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Things to do in Bologna

Things to do in  Bologna

Welcome to Bologna

Italy is a well-known food lover's destination, and Bologna is at the epicenter of the country's culinary heart. This historic city, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is a place where eating can rightly be called a local pastime—and one of the main reasons people visit. Food tours in and around Bologna include such local delicacies as prosciutto from nearby Parma, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and the famous balsamic vinegar from the town of Modena just 28 miles (45 kilometers) away. Walk through the city's colorful food markets with a guide to find out what’s on menus all over town, or learn the secrets of Italian cuisine from expert chefs during a cooking class. When you need a break from all that eating, take a walking tour or guided bike ride through Bologna's historic center to see the Basilica di San Petronio and Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno) on Piazza Maggiore, the two medieval leaning towers, and the University of Bologna, founded in 1088 AD by its own students. For farther-afield highlights, take a day trip to the nearby towns of Bazzano and Vignola; the pretty villages of the Reno Valley; or the factories where Lamborghini, Pagani, and Ferrari make their sports cars.

Top 10 attractions in Bologna

#1
Bologna Piazza Maggiore

Bologna Piazza Maggiore

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Bologna’s beating heart is Piazza Maggiore, in the city’s old center. A classic example of Renaissance town planning, it is one of the most graceful public squares in Italy.The pedestrianised square is surrounded by the Basilica di San Petronio, the Palazzo Communale (city hall), palatial public buildings and Bologna’s trademark covered walkways ringed by arches.Sit at an outdoor cafe to enjoy people watching in the sunshine during the day, and visit in the early evening to see the beautifully floodlit Fountain of Neptune, sculpted in 1566.More
#2
Bologna University Quarter

Bologna University Quarter

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Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe, and the city owes much of its youthful vibrancy and thriving cultural life to the formidable student population, concentrated in the lively University Quarter. Tour this area to discover its cache of cafes and clubs, along with fascinating historic museums and university buildings.More
#3
Ferrari Museum (Museo Ferrari)

Ferrari Museum (Museo Ferrari)

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The most evocative name in Italian sports cars is Ferrari, and this dedicated museum in Maranello, Italy, focuses on the auto manufacturer’s history and production. It features 25 cars, including road cars and prototypes, a section devoted to the historic Formula 1 racing team, and fascinating automotive artifacts and memorabilia.More
#4
Two Towers (Due Torri)

Two Towers (Due Torri)

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More than 100 towers pierced the sky above Bologna in the Middle Ages, but only 20 still stand today. The most famous are the city center’s Two Towers (Due Torri), which lean at a gravity-defying angle that rivals Pisa’s Leaning Tower. Climb to the top of the taller one for fabulous views over the city and surrounding countryside.More
#5
San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio)

San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio)

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Dedicated to the fifth-century bishop Petronius, who became Bologna’s patron saint, the San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio) dominates Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the city. One of the largest churches in the world and a soaring example of Gothic grandeur, the basilica Is a highlight of any Bologna city tour.More
#6
Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio (Teatro Anatomico dell'Archiginnasio)

Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio (Teatro Anatomico dell'Archiginnasio)

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Bologna is home to the world’s oldest university, and one of the city’s most remarkable sights is part of the university’s medical school: the 17th-century Anatomical Theater in Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio. Visit this richly paneled and decorated hall to see where students once heard lectures and observed surgical procedures.More
#7
Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini)

Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini)

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The Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini) is a tribute to the passion and life’s work of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini. It showcases Italy’s most famous luxury vehicles in a journey through the past, present, and future of the coveted car brand.More
#8
Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno)

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno)

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Giambologna’s 16th-century Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno), also known as Il Zigànt, or The Giant, is one of the most famous landmarks in Bologna. A bronze Neptune stands watch from atop the ornate Renaissance fountain in Piazza Maggiore, a popular and picturesque gathering spot for locals and visitors.More
#9
Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca)

Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca)

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Perched on Colle della Guardia 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southwest of Bologna’s historic center, the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca) was built to house a Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. Its portico, running from the city’s Porta Saragozza to the hilltop sanctuary, is the longest covered arcade in the world.More
#10
Enzo Ferrari Museum (Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari)

Enzo Ferrari Museum (Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari)

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In the center of Modena, a historical brick factory building is dwarfed by the adjacent contemporary glass-and-steel hangar topped with a bright yellow car hood–shaped roof. Together, these two structures and their contents tell the story of Enzo Ferrari, race car driver and founder of one of the most famous car brands in the world.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Bologna

