Day trips from Bologna: Perfect Bologna Itinerary

 Day trips from Bologna, In just three days, you can thoroughly experience the captivating city of Bologna and its numerous attractions. Bologna, often overlooked, is a hidden gem in Italy with its own distinct charm and a wide range of fascinating and unconventional sights to discover. Moreover, the city boasts excellent culinary delights.

If you're unsure about how to spend your three days in Bologna, you can explore various noteworthy locations such as the breath taking Sanctuary di San Luca, the iconic Two Towers, and the peculiar Fin Estrella. There's an abundance of captivating places to visit within the city.

This suggested Bologna itinerary will guide you through the must-see attractions, recommend suitable accommodations, provide an estimation of the expenses for your trip, and much more.

Continue reading to discover how you can make the most of your three-day adventure in Bologna!

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Day trips from Bologna: Perfect Bologna Itinerary

Day trips from Bologna

My Thoughts on Bologna

During my trip, my primary reason for visiting Bologna was to meet up with a friend. This visit was part of a larger journey that included a three-day stay in Milan, as well as visits to other cities in Northern Italy like Modena and Parma.

Although I had been to Bologna once before during a previous road trip across Europe, our previous stop was only to drop off our friend at the airport while we stayed in Ferrara. Thus, I never had the opportunity to explore the city centre. Given the chance to visit again, I was genuinely curious to experience what Bologna had to offer.

To my surprise, Bologna turned out to be a far more captivating city than I had initially anticipated, boasting a wealth of attractions and activities. Having a local friend to show me around proved invaluable, as they introduced me to numerous hidden gems that I would have otherwise overlooked.

Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised by the city's size, as it was larger than I had imagined. Exploring and fully appreciating everything Bologna has to offer would require a couple of days at the very least. Another advantage of visiting Bologna is its excellent connectivity with the rest of Northern Italy. Thanks to its well-developed rail network, I was able to embark on several effortless half-day trips to nearby places such as Rimini and Modena.

While Bologna may not receive as much attention as cities like Milan or Turin in the region, it is undoubtedly a destination worth visiting. The city possesses a distinctive character, an array of intriguing sights, delectable cuisine, and a liveliness that surpasses initial expectations.

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What To Do In Bologna For 3 Days

Day trips from Bologna

While Bologna may not be on everyone's radar, it offers a plethora of activities and attractions to enjoy.

The city is brimming with cultural landmarks, including the renowned Two Towers and several captivating museums. Additionally, Bologna boasts an impressive collection of architectural wonders.

One of the notable advantages of visiting Bologna is its exceptional connectivity within Northern Italy. If your stay extends beyond three days or if you desire to explore neigh boring destinations for a brief excursion, you can conveniently board a train and venture to places like Modena and Rimini.

However, I suggest prioritizing the attractions listed below before considering these side trips.

  • The Two Towers - These iconic structures serve as the emblem of Bologna and offer a captivating spectacle. You have the opportunity to enter one of the towers and delve into its intriguing history.
  • Sanctuary of San Luca - Situated atop Monte della Guardia, this church presents a scenic hike with breathtaking views of the city as the reward. The church itself is a splendid sight, exuding beauty and tranquility.
  • Finestrella - A small window revealing one of Bologna's ancient canals, the Finestrella adds a touch of charm and quirkiness to the city. It's a delightful sight that showcases the city's historical character.
  • The Three Arrows - An intriguing and peculiar attraction unique to Bologna, the Three Arrows can be found at Casa Isolani. Gazing upward on the third floor, you'll witness three arrows embedded in the ceiling. Initially skeptical myself, I was surprised to find them there. While the definitive reason for their presence remains a mystery, they certainly offer an intriguing sight to behold.

Bologna Itinerary – Day 1

Walking Tour - Day trips from Bologna

Typically, when I visit a new city, my routine involves checking into my accommodation and then embarking on a self-guided exploration. However, on this particular trip, my friend took on the role of a knowledgeable guide, introducing me to the wonders of Bologna. In a way, this became an impromptu walking tour, as I was unfamiliar with the city.

