20 Best Places And Things To Do in Bologna, Italy

Bologna, often referred to as “La Dotta” (The Learned), “La Grassa” (The Fat), and “La Rossa” (The Red), is a historic city located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Renowned for its medieval architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, Bologna offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Bologna:

1. Piazza Maggiore

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Start your exploration of Bologna at its main square, Piazza Maggiore. This bustling square is the heart of the city, surrounded by historic buildings such as the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo d’Accursio, and Palazzo del Podestà. Take a stroll, relax at a café, and soak in the lively atmosphere. Address: Piazza Maggiore, 40124 Bologna, Italy.

2. Towers of Bologna

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Climb the iconic Asinelli Tower, one of the Two Towers that dominate Bologna’s skyline. The view from the top offers a panoramic vista of the city. You can also visit the nearby Garisenda Tower, although it’s not open for climbing. Address:

  • Asinelli Tower: Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • Garisenda Tower: Via delle Moline, 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy.

3.Basilica di San Petronio

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This magnificent Gothic basilica is one of the largest in the world. Admire its impressive façade and step inside to witness the grandeur of its interior, including stunning frescoes and an astronomical sundial. Address: Piazza Galvani, 5, 40124 Bologna, Italy.

4. Archiginnasio of Bologna

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Explore the historic Archiginnasio, which was once the main building of the University of Bologna. Admire the intricately carved wooden anatomical theater and the richly decorated halls. The Archiginnasio now houses the Municipal Library and the Anatomical Wax Museum. Address: Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna, Italy.

5. Quadrilatero

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Indulge in Bologna’s gastronomic delights by exploring the Quadrilatero. This vibrant food market area is a paradise for food lovers, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, local delicacies, and traditional trattorias. Don’t miss trying the city’s famous mortadella, tortellini, and ragù. Address: The Quadrilatero district is located in the heart of the city center, near Piazza Maggiore. The streets Via Pescherie Vecchie, Via Drapperie, and surrounding streets are the main areas of the Quadrilatero.

6. Museums

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Bologna boasts several excellent museums. The National Art Gallery of Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna) features an extensive collection of Renaissance art, including works by Raphael, Titian, and Carracci. The Museum of Modern Art (MAMbo) showcases contemporary art, while the Museum of the History of Bologna (Museo della Storia di Bologna) provides insights into the city’s rich past. Address:

  • National Art Gallery of Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna): Via Belle Arti, 56, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • Museum of Modern Art (MAMbo): Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 14, 40121 Bologna, Italy.
  • Museum of the History of Bologna (Museo della Storia di Bologna): Via Castiglione, 8, 40124 Bologna, Italy.

7. Santo Stefano Basilica

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Visit the complex of Santo Stefano, also known as the Seven Churches. This unique architectural ensemble consists of a group of interconnected churches, chapels, and courtyards, creating a mystical atmosphere. Address: Piazza Santo Stefano, 40125 Bologna, Italy.

8. Portico di San Luca

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Bologna is famous for its extensive network of covered walkways, known as porticoes. Take a walk along the longest portico in the world, the Portico di San Luca, which stretches for 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles) and leads to the hilltop Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. Address: The starting point of the portico is at Porta Saragozza, at the intersection of Via Saragozza and Viale di San Luca. The portico stretches for approximately 3.8 kilometers (2.4 miles) leading up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

9. Lamborghini Museum

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Car enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Lamborghini Museum, located in nearby Sant’Agata Bolognese. Explore the history of this iconic Italian sports car brand and marvel at the impressive collection of Lamborghini models. Address: Via Modena, 12, 40019 Sant’Agata Bolognese BO, Italy.

10. Day trip to Modena or Ravenna

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Bologna’s strategic location makes it an excellent base for day trips. Consider visiting the nearby cities of Modena or Ravenna. Modena is known for its beautiful Romanesque cathedral and the renowned balsamic vinegar production, while Ravenna is famous for its stunning Byzantine mosaics. Address:

  • Modena: Modena is approximately a 40-minute drive or a 20-minute train ride from Bologna.
  • Ravenna: Ravenna is approximately a 1-hour and 20-minute drive or a 1-hour train ride from Bologna.

