An Essential Guide to Bologna, Italy

Bologna is certainly not as popular as its rival Italian cities but this is no reason to overlook this hidden gem. This lively, relaxed city is a bustling hub for students and budget travellers.

Known for its medieval streets and towers, quirky cafes, amazing culinary and the home to worlds oldest university. Bologna should be on everyones Italian itinerary.

Here is my essential guide to Bologna, Italy.

How to get there

Bologna airport has great connections to many destinations in Europe and even North Africa. The price of flights are great too. It only cost me £16 from London. 

From the airport, the bus to the centre is pretty regular, you need to get the BLQ bus and it’s 6€ for a ticket from the machine at the stop or there is another one inside the terminal. 

What to do

Torre Degli Asinelli

Torre Degli Asinelli bologna

Pisa who? Did you know that Bologna is the home to two leaning towers. The tallest one is in fact the tallest leaning tower in the world standing at a magnificent 97.2m high. It is open to the public at the small price of 3€ and offers fantastic views of the city.

Walk along the Porticoes 

Porticoes bologna

The porticoes are pretty archways that line the city buildings. Perfect shelter from the sun and the rain. There are reportedly 666 archways in Bologna and today has rightly deserved the title as one of Italy’s many UNESCO sights.

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore bologna

Probably the main attraction, Piazza Maggiore is located in the centre of the city and is surrounded by medieval buildings with an impressive 16th century fountain that sits with pride in the centre of the square. Piazza Maggiore is the perfect place to socialise with friends in the evening as the sun is setting.

Teatro Anatomico

A grand lecture theatre where medical students would learn about the anatomy at the worlds oldest university. Right in the centre of the lecture theatre lies a white stone table where human or animal bodies were dissected. Step back in time and get a real feel of the lessons learnt in this room. 

Santuario dell Madonna di San Luca

San Luca is known as one of Bolognas most famous churches. It can be found along a 3.8km hill from the city centre. The trail is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Piazza Verdi.

Head here on a Saturday night, grab some beers and sit among the locals and students and soak up the lively atmosphere. Piazza Verdi is situated in the heart of the student area in Bologna. 

Where to eat

If there is one thing you eat in Bologna, it has to be Tagliatelle Ragú. Not spaghetti bolognese, in fact, the locals find spaghetti bolognese to be an offence.

The real dish is Tagliatelle Ragú and it’s all I ate when I was in Bologna.

Osteria dell ‘Orsa

Osteria dell ‘Orsa bologna

This is without a doubt the most popular place to get Ragú in Bologna. A large restaurant with communal tables and benches lined with the chitter chatter of tourists and locals, there is no other place that serves Ragú like here that comes with an electrifying atmosphere of strangers coming together to enjoy delicious food.

  • TOP TIP – Get there as soon as you can as there are always queues outside. 

Ragú

ragu bologna

If you are looking for something quick, then look no further than this quickly, hipster Ragú takeaway. Cheap, cheerful, delicious and served with a smile.

Where to stay

I can really only recommend one place to stay in Bologna and that is Ayhome BnB. Located just off the main city centre but still in great walking distance. This modern, arty BnB is a true hidden gem in Bologna.

Marco’s hospitality is what makes this place. His friendly nature, warm smile and local recommendations as well as his adorable little dog Lola, make your stay here perfect.

The rooms are large, modern and clean with artistic shared bathrooms. 

The breakfast style buffet sets you up for a day of exploring, from savoury to an array of sweet treats. 

Everything about this place is five stars on a budget. I will return if I find myself in Bologna again.

Have you been to Bologna?

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