Skip to content

30 Best Things To Do in Bologna, Italy: Complete Bologna Travel Guide 2024

Are you looking for the best things to do in Bologna, Italy? We’re sharing the best of Bologna in this travel guide, including what to see, where to eat, where to stay, and our insider tips.

Bologna is one of the most underrated destinations in Italy, and it also happens to be one of our favorite cities to visit in all of Europe. In total, we’ve spent over 2 months in Bologna during 4 separate trips, our most recent being in the fall of 2023, so we know a thing or two about what you should do here.

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, Italy
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission on every purchase made at no extra cost to you.

Located in Emilia Romagna, just 40 minutes north of Florence by train, Bologna is the region’s capital and is known for its incredible cuisine.

As foodies, we were overwhelmed by the quality of the cuisine here. As the locals say, it’s almost impossible to eat bad in Bologna. With that being said, if you’re looking for the best place in Italy to try traditional Italian food, Bologna is the place to go!

Apart from the food, Bologna is filled with many historical sights, local shops, and gorgeous medieval architecture. Not only is it home to the oldest university in the world but also a UNESCO World Heritage site – its 62km worth of porticoes.

Ready to explore the 30 most amazing things to do in Bologna? Let’s do it! After you’ve read all about the best things to eat, see, and do here, make sure to scroll to the bottom for our Bologna travel guide, where we share all you need to know for your visit to this delicious Italian city.

What is Bologna known for?

Bologna has long been known as the “food capital of Italy,” but its identity is encapsulated within three unique nicknames: La Dotta, La Rossa, and La Grassa. Each offers a window into the city’s soul, capturing the essence of its history, culture, and gastronomy.

La Dotta (The Learned)

“La Dotta” pays homage to the University of Bologna. As the oldest university in continuous operation, it has long been a beacon of learning since its founding in 1088. This intellectual legacy continues to thrive, making Bologna an internationally known city for scholars.

La Rossa (The Red)

“La Rossa” nods to the terracotta red rooftops and buildings that surround the city. This vibrant hue is a signature of Bologna’s medieval architecture. As you meander through its streets, make sure to keep an eye out for these historic buildings, noticing the medieval rooftops and details.

La Grassa (The Fat)

Affectionately known as “La Grassa,” this nickname celebrates Bologna’s culinary traditions. This title is not about excess but richness—the richness of flavor, quality, and tradition in Bolognese cuisine. Bologna is the birthplace of many Italian delicacies such as mortadella, tortellini, tagliatelle al ragu, and so much more. Each of these iconic foods hail from the Emilia Romagna region, making Bologna a gastronomic paradise for food lovers and epicureans alike.

Table of Contents show

30 Best Things to do in Bologna Italy

1. University of Bologna

Visiting the University of Bologna is one of the top things to do in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088, it is considered the oldest university in the Western world and has remained a significant part of Italian history for centuries.

The old Bologna university is located in the Archiginnasio Palace, just off of Piazza Maggiore, the main square. The palace was built in 1563 with a goal to centralize all of the different schools (medicine, math, physics, etc.) in one building instead of having them located all around the city.

Devastatingly, the palace was bombed in 1944 during WWII and had to be reconstructed after the war.

The most important room in the palace is the 17th century Anatomical Theater built by Antonio Levanti. This room is where anatomy lectures were once held. You’ll notice a marble table in the center of the room that is a replica of the dissection table that was used during classes.

Additionally, the theater features two famous statues called the “Skinned Men” that were sculpted by Ercole Lelli in the early 1700s.

After your visit to the Anatomical Theater, walk down the hallway to Stabat Mater Hall. This used to be a lecture hall for students studying law. One of the highlights is taking a peek through the doorway on the lefthand side of the room. Here you can see the Municipal Library where thousands of historic books are on display.

Unfortunately, the library is closed to the public, so this is the best view you’ll get of it.

Make sure to take your time to wander around the palace and admire the beautiful decorations and paintings that cover the walls. Most of which are coats of arms representing students who had attended the school between the 16th-18th centuries.

Buy your tickets online at the official website, or you can purchase your ticket from the ticket booth on the second level of the palace. We recommend buying your tickets in advance during the peak season (June to September).

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Ticket prices: €3 per person
Address: Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

2. Wander Through the Porticos

Bologna is a city renowned for its culture, history and food. But one of the most unique features of this beautiful Italian city are the UNESCO World Heritage porticoes.

The historic porticoes were built starting in the 11th century and now span over 62 km throughout the city. From exploring their intricate designs to taking a stroll beneath them while admiring the views, wandering through Bologna’s porticoes is an absolute must-do activity.

Most beautiful porticoes in Bologna: Make sure to stop by and admire the porticoes surrounding Piazza Cavour. The ceilings are covered in beautiful fresco paintings that are well preserved.

3. Gelato Tasting

Bologna boasts more than 100 gelato shops, which is quite a feat for a relatively small city. You’re guaranteed to find good gelato in the city. In fact, we had the best gelato we have ever had in our life here.

As foodies, we have searched high and low throughout Italy for the best gelato, and Bologna’s gelateries always rank #1.

One of the best things to do in Bologna is to take yourself on a gelato tour to taste some of the best gelato in the city. Here are a few of our recommendations.

Best Gelato Shops in Bologna

Cremeria Santo Stefano

This is consistently the top gelato shop in Bologna. We’ve been here more than ten times and it never disappoints. Why is it the best? The ingredients are fresh, the flavor is just right, and the texture is melt-in-your-mouth perfect.

It’s a bit of a walk to get here from the main square, but for the best gelato ever? It’s worth it.

Our favorite flavors: Caffe Bianco and Crema Libanese
Website: Cremeria Santo Stefano

La Sorbetteria Castiglione

You can’t go wrong with the gelato from La Sorbetteria. Try the Crema Michelangelo, made with caramelized almonds, amaretti, and cacao. If you prefer classic nut flavors, they do pistachio and almond gelato very well.

Our favorite flavors: Crema Michelangelo and Crema Elixir
Website: La Sorbetteria Castiglione

Cremeria Cavour

This gelato shop is centrally located and has a lot of amazing flavors to choose from. The unique flavor combinations make this gelato shop a stand out in our books. Make sure to get your gelato with the chocolate cone – it is heavenly!

Our favorite flavors: 50 Special and Cioccolato e Rhum (chocolate and rum)
Website: Cremeria Cavour


This is a small gelato shop that specializes in artisanal gelato with high quality and seasonal ingredients. Their flavors are creamy and fresh with a punch of flavor.

Our favorite flavors: Cioccolato all’Arancia (chocolate and orange) and Regno delle Due Sicilie (Sicilian flavors)
Website: Gelatauro

For our full list of the must-try gelato in Bologna, check out our post on the 8 best gelato shops.

4. Taste the local specialties

Tagliatelli al Ragu Bologna food

The food was our main lure to Bologna and it did not disappoint. If you only have a couple of days in Bologna, the one thing you need to do is eat, eat, and eat some more!

The Emilia-Romagna region is known for producing some of the best Italian food in the world. Parma ham, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and mortadella are just a few. You can even take day trips to Modena and Parma to see how these products are made and stored!

So what foods should you try while you’re in Bologna? Here are just a few of the many fabulous dishes.

What to eat in Bologna?

Tagliatelle al ragu

First and foremost, you have to try a ragu dish. The most famous and popular dish in Bologna is ragu served with homemade tagliatelle, an egg-based pasta. It’s a meat sauce that is heavy, rich, acidic, and perfectly balanced.

You may be wondering if this is the same dish as “pasta bolognese”? Technically, it is. However, we suggest that you never ask for this in Bologna because, well, that’s not what it’s called in Italy.

Try the tagliatelle al ragu from Oltre?


This small hat-shaped pasta is often stuffed with a pork mixture. It’s best eaten as a soup with a meat-based broth and topped with some fresh parmesan.

If you’re visiting Bologna during the first week of October, then make sure to stop by the city’s Tortellini Festival in the Palazzo Re Enzo. Many restaurants from Bologna come together for a day to showcase their take on this classic pasta. It’s a fun way to taste many variations of this dish.

Try the tortellini in broth from Trattoria Bertozzi.


What’s the difference between tortellini and tortelloni? Tortelloni is simply bigger than tortellini. This pasta is usually stuffed with a ricotta and spinach mixture and served with sage and butter.

Additionally, during the fall, you’ll often find it stuffed with pumpkin, which is our personal favorite way to eat it.

Try the tortelloni from Sfoglia Rina – they make their pasta fresh everyday and often have a few flavors to choose from.

Lasagne Verde

You can’t leave Bologna without trying lasagne verde (green lasagne). It’s called green lasagne because the noodles are mixed with spinach to create a green-colored noodle.

The pasta is then layered with ragu and bechamel sauce, creating the perfect combination of rich and creamy flavors.

Try the lasagne verde from Golosita della Nonna – their take on this Italian classic is one of the best in the city.

Cured Meats

Emilia Romagna is known for producing some of the world’s most famous cured meats. Proscuitto, Culatello, Coppa, Mortadella . . . the list goes on.

Bologna is known for Mortadella, and you’ll find it all over the city in different pasta dishes, on top of pizza, and on sandwiches.

In fact, if you want to taste one of the best ways to eat this savory cured meat, head to Mo Mortadella Lab and try one of their famous Mortadella sandwiches. They have over 30 different combinations to choose from.

For the best tasting of cured meats and cheeses in Bologna, head to Salumeria Simoni located in the Quadrilatero for a “light lunch”.

Gnocco Fritto in Emilia romagna


No visit to Bologna is complete without tasting this delicious, fatty, and savory fried dough: Crescentina. Made with flour, salt, lard, and water, this Emilia Romagna staple is most often served with a plate of cured meats as an appetizer.

One of the best places to get this dish in Bologna is from Trattoria Da Me.

Sparkling Wines

The two main wines served in Bologna are: Lambrusco and Pignoletto. Both are sparkling wines with a light and fruity flavor. Because of this particular flavor profile, they pair well the rich and fatty foods from the region.

For a unique wine bar experience, head to Osteria del Sole, which has been open since the 15th century. They don’t serve any food, but don’t worry, you can bring your own food and purchase the wine here!

Check out our complete Bologna food guide for 27 traditional must-try foods.

5. Check out the markets

Bologna is home to several outdoor and covered markets. We are sharing two covered markets that are worth visiting, as they each offer different experiences.

Mercato delle Erbe

Mercato delle Erbe is a food lover’s haven. From meats and cheese to fresh pasta and locally sourced produce, you will find everything here to shop like a local and cook your own Italian feast.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try horse meat from Macelleria Equina on the far end of the market. We’ve tried it and it’s not our favorite for various reasons, but it is a regional specialty that can try if you’d like to.

Adjacent to the market are two food halls on either end. Here you’ll find many food stalls that are perfect for a quick bite to eat or drink. If you’re in the mood for pizza, grab a slice (or two!) from Mozzabella – our favorite pizza by the slice in the city.

Mercato di Mezzo

Mercato di Mezzo (The Middle Market) is Bologna’s first covered food market. Inside, you’ll find many food shops selling pasta, meats, cheeses, and more.

On the main level, you’ll find a stall selling fresh pasta, a bar to sit down for a drink, and another place selling fresh seafood. You can sit down on one of the communal tables to enjoy your drink or meal.

In the basement, you can grab a drink at Baladin Bologna, a bar serving hamburgers and other quick bites.

6. Climb the Asinelli Tower

As you’re walking around the center of Bologna, you’ll notice two tall towers that rise above the rest of the city. These towers are known as Le Due Torri (the two towers).

The shorter of the two is the Garisenda tower. This tower was built during the early 12th century and has been leaning for a very long time. In fact, in the 14th century, they had to shorten the tower due to the fear of it collapsing.

The Asinelli tower was built around the same time in the 12th century and was once 1 out of 180 towers built during the Middle Ages. The tower stands at 97.2 meters tall and is 498 steps to the top.

If you’re looking for the best panoramic views of Bologna, then you’re going to have to make the climb all the way of to the top! Trust us, the views are incredible and it’s not to be missed!

The best time to visit is in the evening when the lighting is best for photos.

Book your tickets for the Due Torri online at the official website. We highly recommend reserving in advance, as time slots book up quickly.

*Spring 2024 Update – The tower is currently closed for renovations. Therefore, it is not possible to climb to the top until the works are completed.

Opening hours: 10:00am – 5:15pm (fall and winter hours vary)
Ticket price: €5 per person
Address: di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

7. Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is not just any ordinary square; it is the soul and heart of Bologna. Built in the 1200s, this piazza is surrounded by beautiful architecture dating back many centuries.

The square boasts the iconic Basilica of San Petronio, the city’s largest church and Palazzo del Podestà, which once housed the city’s ancient government.

Other notable sights in the square include the Torre dell’Orlogio (the clock tower), and the medieval fountain of Neptune.

Surrounding the piazza are many cafes, restaurants, and shops selling local delicacies and souvenirs. If you’re into people watching, take a seat on one of the steps near the basilica and settle in for an hour or so.

8. Check out the Fountain of Neptune

The Fountain of Neptune is a monumental fountain located in Piazza Maggiore. It was commissioned by Pope Pius IV in the 16th century and was the first public fountain in the city of Bologna.

Designed by the architect Tommaso Laureti and sculpted by Giambologna, this iconic landmark features a bronze figure of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, which stands dominantly in the Piazza del Nettuno.

The fountain was built during the time when Bologna was under Papal rule. It symbolizes the power of the Pope and of the Catholic church.

Fun fact – the trident that Neptune is holding inspired the Maserati car logo.

9. San Petronio Basilica

The San Petronio Basilica is located in the Piazza Maggiore. The construction on the basilica began in 1390, but it was never finished – even to this day.

The interior of the church is quite simple overall. Inside, you will find a few chapels with beautiful frescos that can be visited for a small fee.

The most unique part of this basilica is the 17th century Meridian line designed by Cassini that runs across the church. Everyday at noon, the sun falls directly on the line in a different place indicating the altitude and exact placement of the sun throughout the year.

If you would like to learn more about the Meridian line, as well as the history of the church, then you can sign up for a private walking tour of the San Petronio Basilica and old university.

Opening hours: Everyday from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm / 2:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Ticket price: Access to the main church is free. €5 fee to visit the museum, which includes Magi’s Chapel (Bolognini), Saint Sebastian’s Chapel, Saint Vincent Chapel
Address: Piazza Maggiore, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

10. Seven Churches of Santo Stefano

From the outside, the Seven Churches of Santo Stefano looks just like any other church. However, once you walk inside, you will realize that this is not the case.

The Seven Churches of Santo Stefano is a historical religious complex dating back to 5th century that features several churches that were built during different time periods.

The Church of The Holy Sepulcher, a 5th century church, is the oldest of the seven churches. It features a replica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Israel.

As you make your way through the other churches, you’ll notice remnants of beautiful frescoes, graves, and historical artifacts that serve as a reminder of how old this complex actually is.

The Santo Stefano complex is free to visit and is open every day. Plan on spending at least 20 minutes here. For opening hours and more details, visit the official site.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 7:00pm | Monday 6:00pm – 7:30pm (only the basilica is open this day)
Ticket price: Free
Address: Complesso di Santo Stefano Via Santo Stefano, 24 – 40125

11. Walk to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

Built between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portico di San Luca is the longest portico in the world spanning a total of 3.8km. The portico takes you all the way up the Colle della Guardia hill until you reach the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

The walk begins at the Porta Saragozza, just outside the historic center, and usually takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. We recommend doing this in the morning to beat the rush and the afternoon heat during the summer.

The walk is mostly uphill with quite a few flights of stairs.

We have done this walk twice and it is one of our favorite things to do in Bologna. Not only do you get a good workout, but you gain an entirely new perspective on the city.

San Luca Express Train

If you prefer not to walk, you can opt to take the little tourist train, the San Luca Express up the hill instead. You can catch the train at the Piazza Maggiore. They usually have a little booth where you can sign up and pay.

It takes around 20-30 minutes to get to the Basilica of San Luca from the Piazza Maggiore on the train.

How to book the train & cost: Book your San Luca Express train tickets in advance, or you can book your tickets in person. Round-trip tickets cost €12 for adults and €3 – €6 for children (depending on their age).

Once you make it to the top of the hill, you can visit inside of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca and enjoy the views. If you want panoramic views of the city and of the hills, then you can pay €5 for the San Luca Sky Experience and climb to the top of the dome for fantastic views.

For more information, check out our detailed guide on walking the Portico di San Luca.

Opening hours: Everyday from 7:00am – 7:00pm
Ticket Price: The basilica is free to visit | €5 fee to climb to the top of the dome
Address: Via di San Luca, 36, 40135 Bologna BO, Italy

12. Visit the Quadrilatero

The Quadrilatero is the oldest market in Bologna. Located just off of the Piazza Maggiore, the streets are lined with stalls selling fresh produce, fish, and local crafts. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants offering a nice setting for an aperitivo or a meal.

If you’re looking for a fantastic place to get a sampling of local meats and cheeses, then this is the place to do it.

We suggest stopping by Salumeria Simoni to try one of their charcuterie boards for a tasting of some local mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese.The earlier you arrive the better – it gets pretty crowded in the afternoons and evenings.

13. San Pellegrino Park

If you are looking for an escape from the city, then San Pellegrino park is for you. The park is located right at the edge of the city and just below the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

We spent the afternoon wandering our way through the green hillside and enjoying the nice views of Bologna from the park. There are several walking trails that you can follow if you’re up for a bit of a hike, or you can simply take a leisurely stroll and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

To get to the park, you’ll follow Via di Casaglia up past Villa Spada until you arrive. It’s about a 3.5 km (2.2 miles) walk from Piazza Maggiore to the park, so make sure to take some water and snacks.

14. Find the Hidden Canals

Bologna has a network of “hidden” canals that were originally from the 12th century. While most of the canals run underground beneath the city, there are a few just outside of the city center that you can visit.

For the most iconic view, visit the Finestrella di Via Piella, which is a small window overlooking one of the main canals.

Social media has made this a popular tourist attraction, so you will most likely have to wait in line to get your perfect shot through the window. While this is neat to see, we think it’s a bit overrated and should not be a priority on your to-do list if you don’t have the time.

To avoid the line, go early in the morning.

15. Church of Santa Maria della Vita

This church was a new discovery (to us) on our most recent visit to Bologna in 2023. The Church of Santa Maria della Vita is home to one of the most important works of Renaissance art, the “Lamentation over the Dead Christ.”

This terracotta sculpture, created by Niccolò dell’Arca in the late 15th century, captures the raw emotion of grief.

The sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and others mourning over the lifeless body of Jesus. We were in complete awe when we walked up to it. The way he sculpted the expression of fear and sadness on the women’s faces almost transports you to that very moment.

It’s definitely worth a visit if you have the time. You can find more information about the church on the official website.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am – 18:30pm (last entry at 18.00)
Ticket prices: €5 to visit the Lamentation of Niccolò Dell’Arca | €9 to visit the Lamentation of Niccolò Dell’Arca and Oratorio dei Battuti
Address: Via Clavature, 8/10, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

16. Go on a Bologna Food Tour

One of the best ways to experience the regional cuisine in Bologna, Italy is by going on a food tour. On your Bologna food tour, you’ll get to sample the most popular local dishes and delicacies while also enjoying a unique cultural experience.

We’ve done a couple of foods tours here, and it is one of our favorite things to do in Bologna! Our guide took us through the city as we tasted local specialties and discovered some shops and foods that we would have never known about before going on the tour.

The Classic Bologna Food tour is our favorite food tour in Bologna (we’ve done it twice!), and it’s a great way to spend a half-day getting to know the city through food.

Check out our post on the 10 Best Food Tours in Bologna for a complete list of tours in the city.

17. Visit the Clock Tower and Palazzo d’Accursio

One of the most iconic sights in the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna is the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower.) Standing at a height of over 60 meters, this impressive structure was built in 1334 and has been a symbol of time passing throughout its long life.

From the top of the tower, you can get stunning panoramic views across Bologna’s red-tiled rooftops and the Piazza Maggiore – it’s an experience not to be missed!

The clock tower is located at the Palazzo d’Accursio, which has been home to the local government since the 14th century. Along with your ticket purchase to the clock tower, you also get access to the Municipal Art Collections located inside of the Palazzo d’Accursio.

The interior features several rooms and halls that are elaborately decorated with beautiful hand-painted ceilings and walls. As an interior enthusiast, this was one of my favorite sights to visit in all of Bologna.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time, a visit to the art collections is worth a brief visit.

Reserve your tickets in advance online at the official site.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am – 5:00pm
Ticket prices: €8 for both the clock tower and art collections
Address: Piazza Maggiore, 6, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy

18. Museo Civico Archeologico (Archaeological Museum)

Bologna’s Archaeological Museum has been around since 1881 and is housed in a 15th century palace located near the Piazza Maggiore.

The museum is home to an impressive collection of ancient artifacts, including Egyptian objects and ancient Roman and Greek art.

Book your tickets on the official site or in person at the museum. It’s not necessary to reserve in advance for this museum.

Opening hours: Everyday (except Tuesday) from 10am – 7pm
Ticket prices: €6 per adult
Address: Via dell’Archiginnasio, 2, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

19. Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (National Art Gallery of Bologna)

Compared to other Italian cities that are known for their iconic museums and galleries, most people don’t necessarily visit Bologna for its art. However, the Pinacoteca Nazionale is home to some fantastic Italian artworks dating between the 13th to 18th centuries.

Located in the University District, the Pinacoteca Nazionale is one of the best art museums in the city. Inside, you’ll discover famous Renaissance and Baroque artworks, as well as many temporary exhibitions that are held throughout the year.

Book your tickets online on the official site or in person at the museum. No need to reserve in advance.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 9am – 7pm (Wednesdays from 9am – 2pm)
Ticket prices: €8 for adults | €2 for kids | Free with Bologna Welcome Card
Address: Via delle Belle Arti, 56, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

20. MAMbo (Modern Art Museum of Bologna)

Bologna’s Modern Art Museum opened in 2007 and is housed in a former bakery. It features modernist art from the mid-20th century to the present day.

The highlight of the museum is its collection of still life paintings by world-renowned artist and Bologna native Giorgio Morandi. In addition to his paintings, the museum also hosts annual exhibitions and has a collection of permanent artworks.

You can book your tickets on the official site online, or purchase them in person at the museum. No need to reserve in advance.

Opening hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 2 pm – 7 pm | Thursday 2 pm – 8 pm | Friday, Saturday, Sunday and festivities 10 am – 7 pm | Closed Mondays
Ticket prices: €6 per adult
Address: Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 14, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy

21. Museo della Storia di Bologna (Bologna History Museum)

The Museo della Storia di Bologna is located in Palazzo Pepoli in the heart of the city. This museum is dedicated to telling Bologna’s history dating all the way back to the Etruscans.

The experience takes you on a virtual journey by using modern technology, such as projected videos and virtual reality to get a unique view into the city’s past.

We paid an extra few euros to do the virtual reality experience and surprisingly loved it! This 25-minute virtual tour takes you through Bologna’s past, and you can choose three different options: the Roman era, the Medieval era, or ride through the ancient canals.

We chose the “Medieval experience” and thought it was really neat to wander through Bologna during the Medieval times. At the end, you can even fly over the city, which was our favorite part.

Book your tickets on the official website or in person. No need to reserve online in advance.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00pm
Ticket prices: €12 per adult | Reduced tickets available
Address: Via Castiglione, 8, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy

22. Take a Foodie Day Trip

If you are a foodie like us, then you’re most likely visiting Bologna because of the food. One of our favorite ways to immerse ourselves into the food culture is by visiting producers and farms of where many products are made.

To get a closer look and gain a better understanding of local Emilia Romagna foods, we suggest taking a day trip to either Modena or Parma (or both!).

Modena and Parma are located within an hour by train and car of Bologna. Both offer fantastic food-focused day trip experiences where you can meet with local producers and try many famous Italian products that are freshly made.

parmesan factory in bologna

Foodie day trip to Modena

In Modena, we recommend doing this balsamic vinegar tour where you can learn about the process of making this traditional Italian staple and enjoy a sampling straight from the producer!

If you prefer a more traditional food tour where you get to sample a few of the regional specialties (including balsamic vinegar), then this Modena food tour is for you! We’ve done this tour a couple of times and absolutely loved it.

Foodie day trip to Parma

In Parma, we suggest taking this small group tour where you’ll spend a half-day visiting a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factory and a Parma ham producer. You’ll get to experience first-hand how one of the most famous cheeses in the world is made, as well as learn how one of the most delicious cured meats is produced.

With so much to see and taste, Modena and Parma make for a perfect day trip destination!

For the ultimate Emilia Romagna food experience, we recommend this full-day food tour that includes a wine tasting, a visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano factory, an Acetaia, and to a Parma ham producer.

23. Join a cooking class

If you’re looking for a unique and exciting way to explore the culinary culture of Bologna, Italy, then taking a cooking class is an absolute must.

Not only will you learn about traditional Italian dishes and their history, but you’ll also get hands-on experience in the kitchen and brush up on your pasta-making skills.

You’ll learn basic techniques such as kneading dough and rolling out pasta to learning how to make classic pasta sauces and stuffings.

So far, we’ve done three cooking classes in this region and have made all of the dishes back at home! It’s one of our favorite ways to learn while traveling.

We recommend this highly-rated pasta cooking class where you’ll learn how to make traditional Emilia Romagna dishes.

24. Visit a nearby winery

Emilia Romagna is known for its sparkling wines – Lambrusco and Pignoletto being the two main varietals.

Lambrusco is a red sparkling wine with a light flavor and low alcohol content that pairs well with many of the heavier, meat centric meals in the region. Pignoletto is a white sparkling wine with a touch of acidity and fruitiness that pairs well with many pasta dishes and salads.

With many wineries located within an hour or so of Bologna, why not take a day trip to a winery for a tasting?

Bologna Wineries to Visit

  • Opera 02 – Enjoy a tasting of their organic wines and lunch on the terrace with a wine pairing and incredible view
  • Umberto Cesari – Set atop rolling hills, this gorgeous estate offers wine tasting experiences throughout the week.
  • Manaresi – Located just a 25-minute drive from Bologna, this family-run wine estate specializes in Pignoletto varietals. You can sign up for a wine tour and tastings on their website.

Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply enjoy sipping on delicious wines, going wine tasting near Bologna is a fantastic way to escape to the countryside for the afternoon.

25. Learn how to make gelato the old fashioned way

Visiting Carpigiani Gelato University is a treat for any gelato lover. The university is located just outside of the city center and is considered the premier institution for learning the art of gelato making. Founded in 2003, the university has trained thousands of professionals and hobbyists in the art of gelato, sorbet, and pastry production.

If you want to learn the art of gelato-making yourself, you can sign up for week-long or month-long courses. Or if you are just curious about the history of gelato and want to learn how to make gelato the old fashioned way, then you can sign up for a one-day gelato-making class.

During the class, you’ll be guided through the museum as you learn about the origins of gelato and modern techniques used to make gelato. After the tour, you’ll make your own gelato using ancient and modern techniques.

While the day-course isn’t super intensive, it is a fun way to gain a better appreciation for this Italian treat and learn some skills to make your own gelato at home.

Book your masterclass experience at the Carpigiani Gelato Museum here. The price is €50 per person for a 2.5 hour experience.

How to get to Carpigiani from Bologna:

  • Take the #87 bus and get of the “Anzola E. Magli” stop. The building is right across the street from this stop. You can purchase your tickets on the bus or in advance from a tobacco shop.

26. Have a picnic in the Giardini Margherita

Located in the heart of Bologna, the Giardini Margherita is a beautiful public park that boasts 26 hectares of greenery and a historic lake.

Today, the Giardini Margherita is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can stroll through the park’s winding paths, admire the colorful flowers and lush foliage, and relax on the grassy lawns.

If you’re looking for a nice respite from the city, shop for some picnic supplies in the city and spend an afternoon relaxing in the park.

Additionally, you can stop by Le Serre dei Giardini for a drink outside or for a bite to eat in their greenhouse or in the gardens. The restaurant serves fresh food and light drinks that are lovely on a nice afternoon.

27. Visit the Certosa Cemetary

The Certosa Cemetary in Bologna is a truly unique and fascinating experience. Located just outside the city center, this open-air museum gives visitors an opportunity to explore its ancient tombs and monuments dating back centuries.

It’s also home to some of Italy’s most renowned figures from the past, including artists, musicians, writers, politicians and more.

Not only is this one of Europe’s oldest cemeteries, but it’s also one of the most beautiful cemeteries we’ve ever visited.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around and admiring the unique architecture. You can walk to the cemetery from the city center, it takes about 45 minutes to get there from Piazza Maggiore. You can also opt to take a local bus, in which case takes about 20-25 minutes depending on traffic.

The cemetery is free to visit.

28. Take a day trip to one of the many nearby cities

Due to its central location in the region, Bologna is a fantastic city to settle into for a few days and take some day trips to nearby cities.

We’ve already mentioned Modena and Parma as must-see cities during your time in Bologna, but there are plenty more to visit.

Here are a few other day trips from Bologna we recommend:

RavennaThe city of Byzantine Mosaics is just an hour and a half away by train from Bologna. You can visit all of the churches in one day, plus sample a delicious piadina sandwich. A local flat bread sandwich stuffed with cheese an meats.

Ferrara – Only 30 minutes from Bologna train, Ferrara is a wonderful Medieval city that can be seen in a half-day. Spend your time wandering the streets, visiting the Este Castle, and the Diamanti palace.

Dozza – A town known for its wonderul art murals that adorn the walls of the city, this can be combined with another day trip from Bologna if you are renting a car.

Ferrari Museum – Located just outside of Modena is the Ferrari museum. Car lovers flock from all over the world to visit the museum and factory where these idolized cars are made. You can either take a group day trip from Bologna or rent a car and visit yourself.

Rimini – If you’re wanting a bit of a beach getaway, then head to Rimini for a day on the Adriatic Sea. Rimini is known for its golden sandy beaches and ancient history. It combines the best of both worlds and makes for a great day trip from Bologna.

For a complete list of cities to visit, check out our article on the 23 best day trips from Bologna.

29. Join the Passeggiata on Sunday

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

Every Sunday, the streets of Bologna come to life before dinner (4pm – 7pm) with locals and visitors coming together to take part in La Passeggiata.

This is a tradition that dates back centuries, and it’s an opportunity for people to stroll through the city’s charming streets and plazas, chatting with friends, making new acquaintances, and stopping by the local cafes.

La Passeggiata has become a beloved pastime in Italy, and it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon if you want to experience some of the city’s vibrant culture. Sunday afternoons are bustling with people walking and talking, so join in on the fun and take part in this weekly Italian tradition.

30. Watch a movie at Cineteca di Bologna

While it may seem odd to suggest watching a movie in Bologna, this is a unique film experience that you won’t find in many other places around the world.

The Cineteca di Bologna is a foundation that restores old films. Here you can watch classics and lesser known films on the big screen that have been preserved and restored to their former glory.

Whether you’re a film buff or appreciate old films, this is a fun activity to do in the evening in Bologna.

Check out the programming schedule on the official website.

Don’t have time to see it all? Bologna top 10 list

If you don’t have time to see everything on this list but still want to experience the top Bologna highlights, then this section is for you.

Here are the 10 can’t miss things to do in Bologna if you only have a day or two in the city.

  1. Visit the old University of Bologna and the Archignassio
  2. Walk to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca along the longest portico in the world
  3. Eat your way through the Quadrilatero market
  4. Go on a food tour
  5. Climb to the top of the Asinelli Tower
  6. Wander around the Piazza Maggiore
  7. Visit the Santo Stefano Complex
  8. Eat your way through the city (gelato included!)
  9. Take a day trip to Modena and Parma to visit the food producers
  10. San Petronio Basilica

Your Map of Things to do in Bologna

From the best places to eat in Bologna to the city’s main attractions, this map will help guide you through the best things to do in Bologna.

If you prefer, you can book a Bologna walking tour to visit the essential sights with a guide, but if not, this map serves as a great way to discover all of the must-see Bologna sights.

Where to eat in Bologna

There are so many amazing restaurants in Bologna that it can be overwhelming deciding where to eat. Luckily, we’ve tried and tested many of the city’s most popular and highly-rated restaurants.

Below, we’re sharing some of our favorite food spots in Bologna based on the type of meal you are looking for.

Our favorite restaurants in Bologna

All of the restaurants listed here serve local cuisine, and you honestly can’t go wrong with any of them. For a complete list of Bologna restaurants, check out our guide on the top 35 places to eat.

  • Da Cesari*– A good place to try different varieties of pasta dishes. Try the tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms in the fall.
  • All’ Osteria Bottega* – Hands down, one of the best Bologna restaurants and one that we go back to every time we are in the city. Every dish is heavenly, but if you want something unique (and delicious!), try the roasted baby pigeon.
  • Caminetto d’oro* – Fantastic grilled meats and truffle pasta dishes.
  • Trattoria da me* – A great place to get crescentina and cured meats, plus local specialties like friggione.
  • Trattoria collegio di Spagna – Try the cotoletta alla bolognese and zucchini dishes.
  • Oltre* – The tortellini in the creamy Parmigiano Reggiano sauce is to die for and the tagliatelle is also very good.
  • Golosita della Nonna – Located outside of the city center in the Bolognina neighborhood, but worth the walk for the lasagne verde.
  • Sfoglia Rina – Affordable and handmade pasta dishes located in the city center.

*These are our top 5 restaurants in Bologna.

Cheap eats in Bologna

If you’re looking for something quick and cheap, you’re most likely going to find pizza or a type of sandwich. Luckily, the options in Bologna are top tier.

  • Mo Mortadella Lab – The best place in the city to eat a Mortadella sandwich.
  • I Panini di Mirò – Our favorite place for paninis in Bologna. We go here every time. Get the pork sandwich with BBQ sauce.
  • Forno Brisa – Good option for pizza by the slice with a couple of locations around the city.
  • Mozzabella– Delicious and cheap pizza squares located inside of Mercato delle Erbe.
  • Pasta Fresca Naldi – Homemade, takeout pasta served in a takeaway container. Good quality and affordable.

Bars in Bologna

  • Osteria del Sole – The oldest wine bar in town and one of the coolest experiences to have in Bologna. They only serve wine – no food. You can either pop in for a drink, or pick up some meats and cheeses from the Quadrilatero nearby and bring your own food.
  • Camera A Sud – A popular spot for aperitivo or to relax for a couple of hours with a drink in hand. You may need to make a reservation in advance on the weekends because it gets busy.
  • Signorvino – The prices may be higher here, but it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink with a view. Located in Piazza Maggiore, you can relax at sunset while sipping on an Aperol Spritz in the heart of Bologna.
  • Bar Volare – This bar is located on Via Belvedere, which is full of places to drink and is busy almost every night of the week.

Cafes in Bologna

Bologna has too many cafes to count. Here are a couple of cafes that we go back to time and time again.

  • Caffe Terzi – Our favorite cafe in the city serving amazing stuffed brioche and delicious coffees. They have an entire book of different coffee combinations, so make sure to give it a look! We always go for the cappuccino with chocolate on top.
  • Aroma Specialty Coffees – A small coffee shop serving up a wide array of combinations and flavors. Try the Caffe’ allo Zabaione or the Caffe della nonna for something unique.
  • Lampadina – A nice coffee shop with a large seating area, which is hard to come by in Bologna!
  • Caffe Rubik – A hoppin’ cafe with outdoor seating under the porticoes. They serve a delicious espresso and cappuccino!
  • Gamberini – A pastry shop and a cafe that makes for a nice spot for breakfast or for a mid-day snack.

Vegan options in Bologna

If you’re a vegan and wanting to visit Bologna, it’s going to be hard to eat many local dishes, as the food is focused on pork, butter, and cheese here.

Most restaurants serve vegetarian side dishes, such as baked potatoes, mixed salads, and grilled vegetables. You’ll just need to ask if they cook the vegetables in butter or not to be sure.

You also might be able to find some pasta dishes without cheese, butter, and eggs, but it’s definitely more difficult in this region of Italy. The pizza and sandwich options listed above are safe bets, as they all offer vegetarian options that can be purchased without cheese.

Here are some vegan and vegetarian restaurants that we love in Bologna.

  • Zazie – Wonderful place to get juices, salads, and soups.
  • Nectare – They serve everything from acai bowls to pre-made salads and dishes. We’ve been here a few times to get acai bowls for breakfast and they are affordable and delicious.
  • Flower Burger – A vegan burger restaurant with many different options and flavors. We really like the “flower burger.”
  • Beirut Snack – Fantastic falafel wraps and mezze style dishes. There is always a line, so be prepared to wait!

Tips for eating out in Italy

Eating out in other countries can be confusing and overwhelming sometimes. Here are a few tips to help you feel more comfortable with the customs in Italy.

  • Tipping is not necessary; however, if you really enjoyed your food or liked your waiter, then any sort of tip is appreciated. Usually a 10%-15% tip is fine.
  • Every restaurant charges a coperto, or a cover charge per person. This fee helps to cover the table fees – bread, linens, tableware, etc. Usually the cover charge fee is printed on the front of the menu. It ranges anywhere from €2-€5 per person at most restaurants.
  • On Italian restaurant menus, you’ll find appetizers, first courses, second courses, and then desserts. Pasta is served as the first course and meat is served as a second course. You do not have to order both courses.
  • Make sure to reserve your table in advance. Spots fill up quickly at popular restaurants. Unfortunately, this means you’ll most likely have to call and reserve. We recommend asking if they speak english over the phone, and if not, have Google Translate on hand to try asking in Italian. Not ideal, but it will get the job done.
  • If you don’t have time to make a reservation, or decide to eat somewhere last minute, you can always arrive right when the restaurant opens. Restaurants will often reserve a couple of tables for walk-ins for 2 people. We’ve done this several times and we’ll more often than not get a table.

Where to stay in Bologna?

The best neighborhood to stay in Bologna is the Centro Storico. This is the historical center of the city and most restaurants and attractions are within walking distance from here. It’s also the most charming part of the city.

Best hotels 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.

How do you get to Bologna?

Bologna is connected with the rest of Italy and Europe via its international airport and central train station. With plenty of flights and trains arriving daily, you’ll have no issues finding your way here.

Getting to Bologna by plane

The Bologna international airport is called Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). If you are flying from most places in Europe, then you should be able to find a direct flight to Bologna.

For those flying from international destinations (outside of Europe), you will have to fly into Milan, Venice, or Rome and then take a train to Bologna. Milan is the next closest airport.

How to get from the Bologna airport to city center

To get from the Bologna airport to the city center, you’ll want to take the Marconi Express monorail from to the Bologna train station.

The train runs every 7 minutes throughout the day and costs €11 each way or €20 round trip. You can review the timetable and book your tickets here. You can also use contactless payment to purchase your tickets at the station. We used our credit card and it was super easy!

The monorail drops you off at Bologna train station. From here, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to the center of the city.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the airport to your accommodation. It takes around 15-20 minutes and is pretty reasonably priced.

Getting to Bologna by Train

The Bologna train station connects you to the rest of Italy. With Bologna being centrally located, it’s pretty quick to get to and from other major cities like Milan, Florence, Venice, and Rome.

  • Milan to Bologna train: High-speed train takes between 1h 5min to 1h 21min | Regional train takes 2h 50min
  • Florence to Bologna train: High-speed train takes 38 minutes | Regional train takes 1h 27min
  • Rome to Bologna train: High-speed train takes between 2h 3min to 2h 23min | Regional train takes between 5h 24min to 7h 56min
  • Venice to Bologna train: High-speed train takes 1h 33min | Regional train takes 2h 6min

We recommend purchasing your tickets via the Trenitalia website or app. The app is easy and straight-forward to use, which is why we always suggest downloading it for your trip to Italy. You can purchase tickets up to a few minutes before the train departs and easily access your digital tickets.

For the best-priced train tickets, always purchase tickets at least 3-weeks in advance, especially for high-speed trains. Prices go up significantly as you get closer to the departure date.

If you are arriving by train, then you can either walk to your accommodation or arrange a taxi from the station. It takes 15-20 minutes to walk to the center from the train station.

In 2023, it cost us €10 to take a taxi from the train station to our accommodation near Piazza Maggiore.

Renting a car in Bologna

Planning to rent a car during your trip to Bologna? We’ve rented a car here several times and have a few tips to help make it a smooth experience for you.

First things first, if you are only staying in Bologna and do not have any day trips planned, you do NOT need to rent a car. In fact, we would highly advise against it. Parking is limited and expensive and it’s not worth risking getting a ticket by driving in the city’s restricted zones.

We do recommend renting a car for the day if you plan to take a day trip that’s only accessibly by car. For example, if you want to go to San Marino or to the Ferrari factory, then renting a car for the day is a fantastic option.

We like to use Discover Cars for our car rentals in Italy. In the fall of 2023, we rented our car near the Bologna train station, picked it up early in the morning to pick it up, and then dropped it off that same evening. It’s convenient, quick, and easy.

The Bologna Welcome Card

The Bologna Welcome Card is a tourist card that provides access to many of the city’s most popular attractions at a reasonable price.

There are two types of cards that you can purchase:

  • The BW Card EASY – €25/person
    This card includes access to over 10 of Bologna’s museums plus the Asinelli tower and a guided walking tour of the city.)
  • The BW Card PLUS – €40/person
    This card includes everything on the BW Easy Card plus access to the City Red Bus tours and the San Luca Express train. It also gives you a discount on the Clock Tower tickets.

The card valid for 15 days from the activation date (or first day of use), so there’s no need to rush to see all of the sights within a couple of days.

Is the Bologna Welcome Card worth it? It totally depends on what you want to see in Bologna. If you plan to see a lot of museums, then you should definitely purchase a BW Card.

If you’re just planning to see a couple of the main sights, like the Asinelli Tower and the Basilica di San Luca, then we would not recommending purchasing a BW Card.

Festivals in Bologna

Bologna is home to many large events and festivals throughout the year. We’re listing some of the most popular events, so you can plan your trip around it if there is one you are keen on attending.

Tortellino Festival

This is one of the coolest food festivals in Bologna. Every year, on October 4th, the Palazzo Re Enzo in the Piazza Maggiore transforms into a pasta heaven.

21 chefs from the region cook up their own version of this classic pasta, and you can taste them all. We attended the festival in 2022 and got 6 bowls of tortellini between the 2 of us. We were stuffed!

The festival goes all day from 11:30am to 9:45pm. Be prepared to wait because the line is long!

The cost is €5 for 1 tasting or €45 for 9 tastings. Find more information about the festival on the official website.

Festival Dei Sapori

Every year, during the month of April, the Festival Dei Sapori (Festival of Flavors) takes over the Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna to highlight the foods of different regions in Italy.

The event includes food tastings, cooking classes, panels, and more.

The festival is free You can find more information about the event on the official website.

Mortadella Festival

If you love mortadella, then you should try to visit Bologna around the end of September and beginning of October to attend this festival.

Over the course of 3 days, you’ll have the opportunity to taste many different dishes focused on mortadella as the star ingredient. From sandwiches to stuffed pasta, this is a wonderful way to discover the different tastes and possibilities of this Italian staple in Bologna.

For more information, including dates and times, check out the official website.

Il Cinema Ritrovato

Il Cinema Ritrovato is one of the largest film festivals in Italy. The Piazza Maggiore transforms into an open air theater, as well as many other locations around the city.

During the festival, visitors have the opportunity to watch many classic and restored films. Whether or not you’re a film festival, it’s a neat experience that’s not to be missed.

The film festival takes place during the summers months in July and August. For more information about tickets and the program, check out the official website.

Where to buy Italian souvenirs in Bologna

Bologna is one of the best city’s in Italy to buy souvenirs. Not only because it has amazing artisanal shops and food shops but also because things are reasonably priced here compared to larger Italian cities.

We’ve packed our suitcases full of pasta cutters, dried pasta, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese too many times to count.

If you’re wondering what souvenirs to take home, we have an entire post dedicated to the 19 Best Italian Food Souvenirs that you may want to read.

Without further ado, here’s where we recommend buying souvenirs in Bologna, plus what to buy from each shop.


This small deli is a great place to by vacuum sealed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, condiments, jams, and other canned Italian goods.

Website: Tamburini
Address: Via Caprarie, 1, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Drogheria Gilberto

Good shop to buy chocolates and sweets and other typical products from Emilia Romagna.

Website: Drogheria Gilberto
Address: Via Drapperie, 5/A, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo

Our favorite shop to buy handmade, high-quality pasta cutters. These are made with bronze and sourced locally.

Website: Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo
Address: Via Drapperie, 12, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

La Baita Vecchia Malga

Another deli with a fantastic selection of local goods, such as jams, dried pasta, and sauces.

Address: Via Pescherie Vecchie, 3a, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy


Majani is the oldest chocolate maker in Italy, and it is based in Bologna. We like to buy a pack of their classic Cremino Fiat chocolates, which is a soft truffle-like chocolate often layered with hazelnut paste and coffee.

Website: Majani
Address: Via de’ Carbonesi, 5, 40123 Bologna BO, Italy

Bologna Travel Guide

Below, we’re answering some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Bologna. From when to visit to how long to visit and whether or not people speak English here, you’ll find all of the answers here.

Is Bologna worth visiting?

Yes, Bologna is definitely worth visiting! With it’s fantastic food scene, historic architecture, authentic culture, and convenient location for day trips, you are sure to have an incredible time in Bologna.

We fell in love with Bologna the first time we visited and have since been back three times. The amazing food and wonderful people keep us coming back!

When is the best time to visit Bologna?

Bologna’s temperatures are more mild than Northern Europe; however, the city still experiences pretty hot summers and cold winters.

The best time to visit Bologna is from late spring to early fall. Specifically, we suggest visiting during the months of May and October when the temperatures are nice and the city is not too crowded.

We prefer to visit Bologna during October. The countryside is absolutely stunning during this time when the hills are dotted with red and yellow leaves.

There are also many fantastic food options during the fall season in Bologna. We’re talking mushroom pastas galore and pumpkin stuffed tortelloni.

How many days do you need in Bologna?

We recommend spending a minimum of 3 days in Bologna. You need at least two days to explore the city and then a third day to take a day trip in the region.

If you are wanting to see more of the region, then we suggest making Bologna your home base. Its central location makes it easy to visit nearby cities within an hour or two like Florence or Ravenna.

READ ALSO: One Day in Bologna Itinerary

How do you get around Bologna?

The best way to get around Bologna is to walk! Most of the main sights are in the historic city center and can be reached within a 15 to 20 minute walk no matter where you are in the city.

If you’re planning to visit somewhere outside of the center, then the bus is your best option. You can purchase single-use bus tickets at any tobacco shop in the city. The cost is €1.50 per ride.

We use the Google Maps bus option to help us get around Bologna by bus.

Do you need cash in Bologna?

In our experience, almost all restaurants and shops take card in Bologna. However, we always recommend having some cash on hand, since some places might have minimum card spend requirements (gelato shops) and you may need cash in this instance.

There are plenty of ATMs around the city, so you can easily take out cash if needed. We always travel with our favorite Charles Schwab debit card that reimburses us for all ATM fees while we’re abroad.

Do people speak English in Bologna?

Most of the people working at restaurants, shops, or the touristy sights know some English in Bologna. You shouldn’t have any issues getting around if you don’t speak any Italian.

As a common courtesy, we always recommend learning a few essential words before traveling to Italy like hello (buongiorno), thank you (grazie), and goodbye (ciao or arrivederci).

More information for your trip to Bologna

Bologna has some of the most delicious gelato in all of Italy. Check out our guide to the best gelato shops in Bologna

Looking to do a day trip from Bologna? There are so many incredible day trips from Bologna, including a food tour in Modena and a visit to the Ferrari factory in Maranello. Take a look at our article about the 23 best day trips from Bologna.

Wanting to try some unique foods from Emilia-Romagna? Check out our article on the most underrated foods in Emilia Romagna

Wondering how to get from the Bologna airport to the train station? We have an entire guide to help you get to the city from the airport.


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.

Pin for later:


    1. Hi Renee! Thanks for your comment. I’m happy to hear that you found this post useful!

      Your trip sounds amazing! Happy to help if you have any other questions. – Jenoa

  1. I’m SO happy to hear you’ve rented a car successfully, we have gotten SO much negativity and pushback from other forums that have nothing positive to say and make us feel as if we’re putting ourselves at GREAT risk of smash and grabs at every stop. We plan to keep our bags in the trunk while being out and about and can’t check into our rooms and not to access the trunk/show that’s where our bags are, and use other common sense tactics. Seriously, it is WONDERFUL to hear you guys have had a good experience renting a car. (We’ll be there in April 2024.). Thanks a million.

  2. We’ll be driving from Valpolicella (Near Verona) in the afternoon of 4/14. We have a full day food tour of Bologna and Parm on 4/16.

    It seems you guys really love Bologna, we’re weighing spending both nights in Bologna and exploring your top items there on 4/15.

    Thoughts? Is this the best choice? Better than trying to cram in Modena and miss Bologna? Thanks.

    1. Hi Melissa! Thank you for your comments. It sounds like you have a fun trip coming up!

      We love both Bologna and Modena! We’d recommend exploring Bologna on 4/15 based on the information you gave us. Our only caveat is if you are keen on visiting the Ferrari museum, then we’d recommend doing Modena on 4/15.

      And yes, you should be just fine renting a car and driving around Italy! Just be mindful to take precautions where possible, and you should be fine.

  3. Great info! 🙂 Thank you soo much for sharing!! I really wanted to go to FICO Eatily but it says it is temporarily closed?? Do you know when they are re-opening? We will be there May 22-23.
    Also, did you find any gelato made with amarena cherries by any chance? 🙂
    Thanks kindly 🙂

    1. Hi Shirley,

      FICO Eatily lost many vendors since COVID hit and as of 2024. We are not sure if or when they will re-open their doors.

      In regards to gelato made with amarena cherries, we recommend visiting Oggi Gelato. They have an amareno cherry flavor called “Amarena di Cantiano”. They have a couple of locations in town. One is near the Mercato delle Erbe and the other is located near the two towers.

      We hope you have a lovely trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *