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Guide to Bologna for Families

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Lively Bologna is renowned for its gelato, pasta, bookstores, shopping, and centuries-old university. It’s a safe and manageable destination for families seeking a setting that’s as fun as it is historic. It’s also one of the most delicious places in the world. If your children are foodies—or you’re hoping they’ll grow up to be—there’s perhaps no better city to visit.

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Like a Local

11 Places

7 City Tips

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Map

11 Places

Piazza Maggiore

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Paolo Atti & Figli

Restaurants

Gilberto 1905

Gift & Speciality Shops

Biblioteca Salaborsa

Libraries

Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda

Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Teatro Anatomico

Architectural Buildings, Theatres

Eataly

Restaurants

Mercato delle Erbe

Gift & Speciality Shops

Mercato di Mezzo

Flea & Street Markets

Cremeria Funivia

Other Food & Drink

La Sorbetteria Castiglione

Restaurants

Chris O's City Tips

  • Many of Bologna's key attractions are within a short, flat walk of one another.
  • Whatever the weather, much of the ancient city center is covered by porticos, so you’re never too exposed to the elements (or the scorching sun) when outside.
  • Bologna is a lot less formal than many Italian cities, but restaurants expect guests to dress somewhat smartly, especially in the evening.
  • Try not to point at things in shops unless you really want to see something and are truly interested in buying it. Otherwise you may perplex and overwork a salesperson for nothing.
  • The Bologna Welcome Card offers free access to several major attractions and discounts on many others.
  • You'll find plenty of outdoor space for children to run around and for families to spread out and relax in.
  • If you're looking for an inexpensive bite, seek out the areas where the University students congregate, or forage your way through one of the city's famous street markets.
  • Save
    Piazza Maggiore
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This expansive piazza in the heart of the city attracts any and all in Bologna—sun worshipers, students engrossed in their studies, history buffs, architecture enthusiasts admiring the surrounding buildings, and anyone else attempting to cross Bologna on foot. Piazza Maggiore is an excellent location for families to regroup or simply spread some quality time together.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Piazza Maggiore is a good place to meet up with people, especially at its famed Fountain of Neptune.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #12 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • a short visit 14/08/2018
    • Beautiful 13/08/2018
    • Piazza Maggiore
    Address:
    Piazza Maggiore
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 231415
    Other:
  • Save
    Paolo Atti & Figli
    Restaurants (Italian)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Situated within the ancient medieval market quarter, bakery and pastificio Paolo Atti & Figli is the ideal setting for sampling several Bolognese specialties, including tortellini, zuppa imperiale and torta di riso—all freshly made onsite. This a great place for foodies, as well as for children to discover how different pastas and baked goods are made.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Go hungry!
    • Ask for what's seasonal and freshly made.
    • Some of the shop's less perishable items keep well and make great gifts for the folks back home.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #148 of 1,644 restaurants in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Service with a smile! 21/07/2018
    • Fantastic food with friendly staff 16/07/2018
    • Paolo Atti & Figli
    Address:
    Via Caprarie 7
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 220425
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:30 - 13:30
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 - 19:15
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 - 19:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Gilberto 1905
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    Chris O Says:

