15 Incredible Things to Do in Bologna (Ideas From a Local!)
Bologna is the capital of the Emilia Romagna area, in northern Italy, and is named “La Dotta and la Grassa” (which implies “The Educated and the Fat”) for being one of many essential cultural hubs within the nation and Italy’s foodie metropolis!
Bologna hosts the oldest college within the Western world Hidden in addition to a few of the greatest Italian meals, but it surely has much more to supply: from a historic middle with charming canals and slender streets to previous church buildings, museums, and squares, and so forth.
Since I had the luck to do my grasp’s on this superb metropolis (and I’m Italian!), I received to comprehend it fairly nicely, so I made a decision to jot down this information with the TOP issues to do in Bologna, that will help you select which sights to give attention to throughout your vacation (I understand how arduous it may be!).
I additionally included some helpful details about one of the best resorts, probably the most scrumptious Bologna eating places, and learn how to get across the metropolis.
So take your pen and block notice and prepare to go to Bologna with me… are you prepared?
If you might be in a rush
If you don’t have the time to learn the entire submit, take a look at this fast listing of one of the best excursions to do in Bologna:
Here are the principle issues to guide prematurely:
And listed here are one of the best resorts: Aemilia Bologna (Luxury), Bibliò Rooms (Mid-range), Santo Stefano (Budget)
1. Stroll round Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore is a big piazza in Bologna’s historic middle, and the true coronary heart of town, internet hosting previous medieval buildings, the Basilica di San Petronio (town’s essential cathedral), and the City Hall (Palazzo Comunale).
There are numerous issues you are able to do on this implausible sq.: from gazing at its structure to visiting its essential palaces and basilica (take a look at part 3), or simply sitting and having fun with individuals watching when you eat some scrumptious pasta with the well-known bolognese sauce.
Some of a very powerful sights of this sq. are Palazzo del Podestà, relationship again from 1200, the renaissance model Palazzo dei Bianchi and the fountain of Neptune, positioned northwest of the sq..
This fountain is likely one of the essential symbols of town, often known as “The Giant” (“Il Gigante” in Italian) for its enormous dimensions and is definitely positioned in Piazza del Nettuno, a small sq. throughout the larger Piazza Maggiore.
But the good factor about this sq. is that you just’ll discover individuals hanging out at any time of the day or evening, and typically even some live shows, open-air motion pictures, and commencement celebrations, so there’s all the time a really full of life vibe.
2. Climb as much as the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca
The Santuario di Madonna di San Luca is likely one of the oldest church buildings in Bologna, positioned on prime of a hill above town: Monte Della Guardia, from the place you’ll additionally get unbelievable views of town and countryside!
The Madonna di San Luca is simply majestic: enormous, made from an orange/pink materials with inexperienced domes and Baroque model… no marvel why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And the within is as stunning as the surface: that includes a plethora of decorations, and beautiful frescos of essential spiritual scenes (the main points are simply loopy!). One of the highlights contained in the church is the Virgin Mary, which is considered painted by Luke the Evangelist.
The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is open every single day from 7am to 7pm and the doorway is totally free! But if you wish to have one of the best views from the rooftop of the church, you’ll should pay €5.
This is named the San Luca Sky Experience: you’ll climb a slender spiral staircase contained in the Madonna di San Luca till the dome is on the highest, and stare upon unforgettable metropolis views!
This expertise is offered from 10am to 1:30pm and from 2:30pm to 6pm throughout weekdays, and from 12pm to 6pm on weekends, or you are able to do it as part of this Bologna and food tasting tour, for €30.
PRICE: €5 for the San Luca Sky Experience
How to get there
- By public transport: take the San Luca Express from Piazza Maggiore, it prices €12 or €6 for teenagers from 6-10 years previous.
- By strolling: in the event you can, I counsel you do the 50-minute panoramic stroll from town middle (Porta Saragozza) underneath the 666 arches of the Portico San Luca: the longest arch on this planet! The stroll is flat till it reaches the Arco del Meloncello, the place it begins climbing uphill to the church.
3. Visit the Basilica di San Petronio
The Basilica di San Petronio, positioned proper within the historic middle of the Piazza Maggiore is taken into account the tenth largest church in the entire world and is characterised by its Gothic design and unfinished entrance facade.
In truth, the church has by no means been really completed since its development between 1388 and 1479, so it has fairly a weird facade made from coloured marble stone within the decrease half and brown brickwork within the higher one.
Voices say that development stopped both as a result of the church ran out of cash or the pope didn’t like the thought of doing a cathedral that was larger than Rome’s St Peter’s.
