What to see in Bologna in 3 days

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Bologna, the capital of Emilia Romagna, is located in a strategic point, easily reachable by car, train or plane from the rest of Italy. The city breathes a mixed air, steeped in the past, visible on the historic buildings that characterize the center, and the modernity and liveliness that only a university place can convey. Among museums and monuments to visit, there will be many cultural events and initiatives that can make your stay in Bologna truly unforgettable.

Let's see below what to see in Bologna in 3 days!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. How much does a weekend in Bologna cost
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Maggiore, Basilica of San Petronio, Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita, Torre degli Asinelli

The visit can only start from the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, rectangular in shape and surrounded by medieval buildings.

Stop to admire the imposing Fountain of Neptune, called "The Giant" because of its large size! Looking at the statue from a particular perspective, you will notice a strange optical effect: you will have the impression of seeing a disproportionate erect penis appear near the lower abdomen. To find out the reason for this constructive strangeness and many other curiosities and secrets about the attractions of Bologna we recommend that you visit these places accompanied by a local guide.

Visit the nearby Basilica of San Petronio, the largest church in the city, whose construction dates back to 1300 (opening hours 8: 30-12: 30 and 15: 00-18: 00). Admission is free but you have to pay for access to the panoramic terrace has a cost of € 3,00. Then join the neighbor Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita, a marvelous Gothic style church that houses the "Compianto del Cristo Morto" by Niccolò dell'Arca (Tue-Sun 10: 00-19: 00; lamented Tue-Sun 10: 30-18: 30).

Then head to the Tower of the Asinelli, to admire the city from the top of its 97 meters (open 10: 00-18: 00, possibility to buy the ticket online).

2 - Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore, National Picture Gallery

Back down, eat a nice plate of tortellini at Bottega Portici, in take away formula (€ 12,00), and then dedicate yourself to visiting the university area, then take the famous Via Zamboni.

On the way stop and visit the Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore, founded in 1267, inside which you will find numerous Renaissance works (9: 00-19: 00, free admission). Continue your walk to Piazza Verdi, where you will find the excitement of young university students on break from lessons.

Here stands the beautiful building of the Municipal Theatre, built at the end of the 700th century. Near the square there is an office of the National Art Gallery of Bologna, paying an admission worth € 6,00, you can visit splendid works by Bolognese and non-Bolognese artists from the thirteenth century onwards (10: 00-19: 00).

3 - Little Venice, dinner

Leaving the university area, head towards sunset towards one of the most particular points of the city, which is located in Via Piella. Here, overlooking the so-called window, you can admire Little Venice, or the narrow canal that crosses the city. Take lots of photos, and then stop for dinner in the Caminetto d'Oro tavern, where you can taste the excellent dishes of Bolognese cuisine (€ 30,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,2 km / 27 min
  • Places visited: Fountain of Neptune (free), Piazza Maggiore (free), Basilica of San Petronio (free / terrace € 3,00), Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita (€ 4,00) Torre degli Asinelli (€ 5,00), Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore (free), Piazza Verdi (free), National Picture Gallery (€ 6,00), Little Venice (free)
  • Lunch at Bottega Portici (Get directions), Dinner at Caminetto d'Oro (Get directions)

2 day

1 - Cavaticcio Park, Herb Market, Metropolitan Cathedral of San Pietro, Palazzo Fava

Start the day by strolling in the small and cozy Cavaticcio Park, a relaxing and peaceful green space, which comes alive in summer with stands with food and drinks (06: 00-20: 00). The next stop is the well-known Via Ugo Bassi, where you will find several cafes and shops, and where the characteristic is located Herb Market, where you can photograph the typical markets with fruit and fish (free, 7: 00-22: 30).

Now stroll towards Via Indipendenza, the shopping street but not only. Here, in fact, you can dedicate yourself to visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Pietro (07: 00-19: 00), in Baroque style and built in 1184. Very interesting is the visit to the bell tower of the church, the second highest tower in the city where the large 33 quintal bell is kept (admission cost € 5,00 , ).

Back down, stop and visit the elegant Palazzo Fava, dating back to the 600s, which houses works of great value, as well as internationally renowned exhibitions (10: 00-20: 30, admission € 5,00).

2 - Piazza and Basilica of Santo Stefano, Basilica of San Domenico

Shop in the many souvenir shops on Via Indipendenza, cross Piazza Maggiore and then reach one of the most beautiful squares in the city, the circular one of Santo Stefano. Have lunch in one of the best known places in the area, Bolpetta (average cost € 20,00).

In the square it is located one of the most particular complexes of religious buildings in Italy, that of the Seven Churches, so called because inside there are several chapels and churches that can be visited one by one (07: 30-12: 30 and 14: 30-19: 30, admission € 5,00). Its origins are still not very clear and the hypotheses are different and confused: it was probably built on the ruins of a pagan temple in the likeness of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem!

