Your Padua trip starts here! Explore historic sites, local markets, and eat the delicious Italian food. These are the most beautiful Padua sights.
Padua (which is called Padova in Italian) is a city located between Verona and Venice in Northern Italy. It is an ancient city (they say it’s the oldest city in Northern Italy) and was founded in 1183 BC. The city was almost completely destroyed by a major fire in 1174 and has been completely rebuilt afterward. It has been a university town since 1222 and the famous Galileo Galilei was a professor at the university in Padua for a while.
Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the city still attracts students from all over the world. This creates a dynamic atmosphere and a vibrant cultural life. Padua is therefore a pleasant student city and an incredibly fun place to explore during a tour of Italy.
The best things to do in Padua
You can have a great time in Padua as the city has many beautiful sights. What to do in Padua and what are the best things to see in Padua? I’ve got 19 tips for you!
Prato della Valle
The highlight of your visit to Padua is undoubtedly Prato della Valle. This is the largest square in Italy (in fact one of the largest squares in all of Europe) and there are no fewer than 78 statues in two rings around a canal. There are fountains, benches, and beautiful buildings around the square. A great place to relax and enjoy this beautiful Italian city.
Basilica di Sant’Antonio
Not far from Prato della Valle is one of the city’s most beautiful churches: Basilica di Sant’Antonio (St. Anthony’s Basilica). This basilica is an important place of pilgrimage and you will undoubtedly encounter several pilgrims visiting Padua because of it.
Basilica di Sant’Antonio was built in the 13th century and there really is an awful lot to see. It consists of several buildings and there is also a garden with a very old library. You’ll feast your eyes on all the extraordinary details. It’s an amazing landmark to explore!
Orto Botanico di Padova
I stood in front of the gate of Orto Botanico di Padova, but I still regret not entering (the entrance fee, unfortunately, did not fit my budget at the time). Orto Botanico di Padova is the oldest (university-affiliated) botanical garden in the world and it is not without reason on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the garden, you will find special plants and trees, including medicinal and poisonous plants, orchids, and carnivorous plants.
Caffè Pedrocchi is the most famous café in Padua. Why? It is a historic place. The café has existed since the eighteenth century and consists of rooms of different styles. There is a Greek and a Gothic room, among others.
The café became famous for the 1848 riots against the Habsburg monarchy, and it was also the place for artists to meet. Now it is a fine place for a nice cup of coffee on the terrace during your Padua city break.
Fun thing to do: join this guided walk and have a cup of coffee at Caffè Pedrocchi.
Duomo di Padova o Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta
The Duomo di Padova (also called Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is the home of the Bishop of Padua. It is an old church, the foundation stone was already laid in the fourth century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt in Romanesque style in the twelfth century. The complex consists of two buildings: the cathedral (white walls and marble floors) and to the right is a baptistery where you can admire many old frescoes.
The Duomo di Padova is located in the Piazza Duomo, which also houses the Museo Diocesano di Padova. A beautiful building where the bishop lived in the fifteenth century.
Padua is a student city (which is clearly visible because you’ll see a large number of young people, trendy coffee bars, and university buildings) and usually, you will also find a lot of street art in such cities. This is also the case in Padua. I saw this beautiful mural near Piazza della Erbe. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Piazza della Frutta
In Piazza della Frutta you have several sights for the price of one! It is the commercial center of the city and there is often a market to see. On either side, you can see several beautiful buildings such as the impressive Palazzo della Ragione: a historic covered market. The Torre degli Anziani tower is also an eye-catcher, this tower has been here since the thirteenth century.
Palazzo della Ragione
The beautiful Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza della Frutta deserves its own spot on this list of beautiful Padua sights. This medieval courthouse is known for its huge wooden horse suspended in the center of the hall. The building has an impressive architecture with arcades and frescoes. Inside you will find a large hall with a striking wooden horse, which is a unique and intriguing feature.
Cappella degli Scrovegni
Located in a park between the train station and Padua city center, the Cappella degli Scrovegni (Scrovegni Chapel) is well worth a visit. It is named after the wealthy Enrico degli Scrovegni who commissioned the famous Italian painter Giotto to paint it.
The chapel contains a fresco cycle with 39 different scenes and it is considered his most important work. The frescoes in Cappella degli Scrovengi are one of the main reasons why Padua’s 14th-century fresco cycles are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Piazza dei Signori
Near Piazza della Frutta is another square that is actually just as beautiful: Piazza dei Signori. It is surrounded by landmark buildings such as the Clock Tower and the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi.
Throughout the year, markets, cultural festivals, concerts, and other public events are held here. These events can range from local arts and crafts markets to music performances and theater shows.
The square serves as a lively venue where residents and visitors alike can enjoy Padua’s local culture and vibrant atmosphere.
Torre dell’Orologio is the most striking building in Piazza dei Signori. This beautiful clock tower is one of the most famous spots in the city. This tower dates back to 1430 and is known for its beautiful astronomical clock, which not only shows the time but also displays the day of the week, moon phase, and zodiacal positions. You can climb the tower and learn more about this building (and Padua) in the accompanying museum.
Go shopping on Via Umberto I.
Italy is the land of fashion and design, so every Italian city has at least one great shopping street. Want to go shopping in Padua? Then head to Via Umberto I, where modern stores alternate with historic old buildings. There are also many coffee shops and eateries here for a quick lunch.
