I didn’t know what to expect. I had limited knowledge of Verona, but then that was part of its appeal. Apart from seeing snippets of the city on the movie Letters to Juliet I only knew Verona concerning Romeo & Juliet.
So, I was looking forward to exploring a destination where I had no expectations.
And I was pleasantly surprised.
You can see most of the top attractions in a day if you want. Two would be good. Or you can be like me, and take it slowly, get a feel for the city and its people, the way of life and move at a slower pace. I spent five days in Verona and loved it.
I would recommend three days as the perfect way to see the sights and still have time to relax and absorb a little of the local culture.
Table of Contents
Day 1 – Food & Wine Tour & Juliet
Day 2 – LCastelvecchio & Christmas Markets
Day 3 – Walking, Shopping & Arena
Day 5 – Castel San Pietro, Tower & best meal ever!
Day 4 – Easy Day of wandering
Where to Eat
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Verona?
That acknowledgement would go to Shakespeare and his romantic tragedy, Romeo & Juliet. You may be interested in visiting Verona to see the house that is said to have been Juliet’s.
And of course, the courtyard where star crossed lovers leave love notes, hoping for an answer or healing for their heartache.
But don’t let that be your only reason to go, because Verona has so much more to experience.
Although Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet brings hordes of tourists each year to Verona, its rich history, evident everywhere from the ancient walls and castle, will leave you wondering why you hadn’t added it to your itinerary sooner.
Verona was founded in the first century BC. In the 13th and 14th centuries, it flourished under the rule of the Scaliger family. An influence you will see everywhere throughout the city.
Located in Northern Italy in the Veneto area, Verona is not a city that a lot of people seem to add to their Italian itineraries. While most of us have places like Florence, Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast on our Italian wish lists, Verona is often forgotten or added as a day trip.
Admittedly, what appealed to me most was its lack of popularity with tourists, unlike those other Italian destinations I mentioned above, and I was excited to visit in Autumn.
Crowds of people are not my favourite thing to endure, particularly in cities. And I was not disappointed. While Florence still boasted a good number of visitors, Verona was noticeably less quiet in late November.
I loved it. It was a pretty city and an easy one to explore on foot.
Once I bought better walking shoes that is! One thing I didn’t do well when packing light.
I would suggest more than a day or two in Verona. I spent six nights there but I took my time each day exploring, relaxing over long lunches and taking peaceful walks along the river.
I prefer slow travel, but for those with limited days, you should allow no less than three days to do the city justice.
It is a city where you could spend more time, staying in an apartment, and relaxing into the local culture by joining evening strolls, late-night dinners in well-frequented bars and bistros and enjoying a slower pace of life.
As hard as it is for a Travel Planner to admit it, I stuffed up my accommodation booking for Verona. I should have listened to the gut feeling that told me I was not happy with my choice and found something else. But I was trying to be a complete cheap arse so I booked my first B&B.
I originally booked it because of it’s close proximity to the train station. I thought it would be an easy five-minute walk as I only had carry-on luggage. What I hadn’t factored on was a fall in the street in Florence a couple of hours before catching the train to Verona and feeling a little bruised and sore.
So, when I arrived in Verona, I decided to take a taxi to the B&B.
Since it was my first time travelling solo, I thought a B&B would be nice. Meet other guests, chat with the owners, relax in the lounge area. But the reality was very different.
The B&B was a 15-minute walk from the centre of Verona, not far really, but it felt a lot further at the end of a long day of sightseeing, and even more so at the thought of walking back into the city for dinner. And back again. By myself. In the dark. Suddenly I wasn’t very brave.
On the whole, the B&B was ok, but with the distance, rude guests and an unwelcome feeling it didn’t feel right. There was nowhere to relax except my room, and after spending two nights in my room from an early hour I decided to cut my losses and book a hotel closer to the city.
Hotel Sanmicheli is a two-star hotel close to the heart of Verona and only a few minutes walk to Piazza Bra and the Arena.
