You might have never heard of Brescia, but it is actually not that small of a city – with population of almost 200,000, here are the top things to do in Brescia and why it is one of the best places to visit in Italy.
When you plan your first visit to Italy, you wouldn’t be very likely to even know about Brescia. I had been to Italy quite a few times, visiting the famous cities like Venice, Milan and Florence, and Brescia wasn’t on my list at all! However, when Centro Paolo VI Brescia invited me for a stay, I absolutely could not resist visiting a hotel that is also a PALACE. Yep, you heard that right! In addition, I was also very pleasantly surprised by what the city offered. So, here’s my favorite top things to do in Brescia:
Table of Contents
- 1. Start Your Day With Art – Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo
- 2. Stroll Around Brescia’s Tiny Streets
- 3. Have Lunch At Piazza Della Loggia
- 4. Enjoy The Sunset At The Castle of Brescia
- 5. Experience UNESCO World Heritage – Santa Giulia
- 6. See The Teatro Romano
- 7. Take A Selfie At Tempio Capitolino
- 8. Enjoy The Duomo
- 9. Sleep In A Palace!
- 10. Have A Day Trip To Lake Garda
1. Start Your Day With Art – Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo
Brescia offers a few different galleries, but I think Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo was my favorite! It doesn’t really have any ultra-famous paintings, but it does have a a few by Raphael which are incredibly lovely. In addition, every room in the museum is a different color, doesn’t get much cooler than this! It’s absolutely worth the entrance fee and makes for Brescia to be one of the best places to visit in Italy.
Entrance fee: 8 EUR (but check if they have a deal – we got a ticket to 4 museums for 20 EUR)
2. Stroll Around Brescia’s Tiny Streets
After you’re done with the gorgeous pinacoteca, you can let yourself get lost in the city’s tiny streets. Milan is a much bigger city (and less than an hour by bus!) and one of the few that doesn’t offer much of the typical Italian lovely streets where you absolutely lose your network coverage. And where Google Maps goes haywire. Well, this is definitely one of the reasons you’ll hear so many people tell you “throw out your map, get lost in Italian city named X” 😀 Jokes aside, Brescia is not that huge and can be explored almost exclusively on foot. We did walk over 10 km every day we spent in Brescia, and hav NO regrets. At all.
3. Have Lunch At Piazza Della Loggia
Piazza Della Loggia is Brescia’s central square. And yes, it might cost you a few extra euros to have lunch there, but you will love the Venetian architecture so much, that you’ll find it totally worth it. I ate pasta bolognese every single day spent in Italy, so don’t skip on the yummness!
This building is actually the town hall! I love it how in most European cities, they turned the prettiest building in the center to be the town hall (like Brussels, for example).
4. Enjoy The Sunset At The Castle of Brescia
This castle is a solid proof of why Brescia is one of the best places to visit in Italy. I expected a very tough climb, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not that hard to reach like other Italian castles. This sight was built in the 13th century and holds 2 wonderful museums that you can visit inside. However, visiting at sunset is indeed a brilliant idea, since the castle holds some spectacular views of the city! Make sure you walk all around it in order to see the different pretty angles of Brescia.
Entrance fee: Free
5. Experience UNESCO World Heritage – Santa Giulia
Whether you got lost in the streets of Brescia or not, it is likely that you’ve passed this by a few times without knowing what it was. A former Benedictine monastery, the complex is quite large, and hides ancient artifacts for you to explore. Santa Giulia is a rare sight – it gives you two thousand yeas worth of history of the city – from ancient times, through Rome, Venetian influence, etc. It’s quite fun experiencing such a mix of styles, and don’t forget to check out the Roman Villas beneath, they are really part of the top things to do in Brescia.
Entrance fee: 10 EUR
6. See The Teatro Romano
The Teatro Romano in Brescia is the second largest Roman theatre in Northern Italy. You can even see it from the street, passing by Santa Giulia and walking towards Tempio Capitolino. I am actually surprised these theatres are not all over Italy’s cities, they are great! Walking staircases that are two millennia old will convince you why Brescia is one of the best places to visit in Italy!
7. Take A Selfie At Tempio Capitolino
Okay, I’m not a fan of selfies, to be honest. Not in the slightest. BUT if you like taking selfies – this would be such a great place for you! I normally cut out the people from my photos, but there were crowds taking selfies at Tempio Capitolino 🙂 This temple, too, was built about 2,000 years ago, and was dedicated to the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. You can even see the 3 original altars that were built! Every hour, there is a guided tour (and video, also in Engish!) that you can take in order to further explore this picturesque temple.
8. Enjoy The Duomo
What is an Italian city without a Duomo? Not impressive at all! The “Duomos” around Italy actually refer to the domes of the largest and most famous churches around Italy. And as you might imagine, the vast majority of Duomos in Italy have a crypt or catacombs inside. The Duomo in Brescia is no exception! Chances are, you’ll be seeing the Duomo from a lot of different places while exploring the city of Brescia, but what you might not suppose is that right next to the new Duomo, there is an old church, and seeing the contrast of these will definitely become one of the top things to do in Brescia for you.
9. Sleep In A Palace!
As I mentioned in the beginning, I was invited in Brescia by the wonderful Centro Paolo VI Brescia. So if you really want to feel like a royal – you should absolutely not hesitate to look for a different place to stay in while in Brescia! The Centro offers true affordable luxury, but my favorite part of the hotel was definitely the staircase – absolutely breathtaking. Read my full hotel review here.
Centro Paolo VI Brescia has a secluded inner garden, where you can spend a relaxing afternoon or have your morning coffee, all while listening to the birds singing. Yep, it IS definitely that idyllic. You’ll also find lots of paintings around the large halls and impressive architecture all around. Full review of this lovely place is coming up soon in my blog, but this hotel is definitely proof of why Brescia is one of the best places to visit in Italy <3 Love it? See the rooms and book here!
10. Have A Day Trip To Lake Garda
Lake Garda is actually pretty close to Brescia, and spending at least half a day there is an absolute MUST! The train from Brescia to Lake Garda takes a maximum of 30 minutes and tickets are as cheap as 4.80 EUR one way. Choose your stop to be Peschiera del Garda and you can take one of the buses to any cute city around the lake itself.
We managed to go all the way up to Monte Baldo in Malcesine, which was an almost 2-hour ride by bus in each direction (but Monte Baldo was absolutely worth it!). As a great alternative, you can take a guided tour and explore the lake by boat! Can’t really get any more perfect than that <3