Verona is an absolutely essential location on any big trip around Italy and there’s no good reason to skip it! It’s super close to bigger Italian cities like Milan and Venice and it’s the ideal place to base yourself for a day trip to Lake Garda like I did. And you only really need to spend 24 hours in Verona to see all the highlights.
Fair Verona first came to my attention the same way it did for everyone else: Romeo & Juliet. Whether it was reading the play at school (theatre geek right here) or watching Leonardo DiCaprio break my poor, 13-year-old heart in the 1996 film. I didn’t really know much about the city at all. But when Traverse Conference announced this year’s host city as Trento, only a mere one hours train ride from Verona, I had to make a pit stop on the way. And what I found was a charming, friendly and walkable little city that I can’t wait to return to. Really, I’m pretty certain I’ll go back one day. I loved Verona!
Just one day in Verona is the perfect amount of time to become acquainted with this bloody lovely place. This is my 24 hours in Verona itinerary for first-time visitors. My one day guide includes accommodation in Verona, what to eat and drink and how to get there.
24 Hours in Verona: Perfect One Day Guide for First Time Visitors
Travel to Verona: How to get there
Flights to Verona Villafranca Airport/Valerio Catullo Airport
Quite a few UK airports offer direct flights to Verona: Flybe (from Manchester), Ryanair (from Birmingham and London Stanstead), Jet2 (from Edinburgh), British Airways and Easyjet (London Gatwick) which tends to be the cheapest. However, no direct flights were available from Manchester for my trip in June. So, there can’t be that many flights available.
Check out Skyscanner for flights to Verona and see which airport/airline is best for your trip. If you want to find direct flights to Verona, you need to be as flexible as possible with your dates. If you’re only spending 24 hours in Verona as a weekend break then I really wouldn’t book a layover anywhere. Too much faff!
Please note: Verona Villafranca Airport and Valerio Catullo Airport are the same airport. Weird and unnecessarily confusing, right? I have no idea why both names are in use but you’ll see both just as much as the other. The airport code is the same, though: VRN.
Train to Verona Porta Nuova Station
Because I couldn’t find any direct flights to Verona from Manchester Airport for my dates, I decided to fly into Milan and take the train from Milan Centrale to Verona Porta Nuova. And if you’re planning a big trip to Italy, definitely take advantage of their cheap and awesome rail network!
Unlike the UK, once an intercity Italian train’s seats are fully booked then no one else can book tickets for that train, even to stand. So I’d strongly recommend booking your ticket as far in advance as possible. Ideally, book your train tickets to Verona on Trenitalia’s official website here as I did and print them out at home before you go. I think you can just show them on your phone now (you receive the tickets via email as a pdf). But double-check this when you book the tickets. Otherwise, try your luck at a ticket machine at your nearest Italian train station before your train departs.
My train from Milan to Verona took just over one hour and only cost €16.90! Absolute bargain. Once you arrive in Verona Porta Nuova, the city centre is approximately a 15-20 minute walk.
Top tip: Gelataria Romana is near the train station and is the best gelato I’ve ever consumed. And I’ve consumed more than my fair share of gelato. Start your trip in Verona the right way by heading here as soon as you step off the train. Choose a cone (not a cup) and go for their signature Romana Crema flavour. You can thank me later.
Transfers from Verona Villafranca Airport to Verona Porta Nuova Station
For my return journey to the UK, I managed to find a direct flight from Verona Airport to Birmingham Airport. So that means I could catch a shuttle bus transfer from Verona Porta Nuova Station to Verona Airport.
For an up to date shuttle bus timetable, check the Link Avel Bus website. But generally, buses leave the airport or train station every 20 minutes and the journey is only 15 minutes long. I pre-bought my ticket online for €6 from the ATV official website. You can also buy your ticket before you get on the bus for around the same price, but you need cash. It’s literally just a dude with a bumbag. The great thing about pre-booking your ticket is that you only need to know the date of your journey, not the time. So as long as you know what day you’re flying (which you should) you’re sorted for any shuttle bus.
The shuttle bus stop is really easy to find at Verona Porta Nuova station. Just leave the main station doors, look to your right and you’ll see it not far from the building. It’s really easy to find at the airport too, so don’t worry about that.
Accommodation in Verona: Where to stay
There are some amazing Airbnbs in Verona if you want to book an apartment for your trip. Most places are less than £50 a night! Plus, some hosts that have gone all out on the Romeo & Juliet theme and have decorated their houses bright white with flowers in window boxes and other romantic touches.
