The fair city of Verona in the Veneto region in the north of Italy is often overshadowed by the region’s capital, Venice. But visitors who give Verona a chance will find a similar but less touristed and compact alternative to Rome.
Verona also extends across a river, the River Adige, in which several beautiful bridges like Ponte Pietra are built on. The city boasts its own majestic Roman amphitheatre, the Verona Arena, as well as lots of charming piazzas and fountains, achingly beautiful churches and many historic landmarks that date back to Verona’s inception around 30 AD.
Shakespeare helped put Verona on the map when he located his world-famous play Romeo and Juliet in this pretty Italian city in the late 1600s. One of Verona’s most-visited attractions is Juliet’s House where romantics flock to leave notes and take photos with her statue and check out the museum. Romeo’s House and Juliet’s Tomb are also popular places to see in Verona, and along with the many boutique hotels and quiet green spaces, Verona has defined itself as an idyllic city for a couple’s break.
Whether you have just one day in Verona or more, this guide to Verona will ensure you have the most romantic and enjoyable trip possible.
This ultimate guide to Verona Italy will show you all the most beautiful places in Verona, what to expect when visiting, where to stay in Verona and things to do in Verona which will help you in planning a Verona trip.
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How to get to Verona
The Verona Villafranca Airport is sometimes referred to as the Valerio Catullo Airport. But they are the same and use only one airport code: VRN. Verona Airport connects to destinations all over Europe via airlines such as EasyJet and Flybe, but if you are travelling from outside Europe, you might find it more cost-effective or convenient to fly into bigger international airports like Venice or Milan Airport as Verona is only one hour by train from either city.
You won’t need to use a car during your trip to Verona as the city is so compact, so the best way to travel overland to Verona is via public transport. Italy has an extensive InterCity rail network that connects all of the major cities in the country, including Verona, using fast and comfortable train services. For example, Rome Termini to Verona Porta Nuova on an InterCity train takes merely three hours.
What to expect in Verona
Verona is an Italian city so the main language is Italian, but the language barrier for English-speakers will be minor as most young people and service workers who interact with tourists often are likely to speak good English.
Italy is in the Schengen area and their currency is the euro. There are plenty of ATMs in Italy if you need to withdraw cash, but cards are widely accepted in restaurants and main attractions. Tipping is welcome in Italy and if a service charge is not already added to the bill, a 10-15% tip is more than adequate.
It may also be worth acquiring a Verona Card at a tourist office as they are exceptionally good value at €20 for 24 hours in Verona and €25 for 48 hours. The city pass includes all the major tourist attractions such as Juliet’s House, the Verona Arena, several churches and the Lamberti tower.
How to get around Verona
Verona is a really walkable, compact city and all the main sites are packed into the city centre inside the River Adige so you can easily walk from place to place. However, if you would prefer or need to use private or public transport in Verona, you have several options.
The bus network within Verona is very good, and particularly useful if your accommodation is out of the city centre. It’s run by ATV Verona and you can purchase daily passes and even purchase tickets online. Meter taxis are also available in designated ranks all over the city, such as Piazza Bra and Verona Porta Nuova Station.
Verona is surprisingly bike-friendly and if you only have one day in Verona, you will be able to see more travelling via bike than walking. Verona Bike is the local bike share programme and docking stations include Piazza Bra, Castelvecchio and many others.
The best time to visit Verona
Like most other Mediterranean countries, Verona has a very warm climate which means hot summers and fairly mild winters. The best time of year to visit Verona for great weather is from May-September where temperatures are pleasant at around 25 degrees Celsius. The Verona Arena’s opera performances are scheduled in the evenings from June-August, so the summer months are the best time to visit for entertainment too. The accommodation prices in Verona will no doubt reflect their popularity.
If you want to visit Verona in mild weather without a lot of crowds, then the shoulder seasons April-May and September-October in spring and autumn are the best months to visit Verona. Temperatures are still around 20 degrees Celsius and are less rainy than the summer months. Verona gets in the Christmas spirit like the rest of Europe and hosts its own Christmas market if you are planning an alternative yuletide break.
Things to do in Verona
One of Verona’s most popular landmarks, Juliet’s House attracts around a million visitors per year into the courtyard. The house dates back to the 1300s and is supposed to be where the Capulets lived, the family which inspired the Shakespearean play. Despite the cynics saying the play is fictional and that the famous balcony wasn’t even added to the house until the 1930s, there’s no denying people love the story.
