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23 Best Day Trips from Bologna You Won’t Want to Miss (2024)

day trips from bologna
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Looking for the best day trips from Bologna? You’ve come to the right place!

Located in Northern Italy, Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, which is known for incredible Italian cuisine and stunning medieval architecture. While there’s no shortage of wonderful things to do in Bologna, the city’s central location makes it convenient for amazing day trips within a 1-2.5 hour train ride.

We’ve spent over 2.5 months in Bologna and the surrounding region discovering all of the best cities and towns to visit. In this guide, we’ve split up the day trips by region to help you easily decide the perfect day trip for you!

We’re also sharing how to get to each destination, personal tips on the best things to do, and a guide on how to navigate your way around the region.

Here is our list of the 23 best day trips from Bologna, Italy.

Don’t have time to read it all? Here are the top 5 day trips from Bologna that we recommend.

Best foodie day trip: Modena or Parma
Best artsy day trip: Ravenna
Best cultural day trip: Mantua or Padua
Best countryside day trip: Dozza or Brisighella
Best car lovers day trip: Maranello

Day Trips from Bologna to Veneto

1. Verona

Bologna to Verona Day Trip

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1h 45min
Distance from Bologna by train: 52min to 1h 30min

Verona is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and is an easy day trip from Bologna. With its stunning medieval architecture, idyllic location along the Adige river, and historical sights, it’s hard not to fall in love with Verona.

The first time we visited Verona was on a Bologna day trip, and we loved it so much that we ended up going back and spending a month there.

All of the sights around Verona are within walking distance, so you don’t need to worry about public transportation.

Start your day at the Verona Arena, a spectacular 1st century Roman amphitheater. You can take a tour inside of the arena, or if you are visiting during the summer, attend an opera performance in the evening.

The annual Opera festival is held every year from June to September and is one of the most incredible events in Italy. We highly recommend getting tickets if you can.

Streets in Verona, Italy

For the best views of Verona, climb the Lamberti Tower in Piazza delle Erbe, or make your way across the Adige river to Piazza Castel San Pietro. The sunset view is especially spectacular from the latter. You should have time to see both.

Spend the rest of your Bologna to Verona day trip visiting some of the city’s top sights, such as Juliet’s Balcony, Basilica di Santa Anastasia, and the Castelvecchio Museum.

For a quick lunch, pick up some freshly made tortelloni from La Bottega della Gina XXL. And for dinner, try out Trattoria al Pompiere – one of our favorite restaurants in Verona.

Plan your Verona day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Verona: To enjoy all that Verona has to offer, we suggest spending one full day here.

Transportation from Bologna to Verona:

  • Train: The best way to get from Bologna to Verona is by train. The train takes between 1-1.5 hours depending on the tickets you purchase. We always recommend taking the fast train for day trips. The Verona train station is about a 20-25 minute walk from the historic center. You can grab a taxi from the station if you prefer.
  • Car: We do not recommend driving to Verona, unless you already have a rental car. The train is the quickest and most convenient option. However, if you decide to drive, the travel time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes each way.

Here are some popular tours in Verona:

  • Verona Highlights Walking Tour | This small group tour takes you around the city with an expert guide.
  • Verona Food, Wine & History tour| This is the tour to take if you want a bit of history and a bit of food. You’ll wander through the streets of Verona with a guide learning about the main sights all while sipping and eating your way through the city.

2. Venice

Grand Canal in Venice, ITaly

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 40min
Distance from Bologna by train: 1h 30min – 2 hours

Venice, the city built on over 100 islands, is one of the most magical places in all of Europe. If you want to spend a day exploring Venice without the high price of spending the night in this tourist hot spot, then a day trip from Bologna is an excellent idea.

Start your day in Venice by hopping on the Line 1 Vaporetto (water taxi) just outside of the train station and taking a tour of the Grand Canal. This is one of the cheapest ways to get a tour of Venice from the canals.

Get off at either the Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco to start your day of sightseeing.

Gondolas venice, italy

With one day in Venice, you’ll have just enough time to see the main attractions. St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Doge’s palace to name a few. Try to book your tickets in advance for the Doge’s Palace.

We recommend this guided tour with skip-the-line access to St. Mark’s Basilica (+ the terrace) & Doge’s Palace.

A gondola ride in Venice is a must, and you can sign up for one near St. Mark’s Square. They usually last anywhere between 30-60 minutes. For a cheaper ride, try to find a small group that you can tag along with and split the cost.

Make sure to save time to wander around the canals on your way back to the train station. One of the best ways to experience Venice is to get lost on some of the quieter streets.

Plan your Bologna to Venice day trip

How Much Time in Venice: You should definitely plan on spending one full day exploring the charming streets of Venice!

Transportation from Bologna to Venice:

  • Train: Cars are not allowed on the island, so the best way to get to Venice is by train. The journey takes 1.5 hours to 2 hours. When you book your train tickets, make sure you get tickets to the Venice Santa Lucia station. There are two stations in Venice, and the Santa Lucia station is the closest to the city.

Recommended tours in Venice:

  • Full-day Venice tour | This 6.5 hour tour includes access to St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, and a Gondola tour. You get the most bang for your buck on this one!
  • Venice Food tour | This 3-hour food tour takes you to some of the best local spots for a tasting of Venetian cuisine.

