Pavia: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening

Pavia is a city located just south of Milan, easily accessible and the perfect destination to escape the chaos of the Lombard capital. Crossed by the Ticino river, it is famous for its Certosa , the University and the Visconteo Castle . Despite its small size, the city is full of treasures, and is ideal for spending a couple of days between culture and relaxation. So here’s what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening in Pavia .

What to see in Pavia

1 – Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro

It is a church a little outside the center but easily reachable on foot, with the typical facade of Romanesque churches and a peculiarity inside: the Ark of Sant’Agostino , located in the presbytery around 1360, made of marble. Probably the work of two different artists, it is composed of 50 bas-reliefs and 95 statues, and houses the bones of St. Augustine of Hippo. The crypt and the frescoes in the left aisle are also very interesting.

  • How to get: from the station it can be reached by bus 4 in a few minutes, on foot it is about 1 kilometer and it is necessary to take a small stretch of the Strada Provinciale dei Giovi. From piazza della Vittoria it is advisable to walk on via XX Settembre, it takes about 10 minutes 
  • Timetables: in the morning from 7:00 to 12:00 and in the afternoon from 15:00 to 19:00
  • Ticket cost: Free

2 – Charterhouse

It is certainly the most famous and important attraction in Pavia, although it is located a little outside the city. The Charterhouse is a monumental and historical complex that includes a monastery and a sanctuary. Built at the end of the fourteenth century at the behest of Giangaleazzo Visconti, lord of Milan, to comply with the vote of his wife Caterina and as a family mausoleum, it is built in various architectural styles, from late Gothic to Renaissance. Of particular charm is the facade of the sanctuary, built at different times and by various architects, however, the sumptuous portal is due to Briosco, full of elements as required by the Lombard Renaissance architectural tradition. The cloisters are also very interesting, one of which is large.

  • How to get: Car is recommended, coming from Milan you will meet the Certosa before the city, about 8 kilometers from the center, on the provincial road 35. From the city center, however, towards Milan, it takes about 15-20 minutes to reach it. From Pavia station there is bus 175 which arrives there in about 15 minutes. 
  • Timetables: in the morning from 9:00 to 11:30, in the afternoon from 14:30 to 16:30 from October to March, at 17:30 in April and at 18:00 from May to September.
  • Ticket cost: Free

3 – Visconteo Castle and Civic Museums

The Visconteo Castle is a majestic complex always wanted by Galeazzo Visconti, who began construction in March 1360. It must have been a palace dedicated to entertainment, but some of its elements actually resemble a castle: the towers, the moat, the drawbridge. However, it is enough to enter to understand that here was really a place to party, the frescoes that completely covered the ceilings of the rooms are still recognizable, but nothing remains of the original furniture and the well-stocked library (apparently started by Francesco Petrarca). There is a beautiful internal courtyard and also an elegant loggia. The Civic Museums are also of great interest housed inside the Castle, they boast spectacular collections from archeology to eighteenth-century painting, ideal for understanding the history of the city.

  • How to get: it is about 1.5 kilometers from the station (it is next to the church in point 1!) and therefore you can walk along the green of via Matteotti and reach it in just over 5 minutes. By public transport there are buses 3,7, or 4 and they take about 15 minutes. From Piazza della Vittoria it can be reached with a comfortable walk on Strada Nuova of about 10-12 minutes, 1 kilometer away. 
  • Timetables: open every day, except Mondays, from 14:30 to 18:00, in the morning only for groups by reservation. On Saturdays and Sundays it is open from 11:00 to 19:00 and in the months of May, June and September the opening on Fridays is extended until 22:00.
  • Ticket cost: € 8.00 for admission to the Museums.

4 – Victory Square

Piazza della Vittoria has always been the heart of the city, and it still is today! Beautiful and large square, very lively, center of commerce but also, in the past, of legal proceedings: here even executions were held. The most significant building is that of the Broletto , in the south side of the square, where the meetings took place and justice was administered. Here, with the outdoor tables, we can not only admire the square and its buildings but also have a coffee or an aperitif.

  • How to get: by public transport, from the station there is bus 6 which takes about 15 minutes. The distance is 900 meters and therefore you can also walk along Corso Cavour, it will not take more than 10 minutes. 
  • Timetables: always accessible
  • Ticket cost: Free

5 – Cathedral of Pavia

In front of the beautiful Cathedral of Pavia we can see the equestrian statue of Regisole. Unfortunately it is not the original, which was demolished after the French Revolution as a monarchical symbol. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santo Stefano Martire and Santa Maria Assunta. It rises in the place where, before its construction, there were two early Christian churches, dedicated to pagan cults, and later two Romanesque churches. In 1400 the people of Pavia obtained the construction of a Cathedral whose magnificence and sumptuousness was comparable to the Mosque of Santa Sofia in Istanbul. It remained unfinished, as you will notice in the façade, but the original intent is evident: the octagonal masonry dome is 92 meters high and the entire church is imposing. Inside, very bright, there is a wooden carved pulpit with the 12 apostles.

  • How to get: it is just behind Piazza della Vittoria, a few meters away, so it is advisable to move on foot. From the station you can always take bus 6 or walk there, it takes about 10 minutes.
  • Timetables: open in the morning from 7:00 to 12:00 and in the afternoon from 15:00 to 19:30
  • Ticket cost: Free

6 – Church of San Teodoro

In the direction of the riverside, the façade of the Church of San Teodoro is barely visible because it is closed between the cobbled alleys, but its interior is a real jewel. There are, in fact, splendid frescoes very well preserved, including the cycle of the stories of Sant’Agnese and that of the stories of San Teodoro. However, the strong points are the views of Pavia on the wall and on the counter-façade: if we dwell on these, which are considered to all intents and purposes the first existing plants of Pavia, we will notice a large number of towers that have almost completely disappeared today.

  • How to get: from piazza della Vittoria it is 500 meters away and you can get there by following via Jacopo Bossolaro in a few minutes on foot. From the station you can take the 3C bus and get off at the Cavour-Tribunale stop, it is about 450 meters away, in all it will take 10 minutes.
  • Timetables: in the morning from 09:00 to 12:00, in the afternoon from 15:00 to 19:00
  • Ticket cost: Free

7 – Basilica of San Michele Maggiore

The Basilica of San Michele Maggiore was the site of many coronations, the most famous certainly that of Frederick Barbarossa in 1155 (we can see the exact point, inside, marked by five marble circles on the floor). It is of great artistic interest because it is a masterpiece of the medieval Romanesque style. Unfortunately it has undergone a serious process of decay over the centuries, because its facade was built with sandstone which is very fragile. The Basilica has two entrances, one in the main facade and one on the left side, with richly decorated portals with statues. Inside, the frescoes are very beautiful.

  • How to get: from Piazza della Vittoria it is 500 meters, in the same direction as San Teodoro, but once on Corso Garibaldi it is necessary to turn left, it is a few minutes’ walk. From the station there are buses 95-6-21 and it is necessary to get off at the Mazzini-Cavallotti stop, from there it is about 500 meters. The journey by public transport takes about 10 minutes. 
  • Timetables: On Mondays it is open from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 14:30 to 17:00. From Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00, and on Sundays from 9:00 to 10:00 and from 11:30 to 17:00.
  • Ticket cost: Free

8 – Covered Bridge and Riverside

It is very suggestive in Pavia to take a walk along the riverside . Connecting the two banks of the Ticino is the famous Ponte Coperto , a five-arched bridge completely covered with two portals at its ends and a religious chapel in the center. On the other side of the river you can also visit Borgo Ticino, a district of Pavia with colorful houses overlooking the river. Pay attention to it: on their walls there are the levels that the river reached during the floods of the history of the city.

  • How to get: from piazza della Vittoria it is sufficient to go straight for 600 meters on Strada Nuova, from the station there is the 3C bus and it takes about 7 minutes.
  • Timetables: always accessible.
  • Ticket cost: Free

9 – Strada Nuova and Arnaboldi Dome

Strada Nuova is the most famous street in the city and deserves a nice walk because, together with Piazza della Vittoria, this is where the people of Pavia spend their free time to enjoy the beautiful city. But this ancient road again has only the name: once it was the thistle of the Roman city and today it crosses Pavia from Ponte Coperto to the castle for more than 1 kilometer. Going up the road, at a certain point on the right you enter an elegant gallery surmounted by the Arnaboldi Dome , built in iron and glass and more than 32 meters high, it will remind you of the domes found in the most famous galleries in Naples and Milan.

  • How to get: from the station it is about a kilometer away, there are buses 6 or 3C which take about 10 minutes. Piazza della Vittoria, on the other hand, is located right on Strada Nuova and therefore from there, on foot, continue to the Covered Bridge over the river for the entire walk. 
  • Timetables: always accessible.
  • Ticket cost: Free.

10 – University and Museum

Always continuing on Strada Nuova at a certain point you will come across the famous university of Pavia, one of the oldest in the world, where people of the caliber of Alessandro Volta, Ugo Foscolo and Carlo Goldoni have studied and taught. The structure is very large and consists of numerous courtyards overlooked by the various rooms. Crossing the university you arrive in the square where you can admire three of the five medieval towers still standing in the city. Many, in fact, have been lowered and incorporated into the buildings. In the fresco of San Teodoro, if we wanted to count them, there were 36 towers, including bell towers, although it seems that there were much more in the city. Their function was a simple frieze, the result of a sort of competition between powerful families to see who had the highest tower. The university houses the Museum for the history of the University, which exhibits scientific and medical equipment dating back to the Middle Ages. There is also a botanical garden with roses and medicinal plants.

  • How to get: from the station you can take buses 3C or 3, it is just over a kilometer and it takes about 10-15 minutes. From Piazza della Vittoria it can be easily reached on foot, just continue for about 300 meters on Strada Nuova. 
  • Timetables: The Museum for the History of the University is open on Mondays from 14:00 to 17:00, on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 12:00, on Fridays from 9:00 to 13:00. It is also open some Saturdays in the afternoon but it is necessary to consult the website.
  • Ticket cost: € 5.00 for the Museum.

Pavia itinerary in one day

To visit Pavia in one day, here are our tips.

Morning – we take a walking tour of the center and leave with a nice breakfast at the Pasticceria Vigani , after which we can visit the Church of San Teodoro , the Basilica of San Michele Maggiore and the Cathedral of Pavia , which do not require long times for visits and are walking distance from each other, finally we can visit the Visconteo Castle and the Civic Museums which open only in the late morning, it will take about an hour. After all this wandering we will be hungry, let’s stay nearby and have lunch at the Osteria alle prisons, with typical dishes of the Pavese cuisine and fair prices.

Afternoon – after having refreshed ourselves, we leave the center by 2:00 pm and take advantage of the early afternoon to visit the Certosa : to reach it, by bus or by car, it takes about 15-20 minutes. The visit certainly takes an hour and a half / two: be careful because in winter it closes at 16:30, but if we go there in spring or summer we have more time. Then we go back to the center and we dedicate ourselves to a relaxing tour! We start from Piazza della Vittoria and go down on Strada Nuova , we visit the courtyards of the University (maybe it is on Saturday afternoon when the Museum is open), we admire the Arnaboldi Dome, then we go down to the riverside, take a nice walk on the Covered Bridge . The whole walk won’t take us more than an hour, an hour and a half – it’s all very close. Going back, we only have to visit the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro which is open until 19:00.

Evening – for dinner we go back to the center (it is 700 meters from the Church, really within reach) and we taste good local wine at Enoteca Infernot , you can have excellent tastings, even food, and the chocolate cake is excellent!
After dinner we can end the day with an excellent cocktail at Room46: it is necessary to cross the Covered Bridge, it is just over a kilometer, but how beautiful in the evening on the Ticino!

One day itinerary at a glance

  1. Breakfast at Pasticceria Vigani.
  2. Church of San Teodoro – opening hours: from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 19:00 – Free
  3. Basilica of San Michele Maggiore (opening hours: from Tue to Sat from 9:00 to 17:00 – Free)
  4. Cathedral of Pavia (opening hours: from 7:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 19:30 – Free)
  5. Visconteo Castle and Civic Museums (opening hours: Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00. Ticket cost: € 8.00)
  6. Lunch at Osteria alle prisons
  7. Certosa (opening hours: from 9:30 to 11:30 and from 14:30 to 16:30 – Free offer visit)
  8. Victory Square
  9. Strada Nuova – Università – Arnaboldi Dome (the cost of the ticket is € 5.00 for the visit to the university museums)
  10. Riverside, Covered Bridge
  11. Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro
  12. Dinner at Enoteca Infernot

Where to eat in Pavia

  1. Osteria alle carceri : typical dishes, risotto, homemade pasta
    Average price per person: € 30.00
    Address and contacts: via Fratelli Marozzi, 7 
  2. Infernot wine shop : wine tasting, cold cuts, meat, desserts.
    Average price per person: € 40.00
    Address and contacts: via Lorenzo Mascheroni, 48
  3. Ristorante Lino : traditional dishes, homemade pasta, refined dishes
    Average price per person: € 40.00
    Address and contacts: piazza del Lino, 15 

What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Pavia

In the center of Pavia there are many places to have a drink after dinner, as well as numerous wine bars, but also pubs and discopubs. Certainly the liveliest areas of the city are Strada Nuova , where the city “rubbing” is made, and then Piazza della Vittoria with tables outside in the summer, also do not miss the small streets around.

  • Discopub Tarek : venue with Arabic music and specialties, belly dancing, ideal for birthday parties / Address: via Vigentina, 19 
  • Room46 : place specializing in cocktails and aperitifs, wine tasting / Address: via dei Mille, 46 
  • Pozzo American bar since 1983 : historic venue specializing in cocktails and aperitifs, theme nights / Address: Strada Nuova, 4 / C 

Plan your stay in Pavia: info and useful tips

  • How to get: the best way to reach Pavia is by car, given the proximity to the motorway, however, even by train the city is well served. There are two stations: Pavia Station (1.5 km from the center, about 15 minutes on foot), and Pavia Porta Garibaldi (about 3 km from the center, 30 minutes on foot).
  • How to get around : Pavia is a small city and its historic center full of attractions can be easily explored on foot. The only complex for which it is necessary to move is the Certosa (car or bus). City buses are guaranteed by the Atoguidovie Pavia company, which offers urban and extra-urban lines. The urban ticket costs € 2.00, while the Urban Area 1 ticket costs € 2.30. It is possible to buy the booklet of 10 tickets which costs € 12.00.
  • Where to park : Pavia has ZTL everywhere so it is better to leave your car in the parking lots. There are also free ones, such as the parking in via Moruzzi, or in via Alzaia. In Piazza Ghislieri there is a very convenient guarded parking at a cost of € 2.00 per hour and free on holidays 
  • Where to sleepHotels and b & b from € 45.50 per room – see the offers
  • What to see in the surrounding area : the Certosa is 8 kilometers away, the city of Milan 34 kilometers away, Piacenza around 52 kilometers away and Voghera around 34 kilometers away. In the surroundings of the Pavia countryside there are many farmhouses and agritourisms.

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