Top Things to Do in Bologna

Top Things to Do in Bologna - italytripguide


So, you’re planning a trip to Bologna, Italy’s culinary and cultural capital. But what should you do to make the most out of your visit? This vibrant city has an abundance of historical landmarks, mouthwatering food scenes, bustling nightlife, and mesmerizing landscapes. Let’s jump in and discover the top things to do in Bologna!

Dive into the History: The Two Towers

The Asinelli Tower

Ever visited a city with a tilting tower that isn’t Pisa? Bologna’s Asinelli Tower, with its slight lean, promises a captivating vantage point to behold the city’s panoramic views. If you’re up for an adventurous challenge, dare to ascend its 498 steps. The reward at the top is a breathtaking sight that will undoubtedly make for an unforgettable experience!

The Garisenda Tower

Situated alongside the Asinelli stands its companion, the Garisenda Tower. Though it may be shorter and display a more distinct tilt, it plays a pivotal role in shaping the unique skyline of Bologna. These towers, standing as timeless symbols of power and prestige, are an unmissable part of the city’s historical exploration.

Satiate Your Taste Buds: Bologna’s Food Scene

Bolognese Staples

Who hasn’t heard of the world-famous Bolognese sauce? Bologna, the birthplace of this iconic sauce, is a culinary paradise for any food lover. Its signature dishes include not just the well-known ragù, but also tortellini and the delicious mortadella. Imagine relishing these traditional fares in the very city they were created, adding an extra layer of authenticity to your gastronomic experience. It’s a truly mouthwatering prospect, isn’t it?

Must-Visit Markets and Restaurants

To truly savour Bologna’s culinary delights, don’t miss out on visiting popular local hubs such as the lively Mercato delle Erbe market and authentic local restaurants like Trattoria Anna Maria. These spots offer an unadulterated immersion into Bologna’s food culture, presenting a gastronomic journey that encapsulates the essence of Bolognese cuisine.

Explore the Canals of Bologna

Interestingly, Bologna was once akin to Venice, laced with an intricate web of canals. Today, although these waterways are largely hidden, you can catch a glimpse of Bologna’s secret aquatic past along Via Piella. A visit here offers a unique perspective into the city’s historical landscape that is usually hidden from the everyday observer.

Artistic Excellence: Bologna’s Museums and Galleries

MAMbo – Museum of Modern Art Bologna

If you’re a devotee of modern art, MAMbo is a must-visit destination. This museum showcases a striking collection of modern and contemporary artworks, inviting visitors to traverse the artistic journey that has unfolded over the 20th and 21st centuries. Its diverse exhibits offer a deep dive into the evolution and revolutions of art in the modern era.

For art aficionados, a visit to the National Art Gallery is a must. This eminent institution houses a vast and impressive collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces. Embark on a journey through time and experience the splendor and creativity of a culturally rich era, showcasing the incredible aesthetics and artistic ingenuity that have left a lasting impact on the art world.

Discover Bologna’s University Life

The University of Bologna

Holding the title as the western world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna is a testament to the enduring legacy of academia since 1088. This historical institution not only offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of education and scholarly pursuits but also boasts stunning architectural grandeur that reflects its centuries-old heritage. A visit here allows one to admire its architectural beauty and to appreciate the rich academic history it embodies.

The Student Nightlife

Bologna’s student life pulses with vibrancy and dynamism. From myriad events and lively parties to diverse cultural experiences, the city’s nightlife exudes an invigorating energy mirroring its daytime vigor. The city thrives after sundown, transforming into a hub of entertainment and cultural immersion that perfectly encapsulates the spirited student culture.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

Nestled atop Bologna, this Basilica stands as a serene sanctuary, providing respite from the energetic ambiance of the city below. The ascent to reach it is an unforgettable journey, enriched with picturesque panoramas that beautifully complement the lively commotion of the urban landscape. Embark on this remarkable adventure and savor the breathtaking vistas that accompany your every step, creating a delightful contrast to the bustling atmosphere of the city.