3. Padua

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 30min
Distance from Bologna by train: 1hr – 1hr 30min

Padua is located just outside of Venice but remains one of Italy’s hidden gems.

The most important sight to visit in Padua is the Scrovegni Chapel, which is the home of Florentine artist Giotti’s fresco masterpiece. You will want to book tickets in advance here.

Another must-see in Padua is the Basilica of Saint Anthony, which features statues by the Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello.

End your day by walking through the Pratto della Valle – the largest square in Italy. This square is surrounded by a canal flanked with beautiful statues and is a must-see on your day trip to Padua.

Plan your Padua day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Padua: You will need one full day to see all of the historical sights in Padua and to have some time to walk around the city.

Transportation from Bologna to Padua:

  • Train: The easiest way to get to Padua is by taking the train. The train takes between 1-1.5 hours.
  • Car: The drive to Padua from Bologna is 1.5 hours. We suggest taking the train, since it’s much easier and cheaper than renting a car for the day.

Recommend Padua tour options:

  • Private Walking Tour | During this 2.5 hour walking tour, you’ll learn about the history of Padua and visit the Scrovegni Chapel with a local guide.
  • Market tour & Cooking Class Tour | Spend the morning visiting the local markets and cooking a delicious Italian dish with a local during this 5 hour small group tour.

4. Vicenza

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Vicenza by car: 1.5hr – 2.5hr
Distance from Bologna to Vicenza by train: 1.5hr – 2.5hr

A day trip from Bologna to Vicenza is a wonderful idea if you love Renaissance architecture and history! This can also be combined with a Padua day trip, since the train between the two cities is only 15 minutes.

Did you know Vicenza is a UNESCO World Heritage site? The city is known for its incredible architecture designed by one of the most famous Renaissance architects in history, Andrea Palladio. 

There are 23 buildings in Vicenza that were designed by Palladio, and since you probably won’t have time to see them all, we’re sharing the ones you must-see during your day in Vicenza. 

Start your day off at one of the most historic sites in Vicenza, the Basilica Palladiana. Located in the Piazza de Signori (the main square), the Basilica Palladiana was originally used as the seat of the local government in Vicenza.

It features two levels of exterior archways designed by Palladio, an iconic part of his designs. The building was originally built in the 15th century, but was later rebuilt in the 16th century using Andrea Palladio’s design. 

After admiring the beautiful basilica, make your way to the Palazzo Chiericati, another building designed by Palladio. You can either admire the exterior work or also go inside and walk around the Museo Civico, which is inside of the building. 

One of the most impressive sites in Vicenza is the Teatro Olimpico. Surprise! It was also designed by Andrea Palladio. This is one of the most unique theaters in all of Italy. 

Inspired by theaters during the Roman times, the theater was built in the late 16th-century and it feels like you are walking into a wonder of the world. The set design looks like a Roman street with statues surrounding the entire theater. It is very impressive. 

If you have time, make your way up the hill to the Villa La Rotonda. Another one of Palladio’s masterpieces that inspired the creation of endless buildings around the world, including Thomas Jefferson’s house in Monticello, Virginia. It’s about a 30-minute walk from town, so be prepared to add in the extra time to see it. 

Plan your Vicenza day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Vicenza: With train travel, plan on a full day in Vicenza.

Transportation from Bologna to Vicenza:

  • Train: The easiest way to get from Bologna to Vicenza is by train. The journey takes anywhere from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 44 minutes.
  • Car: If you want to drive to Vicenza from Bologna, the travel time is anywhere between 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours minutes each way.

Recommend Vicenza tours:

  • Vicenza E-Bike Tour | Explore Vicenza by e-bike with a local guide. You’ll stroll by the city’s main sights while learning about the history. Sounds like the perfect afternoon to us!
  • Vicenza Highlight Tour | Visit all of the main sights while learning about the significance and history of Palladio on this tour.

Day Trips from Bologna to Emilia Romagna

5. Modena

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 55min
Distance from Bologna by train: 25min – 30min

Modena is one of the best Bologna day trips if you’re looking to try some local food. While there is a lot to see in Modena, you can also combine it with a trip to Maranello (Ferrari) or Parma.

The world’s most famous restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is located in the heart of Modena. Beware, to eat lunch or dinner here, you’ll need to reserve your spot months in advance and it comes with a high price tag.

A more affordable food experience is to enjoy a traditioal balsamic vinegar tasting. You can book a tour to visit a traditional Acetaia and learn about this centuries-old process of creating 12+ year old balsamic vinegar.

Additionally, check out the Albinelli Market, one of the best food markets in Emilia-Romagna, to taste a sampling of local foods. One of our favorite sandwich shops is located inside of the market called Bar Schiavoni. We highly recommend eating here for a quick lunch!

Taking a food tour of Modena is one of our favorite ways to experience both the history and cuisine of the city.

Other than food, we suggest visiting the Modena Duomo and climbing the Ghirlandina tower for gorgeous views of the city.

Car lovers should plan to visit the Enzo Ferrari museum, which is within walking distance from the city center.

Note: There are two museums dedicated to Ferrari. One is the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena and the second one is in Maranello. You can visit both in a day.