I had a single room which was small but adequate for me. The bathroom was tiny. But the room was impeccably clean, the staff were so friendly and helpful, particularly the gentlemen who checked me in and insisted on pouring me an espresso from the new coffee machine and feeding me breakfast. Again. I hadn’t the heart to tell him I had already eaten!
I was so relieved to be greeted by such a friendly person after my encounter at the B&B. I loved my stay here, and for a solo traveller, it was perfect.
I felt safe at all hours of the day and night and would highly recommend this hotel for someone looking for budget accommodation close to the city centre.
Check out Hotel Sanmicheli here.
My sister and brother-in-law visited Verona three weeks before I did, and they stayed at Il Relais, a beautiful guesthouse located right in the centre of Verona. It has only four rooms, stunning decor and furniture, and a perfect position for exploring the city.
If you are looking to treat yourself and enjoy a luxury stay in Verona then I would recommend you take a look.
Check out Il Relais here.
I am currently finalising my Italian Escape small group tour, that will include Verona. On that trip, I plan on staying at Hotel Aurora which is next to Piazza delle Erbe, a great location to stay in the city with everything in easy walking distance.
Next time I visit Verona on my own, and not with one of my tour groups, I will rent an apartment. I love to cook and would like nothing more than to buy tubs of freshly made tortelloni to cook and serve with lashings of truffle butter.
I found myself a little lonely in Verona on my first solo trip. When travelling off-season it isn’t as easy to connect with other travellers. An apartment would have afforded me the space to work and be creative with my travel journal, and of course to cook.
Day 1 – Food & Wine Tour & Juliet
After arriving late, the previous afternoon, this was my first day exploring Verona.
I had booked myself a Food and Wine Walking Tour for the morning and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Because it was out of season, I was the only participant, so I had the lovely Diana all to myself for what felt like a private tour.
The food, the wine and especially the company was perfect. I will share all the tour details below.
Piazza dei Signori
After eating and drinking my way around Verona with Diana, I looked around the area where the tour ended, Piazza dei Signori where a Christmas Market was set up.
I wanted to come back later to experience the market at night, but I did explore some of the Christmas shops that were temporality set up in the area.
Oh, how I wished I’d had a huge bag to take home, I am a sucker for anything Christmas and it was killing me not to buy decorations.
Piazza dei Signori is a small market square located very close to Piazza delle Erbe. It is where you will find the entrance to the Torre dei Lamberti.
A large statue of the poet Dante Alighieri dominates the square. Unfortunately, this was a little difficult to appreciate properly as the market stalls were set up around the base.
Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House)
I know I need to mention Romeo and Juliet. It is because of the story of these lovers that people flock to Verona. I have to admit it was because I watched the movie Letters to Juliet that Verona appeared on my radar. But it wasn’t a priority for me to pay homage to Juliet’s house.
But I literally stumbled upon it. During my wanders, I tripped in the street outside and whilst steadying myself from falling I looked up to see a crowd of people outside a walkway and when I peered in, I realised that I was here.
So, in I went. I looked around the courtyard, took a photo of the balcony and waited for a chance to take a photo of Juliet’s statue.
I’m glad I went into the courtyard, now I know what everyone is talking about. But it certainly was not the highlight of my trip to Verona.
I ended the day by walking back through Piazza Bra.
Visit Juliet’s House
If you are interested in visiting the museum you can find the details here – Juliet’s House
- Open Monday from 1.30 to 7.30, Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30 to 7.30 (last admission at 18.45)
- Tickets cost €6 for adults, €4.50 reduced, €1 children 8 – 14 and free children 0-7
- Entry is free if you have a Verona Card
Piazza Bra is Verona’s largest Piazza. It sits just inside the Roman walls and is the gateway to Verona.
It is home to many historic buildings, restaurants, cafes and visitors to the city like to sit and enjoy a drink, or a meal and a view of the Verona Arena.
Flanked by Palazzos and the Town Hall, and there is a pretty park in the centre of the Piazza, a nice place to sit and catch your breath after long days of sightseeing. I hobbled to those seats more than once on my visit when my feet protested the many kilometres I had walked.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The pathways of Piazza Bra (and most of the city) are paved with pink marble, beautiful, but be careful if it rains, they are very slippery.
