Welcome to this guide on things to do in Padua, Italy.
Padua is one of the most important cities in the Veneto region, after Venice.
A popular Italian saying states: ‘Venice the beautiful, Padua its sister’ as even Padua is a real trove of art and architectural treasures worth discovering.
The city of Padua is known for its centuries-old university, the cobbled-stoned and largest piazza in Italy called Prato della Valle and Giotto, the talented fresco painter that lived during the late Middle Ages.
Things to do in Padua in one day
Are you planning a day trip from Venice to Padua? If so, keep reading the post to find out the best things to do in Padua during one day or more in the city.
Where is Padua, Italy?
Padua, also called Padova in Italian, is a province of the Veneto region, located in northeast Italy. It’s 42 kilometres away from Venice and it takes 40 minutes to get from the lagoon city to Padua by car.
Padua is known for the second-oldest university in the world, the public square Prato della Valle, the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto and the St. Anthony Basilica also called ‘il Santo’.
Is Padua Worth Visiting?
Padua is far less popular compared to Venice, but it’s definitely worth a day trip if you’re spending a few days in Veneto’s capital city.
Padua is the city of ‘Il Santo’ as the locals call him and the reference goes to Saint Anthony, the patron saint whose relics are kept inside the Basilica, one of the largest Catholic churches in the world.
The city of Padua has got two UNESCO sites: the Orto Botanico (botanical garden) and the 14th-century frescoes by Giotto located in 8 buildings and monuments scattered all around the city centre, with Scrovegni Chapel being the most famous.
This is one of the region’s largest cities and there’s a lot of history surrounding it and a huge amount of things to do in Padua. Only a few know that Padua is also called the city of the ‘Tre Senza’ (three without). First, because it’s the city of the basilica called only ‘Il Santo’ without his name, the famous café Pedrocchi which doesn’t have doors and the lawn without grass which is Prato della Valle.
When in Padua, don’t miss a walk around the cobbled-stoned city squares:
- Piazza delle Erbe
- Piazza della Frutta
- Piazza dei Signori
Medieval public squares where usually locals meet up after 5 pm to have their beloved glass of Aperol Spritz.
While you are in this region I invite you to consider visiting other towns and cities in northern Italy to get a better idea of how unique daily life is.
How many days in Padua?
In Padua, there’s quite a lot you can visit and many things to do. I recommend spending 3 days in Padua to have time to visit each attraction, explore its streets and lovely piazzas, and add a few off-the-beaten-path sights to your itinerary.
You can also visit the city in less time, in fact, many people visit Padua from Venice for the day. That would mean leaving out some attractions or rushing into visiting as many landmarks as possible in less than 24 hours.
How to get to Padua from Venice?
Padua is 40 kilometres away from Venice, and only 28 minutes away by train. Considering that it’s just a short train ride, Padua is a recommended day trip from Venice and if you want to explore other parts of the Veneto region.
To get to Padua from Venice, take the train from Santa Lucia railway station. The regional fast train ticket price is 4,60 euro.
You can identify this train by the initials RV in front of the number of the train (avoid the train with the initial R as it’ll take an extra half an hour to get there).
If you choose to get a Frecciarossa train, the ticket price is more or less 16 euro, so double check you’re selecting the correct ticket type when purchasing it at the machine or ticket office.
Travelling from Venice to Padua by car, it’s a slightly longer trip than by train.
Just take the motorway A4/E70 and when you’re in Mestre take the road with direction Via S. Marco Padua and after 22 kilometres, take the exit Padua Est.
Padua to Venice by boat
Padua and Venice have a long trading relationship and the two cities are well-connected to each other, not only by land but also by water.
The Brenta river and other minor canals had an invaluable role in allowing noblemen to travel from Padua to Venice by boat.
Today you can still experience this journey on the water, by joining this Padua to Venice boat cruise via the Brenta Riviera.
During the trip you’ll have the chance to see many Venetian villas on your way to Venice and visit accompanied by an expert guide Villa Pisani’s gardens, Villa Widman and Villa Foscari.
Got travel insurance for Padua?
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Things to do in Padua
Now, let’s find out more about what to see in Padua, the most important landmarks and places to visit that will make you fall in love with this city.
Prato Della Valle
Prato della Valle is a square of enormous dimensions, with an area of over 80,000 square meters, this is one of the largest in Europe.
It is characterized by a 1.5 kilometres circumference canal surrounded by 78 statues depicting famous people from the past.
There’s a central garden area called the Memmia Island, connected by 4 bridges. The square has always been the hub of city life because it was once a Roman theatre and a horse racing club.
