13 places to see in Bologna, Italy

What to see in Bologna in 1 day

Bologna is most often visited as a passageway: tourists do not stay here for more than one day, thinking that the city is small and there is not much to see here. This is partly true (if we talk about the size of the city), but Bologna is not lacking in sights – the entire center has important historical and architectural value.

For details on what to see in Bologna in 1 day on your own, read our article. Ticket prices and visiting hours for museums and attractions are presented for 2022: check the official websites for information.

Piazza Maggiore and nearby

The best place to start your walk in Bologna is in the central Piazza Maggiore, which is the largest square in the city. It was founded in the 13th century and until the 16th century was built up with various buildings and palaces:

  • Palazzo Comunale (Palazzo Comunale),
  • Palazzo del Podestà,
  • Palazzo dei Notai, built for notaries by Antonio di Vincenzo,
  • Palazzo dei Banchi, which housed the banking facilities.

Piazza Maggiore

Photo: Nickolay Vinokurov / Shutterstock.com

Palazzo Comunale

The palazzo looks stern and imposing: the building’s façade is almost devoid of decorative elements. The Palazzo Comunale was built in the 13th century, and then the building was reconstructed several times.

Until 2008, the palace was used for meetings of the mayor’s office and is currently home to the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte (Collection of Medieval Art) and the city library Biblioteca Salaborsa.

Palazzo Comunale

Photo: Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

Be sure to go inside: in the palace you can see the richly decorated Senate Hall, the Red Hall, the Hall of Farnese, where Charles V was crowned, the Legato Chapel, the Hall of Hercules, as well as the collection of artworks.

You can also go up to the Clock Tower, where you can see ancient clockwork and admire the stunning view of Piazza Maggiore.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

The rooms of the palace have different timetables. The rooms of the Senate, for example, are open from Tuesday to Thursday and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed on Monday and Friday). For more information, see the official website.

The municipal art collection (Collezioni Comunali d’Arte) can be seen:

  • Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m;
  • Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m;
  • closed Mondays, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio) is open daily from 10.00 am to 6.20 pm.

Admission to the palace is free, and a single ticket to visit the Municipal Art Collection and the Clock Tower costs 8 euros for adults.

Basilica of San Petronio

On the main square is also the Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna’s largest church. Its construction began in the 14th century, but in the 18th century work was forever suspended: this is why the facade of the building remained unfinished. By the way, the coronation of the Holy Roman Empire took place in this basilica.

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You can go up to the panoramic terrace to see the city from a height of 54 meters. The entrance is on the side of Piazza Galvani. The ascent is done by stairs or by elevator.

Since 2000, the basilica has housed the relics of St. Petronius.

San Petronio Basilica

Photo: Catarina Belova / Shutterstock.com

Visiting hours and ticket information

You can enter the basilica every day from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Entrance to the panoramic terrace: on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 17.30.

The Cappella dei Magi is open from 9:30 to 12:30 and from 15:00 to 18:00 every day. The schedule may change in case of special events.

Entrance to the basilica is free, but a fee of 5 Euros is charged for access to the terrace. A visit to the Cappella dei Magi is a special fee of 5€.

Archaeological Museum

Next to San Petronio Basilica in Via dell’Archiginnasio 2 there is the Archaeological Museum (Museo civico archeologico di Bologna) with exhibits found during excavations: there used to be Etruscan settlements on Bologna territory. There are also Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Gallic collections in the museum.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

The Archaeological Museum can be visited:

  • Monday and Wednesday – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m;
  • Thursday and Friday – from 15.00 to 19.00;
  • Saturday and Sunday – from 10.00 to 19.00;
  • closed on Tuesdays.

Ticket costs 6 euros for adults.

San Domenico Cathedral

Quite close to the Archaeological Museum is the Basilica di San Domenico where the relics of Saint Domenico are housed. If you have time, go inside to admire the splendid murals.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

The cathedral can be visited

  • Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 3:30 to 6 p.m;
  • Saturday and Sunday from 8.30 to 12.00 and from 15.30 to 17.00.

The exact address is Piazza S. Domenico, 13. Entrance is free.

Piazza Neptune

Nearby Piazza Maggiore is the famous attraction of the city – Piazza Nettuno with its beautiful fountain of the same name. It was founded in the 16th century, when a number of earlier buildings were demolished.

Piazza Neptune

Photo: Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com

The main building on the square is the magnificent Palazzo Di Re Enzo, made in Gothic style.

Neptune Fountain

Admire the Neptune Fountain, whose statue was created in 1567 by the Florentine sculptor Giambologna. This design represented in those days the power and wisdom of the elected Pope Pius IV.

In modern times, there is a belief among students: in order to successfully pass exams, you must bypass the fountain twice counterclockwise.

Piazza Neptune

Photo: s74 / Shutterstock.com

Enzo Palace

The Gothic palace was built in the 13th century: King Enzo of Sardinia was imprisoned there for 23 years. Tours of the building include the Cappella Madonna dei prigionieri (Chapel of Our Lady of Prisoners), the medieval courtroom, the city archives, and the cells.

