History, pizza and star-crossed lovers: the 15 best things to do in Verona
If you know of Romeo and Juliet, you’ve probably heard about the fair city of Verona. Located in Northern Italy’s Veneto region, it’s roughly 2 hours from Venice and has been ruled by both Roman and Venetian empires. There are plenty of things to do in Verona, from watching an opera in their ancient arena to exploring the city’s ancient monuments, not to mention having some gelato when all the sightseeing is done.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is the perfect place for star-crossed lovers, friends and solo travellers alike, so we’ve created the perfect list of things to do in Verona to fill you with inspiration.
1. Explore Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s balcony and house) and leave a note for Juliet
Juliet’s Balcony :@vise_a
Let’s start with the spot which attracts thousands of hopeless romantics from around the world, shall we? William Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, was set in Verona and features the duelling Capulet and Montague families and their in-love children. The play’s tragic ending for the ill-fated lovers has resonated with people throughout history to the modern day. While Shakespeare’s play was fictional, it is thought to be inspired by real people and events; which is why you’ll find the city crawling with references and significant locations.
Casa di Giulietta is one of the key things to do in Verona. The play’s heroine Juliet has been further immortalised in this real-life house and balcony originally owned by the Cappello family, dating back to the 13th century. It’s now a popular destination for travellers to visit, and of course stand on the balcony saying the iconic line: “Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo?”
There’s also a bronze statue of Juliet outside the house, which is a popular Insta spot. But be prepared to battle a lot of people for your chance of a photo! There’s also a lucky ritual which involves rubbing the statue’s right breast, that’s said to help those seeking love…
For all those unlucky in love, you can leave a letter to Juliet or write on the archway leading to her house. This activity inspired the 2010 film Letters to Juliet. Tickets to go inside the house and stand on the balcony cost €6 for adults. On the first Sunday of every month from October to May, admission is only €1!
Monday: 1:30pm – 7:30pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:30am – 7:30pm (last admission 6:45pm)
2. Watch a show at Verona Arena
Verona Arena :@albertobigoni
When you think of an ancient amphitheatre you’ll likely think of Rome, but did you know that the city of Verona has one that still holds regular performances? This impressive arena was built in the first century (it’s even older than the one in Rome) and has hosted everyone from gladiators to One Direction. It seats 30,000 people and was the 8th biggest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. In summer it hosts the Verona Opera Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors and famous international performers.
This is one of the key things to do in Verona and the arena is open all year round, with tickets costing €10 (€7.50 for a reduced ticket). For real bang for your buck, from October to May it only costs €1 on the first Sunday of every month.
Tuesday-Sunday: 8.30 a.m.- 7.30 p.m. (the ticket office closes at 6:30 p.m.)
Monday: 1.30 p.m.- 7.30 p.m. (the ticket office closes at 6:30 p.m.)
3. Visit Piazza Bra
The Piazza Bra is a major Verona attraction, filled to the brim with restaurants and shops. This is where you’ll find Verona’s famous Arena and plenty of shopping to fill an entire day. While it’s picturesque, be careful to avoid tourist traps like cheap souvenirs and overpriced food. Take some glorious Insta snaps and go grab some pizza at the piazza!
Take the time to wander around this beautiful space, admiring the historic buildings of Gran Guardia, which was one of the first buildings in the square, and Palazzo Barbieri (Verona’s town hall) that was built in the early to mid-1800s. The square also has a fountain called the Fontana Delle Alpi that’s been labelled “lemon squasher” by locals for its similar shape. The fountain was created to commemorate the relationship between Verona and its twin city of Munich.
4. Get some gelato from Venchi 1878
Can you really go to Italy and not have gelato? This is a question that you already know the answer to. But if you’re not keen to blow your entire budget on ice cream, save yourself for this one place. Venchi 1878 is an Italian institution with locations all over Europe. The chocolatier sells a variety of gelato flavours that are ideal to cool you down from Verona’s notorious heat. Stop by the shop near Casa di Giulietta for a refreshing treat while you wander down the dreamy streets.