Not far away is the Basilica of San Domenico, one of the most important places of worship in the city. Inside you can admire the organ that Mozart used Mozart during his period of studies in the city and here are also kept the remains of the saint founder of the order in the Ark of San Domenico (Mon-Fri 9: 00-12: 00 and 15: 30-18: 00; Sat 9: 00-12: 00 and 15: 30-17: 00, Sun 15: 30-17: 00).

3 - Giardini Margherita, dinner

Finally reach the Margherita Gardens. These gardens are 26 hectares wide and within them you will find bars and large green spaces from where observe the sunset over Bologna. For dinner, head to one of the most famous taverns in the city, the Osteria della Lanterna, a few steps from the park, where you can enjoy excellent homemade pasta (€ 40,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 5 km / 1 h 3 min
  • Places visited: Parco del Cavaticcio (free), Herb Market (free), Metropolitan Cathedral of San Pietro (free), Bell Tower (€ 5,00), Palazzo Fava (€ 5,00), Basilica of Santo Stefano (€ 5,00) ), Basilica of San Domenico (free), Giardini Margherita (free)
  • Lunch at Bolpetta (Get directions), Dinner at Osteria della Lanterna (Get directions)

3 day

1 - Morning: Palazzo Pallavicini, Basilica of San Francesco, Palazzo Albergati

Among the splendid historic buildings to visit in Bologna, don't miss it Pallavicini Palace, dating back to 400, inside which in 1770 a teenager Mozart performed. Temporary art exhibitions are currently organized within its walls (10: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-20: 00, admission € 8,00).

A few steps away is the Basilica of San Francesco, built in the 6th century (free, open 00: 19-30: ), which stands in the always crowded square of the same name. Have a coffee sitting comfortably in this beautiful setting and then reach Albergati Palace, another building of great historical importance in which to visit works of art, starting from € 5,00 (opening hours 10: 00-20: 00).

2 - Afternoon: Villa Spada, Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

For lunch, stop and eat in the Biagi Restaurant, where you can taste traditional dishes in a historic street of the city (€ 32,00). If you want to continue the rest of the afternoon surrounded by greenery, reach the beautiful one Villa Spada, where there is a large park located in a panoramic point, from where you can take many photographs (free, hours 08: 30-19: 00).

Now take a walk to one of the symbolic places of the city: the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. The journey is long but it must be covered under the beautiful and long arcades and the sacrifice will be rewarded. Alternatively, you can take the train to San Luca with food tasting included! Ol Santuario is a circular religious building, located 380 meters above sea level. You can visit the interior and climb the dome for € 5,00 (opening hours 07: 00-19: 00).

3 - Evening: dinner

For end the day and your getaway in Bologna, for dinner we advise you to sit at Vito's tables in San Luca, where you will eat typical Emilian dishes with a spectacular view of the city lights (average cost € 20,00).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 5,5 km / 1 h 9 min
  • Places visited: Palazzo Pallavicini (€ 8,00), Basilica of San Francesco (free), Palazzo Albergati (€ 5,00), Villa Spada (free), Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca (€ 5,00)
  • Lunch at Ristorante Biagi (Get directions), Dinner at Vito in San Luca (Get directions)

How much does a weekend in Bologna cost

Spend a weekend in Bologna is not particularly expensive: in the city it is easy to get there by train or bus (even low cost companies like Flixbus), for most of the journeys you can walk.

For the neighborhoods to stay in don't worry: getting away a little from the center is not a great sacrifice, since within 16/20 minutes by bus you can arrive directly in Piazza Maggiore, from any point outside the walls. Even the cost of food can go down a lot by avoiding lunches and dinners in the tavern, since the city is full of places specialized in street food.

  • Costs to eat: about € 40,00 per day per person
  • Costs for museums and attractions: average price € 15,00 per day per person following the itinerary suggested by us
  • Transportation: average price € 5,00 per day per person
  • Hotels, accommodation and b & b: Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -
  • Fun: from € 5,00 per day per person
  • Total cost of a weekend in Bologna: from € 240,00 per person (flights and / or transfers excluded)

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Bologna: all year round, thanks to the numerous events. To avoid the cold of winter, the period April / June is preferable, in summer it can be very hot - find out more
  • in Bologna there is the Central Station, a few minutes from the center and connected with many other Italian cities. Served by G. Marconi Airport (9 km from the center, shuttle service 20 min, € 6,00 each way)
  • Historic Center, Santo Stefano District, Zaragoza District, University Area. To save a little something, you can stay in the Fiera area, outside the center
  • Getting around: can be covered entirely on foot, thanks to its beautiful arcades, but in the case of more complex movements it is possible to use the buses of the Tper company (single ticket cost € 1,50) - find out more
  • Other: some places of interest to visit in the surrounding area are Rocca Mattei (52 km), the Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi and Calanchi dell'Abbadessa (11 km) and the city of Modena (47 km)

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