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What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Tower Asinelli

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days (map included)

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days (map included)

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Bologna is the city of porticoes, the birthplace of bolognese pasta (tagliatelle al ragù) and has the oldest university in the world.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Tower Asinelli
View from Asinelli Tower

Visiting Bologna is a pleasant surprise! It may not be as touristy as Venice, Rome or Florence, for example, but it’s nevertheless a vibrant city where you’ll want to stay for a long time.

So, throughout this post you’ll find tips on what to visit in Bologna in 2 days, to make your travel plans easier in this Italian city. As well as a Bologna travel guide, you’ll also find information on:

  • How many days in Bologna
  • When is the best time of year to visit Bologna
  • Restaurants not to miss in Bologna
  • Accommodation in Bologna

What’s the best time of the year to visit Bologna?

Located in northern Italy, Bologna’s temperatures are never extreme, so any time of year can be a good time to visit the city.

Of course, Bologna in winter is colder and it often snows a bit. However, the temperatures are never excessively cold. In January, for example, the minimum temperature is around 1 °C and the maximum is 6 °C.

On the other hand, during the summer (although it’s not unbearably hot like the south of Italy), temperatures can easily reach 30 °C.

Therefore, to ensure a more pleasant trip to Bologna, I suggest visiting the city from April to June and from September to October to ensure milder temperatures (and also fewer tourists!).

How many days do you need to visit Bologna?

The city centre is quite compact, so a day in Bologna is actually enough to visit its main attractions. However, I suggest extending your visit to Bologna by a day or so, as there are excellent day trips from Bologna, such as Modena, Parma or even San Marino.

In fact, even if you choose not to go on one of these day trips, 2 days in Bologna is the ideal length of time to enjoy the city more calmly. What’s more, this way you’ll even have more time to try some of the best restaurants in Bologna 😍.

Is Bologna worth visiting?

Do you enjoy beautiful historic centres? Cities full of history? Tasty Italian food? Then Bologna is definitely worth a visit 😉.

Bologna is an excellent choice for a getaway in Italy and can even be combined with many other places nearby that are also worth a visit. So I can only find good reasons to book a trip to Bologna. What’s more, it’s known for being the food capital of Italy. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Fun fact: Bologna is known as La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa. This has to do with its famous university, its excellent gastronomy and its terracotta-coloured buildings.

How to get to Bologna?

There are several options for getting to Bologna, which makes travelling to this Italian city very easy.

To begin with, Bologna has an airport (Guglielmo Marconi) that has connections to a wide variety of destinations in Europe, but also to some outside Europe (e.g. Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates).

Alternatively, you can also travel by train to Bologna Centrale – Bologna’s train station. Bologna has direct connections with some of Italy’s main cities, such as Rome, Venice, Verona, Milan, and Florence, among others.

How to get from Bologna airport to the centre?

Guglielmo Marconi Airport is located relatively close to the city centre. One of the easiest ways to get to the centre of Bologna is by using the Marconi Express which takes about 10 minutes from the airport to Bologna Centrale train station.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza del Nettuno
Piazza del Nettuno

Marconi Express costs 11€ for a one-way journey and 20€ for a round trip. There are also some cheaper options for family travellers.

Given the short distance from the airport to the centre, another option is to take a taxi. This is especially worth it if you’re travelling with more than two people, as the taxi fare will be split between everyone. A taxi between the airport and the centre costs around 20€-26€.

Finally, if you really don’t want to worry when you arrive in Bologna, you can always hire a transfer service directly at Welcome Pickups.

How to get around in Bologna?

Since Bologna is a fairly compact city in which the main points of interest are located relatively close together, the best way to visit Bologna is on foot.

The main area of the historic centre is fairly flat, so you can easily walk around the city. What’s more, the city is full of porticoes, which help you escape the rain in winter and the hot sun in summer.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Tower Asinelli
View from Asinelli Tower

If you need to use a bus to travel somewhere further, you can always do so as well. To use the bus, simply tap a contactless debit/credit card when you enter the bus.

Bolonha Welcome Card: is it worth it?

Like other European cities, Bologna has a tourist card that gives you free entry and sometimes discounts at some of the city’s main points of interest. The card lasts 15 days and there are two versions: Easy (25€) and Plus (40€).

In my case, it didn’t pay off to buy this card, considering what I wanted to visit in the city. However, I suggest you check the official website to find what’s included and see if it’s worth it when you sum up te price of the attractions you intend to visit in Bologna.

Accommodation in Bologna

There are many different options for accommodation in Bologna, at many different prices. Since the city is compact and you mostly get around on foot, one of the best areas to stay in Bologna is right in the city centre.

