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Visiting Aosta: One of Northern Italy’s Hidden Gems 

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2 months ago

Nestled in the picturesque Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps, Aosta is a small, yet captivating town steeped in history and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.  

I don’t need to convince you why you should visit Italy, but I am going to share with you this hidden treasure of Italy and one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.  

view over Aosta and mountains

Whether you are driving from Geneva to Milan, on a trip through Northern Italy or simply looking for a unique day trip from Milan, there are a million and one reasons for visiting Aosta: Roman ruins, church frescoes and a hearty Alpine cuisine.  

In this ultimate guide to Aosta, I will share all my secret insights for the ideal 1 day in Aosta, Italy!  

main piazza of aosta
The central Piazza Emile Chanoux in Aosta

Best time of year to visit Aosta

Whether you are visiting Italy in August or looking for the best places in Italy to visit in Winter, Aosta is a year-round destination with a crisp Alpine climate.  

river view over Aosta

Getting to Aosta

Aosta is in a prime position in the northwest corner of Italy, not too far from the Swiss and French borders.

Getting to Aosta from Milan

The easiest way of getting from Milan to Aosta is is via the twice-daily direct bus.  

The journey from Milan’s Lampugnano Bus station to Aosta takes about 2 hours 30 minutes each way, making Aosta an easy day trip from Milan by public transport.

Getting to Aosta from Turin

Aosta is serviced by regular trains from Turin Porta Susa, which take about 1 hour 45 minutes. This makes Aosta an easy day trip from Turin!  

aosta views over mountains
You are greeted with Alpine views at every corner!

Getting to Aosta from Switzerland

There are regular bus services from Aosta to Geneva and Bern (both about three hours each way).  

The easiest (and fastest) way to travel from Switzerland to Aosta is with your own set of wheels. And it’s easy for most travelers, including Americans, to hire a car in Europe.

Top things to see in Aosta, Italy

With a small, walkable town centre, most of the major sites in Aosta can be seen in one day.  

aosta colorful alleyways
One of the great joys of Aosta is simply wondering the streets

Chiesa di Sant’Orso

Start your day by visiting the Chiesa di Sant’Orso, a beautiful 12th-century church famous for its cloister. Admire the exquisite frescoes and Romanesque architecture as you soak in the spiritual ambiance.  

crypt under church in Aosta
When visiting Aosta don’t miss all the beautiful churches

I think the Chiesa di Sant’Orso has some of the most beautiful frescoes in Italy. As you enter, head towards the top right corner of the Church for my favorites. A few steps further and you will find a descending staircase, taking you underneath the Church to a cozy (or creepy?) crypt.  

Chiesa di Sant’Orso frescoes - a must see when visiting aosta, northern italy's hidden gems
The magnificent hidden frescoes of the Chiesa di Sant’Orso

Roman ruins of Aosta

Like any good Italian city, the city of Aosta is full of Roman ruins!  

roman ruins of Aosta

Budget travelers to Italy will be happy to know that many of the famous sites are free to visit. Don’t miss the Arch of Augustus, built in 25 B.C.E and the still-in-use Porta Pretoria. 

arch of augustus
The Arch of Augustus (25 B.C.E)

The main set of ruins (including the Roman Theatre) comes at an entry price of €10. This includes entry to the Regional Archaeology Museum. If you are looking for a cheaper, but equally educational, option: consider taking a self-guided audio tour of Aosta’s Roman history.

roman statue in aosta

Now, of course, there is nothing like walking among Roman ruins. But if you have been traveling in Europe for a while and are a bit Roman-ed out, you can get a good overview of the ruins (for free) from this particular junction.  

Cattedrale Santa Maria Assunta

This stunning cathedral blends Romanesque and Gothic elements. The exterior is the real attraction here.

church fresco in aosta

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the beauty of Italian churches. I always try to focus on one element of the design and take a moment to admire the minute details – the fingers, the eye colors or the clothing.  

Best places to eat in Aosta, Italy 

Aosta cuisine combines all your Italian favorites with the hearty flavors of the Alps. Trust me on this, you will want to make sure to try fontina (basically a rich cheese fondue).  

I did the hard work of eating my way through Aosta. And now I can share with you the best restaurants in town.

Hostaria del Calvino Trattoria Ristorante Aosta

This cozy restaurant offers both Aosta specialities and an elaborate pizza menu. You will definitely want to be trying both.  

local aosta cuisine
The local Aostan gnochetti

This is also one of the best restaurants for vegetarian food in Aosta, with countless dishes including pumpkin gnochetti, which combines the local fontina (cheese fondue) with sweet roasted walnuts.  

Regardless of what you order, you can almost be guaranteed that the dishes at Calvino will be using locally produced Aosta cheeses.  

aosta roman ruins and mountains


Aosta is famous for its thin-based pizza and there’s no better place to try it than Moderno, with its menu dating back over 80 years.

moderno aostan style pizza

For a first-hand view of the Aostan culinary technique, you will want to try get a table close to the pizza oven!  

A whole pizza starts at €6, making Aosta one of the cheapest cities in Italy to visit!  

La Patisserie Bovio

I can never recommend a list of restaurants without sharing my favorite dessert option!

I think La Patisserie wins the best ice cream in Aosta. Set right on the main piazza Emile Chanoux, La Patisserie has outdoor seating (including heaters for winter!).  

ice cream in aosta

You want the salted caramel. Just trust me on this one.  

Best places to shop in Aosta, Italy 

My favorite thing to buy in Italy is little snacks to bring back home.  

Aosta is full of little alimentari (local grocery stores).

the super cute nicoletta shop - a must visit place when visiting aosta

In my opinion, Nicoletta is the star of the Aosta alimentari scene. It has a huge range of unique, locally made Aosta produce including cheese, meats, pre-packaged fontina, Aosta wines and pre-made polenta and risotto sets.  

My personal favorite is the dried porcini (mushrooms). They’re hand-picked from farms in the Aosta valley! 

aosta death notices
Aosta still retains a small-town vibe: the local death announcements are pasted on billboards around town

You might also want to consider taking an Aostan food tour, where you will learn more about the city’s culinary heritage and use of unique Alpine ingredients!

Where to stay in Aosta, Italy 

For a more high-end accommodation in Aosta, there is really only option: the Hotel Duca d’Aosta

For those looking for cheaper, budget options when visiting Aosta, I recommend staying anywhere along the main Via Porta Pretoria.

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