Here are my tips on what to see in Verona in 2 days, covering all the top sights and attractions of Romeo and Juliet charming town.
Verona is elegant, colorful, very romantic and yes, it will steal your heart even if you are the least sentimental person on earth! Shakespeare’s heroine is all over town, but there are many other interesting sights to explore in Verona, starting from one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in Italy, the Arena. Still not convinced? Ok, what if I tell you that Verona is only an hour away from Venice by train, making it a fantastic place to escape the crowds of gondola-lovers?
Here below you’ll find a list of all the major sights in Verona that you can cover in a couple of days. At the end of the article you’ll find them listed on a map and split by day.
The lovely Piazza Bra is a great starting point to explore the beauties of Verona. It’s the largest piazza in town, with lots of restaurants and bars, overlooked on one side by the neoclassical Palazzo Barbieri, the seat of the local town hall. There’s even a nice little park that provides some shade and a relaxing atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre. However, true rockstar here is the Arena that dominates one side of the piazza.
Tip: if you’re visiting in the summer, you could sit at one of its cute cafés and enjoy a drink while listening to the amazing opera being played in the Arena!
Arena di Verona
The Arena is undoubtedly Verona’s main landmark. This majestic amphitheatre stands in Piazza Bra and it’s just a few decades older than Rome’s Colosseum, being built in built in the I century AD. It’s considered one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in Italy and back in the days it could seat 30,000 people and was used as the stage for brutal gladiatorial games. Today it’s renowned for opera performances and spectacular concerts.
Entry tickets cost €10 and there may be long queues since the early hours of the morning. I visited the Arena just before closing time and there was hardly anyone inside. Plus, it was surrounded by a special atmosphere.
Also, don’t forget that summer means opera season at the Arena, so it’s a good occasion to visit the site in a very unique way. You can check shows, timetables and schedules on the Arena official website. This will be one of the best memories of your time in Italy and I’m pretty sure it will give some goosebumps even to opera skeptics.
Church of Santa Anastasia
This is the largest church in Verona and it’s a true jewel – although you wouldn’t tell from the pretty plain exterior. It was built between the XII and the XV centuries in pure Gothic style, and features stunning interiors that will make you feel like stepping into an art gallery.
There are so many amazing sculptures, paintings and frescoes that you wouldn’t know where to look, the most famous being Pisanello’s St George and the Princess painted above the Pellegrini Chapel. Entrance fee is €3 and you get a free audioguide that gives you a lot of details. Don’t forget to check out the hunchbacks supporting the holy water stoups – it’s said that touching the hump of a a hunchback brings good luck.
Juliet’s balcony is possibly the main reason why most people go to Verona, the pilgrimage site of literary lovers and hopelessly romantic crowds of all ages. When you access the iron gate on Via Cappello, you’ll find a cute courtyard with a bronze statue of Juliet and a wall covered in lockers and love messages. It is said that rubbing the right breast of the statue will help you find your true love.
Juliet’s house is the most crowded place in town, so you really need to go there early if you want to avoid the huge crowds of selfie sticks. I arrived just before 8:30 in the morning and managed to visit the interiors and take some nice pictures without people (it didn’t last long, though). Entrance to the courtyard is free, but you have to pay €6 to go inside the house. There’s not much to see in my opinion, so unless you absolutely want a picture from the balcony, I suggest to skip the visit and just look at the balcony from the outside.
Tip: please, don’t be one of those rude tourists who write love phrases and stick them on the wall of Juliet’s courtyard with a chewing gum! Perhaps you don’t know it, but you can write directly to Juliet! Just put it in one of the red mailboxes you’ll find around and you’ll receive an answer. Check out my post about Juliet’s secretaries to find out more.
Piazza delle Erbe
Once the main gathering spot in town during the Roman Empire, this delightful piazza is framed by beautiful historic buildings such us the local Town Hall with the Lamberti Tower, the Mazzanti Houses with their beautiful frescoed facades, and the grandiose Palazzo Maffei. At the center of the piazza stands the fountain of Madonna Verona and the column of San Marco topped with a lion as a symbol of the neighboring Republic of Venice.
Every day Piazza delle Erbe bustles with colorful market stalls selling everything from tacky souvenirs to fresh local fruit and veggies. This is great for people watching but I think it somehow spoils the views. There are also many cafés and restaurants, but I wouldn’t dine here, they’re just too touristy.
Torre dei Lamberti
While exploring Piazza delle Erbe, one thing not to miss – weather permitting – is Torre dei Lamberti, one of the only remaining towers in Verona (as well as the tallest). This tower has a long history that started in 1171 and continued over the centuries with various additions that gave it its peculiar look. To enjoy the 360° views from the top you can either climb the 368 steps or use the convenient glass lift (It’s an extra €1, guess which way I chose…).
Tickets cost €8, including a visit to the adjacent Gallery of Modern Art. Bear in mind that although the tower stands on Piazza delle Erbe, entrance is from via della Costa.
Piazza dei Signori
Walking through Via della Costa from Piazza delle Erbe takes you to Piazza dei Signori, which is also known as Piazza Dante because it features the statue of prominent Italian poet Dante Alighieri (he came here after he was exiled from Florence in 1302).
Although quieter and smaller compared to Piazza delle Erbe, this piazza hosts a number of beautiful palaces of great historical and architectural value such as the Loggia of the Council, the Palace of the Government and the Domus Nova. Next to Piazza dei Signori you’ll find the Scaliger Tombs, the gothic funerary monuments dedicated to the influential Della Scala family, who ruled Verona in the XIII and XIV centuries.
