A Perfect Day in Verona: Shakespeare’s City of Love

Verona will steal your heart.

The fabled setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is famous for its wealth of Roman ruins, lending it the nickname “Little Rome”. Hugging the banks of the Adige River the buildings of the gorgeous rose-pink city bear witness to its 13th- and 14th–century glory days.

Here’s how to spend a perfect day in Verona.

old stone bridge over a river in verona in italy

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Introducing the City of Love

I fell head over heels with Verona as a wide-eyed 20-something on an Interrail tour of Europe. After the madness of Venice, it was a refreshing dose of pure Italy, a place for locals, not a tourist theme park.

Although it may lack the blockbuster attractions of other cities, Verona is a joy and has enough sights to keep you occupied for many days. After three visits, I’m still not done!

Although Romeo and Juliet made the city a household name, it is much more than Shakespeare’s play. Verona has stood at the crossroads of history for more than 2,000 years, occupied by the Romans, Ostrogoths and Franks.

The Della Scala (Scaligeri) led the city’s cultural and economic boom in medieval times until the city was seized by the Milanese warlord Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1387. Upon his death in 1402, Verona joined forces with the Serenissima.

elaborate outdoor large gothic tombs with spires and statuettes
The Scaligari Tombs in Verona

Is One Day in Verona Enough?

It’s easy to see Verona’s main attractions in a day, including the Roman Arena and Juliet’s Balcony. Thanks to its compact historic core, this is a very walkable city.

Nonetheless, I urge you to stay at least one night in the city. There’s a lot to be said for enjoying Verona once its streets have emptied of day trippers. On my last visit, I spent four nights in Verona, using it as a base to visit other historic cities such as Vicenza and Padua.

What to See in Verona in One Day (+ Map)

Here are my suggestions for your 1-day Verona itinerary. Walking from the starting point at Verona’s Roman Arena to Ponte Pietra, the last stop on this itinerary, covers a distance of just over one mile (2 km).

If you find it helpful to map it out, here’s one I made earlier. Click here or on the image for step-by-step directions and to send the map to your phone. Think of it as a self-guided walking tour of Verona.

map showing what to see during one day in verona
Self-guided walking tour of Verona, Italy. Map data @ Google 2024.

Roman Arena (Arena di Verona)

inside the vast roman arena at verona italy with pinkish stone steps

Start your day visiting the jewel in Verona’s historic crown: the Roman Arena. Built from pink Valpolicella limestone in the middle of the 1st Century AD, Arena di Verona was an important political and commercial hub in Roman times.

Back in the day, up to 30,000 of the city’s residents would cheer gladiator duels. Today, this majestic stadium hosts the world-famous Verona Opera Festival.

I was awestruck by the sheer scale of Arena di Verona. Measuring 466 by 400 feet, it is the eighth-largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. Defying vertigo, I climbed to the seats at the top of the Arena for sweeping views of Verona and beyond.

If you want to make the most of your visit, consider booking a guided tour that includes a skip-the-line ticket.

Piazza Bra

tables and chairs in front of row of pastel-coloured medieval buildings in piazza bra in verona italy
My view of Piazza Bra from the Roman Arena

The Roman Arena dominates Piazza Bra, Verona’s enormous pedestrianised square. Its central fountain, carved from the pink stone, is called “The Alps” and was donated by Verona’s twin city of Munich. The equestrian statue is of Victor Emmanuele II, Italy’s first king.

Piazza Bra is also a good spot for breakfast or coffee. I recommend the friendly Pasticceria Pradaval.

Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta)

bronze statue of juliet outside an old building with stone balcony

Thousands of people flock to Verona each year hoping they will be sprinkled with a little of the city’s romantic fairy dust. Juliet’s House is their chief pilgrimage site.

Sorry to burst a bubble but Romeo & Juliet is a work of fiction, albeit based on two warring families in Verona, and the Bard of Avon never visited the city. This 13th-century house was attributed to the Capulet family by a few enterprising locals.

Traditionally, romantics from across the globe grope the breast of Juliet’s statue in the small courtyard outside the house, said to bring good fortune in love. Visitors line up to have their picture taken on that balcony.

As this is one of Verona’s most popular attractions, visit as early as possible to avoid the tour groups. If you want to visit Juliet’s House, you will need to book your time slot in advance here.

Lamberti Tower (Torre dei Lamberti)

panoramic view of red roofs of verona italy with bell tower of church
My view from Lamberti Tower

Get a bird’s eye view of Verona from this bell tower. And the good news is that you don’t have to huff and puff your way up 368 steps to the top. There’s a lift!

Rising above Verona like a giant exclamation mark, the Lamberti Tower dates from the 12th Century.

Piazza delle Erbe (Vegetable Market)

bronze statue of a man in a hat in front of pastel-coloured medieval buildings

This lively square has been the focal point of civic life since Roman times. It was once the site of the Roman Forum and home to the ancient city’s important buildings, including the Capotilium.

Today, as then, Piazza delle Erbe is a market and meeting place, selling food, drink and souvenirs. Its bubbling fountain, statues and pastel-coloured buildings are a photographer’s delight.