Plan your Bologna to Modena Day Trip

How Much Time in Modena: Modena city center can be seen in half a day. Maranello or Parma can be combined with Modena day trip.

Transportation from Bologna to Modena:

  • Train: The train to Modena from Bologna takes 30 minutes.
  • Car: If you prefer to rent a car, then you’ll want to plan on 1 hour each way from Bologna.

Looking for a full itinerary for your day trip? Check out our Bologna to Modena day trip post with all of our insider tips.

6. Maranello

Image Credit: gmalandra / Getty Images

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 55min
Distance from Bologna by train/bus: 1hr 10min

If you’re into sports cars and Formula 1, then a day trip to Maranello is a must.

Maranello is home to the Ferrari headquarters where you can tour the factory and visit the Ferrari museum. The visit to the museum usually takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can learn more about these tours on the Ferrari website.

In addition to the museum, you can also purchase tickets to visit the Fiorano Test Track. To schedule your shuttle, visit the Ferrari Museum website.

Plan your Maranello day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Maranello: You will only need a half-day for your visit to Maranello and the Ferrari Museum. You can easily combine this with a day trip to Modena.

Transportation from Bologna to Maranello:

  • Train/bus: If you want to take public transportation, then you’ll need to catch the train from Bologna to Modena. From Modena, you have 2 options. Take the local bus from the train station to the museum, or book the Ferrari shuttle bus. Overall, the journey by bus and train will take you around 1.5-2 hours.
  • Car: The easiest way to get to Maranello from Bologna is by car. It takes around 1 hour to get there.

Popular day tours from Bologna to Maranello:

7. Parma

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 15min
Distance from Bologna by train: 58min – 1hr 15min

We’ve visited Parma many times and can’t seem to get enough. With so many incredible things to do in Parma, from delicious food to historical sights, you can’t help but fall in love with this city!

Parma is the home of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma. For the best experience, we recommend taking a tour with an expert guide to visit the producers directly.

Additionally, Parma has many incredible historic buildings that are worth visiting. The interior of the Cathedral of Parma is completely covered in beautiful frescoes, which is a wonderful surprise.

Make sure to walk up to the dome of the church to see the famous fresco by Antonio da Correggio depicting the “Assumption of the Virgin.”

After your visit to the cathedral, make your way to the San Giovanni Battista baptistry next door and admire the stunning frescoes and paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries.

For the second half of your Parma day trip, we recommend visiting the Pilotta Palace. This is a complex of galleries, including the National Gallery with artworks by Leonardo da Vinci and an incredible Renaissance theater called Teatro Farnese. We spent way more time than we expected here because it was so amazing!

Plan your Day trip to Parma from Bologna

How Much Time in Parma: If you want to see all of the historical sights and go on a food tour, then you will need a full day in Parma

Transportation from Bologna to Parma:

  • Train: The train from Bologna takes about 58 minutes to 1 hour and 13 minutes to Parma.
  • Car: The drive takes just as long as the train, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, so we suggest you take the train to Parma for convenience.

Recommended day tour from Bologna to Parma:

  • Private Emilia-Romagna tour | This private tour takes you to visit several producers, including a visit to a Parmesan cheese and Parma ham producer. Plus a visit to a balsamic vinegar house.

8. Rimini

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Rimini by car: 1hr 15min
Distance from Bologna to Rimini by train: 53min to 1hr 45min

Rimini is a stunning coastal city situated on the Adriatic Sea and is home to some of Italy’s most beautiful, golden beaches. With its sandy shores, bustling nightlife and historical attractions, Rimini is an ideal day trip from Bologna for those looking to relax in the sun!

From exploring ancient ruins to visiting unique museums, Rimini has something for everyone. The city’s roots can be traced back to 268 BC when it was founded by the Romans as a strategic port. 

Today, you can explore some of the historic Roman sites like the Tiberius Bridge, which was completed in 21 AD and built in honor of Emperor Augustus. You can also walk through the Arco de Augusto, a well-preserved Roman arch that leads you into the city. 

Tempio Malastiano is another highlight, which is an impressive 15th century Renaissance church built by Leon Battista Alberti. 

Of course, no visit to Rimini is complete without an afternoon spent at a beach! After a morning of exploring the historical sites, make your way to the coast and enjoy the endless golden beaches. The walk from the city center to the beach is about 20-25 minutes. 

Being in Emilia-Romagna, you can only expect to eat some of the best Italian food, and the food in Rimini is no exception. Being by the sea, you’ll have the chance to taste many pastas with seafood, like grilled octopus and fried calamari.

You can also try a piadina, a delicious flatbread sandwich from the area, or cappelletti, a hat shaped stuffed pasta often served in broth. 

Plan your Rimini day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Rimini: To visit both the beach and the city, you’ll need a full day here.

Transportation from Bologna to Rimini:

  • Train: The best way to get from Bologna to Rimini is by train. The journey takes anywhere from 53 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on the tickets you purchase.
  • Car: If you have a rental car and want to drive to Rimini, the travel time is around 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

9. Ferrara

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Ferrara by car: 45min
Distance from Bologna to Ferrara by train: 40min

Ferrara is a beautiful Medieval city steeped in history and culture. Located just 30-minutes by train from Bologna, the city dates back to the 5th century BC.

