is Bologna worth visiting? let's find out

Is Bologna Worth Visiting? Your All-Inclusive Travel Guide

If you’re wondering if Bologna is worth visiting, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m Italian, and Bologna is my hometown, so I have the firsthand knowledge to guide your decision.

Boasting a rich history, mouthwatering cuisine, and vibrant street life, Bologna is an Italian gem waiting to be explored.

This comprehensive travel guide is focused on revealing the captivating charm of this food-loving and cultural Italian city.

This post contains affiliate links. When you buy something through one of the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Verdict: Should You Visit Bologna?

Strolling under Bologna’s UNESCO-listed Porticoes

Absolutely, Yes! Bologna is a great place to visit, offering a delightful blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.

Top Reasons Why Bologna is Worth Visiting

1. Historical Landmarks

Bologna’s medieval architecture, including the Two Towers and Bologna Cathedral, offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

2. Delectable Cuisine

Bologna is known as the gastronomic capital of Italy, and its cuisine is a unique blend of traditional and modern flavors.

3. Charming Local Experiences

Bologna offers a unique atmosphere and local experiences, such as exploring the city’s markets, walking along the porticoes, and visiting the University of Bologna.

4. Gateway to Emilia-Romagna Region

The city of Bologna, located in Northern Italy, is the gateway to the Emilia Romagna region, known for its gastronomy and food products like cured meats, Parmigiano Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar.

5. Authentic Italian Culture

Bologna offers a unique atmosphere and authentic Italian culture through its museums, art galleries, and cultural events.

6. Walkable City

Bologna is a walkable city and one of the best places to explore many landmarks and attractions on foot.

7. Away from Crowds

Bologna is away from crowds, which might be an added value that makes it more appealing to some visitors.

✈️ Convinced Bologna is your next destination? Start planning your journey to the city of food-loving culture and rich history with these essential tools:

⭐ Explore the Top Bologna Attractions
🛏️ Book the Best Bologna Hotels
📢 Find the Best Bologna Tours

Facts About Bologna

view of Bologna, Italy
Here’s the reason why Bologna is known as “La Rossa” (The Red)

La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa

Bologna is known as “La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa, ” meaning “The Learned, The Red, The Fat.”

The nickname “The Learned” refers to the city’s university, founded in 1088 and the oldest in the Western world. “The Red” refers to the city’s red roofs and buildings, while “The Fat” refers to the city’s rich cuisine.

The Two  Towers

Bologna is home to the Two Towers (Le Due Torri), which symbolize the city. The taller tower, Torre degli Asinelli, is 97.2 meters tall and has 498 steps to reach the top. The shorter tower, Torre Garisenda, is 48 meters tall and leans at an angle of 3.2 degrees.

Planning a trip to Italy? Discover the 35 best travel guide books for Italy to elevate your travel experience.

The World’s Oldest University

Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is home to the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088. It is also one of Italy’s most important urban centers, with a rich cultural, historical, and artistic heritage.

Culinary Delights

Bologna is famous for its cuisine, particularly its pasta dishes. One of its most famous dishes is tagliatelle al ragù, a pasta dish with a meat-based sauce. Another famous dish is mortadella, a type of sausage similar to bologna sausage.

Street Art and Graffiti

Bologna has a rich history of street art and graffiti. One of the most famous examples is the “Whispering Walls,” which were walls used to communicate secret messages during World War II. Today, the city is home to many street art festivals and exhibitions.

Suggested Reading: Is Milan Worth Visiting? Top Reasons Why You Should

Pros and Cons of Visiting Bologna

Like any city, Bologna has its unique attractions and drawbacks that may influence whether Bologna is worth visiting. Below are the pros and cons you may want to consider.

Historical landmarksWeather: Summer can be hot
Delectable cuisineLimited English spoken in some areas
Charming local experiencesSome areas can be less tourist-friendly
Gateway to Emilia-Romagna regionLimited public transportation options in rural areas
Authentic Italian culture
Walkable city
Away from crowds

Pros of Visiting Bologna

the iconic Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
The iconic Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Historical Landmarks

Bologna is rich in historical landmarks, including the Two Towers, Basilica di San Petronio,​ and Archiginnasio di Bologna. These landmarks offer a glimpse into the city’s fascinating history and architectural beauty.

Delectable Cuisine

Bologna is known as the gastronomic capital of Italy. It is famous for its pasta dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and cured meats like mortadella. Food lovers will delight in the culinary delights that Bologna has to offer.

👉 Craving the authentic flavors of Italy? Dive into Bologna’s culinary tradition with this hands-on pasta-making workshop. Taste and create the dishes that make this city a food lover’s paradise!

Charming Local Experiences

This Italian city is vibrant and lively, with a unique atmosphere. Exploring its narrow streets, visiting local markets, and interacting with friendly locals can provide an authentic and memorable experience.

Less Crowded

Compared to other popular Italian cities, Bologna is less crowded. This allows visitors to explore the landmarks and attractions more relaxed and enjoy a more intimate experience.

Gateway to Emilia-Romagna

Bologna might be worth visiting as it is a gateway to the Emilia-Romagna region, known for its gastronomy and food products. It offers the opportunity to explore nearby cities like Modena and Parma, famous for their culinary traditions.

👉 Into high-performance cars? Explore the world of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Pagani with a thrilling day tour from Bologna. Discover where legends are made!

Cons of Visiting Bologna

Summer Weather

The summer months in Bologna can be hot, with the city experiencing high temperatures. This may not be ideal for those wondering if Bologna is worth visiting and who prefer milder weather.

Higher Cost of Living

Compared to other Italian cities, Bologna may be pricier, especially for dining and accommodation.

Best Things To Do In Bologna

the Asinelli Tower
498 steps to the top: conquer the Asinelli Tower for breathtaking views!

Bologna is a city with a rich cultural and historical heritage, and it offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some of the best things to do in Bologna.

1. Climb the Two Towers

The Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower symbolize Bologna and offer the city’s best view from the top. (Buy Your Tickets Here)

2. Visit Piazza Maggiore

This is the main square in Bologna and is surrounded by many important buildings, including the Basilica of San Petronio, the historic building Palazzo d’Accursio, and Palazzo del Podestà.

👉 Admire the majesty of the Fountain of Neptune, located in Piazza del Nettuno, next to Piazza Maggiore.

3. Explore the Markets

Bologna has many markets, including the Mercato di Mezzo and the Quadrilatero. These markets offer a variety of local specialties, including cured meats, cheeses, and fresh produce.

4. Try the Local Cuisine

Bologna is known for its delicious cuisine. It includes pasta dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo, as well as cured meats like mortadella and prosciutto.

👉 Craving the flavors of Bologna? The best way to savor the city’s cuisine is on a food tour. Don’t miss out – Book our recommended tour.

5. Visit the Museums

Bologna is home to many museums, including the National Art Gallery of Bologna, the Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

6. Walk Along the Porticoes

Many of Bologna’s streets are adorned with covered walkways known as porticoes, a distinctive architectural feature for which the city is renowned.

“Portici,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2021, offer a unique atmosphere and provide shelter from the sun and rain.

7. Take a Day Trip

Bologna is located in the Emilia-Romagna region, which offers many nearby attractions. Visitors can take a day trip to nearby cities like Modena and Parma or explore the countryside and vineyards.

8. Visit the University of Bologna

The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the Western world, home to many historic buildings.

Craving more Bologna? Explore further with our other article on the top 10 attractions in Bologna.

From exploring landmarks, markets, and museums to savoring local dishes, there’s much to do in the city. To fully immerse yourself in all that Bologna offers, consider embarking on some of the best tours available.

Best Tours and Activities in Bologna

the center of the city of Bologna
Guided tours offer the best way to enjoy Bologna

Here are five fun tours and activities you can enjoy in Bologna, Italy.

1. City Center Walking Tour

RATING: 4.6 out of 5 Stars

Explore the streets of Bologna’s city center and visit the main cultural attractions on this 2-hour walking tour. (Book this Tour)

2. Red Bus City Tour and Local Food Tasting

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Explore Bologna from an open-top bus and admire local monuments and architectural beauty. Enjoy tasting local food in a historical market. (Book this Tour)

3. Roundtrip San Luca Train Ticket & Food Tasting

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Book a roundtrip skip-the-line ticket to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca and explore the enchanting Basilica at your own pace. Enjoy food tasting as well. (Book this Tour)

4. Stay Hungry Stay Bologna

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Cook authentically with this pasta-making workshop in a local home. Master two kinds of pasta and sauces, try regional wines and finish with tasty tiramisu. (Book this Tour)

5. Guided Traditional Bologna Food Tour

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Join a traditional Bolognese lunch or dinner tour with a local guide. Visit at least 4 different restaurants hand-selected by local food experts. (Book this Tour)

Suggested Reading: Best Bologna Wine Tours & Tastings to Try

Food and Cuisine in Bologna: Must-Try Dishes

Tagliatelle al ragù
Savor the flavors of Bologna with a plate of authentic tagliatelle al ragù

Bologna is known as the gastronomic capital of Italy, and its cuisine is a unique blend of traditional and modern flavors.

If you’re still wondering if Bologna is worth visiting, here are some of the most popular local dishes that might tempt your taste buds.

Tagliatelle al Ragù

This is a classic Bolognese dish made with fresh egg pasta and a meat-based sauce (also known as the authentic Bolognese sauce). It is one of the most famous dishes in Bologna.

Tortellini in Brodo

This traditional Bolognese soup is made with small, stuffed pasta and a clear broth. It is typically served during the winter months.

Lasagna Bolognese

This classic Italian dish is made with layers of fresh pasta, meat sauce, and cheese. It is a staple in Bologna’s cuisine.


This type of cured meat is similar to bologna sausage. It is a popular ingredient in sandwiches and antipasti.


This is a type of cured ham that is sliced thinly and served as an antipasto or in sandwiches.

Parmigiano Reggiano

This type of hard cheese is made in the Emilia-Romagna region. Parmesan cheese is a staple in Bologna’s cuisine and is often grated over pasta dishes.

Balsamic di Modena

This is a type of aged balsamic vinegar made in the Emilia-Romagna region. It is often used as a condiment for meats, cheeses, and salads.


These are small, round breads that are typically served with cured meats and cheeses.

Certosino di Bologna

This traditional Bolognese cake is made with almonds, candied fruit, and spices. It is typically served during the Christmas season.

Zuppa Imperiale

This traditional Bolognese soup is made with chicken, beef, and vegetables. It is typically served during the winter months.

Museums and Art Galleries in Bologna

Archeological Museum of Bologna
Archeological Museum of Bologna

Bologna is home to many museums and art galleries that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage. Here are some of the best museums and art galleries in Bologna.

Archeological Museum of Bologna

The Archaeological Museum of Bologna, housed in the historic Palazzo Galvani, is a treasure trove of significant archaeological finds, including one of Europe’s most important collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Divided into sections belonging to the University of Bologna and the City of Bologna, the museum offers a fascinating journey through local history, from prehistoric settlements to Roman times, and has hosted over 150 exhibitions, reflecting both archaeology and the arts.

Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna

This is one of Italy’s most important art galleries and is home to a vast collection of paintings and sculptures from the 13th to the 19th century.

MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna

This MAMbo museum is dedicated to modern and contemporary art and features works by Italian and international artists. It offers a unique contrast to the city’s historic landmarks.

Collezioni Comunali d’Arte

This museum is located in the Palazzo d’Accursio (also known as Palazzo Comunale) and features a collection of art and artifacts from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. It offers a glimpse into the city’s cultural and artistic heritage.

International Museum and Library of Music

This museum is dedicated to music. It features exhibits of musical instruments, manuscripts, and recordings. It offers a unique glimpse into the city’s musical heritage.

Museo Pelagalli

This museum is dedicated to the history of radio and television and features exhibits on the evolution of communication technology. It offers a unique glimpse into the city’s technological heritage.

Gelato Museum Carpigiani

The Gelato Museum Carpigiani is dedicated to the history of gelato and features exhibits on the evolution of gelato-making techniques. It offers a unique and delicious experience for visitors.

Events & Festivals in Bologna

We’ve found a fantastic resource for up-to-date Events and Festivals in Bologna for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture. Check out the link to plan your visit around the city’s vibrant celebrations!

Cost of Living in Bologna

map of Bologna, Italy

The cost of living in Bologna can vary depending on factors such as accommodation, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Here is a summary of the cost of living in Bologna.

  • Single Person’s Cost of Living: A single person’s estimated monthly cost of living in Bologna is between €600 and €700 (approximately $1,005.4), excluding rent. This makes Bologna 34.3% less expensive than New York (without rent).
  • Moderate Expense Level: The overall cost of living in Bologna, Italy, is $1,634, which is considered moderately expensive compared to the average monthly salary of $1,555.
  • Budget Living Options: For those who are smart and careful with money, it’s possible to live in Bologna on a budget of around $560 per month. A more realistic budget without stringent cost-saving measures would be $800-$900 monthly.
  • Family Costs: The estimated monthly cost for a family of four living in Bologna is €3,227.

Overall, the cost of living in Bologna is moderate to high compared to other Italian cities. It’s important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices.

Best Time of Year to Visit Bologna

Sanctuary of the Madonna di  San Luca
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, Bologna

Weather in Bologna

Bologna has a humid subtropical climate with varied characteristics throughout the year.

SeasonAvg. TemperatureRainfallDescription
Spring15-20°C (59-68°F)ModeratePleasant and mild, a great time for sightseeing.
Summer27-32°C (81-89°F)LowHot and humid, best enjoyed in outdoor cafes and parks.
Autumn10-18°C (50-64°F)HighCooler and wetter, the perfect time for cultural activities indoors.
Winter2-6°C (36-43°F)LowChilly, with occasional snow, suitable for enjoying hearty local cuisine.

