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Bologna is a great 'off-the-beaten-path' destination, and well worth a visit. The city itself is culturally rich, and the food is absolutely awesome. Follow my guide and discover the best that Bologna has to offer.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Trendsetter

11 Places

5 City Tips

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Map

11 Places

Day 1

Piazza Maggiore

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Fontana del Nettuno

Architectural Buildings

Basilica di San Petronio

Historic Sites, Churches & Cathedrals

Via dell'Indipendenza

Historic Walking Areas

Day 2

Giardini Margherita

Other Outdoor Activities

La Piccola Venezia

Neighbourhoods

Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco

Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Libraries, Churches & Cathedrals

Day 3

Santuario di Madonna di San Luca

Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna

Libraries

Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda

Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Caffe Terzi Bologna

Restaurants

Christopher L's City Tips

  • Bologna is a city of students, so don't worry about following a specific dress etiquette.
  • Traveling with local transport can be a bit of a pain. As Bologna is not a massive city, I suggest you walk around it.
  • Bologna can be a bit of a maze, and its many streets look fairly similar. Locals are always willing to give you directions, so don't be afraid to ask!
  • While tipping is not customary, many of the restaurants here hire students who need to work to support their studies. If the service is good, a small tip may go a long way.
  • Look for small restaurants on side streets—that's where you'll find truly authentic Bolognese cuisine for the best-value prices.
    Day 1
  • Save
    Piazza Maggiore
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    The main city square, Piazza Maggiore is centrally located and close to the major tourist attractions, shopping streets, restaurants and bars. Get here early in the morning to avoid the heaviest tourist traffic. In the quiet of the morning, you can take your pick from the numerous small cafes that line the alleys, and start your day off with a relaxing cup of coffee.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • This place can be jam-packed after 12pm. Getting up early pays off.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great plaza. Dont miss Fontana de Neptuno 23/05/2018
    • As a piazza goes this was nothing special 23/05/2018
    • Piazza Maggiore
    Address:
    Piazza Maggiore
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 231415
    Other:
  • Save
    Fontana del Nettuno
    Architectural Buildings
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Located right at the heart of Piazza Maggiore, just in front of the main entrance to the Bologna library, this fountain is a popular meeting point for Bolognese locals. No trip to Bologna is complete without a photo next to its bronze statue of the God Neptune (the name 'Fontana del Nettuno' means 'Neptune’s Fountain'), which was created by Flemish sculptor Giambologna.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Just next to the tourism office, this is a good spot from which to start exploring Bologna.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    • Catching the right angle is tricky 20/05/2018
    • Nice fountain 19/05/2018
    • Fontana del Nettuno
    Address:
    Piazza del Nettuno
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 246541
    Other:
  • Save
    Basilica di San Petronio
    Historic Sites, Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Basilica di San Petronio is one of the biggest churches in the world, and though it was never actually finished (as you can see by its facade) its size and style are undeniably impressive. A charming example of Bolognese style, the basilica looks very different from the churches you will find in tourist hot-spots like Florence and Rome, making it well worth exploring while in the Piazza Maggiore area.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Cover your shoulders and knees when entering the church.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #27 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Half-done 23/05/2018
    • Worth it just to see the astronomical clock 18/05/2018
    • Basilica di San Petronio
    Address:
    Piazza Maggiore
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 231415
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:45 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Via dell'Indipendenza
    Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Via Dell’Indipendenza is the central shopping street leading to the very heart of Bologna. Whatever is on your shopping list, you're likely to find it (and then some) here. The street is home to an impressive array of stores, selling everything from ice cream to clothing to souvenirs.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Walk down the side streets to find smaller, better-value, more local restaurants, which serve authentic Bolognese cuisine.
    • The street normally gets extremely busy, so arrive early if you want more space to shop.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Portico boulevard 13/05/2018
    • Main street 11/05/2018
    • Via dell'Indipendenza
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Giardini Margherita
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Situated just outside of the old city center, Giardini Margerita is the most popular park in Bologna and is easy to reach on foot. When the sun is out, this park comes alive with couples, small groups of friends, and families sunbathing, enjoying picnics, or just relaxing on a blanket with a good book.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is beautiful all year round, but visit during summer to experience it in all its glory.
    • Inside the park, you'll also find a cozy cafe, The Chalet, which is a handy escape if the weather turns.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 16 Outdoor Activities in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Open space park, limited toilets 23/05/2018
    • Beautiful Park 18/04/2018
    • Giardini Margherita
    Address:
    Viale Gozzadini
