Padova is a delightful university town that combines impressive art, beautiful Medieval architecture and a buzzing historic center. It will make for a great side trip during your stay in Venice.

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Having rockstar Venice as a neighbor doesn’t really help. One gets automatically ignored. But there are plenty of reasons to visit Padova. It’s one of the oldest cities in northern Italy, home to an illustrious university, a famous saint, stunning artistic treasures and magnificent piazze.

I’ve put together an itinerary with all the best things to see in Padova that you can cover in one day, just like I did. At the end of the article you’ll find a map summarizing all the places mentioned in this article.

Here’s what you can see in Padova in one day

1. Scrovegni Chapel

The Scrovegni Chapel is one of the highlights of any visit to Padova. It’s a private chapel belonging to the Paduan Scrovegni family, that contains an art masterpiece realized by Giotto: a huge depiction of the Last Judgement. The walls of the chapel are covered in 39 sequential frescoes illustrating the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, culminating in the magnificent Universal Judgement on the wall opposite to the altar. The great realism and the emotional narrative of the scenes will mesmerize you!

Padova-scrovegni-chapelIt is recommended to book the visit to the Scrovegni Chapel at least one day in advance. However, I turned up on the day and got a spot on the first tour available that day. I guess I was simply very lucky, so it’s better to be safe and make your booking – you can’t miss this jewel!

  • Address: Piazza Eremitani, 8
  • Tickets: €13, including entrance to the Eremitani Civic Museum (which I didn’t visit, though).
  • Further info: Scrovegni Chapel website

2. Eremitani Church

 

Just a few steps from the Scrovegni Chapel you’ll find the Eremitani Church. Although fairly simple at first glance, it is truly impressive inside. This huge and peaceful building was one of the most important churches of Padua, but it was badly damaged during WWII (it had the misfortune of being located right next to Padova’s Nazi headquarters).

Padova-eremitani-churchAlmost all of the beautiful frescoes realized by Mantegna in one of the chapels were destroyed. You can pay a small fee to turn the lights on and admire the puzzle-like pieces that have survived.

  • Address: Piazza Eremitani, 9
  • Tickets: free entrance

3. Caffè Pedrocchi

The historic Caffè Pedrocchi opened in Padua in 1831. In its heyday, it was the meeting place for illustrious intellectuals, artists and writers such as D’Annunzio, Balzac and Stendhal. It later became a major gathering point for patriots during the 1848 riots against the Habsburg monarchy.

Padova-Caffè-PedrocchiIt’s located in a stunning building that doesn’t look at all like a standard cafè (in fact, it took me a bit to realize that was it!) and features a series of elegant rooms and meeting venues, the most famous being the Green, the White and Red, representing the colors of the Italian flag.

Although you can dine here, I suggest to visit only for a drink or coffee. Not to miss is their famous caffè Pedrocchi, a mint-flavored coffee. I’ve also heard that the tiramisù is delicious, but I haven’t tried it.

  • Address: Via VIII Febbraio, 15
  • Prices: €5 for a Caffè Pedrocchi, €6 for a slice of tiramisù
  • Further info: Caffè Pedrocchi website  

4. Palazzo Bo and Anatomic Museum

Palazzo Bo is the seat of the university of Padua, founded in 1222. It is one of the oldest European universities and the second oldest in Italy. Illustrious figures studied here, including Copernicus, Erasmus from Rotterdam, the poet Torquato Tasso and Eleonora Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to receive an academic degree.

Padova-palazzo-boThe inner courtyard and the Aula Magna are covered in coats of arms, portraits and other interesting memorabilia. The complex houses also the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe, built in 1594 to carry out anatomy studies.

Palazzo Bo can be visited with guided tours only, which include also a visit to the anatomical theatre.

5. Palazzo della Ragione

 

Just a couple of minutes walk from Palazzo Bo is Palazzo della Ragione, a stunning medieval palace that was once the seat of the local law courts. The interiors are a treasure trove of beautiful frescoes on astrology and interesting items such as a giant wooden horse (commissioned in the XV century for a public carnival), the reproduction of the Foucault’s pendulum (an homage to the connection between Padova and the scientific world) and the stone of shame (used to punish insolvent debtors). 

