Padua is a university town, probably less charming than some other towns in Veneto, but not without a few highlights. It boasts two separate UNESCO World Heritage sites, each of which provided us with a platform for an intraday visit.
The first of these is Orto Botanico ♥♥, the oldest formal botanic garden in the world. It is comparatively small, structured, beautiful, and well worth a visit regardless of whether you are into botany or not.
The other WH site is the collection of 14th-century frescoes, which spans eight different interior spaces in the city center. The most well-known of these is Scrovegni Chapel ♥♥♥, which is definitely worth the extra effort to visit (you have to pre-book for a specific time slot). Palazzo de la Ragione ♥♥♥ is another undoubted highlight with its humongous hall. Cathedral Baptistery ♥♥♥ and Oratory of St. George ♥♥ are also well worth visiting. Basilica di Sant’Anthonio ♥♥♥ is part of the UNESCO inscription, but even aside from that designation, it is one of the most impressive places in town, an incredibly atmospheric grand church. The Chapel of the Cararesi Palace ♥ has the least-preserved frescoes of the bunch, not without interest for the connoisseurs. The other two locations on the WH list, Chiesa degli Eremitani and Oratory of St. Michael, did not fit into the itinerary of the visit.
You can visit all eight on the Urbs Picta combined ticket (cost €28 in 2022), with only the Scrovegni Chapel requiring timed entry.
By comparison with St. Anthony or even with its own Baptistery, the Duomo is not especially remarkable, but can certainly be visited along the way.
On one of the visits, we stepped into the courtyard of Palazzo Bo ♥, among the most impressive of Padua University’s buildings.
Several public places are given to market stalls on a seemingly permanent basis. We normally enjoy the market atmosphere, but they also somewhat deface what are certainly lovely squares, such as Piazza dei Signori and Piazza delle Erbe.
As everywhere in historic cities, parking can only be found at the edge of the central area. We once found street-side metered parking near Basilica di Sant’Antonio, not far from the Botanic Garden. The limit is 3 hours.