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How to spend one day in Parma

How to spend one day in Parma (map included)

How to spend one day in Parma (map included)

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Visiting Parma and want to know how to spend one day in Parma? Then you’ve come to the right place. Discover the best things to do in Parma and many other tips about this small town in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.

Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, Parma is a small city that is well worth a visit. Even if you’re not sure of the things to see in Parma, you’ve certainly heard of the famous Parmesan cheese or even Parma ham.

How to spend one day in Parma San Giovanni Evangelista Church
San Giovanni Evangelista Church

The truth is that Parma is so worth it because it combines an incredible cultural trip (which is actually full of surprises!) with an unforgettable gastronomic itinerary. In fact, it’s no surprise that they say the Emilia-Romagna region is one of the best places to eat in Italy.

Throughout this post, in addition to the one day in Parma itinerary, you can also find more tips on:

  • How to get to Parma
  • Best hotels in Parma
  • How many days do you need to visit Parma
  • The best time of year to visit Parma

What is the best time of year to visit Parma?

Like other cities in the region, it’s always a good idea to visit Parma, as the city’s climate is quite mild 😍. Winters aren’t too harsh (although it can sometimes snow) and summers aren’t stupidly hot either.

In any case, to make sure you get the most out of your trip to Parma, I suggest visiting between March and October.

How many days do you need to visit Parma?

Parma may be far from being one of the most visited cities in Italy, but believe me, it’s quite surprising. From amazing monuments (we’ll get to that in a minute!) to food walking tours, you can easily spend a day in Parma.

So, one day in Parma is the minimum amount of time you need to explore all this city has to offer. In one day, you’ll be able to explore the city calmly, without missing out on its main points of interest.

How to spend one day in Parma

However, if you have less time available, you can always try to absorb the city at a faster pace and half a day in Parma. In this case, you can still visit Parma’s main attractions, even if you don’t have much time for Parma’s food tours, for example.

Is Parma worth visiting?

The simplest and most honest answer is: YES 😄! Parma may be relatively small, but it has lots of charm. What’s more, you can escape the crowds found in Italy’s main cities during the summer months.

How do you get to Parma?

The closest airport to Parma is Giuseppe Verdi Airport, with some connections to other Italian cities (Cagliari, Palermo) as well as Malta and Moldova. So the easiest way to get to Parma is to fly to one of the neighbouring cities, with Bologna airport being the closest to the city.

Other options include Milan’s 3 airports (Malpensa, Linate or Bergamo), Verona or Venice. The distances by car from each of these airports to the centre of Parma are as follows:

  • Milan Linate – 1h18, 124 km
  • Bologna -1h20, 99 km
  • Verona – 1h30, 145 km
  • Milan Bergamo – 1h45, 166km
  • Milan Malpensa – 1h56, 178 km
  • Venice – 2h40, 253 km

Another very convenient option is to travel between these cities by train. The simplest and least time-consuming options to gte to Parma are Bologna and Milan Linate. Both journeys take around 1.5 hours and only involve one transfer.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Would you also like to visit other cities in northern Italy? Then I recommend reading the other itineraries I have on the blog of places in North of Italy: Milan | Verona | Venice | Dolomites | Padova | Modena.

Is a Parma day trip worth it?

Tourists often opt for a day trip to Parma! Since 1 day in Parma is enough to get the city’s whole vibe, this is an excellent option for those who don’t have much time to visit the city.

The first and most common option is a day trip to Parma from Bologna. The train journey takes about an hour and costs 8€. There are also buses with this route (e.g. Flixbus), but the journey is longer.

💡 EXTRA TIP: If you want a stress-free trip, you can always opt for this 6.5-hour tour departing from Bologna. The tour is essentially focused on discovering Parma’s gastronomic delicacies.

Another option is a Milan to Parma day trip, which lasts the same amount of time (between 50 minutes and 1 hour). However, in this case, the ticket is a bit more expensive and starts at 11.8€ (the journey that costs 11.8€ is actually not the fastest).

What’s the best way to get around in Parma?

Most of Parma’s attractions are located close together. So the easiest way to get around Parma is simply by walking.

If you need to use the buses (the most practical public transport in Parma), all you need to do is get a contactless card and tap it against a machine inside the bus as soon as you start your journey.

By the way, even if you arrive in the city by train, Parma train station is located very close to the centre (about a 15-20 minute walk from the historic centre).

Accommodation in Parma

There are some accommodation options in Parma at affordable prices. In my case, I stayed in a hotel with an excellent location – Hotel Button. Although the hotel was a bit old, the conditions were good and it was good value for money, which is why I thoroughly recommend it.

In any case, I’ll share with you other accommodation options in Parma:

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Parma Map – Best things to do in Parma

Before I start the itinerary itself, I’ll share a map with the best things to do in Parma to help you plan your trip.

Activities & tours in Parma

How to spend one day in Parma

» Parco Ducale (park)

We start this one-day itinerary in Parma in one of the city’s main green spaces. This park dates back to the 16th century and was renovated in the 18th century.

This is a popular place for locals to relax during the day. Not to be missed in the park is the Ducal Palace building, built in Renaissance style. However, it is currently only possible to admire the building from the outside.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Parco Ducale is open from November to March every day from 7 am to 8 pm and the rest of the year from 6 am to midnight.

» Palazzo della Pilotta

Leaving Parco Ducale, cross the Verdi Bridge towards one of the most popular attractions in Parma – Palazzo della Pilotta.

How to spend one day in Parma Ponte Verdi
Verdi Bridge

In reality, Palazzo della Pilotta is made up of a group of buildings and houses some of the city’s main cultural spaces. It was built in the 16th century when the Farnese family ruled Parma.

One of the most emblematic places in Palazzo della Pilotta is the Teatro Farnese (Farnese Theatre). Built by Giovanni Battista Aleotti in 1618, it is an impressive construction and one of the few Renaissance theatres in Europe.

This is followed by the Archaeological Museum and the National Gallery, where you’ll find paintings by renowned artists such as Correggio, El Greco and even Leonardo da Vinci. It should also be noted that the Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest in Italy, housing pieces found in excavations of the Roman city of Valeia.

Finally, inside the Palazzo della Pilotta you can also visit the Palatine Library, which is incredibly beautiful.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The ticket to visit the entire Palazzo della Pilotta complex costs 16€ and can be bought directly online. The complex is closed on Mondays but is open on other days from 10.30 am to 7 pm. In any case, I suggest you check out the official website to better plan your visit.

» Piazza della Pace

I’d also suggest a brief stop in Piazza della Pace, from where you can get the best angles for a photo of the majestic Palazzo della Pilotta.

How to spend one day in Parma Piazza della Pace

» Teatro Regio (Regio Theatre)

The list of what to do in Parma continues at Regio Theatre. It is an opera house inaugurated in 1829 that has more than 1400 seats.

How to spend one day in Parma Teatro Regio

Although the exterior of the building isn’t very flashy, the decorative elements inside are phenomenal.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: There are 30-minute guided tours of Teatro Regio in English and Italian, which need to be booked in advance. The tours cost 5€ and I suggest you find out more about them here.

» Santa Maria della Steccata Basilica

Just opposite the Teatro Regio, you’ll find the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata. The church may not be very big, but the frescoes inside leave no one indifferent. What’s more, it’s free to visit.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The Basilica is open every day from 7.30 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 6.30 pm.

» Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

Also known as Piazza Municipal, Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi was built in medieval times as the city’s centre of power. That’s why two of the main buildings in the square are Parma Town Hall and the Governor’s Palace.

How to spend one day in Parma Piazza Garibaldi

Today, the square has several cafés and terraces and is a popular meeting place for locals.

» Parma’s Baptistery

It’s time to head to the place that surprised me the most and that you really must include in your Parma itinerary. I’m talking about Parma’s Baptistery – the place that really blew me away in Parma.

How to spend one day in Parma Cathedral Parma
Parma’s Baptistery on the right

The Baptistery is a tower right next to Parma’s Cathedral and is relatively small. However, its interior is absolutely magnificent 🥰. The beauty is in its details, as Parma’s baptistery is covered in frescoes almost from floor to ceiling.