Start your day trip to Ferrara in the historic center at the Este Castle, a medieval castle from the time of the Este family. The castle is surrounded by a moat on the exterior, and the interior features frescoed ceilings and historical information about the Este family.

After your visit at the Este Castle, make your way to the Diamanti palace, an incredible Renaissance building with 8,500 stones that are carved to look like diamonds. These diamonds represent the Este Family that ruled over Ferrara for over 300 years.

The palace hosts several exhibitions every year that are worthy of a visit. You can check out the website to see the exhibition schedule for this year. 

Of course, no visit to any Italian city is complete without visiting its cathedral. Make a stop at the Cathedral of Ferrara to discover the interiors of this 12th century church. 

One of the most unique and must-see structures in Ferrara is the Rotondo Foschini. Inside of the courtyard of the local theater, you’ll find a unique, elliptical looking shape. Grab your phone to snap a photo and you’ll see why this is a popular spot for visitors in Ferrara. 

You can’t leave Ferrara without trying it’s signature pasta – Cappellacci di Zucca Ferraresi. A hat shaped tortellini stuffed with pumpkin! You can try this at many local restaurants such as Cusina e Butega

Plan your Ferrara day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Ferrara: A half-day is plenty of time to see the main sights in Ferrara.

Transportation from Bologna to Ferrara:

  • Train: The best way to get from Bologna to Ferrara is by train. The journey takes on average about 40 minutes.
  • Car: If you have a rental car and want to drive to Ferrara, the travel time is around 45 minutes. 

10. Imola + Dozza

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Imola & Dozza by car: 1 hour 30 minutes round trip

While you can visit Imola and Dozza separately, we recommend combining them both on a day trip from Bologna due to their proximity. 

Imola is easily accessed by train from Bologna (just 25 minutes away), and you can then get to Dozza by bus from Imola (takes around 45 minutes). The easiest option to get around is by car, but it’s definitely doable via public transportation.

Imola has been home to the Ferrari racing team since its inception in 1929. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari racetrack was opened here in 1953 and has hosted some of the most legendary races and drivers over the years. 

Aside from sports, you can wander around Imola and visit Rocca Sforzesca. An impressive 14th-century castle that houses a ceramics and weapons museum. 

After your visit in Imola, make your way to Dozza by bus or car, a city that’s renowned for its unique art scene and stunning architecture. 

The city’s main attraction is its colorful murals which adorn many buildings throughout the town. These murals were created by local and international artists who are invited to paint them each year as part of an annual competition known as The “Bienniale di Dozza.”

This event has been running since 1960 and continues to attract visitors from all over the world who come to admire these incredible works of art!

In addition to its vibrant art scene, Dozza also features numerous churches, museums, parks and other attractions that make it an ideal day trip destination from Bologna.

Plan your Imola & Dozza day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Imola & Dozza: If you are visiting both Imola and Dozza, then plan on spending a full day in the two places combined. You can see each of these places in a half day each. 

Transportation from Bologna to Imola & Dozza: The best way to visit both Imola & Dozza is by renting a car. 

  • Train/Bus: If you only plan to visit Imola, it’s a quick 20-minute train ride from Bologna.To get to Dozza from Imola, take the 101 and 147 buses. We suggest using Google Maps for the most up-to-date route.
  • Car: The travel time by car from Bologna to Imola is 37 minutes. Imola to Dozza is 11 minutes. Dozza back to Bologna is 35 minutes. You can expect a total travel time by car of around 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

Recommended tours:

11. Faenza + Brisighella

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Faenza & Brisighella by car: 2 hours round trip
Distance from Bologna to Faenza & Brisighella by train: 2 hours round trip

Faenza, Italy is renowned for its rich ceramic tradition and unparalleled craftsmanship. If you are a lover of Italian ceramics like me, then Faenza is a must-see city on a day trip from Bologna! 

The city was established by the Romans in the 4th century BC and soon became an important center of pottery production. 

Faenza’s unique style of pottery has been highly sought after over the centuries, with some of the best examples displayed in its International Museum of Ceramics. 

Inside of the museum, you’ll explore ceramics from around the world ranging from 4,000 BC to the current day. It is a fantastic way to discover the world of ceramics and feel inspired by artisans from over the centuries. 

You can visit modern-day ceramicists at the many shops around the city if you want to purchase something or just admire the ceramics. 

If you love beautiful interiors and frescoes, then make your way to the Palazzo Milzetti after a visit to the Ceramics Museum. The palace was commissioned in the late 18th-century, and was designed by Giuseppe Pistocchi.

Located only 20 minutes away by bus from Faenza is the small town of Brisighella. We recommend combining these two cities on one day trip, as you’ll definitely have time to see both. 

Brisighella is a small medieval town located in the hills of Emilia-Romagna. It is widely known for its olive oil, so you must stop at an olive oil producer in the city for a tasting during your day trip! 

A visit to La Rocca, a 14th century castle, and Il Monticino, a religious sanctuary from the 1700s are both a must.

For the best views of Brisighella, make your way to the top of La Torre, a 19th century clocktower with beautiful views of the town and rolling hills. 

