Padova (in Italian) or Padua (in English) is a picturesque town in Veneto, known for its university and history. It is also where Galileo Galilei made his most important discoveries, where William Shakespeare set the Taming of the Shrew and where Oscar Wilde set The Duchess of Padua.
It is also a great place for innovation, creativity and recreation.
Compared to the busier cities of Venice and Verona, Padova is calm and peaceful, allowing visitors to stroll the historic centre and marvel at its architecture without bumping into groups of tourists. Venice and Verona are easy to reach on half-day or full-day trips.
Please, read our guide about how to get in and around Padova.
The 14th-century fresco cycles in Padova are awarded World Heritage status by the United Nations culture organisation UNESCO. The ‘Padova Urbs Picta’ site comprises eight religious and secular buildings hosting a selection of fresco cycles painted by various artists between 1302 and 1397. This includes Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel fresco cycle, considered to have “marked the beginning of a revolutionary development in the history of mural painting.”.
The Botanical Garden of Padova was established in 1545 and is one of the oldest in the world. Born as a medicinal vegetable garden, it has contributed to centuries of medicine and history. The greatest poets and scientists were inspired by it, including Goethe. The Biodiversity Garden exhibition boasts more than 1300 species of plant and flower. It is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage, making Padova a city with two UNESCO World Heritage sites!
Padova is home to one of the world’s oldest universities. The Palazzo Bo and Aula Magna (Great Hall) are worth marvelling at, as they are covered in family crests, portraits and diplomas. The world’s first permanent anatomical theatre is also located in the Palazzo. Step back in time and imagine one of the first public autopsies, if you dare!
Padova is close to many of Italy’s tourist magnets such a Venice and Verona. This means that Padova remains mostly off the beaten track and it’s a pleasure to explore without having to crawl through large crowds and coach parties.
It has so many unmissable sights that you can easily fill up your stay here with wonderful things to do: discover the city and the nearby walled towns, such as Cittadella, Monselice, Este and Montagnana or explore Euganean Hills, a naturastic oasis in the heart of the Po Valley with ideal scenaries and environment for those who love moving themselves in the nature.
Padova has traditionally been home to many multinational IT companies and global telecommunications players. The University of Padova, successful entrepreneurs, young innovators and big players alike have all shared their knowledge to make Padova a smart city. Today, Padova hosts a thriving community of digital innovation managers and professionals with high technical and business specializations.
For visitors to major cities in Italy, authentic experiences can be hard to find. Luckily, Padova has managed to keep many of its traditions alive, especially in its daily markets! If you visit the Piazza della Frutta and the Piazza delle Erbe before 2pm, you can explore these centuries-old experiences for yourself. These squares in the heart of the city offer a wide range of seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. The numerous covered stalls all full of butchers, fishmongers, bakeries and cheese shops, perfect for cobbling together an inexpensive lunch.
The central café, “Caffé Pedrocchi,” was called “the cafe without doors.” Until 1916 it was open day and night for intellectuals, students, academics and politicians.
The city’s patron saint, Saint Anthony, is usually called simply “the Saint,” making him a “saint without a name”. The Saint still works miracles from within the inner sanctum of the Basilica.
Padova’s main square is called Prato della Valle (the Valley’s Lawn) and is also called, “the meadow without grass”. This is because it was once just a marshy area. It is one of the biggest squares in Europe.
Padova is the birthplace of “spritz”, a popular aperitif in northern Italy. It is made from prosecco, Aperol or Campari, with soda and a slice of orange. Local people and university students love spending their evenings and nights in the old city centre when they leave the office to enjoy a spritz in one of the many outdoor cafes and historic squares. You can also indulge in the excellent local gelato at one of the local gelaterias.
Padova is known for its world-class street artists. Finding their murals and painted walls is like a real treasure hunt! Unlike other cities, Padova’s best works are often hard to find, located in hidden corners, narrow streets, canal walls and under arcades.
Located just a short distance from Padova, Abano and Montegrotto Terme are places of wellness, wellbeing and peace. These spas are known for thermal water and mud therapies, massages and water pools. Discover their ancient thermal traditions, the reinvigorating green Euganean Hills and the authenticity of the excellent local cuisine and wine.