Can you get around the city and continue to other places in the region without a car?
- Good choice of flights and car hire options – Verona has had some interesting times with attempts to develop low-cost flights through the nearby Brescia airport, and then more recently through the main Verona international airport.
Although the network here isn’t quite as comprehensive as it is in the much larger Milan or the much bigger tourist draw of nearby Venice, the flight selection is still surprisingly good. This in turn has meant that the combination of fly and drive from various different European cities can still represent excellent value when compared with Milan or Venice.
- North Italian road trip – Verona makes a natural point for starting a road trip around northern Italy, especially for touring the lakes and the Dolomites. Verona is also right at the foot of the Dolomites, and very close to Lake Garda, so the positioning is perfect.
- Public transport in the Dolomites is poor – if you are just travelling to and from a resort area, you won’t have a problem, especially in ski season. Travelling between different towns can be more troublesome, with long waits for connections.
- Cost of rail travel – train travel in Italy is generally good value for regional journeys on local services. It’s not so good value if you turn up on the day for more expensive express services, especially if you are travelling with enough people to fill a car.
- Older trains – apart from the brand new sleek high-speed services which run on dedicated tracks south of Bologna, but which still pass through Verona, it’s fair to say that most of the trains in Italy are old and not particularly comfortable.
James says - a few trip notes:
Verona is one of those great northern Italian cities with which has played host to some famous stories, which has a beautifully preserved historic centre, and which also has more than its fair share of grotty suburbs.
This research was developed during a trip to northern Italy in October 2015, which involved spending one a night in Verona, and then continuing through the Dolomites and on to Venice. I could also have returned back to Verona with little difference in timing.
It would be relatively simple to plan a driving loop from Verona and to head around through the Dolomites and back to the city with no more than around 4 hours actually at the wheel. This same journey by train by a combination of train and bus ended up taking almost 12 hours. Much of this was highly scenic, but the trip still took a lot of planning, and working around long gaps between services.
In particular, if you are heading into the Dolomites when they are at their most beautiful, i.e. in the autumn, so you are outside both the peak summer hiking season and the winter ski season, then some bus services will only run as little as every 2 hours, if they run at all.
The Dolomites are famous for their hiking trails, but you can also pick out some amazing cycling routes round here too, and you shouldn’t need a hire car just to get to the trail heads.
It’s worth hiring a car in Verona if you want to spend more time enjoying the landscapes rather than the cities, although any choice here is going to be a matter of personal preferences – you shouldn’t have any major trouble getting around here, whatever form of wheels you choose.
- Northern Italy by train – the network is extensive, service frequencies on most lines are usually very good, and with pricing simply based on a cost for each kilometre travelled, the trains are generally reasonable value.
- Verona as a base – Verona can sometimes act as a good value base from which to explore many of the other well known places in Northern Italy, and it’s possible to do so by taking day trips and never really having to spend more than about two hours on the training any one particular direction.
Dotting around northern Italy in a circle from Verona can also take you to the highly underrated Bologna, and then onwards to magnificent Florence, in addition to nearby cities like Padua, Mantua and of course delightful but expensive Venice.
- Dolomites by bus – one of the most impressive hiking areas in the Dolomites is around Tres Cime (literally just Three Peaks). You can get here by bus from Cortina. To reach Cortina, you’ll need to get a train to Toblach (Dobbiaco) or Calalzo, then a local bus. It’s easy enough to find places to stay in Cortina during the summer. It would be worth hiring a car in Verona if that made it easier to get to Cortina, but once you are here it’s only going to stay in the parking lot, so it could be a high cost for a marginal gain.
- Cycling trips – Verona is also a good place from which to start a cycling Road trip, with two of Italy’s most impressive trails being accessible from the city.
To the east, the former Dolomites railway has been converted into a truly impressive yet also extremely accessible cycle route which runs through Cortina. You can join the trail at either end by taking a train to Toblach (Dobbiaco) or Calalzo.
- Brescia Metro – although there is no metro or light rail in Verona, there is an ultra-modern metro in nearby Brescia, which can be handy if you are staying there.
It’s worth hiring a car in Verona if your focus in mainly on rural locations, or simply if you are part of a group that can fill a car, or at least make the cost of car hire good value compared to taking the train or other public transport.
Depending on which time of year you are travelling, trying to get around by public transport alone may need a great deal of additional planning.
A lot of the advice that we would give for visiting the Dolomites would also apply for people arriving in Venice – a city where we like to trumpet car hire as an option, simply because it’s such a huge contrast to actually visiting the historic centre of Venice itself.
Needless to say, Venice is a location which is of course completely inaccessible by car, and it’s also a very easy day trip from Verona. The only reason to want to drive there instead of taking the train would be because it was better value for you travelling as a group. However, you would still need to fork out around €10 for the day to park your car in one of the vast car parks on the edge of Venice. This is still going to be great value, as it’s a lot cheaper to stay in Verona, or anywhere else nearby, than it is to stay in Venice, where the sheer weight of tourism in such a tiny historic centre keeps prices artificially high.
If ou’re coming to Verona and you’re already planning on hiring a car, then the chances are that you’ve got a fairly good idea about some of the most scenic places to see which are near the city, and that idea is going to include both the Dolomites and Lake Garda and so on. There’s no reason here for us to suggest that hiring a car in Verona would be a be bad idea in this case.
However, if your starting point is that you don’t really know whether or not it’s worth hiring a car in Verona, then we’d suggest looking at a few other options first. You’ll have no issues with any of the other major cities which are nearby. The Dolomites by train and bus can take a bit of planning, but that’s more of a problem if you are looking off season.
Above all else, the cycling and hiking experiences in the Dolomites are too good to miss. You don’t need a car for either of these – although a car can always be useful.
Ultimately, the balance has to tip very slightly towards not getting a hire car here, but it’s a fairly soft recommendation, and is naturally going to go down to your own preferences.
Is it worth hiring a car in Verona? Verdict – yes.