10 Best Things to Do in Bologna, Italy.
Staying in Bologna for an extended period of time allowed us to really get a feel for Italy as a local. It rivals Florence or Pisa, and there is so much to do in Bologna, you’d be surprised!
Located in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna is an ideal city for traveling in the central region of the country.
What to do in Bologna
- Things to do in Bologna
- Recommended Bologna tours
- 1. Climb the highest leaning tower in Italy.
- 2. Taste traditional balsamic vinegar
- 3. Eat Parmigiano Regianno
- Recommended Bologna hotels
- 4. Autopsy at the oldest university in the western world
- 6. Take a stroll along the porticoes
- 7. Piazza Maggiore
- 5. Aperitif
- Bologna Basics
- 8. Eat ice cream
- 9. Get to know the locals.
- 10. Go to the markets.
- Maranello Cycling.
- More information on day trips to Bologna
- Read more
Bologna has an authentic feel that you won’t find in places like Venice or Florence.
What makes Bologna even more appealing is its affordability.
It’s a place that doesn’t require more money if you decide to sit down for a coffee.
Bologna welcomes you into its heart and you will feel warm and welcome throughout your stay.
Recommended Bologna tours
Get your guide – Great Bologna tour booking and discount site. Here are the tours they offer. Private 3-hour walking tour – Bologna is the gastronomic capital of Italy. You can’t visit this city without tasting its food. Ferrari Tour – Emilia Romagna is home to the Ferrari, so you can see it in style like the local wit on this full day of food and Ferrari. Airport Shuttle – Getting to and from the airport is easy for just $57 per group. Food Producer Tour – You must visit producers of the best food in Italy from Paresano Rigiano to traditional balsamic vinegar. These tours are spectacular. Gelato tasting and bike tour – Two of our favorite things. Gelato and cycling. The best gelato is made in Bologna. See the city and try the treats. Private walking tour – The best way to see the city is with a guided tour. Set it up on your own on your own private tour. Bologna is an easy city to walk around.
1. Climb Italy’s tallest leaning tower
Italy’s tallest Leaning Tower is located in Bologna.
Moving through Pisa, Bologna has its own large tumbling tower.
When you visit the Asinelli Tower in the center of the city, you won’t feel like you’ve fallen into a tourist trap.
This tower is old, it leans, and as you climb the steps, you are sure to feel like you are on an adventure. The wooden stairs are narrow, and all that separates you from the fall below is a thin wooden railing.
But the climb is worth it, because you will see an extraordinary view of the rooftops of the ancient city.
Cost: € 3
2. Taste traditional balsamic vinegar
The aged balsamic vinegar is incredible.
Traditional balsamic vinegar can be sold for 50-100 euros a bottle and after learning about how it is made, and I can understand why.
Traditional balsamic dough takes at least 7 years to age, with most batches aged in barrels for up to 15 years.
Some are even as old as 45 years. This is not the balsamic vinegar we buy at the grocery store at home and put on salads, traditional balsamic is thick and delicious.
You only need a few drops to pour over anything you want, including macaroni, strawberries and cheese.
Read all about balsamic vinegar in our Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, 150 years in the making
Cost: eat balsamic vinegar in a restaurant or during an aperitif, then you won’t feel the sting of 100 euros per bottle.
3. eat Parmigiano Regianno
You must try Parmigiano Regianno with balsamic vinegar
Speaking of cheese, Parma is only a short train ride from Bologna, and you must eat Parmesan cheese when you visit.
The Italians will tell you that it’s very good for you and you should eat it every day. (Twist my arm, I play to try.) We ended up eating parmesan every day, all day.
After a run, before dinner, after a prosecco dinner. you name the time of day, we ate incredible Parmesan Reggiano.
Like traditional balsamic, tender loving care goes into the creation of parmesan cheese. It is aged for two years and spun by hand daily to distribute the flavor evenly.
It’s a bit of luck to buy here in Canada, but I have a bottle of balsamic just itching to be eaten with a little Parmigiano Regianno.
You can take a tour from Bologna to the cheese factories of Parma, a short train ride from Bologna.
