Discover the Best Things to Do in Bologna

Petr Slováček, Unsplash
March 9
Written by Elena Kostas

Find out the top attractions and experiences in Bologna. History, culture, and gastronomy come together in this charming city.

Bologna, one of the most fascinating cities in Italy, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. With its medieval architecture, famous towers, and mouthwatering culinary specialties, Bologna is a destination not to be missed.

Explore the old town, which is home to impressive historical buildings such as the Basilica of San Petronio and the Towers of Bologna. Don't miss the Archiginnasio, a former university seat with a beautiful library. Get lost in the narrow medieval streets and discover charming little squares.

Immerse yourself in Bologna's cultural life by visiting the various museums and art galleries. Enjoy academic excellence at the University of Bologna, one of the oldest in the Western world.

Of course, you can't leave Bologna without trying its delicious cuisine. Sample traditional dishes like lasagna, ragù alla bolognese, and the famous tortellini. Pair your meal with a wine from the region and finish with a typical sweet treat like zuccherini.

1. Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna

Historical Monuments and Architecture
brown concrete building under blue sky during daytime
Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna / Arno Senoner, Unsplash

Basilica of San Petronio: Located in the heart of Bologna, the Basilica of San Petronio is one of the city's most prominent tourist attractions. This impressive Gothic-style building showcases imposing architecture and houses a rich history and culture.

History and significance: The Basilica of San Petronio was built in the 14th century and stands out as one of the largest churches in the world. Its construction and design were influenced by various architectural styles, giving it a unique and fascinating appearance.

Things to do in Bologna: The Basilica of San Petronio is definitely a must-visit place in Bologna. From its breathtaking façade to its interior adorned with artworks and sculptures, you will immerse yourself in the beauty and history of this significant historical site.

2. Towers of Bologna

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a high angle view of a city
Towers of Bologna / Bianca Ackermann, Unsplash

The Towers of Bologna are two medieval towers that stand out on the skyline of the city of Bologna. These towers, known as Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda, are an important historical symbol and a must-visit stop on any trip to Bologna.

Built in the 12th century, these towers were originally used as defensive and residential structures by the powerful families that ruled the city at that time. The Torre degli Asinelli, with an impressive height of 97 meters, is the tallest of the two and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

Today, the Towers of Bologna are a popular tourist destination and a symbol of the city. Visitors can climb the 498 steps of the Torre degli Asinelli to enjoy the views and explore its fascinating history. A visit to the Towers of Bologna is a unique experience that will transport you back in time and allow you to appreciate the beauty and history of this Italian city.

3. The Archiginnasio of Bologna

Historical Monuments and Architecture

The Archiginnasio of Bologna is an architectural gem and a living testament to the city's history. Built in the 16th century, this building housed the University of Bologna for centuries, one of the oldest in the world.

Admire its impressive Renaissance-style facade and elegant interior courtyard, adorned with frescoes and sculptures depicting the history of the university.

Inside, you can explore the ancient classrooms and libraries, and marvel at the majestic Anatomical Theatre, where medicine classes were once held.

4. University of Bologna

History and Cultural Heritage

The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest university in Europe. With its rich history and prominent role in higher education, it is a must-visit for knowledge and culture enthusiasts.

The main campus of the University of Bologna is located in the heart of the city, and its historic buildings are impressive. From the famous Torre degli Asinelli to the majestic Palazzo Poggi, every corner of the university tells a fascinating story.

In addition to its historical value, the University of Bologna is an important research center and offers a wide range of academic programs. Numerous students from around the world come to this institution to receive a quality education and immerse themselves in the Italian academic atmosphere.

5. Piazza Maggiore

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Piazza Maggiore is the main square of the city of Bologna and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Emilia-Romagna region. Its origin dates back to the 13th century and it has witnessed important historical events throughout the centuries.

This impressive square is located in the heart of Bologna and is surrounded by stunning Renaissance buildings. Here you can admire the majestic Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo del Podestà, and the Palazzo dei Notai, among others.

In Piazza Maggiore, you will also find numerous cafes and restaurants where you can taste the delicious cuisine of Bologna. Additionally, the square hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, making it a vibrant and lively place.

6. Palazzo d'Accursio

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Palazzo d'Accursio is one of the must-see attractions in Bologna. This magnificent palace, located on Piazza Maggiore, has been the center of government power in the city since the 13th century. With its impressive Renaissance facades and towering medieval tower, the palace is a testament to Bologna's rich history and cultural heritage.

Inside Palazzo d'Accursio, you'll find several museums and historical halls that showcase the city's political and social evolution throughout the centuries. It also houses the office of the Mayor of Bologna and the City Hall, making it a place of great institutional importance.

Explore the halls adorned with frescoes, admire the sculptures and antique furniture, and marvel at the architectural details of the palace. From the terrace, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Bologna. Don't miss the opportunity to visit this fascinating place that encapsulates the history and greatness of the city.

7. Ducati Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

The Ducati Museum in Bologna is a fascinating place for motorcycle enthusiasts. Located at the company's headquarters, this museum takes you on a journey through the history and passion behind the legendary Italian bike brand. Here you'll find an incredible collection of classic and modern motorcycles, as well as interactive exhibits that delve into the technological advancements that have propelled Ducati over the years.

In addition to bikes, the museum also houses a collection of race trophies and suits worn by famous riders. You'll learn about the sporting events in which Ducati has participated and admire the evolution of racing motorcycles over time.

Whether you're a motorcycle enthusiast or simply curious to learn more about Ducati's history, the Ducati Museum offers an unforgettable experience. Don't miss it during your visit to Bologna!

8. Mambo - Museum of Modern Art

Museums and Art Galleries

The Mambo - Museum of Modern Art is one of the top tourist attractions and things to do in Bologna. Located in the heart of the city, this museum features a wide collection of contemporary art that will leave you speechless.

Admire works by renowned international artists and discover exciting temporary exhibitions. Mambo is a perfect place to experience modern art and immerse yourself in the world of creativity and innovation.

In addition to the exhibitions, the museum organizes educational workshops and cultural events, offering activities for all ages. Whether you're an art enthusiast or simply looking to experience something new, Mambo is a must-visit destination in Bologna.

9. Le Due Torri of Bologna

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Le Due Torri of Bologna is a pair of medieval towers located in the city of Bologna, Italy. These two towers, known as Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda, are an iconic symbol of the city and a major tourist attraction.

Torre degli Asinelli is the taller tower, standing at a height of 97.2 meters. It was built in the 12th century by the Asinelli family and offers visitors the opportunity to climb to the top and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Bologna and its surroundings.

Torre Garisenda, on the other hand, is slightly shorter and has a notable lean. It was also built in the 12th century and is known for its characteristic lean, which gives it a unique appearance. Currently, visitors are not able to climb Torre Garisenda due to stability issues, but it is still an iconic landmark and a picturesque image of Bologna.