Lawrence Fraser, Reservations Manager

"It may not be a well-known Italian city compared to the likes of Rome, Florence or Venice, but Bologna has made its own mark as a destination, making it a perfect city break without the masses of tourists. It is a pretty city for nature-lovers, and I recommend one of the many beautiful parks to relax in, there’s Giardini Margherita and the Parco della Montagnola that won’t disappoint, you can even take a hike in the Colle di Barbiana, which is close to the city centre and boasts panoramic views. Bologna is no doubt the gastro capital of Italy, so foodies must come to Bologna for some of the best comfort food in Italy!"

Bologna at a glance

Delicious cuisine, attractive historic sights, and an undeniably authentic Italian charm make Bologna hard to resist. Home to the oldest university in the western world, Bologna maintains a lively cultural vibe thanks to its significant student population. Museums and art galleries abound, with exhibits and collections ranging from historical artefacts from antiquity to modern art and everything in between.

Bologna’s history stretches back to the Iron age, with the rule of  many cultures, including the Romans, Goths, and Austrians, all making a mark on the development of the city that stands today. Iconic architectural sights such as the 12th century leaning Due Torri (Two Towers) and the Boroque Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca blend with the city’s numerous porticoes and burnt orange and yellow tiled roofs, lending a unique personality to the old meets new cityscape.  

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Historic attractions
  • Indulgent cusine
  • Art and culture

Getting around

Bologna’s public bus system is operated by TPER. A single ticket will give you as many journeys as you like within a 75 minute period from validation. Other ticket options include a City Pass, which provides eight journeys, and a Day ticket, valid for 24 hours, both of which can be purchased from newsstands, bars and ticket machines found at the airport and railway station.

Bicycles are also a great way to see the sights. Specially designated bike lanes make it easy to get around the city.

Shopping in Bologna

Bologna is a shoppers paradise, especially on the weekends when traffic is banned from the streets east of Piazza Maggiore. For internationally recognised Italian designer brands, seek out the main streets of Via dell’Indipendeza, Via Ugo Bassi, Via Rizzoli and Via D’Azeglio.

Make sure to stop by Bologna’s food market, the Quadrilatero, where you can buy handmade pasta, fish, cured meats and produce, or simply soak up the local atmosphere where vendors share narrow lanes with small cafes, shops selling wine, and gelaterias. 

Dining in Bologna

The cuisine in Bologna is an experience worthy of its fame. Bolognese food is hearty and satisfying, with leanings toward butter, cheese and creamy dishes rather than the tomato and olive oil based recipes  found in other regions of the country. Freshly crafted pasta is a staple here, as the city is home to tortellini, tagliatelle and ragù. Pork is also popular in the form of prosciutto, mortadella, and coppa.

If you plan to dine at a local restaurant, be aware opening hours are usually limited to 12:00 – 3:00pm for lunch and 7:30-11:00 for dinner, with many restaurants closed on Mondays.

Must-try local dishes:

  • Cotoletta alla Bolognese: Veal cutlets breaded and fried in butter then topped with prosciutto and cheese.
  • Tortellini in Brodo: beef stuffed egg pasta served in a beef broth.
  • Pinza: short crust pastry stuffed with a fruit marmalade made of apples, pears, plums, almonds, raisins and a pinch of mustard.

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Bologna designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice 
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Bologna hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.

Important information
Population 375,893
Languages Italian
Currency Euro
Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Distance from airports
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport 9 km
Railway stations
Bologna Centrale railway station

Tours and Excursions

Food & Ferrari Tour

Discover the Emilia-Romagna region’s greatest exports with this full day tour from Bologna. Learn about the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto ham, with plenty of opportunities for sampling. Visit the Museo Ferrari in Maranello and after your guided tour you can choose to take a test drive (payable on the day). Finish with a delicious 6-course lunch accompanied by local wines before returning to central Bologna.

City Walking Tour

This two-hour walking tour, led by a Blue Badge guide, takes in the key sights of the handsome city of Bologna. Learn about the area’s cultural and gastronomic history while admiring the Piazza Maggiore, the unfinished Basilica di San Petronio and the Due Torri (Two Towers) which sit at a precarious angle. Hear about Bologna’s scholarly past at the former seat of the University of Bologna and take a look inside the Church of Santa Maria della Vita to view the life-size terracotta sculptures.

Cooking Class in the Countryside

You will be collected from your hotel and taken to a farmhouse in the country where you will be welcomed by an expert ‘sfoglina’ cook who will give you an introduction to the art of pasta making. Learn the secrets of making tortellini, tortelloni and tagliatelle, have a go at rolling your own pasta and prepare the accompanying ‘Ragout’. Afterwards, sit down to a meal featuring your own freshly made pasta accompanied by local wine. A unique and enjoyable experience!  

We would be happy to arrange an excursion for you. To discuss options with a member of our knowledgeable team or to book, please contact us on 0131 243 8098.