The University of Padua
Founded in 1222, the University of Padua is one of the oldest universities in the world. Thanks to its rich history, it has played an important role in the development of science, art, and culture. The university building itself has impressive architecture and a unique atmosphere.
You can walk around the historic courtyards and visit the university’s buildings on a guided tour.
Wander through the Jewish Quarter
In 1603, the Jewish community in Padua was put in a separate neighborhood: the Jewish ghetto. The entrances were guarded and the Jewish community was locked up at night. It was a tight and unsanitary neighborhood and rents were high. Because it was so full, they mainly built upstairs. This makes the streets seem even narrower. The ghetto was abolished with the arrival of the French in 1797.
Nowadays the Jewish Quarter is one of the main tourist attractions in Padua: narrow streets, beautiful little squares (with cozy restaurants and terraces), and beautiful facades. You will find the Jewish Quarter near Piazza della Frutta, around Via S. Martino e Solferino Street.
Chiesa degli Eremitani
On my way back to the train station, I passed Chiesa degli Eremitani and decided to pop in. That was not a bad idea! Chiesa degli Eremitani is a church that is quite austere by Italian standards, you actually enter a large space (no chapels).
The church was built in 1276 and the walls have several old frescoes. I was so impressed that I completely forgot to take pictures, so you need to take my word for it, haha!
You can enjoy delicious Italian food almost everywhere in Italy and of course, that is also possible in Padua. In Padua, I even ate one of the best meals (and drank one of the tastiest wines) of my entire trip to Italy. The restaurant (Caffè della Piazzetta) was tucked away in a beautiful square in the Jewish Quarter and I can really recommend eating here!
Fun thing to do: Check out a private cooking demo by a local home cook. Learn to prepare authentic Italian recipes and enjoy a four-course dinner with a selection of local wines.
Fun day trips from Padua
As accommodation in Padua is quite affordable, it is a great city to use as a base to visit more amazing places in Northern Italy. Here are some of the best things to do near Padua Italy.
Padua is close to one of the most famous and most touristic places in Italy: Venice. Yes, it is always crowded, but there is a reason: Venice is magnificent and you can’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world. Explore the canals, admire the beautiful architecture, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Venice, the day will be over in no time!
From Padua, you can travel to Venice by train in just 25 minutes. Also fun to do: travel by boat from Padua to Venice. During this cruise, you get to see more than 50 luxury villas and get to visit a few of them. Please note that this is a one-way trip.
Read more: A day in Venice: 14 highlights
Just an hour’s drive (or 45-minute train ride) from Padua is one of Italy’s most romantic cities: Verona. A city steeped in history and culture, Verona is known for its well-preserved ancient arena, now used for opera performances.
The city has a relaxed atmosphere and offers charming streets, lively squares, and a touch of romance, especially around the story of Romeo and Juliet. Verona is a great destination for lovers of history and architecture, with its mix of ancient and modern influences.
Read more: 10 awesome things to do in Verona
Although Bologna is a little farther away, this is also an absolute must-see during a tour of northern Italy. It is a perfect destination for a day trip from Padua, taking about an hour by train to get there and about 1.5 hours by car.
Bologna is a bustling city in northern Italy, known for its historic university and medieval towers. The city offers a mix of history and modern energy, with lively markets, cozy arcades, and a rich food culture. Bologna is best known for its delicious pasta and local meats. It is a great destination for history buffs and foodies alike.
Where to stay in Padua
Would you like to stay the night in Padua? A hotel room, apartment, or bed in a hostel is booked in no time. These are a few accommodations I can highly recommend:
- Mass Image Wine Tower (3⭐): Beautiful guest house in a building from the fourteenth century with frescoes on the walls.
- B&B Casa Camilla: Cozy B&B with a large garden outside the center in a quiet area. You can rent bicycles to explore the area. Breakfast included.
- Hotel Al Prato (3⭐): Nice hotel with modern rooms. The best thing? It is right on the beautiful Prato della Valle!
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability.
Public transportation in Padua
The center of Padua is not that big, so you can easily reach all the beautiful sights on foot. In addition, there are also trams and buses you can take to go from one place to another. You can get tickets on the bus or tram, but you can buy the cheapest tickets at edicole (newspaper stands) and tabaccherie (tobacco shops). You can then stamp them on the bus or tram.
It is super easy to travel by train within Italy. Buy tickets online through Omio or at the station. Note: if you buy a ticket at the station, you still have to validate it by inserting it into a stamping machine at the station.
Visiting Padua? Book your trip now!
✈️ By plane – The nearest international airport is Venice. Check WayAway for the best deals on plane tickets.
🚆 By train – Italy is easy to reach by train from all over Europe. Check Rail Europe for options and prices.
🚘 Rent a car – If you’d like to visit more interesting places in Northern Italy. Check Rental Cars to get the best deals.
💊 Travel insurance – Personally, I think that travel insurance is a necessary component of any trip if you want to be calm in every unexpected event during your trip. Before you book, check Insubuy. This is currently the largest provider of visitor insurance. You will definitely find the most appropriate insurance plan that suits your trip!
🎡 Tours & activities – Are you looking for fun tours and activities in Italy? Check Get Your Guide.
Read more about Northern Italy
Would you like to visit Padua and see more beautiful places in Northern Italy? Then there are great travel guides to learn more about this region.
In addition, you can read more about traveling in Italy on this website. Check out these articles as well:
- Northern Italy by train: 2-week itinerary
- 15 awesome things to do in Bergamo Italy
- 16 Most beautiful cities in Italy
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