Usually, I would simply stroll in a random direction, allowing the city to unfold before me. Yet, the "tour" led by my friend proved to be highly informative, unveiling hidden gems and unique features of Bologna that I might have otherwise missed.

Based on my experience, I highly recommend considering a guided walking tour if it's feasible for you. Bologna is a captivating city, and having a knowledgeable local by your side proves invaluable. Not only will you gain insights into the city's history, but you'll also establish a sense of direction and familiarity with your surroundings.

The Two Towers

No, I'm not referring to the captivating film series "The Lord of the Rings," although that is indeed remarkable. Instead, in Bologna, "The Two Towers" signifies the notable towers located in the city center.

These towers are incredibly imposing and have a fascinating history, dating all the way back to 1119, which left me astounded. Undoubtedly, the Towers stand as the most sought-after attraction in Bologna, so expect large crowds when visiting.

During my trip, construction work was in progress on one of the towers, preventing me from exploring its interior. However, under normal circumstances, visitors have the opportunity to venture inside, and I would highly recommend taking advantage of this chance. I would have been delighted to explore the tower myself, as I've been informed that the numerous windows offer splendid panoramic views of the city.

Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno

Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno serve as the primary squares in Bologna, acting as the heart of the city and its focal point.

These squares are expansive, encompassed by magnificent architectural wonders such as the Biblioteca Salaborsa and Palazzo d'Accursio.

A prominent highlight in the area is the grand fountain of Neptune, after which Piazza del Nettuno is named. This splendid sculpture features four inscriptions on each side, providing historical context about its construction.

In close proximity, a fascinating activity awaits near the Palazzo del Podesta. By positioning oneself and a friend in opposite corners of the arches, facing the wall, an intriguing phenomenon occurs. Despite the bustling atmosphere, you can hear each other's whispers perfectly.

These walls, famously known as the whispering walls, represent just one of the many delightful and quirky experiences awaiting discovery in Bologna!


Bologna Itinerary – Day 2

Medieval Museum

Bologna houses numerous museums, a testament to its rich history and heritage. Among them, the Medieval Museum stands out as a top-notch choice.

If you're keen to delve deeper into the city's history, this museum serves as an excellent starting point for the second day of your three-day Bologna itinerary.

Situated in Palazzo Ghisilardi, the museum showcases a vast array of artifacts, including sculptures from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

While there is an entrance fee of €6, it is certainly worthwhile for history enthusiasts like myself, as the museum provides a captivating journey through time.


The Finestrella, in my opinion, ranks among the most eccentric and enjoyable activities in Bologna.

It consists of a tiny window that grants a unique view of one of the ancient canals in the city. When my friend first mentioned this to me, I was taken aback, but my amazement only grew when I witnessed it myself.

To experience this peculiar attraction, make your way to Via Piella and keep an eye out for a small window as you stroll along the street. The canal you'll glimpse through the window is one of the "lost" canals that were once prominent features of the city before being covered.

Although your time peering through the window will only last a minute or two, it's an extraordinary encounter that is hard to find elsewhere. Where else in the world can you come across such a delightfully quirky attraction?

Sanctuary di San Luca

Reaching the Sanctuary di San Luca may require some effort, but the stunning views and the journey itself make it well worthwhile.

Perched atop Monte della Guardia, this church offers a captivating experience. To begin your ascent, you can opt to walk to the Arco del Meloncello, which marks the starting point of the uphill section of the portico leading to the sanctuary. Alternatively, you have the option of taking a bus to a nearby location for convenience.

While the climb can be long, the experience is enriched by strolling beneath the porticos, which adds a special touch to the journey.

The Sanctuary itself is a splendid sight and merits exploration. However, the main reason to visit is the breathtaking panoramic views of the city. These vistas are truly awe-inspiring and provide an exceptional vantage point to admire the beauty of Bologna(Day trips from Bologna).