The restoration of the interior was the work of outstanding architects: Antonio di Vincenzo, Giovanni Giacomo Dotti, Alfonso Rubbiani.

Palazzo Enzo

Photo: Shevchenko Andrey / Shutterstock.com

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Via dell’Indipenza

From the main square walk along Via dell’Indipenza, the city’s main shopping street with lots of boutiques and stores. Follow it to St. Peter’s Cathedral.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

After touring the squares, head to Bologna’s main cathedral, St. Peter’s Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Pietro). It has been rebuilt several times since the 10th century because of damage caused by earthquakes and fires. The interior has preserved 15th century frescoes and paintings by Prospero Fontana, Marcantonio Franceschini and Donato Creti.

Inside, the cathedral is richly decorated: be sure to look inside for the crucifixion and sculptures of Mary Magdalene and the Apostle John from the 12th century, the terracotta sculpture Mourning for the Deceased Christ from the 16th century, and the Annunciation by Ludovico Caracci from 1619.

Address and times of visit

St. Peter’s Cathedral is located at Via Independenza, 7. Entrance is free.

Open to the public from Monday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The bell tower is accessible every Saturday from 14:00 to 16:30.

Via Santo Stefano

Wander into the city center and take a visit to the Basilica of San Stefano at Via Santo Stefano 24.

The Cathedral of San Stefano

The Basilica di Santo Stefano is a united seven churches. It is a Christian complex that is one of the most complete reproductions of the Temple of Jerusalem in Europe.

The construction of the cathedral lasted from the 5th to the 12th century. The main religious buildings of the complex are the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Church of Saints Vitalius and Agricola, and the Court of Pilate.

San Stefano Cathedral

Photo: Boerescu / Shutterstock.com

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

Open to the public every day except Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 7 p.m.

Falling Towers

Bologna is not called the City of the Falling Towers for nothing: since the 11th century over 150 towers have been built here. By now most of them have been destroyed but about 20 have survived. The most famous are the Garisenda and Asinelli towers, which can be quickly reached from San Stefano Cathedral along the street of the same name.

Other notable towers in Bologna, besides those mentioned Due Torri, are Prendiparte or Coronata (61 meters), Azzogildi or Altabella, 60 meters high, Uguzzoni (32 meters), Scappi (39 meters), Galuzzi and Guildosagni.

The Falling Towers of Bologna

Photo: Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com

Asinelli and Garizenda

The Tower of the Asinelli is the tallest structure in Bologna (97 meters), and its slope is visible to the naked eye. In the Middle Ages it was believed that the higher the tower, the richer and more powerful its owner.

Asinelli is located not far from the Garizenda (together they are called Due Torri): the first entrance is open, the second is closed.

Address, cost to visit, opening hours

The Due Torri towers are in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.

Climb the Asinelli Tower daily from 10.00 am to 17.00 pm. Admission for visitors is every 15 minutes.

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The cost of the ticket is 5 euros for adults.

Bologna University

Walk along Via Zamboni to the University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe. By the way, on the way, you can stop by the Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore to admire the elegant frescoes of the 15th century.

Copernicus, Dante, Petrarch, Dürer, Bocaccio, Umberto Eco studied there.

National Pinakothek

If you continue along Via Zamboni, you will reach Via delle Belle Arti, 56, where the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna is located. If you still have energy left, visit this art gallery: it is considered one of the best in all of Italy.

The Pinacoteca was founded in the 18th century by Cardinal Prospero Lambertini.

What to see in the Pinacoteca

You can admire works by Giotto, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci and many other famous representatives of Italian and world art.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices
  • Tuesday and Wednesday – from 9.00 to 14.00;
  • Thursday through Sunday from 10.00 to 19.00;
  • closed on Mondays.

A combined ticket, which also allows you to visit the Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande and see the Galleria Zambeccari (Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande – Quadreria Zambeccari), costs €6.

Bologna Excursions

If you don’t want to figure out by yourself where to go in Bologna and what to see first thing in 1 day, take a tour – individual or group. An experienced guide has already made a suitable itinerary for you, which will allow you to get acquainted with the city, not to miss anything important, and to delve deeper into its history.

Bologna sights

Palazzo Podesta Bologna Towers Museum of Anzola dell’Emilia Cemetery “Certosa” Christian religious buildings complex “Santo Stefano” Palace of King Enzo Independence Street Piazza Mingetti

This site compiles the sights of Bologna – photos, descriptions, and traveler tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find the answers to what to see in Bologna, where to go and where to stay in Bologna.

Palazzo Podesta

Palazzo Podesta (photo)

The Palazzo del Podesta in Bologna dates back to the 13th century, but between 1484 and 1494, at the request of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, the palace was completely transformed in Renaissance style, including a wide entrance arch with a cross.

In 1221 the Torre dell’Arengo was added to Palazzo Podesta, which since 1453 had a 4,900-kilogram bell that rang during the important ceremonies of Bologna.

