Bologna is an ancient university city in the North of Italy. Home to breathtaking architecture and as the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, this destination is the perfect place from which to base yourself for exploring the wider region over the course of several days. Here are the very best day trips from Bologna!
While some of these day trips are best attempted by car (train transfer times can make the journeys prohibitively long otherwise, as in the case of Bergamo and San Marino), other cities are easy to reach by public transportation. For example, some of the easiest day trips from Bologna include visits to nearby Faenza and Modena.
The tiny micro-state of San Marino lies on a peak, surrounded by the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. Often referred to as one of the world’s oldest republics, and as one of the smallest countries in Europe the place is also known as ‘Most Serene Republic of San Marino’.
And with a population of just 33,000 residents, the mini-state can easily be explored over the course of a day as a day trip from Bologna. Highlights of San Marino include enjoying the views from the top of the Guaita, the city’s oldest fortress, as well as visiting the Neo-Classical Basilica di San Marino.
The Cradle of Renaissance, Florence, lies just over an hour away from Bologna via train. While this city merits at least two or three days in its own right, if you’re short on time then you can still pack quite a lot of activities in Florence into your schedule if you plan it right!
Some of the best things to do in one day in Florence include a venture into the Ufizzi Galleries. The Galleria is one of the oldest museums in the world and is home to paintings by the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many more greats. As well as iconic art galleries and museums, you simply must visit the Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica, an amazing feat of Renaissance architecture.
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Best-known for its Renaissance architecture and status as a UNESCO world heritage site, Ferrara is well worth a visit on any venture through the region. Highlights of the city include Renaissance buildings erected by the Este family, as well as the Diamanti Palace.
Constructed by the same wealthy family, this structure is covered in diamond-shaped marble blocks and now houses the National Picture Gallery. Ferrara is just under an hour by train from Bologna, easily making it one of the best day trips from the city.
The fashion capital of Italy, Milan, can be reached by direct train from Bologna. Home to fashion houses, boutique hotels, and lots of shopping experiences, the capital of the Lombardy region is also home to lots of hidden treasures and secret gems.
Highlights of Milan include visiting a bar designed by Wes Anderson and scaling the Duomo (cathedral) to enjoy the sunset from the ecclesiastical building’s rooftop terraces. Other must-see Milan attractions include wandering around the ever hip and trendy Brera district.
Read more: Hidden gems in Milan you won’t want to miss!
Art and culture with a dash of the Italian countryside thrown in, Faenza lies in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and is best-known around the world for its majolica-glaze pottery (known as faience). Located just under an hour from Bologna, this off the beaten tourist track city finds its beginnings in Etruscan and Celtic roots, meaning that the whole place is filled with a whole lot of history!
The City of Canals is one of those must-see Italian cities for first-time visitors to the boot-shaped country. As such, although the city is further away than other places on this day trip from Bologna article, it’s well worth a visit. Home to canals, countless bridges, and lots of incredibly beautiful architecture, it takes just over two hours to reach Venice from Bologna via train.
In the very heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, Modena is best-known for its world-class cuisine and production of balsamic vinegar. Located just a half-hour train ride from Bologna, this Italian city is simply a must-see if you love Italian food (and who doesn’t?)
Elsewhere in the city, highlights of Modena include lots of 17th-century architecture (be sure to visit the Ducal Palace of Modena), as well as a museum entirely about Enzo Ferrari (Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari), the designer of the Italian supercar.
The hidden gem of Northern Italy, Bergamo, is a little further away than some of the other cities on this list but it definitely deserves its title as one of the best day trips from Bologna. After all, it’s here where you’ll find a rather unspoilt medieval old town in the form of the Citta Alta, as well as lots of shopping opportunities and the chance to experience plenty of Renaissancce architecture in the Citta Bassa.
If you love fast cars and Maranello isn’t on your radar yet, then it certainly should be! Once in this historic Northern Italian settlement, which is home to the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One racing team, there’s an entire museum dedicated entirely to Ferrari.
Around an hour from Bologna via train, if you’ve ever heard of Parma it’s likely thanks to its world-famous ham and cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma ham both originate in this Italian city and so you should opt to visit if you love an authentic foodie experience!