Today it’s a meeting place for locals and tourists who can simply take a relaxing walk around the square, ride a bike, sunbathe and in summer attend concerts and events.
Basilica of Saint Anthony
The Basilica of Saint Anthony is one of the most remarkable religious places in the Christian world.
Locals consider the church as the ‘abode of the Saint’, who is also the patron and protector of the city of Padua. The Basilica is a mix of different architectural styles, from Romanesque to Gothic, which coexists beautifully with each other.
Inside the basilica, the relics of Saint Anthony are preserved (in special display cases, visible to the public). One of the most visited chapels is the Chapel of the Relics (Treasury Chapel) where the tongue, chin and vocal apparatus of the Saint are kept.
In total, there are seven chapels and an ambulatory inside the magnificent church in Gothic style. Stare at the fabulous frescoes inside and stop by the equestrian monument to Donatello’s Gattamelata outside.
Cappella degli Scrovegni
The genius of the medieval painter Giotto is perfectly reflected inside the Cappella degli Scrovegni, one of the best things to see in Padua.
From the outside, the small church is no different from many others, but the inside is unbelievably stunning!
Here you can admire the extraordinary Giotto’s cycle of frescoes that have made the Scrovegni Chapel one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Padua.
The artist was commissioned to decorate this building dedicated to Reginaldo Scrovegni by his son Enrico in 1303. Giotto completed the frescoes cycle in just two years, setting the foundations for a more modern painting.
Ancient Jewish Ghetto
One of the best things to do in Padua city centre is to sneak around the streets of the Jewish Ghetto, also known as the ‘Ghetto’.
At the south side of the Piazza delle Erbe, a labyrinth of narrow streets winds up forming the Jewish Ghetto, which operated since 1603 and was abolished in 1797, the year in which, under the pressure of the French Revolution, Jews were declared free and equal.
Here it’s also located the Jewish Museum, where you can learn about events and rituals of the Jewish community of Padua from its origins to today. It can be found in the first and largest Ashkenazi Synagogue.
Piazza delle Erbe and Palazzo della Ragione
If you’re wondering where locals meet up in Padua, then Piazza delle Erbe and the nearby Piazza della Frutta are first on the list.
The squares’ names derive from their ancient commercial function, in fact, in these squares, the herbs and fruit markets were held respectively.
This square is connected to the nearby Piazza della Frutta by the covered passage known as ‘Volto della Corda’.
Wandering around the covered porticoes and markets of these two piazzas is two of the best things to do in Padua.
In Piazza delle Erbe is located Palazzo della Ragione, one of the symbols of Padua. Inside this splendid building, there’s a large hall which can be found on the first floor.
This was for centuries the largest in the world. The interior is characterized by a single room 27 metres and 80 metres wide, its walls are completely frescoed with elegant and fascinating paintings.
The Botanical Garden of Padua was founded in 1545 and is the oldest in the world and the only one that can still be found in its original location.
In 1997, the Botanical Garden became a UNESCO Heritage Site and is now part of the University of Padua. It hosts about 7,000 plant species and also has a Biodiversity Garden, inaugurated in 2014.
The garden was created with the purpose to grow plants for medicinal solutions, and over the years species from all over the world have been added.
Five different natural environments have been recreated: the Mediterranean scrub, the alpine rocks, the freshwater environment with thermal spring, the succulent plants and the tropical greenhouse of orchids.
Padua Hop-on Hop-off Tour
Visiting Padua on foot could be tiring for some people. For this reason, I recommend getting this 24 hour ticket for the Padua Hop-on-Hop-off Tour.
This bus stops by the main attractions and landmarks in Padua city centre, such as the Basilica of Saint Anthony and Padua University.
Take your time to visit the attraction you’re more interested in, and get back on the bus to keep exploring the rest of the city.
You can hop on and off the bus all the times you want for 24 hours. A multilingual recorded commentary is available onboard.
Visiting Padua, Italy FAQs
Here are some questions people ask when it comes to travelling to Padua.
Things to do in Padua
Padua is a great destination for a weekend in Veneto, and you should now have a better idea of the things to do in Padua.
This city is a perfect day trip from Venice if you’re staying in Venice for a few days.
Read my guide that covers the day trips from Venice so you can find out about all the other day trips you can plan during your stay in Veneto’s capital city.
📌 Like this article? Click to Pin it…
If you found this Venice travel guide helpful, feel free to buy me a virtual coffee here.
“Dear traveller! Some links in this post contain affiliate links. Meaning, if you click through and make a tour booking or reserve a hotel, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support means a lot to me and helps me to keep creating and maintaining the quality of this site for you.”