Bologna tips. A must-read travel guide for a trip to Italy / Bologna Travel Guide, Bologna Tips
Are you looking for authentic insights into Italian life? Do you want to spend a holiday in Italy away from the typical travel destinations? If so, you should take a closer look at the following Bologna tips. A lively city awaits you with an exciting vibe that is difficult to describe in words. You have to experience something like this up close. One of the oldest university towns in Europe is affectionately known as “la Grassa, la Dotta and la Rossa”. It means something like “the fat, the scholar and the red” – because in Bologna you will find some culinary specialties, you can admire historic university buildings and the architecture is characterized by terracotta-colored stones and bricks. The home of the tortellini will delight you and is perfect for a short break. But more on that now!
Facts about Bologna
Have you ever thought about a trip to Bologna? The lively city is located in the center of Italy, more precisely it is the capital of the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.
For more precise orientation: Florence is just under 100 kilometers south and Venice around 150 kilometers east of Bologna.
If you find out more about the city, you will come across the numerous culinary specialties and buildings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the Italian city with almost 400,000 inhabitants, you will immediately come across numerous historic arcades and memorize the picturesque, terracotta-colored architecture.
The enchanting student city combines tradition with a hip atmosphere and is perfect for a weekend away from everyday life. If you are planning a road trip through Italy or want to travel to Tuscany, you should definitely put Bologna at the top of your must-see list.
The advantage of a trip is that you can walk to most of the sights in Bologna and a stay of one or two days is sufficient. Especially since the lively scenery alone will ensure that Bologna will leave a lasting impression on your memory – in a positive sense, of course.
By the way, the city is not quite as crowded as other travel destinations in Italy, which is why you can look forward to an authentic and unadulterated highlight.
Getting to Bologna / By plane to Bologna
Have you decided on a city trip to Bologna? If you only want to fly to the city for a few days, the question of transport is answered immediately.
Then you should definitely look around for cheap flights to Bologna. Assuming you can travel outside of the holiday season, you should check out the cheapest months to fly.
Currently, this is the month of May for the Italian city. Bologna Airport is currently served directly from Cologne, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main and Munich. By the way, the flight time is about an hour and a half.
Once you’ve arrived and grabbed your luggage, you can take the train to the city center around Bologna Central Station in just under 15 minutes. An airport shuttle bus is also available from approximately 5:30 am to midnight. Alternatively, you still have the chance to take a taxi – more convenient but also expensive.
A special Italy tip: if you want to travel to Florence, you should compare the flight prices to Florence with those to Bologna airport. If you fly to Bologna, depending on the season, you can save money here and then book the almost 40-minute train connection or alternatively take a rental car.
By car to Bologna / Bologna Travel Guide
If you want to drive from Germany to Bologna by car, you have to plan at least five hours of driving time (southern Germany), depending on the starting point. Of course, this type of arrival is only worthwhile if you want to take a small road trip and make several stopovers.
You just have to keep in mind that in Austria you have to buy a vignette when passing through and in Italy you have to pay tolls on the motorways. A perfect itinerary is to stay at Lake Garda with a stopover in Verona and Bologna and continue to Tuscany around Florence.
When booking your hotel in Bologna, it’s also worth making sure that you sleep a little further out, so you don’t have to find your way around the narrow city center with your car. I speak from experience, you can reach everything on foot.
By train to Bologna
If you are looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, you should take the train to Bologna. From Munich you can reach one of the most important train stations in Italy within six and a half hours and without having to change trains.
Bologna Central Station is one of the country’s transport hubs and is therefore excellently connected. For that reason alone you should not miss the chance to discover other travel destinations in Italy.
If you’re in the area, you need to plan a few days to give yourself a well-deserved break and get to know the cultural delights of Italy. Arriving by train is one of the unique Bologna tips.
By bus to Bologna / Bologna Travel Guide
Or do you want to plan a low-budget vacation? Then you should think about taking the long-distance bus to Bologna.
With the provider Flixbus you can, for example, get direct connections from Stuttgart or Munich to Bologna. If you choose Munich as your starting point, you have the option of reaching your destination in just under seven hours from €30.
Best time to visit Bologna
Of course, the point of the best travel time for Bologna on the list of Bologna tips must not remain unanswered. Of course, the question also arises as to what kind of weather do you long for for your holiday?
Basically, cold winters and hot summers greet you in Bologna. In the winter months you have to reckon with average temperatures of around 10 °C and rain or fog are not uncommon.
When the sun’s rays increasingly characterize the day in spring, you should always be prepared for precipitation. But the temperatures are much more pleasant with an average of 19 °C.
The warmest months are July and August with around 30 °C, although the temperatures can quickly crack the 40 °C mark. At this time, the heat builds up in the city streets. If you don’t mind, all the better.