Padova-palazzo-della-ragioneThe open loggia on the second floor is the perfect place to watch the local street life. Underneath the vaults  there’s a gallery called “Sotto il Salone”, Padova’s 800-year-old covered market, with a fantastic array of artisanal food and wine shops.

  • Address: Piazza delle Erbe, entrance via the staircase “Scala dei Ferri” 
  • Tickets: 6

6. Piazza dei Frutti and Piazza delle Erbe

 

Palazzo della Ragione sits between Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe, the beating heart of Padova’s social life. They are home to bustling markets by day and a lively cafe scene after dusk. Pretty coffee shops and restaurants line their perimeter. 

7. Piazza dei Signori and the Clock Tower

 

Piazza dei Signori is another important piazza in Padova. Perhaps a bit austere compared to the previous two, it is lined with elegant buildings and nice eateries and bars.

Padova-astronomical-clockOverlooking Piazza dei Signori is the imposing astronomical clock tower that dates back to the XIV century and is one of the oldest in the world.

8. The Cathedral of Padova

Only a few steps from Piazza dei Signori is the Dome of Padova. It didn’t particularly impress me, as it’s fairly plain and unadorned.

Padova-cathedralParticularly interesting is the Romanesque Baptistery next door, whose interiors are decorated with a series of beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament.

  • Address: Piazza del Duomo
  • Tickets: free, but you’ll have to pay €3 to visit the Baptistery 

9. Old Jewish Quarter

 

Just south of Piazza delle Erbe is the old Jewish Ghetto, founded in 1603 and then abolished in 1797. Here you can visit the interesting Museum of Jewish Padova and take a guided tour that brings you also to the synagogues.

Padova-old-jewish-quarterI found this part of town particularly charming, with its little porticoed and cobblestone streets and the cute little shops.

  • Address: Via S.Martino e Solferino
  • Tickets: €8 to visit the Jewish museum 
  • Further info: Museum of Jewish Padova  

10. Basilica of Saint Anthony

 

This is Padova’s most important religious site and a much revered pilgrimage location, since it houses the tomb of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of the city and a key religious figure known for his kindness towards children, the poor and the sick.

Padova-basilica-of-saint-anthonyPilgrims gather to pray and place their hands on the marble slab covering the tomb of Saint Anthony, and then reach the Treasury Chapel to venerate the relics of the saint. Here you can see, among other things, the saint’s tongue and his vocal apparatus, symbolically witnessing his work of evangelization. Visiting this basilica is a truly profound and unforgettable experience, even for non-believers.

11. Botanical Garden

 

The Botanical Garden of Padova is the oldest university botanical garden still in its original location. It was founded in 1545 and is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997.  The garden serves as a repository for botanical knowledge and hosts about 7,000 precious plant and flower species, including a huge oriental plane that was planted in the garden in 1680.

Padova-botanical-gardenThe Botanical Garden is a nice hidden corner of town where you can take a refreshing walk under the shade of the trees especially in warm summer days. The place is dotted with benches where you can pause to admire the plants.

12. Basilica of Saint Giustina

 

The Basilica of Saint Giustina is the second most important pilgrimage site in Padova after the Basilica di Saint Anthony. It is huge indeed and contains some interesting paintings and artworks.

The church is dedicated to Giustina, the other patron saint of Padova, and houses the tomb of Luke the Evangelist.

  • Address: Prato della Valle
  • Tickets: free entrance

13. Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle is one of Padova’s landmarks. It sits at the very end of via Roma, the town’s main street, and is therefore the perfect spot to end your walk around Padova. With its 90,000 square meters, Prato della Valle is the biggest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. At the center of the square there is a grassy park surrounded by a water ring dotted with 78 statues of famous citizens, which makes it truly unique.

Padova-Prato-della-VallePrato della Valle is a favorite gathering spot for the locals and during the warm months people flock here to sunbath, play football or simply chat under the shade. Quick tip: on Saturdays the square hosts a huge market and you’ll hardly be able to take decent photos and enjoy the beauty of the place.

