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Thanks to its central location, the food capital of the world is the perfect base for exploring Northern Italy. So, if you’re looking for the best day trips from Bologna, this guide has you covered.
Whether you’re seeking elegant city escapes, countryside adventures, or foodie-favorite destinations, Bologna is a great place to start.
This article covers some of the best experiences and places to visit on a day trip from Bologna. We’ve also included information on how to get there by public or private transport and recommended a few hassle-free tour options to make your Bologna itinerary that much easier.
This ancient city is famous for its luxury car industry, but there’s more to Modena than Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Modena boasts an ancient history prevalent in the stunning architecture found across the city.
The easiest option for getting to Modena is to take a direct train from Bologna Centrale train station. The journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and ticket prices start at less than €5.
Once in Modena, head to must-see attractions like the Enzo Ferrari Museum and the Mercato Albinelli. The covered market sells all sorts of fresh produce and has been operating since 1931.
Other sites worth visiting include the stunning 11th-century Modena Cathedral and its accompanying tower, the Ghirlandina, which stands 281.5 feet tall. You can reserve a time slot to climb the 200 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy sweeping views of the city.
You’ll also love a visit to the Ducal Palace and the Luciano Pavarotti Museum.
Modena Private Walking Tour
See the highlights of Modena on a private walking tour with a knowledgeable guide. You’ll pass attractions like the Albinelli Market and the Modena Duomo and its museums while learning more about each site. A guided tour is a great option if you’re short on time or want to learn as much as possible about this beautiful city.
Tour Details: Modena: 2-Hour Private Walking Tour
As the name might suggest, this city is popular for its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Parmesan). The cheese is said to have originated during the Middle Ages around the Parma and Reggio Emilia regions. This city is also known for Prosciutto di Parma, a local specialty made from the hind legs of pigs, thinly sliced and dry-cured with salt.
Beyond that, Parma boasts stunning architecture and a vibrant nightlife, thanks to it being a university city. Stop by the Parma Cathedral to admire its Romanesque architecture before making your way to the Parma Baptistery.
For a lunch break and some people-watching, Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi is a great stop, while the National Gallery of Parma is a must-visit if you’re an art lover.
To get to Parma, take the train from Bologna Centrale to Parma for a duration of 50 minutes to just over an hour. Train tickets range from around €8 (on a regional train) to about €25 (on a high-speed train).
Parma Traditional Food Tour
Get the most out of your visit to this city of iconic foods with a street food tour. Your expert local guide will take you to some of the best food spots in the city, where you’ll sample dishes loved by locals. These include tortelli, carciofa, and a board of cold cuts and Parmigiano samples.
Tour Details: Parma Traditional Food Tour
Lamborghini and Ferrari Experiences in Maranello
Did you know that Ferraris are made exclusively in Maranello? Enzo Ferrari moved his factory from Modena to nearby Maranello in 1943. And every Ferrari has since been produced in this town and nowhere else in the world.
To get to Maranello, you’ll have to take a train to Modena from Bologna and then transfer to Maranello by bus. This method can be time-consuming, so it may be better to opt for a transfer service provided by a tour operator like LivTours.
Whether you’re a Formula One fan or simply admire these luxurious fast cars, a Ferrari test drive is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you don’t want to miss. Below are a few Ferrari experiences to consider in the birthplace of Ferrari.
Ferrari F458 Test Drive in Maranello
Test drive the F458, named Car of the Year by Top Gear Magazine in 2009, with a Ferrari-trained co-pilot by your side. This mid-engine model is said to go from 0 to 62mph in only three seconds and boasts a sleek two-door design.
Customize your test drive to be between 10 minutes and two hours, and hit the roads of the Emilia Romagna countryside in style. You’ll also get an HD DVD recording of your drive.
Tour Details: Ferrari F458 Test Drive in Maranello
Alternatively, check all Ferrari Tour options on LivTours.com
VIP Full-Day Ferrari Driving Experience with Test Drive
Speed through Maranello on either a Ferrari 488 or a Lamborghini Huracan on a 10 minute to two-hour test drive. After that, immerse yourself in the world of Ferrari with a visit to the Ferrari Museum and time in the F1 simulator.
You’ll also get to sample regional cuisine with Ferrari’s CEOs and Engineers at one of their favorite lunch spots before taking a tour of the Ferrari factory track. Take home an HD DVD of your test drive to relive your ride of a lifetime.
Tour Details: VIP Full-Day Ferrari Driving Experience
Emilia Romagna Food Experiences
It’s no secret that the Emilia Romagna region produces some of the most loved foods in the world, from Parmigiano and prosciutto to mortadella and balsamic vinegar. If you’re looking to sample and learn about some of the region’s must-try classics, why not try a full-day food experience starting in Bologna?
Italian Food Experience in Bologna
Learn about the processes and history behind classic food items like prosciutto, balsamic, and Parmigiano Reggiano. This guided experience takes you straight to the source, with visits to the factories where these edible delights are produced. In between factory tours, stop for a lunch prepared with regional ingredients and paired with some excellent Italian wines.
Tour Details: Bologna Food Experience with Lunch and Wine Tasting
The birthplace of the Renaissance is the perfect option for a day trip from Bologna, especially if you love art and culture. You’ll find popular sites like the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries a treat for admiring art and sculpture. While hidden gems in Florence, like the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy and Ospedale degli Innocenti, are great for exploring the city off-the-beaten path.
