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10 Best Day Trips from Bologna, Italy

    Posted Date: February 25, 2021

    Located in Northern Italy, Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Known for its porticoes and incredible food, this city is a must-visit on your trip to Italy.

    Bologna’s central location makes it convenient to access many cities nearby. We stayed in Bologna for 8 days in 2019, mainly for the food and for the opportunity to do a lot of day trips.

    We were surprised by the number of destinations you can access within two hours of Bologna. Most of these day trips can be done by train, but we would also recommend renting a car for a few of them.

    Here is our list of the 10 best day trips from Bologna, Italy.

    Verona

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 1 hour 45 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: 52 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

    Verona’s medieval city center and beautiful architecture swept us away. We immediately fell in love with this city, and we are already planning to go back.

    If you are traveling by train from Bologna to Verona, you should expect to walk around 20-25 minutes from the train station to the city center. I would recommend getting an early train, so you have as much time as possible in Verona.

    Start your day at the Verona Arena – a first-century Roman amphitheater. This amphitheater is still used today for operas and plays, but most notably the annual Opera festival that is held every year. We were in Verona during the festival, and the city was bustling with energy and music. Next time, we would love to attend the festival!

    Make your way across the river Adige for a spectacular view of Verona from the Piazza Castel San Pietro.

    Spend the rest of your day exploring the medieval streets, churches, and piazza’s around the city, specifically Piazza Delle Erbe.

    If you want, you can also stop at Juliet’s balcony where you will find hundreds of tourists waiting in line to get a view of the balcony and to touch Juliet’s breast, which apparently brings you luck.

    We would recommend stopping at the restaurant La Bottega Della Gina for lunch or dinner for some of the best tortellini you will ever eat. We daydream about our meal here all of the time!

    Venice

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~1 hour 40 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours

    Venice, the city built on over 100 islands, is one of the most magical places in all of Europe. If you want to spend a day exploring Venice without the high price of spending the night in this tourist hot spot, then a day trip from Bologna is an excellent idea.

    Cars are not allowed on the island, so I would recommend traveling to Venice by train. When you book your train tickets, make sure you get tickets to the Venice Santa Lucia station. There are two stations in Venice, and the Santa Lucia station is the closest to the city.

    Start your day in Venice by hopping on a Vaporetto (water taxi) just outside of the train station and taking a tour of the Grand Canal. This is one of the cheapest ways to get a tour of Venice from the canals. You will want to get the Linea 1 (Line 1) water taxi that takes you around the Grand Canal, and you can get off anywhere you like – Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, and many other stops. Or you can take it all the way around the canal if you’d like.

    I like to spend my day in Venice just exploring the small streets and canals. In other words, I love getting lost in Venice and seeing where I end up.

    For the main attractions, you should definitely go to St. Marks Square, St. Marks Basilica, Rialto Bridge, and the Bridge of Sighs on your day trip.

    Modena

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 55 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 26 minutes

    Modena is just a quick train ride from Bologna, which makes it perfect for a day trip. If you want to make the most out of your trip to Modena, you can always combine your day trip with a visit to Parma or Maranello (see below) as well.

    If you are a foodie, then Modena is heaven for you. The world’s number one restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is located in the heart of Modena. Beware, to eat lunch or dinner here, you’ll need to reserve your spot months in advance.

    Modena is also known as the home of balsamic vinegar. You can book a tour to visit an Acetaia to learn more about the process of creating balsamic vinegar and taste test the different flavors. You can book your tour in advance here.

    We enjoyed our visit to the Albinelli Market where you can try many different foods – from Italian ham to cheeses. There is also this little sandwich shop next to the market called Schiavoni, which has delicious panini sandwiches.

    A few other highlights of Modena are the Duomo, Ferrari Museum, and the Ghirlandina tower, which you can climb up for an excellent view of the city.

    Maranello

    Image Credit: gmalandra / Getty Images

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 55 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 1 hour 10 minutes

    If you’re into sports cars and Formula One, then a day trip to Maranello is a must. Maranello is home to the Ferrari headquarters where you can tour the factory and visit the Ferrari museum. You can learn more about these tours on the Ferrari website.

    To get to Maranello, you need to take a train to Modena and then get on a shuttle bus from the station in Modena to Maranello. There is a shuttle bus specifically for the Ferrari museum, which you can find out about more on the website mentioned above.

    Parma

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 1 hour 15 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 58 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes

    Parma is known for its Parma ham and of course its Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. What more is there to love about a place? I would recommend taking a tour to taste some of the best cheese and ham in Italy.

    On our afternoon in Parma, we enjoyed walking around the Parco Ducale and the quaint streets.

    A visit to the Cathedral of Parma is a must while you are here. The walls of the nave are completely covered in dark frescos. The most famous part of the Cathedral is the fresco “Assumption of the Virgin”, which was painted on the dome of the church by Antonio da Correggio in the 1500s.

