Visit Bologna, Italy – The best things to do and see!

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Things to do and see

Visit Bologna Italy is easy and fun, but if you have little time, some tips from those who know it will be useful! so we have created The top 10 things to see and the itineraries to visit bologna in one, two and three days. Follow us on this journey through the main points of interest of the city to discover its secrets!

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Towers of Bologna – Asinelli and Garisenda

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Towers of Bologna – Asinelli e Garisenda ©

The towers of Bologna are undoubtedly considered the symbol of the medieval city. The two towers dominate the city center from above and are a legacy of architecture that still characterizes the urban landscape. Their sight is part of the daily pleasures of the Bolognese who love and respect the two guardian sisters. A stop in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana is certainly a must to contemplate these wonders in all their form.

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The San Petronio’s church

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San Petronio ©

Just take a look at the marvelous facade that dominates Piazza Maggiore to remain enchanted. The Basilica of San Petronio is dedicated to the city’s patron, although it is not the cathedral, it is certainly one of the most beautiful things to see. Entering inside you will find beautiful works of art including the frescoes by Giovanni da Modena as well as the longest sundial in the world. The history of its construction as well as the events of which it was the protagonist is also very interesting. Over the years this church has seen popes and emperors pass between its doors, in short, do not miss the chance to visit it!


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The Quadrilatero neighborhood

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Quadrilatero@Giuseppe Cardone

The Quadrilatero is probably the most picturesque neighborhood. Once upon a time, the area was dedicated to commerce and the neighborhood is formed by the ancient streets of the professions exercised in the Middle Ages. Today the tradition is still present and visiting the quadrilateral you can see: luxury shopping and ”Botteghe”, gastronomy with typical products and restaurants.

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Le Sette Chiese e piazza Santo Stefano

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Basilica di Santo Stefano ©Bologna Guide

Piazza Santo Stefano is one of the most fascinating square in Italy, the complex of Seven Churches overlooking the square is certainly a masterpiece of religious architecture. The Basilica of Santo Stefano in fact develops in seven buildings of worship that have undergone variations and enlargements over the centuries. In this way the complex of the seven churches represents the evolution that the city has had from its origins to today.

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Piazza Maggiore

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Piazza Maggiore vista dall’altro ©Bologna Guide

Piazza Maggiore is the heart of Bologna and one of the oldest squares in Italy. This is where the lives of the Bolognese meet and the great events that animate the city take place there. If you really want to experience the town take at least a quarter of an hour and sit on the “Crescentone” that bounds the square, then see what is happening around you and admiring the magnificent buildings that surround the main square.

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The Archiginnasio

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Archigginnasio © Bologna Guide

The Archiginnasio is located a few steps from San Petronio and is certainly the most famous palace in the city. Born to host the lessons of the Alma Mater Studiorum, it is a key point of Bolognese culture. The walls are decorated with heraldic coats of arms and some rooms have great artistic value. Among these are the Sala dello Stabat Mater and the Teatro Anatomico with the impressive Cattedra degli Spellati.

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Church of San Luca

things to do in bologna, visit bologna The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, simply San Luca for the Bolognese, is a place of worship strongly linked to the tradition of the city. The sanctuary is located on the hill of the “Guardia” at a height of about 600 meters and its majestic structure dominates Bologna from above. You can reach it comfortably by bus or walk the longest porticos in the world on the way to via Saragozza. Whatever your choice at the top is the panoramic terrace where you can admire the beautiful panorama.

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The Neptune’s Fountain

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Neptune’s Fountain

The Neptune was rightly recognized as one of the landmarks of the city. The beautiful fountain on which it rests is a masterpiece of medieval art commissioned by the papal legate Pier Donato Cesi. The beauty of the statue of Neptune derives not only from its imposing figure but from the complex symbology that is hidden in it. Discovering the secrets that hides will be one of the pleasures of your journey.

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The window in via Piella “Little Venezia” and the seven secrets

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Little Venice @ Paolo Margari

Looking for something surprising to see in Bologna? Here we stare at the hidden world of underground channels. La Window in Via Piella opens onto a stretch of underground river that re-emerges in the city center, giving life to an image that many have called Little Venice. This is only one of the Seven Secrets.

