Taking the train from Venice to Padua
Padua, or Padova to Italians, is only 40 km west of Venice. It's another major historical centre of the Veneto region, dripping in medieval buildings and reminders of its rich heritage at every turn. It has none of the crowds you'll find in Venice, either. Perhaps most impressive of all, it's only 13 minutes away by train. The earliest train from Venice to Padua leaves at 05:37, and the last train from Padua to Venice is at 23:21. There are up to 91 trains per day between the two cities.
The fastest trains are high-speed services that operate from Venezia Mestre station. This station is located on the Venetian mainland in Venice's most populated borough, Mestre. The fastest trains from here take between 13 to 15 minutes to reach Padua. They're a combination of Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains operated by Trenitalia, and high-speed services operated by Italo. Travel with Frecciarossa and enjoy high-quality onboard services, including large leather armchairs, free WiFi, power sockets at every seat and a catering service called FrecciaBistrò which offers drinks and snacks, as well as gourmet breakfast and lunch menu options.
The other main train station in Venice is Venezia Santa Lucia. This is located right on the island of Venice, just a 25-minute walk from Saint Mark's Square. It's no hassle getting from Venezia Santa Lucia to Venezia Mestre. It takes under 10 minutes, with over 150 trains per day.
However, if you're staying on the island and want to leave straight from Venezia Santa Lucia station to Padua, that's no problem. The high-speed Italo service from Venezia Santa Lucia to Rome makes its first stop at Padua, taking just 25 minutes. The first departure for this service leaves at 08:00. Another option is the regional Trenitalia service from Venezia Santa Lucia to Padua. The journey takes up to 50 minutes one way. It's by far the most budget-friendly choice and a superb scenic option. It travels at a more leisurely speed, meaning you get to see a bigger slice of local Italian life in towns and villages along the way.
One day in Padua
Padua has an incredible wealth of historical and cultural landmarks. You might have to make some tough choices to fit them all in. But lucky for you, they're not too far apart, so getting from one to the other is a breeze. Here's what your day in Padua might look like.
Getting started in Venice and arriving in Padua
If you're only allowing a day for both Venice and Padua, don't worry – it's easily done. To do so, start early to beat the crowds to Venice's most iconic sites. You'll recognise St. Mark's Basilica, St. Mark's Square, and the Doge's Palace from every movie set in Venice. These are the big ones to tick off and they're all right beside each other, so it's easy to visit them all in one morning.
Stroll over the Rialto Bridge towards Venezia Santa Lucia station. Even with detours through some of Venice's less-visited districts, this walk should take around 30 minutes. At Venezia Santa Lucia, choose from your train options above for getting to Padua.
Scrovegni Chapel and the Church of the Eremitani
Arriving into Padua railway station, you're only a 10-minute walk away from the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua's most famous attraction. From right outside the station, simply follow Corso del Popolo straight down over the bridge, towards the beautiful Giotto Gardens where the chapel is located. This precious church is home to the remarkable frescoes painted by Giotto between 1303-1305, which are considered to be among the most important and best-preserved in Italy.
Just a short walk away is the Church of the Eremitani. The story at this 13th-century church has some sombre parts to it – it houses the remains of Mantegna's groundbreaking 15th-century fresco cycle, which was destroyed during WWII. It's an interesting place to visit both for the frescoes and to learn about the history of the war in northern Italy.
Visit some ancient city markets
After a morning exploring Padua's cultural heritage, walk towards the city centre and delve into its rich culinary heritage. Just 10 minutes from the Church of the Eremitani, you'll come across Padua's vibrant Piazza della Frutta. This ancient fruit-and-vegetable market is looked over by an imposing 12th-century medieval tower. If you need a snack, pick up some fresh fruit from one of the entertaining stall vendors. This is one of Europe's largest open-air public food markets.
To keep exploring further, continue towards Palazzo della Ragione, where you can visit the expansive interior of this beautiful medieval town hall. Walk next door to lively Piazza delle Erbe, the historic herbs market. Finish off your Old Town market tour in front of the iconic clock tower at Piazza dei Signori, just a few minutes away on foot. On your way, you will pass Palazzo del Bo. This is the heart of Padua's historic university, which was founded in 1222. At Palazzo del Bo you can visit the impressive Great Hall where Galileo used to teach, and the anatomical theatre which is the oldest of its kind.
Basilica of St. Anthony and Prato della Valle
We're assuming you've been enticed by the many restaurants, cafes, and market stalls during your stroll through the old markets. So by this point, you might like to walk off lunch. In that case, stroll south 10 minutes towards the pretty Torricelle Bridge. This is certainly worth a photo stop. After that, walk another 10 minutes to visit the magnificent Basilica of St. Anthony. It's impossible to miss the basilica here, both visually and in terms of a must-see attraction. The basilica is an incredible red-brick 13th-century building, vast in scale, with impressive Byzantine architecture and numerous famous artworks. It also houses the tomb of the namesake saint and contains several precious religious relics.
After visiting the basilica, stroll through Padua's Botanical Garden, just a 3-minute walk away. This is the world's oldest academic garden, and it contains over 3,500 specimens. Just across the road, you reach Padua locals' favourite place to congregate – the gorgeous Prato della Valle. This huge public square is one of Europe's most impressive. It features an island in the middle, surrounded by rings of nearly a hundred different statues and historic houses. You can lounge out and enjoy a gelato, or get an authentic Aperol spritz at one of the surrounding cafes and bars. In winter, join the locals in some ice skating.
It'll take no more than 10 minutes to return to the railway station by bus, tram, or taxi. So there's no need to rush. Padua is a great place to hang around for dinner, too. Treat yourself to one of the famous local specialities, such as duck ragu with tagliatelle pasta.
A great way to travel through Italy
If you're visiting Venice and looking to explore a bit more, the train could be your answer. There's plenty of great day trips for not just Padua, but throughout Italy. Have a browse through our trains in Italy page, for more info on routes, ticket types, and schedules. If you're ready to go, you can even go ahead and buy tickets in advance.