In any case, San Pietro continues to be an incredible constructing to stare upon, each inside and outside, the place you’ll discover enormous adorned columns and an epic essential altar on the finish of the central aisle.
You can visit the church at no cost on any day of the week from 8:30am to 18:30pm, and (as for the Basilica of San Luca) for five€ extra there’s the possibility to climb as much as the panoramic terrace of the San Petronio, and gazing at sweeping views of town from 54m tall.
PRICE: for the panoramic terrace of the San Petronio: 5€ or 3€ for individuals between 10-18 years previous and over-65
4. Take a meals tour
As I mentioned within the intro, Bologna is a paradise for foodies, having an actual meals heritage and lots of conventional dishes that turned well-known all around the world, just like the scrumptious spaghetti bolognese!
So, for sure, in the event you’re within the metropolis you should be part of a meals tour to discover all of the native specialties in the precise locations: amongst all of the issues to do in Bologna, I wager that is the one you’ll take pleasure in probably the most!
Before going by way of one of the best meals excursions in Bologna, I’ll write you a fast listing of all of the nice meals you should strive within the metropolis, so that you come ready and you recognize what to search for on the eating places and excursions:
- Cheeses: in the event you love cheeses like me, you’ll love Bologna: town produces the world-famous Parmesan cheese in addition to the softer Squacquerone di Romagna, or the Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano, good to mix with some recent bread!
- Cured meats: one other factor that goes completely with cheese is the scrumptious cured meats. The most identified (and scrumptious) ones are the Prosciutto di Parma Ham and the Mortadella, each produced within the area
- Tagliatelle al ragù (pasta Bolognese): one MUST strive within the Emilia Region is the standard “pasta al ragu”, which you in all probability know as Pasta Bolognese. This pasta is made from tomato and grounded meat sauce… strive it with a number of Parmesan Cheese!
- Traditional balsamic vinegar: one very well-known ingredient of the area is the genuine Balsamico di Modena vinegar. This is a really typical dressing in Italy: strive just a few drops of it on salads, meats, and the Parmesan Cheese (one of the best combo!).
- Tortellini in brodo: Tortellini is one other typical pasta of Bologna: they appear like little ravioli and so they’re crammed with meat or cheese, and the standard manner of having fun with them is in broth (“in brodo”).
Now that you’ve an thought of the must-try meals of the area, you might be prepared to affix a scrumptious meals tour, that is the one I can extremely suggest:
Bologna Food + Wine Experience – go to native factories and family-run producers to see how they produce the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the standard balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and wine. You can even have the possibility to style Bologna recent merchandise alongside the best way and have breakfast and multi-course Italian lunch with wine pairings. This full-day Bologna meals tour prices €185.
If you might be on the lookout for one thing shorter, and extra inexpensive, listed here are another superior meals excursions you must take a look at: Secret Food Tours Bologna, Home Cooking Lesson, Bologna Local Food Tour.
NOTE: if you wish to discover the completely different specialties of the Emilia Romagna area with out becoming a member of a meals tour, there are various markets and meals outlets across the metropolis that you’ll find simply strolling round… to not discuss all of the genuine gelato outlets!
If you wish to strive the BEST gelato in Bologna it’s a must to go by way of the Cremeria Santo Stefano… you’ll fall in love!
5. Lose your self in Bologna metropolis middle
All the principle issues to do in Bologna are positioned in and across the historic metropolis middle… and which higher approach to uncover them than dropping your self in it?
First of all, you should know that Bologna is legendary for its typical Portici, that are partially enclosed walkways, lined with arches and columns, and have stunning structure.
There is about 40 km of Portici on this Italian metropolis, so all over the place you’ll go you possibly can stroll underneath them… they’re good for wet days or when the solar is simply too robust!
But one factor you received’t anticipate to see in Bologna is its water canals, which within the center ages have been a part of a really in depth canal system, however at present are fairly arduous to search out and never lots of people find out about them.
The coolest approach to see them is thru the Finestrella, an excellent small window positioned in Via Piella, from the place you may get a framed and picturesque view of the hidden canals.
And in fact, simply wandering round you’ll encounter all the attractive historic squares: Piazza Santo Stefano, Piazza Maggiore, Piazza del Nettuno… all nice to have an aperitif, strive all that pasta we talked about and do some individuals watching.
If you like to see all the foremost sights of Bologna with a information that explains to you all of the historical past behind them, you possibly can be part of this Walking Tour round Bologna metropolis middle or ask for data and tour on the Bologna Welcome tourist office, with a central location in Piazza Maggiore.