By this time my feet were killing me. And my arm and leg were stiff and sore from my fall in Florence the previous day.
I headed back to the B&B, getting lost along the way, and finally hobbled in the door. It was late afternoon, and I couldn’t fathom walking back into Verona for dinner. I had a quiet night in, again, and quickly decided to find new accommodation.
I didn’t want to waste my nights sitting in a B&B too far away to enjoy the city, and too far for my poor feet to walk.
I scoffed a quick breakfast, told the hostess of the B&B I was leaving and hightailed it out of there.
Again because it was off-season, my new hotel – Hotel Sanmicheli – was not full and I could check in straight away. But not before the manager fed me again and plied me with espresso. I was full! And grateful for his kindness.
I wanted to see the river, and the Castle, so that’s where I headed next.
I stood looking at the river, feeling much better than I had the previous day when I had been worried about what to do about my accommodation.
As I stood looking at the river a man stopped and spoke to me in Italian. When he realised I couldn’t speak Italian, he handed me a map of Verona and said “For you” accompanied with a big smile. Not everyone I encountered in Verona was friendly, but I will always remember that man.
He made my day, and my resolution to keep travelling solo.
Verona is well kept, and there are beautiful walking paths along the river. I spent time wandering along the river and taking in the sights. Verona is such a pretty city and easily walkable.
In late November some Christmas stalls were set up near Ponte Garibaldi, selling items like warm hats and scarves, perfect for anyone who did not come prepared for the cooler weather.
There were also food stalls, but my favourite was Vin Brule (mulled wine). It was nice to walk along the river on a cold afternoon sipping this spicy, warm concoction.
After my morning musings at the river, it was time to explore the castle and bridge. Ponte di Castelvecchio is hard to miss.
Ponte di Castelvecchio (Ponte Scaligero)
Castelvecchio bridge was built in the 1300s from red brick and white marble which gives it a distinctive look.
It spans the Adige River, so I took a wander over to the other side and spent some time relaxing while enjoying the view of the city, the bridge and the castle.
Unfortunately, retreating German troops destroyed the bridge in 1945, but reconstruction commenced some years later and was completed by 1951 replacing the whole bridge minus one of the towers.
The day of my visit was drizzly, and the colour of the river and Verona were soft and muted making the red brick and white marble bridge stand out even more.
Walking along its span, you can stop and look out over the river and the city through peepholes in the bridge.
Built-in the tell-tale red brick of the Scaligero dynasty, Castelvecchio is a no-frills, compact castle.
The castle is distinct with impressive M-shaped merlons, located along the castle and bridge walls. It also has four main buildings inside, seven towers, an elevated keep and a ditch, which would have once been filled with water to serve as a moat.
The castle is now a museum after a reconstruction overseen by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa during 1958 – 1975.
It is striking. You have to love beautiful Italian architecture!
The rooms contain an impressive collection of artwork, mainly religious, and some rooms maintain original frescoes from the 14th century. Other artefacts include gold work, ceramics, weapons, sculptures and statues.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, exploring the castle and museum. I love anything medieval, and if you have the time, I would recommend a visit.
You can find more information on Museo Castelvecchio here.
- Tickets are €6 for adults, €4.50 reduced, €1 children 8 – 14 and free children 0-7
- Entry is free if you have a Verona Card
- Open Monday from 1.30 to 7.30
Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30 to 7.30 (last admission at 18.45)
I asked for a map, or some information at the ticket desk, but was told it was inside. In each room, you will find information boards in several languages.
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My feet were killing me again. It was quickly becoming evident that I would need to do something. I had hobbled through Florence thinking my feet would adjust. But they were getting worse. I looked for somewhere to sit and found a bench by the river in front of the Arco dei Gavi.
Arco dei Gavi
The Arch was built in the first century AD for gens Gavia, believed to be a prominent Roman family of Verona. It was dismantled by French troops in 1805 but in 1932 re-assembled where it now stands next to Castelvecchio.