 

How to get to Padova

Traveling to Padova from Venice is easy and cheap. The train trip from Venezia Santa Lucia or Venezia Mestre to Padova takes about 30-45 minutes. Remember that with Trenitalia  you can choose between two types of trains: the regional train costs €4,25, while the Frecciarossa high speed train will cost you €18 and would save you just about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch a train with Italo prices are currently €10 for a 30-minute train ride . Of course, you can reach Padova very easily also from Milan, with trains departing regularly from the Central Station.

USEFUL TIPS

  • I suggest to buy a PadovaCardIt costs €16 and allows you to visit all key sites for free or at a reduced rates (including the Scrovegni Chapel) and to use the public transports for 48h
  • I had a delightful lunch at Caffè della Piazzetta in the old Jewish quarter, while for dinner I tried Nane della Giulia , an old-school trattoria serving delicious traditional food in a cozy ambience.
  • If you are planning to stay overnight (and I highly recommend it), a good place is Hotel S. Antonio in via S. Fermo, an excellent location within walking distance to the heart of the historic center. Rooms are simple and clean, the staff is great and rates are really good, check it out on Booking.com

 

Until next time,

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37 Comments

Hendrik 14 September 2018 at 11:35

I have been to Verona and Tuscany a couple of weeks a go, a shame that I missed this beautiful spot! Padova looks truly beautiful and reminds me to some other spots I have seen in this area. From your recommendation it seems really to be the perfect spot to be explored on one day. Especially the Botanical garden looks truly inviting as well as the Scrovegni chapel with its beautiful and colorful paintings. I will put this on my next North Italy road trip list!

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:44

    Yay, I’m sure you’ll love it!

Sarah 14 September 2018 at 12:59

Gosh, this sounds lovely. I’ve never heard of Padova but it looks amazing. Although, I’d love to visit Venice, all the tourist crowds and cruise ships have put me off but Padova looks charming. Thanks for introducing me to it.

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:44

    It would be a great side trip when you visit Venice, it’s just a 30 minute train ride away!

Kate werthmann 14 September 2018 at 17:14

This really makes it seem like the Italians really cared and knew how to make a building! Not only is the outside art of which I’ve rarely ever seen But the insides are always so spectacular I could cry.

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:43

    Ahaha, you are so right, the interiors are usually event more beautiful and full of surprises!

Navita Deshpande 15 September 2018 at 12:51

I have realized I have started to enjoy destinations which have great architecture and historic feel. So glad I stumbled upon this post. There are so many things to see in Padova and for 1 day, loved your recommendations. But your pictures share a story that I would love to cover them on our slow travel. Thanks for the useful tips to enable planning including the overnight stay suggestion for hotel.

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:42

    I agree with you, the more time you have the better but I’ve noticed that Padova is usually visited in 1-2 days max and I wanted to sow that it’s feasible to cover pretty much all the main sights. It makes for a fantastic side trip from Venice!

Shan Fourie 15 September 2018 at 14:16

It looks absolutely magical ✨

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:40

    And it truly is 😀

Maike 15 September 2018 at 19:32

This post brings back so much memory. I‘ve been to Padova almost 15 years ago. It is such a lovely city – one of my favourites 🙂

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:40

    Really! Love reading this 🙂

Eric Gamble 15 September 2018 at 21:52

I totally flaked when I first started reading this. I was like, I have never heard of Padova where the heck in Italy is this? Then I realized that I know it as Padua where the famed St. Anthony of Padua is from. I cant believe I have never been there before! I am definitely adding this to my return trip to Italy! I love all the amazing art everywhere from the churches to the walkways. Also there is something truly amazing about an Astronomical Clock to me! I could just sit in the square staring at it for hours!

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:40

    It’s a true gem with so many pretty piazze for al fresco drinks and people watching 🙂

Kristie 16 September 2018 at 04:01

I adore Italy. I’ve been there three times (even got married there…in Florence), but I have not been to Padova. I agree with you that the less touristed cities are often so much more enjoyable. I definitely feel this way about Verona (though it gets a fair amount of tourists, too). I can’t imagine going to such a beautiful university as Padua!