The courtyard is free to enter but visit as early as possible before it becomes overcrowded. There is a statue of Juliet and the legend says that touching her right breast will bring you luck in love. Many have also taken to leaving their chewing gum on the walls of the courtyard along with love notes. The museum inside the house is filled with memorabilia from several Romeo and Juliet film adaptations and where you have the opportunity to step out onto the balcony itself.
The museum is also where you can leave a ‘letter to Juliet’ and ask for love advice from the volunteers. Don’t forget to leave your return address and they will write back!
Verona Arena in Piazza Bra is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in Italy after Rome’s Colosseum. It’s open to visitors during the day so you can explore the venue at your leisure and in the summer evenings, it hosts a programme of operas in its 20,000-seat venue.
Castel San Pietro
One of the best viewpoints across the whole city of Verona is (almost) completely free! Across the pretty Ponte Pietra bridge is Castel San Pietro, a medieval fortress that sits on top of Verona’s highest hill and is shrouded by tall trees. You cannot enter the castle itself, but the viewpoint on the large terrace is very accessible. To avoid the strenuous steps to the top, hop on the very cheap funicular and enjoy panoramic vistas over Verona.
Piazza Delle Erbe
The main piazza in Verona is Piazza Delle Erbe in the very centre of the city. Every day, markets selling food, gifts and clothes targeted at visitors are open in this square as well as many cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a cappuccino and people-watch. It’s also where the Madonna Verona Fountain is situated as well as Torre Dei Lamberti, Verona’s tallest medieval tower and another option for fantastic viewpoints over Verona.
Castelvecchio Museum and Bridge
The Castelvecchio Museum is housed in a former palace which has been fully restored and has a diverse exhibition of paintings, sculptures and ancient weapons. The castle was constructed by the Scaliger family who ruled Verona in the Middle Ages and left a big impression on the entire city. The Castelvecchio Bridge, which is right next to the museum, is also an impressive structure, first built around 1350 with Verona’s signature turreted design.
Chiesa di Santa Anastasia
There are many beautiful churches in Verona including the Verona Cathedral and the San Fermo Maggiore Church. But if you only have time to visit just one, the Chiesa di Santa Anastasia is one of the most strikingly beautiful and ornate churches in the city though it isn’t the main Cathedral. It’s free to enter but you can pay a small amount for a very detailed audio guide.
Just across the River Adige to the west of the city centre is Giardino Giusti which are large public gardens offering the perfect place to relax and rest your feet after hours sightseeing around Verona. The gardens are beautifully arranged with fountains, classic statues and even views across parts of the city.
The Scaliger family were the most influential family to have ever lived in Verona and it’s well worth checking out their extravagant and ornate raised tombs that are on display in a free public monument, surrounded by statues of the family members on horseback not far from Piazza Delle Erbe. The communal nature of the tombs gives you some idea of the stature of the family and their power and authority in 14th century Verona.
What to eat in Verona
Cheese, wine, pasta, fish… Italy is renowned as having one of the most universally loved cuisines. But every region in Italy offers its own unique culinary style. In Veneto, the region Verona is situated in, pasta isn’t the staple food. Rice and polenta-based dishes like risotto are much more authentic to the region. Pasta is, of course, still loved throughout the region and a local pasta dish like Bigoli in salsa (pasta with salted fish) would be a classic Veneto pasta dish.
Italy’s sparkling wine prosecco is actually originally from the Veneto region, as is Aperol Spritz and Bellini cocktails which are popular Aperitivo drinks. Aperitivo is similar to ‘happy hour’ in other countries but includes pre-dinner snacks like tapas. In Veneto, ‘Cicchetti’, which means small meat or fish balls, is often served with Aperitivo. Octopus, salted cod and tiramisu are also authentic Veneto cuisine.
But don’t forget about gelato! Gelateria Romana is hands down one of the best gelaterias in the city. Since 1947, this gelateria has been serving some of the best gelatos in Verona. It’s near the train station so a little out of the city centre but so worth it, especially their own crema flavour. Gelateria Ponte Pietra is a worthy runner-up well-located in the city centre.
Where to stay in Verona
Budget – Verona is generally a cheaper city for accommodation than some of the bigger Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Venice, etc.) but it doesn’t have that many hostels. Luckily, The Hostello just east of the city centre is the only hostel option you need. It’s an independent hostel with fun, colourful decor with free breakfast and clean, ensuite rooms. They also have a really cosy courtyard with lots of soft furnishings so you can easily meet people while in Verona.
