What to do and what to see in Padua (Veneto, Italy)

Padua (Padova in Italian) is a city of 208.533 inhabitants and the capital of the homonymous province in the Veneto region. Today, Padua is a fascinating tourist destination, with all its breathtaking spots and many attractions to visit. Have you ever been there? Let’s discover together what to do and what to see if you choose to stay in Padua for your Italian holiday!

What to do and what to see in Padua

Here’s a guide (with short captions) of the main attractions and spots for a perfect sightseeing experience in Padua: from the most charming square to the most famous church, from the finest buildings to the most popular drinks.

A pleasant stroll around Prato della Valle

Prato della Valle is one of the finest and biggest squares in Europe (it is the fifth largest of the continent); what makes this place so special is its central green island and the surrounding canal. There also are 78 statues of illustrious historical figures, like Francesco Petrarca and Galileo Galilei, overlooking the place around the canal.

A sacred-artistic experience in the Scrovegni Chapel

The Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni in Italian) is one of the finest masterpieces of Italian art, recently named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a civic museum, where you can admire Giotto‘s well-known cycle of frescoes, dating back to the early 14th century. Among the frescoes, you can notice the iconic Last Judgement.

A quick stop in the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua as known as “Basilica del Santo”

The Basilica of Saint Anthony is of the most visited churches in the world: for this reason, it is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. As its name suggests, the Saint’s relics lie in here. The Basilica also provides a website for “virtual” prayers.

An academic and historical tour in Palazzo Bo, main headquarters of the University of Padua

The University of Padua, one of Italy’s oldest and most prestigious universities, was home to the illustrious Galileo Galilei as a professor for 18 long years. In 1678, Elena Cornaro Piscopia graduated from the University of Padua being the first woman in the world to receive a degree. The building is also famous for the presence of the very first ‘anatomical theatre‘; its establishment specifically aimed to dissect corpses and study the human body.

A quick stop in the Sala dei Giganti

The Sala dei Giganti is a fourteenth-century frescoed hall, located in Palazzo Liviano, whose iconographic programme was designed by Francesco Petrarca.

A glimpse of history and astronomy: the Clock Tower

The Tower (known as Torre in Italian), 30 metres high, was built between 1426 and 1430 on the ruins of the eastern gate of the Reggia Carrarese, the residence and the house of government of the city’s lords. The astronomical clock we can see today was inaugurated in 1437. It is a precise reconstruction of the previous one belonging to 1344. The dial has a circular shape, with the planet Earth in the centre, and many legends are still linked to this today.

A legendary tour through in “Pre-Cinema Museum”

Located on the top floor of Palazzo Angeli, this one is a true gem among all the museum: you can find optical illusions and unusual machines all over, with any instrument of projection before the modern cinematic machines we have nowadays.

A walk through an old, underground Padua to the Palazzo della Regione

Beneath the Palazzo della Regione, one of the main attractions of the city, lies underground Padua (Padova sotterranea in Italian), a series of ruins dating back to the 13th century.

An unforgettable coffee break at Caffè Pedrocchi, also known as “The doorless café

Caffè Pedrocchi, located in the centre of Padua, is an ancient Italian style café whose fame is worldwide. Its unusual name is due to the fact that it was open day and night until 1916, as it was such a prestigious meeting point for intellectuals, students and politicians.

A sip of Spritz in good company

The iconic drink traces its origins in the Triveneto region during Austro-Hungarian years. In fact, the word spritzen‘ in German means to spray. For those who have never heard about this drink, a Spritz is an alcoholic beverage of Venetian, Friulian and indeed Austro-Hungarian origin, and it is highly appreciated in the north-eastern Italy and consumed at any leisure time, especially in good company at Happy Hour time – the Italian Aperitivo – but not only before dinner! Having a Spritz is pretty much like having a coffee in Naples: it’s more than just a drink, it’s a real cult.

Now that you have a clue of what to do in Padua, what are you waiting for? Get your suitcases ready and leave, you already have a guide!

And if Padua doesn’t seem to be ideal for you, how about the Cinque Terre in Liguria? A true paradise! Check out our travel guide if you’re interested in knowing something more!

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