Explore Mantova, Italy: A Historic City by Three Lakes

Piazza delle Erbe, mantova

Mantova is a beautiful historic city in northern Lombardy and one of the destinations I would definitely recommend you visit for either a weekend or as a stop on your Italian trip. Perhaps you have not heard of the city before and that’s okay. It’s not a common stop among travelers but that gives it a special charm. Mantova is surrounded by 3 artificial lakes and is known especially for its rich architectural legacy.

Note: this post includes affiliate links. I gain a small commission from the provider each time you click the link and book a service through it. That comes at no extra cost to you. Every little commission helps me run this blog and provide better content for you.

Where exactly is Mantova?

Mantova (Mantua) is located in the Lombardy province, just south of Lake Garda and about 2.5 hours away from Milan by regional train. Reaching Mantova is in fact the fastest by train, the train station is just a short walk away from the center of the city.

When booking train tickets, I recommend using Omio for the best comparison of all providers – plus the app is in English.

Where to stay in Mantova?

Mantova is not as expensive as perhaps other Italian cities. If you are looking to stay overnight, you can stay in the strict center of the city for a great price. Since the city is smaller there are not as many accommodation providers as maybe in other larger cities. I would recommend you book at least a few months in advance.


Mansarda Le Torri

  • Super central location
  • Excellent guest reviews (9.6/10)
  • Full apartment available

Cà Uberti Palace Hotel

  • Located on the main square
  • 18% off with Genius discount
  • Breakfast included in the price

What is Mantova famous for?

1. Piazza Sordello

One of the main squares of Mantova – Piazza Sordello. The square is full of cozy cafes, perfect for breakfast or lunch. You can easily reach Piazza Pallone and its gardens from the square for free or head towards Palazzo Ducale, the next attraction.

piazza sordello, mantova

Piazza Sordello

2. Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale is a set of palaces and Renaissance buildings that were once home to the noble family of Gonzaga as their royal residence. With 34.000 sqm the palace takes sixth place among the largest palaces in Europe, right after famous palaces like the Vatican, Louvre and Versailles.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 8.15 am – 7.15 pm (closed on Mondays)

Tickets – 15eur can be purchased here.

Palazzo Ducale gardens, mantova

Palazzo Ducale

3. Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe is one of the most beautiful squares in the city. The name “Delle Erbe” comes from the past, as the square was (and still is) being used as a market to sell fruits and vegetables.

Piazza delle Erbe, mantova

Piazza delle Erbe

3. Basilica di Sant' Andrea

Besides Piazza delle Erbe is Basilica di Sant’ Andrea with one of the most beautiful interiors (in my opnion right after Basilica di San Pietro in the Vatican). The entrance to the church is completely free.

Basilica di Sant Andrea, Mantova
Basilica di Sant Andrea, Mantova

Basilica di Sant’ Andrea

4. Te Palace

Perhaps one of the most famous attractions of Mantova is the Te Palace (Palazzo Te). Palazzo Te is said to be one of the most beautiful villas in Italy dating back to the years 1525 and 1535, when it was built as a suburban residence for Duke Gonzaga. The villa is known for its frescas and famous three rooms: Room of Horses, Room of Love and Psyche, and Room of Giants, each with its specific mythological theme.

Tickets cost 19.50eur, you can purchase them in advance on this link. 

Te Palace (source: Il Portale dei Musei Italiani)

5. Boat Tour on the Lakes

No matter the weather and time of the year, a boat tour of the lakes is something you must do when visiting Mantova. Head down to Lungolago di Mezzo where you will find the boats that do boat tours.

The boat tour we took included a tour of two out of the three lakes (the third lake is separated by gates) and all the way down the river Mincio to a protected area, a national park named Riserva Naturale la Vallazza. Along the ride, the boat tour guide explains the history of the city and the national park. The tour took no longer than 50 minutes.

mantua, night, sunset-1647427.jpg

View on Mantova from the lake


Hi, it's Neja

I am an expat from Slovenia,
 living in Milan since 2021 and writing a travel blog for all of you who are curious about life in Italy or traveling in Europe.

Follow me on my journey and learn everything about Italy and the European destinations.

Popular Posts

Recent Reads


Scroll to Top