Bologna Itinerary – Day 3

University of Bologna

On the final day of your three-day Bologna itinerary, you have the opportunity to explore the oldest continuously operating university in the world.

Established in 1088, this university holds the distinction of being the second-largest in Italy and offers a multitude of reasons to warrant a visit.

One of the main attractions is the remarkable architecture found throughout the university. The exquisite design is so impressive that The Times recognized it as one of the most beautiful universities worldwide.

Additionally, the university hosts several museums, such as the Museo della Specola. This museum showcases a diverse range of instruments utilized by astronomers over the centuries, among other fascinating exhibits.

While visiting the university may not be an obvious choice, overlooking this opportunity would mean missing out on an enriching experience.

Ducati Museum

For motorcycle enthusiasts, a visit to the Ducati Museum is an absolute must-do activity.

Bologna proudly houses Ducati, one of the most renowned motorcycle brands globally, and exploring their museum is a treat for any petrolhead.

Located outside the city center, reaching the museum requires taking a bus. You can conveniently catch the 36 or 39 bus from Bologna Central Station, alight at the first stop, and then transfer to the 13 bus heading towards Via Normandia. Disembark at the 'Borgo Panigale - Ducati Museum' stop.

With an admission fee of €17 for adults, the experience is well worth it, especially if you're seeking something unique and different to do while in the city.


Concluding this Bologna itinerary, the final activity entails a visit to the Quadrilatero, Italy's oldest market.

This serves as a delightful way to conclude your trip, strolling through the market and admiring the diverse array of stalls, accompanied by the picturesque architecture.

The Quadrilatero boasts a collection of wonderful shops and stalls, some of which have been passed down through generations, exuding the timeless charm of days gone by.

Roaming through the narrow alleyways amidst the lively ambiance is truly enjoyable. Moreover, you may have the chance to discover unique gifts or souvenirs to bring back home, adding an extra touch of excitement to your experience.

Other Places To Visit in Bologna

  • Day trip to Modena: Modena, a charming city just a 30-minute train ride away from Bologna, is a delightful destination to explore if you have the time. You can immerse yourself in the world of automobiles at the Ferrari Museum and appreciate the remarkable buildings and architectural wonders in the area.
  • Secret Food Tour: Uncover hidden culinary gems and delve into the city's rich history on this exclusive food tour in Bologna. Discover the best-kept secrets when it comes to local cuisine and savor delicious flavors.
  • Day trip to Ravenna: Embark on a short train journey from Bologna to the captivating city of Ravenna, renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Marvel at the impressive historical and cultural treasures that await you. If your stay in Bologna exceeds three days, a visit to Ravenna is highly recommended.

Bologna Travel Tips - Day trips from Bologna

Where To Stay in Bologna

There is an abundance of accommodation options available in Bologna, so you will have no trouble finding a suitable place to stay.

Despite its relatively smaller size, Bologna offers a diverse range of choices, including hostels, hotels, and rental apartments.

Most of these accommodations are conveniently situated in the city center, which is generally the ideal location to stay. While it is possible to find accommodations further away from the center, the convenience decreases the farther you go, as the main attractions and amenities are concentrated in the central area.

If budget is a concern, staying outside the center might be slightly cheaper, so it is worth considering. However, if convenience and proximity to the city's main transportation hub, the train station, are important to you, I recommend staying in the center. This way, you can easily explore the city on foot or by taking a short bus ride.

Cost of Travel in Bologna - Day trips from Bologna

Italy, in general, is not considered the most expensive country in Europe, and visiting Bologna for three days (Day trips from Bologna) will not strain your budget excessively.

Compared to larger cities like Milan and Rome, Bologna is relatively more affordable. It is quite feasible to spend three days in the city without significant financial strain.