I spent time wandering along the streets getting pleasantly lost, popping into a store or two before settling on a café for lunch. My stomach could never quite catch up with the Italian dining schedule, and I seemed to find myself in restaurants and cafes way before what seemed dedicated eating times.
Oh well, when you’re hungry, you have to eat!
After lunch, an afternoon siesta back at the hotel and a spot of shopping I headed to the Christmas Markets to see the pretty piazza all lit up for Christmas. The markets are held here from mid-November until Boxing Day.
I browsed the stalls, bought a bread and cheese concoction for dinner and sipped another Vin Brule.
By this time I was exhausted, so I slowly walked back to my hotel, via a few more shops. I seemed to be doing a lot of shopping for someone who only had carry-on luggage.
And as you do in Italy, I stopped at one of the many cafes on Piazza Bra and enjoyed an aperitivo.
I wanted to see past the main sights of the city today, so I just walked. I took tiny laneways and meandered until I came to the river. I had fun taking photos of the colourful buildings and the view from the river up to Castel San Pietra.
I found an excellent chocolate shop, Confetteria Giulietta e Romeo, stocked up on goodies for my room, as you do and explored shops, piazzas and everything in between.
I stumbled across the Scaliger Tombs, five Gothic funerary monuments from the Scaliger family. They are located just outside Piazza dei Signori.
My exploration took me to Ponte Pietra, another medieval bridge build in the distinctive red brick and white marble. A bridge has existed here since before 89AD. However, the bridge you see today is a reconstruction completed in 1959 after being destroyed by German troops in 1945.
I ended my sightseeing by visiting the Arena.
Arena di Verona
The Verona Arena was built in the first century AD.
Over time the Arena has hosted everything from games, tournaments, Gladiator fights and festivals.
Still in use today, the Arena is a unique open-air opera theatre. During the summer months, Opera performances are held regularly. It has also held rock concerts, ballet performances and more.
NOTE: Although tickets are cheaper for seating on the stone steps, it can get a little uncomfortable. Perhaps consider seating in the main arena when committing to a 4-hour Opera performance.
Open for tourists to stroll around the Arena is a fascinating piece of history. I found the arena intriguing and enjoyed spending some time walking around, letting my imagination run wild imagining wild animals and Gladiators roaming its tunnels.
If you don’t have a lot of time in Verona, that’s ok. The Arena is not so large that takes a long time to walk around. During the off-season, you can walk into the centre and get a feeling of what it would be like to be watched by a packed audience.
I climbed the stone stairs, but my fear of heights forced me back a few levels from the top. A shame because I bet the view would have been great.
Located in Piazza Bra, Verona Arena is not an easy site to miss. I enjoyed my visit, however for the ticket price you do not receive any information, so I would recommend doing some research before going or paying extra and joining a guided tour.
NOTE: If you visit during the summer months you will more than likely encounter the arena set up for a performance, and you will have limited access to other areas.
Visit Verona Arena
For Performance tickets you can find the details here – Verona Arena
To see Verona Arena purchase a ticket at the ticket office and wander around.
- Tickets are €10 for adults, €7.50 reduced, €1 children 8 – 14 and free children 0-7
- Entry is free if you have a Verona Card
- Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 8.30 am – 7.30 pm, Mon: 1.30 pm- 7.30 pm – the ticket office closes at 6:30 pm
In the summer the opening hours may change due to performances or events.
You can also book a guided tour. In summer this may allow you to skip the line.
These kind of days are why I like slow travel. I get to see all the sights, but then I get to relax and explore at leisure with no pressure to hurry.
It’s hard to admit, but this was the day that travelling solo hit me hard emotionally. I was homesick and lonely. I was feeling sorry for myself, so I decided to take things easy.
I started the day late with a stop at Pasticceria Pradaval, and I took my time sitting, rather than standing, enjoying a cappuccino and pastry. So many delicious pastries to try and all so good.