In addition, its construction clearly demonstrates a transition between two architectural styles: Romanesque and Gothic. Although the ticket to visit its interior is a bit expensive (12€), I think it’s worth every cent.

Throughout the visit, there are some explanations in English that give us a bit more context about the various figures we are looking at. The information is brief and not at all dull, as is often the case on this type of visit.

💡 EXTRA TIP: The ticket to visit Parma’s Baptistery also includes access to the Diocesan Museum, both of which are open from 10 am to 6 pm every day. You can find the most up-to-date information on the official website.

» Parma’s Cathedral

Another must-see in Parma is its Cathedral, also with an interior decorated with frescoes. This cathedral is one of the most beautiful I’ve visited in Italy and one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in the country.

How to spend one day in Parma Cathedral Parma

Although the whole cathedral is incredibly beautiful, pay particular attention to the paintings on the dome by Corregggio.

Remember when I said at the beginning of the post that Parma was full of surprises? Well, Parma Cathedral and its Baptistery are clearly the two places you can’t help but love😍.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Visiting Parma Cathedral is free and the opening hours are from 7.45 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 7.20 pm (except on Sundays, when the Cathedral is open from 7.45 am to 10.30 am and from 3 pm to 7.20 pm).

» San Giovanni Evangelista Church

A few metres from Parma’s Cathedral, I also recommend a visit to the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista. This is a smaller church, but you can also find frescoes by Correggio here.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: You can visit this church completely free of charge and its opening hours are from 8.30 am to 12 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm.

» Camera di San Paolo

And if everything you’ve seen so far has surprised you, why not let Parma surprise you a little more? So, I recommend a stop at Camera di San Paolo!

Camera di San Paolo is a room in the former Monastery of St. Paul, where you can admire more frescoes by Correggio from the early 16th century.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The visit costs 8€ and I suggest you check the opening times on this website.

» Food tour in Parma

Despite all the cultural sightseeing in Parma (which is quite enjoyable), there’s one thing you can’t miss when you visit the city 😉. Since Parma is known worldwide for Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, I highly suggest a food tour to learn more about the production of these products and also to taste them, of course!

As far as Parma food tours are concerned, you can essentially choose between two types of tour: a 5/6 hour tour where you learn more about the production of these local products (usually held outside the historic centre) or a shorter tour in the city centre to try out the best places serving these products.

If you opt for the longer tour, I suggest extending your stay in Parma as the tour will take up at least half of your day. In terms of longer tours, I suggest these two:

On the other hand, if you want a shorter tour (2-3 hours), I suggest one of these shorter tours near the historic centre:

  • Traditional Food Tour: during 3.5 hours, take the opportunity to get to know the 5 most famous foods in Parma, while being guided by a local guide with knowledge of the region’s gastronomy.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano tour and tasting: a 2-hour tour that allows us to visit a Parmesan cheese factory and the entire process associated with its production. It also includes a brief tasting.

Alternatively, you can also visit the Parmigiano Reggiano Museum (5€) or the Parma Ham Museum (5€). However, just be aware that both museums are located outside Parma’s historic centre.

Best places to eat in Parma

You can already tell that Parma is a place with great cuisine😉. And so, I have a recommendation for a restaurant that I really enjoyed in the city. It’s called Trattoria Corrieri and has a very cosy, traditional decor.

There are several traditional dishes, but I ended up trying a dish that included tortelli of three different varieties: pumpkin, potato and ricotta and spinach. It was absolutely divine. I also tried crescentine, which is a typical dish from the Emilia-Romagna region.

Disclaimer: this post may contain some affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy something through my links. This doesn’t represent any additional cost to you and you’ll be supporting my work here on the blog😊

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about me

A Ticket To Take Off About Me

I am Mariana from Porto, Portugal. I am truly passionate about traveling and all things travel related. And that’s exactly what led me to create this page: so I can inspire others to travel and help plan all those trips with my tips and itineraries.





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