15 Best Day Trips from Bologna

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Bologna is the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna, a region famed for its ancient university founded in 1088. The city has a lively student population.

Bologna is the very heart of Italy; if Italy were a meal, Bologna would be the main course.

Bologna is a historical city with some of the most incredible galleries and museums across the globe, attractive porticos, and incredible brick terracotta-roofed architecture.

This culturally-rich city has plenty of tourists, who also love the exquisite cuisine and the nightlife.

The best time to visit Bologna is from March to October when it’s a bit warmer.

Bologna is the perfect place to base yourself and make day trips to explore the nearby cities and towns.

Feel like you need a change of scene from Bologna? Here is a list of 15 best day trips to make from this exotic city.

1. Milan

MilanSource: Boris Stroujko / shutterstock

Milan is the world’s fashion and design capital.

This city is within easy access from Bologna by direct train.

While Milan is not considered the most beautiful city in Italy, it is the most important financially.

After the city’s partial destruction during the Second World War, Milan has rebuilt itself into a thriving capital.

This city may look modern but it has more than 26 years of history and heritage.

If you intend to do some shopping, this the perfect place to do it; the shopping experience here is breathtaking.

This paradise for shopping remains the marketplace for Italian fashion.

Some of Milan’s hidden treasures and gems include the Duomo, La Scala, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and Santa Maria Delle Grazia Basilica, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Venice

VeniceSource: Phant / shutterstock

Venice is renowned for its beautiful natural setting and its artwork; it’s a must-see city for any first-time visitor to Italy.

The city is two hours from Bologna by train.

Venice is the capital of the Veneto region and is found in the northeastern end of Italy.

The name Venice is derived from the ancient inhabitants of the region, the Veneti people.

Venice is also referred to as “City of Masks”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “La Dominante”, “The Floating City”, “The City of Canals.”

The incredibly beautiful architecture, the canals, and the countless bridges make this city well worth a visit.

The best time to visit is in summer.

Some famous areas in Venice include the Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal.

Instead of roads, Venice heavily relies on canals and a series of waterways.

This romantic city was originally built on 100 small Islands in the Adriatic Sea.

3. Parma

ParmaSource: iryna1 / shutterstock

This beautiful town is rich in art and architecture and is located about an hour away from Bologna by Train.

Parma is well-known for its world-famous cheese and ham.

Both Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma ham originate from Parma.

If you’re an authentic food lover, this city should be on your list of the best trips to make from Bologna.

The city is also known for its architecture, beautiful surroundings, and the music.

The name came about as Romans used to describe a round shield, called a Parma.

Parma isn’t just about the food.

Make sure to visit the splendid Sanctuary of Santa Maria Della Steccata, Romanesque Church and Baptistery.

The artwork here will leave you in awe.

4. Vicenza

Vicenza, ItalySource: Artur Dobrowolski / shutterstock

Vicenza is an ancient city that became a part of the Roman Empire in 157 BCE. The city was formerly known as Vicetia or Vincentia.

Vicenza became part of the Republic of Venice in 1404. In 1866, Vicenza became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

This city is located in the Northeastern part of Italy.

Vicenza is particularly famous for the Palladian villas by Andrea Palladio, who made architectural contributions.

In 1994, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the landmarks that you should check out include the Basilica Palladiana (also called Palazzo della Ragione), Loggia del Capitanio, Teatro Olimpico, Villa Capra, Palazzo Chiericati, Museo Diocesano, Giardini Salvi, Parco Querini, and Campo Marzo.

5. Ravenna

Ravenna, ItalySource: GoneWithTheWind / shutterstock

Ravenna is located about 70 minutes away from Bologna by train.

The city has a delightful small-town atmosphere and is home to the Mosaic Basilica.

Ravenna has eight Christian monuments that are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

At some point, Ravenna was the capital of Italy’s Byzantine Empire and today there are many well-preserved mosaics to show for it.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this town’s history should visit the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo; Dante’s Tomb, which is less than one kilometer away from the Basilica; as well as the little pile of rubble where Dante’s urn was hidden to protect it from damage during WWII.

6. Florence

Piazza San Marco, FlorenceSource: F8 studio / shutterstock
Piazza San Marco, Florence

Florence is just over an hour away from Bologna via train.

This city is the cradle of the Italian Renaissance and was home to very powerful families, scientific masterminds, and creative geniuses.

All these people left their legacies in Florence’s many museums and art galleries, making the city a cultural, artistic and architectural gem.

If you only have one day, there’s still a lot of places you can visit.

One of the best places to tour in Florence is the Uffizi Museum, which is home to paintings by the greats including Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

This city is always buzzing with tourists.

If you’re looking for the best travel experience, the prime time of year to travel here is in early April, when it’s neither too hot nor too humid.

However, January and February are also good months to visit, since the city is not very crowded with tourists.

7. Verona

VeronaSource: Catarina Belova / shutterstock

Verona is where William Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet.

