Bologna Tourist Attractions: Top 15 Best Things to do in Bologna, Italy

Bologna is well known for being a historic, vibrant city and it is located in northern Italy and it is the capital of the well-known Emilia-Romagna region. The stunning city has a spectacular renaissance structure, artistic, medieval towers, beautiful cafes and many other ancient and spectacular features adorn it.

Free Things to do in Bologna Italy
Free Things to do in Bologna Italy

Top 15 things to do in Bologna


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Have a stunning view of Bologna from San Petronio

Bologna City view from San Petronio
Bologna City view from San Petronio

This is an immense structure and it is the 10th largest church in the world by its volume and it has a domineering presence in the center of the Piazza Maggiore. The church was dedicated to Saint Petronius who is the patron saint of Bologna. The church is still incomplete and its front façade is quite bizarre and the inside of the church is truly epic and the large brick columns are adorned with decoration and it the main altar will catch your attention as you walk down the central aisle. The highlight of the church is the stunning and mind-blowing views of the beautiful Italian city you will see at the top of the Church.

Visit the leaning towers of Bologna

leaning towers of Bologna
leaning towers of Bologna

Bologna has numerous towers but the two tall examples that stands in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana are the most legendary. Garisenda and Asinelli are two tall towers which stand next to each other and they are both named after important Italian families. Asinelli was used as a prison and stronghold and it stands at 97.2m while Garisenda is 48m and has an extremely noticeable tilt and an overhang of 3.2m. The highlight of this tower is that you should climb the towers for a spectacular view of Bologna and also see the epic landscapes that stretch a mile around.

Discover the 7 secrets of Bologna

Fountain of Neptune in Bologna
Fountain of Neptune in Bologna

One of the things to do in Bologna is to look for its seven secrets. You will have a nice time doing this as you will try and an enjoyable interactive way to learn about the Italian city and its rich history. You can explore some of the interesting secrets of Bologna like the hidden canal, a broken vase at the top of Asinelli tower, whispering corners at the intersection in Palazzo del Podesta and others.

Go sightseeing in Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore
Piazza Maggiore

This is at the center of the city and it serves as an important historical place. This is a lively place and you would think everybody is meeting friends at the same time in this heart of the city. You will like the vibe here as the conversation and laughter blend with the sound of water that is splashing in the stunning Neptune fountain. You would love coming here as there are major attractions in the city that is within a few minutes’ walks, you will surely have many things to do here.

Go for a walk around Porticoes

Porticoes of Bologna
Porticoes of Bologna

There are numerous porticoes and this is one of the things that you should try while you are in Bologna. There are many beautiful arches everywhere in the city center going all the way to San Luca. There are many porticoes which are about 1000 years old and they are also regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Porticoes are one of the main attraction of Bologna and they have extensive shelter and shade in bad weather.

Visit Archiginnasio

Archiginnasio of Bologna by Luca Borghi via Wikipedia CC
Archiginnasio of Bologna by Luca Borghi via Wikipedia CC

This is among the most important buildings in Bologna and it is one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna and it is home to the famous Anatomical Theatre. The stunning building was created in the 16th century and it is found on the Piazza Galvani. The Anatomical theatre is the centerpiece of the Archiginnasio and the building is completely built with wood and there are carved statues of famous medical practitioners. At the center of the room, there is an ornate anatomical table which is surrounded by seating platforms.

Go sightseeing at Museo Civico Archeologico (Archeological Museum)

Museo Civico Archeologico by Stefano Bolognini via Wikipedia CC
Museo Civico Archeologico by Stefano Bolognini via Wikipedia CC

This is a fine museum that is at the heart of Bologna and you will get a spectacular insight into the history of the city throughout the ages. The museum is found on the Piazza Maggiore and it is easily accessible and one of the things to do in Bologna. The museum has a wide range of collections and it is split into 9 different sections which include the Prehistoric, Celtic, Etruscan, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and Numismatic. The highlight of the museum is the magnificent display of different artifacts like Bronze age tools, pottery, skeletal remains, china wares, weaponry, and marble statues.

