Verona from Castel San Pietro.
When most people think of Italy, one of the first cities that comes to mind is Venice. And, rightly so. Venice is every bit as beautiful, magical and unique as you imagine it to be and it’s definitely one for the bucket list.
But how many days is the right amount of time to spend there? Many, many moons ago on my first European holiday, I visited Venice for three nights, four days and if I’m being honest I think it was a little too long.
However, since moving to Italy and literally living half an hour from Venice, I’ve discovered that there are so many amazing day trips to be taken when visiting the lagoon island. So I thought I’d dedicate a post to some alternate options whilst holidaying in Venice.
Saint Anthony’s Basilica.
Ok so I might be biased because I live here, but I would definitely be adding Padova to the itinerary. One of the biggest draw cards for me, is that Padova is not all that touristy and is a nice break from the often overcrowded Venice.
Literally only 30 minutes away by train, it’s so close and easily accessible that you could even spend half a day or an evening here if you wanted to. But if you’re spending the entire day here, there’s plenty to do and see — see my short city guide here.
Things to do and see
- Take in the grandeur that is the Basilica of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Padova. This is Padova’s main tourist attraction and what people tend to visit the city for. It is also one of the most beautifully decorated churches I’ve visited. Saint Anthony himself is even buried here.
- Marvel at the beautiful frescoes of Giotto dating back to the 1300’s at the Cappella deli Scrovegni.
- Visit the world heritage listed Orto Botanico di Padova aka Padova’s botanical gardens. One of the oldest and most important botanical gardens in the world.
- Spend the afternoon relaxing or walking around Prato della Valle, Italy’s largest piazza.
- Take a walk from Prato della Valle back into the city centre and get lost in beautiful cobbled streets. Padova is a city full of lively and beautiful squares so be sure to also enjoy a coffee or aperitivo in one of its piazzas.
TIP: If you’re coming from the train station, jump on to tram directly outside the station (side closest to McDonalds). In a few stops and less than 10 minutes you’ll be in the centre of Padova and from there everything mentioned is within walking distance. You can get off anywhere between Ponte Romani and Cavelletto.
Made famous by Shakespeare, Verona in my opinion should be a destination in itself rather than a day trip from Venice. But, if you’re on a strict time frame a day trip will suffice.
Upon my first visit to Verona, I instantly fell in love and it is now on my list of cities I take people to when they come to visit. Verona has a little something for everyone, from great shopping to beautiful gardens and delicious food. Did I mention there’s also a perfectly intact Roman Arena here?
Things to do and see
- Arena di Verona aka Verona’s mini colosseum is definitely a must see. Situated in the heart of the city in Piazza Bra, the arena is very well kept and almost intact. In fact they still hold events, concerts and operas here. You can also go inside and explore. If you can’t make it to Rome and see the real Colosseum, this is a great alternative.
- One of my favourite look outs in all of Italy has to be Castel San Pietro, on the outskirts of the city just across the river. The sweeping views over Verona are incredible.
- Visit Juliet’s famed balcony. Ok, so this is totally a huge tourist gimmick but none the less it’s worth a look. It’s nestled away in a small alley way near Piazza delle Erbe, so be sure not to miss it. The walls surrounding the balcony, are filled with love notes and letters from people all over the world and for a small fee you can even go inside the building and take photos on the balcony itself.
- To escape the city, Giusti Gardens is always a pleasure. For those who love the outdoors, these perfectly manicured gardens are for you.
- Whether you’re arriving by train or car, I highly suggest renting some bikes to explore the city. Verona Bike is a great initiative where by you can hire bikes for as little as 50 cents for 2 hours. There are terminals scattered across the city, including directly outside the train station and by the Arena.
TIP: When in Verona you absolutely must try Storie di Grano restaurant. Their caramelised onion pizza was to die for and one of the best I’ve tasted in Italy! It’s tucked away on Via Rocchetto, just behind Zara.
View from Ponte di Vigo.
Chioggia is a small fishing town attached to the main land, but still within the Venetian lagoon. It can be reached via ferry and bus from Lido di Venezia (Venice Lido) and takes just over an hour. Whilst it’s a very small town, as you can see from the above photo it’s quite picturesque.
Things to do and see
- Chioggia is well known within the Veneto region for its fresh and tasty seafood. So be sure to try some at one of the many restaurants that line the main street.
- Just over the main bridge you’ll find the beach town of Sottomarina. Whilst it’s definitely not one of Italy’s finest beaches, it’s a nice escape from Venice in the summer. Here you’ll find plenty of hotels, restaurants and things to do.
- Explore the bridges and canals, making your way down to Ponte di Vigo as seen above.
Other notable mentions
Originally, I was planning to make this post a ‘5 day trip’ alternative but realised I had too much to share. But for those interested in more cities to visit, I also suggest the following:
- Treviso – 40 minutes by train.
- Vicenza – 45 minutes by train.
- Lake Garda – an hour and half by train.
- Abano Terme – an hour by train.
- Bologna – an hour and half by train.