Experience the Vibrant Piazza Maggiore

Located at the heart of Bologna, you’ll find Piazza Maggiore, the central square that epitomizes the essence of the city. This lively and energetic hub is surrounded by magnificent architectural landmarks such as the Basilica of San Petronio and Neptune’s Fountain, adding to its historical charm. Piazza Maggiore pulsates with the vibrant pulse of Bologna, making it the bustling epicenter of the city’s cultural and social activities.

Bologna’s Hidden Treasures

Archiginnasio of Bologna

History enthusiasts are strongly urged to visit this captivating edifice, presently serving as the municipal library of the city. Brace yourself for a mesmerizing experience as you behold the abundance of coats of arms that adorn the walls and ceilings, narrating a tale of a vibrant and enthralling heritage. Get ready to be immersed in a rich and fascinating legacy that awaits within these walls.

The Whispering Walls

Hidden from the knowledge of most, Bologna harbors an astonishing wonder within its midst. Inside the Palazzo della Mercanzia, a remarkable phenomenon awaits, where whispers possess the uncanny ability to effortlessly traverse across a room. Embark on a captivating journey to this magnificent palace and have the privilege of witnessing this extraordinary acoustic marvel firsthand.

Shopping Extravaganza in Bologna

Attention, all shopping enthusiasts! If you have a passion for retail therapy, Bologna is the place to be. Offering a wide range of shopping options, from renowned luxury fashion brands to unique local crafts, the city caters to every shopper’s desires. Make sure to explore popular destinations like Galleria Cavour and Via dell’Indipendenza to discover a world of shopping delights.

Adventure Outdoors: Parks and Gardens

If you have a fondness for nature, Bologna has a treat in store for you. The city’s parks and gardens, including the enchanting Giardini Margherita, provide the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate and reconnect with the outdoors. Take advantage of the serene ambiance and lush green surroundings as you enjoy a leisurely afternoon in the embrace of nature.

Bologna by Night: Nightlife and Entertainment

As the sun dips below the horizon, Bologna transforms into a vibrant hub of entertainment. Whether you’re a fan of grand opera performances at the Teatro Comunale or prefer the lively atmosphere of bar-hopping in the bustling university district, the city offers a diverse range of options to cater to every taste and interest. No matter your preference, Bologna ensures that there is something enjoyable for everyone as the night unfolds.

The Music Scene in Bologna

Attention, music enthusiasts! Rejoice in the musical paradise of Bologna, recognized as a UNESCO City of Music. Throughout the year, the city pulsates with a vibrant tapestry of musical events that cater to all tastes. Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing melodies of jazz, rock, and classical compositions as Bologna becomes a haven for music lovers. Experience the rich and diverse musical offerings that make this city truly exceptional.


So there you have it, the top things to do in Bologna, a city brimming with life, culture, and gastronomical delights. Each corner of this charming city tells a story, inviting you to be a part of its rich tapestry. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a foodie, an art lover, or a nightlife explorer, Bologna has something unique for everyone.


  • What is the best time to visit Bologna?

The best time to visit Bologna is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and the city is less crowded.

  • How many days are sufficient to explore Bologna?

A 3-day trip is typically enough to experience the best of Bologna, but you could easily extend your stay to delve deeper into the city’s charms.

  • What are some of the local dishes to try in Bologna?

Bologna is famous for its culinary scene. Some local favorites are tortellini, tagliatelle al ragù (Bolognese sauce), and mortadella.

  • Are there any day trips from Bologna?

Yes, Bologna’s central location makes it an excellent base for day trips. Popular destinations include Ferrara, Modena, and Parma.

  • Is Bologna a walkable city?

Absolutely! Bologna’s historic center is compact and easy to explore on foot. Moreover, the city has over 38 kilometers of porticos offering a unique and sheltered walking experience.

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