Our tours in Bologna
Our tours in Bologna
What to know about Bologna from our local guides
Bologna may be most famous for its food, but it also offers a wealth of historical and cultural sites worth exploring. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
- Visit the Two Towers—the Asinelli and the Garisenda—and climb the former for stunning panoramic views.
- Spend some time people-watching in Piazza Maggiore, the beating heart of Bologna, and pop into the fascinating Basilica di San Petronio to check out the impressive collection of frescoes housed within.
- Peek through the canal windows on Via Piella and feel like you’ve been whisked away to Venice.
- Stroll through the main campus of the University of Bologna—the oldest continually operating university in the world—and check out a few of its 15 museums.
- Eat your way through Bologna on a local-led food tour!
Bologna’s status as Italy’s top gastronomic destination means that there’s an eatery to suit all tastes and budgets. This list is by no means exhaustive, but will give you a good place to start from.
- Ristorante Diana for home-cooked regional classics in an understated yet elegant venue
- Salumeria Simoni for local charcuterie and cheese at a friendly, family-run deli
- Da Cesari for some of the best pasta in Bologna and old-world vibes
- Enoteca Storica Facciolo for Bologna’s leading selection of natural wines
- Ahimė for Italian staples with a modern twist
- I Portici for a Michelin-starred experience you won’t soon forget
If eating is high on your list of things to do in Bologna, you’re in the right place. And your first order of business: pasta.
You’ve likely heard of Bologna’s eponymous sauce, but when it comes to Bolognese, the real deal might be a bit different than what you’re imagining. Think light on the tomatoes, heavy on the meat, and paired with wider, flatter tagliatelle noodles rather than spaghetti.
But tagliatelle alla Bolognese isn’t the end-all-be-all of pasta in Bologna. The world-famous tortellini—and their larger cousin, tortelloni—have their roots right here in Emilia-Romagna!
Bologna is also commonly credited with being the birthplace of lasagna (other sources claim it was Naples). While the roots of this baked pasta dish may be lost to the sands of time, the Bolognese recipe is a must-try.
Beyond pasta, there are dozens of top-quality regional products proudly made in Emilia-Romagna that are staples of the Bolognese diet. Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, mortadella, and Modena’s famous balsamic vinegar all taste even better when sampled on their home turf.
Can’t decide what to dig into first? We try most of the above (and then some) on our Tastes & Traditions of Bologna Food Tour. Join us for a morning of eating and drinking in true Bolognese style at the small, family-run venues doing traditional cuisine at its best.
Bologna offers something for everyone no matter when you decide to visit. You can’t really go wrong at any time of year—it simply depends on what kind of experience you’re looking to have.
Like in much of Italy, spring and fall are wonderful times to visit Bologna, with mild, beautiful weather and a vibrant atmosphere in the city. Autumn in particular plays host to several gastronomic festivals celebrating everything from truffles to tortellini, making it an excellent choice for foodies.
The heat and humidity in summertime can be quite intense, but the hottest months of the year also offer their own unique advantages. Summertime in Bologna is perfect for using the city as a home base to explore further afield in the stunning surrounding region. Head out to one of the pretty hill towns in the Apennines for a refreshing escape, or even hit the beach (the seaside is just about an hour away!).
Winter is the quietest time of year in Bologna, as well as the coldest, but temperatures are still quite mild compared to most of the rest of Europe. The charming Christmas markets and holiday lights make for a picture-perfect atmosphere, and it’s also one of the best times of year in the city for food (tortellini in brodo, anyone?).