Venice is the most touristed city in one of the most touristed countries in the world. That’s a lot of tourists. Some estimates claim that Venice receives more than 30 million tourists each year. And given the relatively small size of the city – at least the water-based part that people come to see – it’s more or less inevitable that you’ll encounter crowds when you visit.
That doesn’t mean Venice isn’t worth seeing. But it does mean that once you arrive, you may soon find yourself in need of a break from this admittedly beautiful city.
Fortunately, you’re in luck. Venice’s main train station, Santa Lucia, is the gateway to the mainland and some incredible destinations in northern Italy. Drop off your unneeded bags at a luggage storage in Venice train station, and you can have some memorable experiences in this fascinating region.
Here are some trips you should definitely consider:
Just an hour from Venice by train, this city in the Veneto region is probably most famous as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But there’s much more to see here than just the balcony where Juliet supposedly spoke those famous words.
The historic center of Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The Roman Arena is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, and you can still catch operas and other performances here during the summer. If you’re up for a climb, take the stairs to the top of Torre dei Lamberti for gorgeous views over Verona.
There are also plenty of great restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy some of the local cuisine, including fresh pasta dishes and, of course, gelato.
Just a few minutes down the rail line from Venice is Padua, another picturesque city in the Veneto region. This is a great place to spend a day if you’re interested in art and history.
The Scrovegni Chapel is home to some of the most important and best-preserved frescoes in the world, painted by Giotto in the early 14th century. The Basilica of Sant’Antonio is one of the largest churches in Italy and contains the tomb of St. Anthony, one of Catholicism’s most popular saints.
For something a little different, make sure to visit the Orto Botanico di Padova, the world’s oldest university botanical garden. Founded in 1545, it’s still an active research facility as well as a beautiful place to take a stroll.
If you’re looking for a smaller, quieter town to explore, Treviso is a great option. This city of just over 80,000 people is located in the Veneto region as well, not far from both Venice and Padua.
Treviso is known for its canals – in fact, it’s sometimes called “Little Venice” – as well as its history as a former center of the Italian silk industry. The town’s main square, Piazza dei Signori, is lined with medieval palaces that once belonged to the city’s wealthiest families.
The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is worth a visit for its beautiful 13th-century frescoes, and the nearby Church of Santo Stefano is home to an impressive collection of art and relics. If you’re in Treviso on a Wednesday or Saturday, make sure to visit the open-air market in Piazza Borse – it’s one of the largest and best in Italy.
This city in the Emilia-Romagna region is about two hours from Venice by train. Ferrara was once one of the richest and most powerful cities in Italy, and its legacy can still be seen in its grandiose architecture.
The centerpiece of the city is the Estense Castle, a massive moated fortress that was built in the 14th century and has been well preserved. The castle now houses a museum with art and artifacts from Ferrara’s long history.
Ferrara is also home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, the University of Ferrara, which was founded in 1391. The university’s buildings are scattered throughout the city, but its main campus is located just outside the historic center.
This city on the Adriatic Sea is located in the far northeast of Italy, about two hours from Venice by train. Trieste was once a major center of trade and culture, and its history is reflected in its architecture and cuisine.
The Cathedral of San Giusto is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks, with its imposing redbrick exterior and 14th-century bell tower. For a taste of the local cuisine, make sure to try some of the city’s famous goulash, a hearty stew made with beef, potatoes, and paprika.
If you’re interested in history, Trieste is home to several museums dedicated to its rich past, including the Museum of the Risorgimento and the Museum of the Middle and Far East.
A high-speed train can whisk you from Venice to Florence in just over two hours. This is one of the most popular day trips from Venice, and it’s easy to see why – Florence is an absolute must-see on any trip to Italy.
This city in the Tuscany region is home to some of the world’s most famous art and architecture, including the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the Uffizi Gallery.
Florence is also known for its leather goods, and the city’s many shops and stalls offer a wide variety of beautiful handmade products.
For a taste of the local cuisine, make sure to try some of the city’s famous dishes, like Florentine steak and tripe. And if you’re in Florence on a Sunday, don’t miss the huge open-air market in San Lorenzo.
The fastest trains can take you from Venice to Milan in around 2 1/2 hours, which makes it a bit of a stretch for a day trip. But if you leave early and come back later, it’s still doable, and given everything Milan has to offer, it’s worth considering. Alternatively, you could make an overnight trip to this fascinating city.
Milan is Italy’s fashion and design capital, and its streets are filled with high-end shops and boutiques. The city is also home to some of the country’s most important museums, including the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Museo del Novecento.
And, of course, no trip to Milan would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Duomo, one of the largest and most impressive cathedrals in the world.
If you’re looking for a change of pace from Venice, there are plenty of great day trips you can take by train. From the medieval city of Ferrara to the fashionable capital of Milan, there’s something for everyone. So hop on a train and explore some of the amazing places Italy has to offer!