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10 Things to do in Verona at Christmas

With its themed markets, giant trees and street decorations, Verona offers a magical aura at Christmas. Here are the best alternatives to enjoy the city of Romeo and Juliet during Christmas Eve.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

10 min read

10 Things to do in Verona at Christmas

Verona en navidad |©I Harsten

Verona is the city of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Roman theaters, festivals and symphonic works in the Arena, but it also dresses up in December and offers a unique Christmas atmosphere that bathes the city in eve activities and unmissable decorations.

Among the best things to see and do in Verona at Christmas time are visiting the themed markets, participating in the Santa Claus Race, attending the display of nativity scenes from around the world, experiencing the Christmas spirit of Lake Garda and visiting the Gardaland Magic Winter amusement park, which is one of the most outstanding in northern Italy.

1. Attend the exhibition of nativity scenes from all over the world.

Nativity scenes in Verona|©Farfalla Veneziana
Nativity scenes in Verona|©Farfalla Veneziana

The exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world is one of the most attended events in Verona during Christmas and consists of a display of more than 400 nativity scenes coming from museums and private collections from all over the world. This exhibition is organized every year in the Arena of Verona and lasts from the last days of November until Epiphany.

In this exhibition, which every year attracts a greater number of participants, awards are given to the best nativity scenes and displays of works of art inspired by Christmas are also installed. The event also includes special effects with music, lights, sounds and projections that generate a multisensory experience and guided tours of the main works of the exhibition.

The exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world also includes performances of living nativity scenes on stage at the Arena di Verona during the week leading up to Christmas Eve and offers discounted tickets for children under 12 and adults over 65.

Details of interest

  • Price... Admission is approximately €8 for adults and €5 for children under 12 and seniors over 65.
  • When... Every year from the end of November until Epiphany.
  • Where... Arena of Verona.

Book tickets to visit the Arena of Verona

2. Enjoy the Christmas street decorations.

Christmas snow globes|©A.Currell
Christmas snow globes|©A.Currell

If you want to experience the Christmas spirit of Verona, you do not need to visit the exhibitions, museums or participate in the thematic activities offered by the city in December, but you can simply walk through the streets decorated with large garlands, the lights of the houses, the tinsel windows and the decoration of the official buildings.

Verona is the Christmas capital of northern Italy and the snowy weather in December usually adds to the magic of Christmas. Thus, during your tour of the city you will come across street music shows, caroling events in the squares, the decorations of St. Peter's Castle, which during Christmas Eve is guarded by two giant illuminated reindeer, and you will also come across a Santa Claus on every corner.

In the squares there are also giant Christmas trees, themed carousels and even Verona' s tourist buses are decorated with Christmas motifs. In addition, in December the hop on-hop off tours include stops at major events and sites where Christmas decorations and activities are present.

Book a ride on Verona's tourist bus

3. Visit the giant Christmas tree in Piazza delle Herbes

Christmas tree with blue lights|©Sergio Presbitero
Christmas tree with blue lights|©Sergio Presbitero

Piazza delle Erbe is one of the main squares of Verona and there is installed every year in December a giant Christmas tree that you can not miss if you want to see the main sites of Christmas celebrations in the city. This tree, located in the nerve center of Verona, is located in front of the shops in the square, so you can have a hot drink while watching it through the window.

The premises of Piazza delle Erbe are usually included in the best gastronomic tours of Verona, so if you visit the giant tree on your own you can enjoy Veronese food there or choose one of the tours to enjoy the flavors of the city.

The tour of the tree in Piazza delle Erbe is short and centrally located, halfway to the Arena, the Roman Theater, Juliet's House, Romeo's House and several tourist spots in the city, so you can walk around it even if you have a short stay in the city planned. If that is your case, here is a list of things to do in Verona in 1 day.

Details of interest

  • Price... The visit to the giant Christmas tree is free.
  • When... The tree is available throughout December.
  • Where... Piazza delle Herbe, Verona.

Book a gastronomic tour in Verona

4. Visit the Christmas markets of Verona

Market in Verona|©mifujiclark
Market in Verona|©mifujiclark

Christmas in Verona formally begins with the opening of the themed markets, especially the one in Piazza dei Signori, which is inspired by the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg and offers visitors more than 100 wooden stalls with regional products, glass, wood and ceramic crafts with Christmas motifs, Christmas Eve sweets and gastronomy, and gifts for the whole family.

At the flea market in Piazza dei Signori you can also taste the traditional vin brulé, a spiced mulled wine that is traditional in Germany but that every Christmas can be consumed at the flea markets. You will also find stalls on Ponte Scaligero, where you can buy the best decorations, and in Piazza Bra, where the Santa Lucia flea market is held.

In the Santa Lucia market you can find the best Christmas desserts and also children's games, such as a carousel, and stalls of vendors from all over the country. The Santa Lucia market is the traditional market of Verona and one of the oldest, as the Christkindlmarkt in Piazza dei Signori has become the most famous in the city but has been held for just over 20 years.

5. Take part in the Santa Claus Race

people in the Santa Claus race|©andrea Lorenzini
people in the Santa Claus race|©andrea Lorenzini

One of the most traditional Christmas events in Verona is the Santa Claus Run, a competition of between 5 and 10 kilometers that is organized every year and in which participants run dressed as Santa Claus. This event is held in different cities around the world but in Verona it has become an icon of the city.

The race changes its length and also its route every year, although it usually runs through the main streets of the center, passing through Piazza Bra, the Roman Theater and the Arena of Verona, so it is an ideal occasion if you want to visit also some of the main sites of the city.

