Although Milan may not be the most popular city when it comes to tourism in Italy, it’s the capital of the most populous region in the country – Lombardy.
The Lombardy region is along the northern border of Italy, and while it is among the largest regions in the country in terms of size it far outpaces the other regions when it comes to population. This is partly due to Lombardy being home to Milan, the country’s primary business and banking city.
This page has an overview of the Lombardy region, with links to other articles on the site to give you more detail for planning your trip. Let me know if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
Quick links to Lombardy travel resources:
- Where to Stay in Lombardy
- What to Do in Lombardy
- Where to Go in Lombardy
- Cheap Airfare to Milan
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Milan
- Milan iPhone Apps
Lombardy: Fast Facts
- Lombardy is the English name for this region – Lombardia (pronounced lom|bar|DEE|ah) is the Italian name.
- The capital of Lombardy is Milan.
- The Lombardy region borders Switzerland in the north as well as the Italian regions of Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna.
- There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lombardy – Milan’s Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in its refectory, the rock drawings at Valcamonica, the Crespi d’Adda town site in Capriate San Gervasio, and Sacri Monti.
- Lombardy contains both the Italian Alps and the Italian Appennines mountain range, along with much of Italy’s popular lakes region.
- People from Lombardy are called lombardi (masc. pl.). Other variations are: lombardo (masc. sing.), lombarda (fem. sing.), and lombarde (fem. pl.).
Where to Stay in Lombardy
Lombardy is a mix of dense cities and sweeping natural landscapes, so it stands to reason that you’ll find every variety of accommodation options available to you throughout the region depending on where you are.
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Milan in particular has the highest number of lodging options, but because it’s more of a banking and business city than a tourist city the prices on hotel rooms are often higher than you might expect – especially mid-week. Weekend rates tend to go down (because business travelers leave the city on weekends), and for an even more budget-friendly option there are a few (albeit scattered) hostels in Milan as well.
Some of the most popular tourist areas in Lombardy are the Italian lakes, and that’s where you’re more likely to find the usualy array of leisure travel accommodation choices. Because there are rural parts of the region, you will also find some of Italy’s famous agriturismi if you fancy the idea of staying on a farm.
Here are some links to articles about hotels and hostels in Lombardy:
- Cheap Hotels in Milan
- Hostels in Milan
- Vacation Rentals in Lombardy
- Learn more about Italian agriturismo
What to Do & See in Lombardy
Lombardy is a sizable region, so it’s perhaps not surprising that so many of the things we associate with Italy vacations are in Lombardy.
Although Milan isn’t usually at the top of many “must-visit” lists for Italy, it is home to one of the country’s most famous pieces of art as well as one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Lombardy’s famous lakes are among the most popular places to go in the country, including Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Bergamo is a great day trip from Milan, and its historic center has a beautiful piazza and pretty views. And car enthusiasts will likely know of the famous race track at Monza.
Some of the main sights that will be on the itinerary of visitors to Lombardy are:
- Duomo – Milan
- The Last Supper – Milan
- La Scala Opera House – Milan
- Historic Walled City – Bergamo
- Lake Como
Where to Go in Lombardy
Milan’s Malpensa Airport is one of the two main international gateways to the country, so even though Milan isn’t the city most travelers plan to spend oodles of time in it’s often the place they spend one day either at the very start or the very end of their trips. If you’ve got more time to spend in the Lombardy region, however, there’s plenty to keep you entertained – even if you skip Milan altogether.
Some of the major cities in Lombardy are listed earlier (and many make good day trips from Milan), but here’s another list with short descriptions so you can get an idea of whether you’ll want to do more research on them for your trip:
- Milan – Lombardy’s capital, home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” La Scala opera house, & one of the country’s most iconic cathedrals; read more in my Milan travel guide
- Bergamo – Beautiful historic walled city, split into “high” and “low” cities
- Brescia – Wealthy industrial city with a few good museums
- Monza – Wealthy suburb of Milan with a world-famous car racing track, as well as a nice cathedral, royal villa, and huge public park
- Pavia – Small city with a large university, a pretty historic center, a few pretty churches, and some notable museums
- Mantua – Mantova in Italian, small city with historic ties to opera as well as art, as showcased in the many churches, palazzi, and museums
- Cremona – Historic home of the two most famous violin-making families on earth, Stradivari and Guarini
- Italian Lakes – Some of Italy’s most famous landscapes, including Lago Maggiore, Lago di Garda, and Lago di Como; read more in my Italian lakes travel guide