But you have to note that there are semester breaks in August and the student city is much emptier as a result. The months of September and October are the busiest travel times.
But the months from April to August are also among the best travel times for Bologna and are popular months for a stay. In short: of course it all depends on the climatic conditions in which you like to visit a city and how much hustle and bustle you want.
Neighborhoods to visit in Bologna
Bologna’s nickname is also “La rossa”, the red one. As you stroll through the city’s neighborhoods, you’ll immediately see why.
As mentioned before, you will find historic brick buildings with red roof tiles all over the city. And traditionally, the Italian Left Party has its stronghold in the region.
But now back to the districts in Bologna. As soon as you start planning your vacation, you’re probably wondering which areas of the city you should definitely visit, right?
Top Neighborhoods & Streets of Bologna
The starting point for your holiday is the historic center of Bologna. There you will encounter the cultural life of the city with its sights such as the medieval towers of Bologna.
But the arcades of Bologna also play an important role and are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Everywhere in the city center you can embark on a special pleasure trip.
In the heart of the city, don’t miss the small neighborhood of Quadrilatero. To the east of the Piazza Maggiore square, you have to let yourself drift through the narrow, quaint streets of the district and soak up the atmosphere with all your senses.
Above all, your hunger will not be neglected, because in the area the bars are lined up like a string of pearls.
And one of the special Bologna tips is the Mercato di Mezzo market, a culinary experience where you can buy one or the other specialty. We continue with the alternative district of Bolognina.
Between street art, restaurants and bars, you can immerse yourself in the life of the locals and feel the magical flair of the city. An absolute must during your exploration tour is the Mercato Bolognina market, which shines in a special ambience at any time of the day.
Whether in the evening for a wine or during the day when shopping for fresh goods, you can experience a lot here. Around the Palazzo Poggi Museum, the Via Zamboni street and the Teatro Comunale theater house of Bologna you will find the university district of Bologna.
Conclusion: you should not miss the mixture of tradition and culture. Finally, you should put the streets Via del Pratello and Via Mascarella on your to-do list.
Especially if you want to end a mild summer evening, you will find a few bars, pubs and restaurants here.
Sights in Bologna / Towers Garisenda and Asinelli
One of the landmarks of Bologna is undoubtedly the medieval towers. Today 20 of the original 180 towers have been preserved and characterize the cityscape of Bologna.
The two leaning towers Garisenda and Asinelli are among the most famous sights in Bologna. The smaller, leaning tower is the Garisenda, which cannot be visited due to its greater inclination.
But from the Asinelli tower you can enjoy breathtaking views. If you want to climb the structure with over 490 steps, you should book your tickets in advance, especially in the high season. Entry costs around €5 per person.
Before you venture into the tower, you must know that the ascent takes you up a narrow staircase and that the inside of the tower is not flooded with light. So if you’re afraid of heights or cramped stomachs, you should wait below.
Incidentally, experience speaks here: take the money for one of the top Bologna tips in your hand, because the panorama over the roofs of Bologna is incomparable.
Basilica of San Petronio / Bologna Travel Guide
If you explore the center of the city, you will automatically come across one of the special Bologna tips. The medieval church Basilica San Petronio marks the main square of Pizza Maggiore and is considered the most important sacred building in the city.
One of the world’s largest churches boasts a plain, unfinished exterior but houses some sparkling gems inside. In the three naves you can admire unique fresco paintings and the organs are among the oldest in Italy.
Climbing the rooftop of the Basilica of San Petronio is definitely easier than climbing the Asinelli Tower. And it’s worth it at least as much. For a visit you pay around 3€.
The Piazza Maggiore square is also a must. One of the top Bologna tips is surrounded by the city’s most important sights and is considered the starting point for your discovery tour.
If you stand in the middle of the square and turn in a circle, you can admire the following buildings: the City Hall in the Palazzo d’Accursio, the Palazzo dei Notai Palace, the Palazzo del Podestà administrative building, the Palazzo dei Banchi Palace and the Basilica of San Petronio. Look forward to it, because there is always something going on on the pitch.
If you’re ever in the area, you should walk straight from Piazza Maggiore to the adjacent square, Piazza del Nettuno. Here you will find the Neptune fountain in Bologna.
Church of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca
Just outside of the center of Bologna you will find the church Santuario della Madonna di San Luca on a wooded hill. You can enjoy the views and the beautiful architecture if you follow the Portico di San Luca archway, which is about four kilometers long, from the Porta Saragozza gate.
Depending on the time of year, this can be a strenuous undertaking, but it’s worth it. You can also reach one of the top Bologna tips by public transport.
From the city center you can take bus lines 94, 89 or 20 to the Corce, Bivio San Luca or Meloncello stops. From there you have to keep walking. Alternatively, you have the chance to take the San Luca Express little train for just under €12 per trip and have it bring you comfortably to your destination.
