This is a guest article by Alice, travel blogger at Adventures of Alice. Wanderluster, freelance writer and author of The Ultimate Guide to Affordable Luxury Travel, Alice is an avid adventurer. Based in England, she gave up her soul-sucking career in IT sales to chase her dreams of travelling and writing stories. Now, she helps people save money and travel the world and has helped hundreds travel longer, cheaper and in style!
Verona was the first place I visited in Italy and it’s honestly such an overlooked and picturesque Italian city! With so much dedicated to Romeo and Juliet the city basically sings romance and the stunning amphitheatre in the centre of the main piazza, just adds to that classic Italian charm.
Even without any references to Shakespeare, there are so many amazing things to see in Verona. Plus, it’s only an hour from the canals of Venice, 30 minutes from the tranquillity of Lake Garda and 2 hours from the incredible sights of Milan. So, it also makes the perfect base for a multi-destination Italian trip. So, here are some of the best things to see in Verona.
Quite simply, this is the centrepiece of Verona and the truly magnificent amphitheatre sits in the main square. Not quite as spectacular as Rome’s Colosseum, however, since the Verona Arena still holds plays and concerts in the summer months, it does have its upsides! Entrance is €10 and is also included in the Verona card.
You simply can’t visit Verona and not see Juliet’s balcony; it’s by far one of the best things to see in Verona. It’s actually hidden down a secluded alleyway off the main square, however, the crowd of people outside might alert you to its whereabouts. I definitely recommend visiting as early in the day as possible if you don’t want to spend at least half an hour being jostled and pushed at the entrance! However, regardless of the crowds, this isn’t somewhere you’ll want to miss.
Famous for being the fictional location of William Shakespeare’s most famous play, this is the balcony is where Juliet called down to Romeo: ‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo!’. Aside from being the setting of the most famous line of the most romantic play of all time, Juliet’s balcony is also somewhere to visit if you’re in need of a little luck.
The gold statue of Juliet in the courtyard is actually worn down from travellers and tourists rubbing the right breast for good luck. Personally, I think this is rather strange considering how the play ends! But if it does bring you luck, it’s certainly worth it!
Lastly, if you’re a keen photographer or enjoy quirky murals, then you’ll also love a visit here. The alleyway leading to the balcony is covered in love-notes as it’s said that if you leave a declaration of love on the walls of Juliet’s balcony, your love will become eternal. However due to people sticking their notes up with chewing gum, you can now be fined up to €500 for leaving a note! So, it’s probably safer to stick with rubbing Juliet’s statue!
This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Verona. Castlevecchio and Castlevecchio’s bridge have a certain charm to them and the beautiful russet colour of the brick against the bright blue of the river, just adds to it!
The castle was the home of the Scaliger family in the 14th century and the bridge was created to help them escape if they were ever under attack. Although the castle isn’t very decorative compared to castles in other beautiful cities in Europe, it’s an important part of Verona’s history and an incredible example of gothic architecture.
By far the busiest piazza in Verona, the Piazza Bra is the perfect spot to begin your exploration of the city. Bustling with activity from street art to live music, Piazza is certainly charming. The impressive Arena is in the centre of the square, it’s surrounded by restaurants and cafés and it also has a number of pretty little shopping streets branching off of it.
However, if you are thinking that Piazza Bra would be a great place to eat, just be aware that most of the restaurants here are typical tourist restaurants with food cards and sales people trying to drive you inside. The food is okay, but likely overpriced compared to more local, and less tourist-convenient restaurants.
Torre de Lamberti
I can never resist a birds-eye view of a city and the beautiful Torre de Lamberti gives you just that! Towering over the Piazza Delle Erbe, the impressive tower was originally built in 1172. It was then tragically struck by lightning in 1403, and restoration works didn’t start until 1448, a whopping 45 years later!
Nevertheless, I’m really glad they did restore it because the views from the top are incredible! You can either take the stairs or the elevator up the 84 meters to the top of the tower – I opted for the stairs and it wasn’t too awful a climb!
If you are planning on visiting the Torre de Lamberti, here’s a few tips. There’s a little café directly opposite the entrance where you can buy delicious snacks – perfect if you’re a bit peckish after the climb! The Piazza Delle Erbe where the tower is located, sometimes has a wonderful market on. You can sample some truly delicious home-made Italian foods and also buy trinkets and handmade arts and crafts too. Lastly, the Torre de Lamberti is included on the Verona Card, so if you’ve purchased this (which I recommend), then you can technically get in for free!
Ponte Pietra Bridge
Verona is full of beautiful Roman bridges and Ponte Pietra is one of my favourites. Another example of fine Italian craftsmanship, the bridge is the perfect stop on your way to the castle below. It’s a different design to the Castlevecchio bridge but was completed in just 100 BC and it the oldest bridge in Verona. The rapids underneath can also get quite ferocious and, if you’re the adventurous type, you might actually fancy water rafting on the river in the summer.
Castle San Pietro
Another location for gorgeous panoramic views over Verona, this castle is perched high on a hilltop overlooking the city. The medieval fortress is surrounded by beautiful greenery, which might make up for the fact that it’s quite a climb to the top! You can actually pay to take a funicular up the final leg of the climb or opt for stairs.
The castle is actually the largest historical building in Verona, but besides the incredible view, there’s actually not that much history to see. Nevertheless, I still think it’s one of the best things to see in Verona and is quite peaceful to admire the traditional brown-topped Italian houses and the blue of the River Adige as it snakes through the city.
Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
Italy has no shortage of beautiful churches and this one actually contains a crypt which was the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding. Finished in 1398 AD, the beauty of the Italian architecture both inside and outside this church will fascinate you. It’s actually one of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples of Romanesque architecture in northern Italy and one of the best things to see in Italy.
Day Trip to Lake Garda
Although it’s not technically in Verona, Lake Garda is so close, it’s the perfect day trip from the city. It’s also such a beautiful place to visit and it’s really easy to get to as Italy’s train system is super-efficient.
You could spend a day wandering the hilly and cobbled streets around the lake or taking a boat to Sirmione and seeing the beautiful Scaligero Castle, the most well preserved of Italy’s castles and, in my opinion, the prettiest. You could also visit the Grotte di Catullo, an impressive archaeological site which includes a Roman villa or, if you’re visiting with the whole family, why not take the kids to Gardaland Theme Park? Either way, Lake Garda is a brilliant day trip from Verona and certainly has plenty of things to see.