Padua (Padova in Italian) is a prosperous place with a charming old town, lovely parks, and some great cafes and restaurants. It really is a shame that so few tourists ever discover this gem, and those that do only seem to visit the incredible Scrovegni chapel. More on that coming up.
There is only one hotel that I can recommend, it is the Hotel Belludi. The Belludi is a small, family-run hotel right in the heart of Padova. Everything about the hotel is excellent, and the price is very reasonable too.
I don't know what it is, but everyone working here seems to absolutely love what they do. Well done to the Belludi family for a really lovely little hotel.
If you can't get into the Belludi then the Hotel Giotto is a great alternative.
Many tourist, who do come to Padua, only come for a quick trip to see the chapel. It's definitely worth coming all the way here for, but why not see a little more? My advice is to spend a night or two.
The Monselice Castle, built in the 13th century is most definitely worth a visit and so are some of the museums in Padova and its surrounds.
I particularly like the Museum of River Boats. River boats have played such a big part in the history of this area and I know nothing about boats so the museum was an interesting learning experience.
The Glass Museum features some beautiful pieces and if you
have kids, like me, then I suggest that you take them to Butterfly
World where they can walk amongst 400 of the world’s most beautiful
butterflies. They claim it is one of the biggest butterfly parks in the world - can't say if that is true though. The other
Veneto butterfly park in Santorso
claims the same thing.
You must visit the fabulous botanical garden: it is one of the oldest in the world and is a fascinating way to spend a few hours. Do visit the outdoor market next door to the magnificent 12th century Palazzo della Ragione (which is also a must see). The market itself has an outdoor section selling clothes, bags, etc. and an indoor section filled with gourmet delights - join me in the video below for a walk through the market.
There is also the Prato delle Valle: not sure how to describe the Prato delle Valle, it's sort of a huge piazza/park with 78 statues of famous people dating back to the 18th century. A lovely spot to relax and watch the world pass by.
Details of all these places and useful maps of Padua can be found at the local tourist office, next to the main station. For more photos and info about the city click here.
Trattoria San Pietro in Via S. Pietro, 95 and the Osteria Ai Scarponi
Via Cesare Battisti 138 has great options. They are both tiny little restaurants, and you'll need to book because they are hugely popular with locals. It is, however, worth the effort: the food is excellent, and both serve all of the most popular and always delicious local dishes, prepared with only the freshest ingredients.
Padua has a good public transport network, and if you are spending more than 48 hours in the town, get the Padova Card, which costs from €18 upwards, depending on how long you want it for. The card allows you unlimited use of public transport and free entrance to the Scrovegni Chapel and twelve museums in the town. You can get it from the tourist office or from most hotels.
One last thing, or two, to do…
Take a boat trip up the Brenta, not that cheap but it is an interesting and enjoyable day out with plenty to see plus you get a discount if you have the Padova Card.
Then of course there are the famous spas near here so why not go in for a little pampering? Have a look at our spa guide for more.