11. University of Bologna

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Founded in 1088, the University of Bologna is one of the oldest universities in the world. Take a stroll through its historic halls and courtyards, and soak in the vibrant academic atmosphere. Don’t miss the Archiginnasio, as mentioned earlier, which was the main building of the university. Address: Via Zamboni, 33, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

12. Giardini Margherita

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Escape the city buzz and enjoy some greenery at Giardini Margherita. This beautiful park offers ample space for picnics, leisurely walks, or bike rides. You can rent bicycles at the park and explore its paths and lakes. It’s a great place to relax and unwind. Address: Viale Gozzadini, 58, 40136 Bologna BO, Italy.

13. San Domenico Basilica

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Visit the stunning San Domenico Basilica, dedicated to Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order. Admire its striking façade and explore the interior, which houses notable artworks and the tomb of Saint Dominic. Address: Piazza Domenico, 13, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

14. Museo della Musica

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Music enthusiasts should head to the Museo della Musica (Music Museum). Located within the Palazzo Sanguinetti, this museum showcases a diverse collection of musical instruments from different historical periods. It’s a treat for music lovers and a chance to learn about the rich musical heritage of Bologna. Address: Palazzo Sanguinetti, Strada Maggiore, 34, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.

15. Gelato

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Treat yourself to some mouthwatering gelato in Bologna. The city is known for its exceptional gelaterias that offer a wide range of flavors made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Wander the streets and try gelato from different shops to find your favorite. Address:

There are numerous gelaterias throughout Bologna. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Gelateria Gianni: Via Montegrappa, 11, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.
  • Cremeria Funivia: Piazza Cavour, 1/D, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.
  • La Sorbetteria Castiglione: Via Castiglione, 44, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.

16. FICO Eataly World

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Just outside Bologna, you’ll find FICO Eataly World, an enormous food park dedicated to showcasing the best of Italian food and agriculture. Explore the various pavilions, enjoy tastings, and learn about the traditional production processes of Italian culinary delights. Address: Via Paolo Canali, 8, 40127 Bologna BO, Italy.

17. Palazzo Poggi Museum

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Discover the Palazzo Poggi Museum, which is part of the University of Bologna. This museum houses a diverse collection of scientific instruments, anatomical models, and artifacts related to the history of medicine and natural sciences. It’s a fascinating journey into the world of scientific exploration. Address: Via Zamboni, 33, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy.

18. Explore the Porticoed Streets

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Bologna is famous for its porticoes, and exploring the city’s streets lined with these covered walkways is a delightful experience. Wander through the narrow streets of the historic center, such as Via dell’Indipendenza, and admire the architectural charm of the porticoes. Address: The porticoed streets can be found throughout the city center of Bologna. Some of the main areas to explore include Via dell’Indipendenza and Via Rizzoli.

19. Wine Tasting

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Emilia-Romagna is known for its excellent wines, and Bologna is an ideal starting point to explore the wine regions nearby. Take a day trip to the surrounding countryside and indulge in wine tastings at vineyards and wineries, savoring the region’s renowned wines like Lambrusco and Sangiovese. Address: Wine regions near Bologna, such as the hills of Emilia-Romagna, offer various vineyards and wineries for wine tasting. The specific addresses will vary depending on the winery you choose to visit.

20. Enjoy the Nightlife

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Bologna comes alive at night with its vibrant nightlife scene. The city offers a plethora of bars, pubs, and clubs catering to various tastes. Head to the university district or the streets around Via del Pratello to find lively venues where you can enjoy live music, DJ sets, and a buzzing atmosphere. Address: The nightlife spots in Bologna are scattered throughout the city center. Some popular areas with bars, pubs, and clubs include Via del Pratello and the university district around Via Zamboni.