Mid-range – If you’re visiting Verona as a family or simply want more space and the option to make your own meals, then check out Oriana Suites Verona which is very centrally located near the Verona Arena. The apartments all have a contemporary, clean and minimalistic style with a generously sized living area, kitchen and some apartments even offer balconies.
Alternatively, Hotel Milano & Spa is also in the same area and is a great value boutique hotel with rooftop hot tubs and little luxe touches.
Luxury – Staying in a romantic, 5-star hotel in Verona isn’t as expensive as you’d think. Il Sogno Di Giulietta Hotel is situated in Juliet’s House courtyard and has the dreamiest medieval/fantasy style suites that will make you believe you’re living in Romeo and Juliet’s world and the 5-star rooms often cost less than €100 per night.
If you want to live even more extravagantly in Verona, the Palazzo Monga Boutique Guesthouse has similarly luxurious soft furnishings and decor that feels like the inside of a palace, with the high ceilings and space to do cartwheels should you want to!
Tours to do in Verona
Hop On Hop Off Tour
If you’re short on time, a hop on hop off bus tour is a fantastic way to see all the main sites and attractions in Verona. These tours drive you all around the city and you’re able to alight and jump back on the bus as many times in as many different places on the route as you want over one 24-hour period.
The tour has two routes which intersect in Piazza Bra and both routes are included on one ticket. There are 16 stops in total and several buses are on the route, so you’ll never have to wait long for the next one. You can get off whenever you want to explore landmarks like the Verona Arena, Teatro Romano or Basilica San Zeno and while on the bus you can listen to the informative commentary via headphones while you’re being driven around.
Food and Wine Tasting Walking Tour
Food is without a doubt the best way to properly immerse yourself in Italian culture, and what better way than with a local guide who can show you around all the top landmarks in Verona as well as the best food and wine?
In an intimate group, you can taste local and fresh pastries, espresso, salami, cheese, tortellini pasta (which you will help make) and sample a few different wines. For over three hours you will be really looked after on this tour and don’t forget to quiz your guide on the best restaurants in Verona, so you’ll know where to eat during the rest of your trip!
As mentioned earlier, cycling is one of the best ways to get around Verona because it’s such a bike-friendly city. So why not make the most of that and get some exercise while sightseeing? Numbers are limited so you won’t be held back by exploring in a big group and you’ll be able to explore far beyond what other visitors will see.
Check out all the usual attractions on the tour like Juliet’s House and Castelvecchio but discover lots of hidden piazzas and green spaces throughout Verona that only the locals know about.
Day trips from Verona
Sirmione on Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, has pristine crystal-clear waters and also just happens to be less than 90-minutes’ drive from Verona. You’ll be treated to a drive through the Italian countryside with gorgeous views and spend the afternoon in Sirmione, one of the liveliest towns on the lake.
Witness the epic vistas from the top of Sirmione’s castle across Lake Garda, explore olive groves and relax on Jamaica beach on the banks of the lake. Taking a day trip to Sirmione on Lake Garda is an absolute must from Verona because the towns are so close by.
Explore the best of both worlds by combining your city break to Verona with a day trip into the nearby Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this tour, you’ll be able to see several different viewpoints from different mountains in the range including Moena, the Val di Fiemme valley, Sass Pordoi, Cavalese, Ortisei and Canazei. You will also get a local guide/driver who will be able to inform you about the geological phenomena of the region and you’ll also have time to explore by yourself.
There really is nowhere like Venice and it’s somewhere you must visit at least once in your life, and it’s only 90 minutes’ drive from Verona with this jam-packed day trip. Explore the sinking city with an included boat trip along the Giudecca Canal and a walking tour with your driver and guide, plus plenty of free time to explore the cathedral, churches and St Mark’s Square as you wish.
Recommended tours in Verona
- Verona Highlights Walking Tour
- Verona Food and Wine Walking Tour
- Risotto and Pasta Cooking Class
- Full-day Lake Garda Tour
- Fascinating Verona: in the Footprints of Romeo and Juliet
- Dolomites Day Tour
- Pagus Wine Tours® – Lake Garda, lunch and Amarone full day wine tour
- Gelato Making Class
- Wine and food tasting tour near the vineyards
- Arena skip-the-line Guided Tour
- Verona Card City Pass
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