Plan your Faenza & Brisighella day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Faenza & Brisighella: From walking around the countryside in Brisighella to exploring the cultural sites in Faenza, we recommend spending a full day exploring these two cities. 

Transportation from Bologna to Ferrara: You can travel to Faenza and Brisighella from Bologna by train or car.

  • Train: The journey from Bologna to Faenza by train takes around 40 minutes. From Faenza to Brisighella, the train takes anywhere between 10-23 23 minutes. The train back to Bologna from Brisighella take around 1 hour.
  • Car: If you prefer to drive, you can expect a total round trip journey from Bologna to Faenza to Brisighella to take anywhere between 2 hours and 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Tour recommendations:

12. Ravenna

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 5min
Distance from Bologna by train: 1hr to 1hr 30min

Ravenna is a port town located on the Adriatic side of Italy. It is famous for its historical Byzantine mosaics dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries.

You can find these mosaics at several of the designated World Heritage Sites in Ravenna. Two notable buildings that you must visit during your day trip are the Basilica di San Vitale and Mausoleo di Galla Placida.

For the best experience, we suggest booking a guided tour of the mosaics in Ravenna. We did this and it’s truly the best way to gain a better understanding of the city’s fascinating history.

We suggest checking out our post on the 20 Best Things to do in Ravenna to help you plan your day trip from Bologna!

Plan your Ravenna day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Ravenna: One full day.

Transportation from Bologna to Ravenna:

  • Train: The train to Ravenna takes just 1 hour.
  • Car: The drive from Bologna to Ravenna is 1 hour and 10 minutes. We recommend that you take the train instead of driving, since it’s easier and takes the same amount of time.

13. Reggio Emilia + Castles 

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Reggio Emilia by car: 1hr (*note – this time does not include the time it takes to get to the castles.)
Distance from Bologna to Reggio Emilia by train: 33-50min

Reggio Emilia is a lovely town in the northern part of Emilia Romagna and is known for its picturesque landscapes and cultural heritage. 

While you can easily access Reggio Emilia by train, we recommend renting a car on your day trip from Bologna, so you can visit some of the historical castles in the region. 

While there are many things to do in Reggio Emilia, one of the top attractions include Palazzo dei Musei – one of the oldest buildings in town and home to the Civic Museum.

You can also visit the Basilica di San Prospero, a stunning baroque church and Chiostri di San Pietro, a 16th century monastery.

If you rent a car, make your way to the countryside to explore nearby castles, such as the Castle of Canossa, Castle of Rossena, and the Biannello Castle. All of these castles date back to the Middle Ages and were once home to the Canossa family, an important political family in Italian history. 

The castles stand on hills overlooking nearby towns and villages, providing you with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Plan your Reggio Emilia day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Reggio Emilia: Plan on a half-day if you’re only visiting Reggio Emilia and a full day if you include the castles in your itinerary.

Transportation from Bologna to Reggio Emilia:

  • Train: If you are only visiting Reggio Emilia, then the best way to get there is by train. The train takes between 33 minutes to 50 minutes from Bologna.
  • Car: If you want to visit the castles and Reggio Emilia, then you will need to rent a car. The castles cannot be accessed by train. To give you an idea of timing, it takes around 1 hour to get to Reggio Emilia from Bologna. The castles are about 40 minutes from Reggio Emilia and are all within 10-20 minutes of each other. 

14. Savigno 

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Savigno by car: 40min – 1 hr

Savigno, Italy is a small town located 32 km east of Bologna. It is renowned for its truffle production and regional cuisine.

Savigno is one of the few places in the world where white truffles can be found naturally! The area’s rich food history dates back to Roman times when truffles were used as a delicacy by wealthy families. 

We recommend going to Savigno with the sole purpose of eating! No trip to Emilia Romagna would be complete without trying white truffles.

Make a reservation in advance at Trattoria da Amerigo 1934, a Michelin star restaurant serving up classic Italian dishes with white truffles. 

If you’re visiting in late October or in November, you will get to experience Tartofla, the International White Truffle festival in Savigno. 

Plan your Savigno day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Savigno: How much time you spend in Savigno depends on what you want to do and when you visit. The town can easily be explored in a half day with a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. If you’re visiting during the truffle festival or want to go on a truffle hunting tour, then you can expect to spend more than a half day in Savigno. 

Transportation from Bologna to Savigno:

  • Car: The best way to get from Bologna to Savigno is by car. The journey takes around 40 minutes to 1 hour each way. 
  • Bus: You can take the local bus from the Bologna train station; however, it takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes each way. The cost is a few Euros, which is cheaper than renting a car. 

15. Rocchetta Mattei

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Rocchetta Mattei by car: 1 hour
Distance from Bologna to Rocchetta Mattei by train: 1 hour 15 minutes

Rocchetta Mattei is a stunning castle located between Bologna and Florence. It is known for its unique architecture and interiors that resemble many different architectural styles throughout history. 

The castle was originally built in the 13th century and was later rebuilt by Cesare Mattei, whom the castle is now named after. 

Today, you can take a tour of this majestic castle to learn more about its history. It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.

You can only visit the castle by a guided tour, so we highly recommend booking a couple of months in advance, as time slots fill up quickly!

Book tickets for the castle here.