Likewise with the superb choice of hotels in Verona. I travelled to Verona solo and I’m very much still a budget traveller so most hotels are out of my budget. But, if I was travelling with someone else, I’d stay in the Relais De Charme Il Sogno Di Giulietta Hotel. It’s situated in the courtyard directly opposite Juliet’s House so perfectly located in the city centre. Plus, it’s got this whole medieval-style going on so you can live as Romeo and Juliet would have. You know, if they were real people. Yeah, it’s totally cheesy but perfect for couples on a romantic break.
Instead, I stayed at a fantastic hostel in Verona. In fact, I think it might be the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, I loved it that much. I booked The Hostello through Hostelworld (which I do for every hostel I stay in) and they offered free breakfast and well-decorated, clean and secure female-only dorms with en suite bathrooms. And the little garden/courtyard was nice, too. Just a really great hostel, you know?
24 Hours in Verona Itinerary
This is exactly how I would spend one day in Verona if I were to do it all again…
Breakfast – Duchi Café
I ate breakfast at my hostel because it was included, but if you want to eat breakfast in Verona out and about, head to Duchi Café. I passed this café on my way into Verona every day and I’m annoyed I didn’t eat or drink there. You can order the regular Italian breakfast of an espresso/cappuccino with a pastry like a croissant or something else. Duchi Café has multiple locations in Verona on Via Leoni and Corsa Porta Nuova.
It’s also a great place to hit up for aperitivo later on, too. They’re open all day every day from 6:30 in the morning-midnight.
- Casa di Giulietta/Juliet’s House – If you only have 24 hours in Verona, I recommend heading straight to Casa di Giulietta/Juliet’s House as early as possible. The courtyard and museum are open from 8:30-6:45 and by 9:30/10 the courtyard is packed. I visited twice and you get an initial influx when the gates open at 8:30 but then people disappear. The courtyard is free to visit but the museum (where the postboxes are so you can send a letter to Juliet) is €6 and €1 extra to tag on a ticket to Juliet’s Tomb (more on that later). The museum features props from various Romeo & Juliet films and other memorabilia from the time period. And you can walk onto the famous balcony!
- Free Walking Tour – If you’re spending one day anywhere in the world, one of the best things to do is join a free walking tour. I joined this free walking tour in Verona on a recommendation from my hostel and it was perfect to see all the main sites in less than two hours and learn more about the history of Verona. On this Verona walking tour, you visit Castelvecchio Bridge, pass by Verona Arena, Piazza Delle Erbe and lots more interesting places before finishing near Ponte Pietra. The tour starts at 10:30 and finishes around 90 minutes later. I like to tip free walking tours €10-€15 if they were amazing. The tour guides work so hard and definitely don’t deserve less than €10 per person unless you’re a student.
Lunch – El Cuciar OR Gastronomia Scapin Ponte Pietra
Since the free walking tour finishes near Ponte Pietra, I have two lunch recommendations nearby depending on your budget. If you’re on a low budget, I suggest you buy bits and pieces from Gastronomia Scapin Ponte Pietra (open 9:00-20:30 every day). It’s a deli/supermarket selling local ingredients so pick up some bread, cheese, olives, etc. and sit on a bench overlooking the Adige river and have a picnic!
Or if you want a slightly more upmarket lunch, try El Cuciar Bistro where pasta dishes cost around €10 but there are some pricer options too. It has a modern, clean decor and it’s situated right outside Verona Cathedral/Duomo but it’s in a relatively quiet spot. I’d choose this bistro if I wanted to spend a little more on lunch because they seem to have an excellent craft beer selection. Open 10:00-19:30/20:00 most days except they close early at 16:30 on Thursdays.
Don’t forget to leave room for gelato! Gelataria Ponte Pietra is one of the top-rated gelaterias in the city so you need to visit while you’re in the area. I think I was served by Beatrici, the owner, and she’s just the loveliest woman. And still very friendly even though the shop was quite busy. Delicious gelato, too!
- Ponte Pietra – If you haven’t already, continue your 24 hours in Verona by walking across Ponte Pietra which is one of the most famous bridges in Verona. It’s been destroyed and rebuilt a fair few times so it’s amazing it’s still standing!
- Castel San Pietro – I cannot travel to any city without seeing at least one amazing viewpoint. In Verona’s case, the best has to be from Castel San Pietro. It’s completely free to visit this viewpoint, but there’s a heck of a lot of steps and in hot weather, I am already far sweatier than I’d like to admit. However, the Castel San Pietro Funicular is only €2 for a return journey and is open 10:00-21:00 every day. You can’t go inside anywhere, it’s more of a viewing area but it’s fantastic. I bet this view is amazing at sunset, too!
