Bologna “the learned”, “the red” and “the fat” – this is how Italians and tourists often characterize Bologna, implying one of the oldest universities, red roofs and walls of the city houses and delicious local cuisine.
Despite the fact that Bologna is quite a renowned city, some travelers don’t recommend to include it into the trip itineraries while traveling around Italy, considering it not that interesting. In our opinion, this statement is absolutely groundless, because Bologna has always remained the center of culture and art, so you cannot say that you know Italy, if you haven’t been to Bologna.
Now you may check out a complete guide on how to spend a perfect day in this glorious city.
08:00-09:00 – waking up and having breakfast at the hotel
The majority of Bologna hotels are concentrated in the city center. You may find both luxury and quite cheap accommodation options.
If you prefer a luxury overnight, consider Grand Hotel Majestic gia ‘Baglioni. This hotel has a central location, near the eminent Piazza Maggiore. In fact, it’s not even the hotel, but the real museum – all the rooms are decorated with gorgeous frescoes and antique furniture.
Address: Via Indipendenza 8, 40121
Price: around €370/night
In case you need a more economical night’s lodging, then check on the following hotels:
Hotel Porta San Mamolo
Address: Vicolo Del Falcone 6/8, 40124
Price: around €200/night
Address: Vicolo Cattani 7, 40126
Price: around €100/night
Address: Via Del Gomito 16
Price: around €50/night
10:00-11:00 – visiting Bologna Cathedral
The first place you need to visit when you leave the hotel is the city cathedral. Its huge baroque facade is so impressive that when you try to take in the whole picture, your mouth literally hangs open.
The interior of the Cathedral is even more impressive. The admission is free. When you get inside, don’t rush to leave the cathedral. Forget that you are a tourist – sit down and just contemplate the surroundings for a while. This kind of “rite” will set your mind in the right mood for the further “perception” of Bologna.
11:00-13:00 – walking along Piazza Maggiore
After getting into the right mood at the cathedral you should head on to the pearl of Bologna – Piazza Maggiore. The square is located just 100 meters away from Bologna Cathedral.
Piazza Maggiore was founded in the XIII century, when the city government bought the buildings that used to be on the territory, demolished them and settled the market place there. Of course, there’s no market in the area now. However, Piazza Maggiore is still the busiest place in Bologna.
13:00-14:00 – taking pictures of Asinelli and Garisenda Towers
From Piazza Maggiore take a 5 minutes’ walk to Piazza di Porta Ravegnana. You will see two medieval towers standing next to each other there – Asinelli and Garisenda. Actually, the towers are most recognizable landmark of Bologna, and the symbol of the city.
14:00-15:00 – observing the panorama of Bologna
The next point of your exploration program is climbing Asinelli tower. The entrance to the tower costs only €3. But beware – the way to the top is quite difficult. If you’re traveling with small kids or the elderly, please, think twice before starting the ascent to Asinelli – you will have to go over almost 500 steps. But it’s worth that, because the view from Asinelli is simply stunning!
15:00-16:00 – lunch time
After taking a walk around the center of Bologna and climbing the tower it’s time to have some refreshment. You may consider the following establishments for that:
I Carracci Ristorante – one of the most impressive restaurants in the downtown.
Address: Via Manzoni 2
Pizzartist – go there to try both classic and original versions of pizza.
Address: Via Marsala, 35/A
Gelateria La Funivia – this is where you can try the most delicious Italian ice cream.
Address: via Porrettana 158 Bologna
17:00-18:00 – walking along the students’ quarter
It is not a secret that to the oldest university in Europe is located in Bologna. Among its graduates are Dante, Luigi Galvani, Petrarch, Guglielmo Marconi and other prominent personalities. Though, the university itself doesn’t have anything else special to surprise you with. However, it’s worth to stroll down the students’ quarter – at least in order to see what young Bologna looks like.
18:00-19:00 – admiring the Basilica of Santo Stefano
From the students’ quarter head on to Via Santo Stefano Street, to see another iconic sight of Bologna – the Basilica of Santo Stefano. This is a magnificent church complex, situated on the elegant cobbled square, probably dating back to the V century.
19:00-20:00 – finishing the city tour at Margherita Gardens
Margherita Gardensis a great place to observe sunsets. It is located between via Murri and via Castiglione Streets. You will need to take a 15 minutes’ walk there from the Basilica of Santo Stefano. In the park there’s a neat castle standing near the lake, a mooring for boats and gravel paths.
Apart from that, there is a playground for kids, for volleyball and basketball. In short, it is a great place to relax and exchange the impressions of the city tour.
As you see, despite the fact that the city is not very big, a visit to Bologna can be really interesting and exciting – even if you spend there only one day. Finally, take into consideration that you may have a good time not only in Bologna. It would also be a nice option to rent a cheap car from the airport, and set off to the other charming and amazing cities located not far from Bologna, such as Rimini, Ravenna, Ferrara, Modena and others.
Lily Berns is a travel writer. She uses every chance she gets to travel around the world with her family and friends. Experiencing new places and cultures, meeting new people and learning something new every day – are her life aims.