5. Explore the Basilica di san Zeno
This stunning basilica of Romanesque design is a beautiful place to visit in Verona. It’s also famous for being the place of marriage for the lovers in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Attracting both fans of literature and architecture, the Basilica dates back to the 12th century and is lauded for its intricate design. It was named after the saint Zeno and was built upon the spot where he was buried in 380. Inside the Basilica, you can admire breathtaking artwork and sculptures which hold great religious and cultural significance to Verona. Admission is only €3. What are you waiting for? Time to get your culture on!
March to October
Monday to Friday: 8:30am – 6:00pm (July and August till 6:30pm)
Saturday (+ days before religious holidays): 8:30am – 6:00pm
Sunday and religious holidays: 12:30pm – 6:00pm
November to February
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 1:00pm
Saturday (+ days before religious holidays): 9:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday and religious holidays: 12:30pm – 5:00pm
6. Admire the beauty of the Scaliger Tombs
One of the easiest things to do in Verona is to visit the Scaliger Tombs, as they’re located outside the church of Santa Maria Antica in the city centre. These tombs are dedicated to the Scaliger family that ruled over Verona in the 13th and 14th centuries. The tombs are large, incredibly intricate and gothic in design – providing the perfect spooky setting. It’s also a good chance to understand the impact that the Scaliger family had over the people and legacy of Verona. Plus, tickets only cost €1!
7. Call out for Romeo at Casa di Romeo (Romeo’s House)
While Juliet’s balcony attracts mass crowds, Romeo’s house is lesser known – but it’s in Verona too! Legend suggests that this house was once owned by the Montecchi family and was the home of the real-life inspiration for Romeo. This is private property, so you’ll only be able to marvel at the mansion from the outside (just like Romeo outside Juliet’s house!) There’s an inscription on the front wall with a passage from the Shakespeare’s most famous play. It’s just one of the many Romeo and Juliet locations in Verona that’s drawn visitors for centuries! The house can be seen from the street: Via Arche Scaligere.
8. Get some legendary photos from Castel San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Castle)
View from Castel San Pietro :@rickpsd
This viewpoint is ideal for photographers trying to get that perfect shot of Verona as charming skyline views await. The hill is home to the Castello Visconteo, a large medieval fortress built over the 13th and 14th centuries. The hill was originally home to the ancient Saint Peter’s church, where the castle got its name. The castle itself is not open for visitors, but this hilltop is a vital place to visit for the town’s best views. Nearby is an ancient Roman theatre, that was estimated to have been built in the late 1st century which you’re free to roam around. There’s a staircase leading from the Ponte Pietra that will take you straight to the top, or you can get there via funicular (€2 for a return ticket).
9. Eat at Piazza delle Erbe
Formerly a Roman forum, this major town square is now a stunning hub for shopping and dining. This is a great spot to visit if you want to get a feel for the historic vibe of this ancient city. Be sure to check out the Torre del Gardello – a clock tower built in 1370. There’s also a fountain called Fontana dei Madonna Verona, which celebrates the beauty of the city in the representation of Madonna.
It would be wrong to not stop for some authentic Italian food while in Verona, no? If you still have some room left for more carbs on your adventure around Italy, grab a bite of pizza or indulge in a bowl of pasta in this historic square. As this area is the most central neighbourhood in Verona, expect to pay a lot for food. Otherwise, walk off the path down the side streets where you’re bound to find a cheaper meal. If you want to be close to the action, stop by Berbere Verona nearby for some well priced pizza. Yum!
Now that you have a full stomach, it’s time to see the rest of Verona!
10. San Francesco al Corso: Juliet’s Tomb
Giulietta’s Balcony : @marcelheil
This unassuming monastery features quite a bizarre sight in its crypts – Juliet’s tomb. The 1594 narrative account of Verona by Girolamo del Corte reportedly features the real story of Romeo and Juliet that took place in 1303 and inspired the events of Shakespeare’s iconic play. The tomb has had a superstitious and spiritual following, with many visitors over time removing fragments which has led to its decay. In 1910, a marble bust of Shakespeare was placed in the tomb to further fuel the hype for fans of the play.
Underneath this monastery lies an ancient block, believed to be where Juliet died. This eerie sight is a must-visit for any Shakespeare fan. Tickets cost €4.50 for adults. You can buy a joint ticket for Juliet’s tomb and house for €7.