Piazza dei Signori

statue of dante in front of a salmon coloured building

The more sedate Piazza dei Signori is presided over by a statue of a slightly grumpy-looking Dante Alighieri – locals call the square Piazza Dante – and the striped Palazzo della Ragione. The Scaligeri granted the poet asylum in Verona after the pope banished him from Florence.

Piazza dei Signori’s pink-hued buildings are linked by arches and span five centuries. The elegant portico on the left is inspired by Brunelleschi’s Hospital of the Innocents in Florence, considered the first building of the Renaissance.

Basilica di Santa Anastasia

Founded by the Dominicans and consecrated in 1497, Basilica di Santa Anastasia is my favourite of Verona’s churches. Its soaring Gothic interior is filled with light and is home to important works of art, including St. George and the Princess (1438) by Pisanello.

Don’t miss the grimacing hunchbacks supporting holy water fonts on their backs. Touching the hump of the smaller figure is said to bring good luck.

stone sculpture of hunchback holding up a water font

Duomo di Verona

I am not a massive fan of Verona Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. But whilst this complex of buildings lacks harmony, it is worth a place on your Verona itinerary if you are an art or history buff.

Its façade and baptistery font have exquisite Romanesque carvings and the cathedral houses Titian’s Assumption. There’s a pretty cloister and the remains of a 4th-century mosaic floor belonging to the early Christian basilica.

stone baptismal font with carvings of biblical stories

Ponte Pietra and Adige River

red rooftops of verona italy with stone bridge, river and tall bell tower

Dating from 100 BC, St. Peter’s Bridge (Ponte Pietra) is Verona’s sole surviving Roman bridge. Although it was bombed during World War II, it was meticulously rebuilt with stone slabs fished from the Adige River.

If you have time, I recommend strolling across the bridge to take in the view from the other side of the river. The Roman Theatre is built into the hillside, above which is the fortress, Castello San Pietro.

Bonus stop: Castelvecchio

view of the riverbank of city of verona through opening in bridge

Time permitting, walk along the riverfront to Castelvecchio, built by the Scaligeri as a residence and fortress. Today, it houses Verona’s art gallery.

There are wonderful views from Castelvecchio Bridge (Ponte di Castelvecchio).

And that’s a wrap. All that remains is to relax with an aperitvo – my choice is a local Aperol Spritz – and watch the world go by.

Saluti!

glass of aperol spritz

Save Money with the Verona Card

Verona has a sightseeing pass, the Verona Card, which can be an excellent deal. It offers free entrance to the city’s major attractions and includes a skip-the-line ticket for the Verona Arena. Free city transport is also included.

person holding a verona CITY PASS In front of roman arena

I ordered mine online before I left London, and picked it up at the city’s friendly Tourist Information Office. Choose between a 24-hour or 48-hour pass.

As with any city pass, its value will depend on how many places you plan to visit. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation will determine if it will save you money. Note that on the first Sunday of every month, from November to March, entrance to the public museums in Verona is just €1.

Getting There

By train

High-speed trains from major Italian cities, including Milan, Venice, Bologna and Rome, stop at Verona Porta Nuova station. From here, it’s 15 minutes on foot to the Arena.

Choose between services provided by Trenitalia or Italo. You can compare train times and prices, and book tickets across the two operators here.

By air

On my last visit to Verona, I arrived at its small airport (Catullo Airport). The inexpensive 199 Airlink bus leaves from outside the terminal building every 20 minutes, terminating at Verona Porta Nuova train station. The journey time is 15 minutes.

I bought my ticket from the machine at the bus stop but you can or pay the driver with cash or by contactless card. Alternatively, jump in a taxi or pre-book a private transfer from the airport.

Find out more in guide to how to get from Catullo Airport to Central Verona.

By car

If you are arriving by car, you’ll need to park on the city’s perimeter (the historic centre is closed to non-local traffic). Find out about parking options here.

Where I Stayed in Verona

As Verona has plenty of accommodation, you shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere to stay. However, I recommend booking ahead during the Verona Opera Festival.

Here’s where I stayed on my last visit.

B&B Valverde

double bed with white linen and blue cushions at b&b valverde in verona
galley kitchen in b&b valverde in verona

I stayed in this mid-range guesthouse conveniently located midway between the Arena and the train station. This is perfect if you want to stay somewhere small with a personal touch and shared kitchen facilities.

Emanuele and his mother Laura could not have been more welcoming and provided loads of local tips and the loan of a guidebook. The room was spacious and the bathroom spotless.

Hotel Giberti & Spa

bedroom at hotel giberti verona with table and chair and bed with white linen and red cushion
lobby in hotel giberti in verona with beige leather chairs and sofas

As there was no room at the inn at the Valverde when I extended my stay in Verona, I decamped to this mid-range hotel. It is a terrific choice, especially if you are planning to take day trips from Verona by train.

The room was comfortable and spacious and the reception staff were so friendly. The buffet breakfast was excellent.

Hotel Giberti provides free bikes from April to November.

Due Torri Hotel

I have bookmarked this 5-star hotel for a return visit. It’s one of the best luxury hotels in Verona and its location in the heart of the city’s historic centre is unbeatable.

The hotel’s sumptuous rooms and suites feature period furniture and look out over the city. Breakfast is included in all room rates.


Looking for more information about Verona?

If you have found this article helpful, take a look at a few of my other guides before you go: