5 Amazing places to see near Venice
Today I would like to change things a little and spend a few words NOT on Venice, but on a few amazing little towns very close to it.
You see, every time I get to spend some time with tourists in Venice, I say the same thing: Italy is not about its 4-5 most popular cities, but about the hundreds of little towns on hills, sea, and mountains. There are almost no distances between one town and another and 99% of them are exceptionally good and definitely worth seeing.
Just imagine the famous Cinque Terre, or the hills near Florence with Montepulciano, Montalcino: what’s better than relaxing and enjoying a few slow days outside the traffic and pollution, enjoying unique local products and walking hand in hand with your lover in these romantic little towns? Trust your Italian Buddy and do yourself this favor, don’t just bite the touristic slice of Italy, eat the whole cake!
This is the reason why today we’re going to talk a little bit about the most amazing places to see near Venice.
You should already know that Padova and Treviso, which are only 30 minutes train from Venice are definitely a must see (and also Verona which is a bit more far but one of my favourite cities in Italy), so we’ll focus just on the small towns. The downside is that: you’ll need to rent a car, if you don’t have yours. I know, it’s a bit of a turn off but you’ll thank me later, believe me
5. Arquà Petrarca
Arquà Petrarca is a small town on the Euganean Hills, on the road from Padova to Monselice (see below) and takes part of its name from the famous italian poet Francesco Petrarca who lived here.
The town has only 1800 inhabitants and it’s a UNESCO world heritage site, founded originally during the bronze age, and with a small castle built in 985 d.C.
It also has a perfectly strategic location (for you) cause in the same day you can travel from Venice to Padova, see my hometown, then move to Arquà Petrarca and finally to Monselice. It only takes a few hours to visit Arquà, it’s a very small but cozy place, especially in autumn and winter, and it’s also very close to Abano Terme and it’s spas.
We strongly suggest you to buy here a local liquor, produced only in Arquà: Brodo di Giuggiole made with jujubes.
Much bigger than Arquà, with 14.000 inhabitants, Marostica is a small town on the hills outside Vicenza.
Just like Arquà, it takes just a few hours to see it, but if you feel like it you can reach up top of the hill to visit the citadel and the castle. I strongly suggest it, as one of my most romantic memories with my girlfriend was set right there 😉
Anyway, Marostica is famous almost all over the world for it’s live chess game. It’s a special event that takes place every year in September (this year it was from the 12th to 14th) and it’s followed up by dances, parades, and much more. Everybody is dressed in medieval costumes, there’s music and it’s definitely something that will be very difficult to see elsewhere.
On the road from Padova to Ferrara-Bologna, has it’s own highway exit and train stop. Among these five towns this is surely the easiest to reach, both by train and by car (there are buses as well, from Padova).
It’s actually quite a big town, compared to the previous two, with 17.000 inhabitants and it’s famous especially for it’s castle, that you can see from far away, up on a hill.
The insides of the castle are very interesting and I strongly suggest you to visit it. There’s a ticket, of course, but it’s only like 5€ and trust me it’s worth it. The castle is one of the biggest in North Italy, has amazing gardens and a very rich armory. If you have kids with you, or if like me you enjoy medieval history, this is THE place for you.
Among these five towns, it’s actually my favourite, but I figured to put it at second place for it’s small size (compared to the winner).
Again, this is a very romantic town, taking a walk here, especially in autumn and winter near Christmas will make you gain at least 1000 points with your crush/girlfriend/lover/wife, you’ll thank me later 😉
There’s also lots of excellent places where to drink wine and eat platters of cheese and affettati, and has also one of my top 3 favourite restaurants in the Veneto region.
You know that usually I don’t recommend specific places but in this case it’s really worth it: the name is Ca’Derton and just to give you an idea, I ate here a roasted milk suckling pig so good that I remembered it’s taste for at least one month.
1. Bassano del Grappa
The biggest of these five, with 43.000 inhabitants. The site is one of the oldest of our region, and was first colonized around 800 b.C. Anyway, just like the others before, this town gained most of it’s structure and size in the middle ages around 1100 when the walls where built.
This town is mostly famous for it’s long wooden bridge, called “Ponte Vecchio” or “Ponte degli Alpini”, that was design by architect Palladio, who you may already know for the several stunning villas he built in our region. It’s also one of the areas in Veneto more affected by the 1st and especially the 2nd world war where it became a strategic point for the defense of North-East Italy.
In 1945, to stop the nazi attack, a small group of volunteers blew up the bridge. The maneuver was successful, but not without losses. After the war the bridge was built again, following the original Palladio project and now it’s one of the most visited places in the city.
If you’re stopping here, we also suggest to buy a bottle or two of grappa, a very typical local strong liquor.
That’s it guys, there are TONS of other interesting small towns, this is just a a taste. If you think we missed your favourite place, write us a line and we’ll try to fix it
hello, I am visiting in 2 days. my husband and I will be there for 10 days, however he will be there for business so we really only might have the weekend for full days. and the evenings during the week. can you recommend places to see and places to eat during out time so that we aren’t wasting the time we do have
Hi jaza,where are you staying?are you looking to see just venice or outside too? If so, do you have a car?
mestre right now until my husband can see if the water taxi situation will work for him to get to and from where he needs to be. it is about 40 minutes from the hotel in mestre. we will have a car.
In Venice I’d suggest to have a walk in the evening at Zattere (southern area) and have dinner there along the grand canal, otherwise there are a couple of nice “osterie” near campo san barnaba and calle lunga san barnaba. As for other places in Venice to see I’d recommend also Burano, Giardini Biennale and Sant’Elena, and Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Outside Venice I’d suggest you go half day in Padova. If you want to see La Cappella degli Scrovegni (painted by Giotto) you should book it 24hrs in advance. Otherwise in Padova you still have Sant’Antonio, la Specola and Prato della Valle to see. All the other places mentioned in this page are very nice and worth a visit, depending on your time. At asolo I recommend eating here (sorry I don’t remember the name) for an excellent quality/price ratio https://firstname.lastname@example.org,11.9143667,3a,75y,68.28h,61.18t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sDGf28UcDdsLwgN8EHIKPUQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1 or here https://www.google.it/maps/place/Trattoria+Moderna+Due+Moriemail@example.com,11.9103893,233a,20y,77.45h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb9275578697cdec!8m2!3d45.8021015!4d11.9124332 for something slightly more elegant
Thank-you so much for your response. We are excited for the trip and hopefully your recommendations will save us some headache. I was disappointed to hear pizza is not big in the area we are going to
Hi Giorgio! What a great post! Very helpful. My husband, 13 year old daughter and, I will be traveling to Italy in February 2017 and we’ll be spending 4 days in Venice towards the end of February. We will like to do a day trip to a small nearby town (3 hours travel max, maybe?) , we won’t be renting a car. We will like to see mountains and a place where is stuff to do/see. What do you recommend? Thanks in advance!
from this list, there are trains direct from venezia to bassano del grappa 1.15 hours each way, 6€ per person one way.
you can also go to monselice with either a “regionale veloce” train or a regular “regionale”, the price is 5.45€ for both but the first one takes 47 minutes while the latter takes 1.22 hours.
other options would be Padova (30 mins by train) it’s a bigger city (400.000 people) and will take you a day to visit, Verona is also big but beautiful, it’s a bit farther though (2 hours). I think you should know it for the arena or for Giulietta’s house.
Great! Thanks again!
There are also trains from Venice to Marostica, and I’d be very surprised if it is impossible to access any of these towns by public transport. https://www.rome2rio.com/fr/s/Venise/Marostica
Veneto is a highly-developed region of Italy, and there are train or at least bus links to most places. I don’t drive, so renting a car is not an option; if I go there by car, it would be with Italian friends in Pordenone who own a car.
Hi Italian Buddy,
Planning to visit Venice in June for 5 days. What all should I do including a visit to a place outside Venice?
Hi Giorgio, Hi travellers!
Great post! I’m writing a short guide to some “off the beaten” places in Veneto too
I am a Venetian tour & outdoor guide.
My goal is to offer something different to travellers, less conventional and much more experiential discovering some hidden treasures around Venice. There is so much to see and do beyond Venice!
That is why my motto is “Enjoy a different day” !
Hope it’s okay if i put my website link here http://www.elsendero.it , if not feel free to remove it
Good travels to everyone!
Of course. Always useful to know.
Grazie mille per la risposta 😉
nice site,but sadly the guide has been removed from Dropbox.is it available elsewhere?
Hi @disqus_hXEtKjEm2T:disqus apologies for the issue. We hadn’t realized it yet.
Dropbox changed their link format so I had to generate a new one.
The guide page has been updated, this is the link directly to the file http://bit.ly/Italian_Buddy_Venice
Hello! Great recommendations! We will be in Venice in August and will be there for 2 days, we are considering taking a day trip to Dolomite mountains and Cortina. What are your thoughts? I did not see you recommend this area.
Hi Rosy. I didn’t have enough space to recommend everything in this post but if you’re into mountains and hiking you should definitely go! Dolomites are to me the best mountains in Italy and there are plenty of options depending whether you want to go on organized trips or by yourself.
We are traveling to Venice to pick up a cruise. I would like to spend 4-5 days in the surrounding areas. Is there a logical base that I could use besides Venice in order to see some of the sights you recommended?
I appreciate the help.
hi doug. if you have a car i suggest padova cause it’s in the middle of the area and you can reach all the surrounding towns including venice in 1 hour or less. if you don’t, padova is still a good choice but you’ll have to move by train. otherwise mestre (the mainland before venice) is also fine and probably handier for trains. the downside of mestre is that the center is small and not as appealing as padova
Thanks for the help.
Hi Giorgi, I will be in Venice in a month. My friend and I are looking for some great hiking. I noticed there is the little Dolomites close by (40miles) just want to confirm if you could give us some great hiking recommendations for two avid hikers looking to hike about 6 hours. Our time is limited to 2 days in the area. Thanks
Sorry i’m not an expert on mountains i think you can find better advice somewhere else on the internet
Grazie for responding!!
Do you know the best way to get train times to Vicenza from Venice?
http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en from vicenza to venezia santa lucia. try to get a “regionale veloce” train, they’re quick and cheap
Thanks Giorgi! One last question, we will be arriving into Marco Polo airport. What is the cheapest and fastest way to the MSC cruise line port?
there are public buses from the airport to venice, i think they cost 8 euros now. i can leave the bus at piazzale roma (last stop) and then walk back 5 minutes to the cruise terminal or leave it 1 or 2 stops earlier
Thanks Giorgi. What confuses me is I was told I would have to take water taxi since Venice is on an island. Must be incorrect information?
yes. venice is an island connected to the mainland by a bridge where trains, cars and buses go normally. you can take a water taxi but it will be very expensive (i think over 100€) so definitely not recommended
You are the best!! This has been very helpful. I hope you don’t mind all my questions, more may come if that is okay:)
Hi Buddy, we are going to Venice next August. We have one month to travel around. Maybe stay 10 days in the north of Italy. Which city should we stay in like our base camp to visit the villages that you recommended? Grazie!
Please make the site responsive. Interesting stuff but cant read all sentices