Plan your Rochetta Mattei day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Rochetta Mattei: The Rochetta Mattei tour takes around 75 minutes, so you’ll only need a half day to visit.

Transportation from Bologna to Rochetta Mattei: You can access Rochetta Mattei either by train or by car. 

  • Train: By train, you’ll want to get tickets to Riola. The journey is 57 minutes from Bologna and costs €5.20 each way. Once you get to Riola, you’ll walk 16 minutes to Rochetta Mattei. 
  • Car: If you decide to rent a car, the travel time is around 1 hour each way from Bologna. 

16. Piacenza

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Piacenza by car: 2hr
Distance from Bologna to Piacenza by train: 1hr 40min

Piacenza is a fantastic city located in between Bologna and Milan.

To learn about the history of Piacenza, head to Palazzo Farnese, a 16th century palace that is currently home to the city’s Civic Museum. Here you can discover everything from Medieval frescoes to ancient objects and beautiful art. 

Afterwards, go to the Piazza dei Cavalli, for a look around the city’s main square. Here you’ll find the Palazzo Gotico, a 13th century palace that now hosts exhibitions and local events. 

Of course, no visit to any Italian city is complete without a stop at its main churches. If you’d like you can take a look inside of the Duomo di Piacenza and Basilica di Sant Antonino, two of the cities most interesting churches. 

Emilia Romagna is the food capital of Italy, and Piacenza is no exception to this. Here you can taste several local foods like Pisarei e fasò, a gnocchi like pasta served with a rich, tomato sauce made with borlotti beans and sausage. 

You can also try a variety of local meats like coppa, pancetta, and local salame Piacentino. These can all be paired with bortellina, a fried pancake made with flour and water. 

Plan your Piacenza day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Piacenza: A half day to full day.

Transportation from Bologna to PIacenza:

  • Train:The easiest way to Piacenza is by train. The travel is times around 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • Car: By car, the journey takes around 2 hours each way.

Day Trips from Bologna to Tuscany

17. Florence

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 30min
Distance from Bologna by train: 40min

The capital of Tuscany and one of my favorite Italian cities, Florence, is just a quick 40-minute train ride away, making it a great day trip from Bologna.

Florence is home to Michelangelo’s “David” and some of the most significant artwork in the world, including Da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli.

These works of art are displayed at the Uffizi and Accademia galleries in Florence. I would recommend reserving your tickets ahead of time; otherwise, you could spend hours waiting in line.

A visit to Florence isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Florence Duomo. You can book tickets to the top of the dome by visiting this site.

If you have time, hop across the river over Ponte Vecchio for some of the best Italian pizza at Gusta Pizza and gelato at Gelateria Artigianale La Sorbettiera.

Plan your day trip from Bologna to Flornece

How Much Time in Florence: You will need a full day in Florence to visit the museums, see the sights, and have time to walk around the city.

Transportation from Bologna to Florence:

  • Train: The high speed train from Florence to Bologna takes about 37 minutes each way. We suggest buying your train tickets to Florence from Bologna at least a few weeks in advance to get the best price.
  • Car: Do not drive from Florence to Bologna. It’ll take 3 times as long and the traffic isn’t great, plus it’s a pretty chaotic city to drive in. Trust us, we’ve made the mistake, so you don’t have to.

Recommended tours in Florence:

18. Siena

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 2hr 10min
Distance from Bologna by train: 2hr 30min

Siena is located in the heart of Tuscany, and while it takes some to get there, it is one of my favorite Bologna day trips.

To make the most out of your day trip, I recommend renting a car and driving to Siena. It’s quicker and you have the opportunity to visit a few Tuscan towns nearby – like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

Explore the streets of this medieval city and grab a gelato to enjoy in Il Campo – the enormous piazza in Siena. Or climb the Torre del Mangia (city tower) for an incredible view of Siena and the hills surrounding the city.

One of my favorite sites in Siena is the cathedral. Its striped exterior and interior make it a unique church amongst the others in Italy. You’ll want to book your tickets in advance here.

Plan your Siena day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Siena: With the time it takes to get to Siena from Bologna, you will to plan one full day for your day trip.

Transportation from Bologna to Siena:

  • Train: The train to Siena takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Try to catch the earliest train from Bologna to get the most out of your day.
  • Car: The drive from Bologna to Siena takes about 2 hours. If you rent a car, you can stop at some smaller Tuscan towns along the way like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

19. Lucca

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Lucca by car: 2hr
Distance from Bologna to Lucca by train: 2hr 20min – 3hr 20min

Lucca is a wonderful Tuscan city that is completely surrounded by medieval walls. It’s located just a little over 2 hours away by train from Bologna and is one of our favorite cities in the region. 

One of our top things to do in Lucca is to rent a bike and ride around the city’s walls! It takes about an hour to go around and is a fun activity to see the city from a new perspective. 

Known as the “City of 100 churches”, wander around the streets and discover the city’s many churches like San Paolino and Basilica di San Frediano.

Afterwards, you can take a rest and enjoy a drink at the lovely Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a square that is in the shape of a Roman amphitheater. 

For the best views of the city, climb the 233 steps to the top of the Torre Guinigi. A 14th century tower with oak trees growing from top! The panoramic views from the top of the tower are fantastic. 

While there are many incredible restaurants in Lucca, we suggest stopping for lunch at In Pasta – Cibo e Convivio. We absolutely loved our lunch here and recommend getting the ravioli stuffed with ricotta and topped with honey and pistachios. It was so unique and absolutely delicious. 

Plan your Lucca day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Lucca: You should plan to spend one full day in Lucca to have enough time to ride a bike around the walls, visit some of the main sights, and to explore the city. Alternatively, you can spend a half-day in Lucca and a half-day in Pisa on the same day. Pisa is only 30 minutes away by car and train from Lucca.

Transportation from Bologna to Lucca:

  • Car: The quickest way to get to Lucca from Bologna is by car. The car ride takes around 2 hours each way. 
  • Train: You can definitely take the train, but it may take a little longer. The travel times range from 2 hours and 20 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes.

20. Pisa 

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Pisa by car: 2hr
Distance from Bologna to Pisa by train: 2hr

Pisa, home to one of the most famous landmarks in all of Italy (and maybe the world) – the Leaning Tower of Pisa! 

If you have time, we recommend combining Pisa and Lucca together on your day trip from Bologna. They are only 30 minutes apart via train. 

The main thing to do in Pisa is to visit the famous Leaning Tower. Your visit here can be as long or as short as you like depending what you want to do. If you just want to see the tower and snap a photo of you pushing the tower over, then you’ll only need a couple of hours in Pisa. 

To climb the tower and visit the other monuments, you’ll need to plan for more time. With the combined ticket, you can climb the tower of Pisa, as well as access the cathedral, baptistry, and museum.

To get to the tower, It’s about a 20-minute walk from the train station through town each way. You can opt to take a taxi if preferred.

Plan your Pisa day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Pisa: You only need a couple of hours in Pisa to see the main sites. We suggest combining your day trip to Pisa with Lucca as well. It only takes an extra 30 minutes by car and train to get between the two cities. 

Transportation from Bologna to Pisa: To get to Pisa from Bologna, you can either take the train or rent a car.

  • Train: The train journey takes about 2 hours.
  • Car: If you want to rent a car, you can expect the travel time to be around 2 hours each way.

21. San Marino

Image Credit: swisshippo / Getty Images

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna by car: 1hr 30min
Distance from Bologna by train: 2hr 45min – 3hr 30min

San Marino is its own nation-state and is completely surrounded by Italy. It is the third smallest state in all of Europe.

It’s a bit of a jaunt to get here from Bologna, but if you rent a car, the journey will be much quicker and more worthwhile.

When you arrive, make your way to the top of San Marino to Mount Titano (the highest point) where you’ll find yourself surrounded by medieval walls. Take your time to walk around the fortresses and climb the three towers atop the hill for beautiful views of San Marino

There is only one street that leads up to the city of San Marino, but you’ll find plenty of cafes and shops around here and the Piazza Della Liberta.

Plan your Bologna to San Marino Day Trip

How Much Time in San Marino: With transportation, plan on a full day.

Transportation from Bologna to San Marino:

  • Car: The best way to get to San Marino from Bologna is by car. The travel time is about 1 hour and 30 minutes each way.
  • Train: The train takes 3 hours and 30 minutes each way, which in our opinion, is much too long for a day trip.

Day Trips from Bologna to Lombardy

22. Mantua

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Pisa by car: 1hr 15min
Distance from Bologna to Pisa by train: 1hr 44min

Mantua is one of our favorite day trips from Bologna with the chance to explore some of Italy’s most impressive Renaissance architecture. We’ve been to Mantua a couple of times and it’s one of Italy’s best kept secrets.

On your day trip to Mantua, you must see the Ducale Palace.Built in 1525, the Ducale Palace is filled with incredible fresco paintings, marble floors, vibrant wall paintings, and grandly decorated halls.

One of the most incredible rooms in the palace is the bridal chamber (Camera degli Sposi). This room is covered in frescoes by Andrea Mantegna and was completed in the late-15th century. It is considered a Renaissance masterpiece. 

Expect to spend at least a half-day here. It is enormous and every single room is so intricately decorated that you’ll end up spending more time than you think you need here. 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there is another grand palace in Mantua also known for its frescoed rooms and Renaissance architecture. If you have time, make your way to the Te Palace, which was commissioned for Isabella d’Este in the early 16th century. 

Inside of the palace, you’ll find beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from classical mythology as well as an extensive collection of paintings, furniture, and sculpture. 

Both the Te Palace and the Ducale Palace are UNESCO World Heritage sites that offer insights into Mantua’s rich culture history. 

Other highlights in Mantua include the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, built in the 11th century and featuring fragments of frescoes from the time. You’ll also want to make a stop at the Piazza delle Erbe, the main square for a nice walk around the shops. 

Make sure to try an Elvezia cake before you leave. This is a typical cake from Mantua made with layers of almond cake, zabaione, and cream. 

Plan your Mantua day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Mantua: We recommend spending one full day in Mantua, so you have enough time to visit both of the incredible palaces in the city, as well as enjoy some of the other local sights. 

Transportation from Bologna to Mantua:

  • Train: To get from Bologna to Mantua, the best way to get there is by train. The journey takes 1 hour and 44 minutes each way.
  • Car: If you prefer to rent a car and drive to Mantua, the travel time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes with tolls.

23. Milan

Travel time:
Distance from Bologna to Milan by train: 1hr 9 minutes to 2hr 55min

Located just over an hour away by train, Milan is a perfect day trip from Bologna and is just enough time to see many of the city’s main sights. 

Known as Italy’s fashion capital, Milan is Italy’s modern city and is home to many fantastic stores and restaurants. 

With one day in Milan, you’ll have enough time to explore the city’s main attractions, such as the Duomo, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Sforza Castle, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the shopping gallery). 

We suggest booking this guided tour of the Duomo and The Last Supper with skip-the-line access to save you time.

You can’t visit Milan without eating traditional Milanese food! For pastries and coffee, we recommend stopping by Marchesi 1824. For Milanese risotto, make a reservation at Trattoria Masuelli San Marco for lunch or dinner. 

For the best aperitivo experience, make your way to Navigli, an area by the canals in Milan that’s filled with bars. It’s also a lovely spot for a little stroll. 

Plan your Milan day trip from Bologna

How Much Time in Milan: You will need to spend one full day in Milan.

Transportation from Bologna to Milan: The easiest way to get to Milan from Bologna is by train.

  • Train: The train takes between 1 hour and 9 minutes to 2 hours and 55 minutes. For your day trip, we highly suggest you take one of the faster trains. We’ve taken the 3 hour train and it’s not worth it for a day trip. 
  • Car: We do not recommend renting a car to get to Milan, as it’s a big city, and is complicated to drive around.

Map of Day Trips from Bologna

Use this map to help you plan your day trips from Bologna!

To save the map to Google Maps on your phone or computer, click on the star next to the title. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find the map in your “saved maps” list on your phone.

To see a list of all the items on the map, click the box with arrow on the left. To enlarge the map, click the box on the right.

Italy Transportation Guide

Traveling in Italy by train

Traveling by train in Italy is the easiest and most convenient option for most day trips from Bologna.

We often travel by train in Italy and have always found it to be an affordable, accessible, and clean way to travel the country. However, it is important to note that trains can often be delayed here. We’ve never experienced a significant delay, but it’s a common theme in Italy.

Two types of trains are available in Italy: regional trains and Frecciarossa (high-speed). The Frecciarossa trains cost more but can absolutely be worth the price to save time.

Bologna centrale train station is the main railway station. It’s a 20-mintue walk from center.

How book train tickets in Italy

You can either book your train tickets online in advance or at the train station.

The official website to book trains online in Italy is

We always suggest booking your tickets at least 3 weeks in advance to get the best prices. For regional trains or very short train rides (under 1 hour), you can usually book the tickets a day of or day before, and the price will be around the same amount.

Tips on Italy train travel

Here are a few tips to make your train journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible:

  1. Buy your tickets in advance for the best prices. We recommend booking at least 3 weeks in advance if possible, especially for longer journeys.
  2. Download the Trenitalia app to get up-to-date information on train timetables and delays. You can book your tickets on the app, and it’s so much easier than buying them online or at the station! Plus it’s very convenient to have everything on your phone.
  3. The cities on the Trenitalia website/app are the Italian names of the cities. For example, Florence is Firenze and Venice is Venezia. Keep this in mind if you’re having trouble finding a city.
  4. Check out the various discount schemes available – if you’re traveling with a group or as a student, you may be eligible for reduced fares.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the timetable to help avoid delays and plan connection times.

Renting a car

Generally speaking, we like to take trains on day trips around Italy because it’s cheaper, more convenient, and usually completely pain-free. 

Many Italian cities were built before cars were invented. Therefore, streets are often narrow, and parking is often limited. 

However, traveling by car is sometimes preferable for certain day trips and for more extended stays. 

Renting a car is easy and affordable in Bologna. We rented a car from the Bologna airport for our day trips to Siena and Florence. It cost us about 40 euros + gas, which is less than train tickets would have cost.

There are two places where you can rent a car in Bologna: the train station or the airport. Because there are more rental options at the airport, it tends to be a bit cheaper than at the train station.

We suggest renting a car from Discover Cars, our preferred rental car company in Europe.

To get to the airport, you will take the Marconi Express monorail from the train station. The train runs every 7 minutes throughout the day. You can look at the timetable and book your tickets here.

Where to Stay in Bologna

You’ll find many fantastic options for places to stay in Bologna. One thing to note is that there are limited hotels in the center, which means prices can get quite expensive during peak season (June, July, August).

Make sure to book well in advance (at least 2 months) to get the best rates and to have the best available options. Here are a few Bologna hotels that we recommend for your stay:

Check out our guide on the best 11 Boutique Hotels in Bologna for more hotel options.


Italy Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Italy? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Italy Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Italy? Yes! We’ve rented a car in Italy too many times to count, and it’s definitely the most convenient way to get around the countryside. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Italy Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Italy, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Italy, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. It’s easy to download and you can even top up via the app if needed.

Italy Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Italy? We’ve been reserving all of our hotels through Booking for years. Their messaging tool makes it easy to communicate with the hotels, and there are endless options to choose from.

More Information for your Trip to Italy

Have you taken a day trip from Bologna? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!

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