Multiple trains run between Bologna and Florence daily, with trips averaging around 40 minutes in duration. Tickets cost less than €10.
Highlights of Florence Semi-Private Walking Tour
You can easily spend three days in Florence, But if you only have a day, a guided tour is the best way to go.
This semi-private walking tour accommodates a group of no more than six people. Your expert tour guide will take you to highlights like Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery, as well as the Florence Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio.
Tour Details: Florence City Highlights Walking Tour
With its characteristic Venetian Gothic architecture, beautiful scenery, and history of artisanal crafts, it’s no surprise that the Lagoon City is a bucket-list destination.
Head to attractions like the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, or visit the Rialto Bridge spanning the Grand Canal and the historic Jewish Ghetto. The islands of Murano and Burano are also worth a visit. Murano is famous for its historic glasswork, while Burano is known for its skillful tradition of needle-lace making.
To get to the Floating City, take a train from Bologna to Venice’s main station, Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia. The scenic trip takes between one and a half hours to just over two hours and costs between €14 and €39.
Highlights of Venice Walking Tour
This semi-private walking tour of Venice lasts two hours and covers attractions like the beautiful Basilica of St. Mark, the Rialto Bridge, and Campo San Giacometto. With a limit of six people per tour group, your tour will feel more personal, and you’ll be able to ask as many questions as you like.
Tour Details: Semi-Private Venice Walking Tour
This charming little town southeast of Florence is known as the site where the famous film by Roberto Benigni, La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful), was filmed. The Gothic Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo is also featured in the highly acclaimed film, The English Patient.
Be sure to stop by Piazza della Badia, the Arezzo Cathedral, and Casa Vasari on your visit. The National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art combines art and history by depicting the progression of art in Arezzo over the centuries.
You can reach Arezzo from Bologna by train with a roughly two-hour trip that costs about €12.
Arezzo: Val di Chiana Wine Tasting Experience
When in Tuscany, you simply can’t miss a wine-tasting experience. After exploring Arezzo, take a private tour to Val di Chiana to sample the region’s best wines and produce among stunning vineyards. You’ll also learn about the wine-making process and how to pair wine with food.
Tour Details: Val di Chiana Wine Tasting in Arezzo
This city east of Bologna is known for its Christian and Byzantine mosaics that adorn many of its top sights. It’s also the home of the famous poet Dante Alighieri’s tomb.
To get there, take the one-hour trip from Bologna Centrale to Ravenna Railway Station. Tickets start at around €8.
UNESCO Monuments and Mosaics Guided Tour
A great option to familiarize yourself with the history and beauty of Ravenna is to take a tour. Ravenna is home to eight World Heritage Monuments, which you can visit and admire on this guided tour. You’ll visit spots like the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and the Neonian Baptistery with tickets pre-arranged for you.
Tour Details: UNESCO Monuments and Mosaics Guided Tour
This town is a popular beach resort boasting over 15 kilometers of sandy shoreline. So it’s a great day-trip destination if you’re looking to soak up the sun and dip in the ocean. Rimini is also the birthplace of Frederico Fellini, a renowned Italian filmmaker known for movies like 8½ and La Dolce Vita.
You can reach Rimini railway station in about an hour from Bologna Centrale. Tickets cost between €12 and €39. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
While it is nestled in the Emilia Romagna Region, San Marino is actually one of the world’s smallest countries, spanning only 24 square miles. Often referred to as the “Most Serene Republic,” the country boasts hilltop castles, cobblestoned streets, and rolling hills.
It’s a picturesque destination with sites like the three towers on Monte Titano and Piazza della Libertà where you can watch the changing of the guard.
There are no train lines from Bologna to San Marino. You can take a train to nearby Ravenna and then take a bus from there. But the easier option is to rent a car or take a guided tour that includes pickup in Bologna.
Private San Marino Day Tour with Lunch
This private day tour to San Marino includes hotel pickup and dropoff in Bologna, so you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting there. Your tour guide will take you to the highlights of San Marino while sharing some interesting facts and stories about the country. After that, you’ll enjoy lunch and wine at a local trattoria, after which you’ll have time for exploration and tax-free shopping.
Tour Details: Private San Marino Day Tour with Lunch
While not as well-known as Florence, Ferrara was one of the key Italian Renaissance city-states and a capital of art, culture, and politics. Much of its importance came from the influential Estense dynasty, who transformed the city in less than three centuries.
Today, Ferrara is a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting gems like the 14th-century Estense Castle and the Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara is also famous for the pumpkin-filled cappellacci di zucca pasta and is home to one of the world’s oldest wine bars, Al Brindisi.
You can reach Ferrara with a quick 30-45-minute train ride from Bologna Centrale for about €5.
Medieval Ferrara and Jewish Ghetto Walking Tour
Learn more about the history of this intriguing city with a small-group guided tour through some of the city’s oldest areas, like the Medieval business lanes. You’ll learn about the Este family’s influence and admire architectural masterpieces across the city.
Tour Details: Medieval Ferrara and Jewish Ghetto Tour
Summary: Best Day trips from Bologna, Italy
There you have it, some of the best day tours from Bologna, Italy. Most of these attractions are only about an hour away by train, thanks to Italy’s efficient public transport system. This makes Bologna day trips not only easy and accessible but easy on the pocket.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for exploring Bologna and beyond, have a look at this complete Emilia Romagna travel guide.