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:39

    Amazing!! So this is one for your fourth trip! 😉

Toti and Alessia 16 September 2018 at 11:16

Padova is really amazing, We have passed by and it’s becoming one of the best not a crowded city in northern Italy. We still have a lot of friends coming from there.

    admin 16 September 2018 at 14:38

    Glad to read this! It was my first visit and I loved it 🙂

Daniel James 16 September 2018 at 15:45

I love coffee and so used to drinking it in Latin America that I’ve not had time to miss it. Cafe Pedrochi sound AMAZING and would definitely have to try one of those mint flavoured coffees. At 5 euros, though, i’d have to take midget sips to endure the flavour.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:53

    Ahaha, well it’s something to try especially if you are a coffee lover and then the location is really interesting 😉

Adrenaline Romance 16 September 2018 at 16:19

Very beautiful! I love the frescoes. Those are amazing works of art. And Padova’s botanical garden looks really zenlike and solemn.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:51

    Thanks, glad you liked this article!

WhodoIdo 16 September 2018 at 17:30

What a charming city! How have I not heard of this stunning city and it’s only a 30 min train ride away from Venice. This is a great day trip to take from Venice to get away from the tourists. Padova is filled with beautiful arts, architecture and many cafes. Looks like I’ll need to visit the Caffe Pedrocchi and sample the famous tiramisu!

Nicole 16 September 2018 at 19:50

I think the question is where in Italy isn’t there a beautiful town!?? I loved the photos and the description of what there is to see and do. I would definitely love to visit the gardens and walk the streets, eating of course! It is too bad not more is done to encourage tourists to Venice to spend time in Padua, especially when the tourists put such a strain on Venice.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:51

    Oh yes, that’s the real question Nicole!

Amar singh 16 September 2018 at 20:09

Posts like these show us new places. I had never heard of Pedova also before this. The architecture is very close to that of Venice specially the square. Palazzo Bo looks seasons and a great place to stroll around. Keeping in mind easily accessible from Venice makes it a great place to visit if you going to Venice. Thanks for sharing.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:50

    Thanks Amar! My purpose is exactly this – to show you guys all the beauty of Italy, which is much more than just Venice-Florence-Rome, and I’m really happy when I receive comments like yours! 🙂

Priya Florence Shah 16 September 2018 at 22:57

Such beautiful architecture! I’ve never heard of Padova but I feel like visiting it now just to admire these beautiful buildings. Of course, I would visit a bunch of other places in Italy too.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:49

    So many beautiful places here in Italy, isn’t it 🙂

Medha 17 September 2018 at 05:33

A small town with a bunch of lovely places to see! You’re right, I’ve never heard of Padova and that’s probably because all the spotlight is on Venice and its smaller (probably even more charming) neighbours obviously get ignored! I love the Scrovegni Chapel, the depiction of the Last Judgement is truly an artistic masterpiece! Also, Prato Della valle looks like the sort of place I’d love to enjoy a walk! Such a lovely town, thanks for highlighting it.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:48

    Thanks a lot Medha! I would definitely recommend taking at least a day trip to Padova when visiting Venice!

Blair Villanueva 17 September 2018 at 05:44

I think in Italy, aside from museum hopping you can also so church hopping. Their church structure are magnificent that still stands nowadays, and survived many earthquakes and nature disasters.
It would nice to have a bicycle and roam around the city 😀

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:47

    Oh yes, that would be a fantastic way to explore! 🙂

federica 17 September 2018 at 10:39

Padova is a real gem and too often ignored because of its vicinity to Venice. I am grateful for this post that will help more foreigners to get to know this wonderful city and discover its stunning art treasures.

    Val 4 November 2018 at 20:46

    Thanks Federica! I myself am one of those who’s been ignoring Padova for so long and what a mistake! It’s a truly charming town to explore!

Alexander Popkov 17 September 2018 at 22:40

Padova isn’t a large well-known city for tourists, but there is just so much to see! Not surprising that Italy collects so many travelers every year.

    Val 19 September 2018 at 20:52

    True! And being so close to Venice, it would be such a shame to miss it!

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Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I'm Valentina, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share my expert knowledge of itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local.

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