6. Have one of the best metropolis views from la Torre Asinelli
Another image of Bologna is the legendary two towers standing subsequent to one another: Asinelli and Garisenda, proper within the coronary heart of town (within the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana).
These two tall towers have been constructed through the Middle Ages and named after essential Italian households.
Of these two leaning towers (nope, Pisa is just not the one metropolis having a leaning tower) you possibly can climb solely the Asinelli tower, the tallest one of many two: 97.2 meters excessive and inclined 1.3°.
To attain the highest of the Asinelli Tower, you have to to take 498 steps on steep picket staircases. It’s fairly tiring however there are various platforms you possibly can relaxation on between flooring, and the panoramic view from the highest is simply breathtaking, so it’s positively value some effort!
Price for the Asinelli Tower: € 5 for adults, € 3 for individuals underneath 12 and over 65.
7. Visit the Bologna National Gallery
Located near the University of Bologna (the oldest college within the Western world) and the principle Piazza Maggiore, you’ll discover the tremendous attention-grabbing Bologna National Gallery museum, displaying works of the Emilian area and town, most of them of non secular themes.
The National Gallery (in Italian “Pinacoteca Nazionale”) is break up into two essential sections: the Accademia Clementina museum, showcasing Thirteenth-century Byzantine work, and the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts, displaying works from the 18th century.
The Gallery hosts a few of the masterpieces of a very powerful Italian artists, from Giotto to Raphael… Some notable examples are the Ecstasy of St. Cecilia by Raphael and Christ and the Good Theif by Titian, however you’ll discover many extra as soon as there!
To go to the place and its items of artwork you’ll want round 2 hours, and it prices 6€… one of many essential issues to do in Bologna in the event you love artwork!
PRICE: Adults-6€, 18 – 25 years old-2€, underneath 18-free
8. Relax in Parco Giardini Margherita
If you like to spend time in inexperienced areas, it’s a must to go by way of the attractive and big Giardini Margherita, the most well-liked city park in Bologna, positioned south of town middle (at a 20-minute stroll from Piazza Maggiore)!
In truth, right here you’ll discover 26 hectares of strolling/working paths passing by way of tall bushes and a small lake: good to have a tranquil stroll or do some bodily exercise. Otherwise, you possibly can simply have a comfy picnic nestled in nature or drink a espresso in one of many many bars within the space.
My favourite time to benefit from the Giardini Margherita is in autumn when all the bottom is roofed with colourful and large leaves, but it surely’s superb additionally through the summer time months when the well-known Sierre dei Giardini bar opens.
The bar turns into notably magical at evening when you possibly can take pleasure in stay music, poetry readings, and lectures in entrance of a glass of wine or a scrumptious dinner!
9. Travel again in time on the Bologna Archeological Museum
The greatest approach to study in regards to the historic historical past of the Emilia Romagna area is by visiting the Archaeological Museum, internet hosting many works from Greek and Roman artwork, and a large assortment of Egyptian antiquities, one of the essential in Europe!
The Archaeological Museum shows a captivating perception additionally of Bologna’s historical past itself all through completely different ages, together with Prehistoric, Etruscan, Celtic, Roman, Egyptian and extra.
Each assortment will present you some cool artifacts like Bronze Age instruments, pottery, skeletal stays, marble statues, weaponry, and far more!
The museum is positioned proper within the coronary heart of Bologna, in Piazza Maggiore, so it’s tremendous accessible, and to go to all its artworks you have to kind of 2 hours.
PRICE: Adults-6€, 18 – 25 years old-2€
If you’re an open markets-obsessed like me, you’ll fall in love with the Piazzola historic market, which has been working for lots of of years and retains being tremendous common each among the many locals and vacationers.
Here you’ll discover actually something: there are over 400 completely different stalls promoting garments, jewellery, style equipment, flowers, and pottery at excellent costs… is the proper place to do some memento purchasing and have an actual really feel of town.
In truth, you may be surrounded by locals chatting and shopping for the components for his or her scrumptious recipes and be continuously stimulated by all the everyday colours, smells, and sounds of Italy!
The market is open each Friday and Saturday from 8am to 6pm and is positioned within the Piazza dell Agosto, north of town middle, solely 10 minutes strolling from Piazza Maggiore.
11. Visit the Archiginnasio and Teatro Anatomico
Dating again to the sixteenth century, the Archiginnasio is likely one of the most essential buildings in Bologna: it was as soon as the principle edifice of the University of Bologna, housing the distinguished Anatomical Theater.
The Anatomical Theater of the Archiginnasio was used for anatomy lectures and cadaver-dissection shows and you’ll simply think about it from its construction, with an ornate anatomical desk within the middle surrounded by seating platforms.