Piazza Santo Stefano
You will find Piazza Santo Stefano in the eastern part of the old town and you will immediately notice the continuous facades of the houses. The rustic ambience is characterized by the church complex of the same name, the Basilica of Santo Stefano, and you can make an unforgettable stopover there, especially in the early morning or late evening hours.
During your stay you should take your time and stroll through the different palaces and church entrances. Let yourself be surprised what is hiding behind the doors. And maybe you’re lucky and can listen to exciting live events or concerts.
Canals of Bologna / Bologna Tips
The canals of Bologna are among the special Bologna tips. In the Middle Ages, a nearly 60-kilometer-long canal system was built in the city, traces of which you can still discover today in the street Via Piella, at the small window Finestrella.
Because now many of the canals are built over or hidden and this is one of the few places where you can catch a glimpse of the Canale delle Moline canal. Anyway, here you have the chance to get a glimpse of what some places looked like in the past.
You can find more little insider tips in the streets Via Guglielmo Oberdan or Via Malcontenti. Or you pay a visit to the Café Opera Caffè e Tulipani.
Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio / Bologna Travel Guide
The palace Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio is undoubtedly one of the magical Bologna tips. In the magnificent building of the University of Bologna you can take an exciting journey through time.
Even if you have to pay an entrance fee of just under 3€ for the Bologna City Library, you shouldn’t shy away from it and don’t miss the picturesque ceiling and wall paintings in the Renaissance style. As soon as you walk down the aisles between the bookshelves, you won’t be able to shake the feeling of floating in another time.
On site you can also visit the rebuilt Anatomical Theater of Bologna and learn more about the history of the Faculty of Medicine.
Other sights in Bologna:
Complex of buildings Palazzo d’Accursio
Arcades of Bologna
Basilica of Saint Dominic
Palace of the Mercanzia
Porta San Felice
Torre Prendiparte tower
Monastery complex of San Michele in Bosco
Via Altabella street
Via del Pratello & Via Mascarella
Historical street Via Zamboni
Things to do in Bologna
During your stay, in addition to the sights, there are also some things to do in Bologna that you cannot miss.
Museums in Bologna
In the Italian city of culture you will of course also find some exciting museums where you can definitely quench your “thirst for culture”. As the location of one of the world’s oldest universities alone, Bologna is home to an interesting historical heritage. But modernity has also found its way into the city.
Worth seeing cultural institutions of Bologna / Bologna Travel Guide
If you are interested in modern art, you should pay a visit to the Museum of Modern Art of Bologna – MAMbo. On the other hand, in the Palazzo Pepoli, you can discover the History Museum of Bologna and follow the development of the city.
Other fascinating museums include the Archaeological City Museum of Bologna and the medieval museum Museo Civico Medievale. If you are interested in racing, the Ducati Museum is a welcome destination.
One of the most fascinating Bologna tips are the exhibitions around the MAST Foundation. The organization supports creative projects that primarily serve the community.
In Bologna you will have the opportunity to take a look inside the Foundation’s multimedia headquarters and learn more about photography and art. The focus is on exhibitions on industrial photography and the world of work.
And just outside, in close proximity to Gelato University, you’ll find the family-friendly Gelato Museum Carpigiani. The manufacturer of ice cream machines will bring you closer to the history of this popular confection and allow you to create your own ice cream.
Yes, you read that right, there is even a school for making ice cream – yummy.
Shopping in Bologna / Bologna Tips
For many of you, a stopover in one or the other shop is a must during a city trip, isn’t it? You are spoiled for choice when shopping in Bologna.
Due to the size of the city, with its almost 400,000 inhabitants, you have numerous opportunities to find suitable souvenirs or to fill your own wardrobe. Under the arcades of the Via dell Indipendenza shopping street you will find countless shops to stroll through.
Other streets worth seeing in the city center are Via Massimo D’Azeglio or Via Rizzoli. To admire the windows of luxury boutiques, you have to walk through the Galleria Cavour or Corte Isolani centers.
More things to do in Bologna
If you are already near the MAMbo Museum, you have to take a closer look at the Manifattura delle Arti cultural center and walk through the Giardino del Cavaticcio park. There you can marvel at events in the historic cinema Cinéma Lumière or stroll through the regional market Mercato Ritrovato.
Or you can take a cooking class in Bologna and learn more about how pasta is made or get closer to the gelato secret. An authentic specialty!
Do you want more cultural program? In the opera house of Bologna (‘Teatro Comunale’) you can immerse yourself in another world for a short time and forget your everyday life.
If you are visiting Bologna during the summer months, you should research whether there is an event taking place in the Parco del Cavaticcio park. In addition, the cultural center Serre dei Giardini Margherita is undoubtedly one of the special Bologna tips.
