Bologna Holidays

Bologna is a city of three nicknames. La Grassa – the Fat One – for its position in the heart of the northern foodie region Emilia Romagna. La Rossa – the Red One – after its skyline of red rooftops and towers. And La Dotta – the Learned One – because it’s home to the oldest university in the world.

To get the best view of that red skyline, head for one of the 12th-century Two Towers. Bologna has a great collection of churches, too. The San Petronio Basilica lays out 22 chapels filled with saint’s relics and frescoes. For a baroque spin, try the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca

BW Plus Tower Hotel Bologna Hall

Best Western Plus Tower Hotel Bologna is a great choice as a base for your city break in Bologna. With modern, comfortable facilities and easy public transport links to the city centre, you'll get to enjoy the best that the city has to offer. 

  • 193 rooms

Located opposite the railway station, an ideal location to explore this captivating city, the peaceful interior of this calm and comfortable hotel provides the perfect atmosphere to relax. 


Bologna Classic Walking Tour (2 hours 30 mins)

Get to know Bologna on this classic walking tour. You’ll get a feel for all of the main attractions, as your local guide explains the architectural, historical and culinary treasures of the city. You’ll begin in Piazza Neptune and continue on to see San Petronio Basillica, Archiginnasio Library, the famous Asinelli Towers, Re Enzo Palace and Santo Stefano Square. Venture into the fragrant alleys of the ancient Quadrilateral markets – you’ll smell all the delicious local food. We’ve included a stop at one of the best ice cream shops in the city, enough to keep you going as you explore the sights.

Departs: 10.30am, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: £31pp – hotel pick up and drop off not included

Red Bus City Tour & Food Tasting (1 hour 30 mins)

The hop on hop off panoramic sightseeing bus is a great way to see the best of Bologna. Listen to the audio guide to hear the tales of the city and its ancient architecture. As Bologna’s known as the culinary capital, we’ve made sure that you’ll get to try some of the best local food and handmade gelato along the way.

Departs: 10am, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: £31pp – hotel pick up and drop off not included

Wine Tasting in one of the Oldest Inns (2 hours)

This one’s for the wine lovers. Spend the afternoon tasting Bologna’s best wines in one of the oldest locanda (inns) in the city – the traditional setting is hard to beat! Your guide will teach you about the local varieties of grape grown in the Bologna hills and Imola. You’ll taste three of the local wines for yourself, including whites like Pignoletto or Albana and the reds like Lambrusco and Sangiovese. We’ve made sure that there’s some tasty snacks to accompany the wine, like local mortadella sausage, fresh local bread and cheese.

Departs: 12.15 or 4pm, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: £57pp – hotel pick up and drop off not included

Asinelli Tower & Food Tasting (1 hour 50 mins)

The tallest of Bologna’s ‘Two Towers’ is Asinelli - in fact it’s the tallest leaning medieval tower in the world! We’ve included entrance tickets, so you can climb to the top to get the best views across the red roofed city. Bologna’s known for its delicious food, so we’ve included some local products for you to try in the historical centre, including homemade gelato.

Departs: 11am, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: £15pp – hotel pick up and drop off not included

Lunch in a Sfoglina House (3 hours)

If you love Italian food, then why not learn how it’s made from the very best. Discover the flavours of the real traditional Bolognese cuisine as you admire an authentic sfoglina (pasta maker) at work. You’ll have a home cooked Bolognese lunch cooked before your eyes. We hope you’re hungry because it includes things like affettati (cold cuts) and crescenza (Stracchino cheese), hand-made pasta and dessert, accompanied by a glass of wine and Italian coffee to finish.

Departs: 12pm, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: £98pp – hotel pick up and drop off not included

Ferrari Experience (7 hours)

Whether you’re a car fanatic or not this experience will get you swept up into the world of the legendary Ferrari, its speed and its glamour. The famous, luxury sports car is manufactured in Maranello, not far from Bologna. On this excursion you’ll be immersed in the history of Ferrari, from learning about the founder himself, to its engineering, manufacture and its role in motorsports. You’ll be collected from your hotel and taken to the Ferarri Museum – check out the most recent models as well as exhibitions about the history of the cars. Explore the factory and the Fiorano Circuit, Ferrari’s private racetrack, where they test and develop the cars. Take a break for lunch at a traditional farmhouse before visiting the Enzo Ferrari Museum to learn about the incredible life story of the Italian racing driver, founder of the Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team and the Ferrari automobile.

Departs: 9am, Daily from 01 Apr – 31 Oct

Price: €187pp - (min. 4 people) this excursion can be booked and paid for locally

Things To Do

There is plenty to see and do in Bologna. The size of the city means that you can explore most of the sights on foot. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites below.

Basilica Santo Stefano

This holy complex is known locally as the Sette Chiese (seven churches) and four of the original buildings remain today. The beautiful labyrinth of structures date as far back as the 4th century and form one of the most interesting religious complexes in Italy. Wander in from the triangular Piazza di Santo Stefano, through the ancient buildings and series of beautiful courtyards, gardens and passageways to uncover the ancient treasures within them. The Chiesa della Crocifisso holds the bones of Bolognas patron saint, St Petronius and the Chiesa Santi Vitale e Agricola still has fine examples of Roman carvings and masonry.