I wandered, I napped, and I wandered some more. I took in the colours of Verona, in the buildings, the marble walkways.
I was naughty, I didn’t have one, but two aperitivo. One in a café in Piazza Erbe and another at Marie Bistrot where I ended up eating a delicious meal of Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce. Yum!
Even though for me personally, it wasn’t a great day, quiet days like these are an essential part of my itinerary. They are the days I recharge, have no set plans, catch up on laundry, book or plan my next leg of travel, do some work or simply relax.
Travel can be exhausting and being out of your comfort zone can be tiring. So doing some “normal” domestic things can help.
Piazza delle Erbe
Piazza delle Erbe is a large square that hosts a daily open-air market. It is surrounded by shops on one side and cafes and restaurants on the other. Even in the off-season, it can get busy in the evenings.
Castel San Pietro
This was one of my favourite days in Verona. I had been longing to make the trek up to Castel San Pietro, and I was crossing my fingers that the day would be clear because the last few had been raining.
It was fantastic. I didn’t walk up to the top or down, although you can. Instead, I bought a return ticket for the funicular. Next time I would walk down, but I was nurturing my feet at this stage.
The views from Piazzale Castel San Pietro over Verona are spectacular. The castle is not open to the public, but it is still worth the effort to visit. Next time I would like to time a visit for sunset, depending on the time of year I am travelling.
Visit Castel San Pietro
In Winter (01/01/2019 – 31/03/2019) the Funicular operates:
- Mon-Sun 10.00 am – 5.00 pm – Ticket office closes at 4.45 pm.
And in Summer (01/04/2019 – 27/10/2019):
- Mon-Sun 10.00 am – 9.00 pm – Ticket office closes at 8.45 pm.
- Tickets cost: Round trip: € 2.00/One way: € 1.00
- Or reduced fee – Under 10 – Over 65: € 1.00
Free entry for Children (0-1 year)
After that, I was on a mission to find a place to treat myself for lunch. And boy did I find a place, Antica Torretta. You can find the details below in the Where to Eat section.
While waiting for the appropriate lunch hour, I wandered in an area of Verona I hadn’t been before and came across the Duomo.
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Duomo di Verona
I didn’t enter the Duomo, there was a service underway, so I sat and enjoyed it from the outside.
The Duomo is a lovely Romanesque Cathedral. What I loved most though was the beautiful Blue Angel of Acceptance that stands near the entrance.
She is stunning, in her blue flowing robe.
And from there I headed back to the restaurant. I knew Sunday Services would be finishing soon and that on Sundays, restaurants fill for lunch.
The meal was divine, my best on a three-week trip through Italy. I rolled out of there.
The restaurant is beautiful and the service impeccable. The whole experience was amazing.
As a first-time solo traveller, I thought I would find dining alone awkward. But I found it enjoyable. I would use the time to write notes, people watch (discreetly of course), and savour every bite.
It was an incredible experience and one I cannot wait to do again with a group tour. After my delicious meal and a much-needed siesta, I headed back out into Verona for the last time to my final destination – Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Tower).
Torre dei Lamberti
I tried to time my visit with sunset. The view is impressive and as the sun drops, it highlights the rooftops of Verona and the view out to the snow-capped mountains.
It was a beautiful way to end my time in Verona.
Note: If you plan on going on a Sunday like I did, factor in a little more time to get there. Everyone is out for a stroll on Sunday evening, and the streets are congested with people. I was there late November, so it had nothing to do with tourists, it was all locals out and about.
I was like a cartoon character, bobbing up and around people, getting blocked continuously and forced to walk slow. Something Diana, from the food tour, pointed out, that Australians don’t like doing. We walk like we are on a mission. Yep, I am completely guilty of that, and I apologise to anyone I swore at under my breath. I must learn to slow down.
Visit Torre dei Lamberti
You can find all the details for Torre dei Lamberti here
- Opening times: Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 11 am to 7 pm (Last admission 45 minutes before closing)
- Full 8,00 €
- Reduced 5,00 €
- Free – Children 0-7
- On Monday the Torre dei Lamberti is open for the reduced cost of 5.00 €
The ticket price includes a visit to the Modern Art Gallery (closed on Monday)
I don’t think you will ever see everything, no matter how long you stay.
