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23 Best Things to do in Bologna, Italy

Trays of freshly made stuffed pasta in Italy.

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The city of Bologna has always been one of my favorite places in Italy. There are so many fun and delicious things to do in Bologna — this city is overflowing with art, architecture, and fabulous food!

As the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is perfectly situated between Milan, Venice, and Florence — yet it’s overlooked by most travelers.

But it’s absolutely worth making time for Bologna on your trip to Italy. You’ll find just as much culture and history as in other Italian cities, but it’s far less busy than the more popular spots in Italy.

I’ve been traveling in Bologna for more than a decade. In that time, I have proudly watched Bologna’s tourism grow to new heights — and so much of that is due to the work we bloggers have been doing on the ground.

(In fact, in one of my reader surveys, Bologna was the second-most-popular destination you guys have visited because of me!)

Bologna has had many nicknames: la rossa (the red), la dotta (the learned), and la grossa (the fat). Bologna is home to warm-colored buildings and the oldest university in the world, and has long been a meeting spot for youth activism. The city is young, fun, and has lots of cheap eats to feed hungry students.

Speaking of the food, Emilia-Romagna is the best food region in Italy. This is the home of traditional balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto di parma, and restaurants that have a single dinner seating designed to last for hours.

I can’t wait to show you why Bologna is one of my favorite cities in Italy. Here are the best things to do in Bologna!

This post was published in April 2024 and was co-written by Adventurous Kate and Dale Peterson.

Trays of freshly made stuffed pasta in Italy.
Any decent food tour in Bologna will involve pasta!

Best Things to Do in Bologna, Italy

Go on a food tour

One of the best things to do in Bologna is a food tour — and in a city as food-crazy as Bologna, I think it’s a must! A food tour is a great way to discover the specialties of Emilia-Romagna and how to eat them.

This walking tour takes you on foot through Bologna. As you learn about the city’s culinary history, you’ll sample fresh pasta, traditional balsamic vinegar, cheese, wine, gelato, and more. Or you can try this similar tour with a knowledgeable local guide.

Alternatively, this full-day experience is the best way to immerse…

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