Recommended Bologna hotels
Grand Hotel Magestic
The only 5-star hotel in Bologna, located in the heart of the city, free Wi-Fi and buffet breakfast.
Check availability and rates
Trip Advisor / Booking.com
A modern, reasonably priced hotel centrally located with a breakfast buffet.
Check availability and rates
Trip Advisor / Booking.com
4. Autopsy at the oldest university in the western world
Bologna was a progressive city and home to the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088.
The Anatomical Theatre, or Teatro Anatomico, was built in 1636, replacing the original one dating from 1595. It was here that autopsies were performed to teach human anatomy to students.
There were no coolers in those days, so bodies were recently dissected and students watched from wooden tiers.
Nicholas of the Emilia Romagna Tourist Board tells us that the seats were made to be uncomfortable and standing so that the students couldn’t fall asleep. They will be there for hours on end, as the autopsy must be completed in one session.
The university is a fascinating tour. Bologna was modern science, much to the dismay of the church. The bishop had to skip all the autopsies to make sure the professor didn’t go against everything the church believed in.
6. Take a walk through the porticoes.
You never have to worry about walking under the porticoes
As Bologna thrived thanks to its thriving university, additional housing was needed for students.
The university was located in the center of the city, and instead of building outside the city, Bologna built its facades onto the street.
These student buildings were built on the facade of existing buildings with the proviso that they should be wide and high enough to pass horse-drawn carriages. Thus, giant arches were built all over the city.
Today there remain 45 km of arched passageways which allow pedestrians to walk under beautiful structures protected from the weather, including rain and hot sun. This makes for an enjoyable afternoon shopping experience.
7. Piazza Maggiore
Bologna’s main square – Piazza Maggiore
Bologna’s main square is Piazza Maggiore, and there’s a lot to see here, including the Basilica of San Petronio.
This church was supposed to be the largest church in the world, but when the Vatican found out about the construction, they stopped it.
Bologna was a city that was not crazy about churches like other Italian cities, and the Basilica of San Petronio was a community project, not run by bishops.
This basilica is not the main church of Bologna, contrary to popular belief. In fact, Bologna’s main church is located on the main street dell’Indipendenza, the Cattedrale di San Pietro.
It does not stand in a large square like other churches in Italy. This cathedral is easy to miss because it is located on the sidewalk of the street!
Apperitivo is popular in Bologna.
One of our favorite nights out was finding a place to go for an aperitivo, an Italian tradition. Many restaurants and bars opened their doors at 6 p.m. for diners to order a drink.
Most people order Spritz, Prosecco (white sparkling wine) or Lambrusco (red sparkling wine)
What makes an aperitif so special? Well, when you order a drink, you are automatically allowed to eat for free.
The bars range from a few appetizers, such as pizza and sliders, to a full buffet of pasta, cheese, risotto and meat. As long as you keep a full glass, you can keep eating.
Cost: €4-8€ per drink
Journey to Italy? Get Rick Steves Guide.
Bologna is among the top 20 things to do in Italy according to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide
Booking.com has over 700 different properties in Bologna, Italy. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
Italian phrasebook. Italians are some of the friendliest people on earth and love to talk. Learn a little of their language for a better experience.
How to pack for a European vacation – We give the best packing tips for Europe, what to bring and how to pack it. With a video, too!
A universal power adapter for all your electronics in one place
Sink stopper and clothesline for laundry – in Europe we do laundry as we go, it’s the best way to wash clothes in your room and dry them easily.
8. Eat Ice Cream.
Gelato is so good in Bologna, they have their own university
Bologna is home to the world’s leading Gelato Machine company.
Carbigiani Gelato University offers courses for 900 euros, which you get after buying a machine worth 21,000 euros.
Don’t want to save 21,000 euros? That’s okay, tasting ice cream is a lot more fun. There are many authentic ice cream stores in Bologna, where you will become addicted to the rich and creamy taste.
Ice cream rule in Italy. eat it at least twice a day.