    If you have time, you can also stop in the Pilotta Palace, which is a complex of galleries, including the National Gallery with artworks by Leonardo Da Vinci and Renaissance theater – Teatro Farnese.

    Florence

    Distance from Bologna by car: 1 hour 30 minute
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 40 minutes

    The capital of Tuscany and one of my favorite Italian cities, Florence is just a quick 40-minute train ride away, making it a great day trip from Bologna.

    Florence is home to Michelangelo’s “David” and some of the most significant artwork in the world, including Da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli.

    These works of art are displayed at the Uffizi and Accademia galleries in Florence. I would recommend reserving your tickets ahead of time; otherwise, you could spend hours waiting in line.

    Uffizi Gallery tickets here.
    Accademia Gallery tickets here.

    A visit to Florence isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Florence Duomo. You can book tickets to the top of the dome by visiting this site.

    If you have time, hop across the river over Ponte Vecchio for some of the best Italian pizza at Gusta Pizza and gelato at Gelateria Artigianale La Sorbettiera.

    Siena (Tuscany)

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 2 hours 10 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 2 hours 30 minutes

    Siena is located in the heart of Tuscany, and while it is a longer drive, it is one of my favorite day trips from Bologna.

    To make the most out of your day trip, I would recommend renting a car and driving to Siena. It’s quicker and you have the opportunity to visit a few Tuscan towns nearby – like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

    Explore the streets of this medieval city and grab a gelato to enjoy in Il campo – the enormous piazza in Siena. Or climb the Torre del Mangia (city tower) for an incredible view of Siena and the hills surrounding the city. You can get your tickets for the tower here.

    One of my favorite sites in Siena is the cathedral. Its striped exterior and interior make it a unique church amongst the others in Italy. You’ll want to book your tickets in advance here.

    Ravenna

    Image Credit: Gim42 / Getty Images

    Distance from Bologna by car: ~ 1 hour 5 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: ~ 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

    Ravenna is a port town located on the Adriatic side of Italy. It is known for its historical Byzantine mosaics dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries.

    You can find these mosaics at several of the designated World Heritage Sites in Ravenna. Two notable buildings that you must visit during your day trip are the Basilica di San Vitale and Mausoleo di Galla Placida.

    If you drive to Ravenna, you can hop over to the beach for the afternoon after exploring the city. There are 9 seaside resorts to choose from where you can eat and enjoy views of the Adriatic sea. You can also get to the beach by bus if you take the train from Bologna – you can check bus options on Rome 2 Rio.

    San Marino

    Image Credit: swisshippo / Getty Images

    Distance from Bologna by car: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: 2 hours 45 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

    San Marino is its own nation-state completely surrounded by Italy. It is the third smallest state in all of Europe.

    It’s a bit of a jaunt to get here from Bologna, but if you rent a car, the journey will be much quicker and more worthwhile.

    When you arrive, make your way to the top of San Marino to Mount Titano (the highest point) where you’ll find yourself surrounded by medieval walls. Take your time to walk around the fortresses and climb the three towers atop the hill for beautiful views of San Marino

    There is only one street that leads up to the city of San Marino, but you’ll find plenty of cafes and shops around here and the Piazza Della Liberta.

    Padua

    Image Credit: Gim42 / Getty Images

    Distance from Bologna by car: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Distance from Bologna by train: 1 hour – 1 hour 30 minutes

    Padua is located just outside of Venice but remains one of Italy’s hidden gems.

    The most important site to visit in Padua is the Scrovegni Chapel, which is the home of Florentine artist Giotti’s fresco masterpiece. You will want to book tickets in advance here.

    Another must-see in Padua is the Basilica of Saint Anthony, which features statues by the Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello.

    End your day by walking through the Pratto della Valle – the largest square in Italy. This square is surrounded by a canal and is a must-see on your day trip to Padua.

    Getting There from Bologna

    By Train

    If you plan to travel by train for your day trip from Bologna, use the site Trenitalia to book your tickets online. You can either save the mobile ticket on your phone and use that as your ticket or print it out. You can also get tickets from one of the kiosks at the Bologna train station.

    I would recommend buying the tickets at least the night before your trip to ensure there are tickets available.

    The Bologna train station is easy to access by foot from Bologna.

    By Car

    Renting a car is easy and affordable in Bologna. We rented a car from the Bologna airport for our day trips to Siena and Florence. It cost us about 40 euros + gas, which is less than train tickets would have cost.

    There are two places where you can rent a car in Bologna: the train station or the airport. Because there are more rental options at the airport, it tends to be a bit cheaper than at the train station. We booked our car here.

    To get to the airport, you will take the Marconi Express monorail from the train station. The train runs every 7 minutes throughout the day. You can look at the timetable and book your tickets here.

    Have you taken a day trip from Bologna? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!

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