That way, you’ll have more freedom to explore the city’s historic centre without having to use public transport. Plus, it’ll also help you to feel more of the city’s vibe. For example, I stayed at Casa Nostra 14, which was very centrally located.

Casa Nostra 14 is a flat located in an old building and fits 4 people (1 bed and 1 sofa bed). The flat is equipped with a kitchen, making it an excellent option for those who want to stay longer in the city.

However, there are other accommodation options in Bologna, and these are some of my favourites:

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IATI insurance with -5% discount
safetywing insurance

Activities & tours in Bologna

Map Bologna – What to visit in Bologna

Before I share with you the list of things to see in Bologna in two days, I’m sharing a map to help you organise your Bologna itinerary.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days – Day 1

» Jewish Quarter

I suggest starting your sightseeing in Bologna in the Jewish Ghetto. The narrow streets marked by colourful buildings tell stories of the times when the Jewish population was confined to this part of the city.

» Bologna’s Canals

Relatively close to the Jewish quarter, you’ll find Bologna’s canals. Although a bit different from the canals of Venice, Bologna’s canals are very interesting still.

In fact, one of the canals is visible from a small window that opens in one of Bologna’s buildings. I would like to point out, however, that this place has become very popular on social media and, for this reason, there is often a queue for photos.

In any case, I’ll share with you the locations of the best viewpoints over Bologna’s canals, so you can admire them too: Trattoria dal Biassanot | La Piccola Venezia.

» Mercato delle Erbe

There are few cafés and restaurants where you won’t want to stop to try one of the city’s specialities (e.g. tagliatelle al ragù, Bologna’s mortadella). Visiting Bologna is truly a gastronomic experience.

And one of the best places to try some of these delicacies is at Mercato delle Erbe. This market dates back to the early 20th century and was rebuilt after being destroyed during the Second World War.

There you’ll find shops selling traditional products, but also a few restaurants and places to grab a snack.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Would you like to learn more about the history of Bologna while visiting the city? Then I suggest this 2-hour guided tour of the city. It’s a very popular tour with tourists in the city and it has excellent ratings.

» St. Peter’s Cathedral

We continue on to St Peter’s Cathedral (Catedral San Pietro). Although it has undergone various interventions over the years, there are records of this cathedral dating back to the 10th century. The interior of the cathedral is well worth seeing.

You can also climb to the top of its bell tower for great views over Bologna. Admission to visit the interior of the cathedral is free.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: The bell tower can only be visited on Saturdays and costs 5€.

» Piazzetta Prendiparte

Bologna is full of secrets, and Piazzetta Prendiparte is one of them. This is a small square tucked away at the end of a very narrow street. But the attraction here is not the square itself, but the Prendiparte tower.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazzetta Prendiparte

Also known as the Coronata Tower, this is a 12th-century tower built by the Prendiparte family. It is around 60 metres high, making it the second tallest in the city.

Today, the tower has been converted into accommodation. However, it is still possible to climb to the top on Sundays.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Prendiparte Tower is open on Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm and from 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm. The price to climb to the top of the tower is 5€. You can find the most up-to-date information here.

» Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana is one of the most emblematic places in the city and one that shouldn’t be missing in your list of things to do in Bologna. In this square, in addition to the statue of San Petronio (patron saint of Bologna), you’ll find Bologna’s two most famous towers – Torre dei Asinelli and Torre Garisenda.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza di Porta Ravegnana
Piazza di Porta Ravegnana and Asinelli Tower at the end of the street

Both were built in the Middle Ages and served the purpose of defence, but also of demonstrating the prestige of some of the families who lived there. The Asinelli Tower is the tallest in the city and is 97 metres high, while the Garisenda Tower is lower at around 47 metres.

However, it is only possible to climb to the top of the Asinelli Tower as the Garisenda Tower is undergoing restoration work.

Climbing the Asinelli tower isn’t for everyone, but it’s VERY worth it 😍! There, you’ll undoubtedly find the best views in Bologna. There is no lift to get to the top and there are 498 steps.

As space is tight, visits are restricted to guarantee a maximum number of people visiting simultaneously. It is therefore compulsory to book your ticket online (because there is no ticket office on site).

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: You can buy your tickets for the Asinelli Tower here, and they cost 5€. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, but you can enter every 15 minutes (when you buy your ticket, you have to choose a time slot).

» Via Pescherie Vecchie and Via Drapperie

Located in the historic Quadrilatero neighbourhood, Via Pescherie Vecchie and Via Drapperie are two streets in Bologna that are a foodie’s paradise.

In addition to some typical food restaurants, there are also many shops selling fresh produce such as fish, meat, sausages, fruit and more.

In fact, if you’d like to take home some of Bologna’s typical products as a souvenir, then this is the place to try and find something! The hard part will be choosing what to purchase 😁.

