Armed with a map and some decent shoes, there’s plenty to see and do in Verona that won’t cost you a penny. The city is extremely walkable and notoriously beautiful, so simply taking a stroll and seeing where you end up is half the fun. There’s piazza after piazza full of interesting sites and places to eat, not to mention tiny churches and quaint streets off the beaten track for curious visitors on a budget. Read on to find our picks of the best free things to do in Verona.
Wander through historic piazzas
Verona’s breathtaking piazzas are a sight in themselves – and they’re totally free. Start with Piazza Bra; a huge open square beside Verona’s Roman arena – host of the famous opera festival. From Piazza Bra, wander along the elegant, marble-paved Via Mazzini, a pedestrianised shopping street full of chic boutiques. This takes you to Piazza Erbe, Verona’s most photogenic square. This long, picturesque piazza is home to bustling market stalls, Renaissance sculptures and pavement cafes for sipping coffee and people watching.
Explore the Centro Storico
Verona’s sprawling historic centre is a must-visit. You can spend hours exploring the pretty lanes and beautiful old buildings, with sights like the towering Roman gateways that guard the old town entrance. You’ve got charming medieval streets like Via Sottoriva, stretched out alongside the river, distinctive for its original frescoes and arcades. While you’re by the river, stop for a photo on Ponte Pietra (‘Bridge of Stone’), a Roman and medieval bequest that was badly damaged during World Word II, and rebuilt using original materials salvaged from the river.
See Juliet’s famous balcony
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare (or Leo DiCaprio), Verona will have special connotations. The setting of Shakespeare’s most famous love story, Romeo & Juliet, Verona pays homage to its star-crossed lovers at Casa di Giuilietta – Juliet’s house. Located just off the Piazza Erbe, you can enter the tiny courtyard for free to gaze up at the legendary balcony and visit the statue of Juliet herself. The site has become something of a romantic shrine in Verona, where visitors flock to leave message of love. It’s possible to explore inside the house too, for a fee.
Enjoy the views from St Peter’s Castle
High up on San Pietro’s hill is this impressive castle, dating back as far as the 1st century. The Piazzale Castel San Pietro is one of the most panoramic spots in the whole of Verona – the views are well worth the climb. Walk up the steep little alleyways and steps between beautiful medieval buildings to get to the top, and try to time it with the sunset. On a clear day, you’re rewarded with the best views of the city – and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Discover Verona’s hidden churches
Although many of Verona’s most famous landmarks charge an admission fee, there are plenty of hidden gems throughout the city that you can visit for free – it’s just a case of heading off the beaten track. San Giorgio is a beautiful church on the banks of the river, a short walk from the centro storico. Originally a Benedictine monastery in the 11th century, the church has a stunning marble façade and Renaissance paintings, and even more notably, no crowds. Close to the Piazza Erbe is San Giovanni, a fascinating little medieval church with unique frescoes, baroque bells and a medieval bell tower.
Discover more free things to do in Italy with our budget city guides.