Le Due Torri

The two iconic towers, Torre degli Asinelli and the Torre Garisenda, tower above the city are named after the families who built them in the 12th century. Climb the 498 wooden steps to the top of the Asinelli, the tallest medieval tower in the world, for views of Torre Garisenda, Bologna’s very own leaning tower and the rest of the beautiful red roofed city. Le Due Torre are some of the last of the remaining twenty towers in the city that once boasted over one hundred. Legend has it that any student that climbs the tower will not complete their degree, so don’t expect to find many university goers about!

Ancient Porticoes

Bologna has about 40 kilometers of Porticoes, some of which date back to the 11th Century and have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. Many were built as a solution for the demand for more student housing whilst retaining public space for shops and artisan workshops in the arcades beneath. As you explore the city, you’ll spot examples of Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance porticoes. Not only are they architecturally fascinating, they provide shelter from the elements, making it easy to wander around the city whatever the weather.

Teatro Anatomico

Bologna’s University was founded in 1088 making it the oldest, continuously operating University in the western hemisphere. One of the most fascinating parts is the 17th century Teatro Anatomico, a room entirely clad in cedar wood with fine carved details on the walls and ceilings. Tiered wooden benches line the room, surrounding a central Marble table. This is where medical students would have watched autopsies. You can just imagine stepping back in time and attending a lecture here.

Il Santuario di San Luca

This 18th Century sandy pink church stands tall to the south-west of Bolognas historic centre, surrounded by lush forest. The church is made all the more striking and unique as its linked to the city by the world’s longest continuous portico. Not for the feint hearted, the four kilometer pilgrimage to the top is a steep one, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Emilia-Romagna countryside and once you’ve made it to the top, the views over the city are unparalleled.

Basilica di San Petronio

The Gothic Basilica towers over Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square, at a height of 47 meters. To this day the building remains incomplete, you’ll notice this from the rugged bricks on its façade. Inside look out for the giant sundial the stretches down the eastern isle. It was designed by Gian Cassubu and Domenico Guglielmi in 1656 and played an important role in the discovery of anomalies in the Julian calendar that later led to the creation of the leap year.

Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna

If you’re interested in modern and experimental art MAMbo is the gallery to head for. Since 2007 it’s been the headquarters of the municipal network of museums representing contemporary pieces and its collection documents the history of Italian art from World War II right up to the present day. Head there on a Thursday evening when the gallery is open until 10pm. Have an aperativo in the museums café and wander through the gallery admiring works by up and coming Italian artists.

Quadrilatero Market

The Quadrilatero area has hosted artisan corporations since the middle ages. It was here that the major craft guilds of the city formed including the painters, furriers, goldsmiths, butchers, fishmongers, and barbers. The city’s strict community laws on retail has meant that these independent workshops and markets have survived to this day giving the place a true local feel. The ancient grid of food shops is fascinating to explore, you’ll find delicious snacks, lively markets and some of the best spots for aperitivo.

Explore by train

Bologna’s station is very well connected and it’s easy to do lots of day trips to nearby cities. Parma and Modena are just an hour away by train and are charming cities with plenty of churches to explore and piazzas to relax in. Ferrara is a picturesque, Renaissance town and is just a 20-minute train ride away. If you’re here over summer you might want to head to Rimini on the Adriatic Riviera, which is about an hour away. Tickets can be brought in the station, don’t forget to validate them before you get on the train.

Local foods to try

Tortellini in Bordo is made up of small pieces of ring shaped pasta stuffed with meat or cheese, traditionally served in a simple broth with grated parmigiano. Try this delicious pasta dish that’s still made by locals in sfogline (local pasta shops).

Tagliatelle al Ragù is the real deal ‘spaghetti Bolognese’. Don’t make the mistake of asking for Bolognese as it’s non existent here. Instead, go for the ragù a thick meaty sauce with onions, carrots, pork and veal that coats a bed of tagliatelle pasta.

Mortadella is a specialty of Bologna. It’s a large sausage made up of chopped pork meat spiced with whole ground black pepper, myrtle berries, nutmeg and pistachios.

Parmigiano Reggiano is arguably Italy’s most famous cheese and is made in the region. You’ll find this delicacy sprinkled atop many a dish while you’re In Bologna.

Balsamic di Modena is made from grapes that are boiled down and aged in wooden containers to form a rich dark syrup. The perfect accompaniment to your favorite Italian dishes.

Piadina is the typical sandwich of bologna, made with flatbread and usually filled with ham, fresh cheese and salad. They’re the perfect lunch snack.

Good to Know

  • Buy a Bologna Welcome Card for discounted entry into Bologna’s main attractions
  • Climb the Asinelli Tower for views across the red city
  • See the original wooden porticoes of Via Marsala
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