Tuesday – Sunday: 8:30am – 7:30pm
11. Wander around the Museo di Castelvecchio
Puente Pietra :@rickpsd
This museum’s architecture is a piece of art itself! Inside this romantic former castle, you’ll find around 200 artefacts and paintings from the region. There’s a mixture of Renaissance and Venetian paintings by renowned Italian artists.
If you don’t wish to go inside the museum, you can walk around the castle that was a crucial stronghold during the Scaliger dynasty in the Middle Ages. It rests just outside Verona’s walls and is a fantastic example of Gothic architecture from the era. Then walk along the bridge for views that will make your followers jealous!
Full price tickets cost €6. From October to May, tickets cost €1 on the first Sunday of the month.
Monday: 1:30pm – 7:30pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:30am – 7:30pm
12. Visit the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Achille Forti
If you’re an art lover and keen to see some of Verona’s best pieces, stop by the modern art gallery in the city centre. This small museum houses artworks from the mid-19th and 20th centuries, including works from Italian artists like Umberto Boccioni and Giorgio Morandi.
The museum is located in the Palazzo della Ragione, a stunning 12th century building within the central Piazza delle Erbe square that was once used as the city hall and municipal offices during the Venetian take over. You can also go up the building’s bell tower: Torre dei Lamberti. Entry is €8, but for the views it’s worth it!
On Sundays you can take a free guided tour of the building and the museum to learn more about its use over time and gain more insight to the works on display.
A full price ticket costs €4. From October to May on the first Sunday of each month, entry is only €1!
Address: Mercato Vecchio courtyard – 37121 Verona
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11:00am – 7:00pm (last admission 7:15pm)
13. Take a stroll around the Giardino Giusti Gardens
Giardino Giusti Gardens : Esther Westerveld
Unleash your inner romantic by wandering around these dreamy Renaissance gardens, named after the family who have maintained them since 1591. Legend also says that lovers that find each other in the garden’s labyrinth are destined to be together forever! These sprawling and impeccably maintained gardens are well worth a visit, particularly for those who are looking for romantic things to do in Verona. They’ve inspired royalty, poets and artists (including Mozart!) – why not walk in their footsteps?
The gardens aren’t far from the city centre, and you can access them via the 72 or 73 buses which stop at XX Settembre. Don’t miss the chance to walk around this little piece of heaven on a sunny day.
Entry costs €10 for adults (€7 for students).
Monday to Sunday: 9:00am – 7:00pm
14. Stay at The Hostello
When all the sightseeing is done, it’s time to sleep! If you want to stay somewhere just as romantic as the city streets, look no further than The Hostello. It’s located near the University of Verona in the Veronetta district, a hip neighbourhood full of cool bars, galleries and clubs. Plus, you’re only a short walk from the town’s major sights. Indulge in their free breakfast, meet other backpackers in their games room, then go and explore this mysterious town!
With a calming vintage vibe throughout, you’ll feel like grabbing a quill, some ink, and writing a sonnet about your long-lost love…
- Free breakfast
- Free towels
- Book exchange
- Common room
- Games room
Address: Via Venti Settembre 80, 37129
Nearest Stations: Via Venti Settembre 89 I bus station and Verona Porta Vescovo train stationBook The Hostello now
15. Day trip: take a wine tour through the Veneto region
Vineyards in Verona, :@spantax
Find your inner bougie self by going on a wine tour around Verona’s neighbouring towns. Not only is this a fun thing to do in Verona, you’ll also get to understand a very culturally significant aspect of Italy. Did you know that the Veneto region is the biggest wine producer in Italy? Cheers to that!
If you want to drive a bit further, the town of Prosecco, that produces…yep you guessed it, has some excellent vineyards like Borgoluce, Col Vetoraz and La Farra.
Does backpacking get any classier?
You don’t have to be a tragic poet or star-crossed lover to visit Verona. This ancient city has a fascinating local history, striking architecture, and may have inspired a cultural phenomenon or two. With this list you won’t be wondering what to do in Verona, but rather how to extend your stay!
Have you been to Verona? Do you think we’ve left something off this list? Let us know in the comments!
The post History, pizza and star-crossed lovers: the 15 best things to do in Verona appeared first on Hostelworld Blog.