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16 Unmissable Things to Do in Bologna, Italy

Window display of a traditional food shop in Bologna, Italy featuring mortadella, tortellini, and other pastas

Discovering Italy’s hidden gems often leads travelers to Bologna, a city in the picturesque Emilia-Romagna region. Despite its beauty, Bologna is one of Europe’s most underrated cities, often overshadowed by places such as Rome and Milan. Situated in northern Italy, Bologna is a lesser-known locale waiting to be explored.

As the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna has a rich history and culture. Its medieval buildings, busy markets, and winding narrow streets tell stories of the past, giving visitors a glimpse into Italy’s history.

But Bologna isn’t just about its past. The city is famous for its amazing food, which includes classics like Bolognese sauce, tortellini, and mortadella. Each dish reflects the region’s culinary traditions and is bursting with flavor.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the wonders of Bologna. Come along as we explore the charm and beauty of this Italian city, discovering the best things to do in Bologna, Italy.


Category Recommendation
Must-See Landmark Basilica di San Petronio
Park Giardini Margherita
Free Activity Santuario Madonna di San Luca
Activity for Kids San Luca Express
Activity for Adults Bologna Food Tour
Place to Eat Mercato delle Erbe
Place to Stay The Social Hub Bologna

Things to Do in Bologna, Italy

1. Bologna Food Tour

Window display of a traditional food shop in Bologna, Italy featuring mortadella, tortellini, and other pastas
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

I believe the best Italian food originates from Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna region. Some of the most well-known regional and local specialties and foods include Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, Bolognese meat sauce, mortadella (more commonly known as bologna to us Americans), and tortellini. See some of your favorites? I thought you might!

So when you visit Bologna, the best way to eat through the city and indulge in delectable local food is by going on a food tour. This tour, operated by Secret Food Tours, takes you around the entire city, starting with breakfast.

You’ll also get to sample some of the best gelato and taste local cheese, cured meats, and wine. It’s an ideal way to spend a day in Italy’s foodie city!

Alternatively, a fantastic way to truly immerse yourself in the culture is by signing up for a cooking class. Learn how to make fresh pasta in this amazing cooking class and be rewarded with delicious tortellini, tagliatelle al ragu, and tiramisu!

2. Archiginnasio di Bologna

Biblioteca de Communale dell'ArchiginnasioBiblioteca de Communale dell'Archiginnasio
Kyle Kroeger /…

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