Day 1 – Padova
A few weeks ago I took a trip to my favourite Italian city, Padova! I have written about previous holidays to Padova before but this trip was extra special as I was showing one of my favourite people my favourite place for the first time.
We flew from Stanstead to Venice Treviso where it is easy to get a bus direct to Padova station for about 8 euros. After checking into our hotel we set off for some exploring.
We started off in Prato della Valle, one of the largest piazzas in Europe and had a wander around.
Then we headed to St Anthony’s Basilica which is my favourite church in the area. The interior is pretty amazing, my favourite part being the hundreds of stars painted on to the ceiling.
We sat outside in the shade in the gardens, I love the orange spires against the bright blue sky.
After a quick trip to my old apartment…
…we wandered over the river to the main piazzas in the centre:
Piazza Dei Signori:
To get a real feel for the city it is best to just have a walk around, buy an ice cream or an aperol spritz and take in the surroundings.
Where to eat in Padova:
We used Padova as our base to visit other cities nearby so we ate there for three nights. As it was such nice weather we ate in the main square (Piazza dei Signori) for two nights, once at Kofler Kafe and then at La Lanterna.
We also ate at Marechiaro Pizzeria which has a lovely courtyard where you can sit outside when the weather is good.
You’re guaranteed a good meal at all three places but I would make sure to book to avoid queuing for a table. We had pizza every night and they were all great, I don’t think I could choose a favourite!
Day 2 – Venice
We were up bright and early to catch the train to Venice. It is only about 5 euros for a one way ticket and if you time it right you can catch a fast train which will take you from Padova to Venezia Santa Lucia in half an hour. You can buy your tickets on the day of travel from the machines in the station (just remember to stamp your ticket to validate it before getting on the train).
I was really excited to be back in Venice as it was the first time I had returned since living out there. It was a very hot day in the middle of summer so it was packed, but the city still looked as beautiful as ever! I love watching the expression on people’s faces when they walk out of the station and take in the view – especially if they haven’t been to Venice before!
The best way to explore Venice is to just wander the streets, all routes basically lead to San Marco so you aren’t going to get too lost. I know the way from the station to the centre after having done many trips to the city when friends had come to visit so I stuck to my usual route which takes you past the main sights.
We saw the fresh fish market:
If you are there early enough you can see fishmongers selling their catch, however we were there late morning and instead we were met with hundreds of very large and very loud sea gulls trying to pick at the scraps!
Very close to the fish market is the Rialto Bridge. I don’t actually like to spend much time here as it is full of tourists, but it is worth taking a quick picture of the Grand Canal if you can find some space!
A tip for anyone who hasn’t been to Venice before – it is very hard to find toilets, even some bars don’t have ones that are open to the public. Head to the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, a large department store which is right next to the Rialto bridge. You can also visit the rooftop there for amazing views, however you need to book a time slot to do so.
After a stop for lunch and an ice cream break we ended up in Piazza San Marco. We didn’t bother going into the Church as I had done it before and the queues were pretty long.
We saw the Palazzo Ducale:
The Bridge of Sighs:
We also took the water taxi (5 euros each way) over to San Giorgio Maggiore which is the island you can see in the distance. Instead of queuing for ages to climb the campanile in Piazza San Marco you can do the same at San Giorgio.
Not only is there far fewer people trying to do the same thing, but you get a brilliant view over all of Venice and San Marco. It is definitely worth the trip and can be done in an hour or two.
Another good trip you can take from Venice is to visit Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for glass blowing and you can watch demonstrations and buy beautiful glass souvenirs there. Burano is famous for its lace work and recognisable colourful buildings.
You can see all the main sights of Venice in a day, but if you want to go into the museums and churches and visit the surrounding islands I would allow for a couple of days. Again, like in most Italian cities one of the best things to do is have a coffee or spritz and watch the world go by.
Day 3 – Lake Garda
Another early start as we were off to Lake Garda. We took the train from Padova to Peschiera del Garda which cost 9 euros each way. The journey took just over an hour with a change in Verona. There are direct trains available but these are more expensive at over 20 euros each way.
Peschiera del Garda is the easiest part of the Lake to get to from Padova. We were meeting friends for lunch so we were only there for the day, but from Peschiera you can take a ferry to other parts of the lake.
After lunch and an ice cream stop (of course) we took a walk around the lake. Unfortunately the weather had turned a bit rainy while we were eating, but did start to brighten up so we decided to take advantage of the sun and have a quick swim.
We came back to Padova for dinner and a last evening in the piazzas before flying back to the UK.
We packed quite a lot in to a long weekend and it was so much fun being back in bella italia!
Have you ever been to Italy? Or is it on your holiday bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!
You can also read about my other trips to northern Italy here: