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If you’re thinking of doing a Bologna to Modena day trip, our advice is to go for it!
We have been to Modena three times, all on day trips from Bologna, and it is one of the most amazing cities to visit in Emilia Romagna.
You’ll find an abundance of things to do in Modena, whether you’re into delicious food, wandering cobblestoned photogenic streets, or immersing yourself in the glamour of Ferrari and other luxury sports cars, there’s a lot to see. Plus, it’s only a 30-minute train ride from Bologna!
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about taking this easy day trip from Bologna, from getting there and the top things to do. Let’s go!
What Is Modena Famous For?
Modena has two claims to fame: Balsamic vinegar and cars.
Balsamic vinegar is one of the most well-known Italian products around the world.
Traditional Modena balsamic vinegar is a bit different than the average balsamic you get from the grocery store. It’s thick and syrupy and takes a minimum of 12-years to age properly.
The process is absolutely fascinating! You can visit a local producer in the Modena region on your own to learn about the process, or opt to take a tour for a tasting and a visit with an expert guide.
Modena is also renowned for cars, in particular luxury sports cars. The Ferrari brand was born here as well as Lamborghini and Bugatti. DeTomaso, Pagani, and Maserati also have factories in the area.
In this itinerary, we suggest visiting one (or both) of the Ferrari factories.
Bologna to Modena Day Trip Itinerary
A quick note about this Modena day trip itinerary. You can design the trip in two different ways. If you’re wanting a more food-focused itinerary, then we suggest starting the day off with our favorite Modena food tour or a balsamic vinegar tour. After the tour, you can make your way back to the city center to finish seeing the historical sites.
Alternatively, you can start your day off in the city to and then visit the different Ferrari museums and manufacturers in the afternoon. It depends on if you’re more interested in the food aspect or the luxury cars!
We’ve included 2 separate itineraries at the end of this list to help you best plan for your Bologna to Modena day trip.
Start Your Day at Bar Tiffany
After arriving to Modena, head to Bar Tiffany. This is a fantastic little spot where the locals go to get a gnocco fritto. This is a local specialty. Lard and flour are mixed into a dough and then the dough is double-fried in lard. It’s calorific, but oh so worth it. Dip it in your cappuccino for a hearty breakfast!
Visit the Modena Duomo
This UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to the 12th century. The Modena Duomo is one of the most important Romanesque cathedrals in Italy.
Outside you’ll find a beautiful marble façade with arches and intricate sculptures. Inside is the remains of a 4th century saint from Modena (Saint Geminiano) and other works from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Cathedral is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. On Mondays, it has a split opening hours, you can access it between 7:00 am and 12:30 pm and then from 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
Admission to the Duomo is free.
Climb the Ghirlandina Tower
The Ghirlandina Tower is the bell tower of Modena Cathedral. It was a later addition to the cathedral and was built in the 12th century. Standing over 80 meters tall, it dominates the skyline and is a symbol of the city.
We suggest climbing the inner staircase – all 200 steps – for the most amazing view of Modena below!
During your visit, you’ll learn the unusual history surrounding the Secchia Rapita (the “Kidnapped Bucket”) along with other interesting facts.
The Ghirlandina Tower is open to visitors every day of the week, but the visiting hours vary depending on the day and season. It’s recommended to check the current visiting hours online or at the ticket office.
To enter the tower, a reservation is necessary, and the cost of tickets is €3.00 per person. You can book your ticket on the official website here.
Wander Around the Piazza Grande
The Piazza Grande is Modena’s main square and another of Modena’s UNESCO Heritage sites.
This is the large open square in front of the Duomo and Ghirlandina Tower. It’s a beautiful space that dates back to the 12th century. Take some time to wander around and take in the ancient buildings and baroque archways that line the perimeter.
Stroll Through the Mercato Albinelli
This fabulous covered market is located in the heart of Modena. It is one of the best markets in the entire Emilia Romagna region. We enjoyed wandering and eating our way around the stalls selling produce and local delicacies!
The Albinelli market was opened in 1931 and inspired by similar models in France. You can find everything you need here from fresh pasta and cheese and local produce and pastries.
Pick up an erbazzone from one of the stands, a savory pie filled with greens (chard) and cheese. It’s one of our favorite snacks in the region!
You can also buy some fresh pasta to cook up later if you are staying in an apartment. We love to buy tortelloni here (pumpkin is our go-to choice in the fall) and sauce it up with some butter and parmesan.
The market operates Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. On Saturdays, the market has extended hours and stays open until 7:00 pm. It’s closed on Sundays.
The atmosphere here is always bustling with locals and tourists. If you’re a foodie, this is a great place to pick up fresh ingredients or for souvenirs to take home with you.
Visit the Galleria Estense
This grandiose building houses an art collection dating back to the 14th century. The gallery opened in the late 19th century and is home to a wide selection of artworks, collected around the d’Este family. This family ruled this region between 1289 and 1796.
The galleries feature works of art from both Italian and international artists, including paintings, sculptures, and frescoes. Whether you’re an art lover or not, it’s worthy of a visit to appreciate this region’s history through art.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Opening hours are from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm on Tuesday to Saturday, and from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sundays and holidays.
The entry fee is €6. Tickets can be purchased in-person at the museum.
Eat a Tigelle Sandwich for Lunch
After a busy morning, it’s time to find some lunch. We recommend heading to La Chersenta to try a local dish called a tigelle. This is are mini sandwich-like flatbread stuffed with meats and cheeses. It’s one of our favorite quick lunches in the Emilia Romagna region!
An alternative lunch suggestion is Bar Schiavoni. Here you’ll find one of the best Italian sandwiches in the region run by two women from Modena. It’s located next to the Albinelli Market.
Check Out the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena
Just outside the historic center of Modena is the Enzo Ferrari Museum. This is a must-visit for automotive and racing fans. Housed in a striking modern building, this museum showcases the work of legendary Italian car designer, Enzo Ferrari.
You’ll find vintage cars from the 1930s right up to Formula 1 race cars. Whether you’re interested in history, or engineering, or just fancy standing amongst some of the most iconic cars in history, you won’t be disappointed.
Tickets: €22 per adult. Combined ticket option for both the Enzo Ferrari Museum + the Maranello Ferraro Museum is €30 per adult. Purchase your tickets online at the official website.
Hours: Opening times vary depending on the month. Check out the official Ferrari museum website for up-to-date information.
Getting there: The Enzo Ferrari Museum is located just a 15-minute walk from the Piazza Grande in the center of Modena. If you drove a car to Modena, there is a parking lot located next to the museum.
Visit the Ferrari Factory & Museum in Maranello
There are two Ferrari museums in Modena. The first one is the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena, which is focused more on the founder and creation of the company.
The second museum is located in Maranello, which is approximately 16km to the south of Modena. If you’re a Ferrari fanatic, then we also recommend visiting the Ferrari Factory & Museum in Maranello.
Here you can take a tour and get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how these cars are created as well as a shuttle bus ride around the Fiorano track and factory complex.
Tickets: €22 per adult. There is a combined ticket option for both the Enzo Ferrari Museum + the Maranello Ferraro Museum that is €30 per adult. The race track is an additional €20 per adult and the F1 stimulators are also an additional €30 per adult. Purchase your tickets online at the official website.
Hours: Opening times vary depending on the month. Check out the official Ferrari museum website for up-to-date information.
Getting there: There are two ways to get to the Ferrari Factory in Maranello – either by car or by bus. The factory is located about 25km from Modena and it takes 25-minutes to get there by car.
By bus, there is a direct shuttle bus that takes you to Maranello either from the Modena train station or from the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. You must book your bus tickets in advance to ensure you get a spot. Book your tickets online at Vivara Viaggi.
The shuttle bus leaves twice a day from both the train station and the Enzo Ferrari museum. Once in the morning and another one in the late afternoon. Please see the timetable online for the up-to-date times.
Ferrari Tour recommendation: If you are a huge Ferrari fan and want a full-day experience with an expert guide, then we recommend booking this Ferrari day tour from Bologna. Your guide will take you to both museums and the factory. Plus, it includes private transport, lunch at a farmhouse, and a ride around the race track.
End your day with Dinner at a Delicious Restaurant
The Emilia Romagna region is famous for its incredible food scene and Modena is no exception to that. In fact, Modena is famously known as the home of the best restaurant in the world – Osteria Francescana.
You’ll have to organize and book months in advance to get a table here.
Make reservations in advance (at least a day or two) in order to ensure you can get a table.
Bologna to Modena Day Trip: 2 Itinerary Suggestions
Option #1: Foodie Itinerary
- Arrive in Modena by 9:30am
- Take a Modena food tour starting at 10:00am (we’ve done this tour and loved it!)
- After the tour, climb the Ghirlandina Tower
- Visit the Galleria Estense
- Go to the Enzo Ferrari Museum or walk through the Parco Giardino Ducale Estense
- Eat dinner at a local restaurant
(You can do a balsamic vinegar tour instead of the food tour if you prefer. Just swap it out in the itinerary.)
Option #2: Luxury Car Itinerary
- Arrive in Modena by 10:00am
- Visit the duomo, tower, Piazza Grande
- Explore the market
- Grab lunch
- Check out the Enzo Ferrari Museum
- Take the shuttle from Enzo Ferrari Museum to Maranello @ 3:25pm
- Explore the Maranello Ferrari museum & factory.
- Take shuttle back to Modena train station @ 6pm
- Eat dinner at a local restaurant
(Alternatively, you can visit the Ferrari museum in Maranello in the morning and explore Modena in the afternoon. However, the food market will be closed by the time you return.)
Where to Try Balsamic Vinegar in Modena?
The city of Modena is the birthplace of traditional balsamic vinegar, and it is nearly impossible to visit without getting a sample.
The most popular place to try balsamic vinegar in Modena is the Acetaia di Giorgio, one of the oldest producers in existence.
Here, you can contact the property directly on their website for a tour to learn about how traditional balsamic vinegar is made and even taste it in its purest form as well as samples of other varieties from the area. It’s a 30-minute walk from the center of Modena, or a 5-minute drive.
Another popular spot is Antica Acetaia Paltrinieri, where you can get samples from barrels that have been aging for up to 60 years! It’s a 16-minute drive from the center of Modena. .
The only shop in the world that focuses solely on selling Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is La Consorteria 1966. This store is located in the center of Modena, and we’ve bought a couple of bottles to take home. If you take the food tour in Modena, you’ll stop here for a tasting!
Doing a Balsamic Vinegar Tour
Going on a balsamic vinegar tour is an immersive way to learn about the history of balsamic vinegar production in this area.
You’ll be able to visit traditional producers, learn about various methods of production, taste different types of balsamic vinegar, and perhaps even buy some to take home!
Taking a tour is especially a fantastic option if you do not have a car. Most of the acetaias can only be reached by car.
Here are a couple of Modena balsamic vinegar tours we recommend:
- Lunch and Tasting of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena – Spend a couple of hours touring an ancient family balsamic vinegar factory, including one that is still in production from 1905. Pick-up from Modena is available for an extra fee, so this can be visited without a car.
- Tour the Oldest Balsamic Vinegar Company in Modena – Take a tour of the vineyards and learn about the production of traditional balsamic vinegar. The tour is followed by a wine and vinegar tasting. This tour is easiest to do with a car, but can be done via train and taxi.
Is Modena Worth Visiting?
Yes! We 100% recommend spending at least one day in Modena.
Whether you’re interested in the stunning architecture or the rich culinary heritage, Modena has something to offer for everyone.
We’ve been to Modena three times and seem to fall in love with it even more each time we visit!
How to Get From Bologna to Modena?
The distance from Bologna to Modena is a mere 58 km which is why Modena makes such a great day trip. You can make the journey in less than an hour.
The two best ways to get from Bologna to Modena are by driving a car or taking the train.
Bologna to Modena Day Trip by Train
The train is the best and most convenient way to get to Modena. Depending on which service you take, the journey can take as little as 17 minutes. There are 21 direct trains departing daily from Bologna Centrale station. Prices start at 4,30€ for a one-way journey.
Since this is a local train journey, you can purchase your tickets on the day of at the train station or buy them in advance on Trenitalia. We love using the Trenitalia app for all of our train tickets in Italy.
Bologna to Modena Day Trip by Car
If you’re after more flexibility, then driving from Bologna to Modena is pretty straight forwards. The journey will take just under an hour. Parking is fairly easy in Modena. There’s plenty of street parking. Free street parking can be identified by a white line. If you see a blue line you’ll need to pay a fee.
We’d recommend going by car if you’re interested in visiting a balsamic vinegar factory or the Ferrari factory outside of the city. You can easily rent a car near the Bologna train station for the day. We’ve done this a couple of times when we’ve done day trips from Bologna and it’s convenient and easy!
Getting Around Modena
The city of Modena is fairly compact, so the best way to get around is on foot. Most of the attractions we talk about in this article are within 15-minutes walking distance of each other.
Alternatively, you could use a taxi to get to places that are outside of the city center.
Modena Frequently Asked Questions
How much time do I need in Modena?
One day in Modena is plenty of time to get a feel for the city and have time to do either a food tour or to visit the Ferrari factories. However, if you’d like to experience the food, the car museums, and the city’s historical sites, we suggest spending two full days in the city.
Can you do Modena and Parma in one day?
Modena and Parma are only 30-minutes away by train, so you technically can visit both in a day; however, we do not recommend it. There’s so much to see in both cities that we suggest planning for one full-day in each city.
Should I stay in Bologna, Parma, or Modena?
Any of these cities makes a great home base in the Emilia Romagna region. If you’re planning on doing a lot of day trips, then Bologna is the best and most central place to stay in the region.
More Information for your Italy Trip
BOLOGNA: If you’re planning to visit the capital of Emilia Romagna during your trip, check out our guide on the 25 Best Things to do in Bologna and our Bologna Food Guide. You may also like our article on the Best Gelato Shops in Bologna and a step-by-step guide to walking the Portico San Luca (the longest portico in the world)!
RAVENNA: Visit the stunning 5th century Byzantine Mosaics in Ravenna, and read all about this incredible on our 20 Best Things to do in Ravenna post.
PARMA: Make sure to stop by Parma on your trip to Emilia Romagna. Check our our guide on the 20 Best Things to do in Parma to help you plan your time in this wonderful city. Alternatively, you can reference our One Day in Parma guide if you plan to do a day trip to the city.
ITALY TRAVEL PLANNING GUIDE
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.