FUN FACT: In the wall of the Anatomica theater there’s nonetheless the spy gap by way of which the church stored its eyes on the medical lessons, to ensure they weren’t educating something too progressive!
But probably the greatest issues in regards to the theater is its beautiful structure: the room is totally in wooden and is adorned with stunning statues of well-known medical professors, to not discuss in regards to the beautiful portico within the entrance courtyard, that includes colourful frescoes on the ceiling.
PRICE: 3€ for the Anatomical Theater, free for the Archiginnasio
12. Explore the Santo Stefano spiritual advanced
It’s no secret that Italy brims with historic church buildings, and Bologna isn’t any exception! We have already seen the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca and San Petronio church, however there’s a place the place some essential spiritual buildings are concentrated: Santo Stefano sq..
In this sq., you’ll discover a advanced of 4 church buildings (as soon as they have been seven): the Santo Stefano Basilica, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the courtyard of Pilate.
The church buildings are all interconnected to one another (due to some peaceable courtyards) however each has its personal character, structure, and design, and there’s additionally a free museum if you wish to have extra details about the advanced.
The entrance to the advanced is by donation, in any other case, you possibly can study extra in regards to the church buildings with this non-public tour, for 81€.
13. Have a spritz at Il Bracio
If you wish to expertise the Bologna nightlife, you must head to the Ebracio space, the previous Jewish Ghetto the place the youthful and hip crowd of Bologna hang around, in addition to all of the worldwide individuals who got here to town as college alternate college students.
In truth, right here you’ll discover numerous bars and eating places the place locals meet to have a espresso at any time of the day or an Aperol spritz within the night after which most certainly go to a celebration in one of many golf equipment within the space!
But this doesn’t imply you can not take pleasure in Il Bracio through the daytime: its slender streets host many outlets, native avenue artwork, photograph ops, and cafes for a lunch or a snack!
14. Go on a day journey to one of many villages within the area!
Apart from Bologna, within the Emilia Romagna area, there are such a lot of hidden gems to find that you must positively go on a day journey to one among them when you’ve got the time throughout your vacation!
If you’re a foodie, you must positively take a look at Parma, the place the beautiful Parma ham and Parmesan cheese are produced, whereas Ravenna is legendary for its colourful mosaics and majestic buildings, each at 1-hour practice trip.
And in the event you plan on extending your journey to different superb Italian areas, take a look at our submit with one of the best locations to remain within the stunning Tuscany, at 2 hours’ driving away!
If you don’t wish to be part of one of many day journeys excursions linked above, no worries: you received’t even want a automotive to succeed in these superb cities, you possibly can both take the regional Trenitalia or Italo high-speed practice from the Bologna Central Train station!
15. Check out Fico – a meals theme park
FICO Eataly World is a MUST, it’s the largest meals park in the entire world!
The entire level of the theme is to share the biodiversity of Italian delicacies by way of workshops and school rooms and to point out the behind-the-scenes creation of Italian food and drinks.
Located only a 20-minute drive from Bologna metropolis middle, FICO hosts meals stalls, sights, occasions, eating places, and a grocery store… So you can even purchase Italian meals to take residence, eat some scrumptious dishes or attend a cooking class!
The park is a good place to spend some high quality time with the household as a result of you possibly can study in regards to the historical past of pasta and the wine-making course of, do Italian meals tastings (just like the parmesan cheese with aged balsamic vinegar), and see cattle like cows and horses!
Price for a ticket to FICO: €8
How to get there: If you don’t have a automotive, included with the ticket to FICO there’s a free shuttle service that runs from 2 spots:
- Bologna central station at 10:30am, 11:30am and 5:30pm
- Via dei Mille, Bologna at 10:45am or 11:45am
|🤩 Range of actions:||Average|
|👪 Family-friendly rating:||Medium|
|🏛️ Best museum:||Bologna National Gallery|
|🎢 Top paid attraction:||San Luca Sky Experience|
|🚶🏽♂️ Best free exercise:||Piazza Maggiore|
|🥟 Must strive meals:||Tagliatelle al ragu|
|📅 How many days:||3-5|
|📍 Best neighborhood:||City middle|
|🍽️ Dinner for two:||€50|
|🚕 Average taxi PRICE:||€10|
|💵 Avg lodge PRICE:||€80|
|✈️ Cost of touring:||Medium|
Where to remain in Bologna, Emilia Romagna
If you’re questioning the place to remain within the metropolis to have easy accessibility to all one of the best issues to do in Bologna, Italy, you must positively select the historic middle!
I put right here under 3 superb resorts for you, divided by worth vary, so that you don’t should do any analysis, and if you wish to see extra areas and lodging choices you possibly can learn this post!
Check them out:
- Luxury (€130 and up)
Aemilia Bologna – Aemilia Bologna is an incredible 4-star lodge inside strolling distance of Bologna’s metropolis middle and the well-known towers. Here you’ll begin your day with a big buffet breakfast and end it on the on-site restaurant serving native specialties. And there’s even a rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi, to have the BEST metropolis views!
- Mid Range (€90 – €120)
Bibliò Rooms – This superb trendy lodge, provides nice worth and a central location, near the Santo Stefano Church and Piazza Maggiore. You can even love the spacious rooms right here, with entry to free wifi, a non-public lavatory, and a few of them even a balcony… test them out!
- Budget (as much as €80)
Santo Stefano – These elegant studios and flats are good if you wish to avoid wasting cash in Bologna! They are housed in a historic constructing and positioned a brief quarter-hour stroll from Piazza Maggiore. All the flats are spacious, absolutely outfitted with a kitchen, and pet-friendly… so you possibly can even come along with your four-legged pal!
Now I provides you with some helpful tips about one of the best Bologna eating places: they may prevent some valuable time and provide you with scrumptious dinners that you just’ll bear in mind without end! Let’s see them each in additional element:
Where to eat in Bologna
If you come to probably the greatest cities in Italy for meals, you wish to be sure to don’t comply with within the typical vacationer traps and select superb eating places the place you possibly can style the standard meals!
Don’t fear about it, I already did the job for you: take a look at this listing of one of the best eating places in Bologna, the place you possibly can strive all of the scrumptious specialties we talked about in part 3:
- Sfoglia Rina – if you wish to have the greatest pasta on the town you should go to this scrumptious restaurant: it has truthful costs and lots of choices. Some MUST tries are the tagliatelle al ragu or the tortelloni with butter and sage. If you wish to strive all of them and keep away from huge traces I counsel you go as early as doable!
- Trattoria Serghei – If you like to eat in a cozy setting providing conventional dishes, you’ll love this small restaurant! Here the employees is tremendous pleasant and so they serve some classics of the Bolognese delicacies: the tortellini in brodo or the ravioli with pumpkin is simply superb… be sure to strive them!
- Ca Pelletti – this can be a informal cafe serving meals all afternoon, so it’s good in the event you get hungry throughout your day and also you wish to have a yummy snack or a late lunch! The service is fast, the meals is extra inexpensive than most eating places, and so they have many vegetarian choices together with selfmade pasta, salads, and piadina (my favourite!)
- Farina – If you’re keen on bread like me, Sfarina is the place to be! Here you’ll discover any type of piadinas (flatbread sandwiches), with cured meats just like the well-known Lardo, or vegetarian fillings together with a parmigiana with grilled aubergine, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar… my absolute favourite! Another plus? The costs are very inexpensive!
Frequently requested questions on Bologna, Italy
🤩 What are one of the best issues to do in Bologna, Italy?
The greatest issues to do in Bologna, Italy, are climbing the Asinelli leaning tower, strolling round Piazza Santo Stefano, and visiting the Basilica of San Luca on the Monte della Guardia hill!
📍Which are one of the best day journeys from Bologna, Italy?
A very good day journey from Bologna, Italy is to Parma, the area the place they produce the well-known prosciutto di Parma ham, which is only a 1-hour drive away.
📅 How many days do you want in Bologna Italy?
3 days (and a couple of nights) is sufficient time to finish all one of the best issues to do in Bologna: see all of the Bologna highlights, eat in scrumptious eating places, go to previous church buildings, and simply stay the Italian life-style!
🍽️ Which are one of the best locations to eat in Bologna, Italy?
The greatest locations to eat in Bologna are Sfoglia Rina if you wish to strive one of the best tagliatelle al ragu, Trattoria Serghei for conventional dishes in a comfy setting, or Cremeria Santo Stefano for one of the best gelato!
Congrats! You made it to the tip of this very in depth information with one of the best issues to do in Bologna, Emilia Romagna, town the place I did my grasp’s diploma.
We went by way of one of the best historic sights, charming squares, museums, meals excursions, and even some helpful recommendations on the place to remain, the place to eat, and learn how to get across the metropolis.
I hope I used to be capable of carry you to my residence nation for a couple of minutes and that this information will allow you to slender down one of the best issues to do on this superb metropolis.
If you’ve got some questions in regards to the submit otherwise you wish to share your favourite issues to do in Bologna, please accomplish that within the feedback under… I’m trying ahead to answering you!
Have an incredible vacation!