How to Spend 3 Days in Bologna

Notable Porticoes in Bologna

Notable Porticoes in Bologna

Food Lover's Guide to Bologna

Food Lover's Guide to Bologna

Top activities in Bologna

Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
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Classic Bologna Food Tour

Classic Bologna Food Tour

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2-hour Walking Tour of Bologna

2-hour Walking Tour of Bologna

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Drinks & Bites in Bologna Private Tour
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Classic Walking Tour Bologna

Classic Walking Tour Bologna

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Pasta Masterclass with a Local in Bologna
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Bologna traditional food tour - Do Eat Better Experience
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Bologna City Walking Tour

Bologna City Walking Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Bologna

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City Cycle Tour -Bologna
John_M, Sep 2020
2-Hour Bike Tour of Bologna
Weekends have less traffic but more footfall as pedestrianised areas increased.
star-5
Eat and sightsee. Great time.
Galit_A, Feb 2020
Secret Food Tours Bologna w/ Private Tour Option
There is much to see and taste in Bologna, and Raffaella was knowledgeable and friendly.
star-5
A fabulous guide to Bologna..
WhereToNext73, Apr 2019
Bologna Custom Private Tours by Locals, Off-the-Beaten-Path ★★★★★
From history to places to visit & eat - this was a fabulous tour & recommended it as a must..
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Great bike tour guide
Robert_M, Apr 2019
E-Bike tour on the hills of Bologna
A great way to see the outer perimeter of Bologna.
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We had a great time traveling around...
Jeffrey P, Jun 2016
CSTRents - Bologna Segway PT Authorized Tour
There are a lot of historical sites that are much easier to see this way rather than walk, especially in the heat.
star-5
Really worth it - amazing host . He...
RachelDawn_J, Sep 2016
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
He spoke very very good English and was entertaining, funny and extremely knowledgable and passionate about all of the foods we visited.
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A highlight on our Italy trip
Tim_W, Aug 2020
Private Lesson with Chef of Traditional Bolognese Cuisine
Flaminia helped us with communication difficulties in English and answered all questions that came to our minds.
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It’s a factory tour.
David_L, Feb 2020
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
The factories we visited were very interesting and to see the time and effort that goes into making each of these was good.
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An amazing gastronomical experience!
Izzaldin_S, Dec 2019
Secret Food Tours Bologna w/ Private Tour Option
Our guide Mattia took us around Bologna to see some of its most amazing sights but most importantly, savour the town's most delicious food, all of which were authentic to the region and wouldn't probably be known to tourists.
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Must-do for car/racing enthusiasts
Ross P, Oct 2019
Ferrari Lamborghini Pagani Factory and Museum Day Tour from Bologna
On time, extremely knowledgeable about all things motoring and about the local area, history of Bologna and Modena etc, and with perhaps the best command of English of any tour guide we met during our 2 week trip to Italy.
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Great way to get your bearings in Bologna
Robert M, Sep 2019
2-Hour Bike Tour of Bologna
It's a great way to quickly spot the key attractions and to generally get a feel for the layout of the city.
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An amazing food tour with Delicious Bologna, This is a must while you are there! Yes, Yes Yes!
Christine_C, Sep 2019
Bologna Food Tour from a local perspective
The tour to see how the pasta is made was super fun too.
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Amazing!
linds202, Aug 2019
Private cooking class at a local's home with lunch or dinner in Bologna
So welcoming, amazing to see how people live in Bologna, felt part of the family eating lunch together.
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Super day out, well worth the money.
caz_jw, Nov 2019
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
His command of English was astounding.
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An exceptional day out day out...
SUSAN_B, May 2017
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
At no point did we get bored, it was fascinating to see the processes that are needed to provide us with such delicious products we learnt a lot.
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The memories from this tour will...
Michelle V, Oct 2016
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
The early hour start time was well worth it when we arrived at the Parmesan factory to see it in full working mode.
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Where to begin! This was a...
Dominic I, Oct 2015
Bologna Food Experience: Factory Visits with Gourmet Lunch and Wine Tasting
We found this tour through Trip Advisor originally, and we were surprised to see thousands of five-star reviews, with nothing less than that, so we gave it a shot - it turned out to be the best decision we made while on our visit through Italy!

All about Bologna

When to visit

As with most of Italy, spring and fall are the most pleasant times to visit Bologna. When Italian beach season starts in midsummer, Bologna empties out due to scorching temperatures. The city reels in summer with a week of hundreds of outdoor screenings of rare and restored films during the Cinema Ritrovato Festival—a great way to beat the heat.

Frequently Asked Questions
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