In addition, the Park Villa Ghigi is considered the perfect picnic spot. Especially at sunset there are romantic backdrops and you have a breathtaking view of the city center.
Other top vantage points in Bologna are the square at the monastery complex San Michele in Bosco and the cultural center Ai 300 scalini. With the public transport in Bologna you can easily reach all places.
Speaking of which, you already know the four-kilometre-long Portico di San Luca arcade to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca church. If you feel like exercise, you shouldn’t back down here.
Excursions from Bologna / Bologna Travel Guide
As mentioned before, if you are planning a trip to Bologna, you should definitely plan to continue to Florence. Because you can reach the art and culture city of Tuscany in just under 40 minutes by train.
If you are looking for an adventure holiday, you need to find out about the Via degli Dei Roman hiking trail. On more than 130 kilometers you can walk or cycle in the footsteps of Roman times.
Around Bologna you will find the cute municipality of Dozza. A colorful work of art awaits you in the medieval city, created over the years by the Biennale del Muro Dipinto event.
For this purpose, house walls and walls are designed by numerous artists. The Rocca Sforzesca Castle is also a highlight.
It continues with a special feature about an hour south of Bologna. There the Rocchetta Mattei Castle welcomes you in the midst of the mountains of the Apennines.
You also have to plan cities like Parma, Modena, Ravenna or Venice in your itinerary for a road trip through Italy and around Bologna.
Other destinations from Bologna:
Imola with race track
Nightlife in Bologna
Of course, an unforgettable city trip also includes getting to know the city with all its facets. Accordingly, the nightlife in Bologna should not be missing from the list of Bologna tips.
Whether with a delicious wine or partying in a club – your evening will definitely not be boring. Before that you already got to know the streets Via del Pratello and Via Mascarella.
There you can feel the vibrant nightlife and visit numerous bars until late in the evening. But also around the university with the Via Zamboni there is a relaxed atmosphere at the end of the day on the streets.
Before you have a nice evening, you should know that in the center of Bologna most of the bars and clubs close between one and two o’clock at night. If you want to party the night away, you should check out the bigger clubs (like Numa, STUDIO 54, Matis, Qubò, Link).
And of course you can’t miss the tradition of the aperitivo in Bologna. Appropriately for the end of the day, around 6 p.m., acquaintances or colleagues sit down for a drink and various snacks and thus celebrate an Italian attitude to life. And most of the time you are already full after the little thing.
Top bars in Bologna: / Bologna Tips
Bar with No Name
Osteria del Sole
Electrical construction bar
I Conoscenti cocktail and cucina
Astral Beers Pub
Eating & drinking in Bologna
When you prepare for your stay in Bologna, you will notice that the city has a lot to offer when it comes to culinary delights. That’s why you should take your time and track down the many traditions, because it’s no coincidence that Bologna is considered one of the centers of Italian cuisine.
Specialties of Bologna
The authentic specialties of Bologna definitely count among the Bologna tips. Did you know that Bologna is considered one of the pasta cities of Italy?
During your stay you must take the opportunity to taste freshly made tortellini, tagliatelle and bolognese from Bologna. You should not miss the following dishes from Bologna: Tortellini in brodo (vegetable broth), tortellini with sage butter, ‘Tagliatelle al ragù’ (classic Bolognese) or vegetable tart ‘Erbazzone’.
The so-called ‘Crescenta bolognese’, a focaccia with diced bacon, is also considered a specialty of the city. Furthermore, Parmesan cheese Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma ham and Mortadella have their origins in the Emilia-Romagna region.
In short: if you want to experience authentic Italian cuisine up close, you’ve come to the right place in Bologna. It is important to make sure that you let yourself be pampered in a traditional osteria and trattoria.
Also, don’t miss Bologna’s outstanding ice cream. A paradise for gourmets awaits you.
Local in Bologna – trattoria, osteria or restaurant
Trattoria di Via Serra
Vag in Ufezzi
Pasta Fresca Naldi
Ristorante Da Cesari
Mo Mortadella Lab
Trattoria da Me
Ice cream in Bologna / Bologna Travel Guide
Cremeria Santo Stefano
Gelateria Galleria 49
Cremeria la Vecchia Stella
Cafes in Bologna
Flavor Specialty Coffee
Caffe Terzi Bologna
Dandy Cafe Letterario
Markets in Bologna / Bologna Tips
During your stay you must visit one of the markets in Bologna. If you let yourself drift through the streets of the city, you can discover popular weekly markets or stroll through covered halls. There you will always find something for the hunger in between.
The market halls Mercato delle Erbe and Mercato di Mezzo are definitely among the culinary tips in Bologna. If you’re in town on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Mercato Ritrovato farmers’ market.