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MAMbo – The Modern Art Museum of Bologna

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MAMbo is off course the most visited museum in Emilia Romagna. The permanent collection can be enjoyed through a thematic route divided into nine sections. In addition to hosting the prestigious collection of modern and contemporary art, the museum is often home to major international exhibitions.

[ps2id id=’hotel’ target=”/]Book now your accommodation in bologna. Use the Bologna Italy map of the Hotel!

Let’s have some more tips about:

> Where to stay in Bologna on a budget

> Best tour of the city

> Restaurants in Bologna

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Visit Bologna – City sightseeing in a week end

Visiting Bologna in a weekend is not only possible but also easy, you just need to know what to see! In fact, for the first time visitors time it can be useful follow some sightseeing tours, in this way do not miss any of the main points of interest. For this purpose we have created three sightseeing tour, all designed to make your short break as pleasant as possible.

First Day: Piazza Maggiore, Quadrilatero, Seven Churches and Bologna’s tower

Second Day: Archiginnasio, il Ghetto Ebraico, la Pinacoteca Nazionale ed i Giardini Margherita

Third Day: Basilica di San Francesco, San Luca, Mambo e Cavaticcio.

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Bologna in 1 Day

This sightseeing is designed to visit the city in one day and is structured to meet every need. You can admire historic sites and singular architecture, stroll through the medieval streets of the old town and go shopping. We did not forget to include tips about where to eat and where to relax yourself.

What to see if you’ll stay just one day in Bologna? The city sightseeing starts in Piazza Maggiore!

Piazza Maggiore, things to do in bologna

Piazza Maggiore ©Bologna Guide

If you want to visit Bologna in one day you have to start from here, this is the heart of the city. The square is always crowed and if you want to start your day with a good breakfast there are plenty of places to sit down for a coffee, we suggest you try it under the porch of Palazzo del Podestà. From this location you can admire the façade of the Basilica of San Petronio and all the surrounding buildings. Just ready to go and discover the wonders of Piazza Maggiore, the beautiful palaces surrounding it, and the statue of San Petronio, the patron saint of the city.

At this point you can enter the Basilica and take a look at the masterpieces it contains. Go out of San Petronio and head to the opposite side and try the “Cordless Phone” of Voltone del Podestà. Unveiled this mystery you can move to the wonderful Neptune Fountain.

Walking and shopping in the Quadrilatero

I vicoli del Quadrilatero, visit bologna

Quadrilatero ©Bologna Guide

After the tour of Piazza Maggiore, with its magnificent palaces and the legacies of the nobility of Bologna, it is time to move to a more folkloristic area. Quadrilatero is the neighbourhood that was once known as the Mercato di Mezzo (Middle Market). This was the neighbourhood where craftsmen companies came up and trade was taking place. Its streets maintain the charm of old time while hosting modern stores and international luxury brands.

We recommend crossing it through via Pescherie Vecchie, via Drapperie, Via degli Orefici, alley of the Ranocchi and then exit via Clavature to get to Santo Stefano and continue your visit.

During one day in Bologna you have to see Piazza Santo Stefano and the “Seven Churches”

Arriving in Via Santo Stefano coming from Via Clavature you will have to turn right and immediately you will be at the next stop of your one day visit.The square of Santo Stefano has a surreal appearance and entering the Complesso delle Sette Chiese (Complex of the Seven Churches) you will understand why this is one of the best things to see.

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Mercato di Mezzo © Bologna Guide

Then it will be almost lunch time, nearby there are several restaurants where to eat. In the square we recommend Da Cesarina, a restaurant of very good quality but rather expensive. On Via del Borgo Nuovo you will find the Osteria delle Sette Chiese where to taste a good plate of Tigelle and salami in a simple and welcoming location. Alternatively inside the Quadrilatero you will find several places where to eat, among which we recommend the Mercato di Mezzo, where you can find a wide selection of Italian products.

