Welcome to Bologna, a city that seamlessly combines history, culture, and culinary delights in the heart of Italy. Known as “La Dotta” (The Learned), “La Grassa” (The Fat), and “La Rossa” (The Red), Bologna offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored. From its well-preserved medieval architecture and world-class museums to its delectable cuisine and lively atmosphere, this vibrant city has something to offer every visitor.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply seeking an authentic Italian experience, join us as we delve into the top 10 things to do in Bologna, and embark on a journey that will leave you with lasting memories of this captivating city.
10. Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore is the main square in Bologna, and is surrounded by some of the city’s most important historical buildings. Admire the impressive architecture of the Palazzo del Podesta, a 14th-century palace that once served as the city’s main administrative center. You can visit the Basilica of San Petronio, one of the largest churches in the world and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Don’t forget to take a break at one of the many cafés and restaurants in the square and enjoy a traditional Italian coffee or meal. You can also explore the surrounding area, including the Piazza del Nettuno, which is home to the impressive Fountain of Neptune.
9. The leaning towers of Bologna
The Leaning Tower of Bologna is a must-see attraction in the city of Bologna, Italy. The tower, which is over 80 meters tall, has a distinct lean of over 2 degrees, making it one of the most famous leaning towers in the world. Visitors can climb the tower’s medieval stairs to the top for a panoramic view of the city. Along the way, you can see the impressive masonry and medieval architecture of the tower. At the top, you can also see the bells and the clock mechanism that once kept time for the city. The tower is surrounded by other historic buildings and landmarks, making it a great place to start a walking tour of the city.
8. San Petronio
an Petronio is a must-see destination in Bologna, Italy. The Basilica of San Petronio is the main attraction, which is one of the largest churches in the world and a great example of Gothic architecture. Visitors can admire the beautiful frescoes, sculptures and chapels inside the church. The church also houses the Museum of San Petronio, which displays many artworks and artifacts from the church’s history.
The Piazza Maggiore, located in front of the Basilica of San Petronio, is another popular spot, it’s one of the most important squares of the city, where visitors can see many historic buildings and monuments, such as the Palazzo dei Banchi, the Palazzo d’Accursio and the Palazzo del Podestà.
The Archiginnasio of Bologna is a must-see destination for those interested in history and architecture. The building was the main building of the University of Bologna, which is the oldest university in the Western world. Visitors can now explore the library and museum inside the Archiginnasio, which displays the history of the university and the city of Bologna. Inside the museum, you can see the beautiful wooden seats and desks of the lecturers, the ancient books and the anatomical theater, which was used for public dissections.
The building itself is a great example of Renaissance architecture, with its ornate facade and grand halls. The Salone dei Novissimi, a large hall adorned with frescoes, is particularly impressive.
6. Bologna Archaeological Museum
The Bologna Archaeological Museum is a must-see destination for those interested in history and archaeology. The museum is home to a wide range of artifacts and exhibits that cover the history of Bologna and the surrounding region, from prehistory to the Middle Ages. Visitors can explore the museum’s many galleries and exhibits, which include Roman and Etruscan artifacts, as well as ancient ceramics, coins, and sculptures.
One of the highlights of the museum is the Egyptian collection, which includes a variety of artifacts from ancient Egypt, such as mummies, sarcophagi, and hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The museum also has a section dedicated to the history of Bologna during the Roman period, showcasing the remains of the Roman theater and the mosaics from the Roman villas.
5. Bologna National Gallery
The Bologna National Gallery is a must-see destination for art lovers visiting Bologna. The gallery is home to a wide range of artworks from the 14th to the 18th century, including masterpieces by famous artists such as Guido Reni, Francesco Hayez, and Jacopo Tintoretto. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, and frescoes, and covers various art movements and styles, from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque and Neoclassicism.
One of the highlights of the gallery is the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, which is a collection of masterpieces from the Bolognese school of painting, including works by Guido Reni, Francesco Albani, and Ludovico Carracci.
4. La Piazzola Market
La Piazzola Market is a must-see destination for foodies and shoppers visiting Bologna. The market is an indoor and outdoor market that offers a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other local specialties. Visitors can explore the many stalls and vendors, which sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to artisanal cheeses, meats, and baked goods.
One of the highlights of the market is the variety of local products, such as Bologna’s famous cured meats, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and traditional balsamic vinegar.
You can also find a wide variety of seafood, fresh pasta, sauces, and traditional sweets.
La Piazzola Market is also a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts, such as traditional ceramics, textiles, and food items.
3. Monte della Guardia
Monte della Guardia is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Bologna. It’s a hill located on the north of the city and offers great panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can hike or bike to the summit to enjoy the view, or simply take a leisurely stroll through the area’s many scenic paths and trails.
At the summit, there is a panoramic terrace where you can enjoy the view over the city and the Apennines. You can also take a picnic and enjoy the nature.
The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and wild boars, making it a great spot for bird watching and wildlife photography.
2. Santuario di Madonna di San Luca
The Santuario di Madonna di San Luca is a must-see destination for those interested in history, culture, and religion. It’s a famous pilgrimage site located on the Monte della Guardia, in the north of Bologna. The sanctuary is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is home to a famous Byzantine icon of the Madonna and Child, known as the Madonna di San Luca. The icon is considered a valuable religious relic, and is believed to have miraculous powers. Visitors can climb the covered walkway, known as the “Portico di San Luca”, that connects the city to the Sanctuary. The walkway is 3.5 km long and has 666 arches,
When you reach the sanctuary, you can visit the church and admire the beautiful frescoes and sculptures, as well as the famous icon of the Madonna and Child.
The sanctuary also has a museum that displays religious artifacts and artworks from the sanctuary’s history.
1. Torre Prendiparte
Torre Prendiparte is a must-see destination for those interested in history and architecture. The tower is a medieval tower located in the city center of Bologna, and it’s one of the few remaining towers from the medieval period. Visitors can climb the tower to enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the city and admire the tower’s architecture. The tower has five levels, and each level has a terrace that offers a different view of the city.
The tower also houses a museum that displays the history and the life of the tower during the Middle Age. Visitors can learn about the tower’s construction and the lives of the people who lived there. The museum has interactive exhibits and displays, which makes it a great place for families to visit.
The tower is also home to the “Biblioteca Sala Borsa”, a library that contains a vast collection of books, manuscripts and newspapers.
Torre Prendiparte is open to visitors every day, with guided tours available in several languages.
It’s located in the heart of the city, and it’s a great spot to start exploring Bologna’s history and its architectural heritage.
Top 10 Things to do in Bologna on a MAP
Bologna offers a delightful array of experiences that make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. From indulging in the city’s renowned culinary delights, such as freshly made pasta and mouthwatering gelato, to exploring its rich historical and architectural heritage, there is no shortage of things to do and see in this vibrant Italian city. Whether you’re strolling through the charming streets of the historic center, admiring the grandeur of the Two Towers, or immersing yourself in the fascinating world of art at the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna is a city that captivates the senses and leaves a lasting impression. So, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the top 10 things to do in Bologna and create memories that will stay with you long after your visit.
Planning to visit Bologna? If you think we missed your favorite place, leave us a COMMENT below, and we’ll surely add on our list.