Ponte Pietra (literally bridge stone) is an impressive Roman bridge that dates back to the I century BC, making it one of Verona’s oldest landmarks. The striking feature of this bridge is its combination of white limestone from Roman times and brick arches from more recent times. This reflects various architectural styles due to various flooding that hit the bridge and required reconstructions.
Ponte Pietra is very picturesque both day and night and offers some great photo opportunities. If you cross it from the city centre you’ll reach the Roman Theatre and Castel San Pietro.
Castel San Pietro
Some of the best views in town can be seen from Castel San Pietro, rising high above Verona. You have two options to reach the castle’s panoramic terrace: you can walk the steps you’ll see in front of you when crossing the Ponte Pietra bridge or you can ride the funicular on the left (the return ticket costs €2). I suggest to use the funicular to ride up and then walk down through the lovely alleys.
The views are really nice up here, but I would skip it if your time in Verona is limited. Unfortunately the castle is closed and cannot be visited, but there’s the nice bar Re Teodorico where you can grab a drink while enjoying the views.
Another top sight in Verona is the cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary overlooking a quiet little piazza. The facade features a large double porch supported by two lions, while the interior is filled with marble columns and artistic treasures, including a painting by the Italian master Titian.
I must confess that this cathedral didn’t impress me much after visiting the magnificent Church of Sant’Anastasia and that of San Zeno. Still, you should include it in your Verona itinerary.
Castelvecchio castle and bridge
Right in the town centre you’ll find an imposing red-brick castle on the banks of the Adige river. This is the second biggest monument in town after the Arena and dates back to the XIV century. Today the castle is home to a civic museum displaying over 600 artworks from the XIV-XVIII centuries, including Mantegna’s Sacra Famiglia and Pisanello’s Madonna della Quaglia. Tickets cost €6.
Castelvecchio is connected to the opposite bank of the Adige river by the picturesque fortified Ponte Scaligero. One of the best things to do here is climbing the stairs to the top of the bridge walls and enjoy the views across the river.
Church of San Zeno
San Zeno is my favorite church in Verona and is dedicated to the local patron saint. It’s outside the city centre and can be reached with a nice 20-minute walk along the Adige river (totally worth it, trust me).
It’s a fine example of Romanesque architecture with a dramatic facade featuring a large window called the “Wheel of Fortune”. The massive interiors is home to a wide array of columns, frescoes and statues, with the masterpiece being Andrea Mantegna’s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, just behind the main altar. There are some stunning bronze doors decorated with 48 detailed panels depicting Bible stories and scenes from the life of St. Zeno.
Entrance costs €3 and Romeo and Juliet fans will be pleased to know that the crypt is said to be the inspiration for the crypt where the couple got married in Shakespeare’s play.
Juliet’s Tomb, or at least the place linked with the burial place of Juliet, is located in the crypt of the former monastery of San Francesco al Corso. Remember that we are talking about a fictional character, though, and what you see is an empty stone coffin.
The real highlight of this place is a Frescoes Museum where you can see some stunning frescoes detached from mansions, churches and convents of Verona between the XIX and XX centuries.
Juliet’s Tomb is about 15-minute walk from Juliet’s House and so much quieter in terms of crowds. Tickets cost €4.50, but you can buy a combined ticket covering both the tomb and the house for €7.
- Verona is easily accessible by train and car from main cities like Milan and Venice. The train ride is less than 2 hours and the walk to the city centre takes approximately 15 minutes (alternatively there are buses). There is also an international airport called Verona Villafranca Airport, which is connected to the city centre with a handy shuttle bus service that costs €6. Verona is pretty compact and you can visit all the places mentioned above by walking.
- Make sure to get a Verona Card, a special tourist card that help you save money as well as time. It costs €20 for 24h (or €25 for 48h) and allows access to most of the tourist attractions and use of the public transports for free.
- For lodging I can recommend the classy Hotel Colomba d’Oro, just a few steps from all major sights. Ladies looking for a unique stay should check out Protezione della Giovane female hostel located in a beautiful XVIII-century building in the historic centre. It’s run by a group of local volunteers and the small amount you pay for a bed here (about €22) is used to cover the costs to help local women in need and refugees. For the ultimate Romeo and Juliet experience, I suggest staying at Il Sogno di Giulietta located right inside Juliet’s courtyard!
- To honor Verona’s culinary tradition, try some rich risotto all’amarone, pastissada with polenta (horse meat stew, made with Amarone wine), bollito misto con pearà (boiled meats with a sauce made of bread) and baci di Giulietta (Juliet’s Kisses, super tasty chocolate and almond cookies named after Shakespeare’s heroine). My favourite restaurants include Osteria del Bugiardo, Trattoria al Bersagliere and Osteria Dogana Vecia, and for pizza I recommend Pizzeria Du de Cope.
- From Verona there are a number of nice day trips that you can take using the train from Verona Porta Nuova station, for example Desenzano del Garda (20 minutes), Padova (40 minutes), Trento (1 hour), Milan (1 hour and 15 minutes) or Venice (1 hour and 30 minutes).
- If you’re looking to do some shopping, head to Via Mazzini and Corso di Porta Borsari, the main shopping streets in Verona. If, like me, you support local artisans when you travel, check out Terra Crea, an incredible ceramic laboratory near the Ponte Pietra bridge.