24 hours in Bologna

If you want to feel a touch of medieval, then Bologna is the place to go. Full of Renaissance towers, the city offers one of the best cuisines in Italy and an excellent mix of bars, clubs and sights as well. Vibrant, rich and captivating, Bologna is not flooded with tourists like other Italian cities like Rome or Florence so check out our 24-hour guide of Bologna and see all those beautiful squares, alluring arches, medieval buildings and fantastic restaurants everyone’s been talking about!

09:00 – Start your day with breakfast at Gamberini, the oldest bakery in Bologna. When in Italy, do as the Italians do, so take a seat, grab your cup of coffee and enjoy one of the mouthwatering pastries. Don’t think that this is the only place worth going for a decent breakfast. Check out Naama Cafe, Pappare’, Fragola or Pasticceria Impero as well.

10:00 – Use the morning light and make a tour of the Portico of San Luca, the city’s longest portico. A walk through the 12-th century arcades will lead you to the Sanctuary of San Luca, Bologna’s breathtaking basilica. The place will also give you sweeping views of the countryside and they city’s business center. Since it’s a strenuous walk and requires a bit of hiking, so don’t forget to wear something comfortable.


12:00 – It’s time for some catching up to do! Learn about the city’s story at the Palazzo Pepoli – Museum of the History of Bologna placed inside a historic building. There are high-tech exhibits including a 3D movie on the city’s Etruscan era and a virtual-reality walk along the old canals.The itinerary is divided into sections, organised chronologically and around major themes, from Forma Urbis and City of Water to City of Languages, Culture Room and Bologna in the Spotlight.

14:00 – Walk a few blocks from the museum to reach the magnificent Asinelli Tower, one of the Due Torri (the other tower is Garisenda) that symbolize Bologna. Unfortunately, nothing but your legs can help you climb the 498 steps to the upper platform. But we assure you, once there, you’ll be amazed by the panorama over the ancient rooftops of the city. 

15:00 – Lunch time! Stroll along the medieval alleys of Piazza Maggiore and head to a chic covered food hall, the Mercato di Mezzo. The gastronomic offer is really authentic and diverse, so it is difficult to make a choice. Start with Eataly, a new place for the famous Italian market. Inside, you’ll find gourmet Italian products, a wine bar and a restaurant. Then stop at La Baita, the ultimate formaggeria, for a taste of their homemade cheeses. The next stop is Paolo Atti e Figli for a certosino, a classic Bolognese fig cake, or Melega for a wide selection of organic products. End your culinary adventure with a glass of wine at the charming Osteria del Sole, a favorite local haunt.

16:00 – Now that you saw for yourself why Bologna has one of the best gastronomic offers in Italy, treat yourself to an art tour at the same square. Explore the Palazzo d’Accursio, a home to the city’s town hall since the early 14th century. The second floor contains an incredible collection of works by Giorgio Morani, one of the most notable painters of Bologna. When you’re done with the cultural education, have a cone of pistachio gelato from Cremeria Funivia, just a few steps from the square.

17:00 – When in Bologna, you can’t miss out on seeing Europe’s 6th largest church, the Basilica di San Petronio. The construction began in 1390, but it was never finished and even today its main facade remains incomplete. Inside you can thee the huge sundial from 1656, which was instrumental in discovering the anomalies of the Julian calendar and led to the creation of the leap year.

17:30 – One of the must-sees in Bologna is the Piazza Santo Stefano, a beautiful square in the old town, together with its Basilica di Santo Stefano. Originally made up of seven churches dating back to the 5th century, the basilica is also a wonderful gift shop where you can buy lovely mementos which will remind you of Bologna forever.

18:00 – Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a detective? Well, start discovering the seven secrets of Bologna and you’ll know the feeling. Even though it is still not certain what those seven secrets are, the most famous of them include a hidden canal, a broken vase only viewable from the top of a tower, and phrases that have been secretly carved along Bologna’s main street.

19:00 – Have a walk or just sit down and relax in Bologna’s largest park founded in 1875, Giardini Margherita. It’s a perfect place to relax and feel this vibrant city slowly calling it a day.

20:00 – End your evening in one of authentic Italian restaurants like Al Cambio, I Carracci, Ristorante Garganelli or Antica Trattoria del Reno and try the local delicacies you won’t have enough of.

21:30 – It all depends on what you like, a crazy night out or a more quiet, relaxed atmosphere, but Bologna has it all. From pubs like Black Cat, Harvest and Celtic Druid to discos such as Capannina and Qubo, you have many places to choose from, so the best way is to ask a local for a recommendation. All in all, you will regret not staying longer in this unique city!

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