as a natural border between Lombardy and Piedmont. The lake also crosses the Alpine border into Switzerland. Tourists love to visit its two islands: the Borromean Islands and the Brissago Islands. The setting is ideal for nature lovers.

Lake Garda

Better known as a staple of the Veneto region, there’s also a Lake Garda front in Lombardy! The town of Sirmione is located in Lombardy. A town already inhabited by the Romans. Enjoy the lake, visit the medieval castle and the Maria Callas Park.

Another lakeside destination is Salò. This charming waterside town is world-famous for the republic of the same name, created by Benito Mussolini at the beginning of the fall of the Fascist regime.

Lake Como

Lake Como is the northernmost lake in Lombardy. While the lake is uniform in the north, it splits into two arms, one at Como and the other at Lecco. Today, the lake is one of Italy’s most popular seaside resorts. If you’re visiting the lake, take the opportunity to visit Como. Places like Villa Olmo, the medieval walls and castle and the Volta temple await you.

5. Monza

La cathédrale de Monza

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A visit to Lombardy means a visit to Monza for all sports fans. While the Autodromo di Monza and the F1 Grand Prix are indeed the number-one tourist attraction, the town itself is well worth a visit!

For example, you can visit Monza Cathedral. Inside, you can see the iron crown. The crown has been used by the kings of Lombardy, the Holy Roman Empire and Italy. But the crown’s claim to fame is that it contains one of the Passion nails.

6. Mantua

Mantoue depuis le lac

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Matteo Masini

Mantua is a city in southeastern Lombardy. It is often associated with the town of Sabbioneta. The reason? The towns are jointly listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. This choice is explained by their shared past, when the House of Gonzaga ruled both towns simultaneously. Around the town, another lake is worth a visit: Lago Inferiore.

Take advantage of your visit to admire the historical link between Mantova and the Renaissance, ultra-present in the architecture. Stroll through the old town, known as Civitas vetus. As you walk, you’ll come across the Castello di San Georgio.

The city also hosts the annual Festivaletteratura, a festival bringing together the world’s greatest literary enthusiasts.

7. San Pellegrino Terme

San Pellegrino Terme

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As a town in the province of Bergamo, you’re bound to have heard of San Pellegrino Terme. Famous for its sparkling water, the town attracts the whole of Lombardy for its vacations. And how do you do that? Either because of its second homes or its thermal baths.

If you visit San Pellegrino, you’ll see the Grand Hotel and Casino, inaugurated in 1906. Lack of economic activity led to abandonment. Today, however, the Casino Municipal has been refurbished and you can even eat there.

8. Pavie

Pavie et le Ponte Coperto

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Another lovely town to visit in Lombardy is Pavia. Located south of Milan, the city borders the Ticino. In fact, it’s the river that gives Pavia its name. The Romans called it Ticinum, a derivation of Ticino (Ticino).

No less than 9 churches and cathedrals await you. But rest assured, it’s not all religious buildings. You’ll also see the Castello Visconti, where Petrarch lived. The University of Pavia, one of the oldest in Europe, is also well worth a visit. As are the medieval towers and the Ponte Coperto.

9. Lecco

Lecco

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Stefano Borsa

Lecco is one of Lombardy’s most popular tourist destinations. This is mainly due to the fact that the southeast arm of Lake Como runs alongside the town. Once you’re here, you can admire the massifs in the background. Stroll through the heart of the town and visit the Basilica of San Nicolò, built on the ruins of medieval fortifications.

For fans of Italian literature, head for Villa Manzoni. The now museum is none other than the family residence of writer Alessandro Manzoni.

10. Brescia

La Loggia, édifice de Brescia

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Brescia is a charming town near Lake Garda. It’s a perfect stopover on your Milan-Lake Garda journey. It stands out from the rest thanks to its two domes: the Duomo Vecchio, known as La Rotonda, and the Duomo Nuovo. But it’s not just the domes: there are many other places of worship to visit and admire the work ofIl Romanino.

But Brescia is also home to large squares and numerous buildings. Among the latter, the medieval castle is not to be missed. A true testament to local history, you can also visit the Risorgimento Museum. As for the squares, the Piazza della Loggia is exceptional, not least for its clock on the Loggia, now the Town Hall. As you can see, the piazza is one of the finest achievements of the Renaissance in Lombardy.

This year, Brescia is being rediscovered by the world thanks to the return to the top flight of its soccer team: Brescia Calcio. Among the players is local boy Mario Balotelli.

11. Bormio

Vue aérienne de Bormio et du Stelvio

Photo credit: Shutterstock / AerialVision_it

And why not visit Lombardy for a breath of fresh air? Bormio offers the perfect opportunity. Located in the Stelvio National Park, Bormio is the region’s most popular winter and summer resort. It has twice hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships, on the legendary Stelvio piste.

Bormio is the ideal place for a hiking or skiing holiday. All extreme sports are also accessible. A perfect place for families.

12. Chiavenna

Chiavenna

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Another stopover near Lake Como, Chiavenna has its origins in Roman times. Indeed, what the Romans called Clavenna was a stopover on the Roman roads leading to the Alps. Its beauty is also worth a visit, not least for the Alps overlooking the town.

Chiavenna, in the Valchiavenna region, hosts the Sagra dei Crotti festival every September. Crotti are natural alpine cavities. They are the pride of the locals, who transform them into living spaces such as restaurants. So, to promote this heritage, the region has created a festival where everyone gathers around good food.

How to get to Lombardy

To get to Lombardy, you can use various means of transport:

  • By train: Milano-Centrale station is served from Paris Gare de Lyon. Connections are possible at Lyon Part-Dieu or Chambéry.
  • By air: two airports serve the region internationally: Milan Malpensa airport andBergamo airport.
  • By bus: Flixbus and Blablabus offer routes to Italy, including Milan-Lampugnano.
  • By car: From France, Milan can be reached via the Fréjus tunnel, then theAutostrada 50. If you’re coming from Italy, theA1, A7 and A52 motorways also take you to the capital of Lombardy, as well as to the rest of the region.

Where to stay in Lombardy

Of course, there are countless places to stay in Lombardy. Nevertheless, some towns are strategically interesting:

  • Milan is not only conveniently located, it also makes it easy to get to other cities.
  • Bergamo, which is also relatively mobile and has the necessary accommodation infrastructure.
  • Como is also used to a large population. It’s also ideal for visiting Lake Como.
  • Sesto San Giovanni, on the outskirts of Milan. Close to the freeway, it offers the best value for money in terms of accommodation.

Now you know what you can visit in Lombardy. Have you been around? Tell us your favorite places in the comments!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Lombardy