The best time of year to visit the landmarks in Bologna is during April, May, June, July, August, September, and October. 

These months offer the most favorable weather conditions with warm temperatures and less rainfall. During this time, you can enjoy exploring the landmarks and outdoor attractions comfortably.

Spring (April, May, and June) is a great time to visit Bologna, as the weather is mild and pleasant. The city comes alive with blooming flowers and vibrant colors. 

Summer (July and August) can be hot. However, it is still a popular time to visit due to events like the outdoor film festival held in Piazza Maggiore. However, it’s worth noting that temperatures can reach into the 30s during the peak of summer.

It might not be worth visiting Bologna during the winter months, as it is considered the low season, and the weather can be cold and rainy. 

Getting to Bologna and Around the City

aerial view of the center of Bologna
Bologna is a walkable city!

Here are some ways to travel to Bologna and get around the city.

By plane: Bologna has an international airport, the Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport, which is located about 6 km from the city center. Many airlines offer direct flights to Bologna from major European cities, including British Airways and Ryanair.

By train: Bologna is well-connected by train to other major cities in Italy, including Florence, Venice, Milan, and Rome. The Bologna Centrale railway station is located in the city center and is easily accessible by public transportation.

By bus: Bologna has a good bus system managed by TPER, which offers multiple lines and is very efficient. Visitors can take a bus to Bologna from other cities in Italy or Europe.

By car: Visitors can rent a car and drive to Bologna. The city is well-connected by highways and roads, and many car rental companies are available.

Related Reading: Renting a Car in Bologna: Your Essential Guide

Once in Bologna, visitors can move around the city using public transportation, including buses and trains. Bologna is also a walkable city; visitors can explore many of its landmarks and attractions on foot.

Safety and Healthcare in Bologna

Safety and healthcare are important considerations for those evaluating if Bologna is worth visiting as a tourist destination.


  • Bologna has a low crime rate, considered a safe city for tourists.
  • Instances of petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, particularly in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.
  • Travelers should exercise normal precautions, such as staying aware of their surroundings and securing valuables.
  • In Bologna, public transportation and taxis are generally considered safe, and there’s no reason to avoid them.

Related Reading: 21 Safest Cities in Italy for Travelers & Expats


  • Bologna has a good healthcare system, with many hospitals and clinics.
  • The healthcare index in Bologna is above 55, which means that healthcare quality is good.
  • Visitors should have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, as healthcare can be expensive for non-residents.

Overall, Bologna is considered a safe city for tourists, but visitors should exercise normal precautions and be aware of their surroundings.

The healthcare system is good, but visitors should have travel insurance that covers medical expenses

Emergency numbers

Should an emergency arise in Italy requiring immediate medical assistance or an ambulance, simply dial 112 from any phone. There’s no need for a country code if calling from within Europe. If you are a U.S. citizen, please take a moment to read this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bologna at night

How Many Days is Bologna Worth Visiting For?

The duration of a visit to Bologna, Italy, can be tailored to individual interests and preferences. 

A one-day trip allows for a brief exploration of the main landmarks and a taste of local cuisine. 

A two to three-day stay provides a deeper experience of the city’s culture, culinary delights, and nearby attractions. 

For those keen on history and museums, a five-day visit offers an in-depth exploration of Bologna’s rich heritage. 

The city’s diverse offerings can accommodate various travel durations, from a quick overview to an extended immersion.

✈️ Convinced Bologna is your next destination? Start planning your journey to the city of food-loving culture and rich history with these essential tools:

⭐ Explore the Top Bologna Attractions
🛏️ Book the Best Bologna Hotels
📢 Find the Best Bologna Tours

Is Bologna Safe?

Bologna is generally considered safe for tourists and residents alike. Common safety concerns may include petty theft and pickpocketing in crowded areas.

Standard precautions such as being aware of your surroundings and keeping personal belongings secure are advised. 

Emergency numbers for police, medical, and fire services are available, and healthcare facilities are well-equipped to handle medical needs. English-speaking assistance is also widely available.

Suggested Reading: Is Turin Worth Visiting? A Traveler’s Guide

Final Thoughts

Is Bologna worth visiting? Absolutely. With its rich culinary traditions, historical landmarks, vibrant cultural scene, and excellent accessibility, it offers a diverse and engaging experience for all types of travelers. 

Whether exploring the museums, indulging in gourmet cuisine, or strolling through ancient streets, Bologna’s unique charm promises an unforgettable adventure.

Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide: 70 Must-Visit Landmarks in Italy

Similar Posts