Here are 10 best things to do in Pavia, Italy. Find out what are the best places to visit and tourist attractions in Pavia.
Pavia was the first city we visited after we moved to Milano last year for 6 months, and I’m so glad we did it! Pavia is a small, charming little city that I recommend you visit for a day trip if you are near Milano. The city is full of hidden gems that are well-worth discovering and the small streets are full of beautiful buildings.
If you decide to visit Pavia, one full day is enough to visit all the must-see things on my list. But if you have accommodation in Milan and stay for at least a week, I recommend you also visit Brescia, Verona and Lake Como.
Hope my travel guides will help you organize a great vacation in Northern Italy! Here are my picks for the best things to do in Pavia, Italy. Enjoy!
P.S. Want more travel tips for visiting Italy? Check out the Living in Italy section on my blog.
Things to do in Pavia, Italy – tourist attractions
Castello Visconteo is an ancient castle with an impressive interior courtyard, built in the 1600s, that had served as residence to the Visconti noble family. Now it houses the Civic museums of Pavia, between which the Pinacoteca Malaspina, the Archaeological Museum and the Saint Eusebio Crypt are located. You can find it at Viale XI Febbraio, in the Paviacity center and it’s so beautiful, you have to see it! 🙂
Ponte Coperto, meaning “The covered bridge” is a spectacular construction with arcades, that’s totally worth visiting. It stretches over the river Ticino, connecting the old town center with the residential area of the city on the left bank.
Universita di Pavia – Sistema Museale di Ateneo
Sistema Museale di Ateneo is a must on the list of “things to see” in Pavia, especially if you are a lover of sciences and history. This is the ancient building of the University, located on Corso Strada Nuova 65, containing a labyrinth of interior courtyards and gardens that host many wonderful statues and works of art. You will also find there numerous adjacent museums such as the Natural History Museum, the Science museum, the Archaeology Museum and many more!
Pavia is known as “the city of 100 towers”. During medieval times, the towers of Pavia symbolized the power of the various noble families that held authority in the city, that were often in tense competition with one another. When the family owning a tower suffered a political defeat, the tower was lowered or demolished entirely. You would certainly notice the most popular ones from afar, as they flank the university. Even if you can’t visit their interior, you can photograph their grand silhouettes at any time of day, exactly like we did! 🙂
Basilica San Michele Maggiore
Basilica San Michele Maggiore dates back to the 11th-12th century and it’s an example of Lombard-Romanesque architecture. You can find this impressive building in Piazza San Michele. Even though its antiquity means that the façade lost a lot of its initial detail, it is a fascinating place to visit knowing that the old Roman emperors used to be crowned here. It is open all day, with friendly volunteers available to share more about the history of this church.
Duomo Di Pavia
Duomo Di Pavia is one of the most beautiful architectural landmarks of Pavia! You can find the huge Renaissance-style church in the city centre and you definitely shouldn’t miss it, as it is an example of Renaissance style and greatness. If you are passionate about the heritage of Leonardo da Vinci, it is said he contributed himself to the project and one of his students, Gianpetrino Rizzi, finished the altar of the Duomo. Until recently, next to the Duomo di Pavia rose another typical tower – Torre Civica, that collapsed in 1989. However, its ruins are still visible and you can visit those if you want.
Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine
Pavia offers notable examples of many architectural styles through its historical buildings, and the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, with its rose window façade and interior columns with pointed arches, represents the Lombard-gothic style. The truly splendid inside and the bell tower host many beautiful paintings and ceiling friezes. The church is right in the city center, in Piazza del Carmine, so you simply can’t miss it!
Piazza della Vittoria
Piazza della Vittoria is the true heart of the city and one of its most vibrant, lively parts, located very close to the Duomo and full of coffee shops and restaurants. During the day, you can relax trying the local cuisine (yum!) or admire the passers-by, the historical buildings and porticos surrounding the square. At night, the piazza is coming to life thanks to the bars and restaurants. If you’re visiting in the winter, you can visit the Christmas market that has even a popular ice skating rink.
Teatro Fraschini, located on Corso Strada Nuova 136, seems to be a common building at first glance, but the interior is absolutely spectacular. It has a painted ceiling and a dreamy theatre hall. The theatre hosts concerts, conferences and plays for every taste. A ticket can be as low as 20 Euros, and the theatre’s acoustics are highly appraised. Although outside of events the theatre is not normally open to visits, it appears like you can go in and sneak a look if you are with a friendly custodian.
Palazzo Broletto offers a beautiful panorama of Piazza Vittoria and it is one of the splendid historical buildings built back in the 12th century. One of the wonderful things about it is that you can stumble upon it just wandering through the center of the small city. It is unmissable for its clock façade, typical interior courtyard and the art and photography exhibits held in the palace. In the evening, the Palazzo holds even an extremely popular night bar where it’s hard to find a seat, but you will be gladly assisted by the friendly staff. There you can enjoy a drink with a view of the piazza! 🙂