Bologna towers

The towers of Bologna (photo)

In the 10th century Bologna was a prosperous city, both historically and economically. At that wonderful time, the people of Bologna had a lot of money, but very little space for building. This problem was solved very simply – if you can’t build wide, you can build high. Thus began the construction of numerous towers, which will go down in history as the Bologna Towers. In just a few years, more than 200 forebears of future skyscrapers grew up in Bologna. It became a kind of competition – whoever has the tallest tower is the richest and most influential.

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The most famous confrontation was between the Asinelli and Garizendi families, who built their towers within a few meters of each other. But it ended in mutual defeat – the towers twisted. The Asinelli Tower survives to this day in full size – 97 meters. No one can tell the height of the Garizendi Tower: only its 48-meter part has survived.

Coordinates: 44.49503600,11.34164200

And what sights of Bologna did you like? Next to the photo there are icons, by clicking on them you can rate this or that place.

Museum of Ice Cream in Anzola Del Emilia

Museum of ice-cream in Anzola Del Emilia (photo)

Italy is a country distinguished not only by its sights, but also by the most delicious ice cream. All over the world it is considered the best, made only from natural products and with a minimum fat content.

It is this ice cream that is dedicated to the museum, which is located in the town of Anzola Del Emilia. It is located in the Caprigini plant, which produces refrigeration equipment. So visitors can see samples of ice cream.

In addition, there are many pictures and photographs of ice cream in the museum. There is also a video, which shows the stages of making ice cream. And the very first ice cream was invented by the alchemist Cosimo Ruggieri, an advisor to Queen Catherine de Medici. In the museum not only the history of ice cream, but also a tasting of different varieties is held. And a little later came the famous Gelato ice cream, which you can see in the museum.

There are also antique devices used to make ice cream, some of which are hundreds of years old. Of course, there is also modern equipment.

And the most enjoyable thing waiting for visitors to the museum, is the opportunity to taste some varieties of ice cream.

Coordinates: 44.55735300,11.15922500

In photo mode you can view the sights in Bologna only by photo.

Cemetery “Certosa”

This cemetery in Bologna is next to the monastery of Certosini, which was built over 200 years ago and is the oldest cemetery in Bologna. Under the cemetery are the ruins of the oldest Etruscan necropolis. Of interest are the beautifully carved monuments that were created by the leading artists of the time.

The complex of Christian religious buildings “Santo Stefano”

Santo Stefano (Italian Basilica di Santo Stefano) is a complex of Christian religious buildings in Bologna, Italy. It is located on the square of the same name. It is also known as the “Seven Chiese” (Sette Chiese).

According to legend, in the V century on the site of the temple of the goddess Isis, the Bishop of Bologna, St. Petronius erected a complex, which was to repeat the main elements of the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The temples of the existing complex in any case belong to the early Middle Ages: the Church of St. John the Baptist (or Holy Crucifixion) is dated to the eighth century, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the fifth century (reconstructed in the eighth and twelfth centuries). The 13th century portico known as Pilate’s Court links the other buildings with the Church of the Holy Trinity (13th century). The complex acquired its present appearance after numerous and very controversial restorations at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

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The complex is one of the most integral in concept and the best preserved of the reproductions of Jerusalem in Europe (along with New Jerusalem near Moscow).

Elsewhere in Bologna were the holy sites of biblical and evangelical history: the Temple of the Ascension, the Mount of Olives, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, Akeldama and the Siloam font.

King Enzo’s Palace

The Palace of King Enzo (photo)

King Enzo’s Palace is located in Piazza Maggiore in the center of Bologna, Italy. It was built in early 1245 and was originally called the New Palace. In 1249 at the battle of Fossalta the army of Bologna won the battle and captured the son of Emperor Frederick II, King Enzo of Sardinia, who remained a prisoner in this palace for 23 years, until his death.

On the left side of the castle are the prison quarters, from which you can enter the Chapel of Our Lady of Prisoners, located on the second floor. Earlier here were the court rooms. In the rooms of the lower floor of the palace were kept various military vehicles and the carroccio, a unique carriage with the Commune’s banners, which in no case should have fallen into enemy hands.

In 1905, the castle was restored by the famous architect Alfonso Rubiani. The building was given its present Gothic appearance. Today this place attracts many tourists wishing to discover the mysteries of the Palazzo Rey Enzo.

Coordinates: 44.49432800,11.34333000

Independence Street

Via Independence (photo)

Independence Street is the busiest street in the city. There are a lot of stores, cafes, hotels, souvenir shops. And all this is hidden under massive arches. Go to via dell’Indipendenza for a closet overhaul and check out the mass-market and authentic Italian brands.

Piazza Mingetti

The Mingetti Square (photo)

Marco Minghetti (1818-1886) was an Italian politician, economist, statesman, writer and journalist.

Marco Minghetti was born in Bologna on November 18, 1818, where he gained fame as a liberal journalist.

The most popular attractions in Bologna with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Bologna on our website.

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