One aspect that can impact your budget is the choice to participate in numerous tours. It is advisable to plan and allocate a budget for these activities in advance. However, it is worth noting that there aren't many expensive tours available, so as long as you exercise caution with your spending, you should be able to manage well.

Accommodation and dining options in Bologna are reasonably priced, and even day trips to nearby destinations have affordable train fares.

Below, you will find a rough guide to prices for accommodation, dining out, and transportation in Bologna. However, please note that these estimates do not include additional expenses such as bar/pub visits, club entry fees, souvenir/clothing purchases, or tours. It is important to allocate extra funds for these non-essential purchases according to your preferences.

  • Accommodation

Hostel: Dorm – €21-34; Private – €50-75
Hotels: €80-150
Rental Apartment: €100-130

  • Food and Drink

Breakfast: Free-€6
Dinner: €10-20
Takeaway meal: €5-8+
Pint of beer: €4-6

  • Transport

Bus single ticket: €2
Day card: $6
Bike rental: €25 for the day

Best Time To Visit Bologna - Day trips from Bologna

Bologna, located in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, experiences a climate that is not excessively cold but can be more variable compared to southern regions.

Typically, the weather in Bologna follows seasonal patterns. Summers are considerably warmer, while spring and autumn see a higher chance of rainfall.

During my October visit, I was fortunate to avoid rain, and although temperatures were mild, I found it comfortable enough to wear shorts, despite being in the minority.

I also briefly visited during the summer while taking a train to Turin. The weather was noticeably warmer, and tourist activity was more pronounced.

When planning your trip to Bologna

it is essential to consider both the weather conditions and the seasonal influx of tourists. The summer months, in particular, tend to be busier.

Here's a brief guide outlining what you can expect in Bologna during each of the four months.

Bologna in Spring - Day trips from Bologna

As spring arrives, the weather in Bologna begins to improve, bringing warmer temperatures and a reduction in tourist crowds. This season presents a favorable time to visit the city.

Average temperatures during spring range from 4.1°C to 23°C (39.4°F to 73.4°F).

Bologna in Summer

During the summer, Bologna experiences significantly hotter weather, which may become uncomfortable depending on personal preferences. Additionally, there is an increase in tourist activity during this period. If neither factor bothers you, the summer can still be a suitable time to visit.

Average temperatures during summer range from 15.7°C to 30.4°C (60.3°F to 86.7°F).

Bologna in Autumn

Autumn is widely regarded as an ideal time to visit Bologna, Day trips from Bologna. The temperatures are more moderate compared to the summer heat, and it is not as chilly as in winter. This season allows you to enjoy most of the activities available in the summer but without the sweltering heat and overwhelming crowds.

Average temperatures during autumn range from 4.3°C to 25.4°C (39.7°F to 77.7°F).

Bologna in Winter - Day trips from Bologna

Winter is not considered the most favorable time to visit Bologna. The temperatures during this season are significantly colder compared to other times of the year, and there is a higher chance of encountering rainy weather. However, one advantage is the decreased number of tourists. If you don't mind the colder conditions, visiting during winter could still be a viable option.

Average temperatures during winter range from -0.5°C to 9°C (from -1.8°F to 48.2°F).

How To Get Around Bologna

Bologna, being a relatively compact city, is easily navigable on foot, and you can move around without much difficulty, particularly if your destinations are primarily within the city center.

However, if you wish to explore places further afield, such as the Sanctuary of San Luca, you will need to rely on the bus network as the distance is considerable for walking.

Bologna has a comprehensive bus network that covers the city and its surrounding areas. Via Marconi is one of the prime locations in the city for accessing bus services.

While Bologna does not have a metro system currently in operation, there are plans for a tram network, set to be operational by 2026 at the earliest.

Walking and taking the bus are the primary transportation options available in the city, and this combination is sufficient for convenient travel within Bologna.

Reaching the city center from Bologna Airport is also hassle-free. There is a monorail connecting the airport to the train station in the city center. The journey takes approximately seven minutes, and there are frequent services, especially during peak times.

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