Bologna Recommendations

Bologna Piazza Maggiore At Night

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This is by no means a comprehensive guide to everything there is to do in Bologna. These are just the things I have done or plan to do on my next trip. For your convenience I’ll put a hyperlink glossary here so you can click and skip the intro and go to the section of interest.

  1. Getting to Bologna
  2. Transportation in Bologna
  3. Where to Stay
  4. What to Do
  5. Eats and Drinks


Today, we’ll be looking at the beautiful city of Bologna. This gem in northern Italy is often overlooked by tourists in favor of Rome, Florence, and Venice, but those who do visit are rewarded with a truly authentic Italian experience. From its famous food to its rich history and culture, Bologna has something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, an art lover, or just looking for a charming city to explore, Bologna is sure to steal your heart. 

I asked a chatbot to write that intro – what do you think? A little fluffy for my taste, but it’s not bad. 

Le due torri - the two towers Bologna

Le Due Torri (The Two Towers)

Getting to Bologna

The train station that most people will use is Bologna Centrale

  • From Rome: Roma Termini to Bologna Centrale, approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes on high-speed train (buy train tickets on Trainline here).
  • From Florence: Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Bologna Centrale, approximately 40 minutes high-speed (buy train tickets on Trainline here).
  • From Milan: Milano Centrale to Bologna Centrale, approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes high-speed (buy train tickets on Trainline here).
  • From Venice: Venezia Santa Lucia to Bologna Centrale, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes high-speed (buy train tickets on Trainline here).

Note: the Bologna train station is quite big, and as 2 floors. If you are departing Bologna, give yourself extra time in case your train is on the lower level.

My suggestion with buying train tickets in Italy is to skip the line at the machine and buy the tickets on Trainline. Please check out my post, Essential Resources for Italy Travel.

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By plane, the nearest airport is Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). Getting to and from the airport can be done via the Marconi Express, which is a small train dedicated to airport access from Bologna Centrale train station. I have not ridden the Marconi Express, and according to my friends in Bologna as well as online reviews – it is quite unreliable. I would suggest taking a taxi from Bologna Centrale instead. 

Transportation in Bologna

Once you’re in Bologna, all transportation will be either by foot, bike, or taxi. Ridemovi rental bikes are all over the city – just know that the cobblestone streets might not make for the smoothest ride possible. 

Considering that on it’s longest dimension, Bologna takes about 40 minutes to walk across and is almost completely flat, walking is my favorite mode of transport in the city.

Bologna Portico
Bologna’s famous portici make for a very accessible city.

If you or someone in your group is mobility-impaired, there are taxis available throughout the city.

Another note about wheelchair accessibility. The porticoes throughout the city have smooth floors, making it easy for wheelchair users to navigate. This was confirmed by a client who recently went to Bologna with her husband who needed a wheelchair to get around, and they loved the city not just for it’s amazing food but also the accessibility.

Where to Stay In Bologna

For booking accommodations, my go-to services are Hostelworld and

I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend to stay with in Bologna. But when that’s not an option, I always like to stay at Il Nosadillo Hostel both for its friendly atmosphere, nice staff, and location. 

If hostels aren’t your thing, or you just want to look around some more, just try to keep it within a 10 minute walk of Piazza Maggiore and you’ll be in a good location.

Some hotel options to consider*:

*Please note: as a frequent, solo traveler, I usually stay in hostels, not just for the cost savings, but also for the community experience. So, my hotel recommendations may not always be places I have personally stayed. However, most people want to stay in hotels, so I want to provide recommendations. I vet online reviews and geographical location for every place I recommend, and will only recommend places that I would stay myself if budget allowed.

Things to Do

  • Do a walking tour like this one!
  • Visit the Basilica di San Petronio 
  • Walk through the Quadrilatero, the where you can see pretty much all facets of Bologna cuisine in a short walk among local restaurant goers and tourists alike.
  • Do a food tour like this one! Bologna has been voted as the food capital of the world. You probably owe it to yourself to get the most out of that credential by having a local give you a proper tour of the cuisine – no?
  • Visit the Two Towers – Named after the second Lord of the Rings movie, the Two Towers (Le Due Torri) are the most prominent structures in Bologna. The Asinelli tower (the taller one) was at one time the tallest building in the world. You can enter this tower at a handsome price of just 5 € (official site). The shorter tower, Garisenda, leans at 4° (more than the tower of Pisa). Despite what Instagram photo trickery shows, the towers are not curved like bananas. They’re straight, but one of them leans.
  • Day trip to Modena, Ferrara, Parma – All 3 of these are worth visiting. If you go to Modena (Master of None, anyone?), be sure to check out Mercato Albinelli.
  • Giardini Margherita (map) – this is a great park to walk around, relax, and have a coffee or spritz at the unique Botanical Bar.
  • Go hear some live jazz – personally, I’ve been to Cantina Bentivoglio and saw a great bebop sax player (sorry guy, I don’t remember your name). They have a full drink and dinner menu as well. Another popular spot is Camera Jazz Club.

My go to places for tours are GetYourGuide and Viator

Bologna Quadrilatero Fresh broduce

Eats and Drinks

You came to Bologna for the food anyway, right?

Bologna quadrilatero
All the pastas in Bologna’s Quadrilatero

Typical Bolognese food:

Tagliatelle al ragù – a classic Bolognese dish with long, flat pasta noodles served with a hearty meat sauce made with beef, pork, and vegetables.

Lasagne alla bolognese – Does lasagna need an explanation?

Tortellini in brodo – tortellini served in broth

Mortadella – a famous Italian cured meat is originally from Bologna and is made with finely ground pork, beef, and spices. I’m not particularly a huge fan, but it’s very popular.

Crescentine (or tigelle) – These small, round fried breads are a popular snack or appetizer in Bologna, typically served with cured meats and cheese.

Bologna Lasagna at Osteria dell'Orsa
Lasagna at Osteria dell’Orsa


  • Va Mo Là – not just great Bolognese food, but a very retro-chic (yeah, I said retro-chic) setting.
  • Osteria dell’Orsa – Traditional Bolognese food, and the locals know it. I recommend making reservations if you can. 
  • Trattoria del Rosso – Traditional Bolognese food – locally recommended
  • Trattoria “La Finestrella” – Traditional Bolognese food – locally recommended
  • To Steki – Not Italian but Greek. If you’ve been in Italy for a week or so at this point, you may want a break from Italian food. This place has some great Greek standards.
  • Indegno – la crescentina 2.0 – Take-out only – I have not been here, but a local friend recommended it
  • Cantina Bentivoglio I’ve only been for the live jazz but they had a good-looking food and wine menu as well.

Bars & Aperitivi

  • Neaera Lounge Bar – Great place for aperitivo (drinks and appetizers before dinner). Normally, if you get an aperitivo, it will be a drink (like a beer, glass of wine, or spritz) that will come with a snack like peanuts and chips, or small sandwiches or mini pizzas. This place takes it to another level with an appetizer buffet with 8 or so various dishes, included with your drink, for €6. Note, this may be seasonal. I went in October – in December they may not do the buffet.
  • Osteria del Sole – Super local spot. It’s a very old bar that only serves wine and beer, and you bring your own food. It has small and big (communal seating) tables. This is where I first had lambrusco and now I’m hooked. It’s a non-touristy spot in a very busy area (near Piazza Maggiore).
  • Via del Pratello is full of great places for cheap aperitivi

That’s All For Now

I sincerely hope you found value in this article.  If you have recommendations of your own or have suggestions on what else you would like to see covered here, please write in the comments below. Additionally, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and need one-on-one support or guidance, check out my services page where you can get in touch with me.

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