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Infamous for its Shakespearean connections, references to star-crossed lovers, and the now tragically overcrowded Juliet’s Balcony there’s much more to enjoy about Verona than its literary stereotypes.
Reasons to Plan a Day Trip to Verona from Milan
One of the best things about Milan is its accessibility to so many wonderful day trip locations within northern Italy. While most of the crowds head to the Lakes (Como, Garda and many other smaller ones), we decided to head further east to Verona which is about 1.5 hours journey (depending on how you get there – see below) from Milan.
Fair Verona has plenty of reasons to visit beyond the romantic – with exceptional architecture, good shopping, tasty food and it’s well known for its performing arts scene, too. It’s also a very manageable size of city to explore on foot and in a day – there’s enough to keep you busy but not so much as to overwhelm.
Our favourite memory of Verona from our trip there this summer is sitting on the stone steps of the amphitheatre, watching the sunset behind the stone Arena and soaking up the raising music as the Opera Company rehearsed Aida.
Recommended Things to do in Verona
The best way to enjoy Verona – in our humble opinion – is to wander it and soak up the atmosphere and heavenly architecture. However, if you prefer a more structured approach, here are some of our recommended things to see in Verona!
There’s no missing Verona’s amphitheatre! As you enter Verona on your stroll from the train station, the colossal structure will greet you and it’s well worth a look around. The Arena was built in AD30 and is actually older than the Colosseum in Rome (plus there are no queues to get in here!).
You can learn about the history of the Arena and the games that used to be put on here. You can freely wander the stone steps for some beautiful views over Verona, too. There are also companies offering guided tours of the Arena. The Arena will be used as the venue for the closing ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan.
If you’re interested in art history in Verona then the Castel Vecchio Museum is worth a look, home to a collection of sculpture, statues and paintings, and set in the grandiose and beautiful surroundings of Verona’s own medieval Castle.
Via Giuseppe Mazzini (or just Via Mazzini for short) is one of the main shopping streets, leading off the Arena di Verona and Piazza Bra. You’ll find a mix of high end designer and regular high street stores with some small local boutiques scattered in between. Corso Porta Borsari is another great shopping street for when Via Mazzini gets too crowded.
Via Mazzini is also the perfect spot for your evening Passegiata (mandatory Italian style evening stroll) to see the city’s inhabitants in their stylish clothes – perfect for people watching!
Eating & Drinking
Verona is full of impossibly charming courtyards, passageways, lawns and river views, and there are cafes, restaurants, paneteria and bars at every turn! You won’t have any problem finding food in Verona, but the central touristy spots are overpriced and you can expect to pay if you choose to eat in front of that Arena view (plus the food is not the best).
To find more delicious and fairly priced eating options we recommend heading away from the Arena square and the via Mazzini areas. (The exception to this would be Venchi Gelateria on the via Mazzini which does quite a good ice cream. Or two!)
There are some lovely eating options alongside the Adige river to the north side of the city, including Ristorante Ponte Pietra, perfect for a special lunch or dinner (pre-booking recommended). It has views over the river and stunning Castel San Pietro over on the north riverbank.
For more casual eating, Osteria Le Vecete – known for its traditional, local food, on the Via Pellicciai comes highly recommended.
Specialities of Verona include radicchio (radish) – risotto di radicchio is a popular dish, as is risotto al tastasal (which is a sausage sauce). One word of warning, that caval (horse meat) is a speciality here – so if you want to avoid that, look out for anything with caval on the menu. If unsure, ask what type of meat is being used.
Go to an Opera
As the city of Opera, you can’t truly experience Verona without enjoying an Opera at the city’s Arena. Sitting in this ancient structure with the music rising up around you is a truly special memory. Just one thing: If you want to do this, you’ll have to stay one night in Verona as you’ll miss the last train home – the performances are evenings only, during summer months.
Pre-booking tickets is essential and can be done online. Although we didn’t get to enjoy the full experience, our taster of hearing a rehearsal made us want to return for the real deal!
Casa di Giulietta
If you really must! We’re not fans, personally, as this is where most of the crowds and tour groups head in Verona, but for romantics or Shakespeare fans you can visit Juliet’s balcony on the Via Cappello.
You can see the courtyard outside where lovers traditionally scribble love letters against the wall, or you can pay to go up on the balcony (if you really insist!).
Just don’t use chewing gum to attach your love letter to the wall, as the city of Verona has to pay to get this cleaned up every year.
Getting to Verona from Milan
Like most day trips from Italian cities, we recommend going on a weekday (not Saturday / Sunday) if you can – especially during summer. The reason being that every self-respecting Italian is trying to escape the city for the weekend.
The best way to get to Verona from Milan is by train. There are two types of train, and trains leave regularly (about every half hour) from Milano Centrale (try saying that without singing) and we recommend pre-buying your train tickets, especially if you want to go with the faster, Frecce option.
The fastest option for getting to Milan is on the Frecca Rossa, one of the types of High Speed train in Italy. The journey on these is 1 hour 15 minutes, but depending on when you book may cost you double than an ordinary Regionale train. We recommend booking well in advance for discounted fares.
The Regionale trains are regular local trains and take about 1 hour 50 minutes from Milano Centrale to Verona. We took a Regionale train, which proved to be a mistake as unfortunately we were confined to going to Verona on a Saturday as my fiance’s sister works during the week in Milan.
We boarded the train at Milan at 8am on a June Saturday morning only to find that it was standing room only, with many lycra-clad cyclists, complete with bikes standing in all the doorways. It emerged that a major cycling event was taking place outside of Milan. At the next station outside Milan the transport police arrived, ushering all the cyclists off the train and onto another train that was apparently for race-goers. Still, the train remained very crowded and standing room only.
Moral of the story? If you’re doing this trip on a summer weekend? Pay the extra for a Frecca Rossa. During the week you should be fine on the regional trains.
Arriving in Verona
Verona has a couple of different train stations – the one you want to book your train to is Verona Porto Nuova – this is about 20 minutes walk from the historical centre of Verona.
You could also drive to Verona from Milan but we don’t recommend that option as Milan traffic can be heavy, and you also have to worry about finding and paying for parking once you reach Verona – like many historical towns in Italy, it is not designed for cars.
Tips for Travel in Verona
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your time in Verona:
- There’s no such thing as free tap water in Italian restaurants. Avoid buying single-use plastic by taking up you own water bottle and filling up at the city’s free water fountains – the water is perfectly safe to drink
- Consider staying a little longer than one day if you can to get more of a real taste of Verona!
- The best time for exploring Verona is early in the morning, before the tour buses arrive.
- Italy’s cities are generally very safe but do watch out for your belongings and protect them from opportunistic pickpockets, particularly in tourist hotspots (that means no phones/wallets in back pockets).
- Try to eat at small, locally owned restaurants and bars away from the most touristy areas to support family-owned businesses.
- Wheeled suitcases and Verona’s ancient streets do not make for a good combination. We suggest travelling light and taking a backpack instead!
- To avoid the crowds, spring and fall make for great times to visit Verona, as well as mid-week vs weekends.
- Take your time! The magic of places like Verona lies in wandering aimlessly and coming across beautiful buildings and squares you never knew existed.
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Ellie Cleary is a passionate traveler, based in Canada who believes that travel can be transformative and that the best journeys are the ones that connect us to a destination. You can read more about travel on Vancouver Island on her blog Exploringvi.com and learn more about her approach to travel on Soul Travel Blog.