Perched high in northern Italy, Padua is a postcard-perfect city. While it’s less than an hour from Venice, it feels worlds away from the regional capital. It’s anchored by a medieval old town, dotted with beautiful Byzantine chapels. Padua is also home to one of Italy’s oldest universities with a lively student population, which means there are plenty of hip cafes, bars and taverns to explore.
Things to do in Padua
Founded in 1222, the University of Padua is one of the oldest in the world. Bo Palace has served as its historic seat since 1539, with tours unlocking access to the Anatomical Theatre where Galileo Galilei once taught.
Padua was once one of Italy’s most important cities, which led to the creation of magnificent frescoes. Don’t miss the Scrovegni Chapel, which houses a stunning fresco cycle by Giotto. Today, it’s considered one of Italy's great Renaissance masterpieces.
With its Byzantine domes and treasured artworks, the 13th-century Basilica of St. Anthony is another top attraction. If you have a green thumb, the university’s Orto botanico di Padova is considered the oldest academic garden on the planet.
By far, one of the best ways to soak up the atmosphere is by strolling around the old town. Admire the medieval arches of the Palazzo della Ragione town hall, then cool off with a scoop of gelato in Prato della Valle square.
Getting around Padua
With its narrow streets and pedestrianised squares, the best way to get around the old town is on foot. Trams and buses run in most other areas, stopping at popular destinations like the Scrovegni Chapel and Prato della Valle. The city is serviced by a central railway station, offering connections to destinations like Venice, Bologna and Milan. The closest major airport is Venezia Marco Polo, while Treviso is popular with budget airlines.