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ITALY ROAD TRIP ROUTE

After staying at home for several months, Long & I decided to go on a road trip with our converted car. We drove south and eventually we spent most of our time in Italy. In this blog post, we share our exact road trip route through the North of Italy, Tuscany, and the Dolomites with you. We tried to keep our expenses to a minimum and traveled on budget.

We drove all of the distances with our Golf IV. Most of the time we camped at free parking spots and camping grounds. However, sometimes we slept in Hostels or Airbnbs, because in cities it was hard to camp. Also, when the weather conditions weren’t that good (too hot/rain) we would book an accommodation for the night.

Attention: Driving in the city center of Italian cities is oftentimes not permitted. You need a special license for that, otherwise, you have to pay expensive fees. Keep that in mind and inform yourself before driving around the city.

Additional Tip: Save money by not driving on the toll roads.

Lake Garda (Lago di Garda)

On the first night of our road trip through Italy, we stayed in Peschiera del Garda at Lake Garda. The region is actually pretty popular for Germans and many native Italians are spending their vacation at the lake. Especially during the Italian school holiday from June to September, there are a lot of tourists. That was the reason why we only stayed there for two nights.

Driving time: 5 hours (from Munich)
You can't miss: Sunset at the Lake
To do: Visit Pesciera del Garda, Sirmione, Bardolino, Lazise
Stay: 1 night at "Meet Lake Garda Hostel" and 1 night at a parking lot

Cinque Terre

From Lake Garda, we drove to Cinque Terre, near the city of La Spezia. We have always wanted to visit the colorful villages on the West Coast of Italy. The easiest way for visiting the five little villages is by train from the central station in La Spezia. You can find the tickets and schedule information here.

We didn’t know in advance that going by car can be pretty uncomfortable, because of the car restrictions in the villages. Also, the villages are built in the valley and you have to climb/walk down all the way from the serpentines up on the mountain. (You can only park up on the road) It’s not the ideal experience when it’s 35 degrees Celcius outside and you have to walk up and down the mountains.

However, we managed to visit two of the villages (Riomaggiore and Manarola) in the end and we slept on one of the most beautiful free camping places in Italy. So yes, it was worth it!

Driving time: 3 hours (from Pesciera del Garda to Riomaggiore)
You can't miss: Cliff jumping in Riomaggiore or Manarola
To do: Visit at least two of the five villages
Stay: 1 night at a (free) camping spot

Pisa

For the next destination of our Italy road trip, our route led us down the coast. Our next stop was a cute little town with a leaning tower located in Tuscany – Pisa. We spend the night in an Airbnb and strolled around the city center in the morning. Normally, the main places in Pisa are super crowded and full of tourists, but we were lucky and only few people were spending their time in this city.

Driving time: 1 hour
You can't miss: The leaning tower of Pisa 
To do: Stroll around the city centre
Stay: 1 night at a Airbnb

Florence

Later the same day, we headed to Florence. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, we wouldn’t want to miss this one. We checked into our hostel and went out for a sunset walk through the city. One thing you can’t miss is having Ice Cream at the La Carraia Gelateria – we probably had the best ice cream of our life there. ( Mouse au Chocolate was so yummy) The next morning visited the Piazza del Michelangelo before we left the city.

Driving time: 1 hour
You can't miss: Duomo di Firenze, Ponte Veccio, Piazza del Michelangelo
To do: Ice Cream Date at La Carraia (Best Ice Cream I had in my life)
Stay: 1 night at New Generation Hostel 

Lake Bilancino (Lago di Bilancino)

After having spent several nights in beautiful cities in Tuscany, we wanted to explore the countryside a little bit more. That’s why we booked in an Airbnb in the middle of Tuscany, near the Lake Bilancino. We loved the area so much, that we ended up staying there for three days. As we wanted to have the full-on Italian experience we spoilt ourselves with a stay in an authentic Tuscan Villa. Here’s the link for the accommodation. We were super happy with the stay and the hosts.

Driving time: 1 hour
You can't miss: Spending a night in an Tuscan Villa
To do: Take a dip in the lake, Go shopping at the outlet
Stay: 1 night at a Airbnb and 1 night camping

Verona

Our last stop in Tuscany was Verona. Unluckily, the weather that day wasn’t good, so we didn’t see very much of the city. However, we will come back one day for sure.

Driving time: 2 hours
You can't miss: The arena of Verona
To do: Get some italian ice cream
Stay: 1 night at a Airbnb

The Dolomites

The last stops of our Italy road trip route we in the Dolomites. And what can we say? We didn’t expect anything and eventually, we fell in love with the beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Alpe di Siusi

After a 5 a.m wake up call in Verona, we left Tuscany to seek some new adventures in the Dolomites. Our first destination was the Alpe di Siusi, which is the biggest alpe in the Dolomites. It’s possible to drive up to the alpe by car before 9 a.m from Compaccio, so that’s what we did. (The road is closed from 9 a.m to 5 p.m) The parking is pretty expensive up there, as you have to pay 18 Euros for the day. However, going up with a cable car isn’t cheaper anyways.

Driving time: 2 hours
To do: Walking/Hiking 

Seceda

We didn’t stay too long at the Alpe, because we wanted to go up to the summit of Seceda in the afternoon. Upwards we decided to take the cable car from Ortisei and after spending some time at the summit we walked back down. It’s approximately 3-3,5 hours and the way down is so much fun due to the constant changes in nature and the views – we would absolutely recommend doing that. Especially, having a traditional Kaiserschmarrn (basically Pancakes) in an Alm restaurant at the way is one of the best things you can do in the mountains.

Driving time: 30 minutes (to Ortisei)
You can't miss: Going up to the summit
To do: Hike all the way down and have a Kaiserschmarrn
Stay: 1 night at the Gardena Pass

Lake Sorapis (Lago di Sorapis/ Passo Tre Croci)

We stayed at a camping spot next to the road at the Gardenia Pass and drove to the Passo Tre Croci the next morning. That is the place where the hike to Lake Sorapis starts. It’s a 1,5-2 hour-long walk to get to the Lake. You’ll experience the most epic views on the way and the constant changes in the terrain make it a very fun hike to accomplish.

Driving time: 2 hours (from Ortisei)
You can't miss: the whole hike is an adventure itself 

Lake Braies (Lago di Braies)

If you have an Instagram account and you follow some travel influencer, you probably have seen the pictures of this lake a thousand times. However, we wanted to see it ourselves, as it was just a short drive from our initial route back to Germany anyways. What can we say? We arrived pretty late, when most of the tourists have already left and we basically had the lake all to ourselves. (Maybe that’s a secret tip – to arrive after 7 p.m) Also, the parking lots were for free, so that’s a plus.

Driving time: 50 mins 
You can't miss: Coming late to have the Lake to yourself 
To do: Walk around the lake  
Stay: we didn't sleep there, as we drove straight back to Germany in the night

After having had an amazing time in Italy we decided to stop in Garmisch to relax at the Eibsee for one day and after visiting the Schloss Neuschwanstein in the evening we drove back home.

This Italy road trip route is pretty full-on, as we have visited several places and spots in one day. If you are on vacation we would recommend taking more time for each place. We kinda like being on tour a lot and explore many different places, but for many other travelers, this might be too much. So just go as you enjoy it!

Have a safe trip and we hope you soak up the beauty of Italy on your next trip!

If you want to convert your car and also do car camping in Europe: here’s our guide on how to prepare your car for this.

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