This race is not competitive, i.e. it is not considered official, nor does it award prizes to the winners, but it is a family activity used to promote the Christmas spirit of the city and the close relationship it has with Christmas, so it is also an ideal choice if you plan to visit Verona with children.

Details of interest

  • Price... Registration for the race is free of charge.
  • When... Every year during the week before December 24.
  • Where... The race runs through different parts of the center of Verona.

6. Experience Christmas on Lake Garda

Lake Garda|©Angel de los Rios
Lake Garda|©Angel de los Rios

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and one of the most important in the north of the country, even above Lake Como, which located just outside Milan is the best known of the Italian tributaries. During Christmas time this lake and its surrounding villages dress up with Christmas decorations and create a magical atmosphere, which is combined with snow and Christmas lights.

The excursions around the lake, the landscapes of the nearby mountains and the Christmas markets that are set up in the main sites of Garda generate a unique spectacle and you can walk through them during the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Keep in mind that temperatures may drop significantly during December, as it is winter time in Italy, but the experience is well worth it.

Lake Garda is located about 75 kilometers from the center of Verona and you can get there by bus line 46 and private tourist transport services, but they are usually full-day visits, so I advise you to take it into account if you have planned a short stay in the city. If that is your case, here is a list of activities you can do to discover Verona in 3 days.

Details of interest

  • Price... The entrance to the lake area is free.
  • When... Christmas activities in the Lake Garda area start in November.
  • Where... Lake Garda.

Book a day trip from Verona

7. Visit the great star of Piazza Bra

Piazza Bra|©Daniel Dionne
Piazza Bra|©Daniel Dionne

The gateway to the street decorations and the exhibition of the cribs of the world in the Arena of Verona is the great shooting star that is installed every year at Christmas in Piazza Bra and that comes out from inside the Roman amphitheater to the sidewalk, forming an unmissable optical effect.

The ideal time of day to enjoy this star is when the sun goes down, since it is possible to see it fully illuminated, with the arches of the Arena, also bathed in Christmas lights, in the background, making it one of the best things to do in Verona at night, at least at Christmas time.

The shooting star, which along with the Nativity Scene of the World exhibition has become the symbol of Verona during Christmas, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest decorative sculpture on record.

In addition, in recent years a tradition became popular in the city that consists in taking a photo with the sculpture and sharing it on social networks and internet profiles, so it is common that during Christmas Eve Verona is flooded with photos of visitors on the shooting star.

Details of interest

  • Price... The star can be visited for free.
  • When... The star is installed from the last days of November until Epiphany.
  • Where... Piazza Bar, Verona.

Book the best tours in the city to know Verona

8. Visit the amusement park Gardaland Magic Winter

gardaland magic winter|©corsa292
gardaland magic winter|©corsa292

On the outskirts of the city and very close to Lake Garda is Gardaland Magic Winter, which is one of the most important amusement parks in Italy and also one of the best activities to do from Verona. This park, in December, becomes a Christmas themed attraction, so it is the ideal time to visit it.

At Gardaland Magic Winter you can find ice skating rinks, snow games, visit Santa's magic village, tour his gift factory guarded by elves and also enjoy the parades, Christmas decorations and themed shows offered by the park.

Gardaland Magic Winter also includes a hotel, where you can stay inside the park, and extra-cost shows such as the Polar Express experience, the Ice Park tour and the caroling shows in Santa's village.

In addition, Gardaland Magic Winter also has an aquarium with over 5,000 marine species that you can visit separately or as part of your amusement park tour. Note that you can get discounts by booking your tickets in advance online.

Details of interest

  • Price... Entrance to the park has an initial cost of approximately 25 euros, although some attractions have an extra cost.
  • When... The park becomes Christmas themed during the last days of November.
  • Where... Castelnuovo del Garda, Verona.

9. Get your Verona Christmas passport

Night view of Verona|© Luca Dalge
Night view of Verona|© Luca Dalge

Verona is a city planned for children at Christmas so if you travel with your family you can enjoy one of the main attractions of the city, which is the Christmas passport. This document, which you can request at the tourist information center in Via della Costa, includes recommendations of the main Christmas sites and you can stamp it every time you visit one of these points.

The passport is ideal for discovering the Christmas markets with the family and for getting to know all that Verona has to offer during Christmas Eve. In addition, at some stops children will get gifts such as sweets or small souvenirs, which adds to the experience.

Once you complete the tour, you can exchange the fully stamped passport and receive gifts at the flea markets. This document also includes discounts at some Christmas stalls and on tickets to visit some of Verona's best museums.

Book tickets to visit the best museums in Verona

10. Tour Santa Claus' village in Bussolengo

Santa Klaus Village|©Steven Maginnis
Santa Klaus Village|©Steven Maginnis

Just outside Verona, in Bussolengo, you can visit the Villaggio di Natale Flover, a village that offers not only the typical stalls and markets of handicrafts and Christmas gifts, but also a complete experience that will be magical for children and adults alike.

In this village you can visit Santa's House, enjoy an ice skating rink, ride the Flover Express train, which crosses the enchanted forest in the middle of the snow, and ride the horse carousel, in a Christmas and family atmosphere. You can also attend carol performances, puppet shows and gift-giving in the public square of Bussolengo.

In Villaggio di Natale Flover you can also find restaurants, bars and food stalls offering different types of dishes, stores selling Christmas-themed items and typical gastronomic products and a small theater where you can enjoy Christmas plays.

Admission to the Christmas village of Bussolengo is free, although some of the activities have an extra cost. Villaggio di Natale Flover is open from the first days of November to the first days of January and during the weekends it also offers special shows.

Interesting details

  • Price... Admission to the Christmas village is free.
  • When... The village is open from the first days of November to the first days of January.
  • Where... Via Pastrengo 14, Bussolengo.