💡 EXTRA TIP: If you’re interested, you can also visit the small but beautiful church of Santa Maria della Vita, which is nearby. This was one of the places that wasn’t even on my Bologna 2 days itinerary and I stumbled upon it completely by chance.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Santa Maria della Vita Sanctuary
Santa Maria della Vita Sanctuary

» Bologna Food Tour

And because food is also one of Bologna’s main attractions, I suggest a Bologna’s food tour to learn more about the local cuisine. In fact, Bologna is part of the Emilia-Romagna region, which is one of the best-known regions for Italian gastronomy.

For example, this food tour of Bologna is one of Get Your Guide’s most popular and highly rated. The tour lasts 3h30 and includes food tasting some of the city’s most typical foods.

Another type of tour that is also very popular and allows you to learn more about making traditional Bolognese food is Bologna’s cooking workshops. Take, for example, this tour where you can learn how to make homemade tortellini and have a meal at the end.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Depending on what time you book the food tour, you may have to readjust the plan for the first day of this Bologna itinerary to fit everything in! However, it’s perfectly possible to adjust the plan around the food tour.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days – Day 2

» Piazza del Nettuno

The second day of our two days in Bologna starts in the heart of the city – Piazza del Nettuno. The square is so named because in its centre there is a statue of Neptune, built in the 16th century.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza del Nettuno

This is one of the most popular places in Bologna, so be prepared for the crowds. As well as the beautiful fountain in the centre of the square, you can also enjoy some of the other buildings visible in the square: Biblioteca SalaBorsa (library) and Palazzo Re Enzo (palace).

The SalaBorsa Library can be visited inside, and the visit is free. Palazzo Re Enzo can also be visited inside, but the ticket costs 10€. I haven’t personally visited any of these monuments, but they look quite interesting.

» Piazza Maggiore

Walk a few metres and you’ll come across Piazza Maggiore. This is Bologna’s main square and home to some of Bologna’s most iconic monuments.

Let’s start with the San Petronio Basilica, dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Although the basilica doesn’t look the most imposing when you enter, it is full of surprises. In addition to the more than 20 chapels along the basilica’s side aisles, there you’ll find the largest meridian in the world and also the largest organ still in operation.

Inside the Basilica of San Petronio, there is also Cappella dei Magi (or Bolognini Chapel), where you can admire a wall of frescoes depicting Heaven and Hell. However, you have to pay for this part (5€).

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Entrance to San Petronio Basilica is free. The Basilica is open from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm and from 3 pm to 6.30 pm. More information here.

Another of the buildings that stands out in Piazza Maggiore is the Palazzo d’Accursio (also known as the Communal Palace), the seat of the town hall since the 14th century. Next to the palace, we can see the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), which was built a century later.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza Maggiore
Palazzo d’Accursio

If you’d like to see Piazza Maggiore from another perspective, then I suggest climbing the Clock Tower. The ticket costs 8€, but it also gives you access to visit the Municipal Art Collections. You can book your visit and find out more information here.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza Maggiore
Palazzo del Podestà

But that’s not all! Take also a look at Palazzo del Podestà, right opposite the San Petronio Basilica. Also in the centre of the building is a small tower (Torre dell’Arengo) which was used in the past to warn the city’s inhabitants of extraordinary events.

You should also try the funny Voltone del Podestà: say something to one of the four pillars of Palazzo del Podestà and the person on the opposite pillar will hear everything.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Don’t forget to explore the porticoes of Piazza Maggiore. The truth is that the city is full of porticoes, but the ones in Piazza Maggiore are some of the most beautiful. If you’d like to learn more about Bologna’s porticoes, you can book this 2-hour tour which also includes a visit to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.

» Bologna’s University: Archiginnasio

Whatever the length of your trip, the following should definitely be on your list of must-visit places in Bologna. I’m talking about the University of Bologna and, more specifically, the Archiginnasio building – located just 5 minutes from Piazza Maggiore.

As soon as you enter the inner courtyard, it’s hard not to be amazed by the frescoed porticoes. Climbing one of the building’s beautiful staircases, you quickly come across the entrance to the Anatomical Theatre.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Archiginnasio

This anatomical theatre dates back to the 17th century and was where medical students learned more about the human body at the time.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Archiginnasio
Anatomical theatre

The ticket also includes a visit to a small but absolutely beautiful library🥰.

📝 USEFUL INFORMATION: Only the visit to the Anatomical Theatre is paid for (3€), and you can buy your ticket on site. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

» Piazza Santo Stefano

Let’s head to Piazza Santo Stefano where the main attraction is the 7 churches of Santo Stefano. Although there are no longer seven churches there, this place is a complex of churches built in different eras.