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 333303
    Hours:
    Sat - Wed
    08:00 - 02:00
    Other:
  • Save
    La Piccola Venezia
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    La Piccola Venezia ('the small Venice' in English), is a lasting reminder of what Bologna used to look like. While actually just a single canal (meaning visitors who have been to the real Venice may be a little less impressed), it's still worth a detour if you're nearby—and it will help you to better understand the origins of the city.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Check your map before walking here—being just one canal, it's easy to miss!
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #63 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    • Very romantic 12/03/2018
    • Little Venice 06/01/2018
    • La Piccola Venezia
    Address:
    Via Piella
    40100 Bologna
    Italy
    Other:
  • Save
    Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco
    Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Libraries, Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Also known as San Michele in Bosco, Complesso Monumentale is a must-see religious complex. The church itself is beautiful, and the view from the top of the hill is just as magnificent. Surrounded by trees and forest, this makes for a lovely, relaxing afternoon away from the busy streets of Bologna.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • To get here, walk from the city center (30 minutes).
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Superb little church with a commanding view of the city 16/04/2018
    • Beautiful church and beautiful view 31/08/2017
    • Complesso Monumentale San Michele In Bosco
    Address:
    Piazzale San Michele in Bosco
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 636 6705
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 12:00
    16:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Santuario di Madonna di San Luca
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Santuario di Madoona di San Luca (also known as simply 'San Luca') is a beautiful church in the hills of Bologna, set on top of the Colle della Guardia. While it is possible to get here by car, a more beautiful and rewarding journey is to climb the 3.8-km Portico di San Luca, a roofed arcade preserved in the traditional Bologna style, which leads right to the top of the hill.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • Bring water! Climbing the stairs to the top—some 300 meters above sea level—can be rather exhausting, especially in summer.
    • Join the local runners and jog from the city center to the top!
    • Even if it rains, the portico makes it possible to reach the top of the hill and still be completely dry.
    • The view from the top is absolutely magnificent, and this is definitely one of the most iconic and memorable sights of Bologna.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #17 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • In passing 21/05/2018
    • Longest covered walkway approach 21/05/2018
    • Santuario di Madonna di San Luca
    Address:
    Via di San Luca 36
    40135 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 614 2339
    Other:
  • Save
    Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna
    Libraries
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    The University of Bologna is among the oldest in the world, and its 'Biblioteca' (library) is particularly impressive. Explore the incredible architecture of its buildings, including the original library foundations on display under the glass floor. This is a great spot to while away a few hours, rain or shine.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Try to keep quiet—this is where many students go to study.
    • If you happen to know anyone studying in Bologna, ask one of them to give you a quick tour—it is always fun to experience this place with someone connected to the University.
    • You'll find a few good book shops here, including some with books in English.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The highlight of my trip! 30/01/2018
    • Priceless! 16/01/2018
    • Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna
    Address:
    Via Zamboni 35
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 243420
    Other:
  • Save
    Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
    Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Located just 5 minutes from Piazza Maggiore, this set of towers is one of the first things you might spot when walking inside the old inner city of Bologna. The tallest of the two is among the tallest medieval buildings in the world, and, needless to say, it offers great views over Bologna.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Climbing the 90-meter high tower before it gets too hot will make the experience more pleasurable!
    • After climbing the tower, grab a cold drink or some gelato from a cafe on Via Zamboni (just next to the towers).
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 367 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • 498 steps 23/05/2018
    • Nice 20/05/2018
    • Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
    Address:
    Piazza di Porta Ravegnana
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 041 2960 8401
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 17:45
    Other:
  • Save
    Caffe Terzi Bologna
    Restaurants (Cafe)
    See more photos
    Christopher L Says:

    Caffe Terzi serves up the best coffee in Bologna! Head to this small shop for exotic beans. If no tables are available, do as the locals do and enjoy your cup standing at the bar.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • This is one of the most expensive places to buy coffee in Bologna. Still, try one of the fancier beans and you will not regret!
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #78 of 1,617 restaurants in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best coffee in bologna 08/05/2018
    • Cozy little place 23/04/2018
    • Caffe Terzi Bologna
    Address:
    Via Guglielmo Oberdan 10/d
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 034 4819
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    08:00 - 18:00
    Other:
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