Check out Gelato vs. ice cream: a dissection in Bologna
9. Get to know the locals
Everyone in Bologna is friendly. It was common for us to get a hug or two while we were shopping.
I would never have thought to walk into a store just to say hello in Rome or in Venice, but in Bologna we would see people hanging out in a barbershop or a shoe repair shop, and instead of passing by, we would walk in to say hello.
Everyone always had big smiles on their faces, and we were all peeled for time to say, “What’s up?”
10. Go to the markets.
Be sure to browse the local markets.
Bologna is a market town with clothing, antiques and, of course, food.
There is a pedestrian street filled with fruit, meat and cheese markets that we regularly shopped at.
You’ll find traditional balsamic, cured meats, parmesan reggiano and fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s all quality food for a small price.
We noticed that the clothing market has great deals, too. As we said at the beginning, Bologna is not only an amazing destination, but also an affordable city that is a must visit for anyone visiting Italy.
View from the Bologna Tower
Vineyards are everywhere in Emilia-Romagna, and it’s natural for families to have their own good wine on hand.
My lungs burned as we climbed a steep hill off the road. The hills may be short in the Maranello area, but they are certainly steep, but the scenery is beautiful.
Cycling in the hills of Maranello
Maranello is home to the Ferrari Museum, and it’s a shame that more and more people aren’t staying for a while to see the beauty of the region.
Most will stop in, check out the museum, and head to the next tourist stop on the list. But you know what?
It’s a rare jewel of Italy that requires a stay of at least a couple of days.
We walked up and down, up and down, until we reached the sanctuary at Spessano Castle.
This castle is worth a look and there is no hurry. We have been to many castles, but this one was special.
It is one of those places that foreign tourists never visit, but they should. We toured the rooms and halls and climbed the secret staircase.
We were enthralled by the Sala delle Vedute, a meeting place with panoramic paintings of local castles and villages from medieval times.
We were surrounded by the view of what it was like in these foothills centuries ago.
The castle of Spezzano dates back to the 1200s, and much of the furniture, art and design is as old as the building itself.
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The best things to do in Bologna, Italy
More information on day trips to Bologna
For more information on Maranello Cycling, visit Trekking Italy For hotels in Montesa, visit Hotel Belvedere Trains from Bologna to Vignola are one hour and cost about €6. You can book on Trenitalia.com.
Have you been to Bologna? What are your favorite things to do there? There are so many to see, I’m sure we missed a few.
Family vacations with kids in Bologna. Where to go, what to show your child
In Bologna, a vacation with children is definitely worth diversifying with walks in the local picturesque parks, one of the most beautiful in the city is considered Parco di Villa Ghigi. This old park with sprawling ancient trees is ideal for hiking and biking along its winding paths. The park is situated on a hilltop, and from its observation decks there is a gorgeous view of the city. Tourists with small children and those who like active entertainment will love to walk here.
In Bologna there are many amazing historic hotels that will enchant you with their unique setting. The Hotel Il Convento Dei Fiori Di Seta. is set in an ancient convent, where the charm of … Open
The Park of Piazza Trento Trieste isn’t large, but it has a very distinctive layout. This beautiful miniature park is especially fun to visit in spring, when the trees are in bloom, and in summer the youngest visitors can run along the paths around the fountains and taste the special sweets in the local café. For locals, the park has become a favorite spot for picnics, and you can have a great family dinner outdoors here.
One of Bologna’s favorite pastimes remains attending the various cooking classes that many companies and restaurants in the city organize. Some workshops can be visited with children, among the best is the Cook Italy center. Here visitors are offered to learn how to cook the most popular Italian dishes, including homemade pasta, ravioli, salads and delicious desserts. Little fidgets will have the opportunity to learn how to make the perfect pasta dough, and the final stage of the master class will be a tasting of their own prepared dishes. Copyright www.orangesmile.com
Bologna is literally made for romantic holidays, many couples invariably choose the 4 Viale Masini Design Hotel. It is located near the Montagnola Park and offers clients a very … Open
The Museo Ducati is a must-see with the boys, and it’s possible that some of the girls will enjoy it as well. This museum is located on the grounds of the famous factory, which has been making motorcycles for decades. In its halls you can see both quite old models of motorcycles and the latest sports models, visitors will have the opportunity to take a lot of great pictures during the tour. The tour necessarily includes a walk through the factory, during which you can see how the motorcycles are assembled and tested.
The Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini is an interesting museum to visit with children of all ages. The museum is located on the territory of the University of Bologna, and its little visitors will certainly be impressed with its collection of unique geological finds. Fossilized shells of prehistoric mollusks, skeletons of mammoths and dinosaurs are just a small part of the artifacts that can be seen in this museum. Kids always love fascinating stories about dinosaurs, which is why the geology museum remains one of the most popular with tourists with children.
While walking around Bologna you can find a lot of interesting stores, near Santo Stefano Square there is a very interesting store Camera con vista. The owners of this store are active … Open
There is another museum on campus that will be interesting to visit with children, the Museo di Zoologia. The exhibition of this zoological museum is also dedicated to animals, both ancient and modern species. In the halls you can see huge models of fish and other sea creatures, there are realistic stuffed mammals and birds. One of the most interesting things in the museum is considered to be the collection of butterflies, and in one of the halls are stuffed crocodiles and bats.
Those who prefer active entertainment should visit the UP Urban Climbing Center. It offers young guests a popular modern type of entertainment – a climbing wall, suitable walls can be found for both kids and older children. The center has experienced instructors and is often chosen for children’s or family holidays.
This article about family vacations with children in Bologna is protected by copyright law. Full reprint is permitted only if the source is cited with a direct link to www.orangesmile.com.
Map of all amusement parks
Amusement parks near Bologna ♥ Amusement park ‘Mirabilandia’ Ravenna, 75.1 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Amusement park ‘Playplace’ Verona, 108.6 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Fiabilandia amusement park Rimini, 113 km from the center. Map Photo ♥ Amusement park ‘Gardaland’ Castelnuovo del Garda, 117.8 km from the center. On the map Map Photo ♥ Amusement park ‘Movieland Studios’ Lazise, 119.7 km from the center. On the map Photo
Map of all water parks
Water amusement parks near Bologna ♥ Water park ‘Mirabilandia Beach’ Savio, Ravenna, 75.1 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Water park ‘Canevaworld’ Lazise, Verona, 119.7 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Waterpark ‘Le Vele Acquapark’ San Gervasio Bresciano, Brescia, 127.5 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Waterpark ‘Sunpark’ Tirrenia, Pisa, 128.6 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Aqualandia Aquapark Jesolo, Venezia, 149 km from the center. On the map Photo
Map of all aquariums
Oceanariums in Bologna and nearby ♥ Oceanarium ‘Sea Life Gardaland’ Gardaland, 117.5 km from the center. Map Photo ♥ Oceanarium ‘Aquarium of Leghorn’ , 135.4 km from the center. On the map Photo
Map of all zoos
Zoos in Bologna and nearby ♥ Zoo ‘Giardino Zoologico di Pistoia’ Pistoia, 73.5 km from the center. On the map Photo ♥ Zoo ‘Safari Ravenna’ Ravenna, 75.9 km from the center. Map Photo ♥ Zoo ‘Parco Faunistico Valcorba’ Pozzonovo, Padova, 82.4 km from the center. Map Photo ♥ Zoo ‘1° Parco Zoo della Fauna Europea’ Poppi, Arezzo, 91.6 km from the center. Map Photo ♥ Zoo ‘Parco Faunistico Al Bosco’ Grezzana, Verona, 116.8 km from the center. On the map Photo
Famous Sights of Bologna
Basilica of San Vitale
View on map: Distance from Bologna city center – 68 km
In Ravenna also survived a beautiful early Christian basilica, which is considered a striking example of Byzantine style, it was named in honor of St. Vitale. Since 1996 it has been a UNESCO site, its main value are the unique mosaics, which hundreds of years later have been preserved in their original state. The construction of the basilica began in 527, its founder is Bishop Ecclesius. … Read full story
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