This city became a World Heritage Site thanks to its urban structure and architecture.

Most of the historic sites in Verona date back over 800 years.

The most notable landmark in Verona is the Arena, which is a spectacular Roman amphitheater.

This enormous Arena was built in the 1st century AD. Even though much of the outer ring is crumbling, its interior is still intact.

8. Modena

Modena, ItalySource: GoneWithTheWind / shutterstock

This beautiful town is located 30 minutes from Bologna and is a mixture of medieval and Renaissance architecture.

Modena’s Main Square and the Ghirlandina Tower are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Modena is also known in culinary circles for the production of balsamic vinegar and its world-class cuisine.

Some of Modena’s highlights include the Ducal Palace – part of which houses the Italian Military Academy and the Military Museum – and the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, which is dedicated to the designer of the Italian supercar, Enzo Ferrari.

9. Faenza

Faenza, ItalySource: Eddy Galeotti / shutterstock

Faenza is located 50 kilometers (an hour’s journey) to the south of Bologna and is best-known for its majolica-glaze pottery, which is referred to as “faience” – hence the town’s name.

In addition to the ceramic museum, other principal attractions include the Faenza Cathedral inside the Freedom Square in the town center, the beautiful Portico of Lords, and the extraordinary Clock Tower.

10. San Marino

San MarinoSource: bilciu / shutterstock
San Marino

San Marino is a tiny micro-state that is surrounded by the rolling hills of the countryside.

This country is the 5th smallest in the world and is completely surrounded by Italy.

San Marino is known for its serenity and makes the perfect day trip from Bologna for those who seek some relaxation and peace of mind.

From the top of the Guaita fortress, one gets magnificent views of the picturesque buildings and streets.

Another highlight of the day trip is visiting the Neo-Classical Basilica di San Marino.

11. Ferrara

FerraraSource: ermess / shutterstock

Ferrara is a beautiful city that is located approximately 40 minutes from Bologna, in the northeast at a distance of 44 kilometers.

It’s a popular tourist destination thanks to the medieval buildings such as the cathedral, the castle, and the renaissance palaces, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Ferrara’s other highlights include the Diamanti Palace and the National Picture Gallery, both constructed by the Este family and totally worth a visit on your day trip from Bologna.

12. Bergamo

Bergamo, ItalySource: dmitrieval / shutterstock

Bergamo is quite a distance away from Bologna compared to other cities that we have mentioned.

This hidden gem has a lot of shopping opportunities and plenty of renaissance architecture in the Citta Bassa.

The city has a rather unspoiled medieval old town in the form of Citta Alta.

This old walled core is also referred to as the “Upper Town”. The Citta Alta is encircled by huge Venetian defensive systems that were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

13. Padova

PadovaSource: Luca Lorenzelli / shutterstock

Padova – also known as Padua – is a city in northern Italy, in the Veneto region.

The town is home to the University of Padua that was founded in 1222; it’s at this university where Galileo Galilei was a lecturer.

The picturesque town has a dense network of arcaded streets and bridges.

Visit Padova to see the setting for Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” It’s also here where a Portuguese Franciscan, Saint Anthony, was born.

He is known as Anthony of Lisbon

Other landmarks that you should check out in Padova include the St. George Oratory, Scrovegni’s Chapel, Santa Giustina Basilica, and Prato Della Valle.

14. Maranello

Ferrari Museum, MaranelloSource: Monika Sakowska / shutterstock
Ferrari Museum, Maranello

Maranello is located approximately 18 kilometers from Modena.

If you are a car lover – and we’re talking about fast cars – then Maranello should definitely be on your radar.

In Maranello, there is an entire museum dedicated to Ferrari.

This city is home to Scuderia Ferrari Formula One racing team

Maranello gained popularity worldwide thanks to the Ferrari factory that been located here since the early 1940’s.

It’s also the starting point of the Italian Marathon that is held every year.

The marathon finishes in Carpi.

15. Rimini

Rimini, ItalySource: Zhukov Oleg / shutterstock

Rimini is the capital city of the Province of Rimini and is located 80 minutes away from Bologna by train.

This popular beach resort has a 15-kilometer long beach that has thousands of hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Tourists come to Rimini for the sea, the sand, and the sun.

However, this town isn’t just about hitting the beach.

The place is also filled with interesting art and architecture dating back to Roman times.

For many years, Rimini has been an important part of Italian culture.

Come to Rimini and marvel at the Bridge of Tiberius, which was built in 20 AD. The Bridge of Tiberius is a great expression of Roman craftsmanship.

Feel free to take pictures.

This city is also the hometown of Federico Fellini, a famous film director.

15 Best Day Trips from Bologna:

  • Milan
  • Venice
  • Parma
  • Vicenza
  • Ravenna
  • Florence
  • Verona
  • Modena
  • Faenza
  • San Marino
  • Ferrara
  • Bergamo
  • Padova
  • Maranello
  • Rimini