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15 Best Things To Do In Bologna

Are you looking for the best things to do in Bologna? Bologna is a beautiful Italian city located in the Emilia-Romagna region. This city is known for its art, culture and culinary delights, making it an ideal destination for travelers. From its picturesque streets lined with medieval towers and buildings to its many fine restaurants serving local Bologna food, there are countless activities to explore during your trip to Bologna.

1. Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is one of the most historic spots in Bologna, Italy. The large piazza was first constructed in the 13th century and remains a prominent feature of the city today. This impressive public square in Bologna is framed by several impressive buildings and monuments, making it a must-see destination for any traveler visiting Bologna.

The most notable tourist attraction on Piazza Maggiore is Palazzo dei Notai, an 18th-century palace that serves as a beautiful backdrop to the piazza. There are also two 11th century Romanesque churches located within Piazza Maggiore; San Petronio Basilica and Church of San Domenico.

2. The Two towers of Bologna

Two towers of Bologna

The Two Towers are two medieval structures located in the city of Bologna. They were initially constructed between 1109 and 1119 as part of the city walls during the reign of several local families. The taller tower stands at 97 meters tall, while its shorter counterpart measures only slightly less at 85 meters high. Both towers lean slightly outwards due to their age and constant exposure to harsh weather conditions, making them even more recognizable around the world.

The Two leaning towers are a symbol of pride and strength for many Italians, with steady streams of tourists flocking each year to get a glimpse of this iconic structure. Various renovations have been done over the centuries to keep them standing strong; however, it wasn't until 2008 that a major renovation project was conducted which stabilized both towers and improved their structural integrity for future generations to appreciate.


Address: di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

3. San Petronio

Basilica di San Petronio

Basilica di San Petronio is one of the best places to visit in Italy during your stay in Bologna. It is a large Gothic-style church dating back to 1390, located in the centre of Bologna city. San Petronio dominates the main piazza and provides a stunning backdrop for many events and activities throughout the year.

Its interior boasts wonderful frescoes from some of Italy's most renowned Renaissance painters, such as Jacopo della Quercia and Francesco Ferrara. The basilica also houses an astronomical clock that shows not only the time but also the sun's position in relation to Earth, making it an interesting attraction for those interested in science or astronomy.


Address: Piazza Galvani, 5, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 346 576 8400

4. Archiginnasio di Bologna

Archiginnasio di Bologna

When visiting the city of Bologna, one of the most impressive and interesting top things to see in Bologna is the Archiginnasio. This landmark dates back to 1563 and was initially built to house a Bologna university established by Pope Pius IV. It is one of the oldest universities still in existence today, making it a must visit in Bologna for anyone interested in history.

The building itself is breathtaking, with its stunning Renaissance façade and ornamented interiors made from walnut wood. Inside, four lovely cloisters are arranged around courtyards, each providing visitors with plenty of space for exploration.

The library contained within the Archiginnasio di Bologna should also not be missed during your visit. It houses an incredible collection of books gathered over centuries that range from ancient manuscripts on philosophy and natural sciences to more recent works from contemporary authors.


Address: Piazza Galvani, 1, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 276811

5. Bologna Archaeological Museum

Bologna Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum is one of the top Bologna tourist attractions. Located within the University of Bologna, this impressive museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from Etruscan, Greek and Roman times. Guests can explore galleries filled with coins, ceramics and sculptures that tell stories about ancient cultures. Not only are these displays fascinating to look at but they also make interesting reading for anyone with an interest in history or archaeology.

The museum has an excellent permanent exhibition that includes relics from prehistoric times through to the Middle Ages such as weapons, jewelry and tools used by local people throughout time. Many pieces are unique to this area as they have been recovered during archaeological excavations around Bologna. In addition, there are interactive displays with 3D reconstructions which provide a more immersive experience for visitors.


Address: Via dell'Archiginnasio, 2, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 275 7211

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6. Bologna National Gallery

Bologna National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the best attractions in Bologna. It houses a vast collection of artwork spanning centuries, from Renaissance to modern art. The gallery is home to some of the most important works by renowned Italian masters such as Titian and Giorgio Morandi.

Tourists can also explore a permanent exhibition devoted to Italian artists like Michelangelo and Caravaggio, which comprises a variety of artworks including sculpture, frescoes and oil paintings. Additionally, there are rotating exhibitions that feature contemporary pieces from both local and international artists.

The building itself is also worth exploring; it was originally constructed in 1560 to serve as a palace for Cardinal Luigi d'Este and has since been renovated into the gallery it is today – an impressive structure with three stories full of masterpieces.