Explore Oratory of Battuti

Transit of the Virgin Bologna by Palickap via Wikipedia CC
Transit of the Virgin Bologna by Palickap via Wikipedia CC

This is one of Bologna’s unsung treasures and it is found above the church. You will see a small oration that is decorated in Baroque paintings, gilded carvings, and frescoes. You can stretch out and look up at the perfectly stunning ceiling from one of the benches to avoid a stiff neck. The highlight of the room is the 15 terracotta statues, Death of the Virgin and it was created by Alfonso Lombardi in the early 16th century.

Visit Bologna National Gallery

The National Art Gallery of Bologna by Sailko - Wikipedia CC
The National Art Gallery of Bologna by Sailko – Wikipedia CC

This is one of the things to do in Bologna if you want to know more about the city history. The gallery contains works that are related to the Emilian region and the city and the paintings in the gallery ranges in age dating back to 13th century till the 18th century. You will find the museum in the confines of the old university complex and it is easy to locate. The museum is split into two main sections and the sections are Accademia Clementina and the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts. The highlight of the museum is the Ecstasy of St. Cecilia by Raphael and so on.

Visit Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro

Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro by Tango7174 via Wikipedia CC
Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro by Tango7174 via Wikipedia CC

This cathedral has gone through many changes since it was founded in 910 and it was remodeled in the 17th century to the Baroque style. You will see a collection of artistic treasures which was donated over the centuries to use in religious celebrations.

See the Ancient Roman Road

Ancient Roman Road in Bologna by Onanymous via Wikipedia CC
Ancient Roman Road in Bologna by Onanymous via Wikipedia CC

Bologna was a part of the popular Roman Empire and you will be able to see the ruins of the ancient Roman road. At Sala Borsa Library, there is a glass floor where you will see stunning Roman ruins which are conserved. You can still see the track marks of the ancient Roman carts.

Try out traditional food

Tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese
Tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese

You cannot leave Italy without trying out the Italian delicacies. There are many delicious regional cuisines that you can try out in Bologna. You can try out Tortellini in Brodo and Tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese when you are walking through the pleasant city.

Ride to San Luca

Basilica of San Luca by Puscas Vadim via Wikipedia CC
Basilica of San Luca By Puscas Vadim (Nebbius), CC BY-SA 4.0

You can see the massive 18th-century Basilica of San Luca and it is found on the outskirts of the center of Bologna on the top of a hill. The highlight of this attraction is that you will get to see the Virgin Mary’s icon that St. Luke painted. You can get here by either walking, a bus or San Luca Express. You will also get to see the great views of the city of Bologna from here.

Escape the city by going to Monte Della Guardia

Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca
Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca

The longest portico in the world leads to the top of Monte Della Guardia. If you are tired of the city then this is the right place for you to escape from the city and the hill is up to 300m high. The hill is located south-west of Bologna and it is very close to Reno River. You will be greeted by unrivaled panoramic views of Bologna and the surrounding regions. You will also delightful Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca is at the top of the hill and you should try and visit here.

Go shopping at La Piazzola Market

Mercato
Mercato

This is a historic market which has been held for hundreds of years and it still continues to be popular with both the tourists and the locals. It is located in the Piazza dell Agosto that is at the north of the city center. There are over 400 different stalls and it is a sight to behold. You can find up to anything here from shoes, clothes, fashion accessories, pottery, flowers, and jewelry.

Things to do in Bologna photo by Andrey Kirov via nsplash
Things to do in Bologna Photo by Andrey Kirov on Unsplash

Bologna has served as a major cultural and economic hub in Italy and has been ruled by the Celts, Etruscans, and Romans. Bologna has a stunning array of cultural sights, stunning architecture, and high-quality museums, you will enjoy your stay here.

Do you have other recommended fun and interesting things to do in Bologna? Please feel free to share by posting a comment below.

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