- Basilica di Sant’Anastasia OR Verona Cathedral/Duomo OR Chiesa di San Fermo – Since you have a mere 24 hours in Verona, there is no way I’m going to recommend three churches to you and tell you to visit them all! Such a waste of time and money tbh. The Basilica di Sant’Anastasia, Verona Cathedral/Duomo and Chiesa di San Fermo are the top three most important and beautiful churches in Verona and just visiting one is enough for anyone. I visited the Basilica di Sant’Anastasia because I heard it was the most striking (and conveniently located) church and it was really freaking beautiful. Entrance is €3 and opening times are 9:00-18:00 in summer, 13:00-18:00 on Sundays/holidays and 10:00-17:00 in winter.
- Wander around Verona – With the rest of your afternoon, I’d just walk around Verona’s historic centre and re-visiting places like Piazza Delle Erbe and it’s market which you might want to check out.
Dinner – La Taverna Di Via Stella OR Leone da Ciro1924
I’ve got two recommendations for affordable dinners in Verona – La Taverna Di Via Stella for authentic, local food and Leone da Ciro1924 for Napoli-style pizza. Both were recommended by my tour guide earlier that day but I chose the pizzeria because it was super cheap (less than €15 for a pizza and large, local beer). And I felt more comfortable eating there by myself.
- Watch Opera at Verona Arena – Did you know that Verona Arena is the second most significant/surviving colosseum in Italy? Behind, you know, the actual colosseum and wonder of the world in Rome. Well, it’s been restored and in the summer it’s a venue for outdoor opera performances. If that’s something that would interest you, check out the theatre listings on the Verona Arena website to see if they have anything on during your 24 hours in Verona. You can also visit the Verona Arena during the day, too.
- Craft Beer Bar – It’s probably the shameless hipster in me but I love a good craft beer bar. Most cities in Italy are unfortunately void of good, local Italian craft beer but Maratonda Craft Beer Pub is the closet they have so I’d definitely head there. The bar is generally open from 18:00-midnight but closed Sundays.
Other Top Things to do in Verona
If you are spending more than 24 hours in Verona or find yourself with a couple of spare hours, here are some other fun things to do in Verona…
- Tomba di Giulietta/Juliet’s Tomb – I’ll be perfectly honest, the majority of you will find Tomba di Giulietta/Juliet’s Tomb to be a massive rip off/waste of time and I’d totally understand why. I wasn’t going to bother visiting, but then when I visited Juliet’s House and for just €1 extra I could visit Juliet’s Tomb on the same day, I thought I may as well. It’s a nice complex and lots of people book weddings there, but it’s just an empty tomb apparently belonging to someone that probably didn’t exist. Have a look at the photos and decide for yourself if it’s worth visiting. Open 8:30-19:30 every day.
- Romeo’s House – The same with Romeo’s House, except you may as well drop by Romeo’s House if you’re passing. It’s literally just a random gate on a random street with ‘Romeo’s House’ on a sign above. So there are no opening times or entrance fee, just a house on a street. A group of girls spent ages having a photoshoot outside of it when I visited. Bit weird.
- Giardino Giusti – These gardens are really beautiful and were super close to my hostel so I thought I’d see what they were like. However, I was let down by the extremely expensive €8 entrance fee (!) when I’d read online they were free to visit. Plus, there aren’t really any benches or places to sit so you couldn’t just chill out and enjoy the scenery. And it’s not a very big place. So if you don’t have time to visit Giardino Giusti then I think that’s fine, though they are beautiful gardens. Opening times are generally 9:00-20:00.
- Castelvecchio Museum – Next to the Castelvecchio Bridge is the Castelvecchio Museum. It’s a castle built in the 14th-century housing an art gallery but I don’t think it’s something you need to visit unless you love art. I walked around the outside and learnt about the history of the castle during my free walking tour and that was enough for me. Opening times are 8:30-19:30 every day except 13:30-19:30 on Mondays and tickets are €6.
Day trip to Lake Garda from Verona
I stayed three nights in Verona spending 24 hours in Verona itself and one day trip to Lake Garda. It was without a doubt the best way to split up my time! I highly recommend a day trip to one of the beautiful towns on Lake Garda. I wrote another post on visiting Sirmione on Lake Garda which just so happens to be a filming location for Call Me By Your Name (2017).
And that’s my ideal 24 hours in Verona, Italy itinerary for first-time visitors! Are you planning a trip to Verona? Let me know in the comments below!