Address: Via delle Belle Arti, 56, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 420 9442

7. Basilica di San Domenico

Basilica di San Domenico

I have visited many churches in Bologna and the Basilica di San Domenico is one of my favorites. Built in the 13th century and named after St Dominic, it is a testament to the city’s unique history. Upon entering, I am always struck by its impressive architecture which blends elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The interior exudes an aura of holiness and peacefulness that has been preserved over time.

One of the most noteworthy features of the basilica is its large altar dedicated to Saint Dominic himself as well as numerous frescoes depicting his life story. There are also several works of art including a crucifix by Michelangelo that was commissioned by Pope Paul III and paintings by Guercino, among others.


Address: S. Domenico, 13, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 640 0411

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8. Monte della Guardia

Monte della Guardia

Monte della Guardia, located in Bologna, is an epic lookout point that offers visitors panoramic views of the city. The scenic path up to Monte della Guardia is lined with towering trees and vibrant foliage; visitors can take in the sights of nature and bask in the beauty of their surroundings as they ascend to this unparalleled spot. From the top of Monte della Guardia, guests can observe an incredible landscape consisting of terracotta rooftops, brick apartments and rolling hills laid out before them.

Not only does Monte della Guardia offer the best views of Bologna, but it also houses two charming churches - San Pietro di San Luca and San Michele - which have been standing since medieval times.

9. Santuario di Madonna di San Luca

Santuario di Madonna di San Luca

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is a religious sanctuary in Bologna, and definitely worth a visit. Located atop the hill of Colle della Guardia, it is best known for its porch that consists of 666 arches connecting the church to the base of the hill. The origins of this religious site date back to the 11th century when Countess Matilda gifted an icon of Mary and Jesus to a group of Benedictine monks who had already established a church in the area.

A procession was held from this church to take this icon up Mount Calvary where a chapel was then built to house it permanently. The current structure went through several renovations and expansions over time until it became what we see today; an impressive sight, with its white-washed exterior walls adorned with classical statues and red domes on top that are visible from miles away.


Address: Via di San Luca, 36, 40135 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 614 2339

10. Torre Prendiparte

Torre Prendiparte

Torre Prendiparte is a tower in the old town of Bologna, located in northern Italy. This building holds an immense amount of history, being built around 1179 by a family called "Ghibellines", to defend their own family against enemies of the city. It was later extended in 1270 by another family, who added battlements and two turrets that were used as watchtowers until 1511.

The Tower stands at a height of 89 feet at its highest point, which is the highest urban tower in Bologna and one of the few remaining examples of medieval military architecture. In addition to this impressive height, it features crenellations and machicolation on two sides which were common features in towers from that era.


Address: Piazzetta Prendiparte, 5, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 284 0436

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11. Oratory of Battuti

oratory of Battuti in Bologna

The oratory of Battuti in Bologna is a place of great historical importance. The building was built in 1379 and served as a gathering place for members of the religious order known as the Scuola dei Battuti di San Giobbe.

This group was dedicated to helping people who were poor and sick, and they provided healthcare services to those in need throughout Bologna. The oratory was used by the Scuola dei Battuti di San Giobbe members for meetings, prayers, and discussion of how best to care for their fellow citizens. Today, the Oratory of Battuti is still a popular destination for visitors to Bologna.


Address: Via Clavature, 8, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

12. Fontana del Nettuno

Fontana del Nettuno

Fontana del Nettuno is a beautiful and iconic fountain located in the center of Bologna. It was built in 1563 by architect Tommaso Laureti on behalf of Pope Pius IV. Standing tall at over 20 meters, it's one of the most impressive fountains in all of Italy.

The main feature is a large bronze statue of Neptune, god of the sea, flanked by four allegorical river gods standing atop dolphins at each corner. On either side are two giants made from Carrara marble that pour out their respective basins with water cascading down to create an awe-inspiring effect.


Address: Piazza del Nettuno, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 658 3111

13. St. Stephen Basilica

St. Stephen Basilica bologna

One of the best things to do in Bologna is to visit the St. Stephen Basilica, a historic Catholic church that dates back to the 11th century. The church was built in 1086 and it was dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. It stands out as one of the most important churches in Bologna as it has been home to some of Italy's most legendary figures such as Dante, Saint Petronius and San Francesco di Assisi.

The church itself is an extraordinary place in Bologna with its Romanesque-style architecture and grand design that includes two domes, multiple steeples and dozens of statues on its façade. Inside, you can find marble columns, frescoes and works of art from various periods throughout history; all showcasing the incredible artistic talent that has come out of this ancient city over the centuries.


Address: Via Santo Stefano, 24, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 498 3423

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14. Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vita

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vita

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vita is a beautiful church located in the heart of Bologna. It was built during the 14th century and is one of the most stunning churches I have ever seen. The interior décor has truly taken my breath away; it is covered with elegant marble sculptures and frescoes that narrate stories from the bible.

The most remarkable feature of this church is its “Deposition”, or Lamentation over Christ, created by Niccolò dell'Arca in 1463. It is a breathtaking life-size sculpture made out of terracotta depicting a sorrowful Mary cradling her dead son Jesus in her arms; it radiates an intense feeling of emotion and grief. This masterpiece remains as one of Bologna's greatest works of art even today.


Address: Via Clavature, 8/10, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

Phone: +39 051 1993 6343

15. Portico di San Luca

Portico di San Luca

The Portico di San Luca is located in the city of Bologna, Italy. It is a covered arcade that stretches along more than four kilometers and consists of 676 arches. Built on the edge of the city walls and up to the Sanctuary at Colle della Guardia, this portico makes its way through cobblestone streets, ancient houses and churches. The structure was built between 1674 and 1797 by Pellegrino Tibaldi as part of an effort to give pilgrims easier access to the basilica's sanctuary.

The architecture of this portico is quite remarkable; arches are decorated with frescoes dating back from 15th century or earlier. The portico also has a special mysticism which can be noticed just by walking through it: it was believed that those who walk under these archways are protected from lightning strikes.

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Q: What is Bologna best known for?

A: Bologna is well-known for its University. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and is considered to be the oldest university in Europe. It has played an essential role in shaping the intellectual history of Europe over several centuries. The university was initially established as a law school but later grew into a full-fledged university with faculties covering all fields of study. Today it attracts thousands of students from all over the world who come to study at this prestigious institution.

Q: Is it worth visiting Bologna Italy?

A: In short – yes! Here's why. The architecture in Bologna is breathtaking. The city centre boasts stunning medieval towers and palaces that have stood the test of time. Take a stroll through Piazza Maggiore, one of the largest squares in Italy, and marvel at the Basilica di San Petronio with its striking Gothic façade. You can also climb up Torre degli Asinelli – one of two iconic leaning towers – for panoramic views of the city skyline.

Q: What is the most beautiful part of Bologna?

A: One of the most breathtaking parts of Bologna is Piazza Maggiore. This square has been at the heart of Bologna social and political life for centuries. The square hosts several historic buildings such as Palazzo del Comune and Palazzo dei Banchi, which are some of the most significant landmarks in this part of Italy.

Q: Is Bologna a party town?

A: Bologna has a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to both locals and tourists. The city has numerous bars, pubs, and clubs that stay open until the early hours of the morning. Some popular areas include Piazza Verdi and Via del Pratello. These places are filled with young people who come to enjoy drinks and music.

Q: What is the most romantic place in Bologna?

A: One of the most enchanting spots in Bologna is Piazza Santo Stefano. This charming square is located in the heart of the historic center and boasts a breathtaking view of one of Europe's oldest churches - Basilica di Santo Stefano. The piazza features ancient architectural structures such as porticos, arches, and fountains that add to its beauty and charm. With its tranquil atmosphere, it's an ideal spot to sit down with your significant other and enjoy each other’s company amidst picturesque surroundings.

Q: Are museums free in Bologna?

A: Fortunately, there are a number of art galleries and museums in Bologna that offer free admission on certain days, while others have permanent free entry. The Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, also known as the National Art Gallery of Bologna, is completely free for all visitors every first Sunday of each month. The Museum is home to an impressive collection of Italian art spanning from the 13th century through to the 18th century. The collection includes works by such famous artists as Raffaello Sanzio and Guido Reni, making it a must-visit for any art lover visiting the city.

Recommended Hotels In Bologna

Savoia Hotel Regency

Savoia Hotel Regency

Savoia Hotel Regency is set in an 18th-century villa at 3.1 mi from Bologna city center. Surrounded by a beautiful 33 ft² park, it features an outdoor swimming pool.

Aemilia Hotel Bologna

Aemilia Hotel Bologna

Hotel Aemilia is 15 minutes on foot from Bologna's city center and famous towers. It offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and high-definition LCD TV with international channels and Chromecast facility.

Hotel Metropolitan guest room

Hotel Metropolitan

Hotel Metropolitan is set just 5 minutes' walk from Bologna's main square and 164 feet from Via Indipendenza, which is the main shopping street in the center. It brings you modern accommodations with a stylish Oriental twist.


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Want More Information on Italy:

Be sure to visit our Italy Travel Guide for even more travel tips.

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