But on a next visit, I would like to explore the area of San Zeno and the beautiful Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore and the San Zeno Flea Markets operating every third Saturday of the month. Please check details if you decide to go.
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I highly recommend Veronality. They have a lot of tours to choose from. Be aware that when travelling in the off-season, some tours require a minimum number of people so may not be operating.
I did the Food & Wine tour which was led by Diana. Diana is a lovely girl, a Veronese local, very knowledgeable and I loved hearing her stories woven around food and family.
Veronality only uses local guides which I love. Next time I would like to join their day tour to the Dolomites.
I found when travelling solo that it was nice to now and then join a day tour. Where someone else took care of all the details, it is an excellent way to recharge and relax as well as meet other travellers. I know it can be expensive, but something to keep in mind when budgeting for your next trip.
I highly recommend Veronality, a friendly bunch of people only too happy to help where they can.
Ok, I will just get this out there.
Verona is known for a couple of specialities that you should be aware of – horse and donkey.
Just be aware when ordering so that if you do not want to try either one, you don’t make a mistake when ordering.
Remember the following when looking at menus:
Horse – Cavallo
Donkey – Asino
Marie Bistrot – a delightful local café that seems to be most popular with locals. Locals come and go and enjoy a drink or two, they bring their children or meet friends here before moving on elsewhere or home. And then it fills up for dinner. The variety of meals is not large, but what they do have is simple, absolutely delicious. I had Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce and it was superb!
Highly recommend for a low-key dinner. It certainly won’t break the budget, and it is a lovely place to enjoy an aperitivo and then dinner.
I came across this place in my wanderings. I was pleased to see it though as it had been recommended by both my sister and brother-in-law and a lady I had met in Florence.
Antica Torretta – set in a historic building and designed so you can appreciate the ambience of the building while still see the chefs at work. The service was attentive and the food superb. My entire meal was fabulous, but my favourite was Black Angus Tartare. It was to die for. I savoured every mouthful.
Antica Torretta is not a budget restaurant, but if you are looking for a special place to eat during your stay, I would highly recommend booking a table here. I did walk in and get a table, but I was early at 12.30 pm.
Antica Bottega del Vino – the oldest bar in Verona with an ENORMOUS wine list. It is also a restaurant. I had all intentions of eating here, but the night I tried, I was far too early for a meal, and I was a little intimidated by the local crowd to sit and have a drink on my own. But this place was again recommended by my sister and brother-in-law and the lady I met in Florence. Both loved it – the wine and the food. This establishment is next door to Marie Bistrot.
Verona is approximately (depending on the service you use):
1.15 hr to 1.50 hr from Milan
1 hr to Bologna
1.30 hr to Florence
1.10 – 1.30 hr to Venice
If you only have one day…
I would recommend you see –
Piazza Bra and Arena
Castel San Pietro
Torre dei Lamberti – because it gives you an excellent view of the city
Castelvecchio Bridge – at least walk the bridge and get a sense of what it was like in medieval times. If you have time, I would look through the castle. If you are in a hurry skip it.
And Juliet’s statue – I wouldn’t worry about the museum, enter the courtyard (early if you can to avoid crowds) take it in, snap some photos and be on your way before it becomes chaotic.
I will most certainly be back to stay in Verona. Next time I won’t have to worry about seeing the sights, I will be able to relax, cook and hunt out more fabulous restaurants. It is a small and beautiful city, and it should be on everyone’s Italian travel list.
If you are travelling around Italy, you might find these posts useful:
- What to See and Do in Rome
- How to See the Best of Venice
- How to Plan Your Ultimate Trip to Bologna
- A Day in Milan
- How to Plan Your Ultimate Trip to Florence
- The Best of Verona
- One Day Complete Guide to Visiting Orvieto
- A Tuscan Town Called Cortona
- A Day in Arezzo