    Drogheria Gilberto might just be the prettiest little cafe/sweet store/wine shop and bar that you’re ever likely to step into. Be warned though: There are lots of elegantly wrapped sweets inside, and chocolates are cunningly displayed at child’s-eye view.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Great gift shopping here!
    • There are plenty of "grown-up-friendly" treats here too, to keep parents happy.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #22 of 86 Shopping in Bologna
    • Favorite Stop in Bologna 26/07/2018
    • What an amazing shop 28/07/2017
    • Gilberto 1905
    Address:
    Via Drapperie 5 / Via Pescheria 18
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 223925
    Other:
  • Save
    Biblioteca Salaborsa
    Libraries
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Whether you’re fluent in Italian or not, a visit to Bologna’s 'multimedia and general information' library is a treat for the whole family. Housed within the historic Accursio Palace, overlooking Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the city, Biblioteca Salaborsa offers visitors of all ages a wealth of media, activities and events to enjoy amid its lavish interiors. Plus, there is a particular focus on engaging activities for children.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Free WiFi is available here, in a comfy setting.
    • Salaborsa is a good spot to keep in mind for non-Italian families keen to expose their children to the Italian language.
    • The library is a useful resource for finding out about local events and things to do.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful decor 21/07/2018
    • Wonderful place 19/07/2018
    • Biblioteca Salaborsa
    Address:
    Piazza del Nettuno 3
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 219 4400
    Hours:
    Tue - Fri
    10:00 - 20:00
    Sat
    10:00 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
    Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Bologna's landmark 'Due Torri' offers an enjoyable, historic and family-friendly climb, plus a commanding view over the city and countryside.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Wear sensible shoes and do not attempt to go up if you suffer from vertigo.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing view but not for the faint hearted! 16/08/2018
    • Towering Above 15/08/2018
    • 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
    Teatro Anatomico
    Architectural Buildings, Theatres
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Located inside the Archiginnasio of Bologna (the University of Bologna's main building and one of the city’s most important architectural marvels), Teatro Anatomico was a 17th-century operating theater—open to the public for lessons in anatomy using actual corpses! The room has been restored impeccably to its original conditions, and today visitors can see where these gruesome studies once took place.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • This attraction might not be for the squeamish or very small children, although there's nothing graphic on view; older children might find it to be the coolest part of their trip!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #18 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Entry is possible for the disabled traveller. 15/08/2018
    • an unexpected jewel 14/08/2018
    • Teatro Anatomico
    Address:
    Piazza Galvani 2
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 276811
    Other:
  • Save
    Eataly
    Restaurants (Italian, Mediterranean, Contemporary)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Although it's not the only Eataly in the world, Bologna's is the first. Stocking a range of items beyond what many foreigners and traditionalists might think typical Italians are supposed to eat, this modern and multi-storey shop right off the Piazza Maggiore offers the chance to explore the contemporary tastes of the average Bolognese local, young and old.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Eataly is a great place to rest your feet, find something to eat for everyone in your family, and shop for nice gifts.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #698 of 1,644 restaurants in Bologna
    • Completely disorganized 30/07/2018
    • Ambitious, but disappointing 18/07/2018
    • Eataly
    Address:
    Via Degli Orefici 19
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 095 2820
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 - 23:15
    Mon - Thu
    09:00 - 23:15
    Fri - Sat
    09:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Mercato delle Erbe
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    One of Bologna's two biggest covered food markets, Mercato delle Erbe is home to around 40 specialist food shops and 70-plus fruit and veg stands. You're bound to find something here to satisfy every taste and age bracket.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Browse away but try not to get in the way of local folks simply trying to do their weekly shopping.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 86 Shopping in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth a Visit 09/08/2018
    • Foodie essential. 29/07/2018
    • Mercato delle Erbe
    Address:
    Via Ugo Bassi 25
    40121 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 230186
    Other:
  • Save
    Mercato di Mezzo
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Just off the Piazza Maggiore is Mercato di Mezzo, an open-air food market dating back to the Middle Ages. Although some may find the prepared dishes a little pricey here, there's no arguing that the fresh fish, fruit, seasonal produce and local specialties are all beautifully presented with authentic Italian flair.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Be sure to take your time and savor the experience.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Yummy pasta and beautiful wine 09/08/2018
    • Fresh, Wonderful Market 05/07/2018
    • Mercato di Mezzo
    Address:
    Via Rizzoli 9
    Quadrilatero area
    40125 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 296 0801
    Hours:
    Sun
    09:00 - 23:00
    Mon - Sat
    09:00 - 23:45
    Other:
  • Save
    Cremeria Funivia
    Other Food & Drink
    Chris O Says:

    Located on the especially attractive Piazza Cavour, close to some of the city’s best upmarket shopping, Cremeria Funivia is an excellent yet inexpensive spot to indulge the whole family—with gelato! Top flavors? You’ll find Italian classics such as stracciatella, cassata, and marron glace here, alongside fantastic house specialties like mascarpone with melted chocolate, pine nut cream with toasted pine nuts, and the superb nocciola (hazelnut).

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Do not leave Bologna without trying the gelato at least once!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #59 of 376 things to do in Bologna
    • Yummy! 03/04/2018
    • Must visit if you are at Piazza Cavour 26/01/2018
    • Cremeria Funivia
    Address:
    Piazza Cavour
    Bologna
    Italy
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 - 23:30
    Tue - Sat
    12:00 - 23:30
    Other:
  • Save
    La Sorbetteria Castiglione
    Restaurants (Italian)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    La Sorbetteria Castiglione is another famed gelato shop that’s on the list of close contenders for the best ice cream in the whole of Italy. For a real eye opener to just how wonderful La Sorbetteria’s treats can be, try the pistachio ice cream!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Expect loads of people here, especially on a hot summer day. Lines move quickly though, and the staff is friendly and efficient.
    • Castiglione offers a range of sugar-free—but nonetheless super tasty—flavors.
    • If you can have only one ice cream in Bologna, get it from this place!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 1,644 restaurants in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good but not perfect 05/08/2018
    • Best Dark-Chocolate Gelato Anywhere 22/07/2018
    • La Sorbetteria Castiglione
    Address:
    Via Castiglione 44
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 233257
    Price range:
    US$5 - US$10
    Hours:
    Sun
    07:30 - 23:30
    Mon - Sat
    07:30 - 00:00
    Other:
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