Top Reasons Everyone Should Visit Verona, Italy, at Least Once

The Verona Arena will host the closing ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics
The Verona Arena will host the closing ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics | © Andrey Khrobostov / Alamy Stock Photo
Nicola Williams

Verona is an ancient city with a history stretching back to Roman times. Whether you want to follow in the fictitious footsteps of Romeo and Juliet, or catch an opera at the Verona Arena, here are the reasons why you need to put this city in Italy on your bucket list.

Pierced at its heart by a mini colosseum and awash with romantic piazzas, the small city of Verona in northeast Italy inspires love at first sight. Set the scene for your own Romeo and Juliet love story with a bridge-to-bridge stroll along the River Adige, followed by coffee and people-watching at Piazza della Erbe. Then dive into a curated feast of Roman sights, fascinating museums and seductive Veronese cuisine.

1. Visit the Romeo and Juliet sights

Building, Museum

Juliets house in Verona
© dcphoto / Alamy Stock Photo
Shakespeare set two works in Verona – The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1623) and Romeo and Juliet (1597) – but it’s only the latter that fires the imagination of Verona visitors, thanks to a ferocious marketing campaign launched by the city in the 1930s. Join the crowds snapping selfies on the balcony on which Romeo famously declared his love for Juliet, see where Romeo lived and venerate Juliet’s tomb. But remember – every last sight in Verona related to the Shakespearean star-crossed lovers is pure fiction.

2. Stroll the less crowded streets

Natural Feature

Verona is not without its crowd-tangled streets and high-season gelato queues, but compared to traditionally jam-packed Venice – a one-and-a-half-hour drive or train journey east – the lack of tourist hordes is a relief. Meander away from Verona’s historic centre into lesser-frequented neighbourhoods, such as Veronetta, around romantic Renaissance gardens at Giardino Giusti and up high with a funicular ride to Castel San Pietro, where the city unfolds sublimely at your feet. Thrillseekers can escape the crowds with whitewater rafting on the River Adige.

3. Tuck into typical Verona cuisine

Restaurant, Italian

After the Battle of Verona in 489CE, the Veronese threw meat from slain horses into their stockpot to cook up with vegetables, herbs and a splash of the region’s signature Valpolicella red wine. It became known as pastissada de caval. The horse stew is now served with polenta or potato gnocchi all over town, including at slow-food favourites Trattoria al Pompiere and Trattoria Pane e Vino. Foodies adore the risotto all’amarone, blending Vialone Nano rice harvested from paddies on the Veronese plain with local amarone wine.

4. Indulge in local wine tasting

Winery

The hills north of Verona are awash with vineyards. There’s no finer spot to taste wine than Valpolicella, a beautiful green sweep peppered with aristocratic villas built as weekend retreats for Verona nobles. Many are now wineries open to guests, including the 14th-century Villa Serego Alighieri, purchased by the son of Medieval poet Dante, who fled to Vernoa from Florence; the winery even has overnight accommodation. Elsewhere, guided tastings at Azienda Agricola Giuseppe Quintarelli above Negrar are a rare opportunity to experience the intense red amarone wines of the most illustrious winemaker in the region.

5. Embrace the multicultural atmosphere

Architectural Landmark

As with many EU countries, Italy encourages foreigners to feel at home. From the end of the 19th century until the 1970s, some 30m Italian emigrants sought their fortune in other parts of the world. Modern history has seen Italians welcome Romanians, Moroccans, Albanians, Chinese and others onto their home soil. Immigrants account for 8 percent of Italy’s population today, and multicultural Verona raises the bar with some 12 percent hailing from another country.

6. Embark on a day trip to Lake Garda

Natural Feature

View of harbour and architecture on a sunny day, Malcesine, Lake Garda, Province of Verona, Italy, Europe
© Frank Fell / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a 45-minute drive to the manicured shores of the majestic Lake Garda. Feast on Veronese art and architecture all morning, and frolic along the most beautiful lake in Italy come afternoon. If you have kids in tow, Disneyesque theme park Gardaland is quick to access. Otherwise, hit the soothing hot springs in the pretty village of Sirmione, or hike gently rolling vineyards hemming in Bardolino. Top tip: boats sail from Sirmione to Riva del Garda on the northern shore of the lake.

7. Explore ancient Roman ruins

Historical Landmark

Porta Leoni, Verona, Italy. Image shot 2017. Exact date unknown.
© Steffen Hauser / botanikfoto / Alamy Stock Photo

Rome might be the Italian superstar of Roman ruins, but Verona gives the capital a run for its money with its littering of pink-hued Roman relics built between the third century BCE and first century CE. Admire remnants of Porta Leoni and Porta Borsari – gates in the defensive walls originally ensnaring two sides of the riverside city – and tour the Arena di Verona. Complete the story at the Museo Archeologico, squirrelled away in a second Roman theatre, just north of the city centre.

8. Admire fine art at the Museo di Castelvecchio

Museum

The Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, a museum of art from the Middle Ages to the 18th century housed in Medieval fortress renovated by Carlo Scarpa
© Riccardo Bianchini / Alamy Stock Photo

A Medieval fortress built in the 14th century, bombed during World War II and famously reinvented by modern architect Carlo Scarpa in the 1960s is the majestic setting for the fine arts museum in Verona. As much a lesson in modern museography as in gothic, Renaissance and 16th- to 18th-century Italian art, the museum juxtaposes raw concrete and steel with masterpieces by Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Tintoretto, Rubens and others. Don’t miss the startling works of contemporary art in its courtyard.

9. Marvel at the Verona Arena

Music Venue, Historical Landmark

History aficionados, get ready to swoon over the unexpected beauty of an open-air amphitheatre – a superbly preserved, tiered arena hewn in local pink limestone from Valpolicella in 30CE. In its Roman heyday, 30,000-odd wildly excited spectators watched gladiator games at the Verona Arena. Today, modern stars to take to this awe-inspiring Veronese stage include Paul McCartney, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel and Adele. In 2026, the arena will host the closing ceremony of the Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics.

10. Catch the Opera Festival

Music Venue, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Verona Arena aerial panoramic view. Arena is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra square in Verona, Italy
© Andrey Khrobostov / Alamy Stock Photo

Sitting on an ancient limestone step after dark, candle in hand, as opera singers let rip with Verdi’s La Traviata or Puccini’s Turandot during the summer Opera Festival is utterly magical. The acoustics inside the Roman amphitheatre are sensational, thanks in part to the arena’s elliptical form. As every opera connoisseur will tell you, this is one of the finest places in the world to enjoy opera.

Find the perfect place for your trip to Verona by booking one of the best hotels in the city now through Culture Trip. Explore more while you’re there, and take a look at the top things to see and do in the city of Shakespeare’s greatest romance. After a long day of sightseeing, spend an evening dining at one of the best restaurants in Verona. Extend your Italian adventure by visiting not-so-far-away Venice. Book a beautiful boutique hotel and explore the best of what the floating city has to offer.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Ione Wang.

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