Let’s have some more tips about:

> Where to eat

> Where to park

> Secret Food Tour

The Finestrella of Via Piella and the Galiera’s Gates

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Galiera’s Gates © Bologna Guide

Visiting the city in one day you have to stop in Via Piella and take a look at Piccola Venezia, which is of course the most famous of the Seven Secrets. If you have stopped for lunch, restart your tour from via Rizzoli and continue heading towards Indipendenza Street. Walking around the main streets you can see the shop windows and enjoy the pleasant stroll that characterizes the city. At the intersection with Via Righi, follow the road to Via Piella, here you will find the famous Finestrella (window). A few minutes stop is enough to enjoy the nice panorama you can see from the window. Then go back to Independenza street and keep walking until you reach Porta Galliera. This is one of the old gate of the city with a very beautiful architecture.

If you want a relaxing time you can cross the road and visit the Montagnola gardens. Get in on the beautiful Pincio marble staircase that is decorated with two bas-reliefs and the Giant Wife’s fountain. The park is a good place for a break in the green.

The city from above, a panorama not to be missed

reasons to visit Bologna Italy, discover BolognaAfter the break you can leave Montagnola Gardens from the exit of via Irnerio. Turn left and follow via Alessandrini and then via Oberdan so you will be a few steps from the towers, very close to your destination. The Asinelli Tower is not only beautiful to see but can be visited from the inside, also you can reach its top. The panorama you’ll enjoy is wonderful, you will be enchanted by seeing the city from above and the life flowing below you. This is an attraction not to be missed if you stay just one day in Bologna.

Have an Aperitivo, a good way to end one day in Bologna

Have an Aperitivo it’s a good way to end your tour, so let’s find a good place for Aperitivo . Close to the tower of the Asinelli it is full of wine bars and restaurants. Anyway that one we recommend is a special place: the Mercato delle Erbe.

You will just have to walk via Rizzoli and then via Ugo Bassi to find this unique place. The Mercato delle Erbe was born as a fruit and vegetable market, but recently some areas of the property have been used as restaurants and finger food shops, here you will find a wide variety of Bologna food, good wine and a peaceful location to finish the city tour.

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Tour: Bologna in 2 Days

the theme of the second day will be the university culture, in fact, the capital of Emilia Romagna is famous throughout the world for being the oldest university headquarters of the world, Alma Mater Studiorum. We will continue visiting one of the most beautiful museums in the city.

Piazza Verdi and Pinacoteca Nazionale
Piazza Verdi, bologna 1 day itinerary

Piazza Verdi ©Bologna Guide

Piazza Verdi is certainly the hub of the university area and is the meeting point preferred by the students, for this will be the first stop on our tour. Nearby there are many points of cultural and historical interest, the Teatro Comunale, the Academy of Fine Arts, Palazzo Poggi and the Museo della Specola are an example. But for this day we suggest you to visit the National Art Gallery where you can admire paintings by great Italian and Bolognese masters.

The Jewish Ghetto and the Archiginnasio
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Portale d’ingresso del Ghetto Ebraico ©Bologna Guide

After exploring the area, follow via Zamboni and head towards the Jewish Ghetto. Its main entrance is in Via del Carro but you can also enter Via Oberdan. Well, it’s time to get lost in the narrow streets that make up the ghetto! The bright colors and the small shops that cover the area will bring you back so as to experience the sensation of being one of its ancient inhabitants.

Leaving the ghetto, the Archiginnasio awaits us in all its charm. You just have to get to Piazza Galvani and you will see the entrance to the beautiful palace just a few steps away. Walking through its halls, you will find that you have never seen anything like it. As many as 2,000 student coats of arms will tell you the history of Bologna in a unique way.

Giardini Margherita, for a relaxing evening

Now it’s time to head for the Margherita Gardens so you can rest a bite. But first we suggest a break to taste the best gelato in Bologna, that of Cremeria Cavour! The ice cream shop is located in the square of the same name and is often crowded however the goodness of the ice cream will be worth the wait. To get to the gardens we can go through via Castiglione, passing first via Farini so as to remain entranced by the windows of luxury Bolognese.

When you reach the end of via Castiglione, just cross the avenues that border the city center to find yourself at the entrance to the Margherita Gardens. This is the time to relax and enjoy the green walking through tree-lined avenues or lying on the lawns. If you want to dine or have a drink in this beautiful place you will find several bars and restaurants where you can stop, in particular we suggest the Serre dei Giardini Margherita.

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Bologna in 3 Days

Do you need more tips? There you can find some non touristy things to do in bologna

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