What to visit in Bologna in 2 days Piazza Santo Stefano

Despite being less ostentatious than other religious temples in Italy (and even in Bologna), it’s a worthwhile visit. Admission is free. You can check the opening hours here.

» Madonna di San Luca Sanctuary and Portico of San Luca

And to finish off this Bologna itinerary, I suggest a visit to the furthest point from Bologna’s historic centre. I’m talking about the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca!

Although it is possible to walk there from the centre (which is even a pilgrimage route), I don’t recommend this option. The path from Piazza Maggiore is “only” 5 kilometres, but it is very steep.

Apart from the religious component associated with this route, there is another reason why so many tourists decide to walk up to the Sanctuary. A large part of the route runs along the San Luca Portico – the longest portico in the world (about 3.8 kilometres long).

So, I suggest two much more comfortable alternatives for getting to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca:

  • Taxi from the historic centre: I chose this option because we were 4 people and it was worth it (cost 12€ one way).
  • San Luca Express Bus: one of those tourist trains that leaves from Piazza Maggiore. It costs 12€ and includes a return journey. You can buy your ticket in advance here.

💡 EXTRA TIP: In my opinion, it makes more sense to go up by taxi so that you’re not subject to a fixed timetable. Afterwards, you can go down to enjoy the San Luca portico until you find a place where you can return to the centre by bus.

When you arrive at the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, you can visit it free of charge. It is also possible to go up to its dome with the San Luca Sky Experience (5€). I confess I haven’t been up there, but it seems that the views over Bologna are incredible.

Although the main reason I visited this sanctuary was for the views over the city (which do exist, even if you don’t go up to the dome), I confess that what surprised me most was the interior of the sanctuary.

What to visit – Bologna 1 day Itinerary

Only have one day in Bologna? No problem, as you can fit all the main sights into just one day! So let me tell you what to do in Bologna in one day:

  • Canals of Bologna
  • St. Peter’s Cathedral
  • Piazza di Porta Ravegnana + Asinelli Tower
  • Via Pescherie Vecchie + Via Drapperie
  • Piazza del Nettuno
  • Piazza Maggiore, where you’ll visit inside only San Petronio Basilica
  • University of Bologna: Archiginnasio
  • Piazza Santo Stefano
  • Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca (on days with less sunlight, you may not be able to fit this last point in)

What to visit beyond Bologna

Bologna’s location is excellent, allowing you to combine this city with many others nearby. In fact, many of these can be visited almost as a day trip from Bologna, since the city is also served with good train and bus connections.

How to spend one day in Parma

So, the first suggestion for a day trip from Bologna is Parma, and the train journey between Parma and Bologna takes about an hour. Parma’s historic centre is quite small and you can easily get around on foot. Don’t miss out on the Baptistery and the Cathedral of Parma, which are beautiful and covered in frescoes inside. Find out what else to visit in Parma in my one-day itinerary in the city.

What to do in Modena for a day Piazza Grande

Another option is the city of Modena, also located in the Emilia Romagna region. Like Parma, Modena is also quite small and you can easily wander around its points of interest. Its colourful buildings make the city very photogenic. Find out what you can visit in Modena in my one-day itinerary of the city. Modena is even closer to Bologna – a mere 30 minutes by train.

Finally, what about visiting one of the oldest countries in the world while in Bologna? It’s true: San Marino is about 1.15 hours by train (train to Rimini and then taxi/bus to San Marino) from Bologna and is also an excellent day trip option from the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region.

💡 EXTRA TIP: If, instead of a day trip, you prefer to stay in Bologna on your third day in the city, there are a few museums that might interest you: MAMbo | Pinacoteca Nazionale | Medieval Civic Museum.

Best restaurants in Bologna

I’ve mentioned several times throughout this post that it’s hard to resist Bologna’s gastronomic delights. But where can you try all these typical foods in the city? There are many places to choose from, believe me, but I’m going to share with you the three restaurants I visited:

  • Trattoria Anna Maria (€€): a very basic restaurant, but with the best tagliatelle al ragù and tortelloni. The pasta was exceptionally fresh and light. To say it was divine is an understatement 🤤.
  • Osteria dell’Orsa (€€): it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Bologna and it’s best to go early because it’s always full. Although, in my opinion, the tortelloni could be better, the bruschettas were great.
  • Regina Sofia (€€): the location too close to Piazza Maggiore made me wonder if this restaurant wasn’t a tourist trap. However, my pizza with pistachio cream and Bolognese mortadella was excellent.
  • Cremaria la Vecchia Stalla (€): a suggestion for dessert that has several ice cream flavours, some a bit different from the usual ones.

💡 EXTRA TIP: Although I haven’t tried it myself, here’s another recommendation that several people have given me, so I am going to share with you anyway – Trattoria da Me.

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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