The main Bologna Italy Attractions in a helpful list

Bologna is one of Italy’s most important cities, historically, economically and most important food wise. But here we’ll concentrate on Bologna Italy Attractions that are a Bologna must see in “La Dotta” (a nickname that stands for its knowledge, and the fact that the first Western University was opened there in 1088). So, after this you will understand that the Bologna culture, is quite high, we’re looking at a town that evolved not only as a university town but also an economic center of Northern Italy, being home to a variety of Bologna exhibitions and fairs. Here, we’ll give you a list of places to go sightseeing Bologna Italy, locations to start Bologna Tours, and where to find the best Bologna culture events.

Because the Bologna Italy City Center can be a bit complicated for first-time visitors, you can find a bologna old town map just click on the blog and you’ll find it.

So after understanding what to do in Bologna during your visit, and what Bologna culture event is the best for you, you can pick which Bologna Italy Attractions are gonna be up your alley.

Studentsville's staff has created the best Bologna's itineraries: if you follow our suggestions, you won't miss the top attractions to see in Bologna. Read our guides about the best things in Bologna to do: What to see in Bologna in one day; What to see in Bologna in two day; What to see in Bologna in three days; Bologna with kids.

bologna italy attractions

What to see in Bologna in one day (24 hours)

  • Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

The sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is one of the symbols of Bologna, reachable through the longest portico in the world: 666 arches starting from Porta Saragozza, more than half of which are uphill from the Meloncello arch. It is a destination not only for tourists and pilgrims, but also for fitness lovers, who crowd the climb from the early hours of the morning. You can also visit the dome, with a 180° view of the hills and the city.

  • Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio (The Library of the Archiginnasio)

I was the seat of the University of Bologna, the oldest in Europe. More than seven hundred and five thousand books. Absolutely to visit.

  • San Petronio Basilica

San Petronio Basilica is the largest Gothic style church in Bologna. Both outside, from Piazza Maggiore, and inside, you can appreciate the breadth of the building, its Gothic naves raise it to a height of over 40 meters. Simply beautiful, not to be missed.

  • Palazzo d'Accursio

Palazzo d'Accursio, fourteenth-century and monumental, occupies the entire west side of Piazza Maggiore, and then extends to Piazza del Nettuno. On the facade there are two statues. the first of Niccolò dell'Arca depicting a Madonna and Child. The second, placed above the entrance portal, by Pope Gregory XIII blessing. The Palace serves as the City Hall of the city, but inside you can find numerous works of art. Worthy of note are Sala d'Ercole and Sala Rossa.

  • Piazza Maggiore

One of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Nearby there are Palazzo d'Accursio, Palazzo Re Enzo, the historical library Sala Borsa, the Fountain of Neptune.

  • Fountain of Neptune

It is the result of Giambologna's collaboration with Laureti and Portigiani and has been a symbol of the city since 1566. The Fountain of Neptune is located in the centre of the city, just a few steps from Piazza Maggiore (Piazza Grande), the Basilica of San Petronio and right in front of Palazzo Re Enzo. Over the years it has undergone many restoration works. The sculpture of Neptune, which dominates the fountain, is over 3 meters high.

  • Palazzo del Podestà

Palazzo del Podestà (Palâz dal Pudstè in Bolognese) was the first seat of the city government exercised by the Podestà and his judges and officers.

  • Palazzo Re Enzo

Built between 1244-46 as an extension of the municipal buildings, shortly afterwards it became the prison of King Enzo of Sardinia, son of Frederick II who spent 23 years here until his death. The 1905 restorations carried out by Rubbiani restored the gothic aspect of the building: it reconstructed the battlements, the arches of the ground floor and the 15th century staircase.

  • The Two Towers of Bologna: Garisenda and degli Asinelli

Torre della Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli are the two towers of Bologna, two symbols of the city.

Torre della Garisenda (Tårr Måzza or Gariṡannda in Bolognese) is located in Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.

Torre degli Asinelli was erected, according to tradition, between 1109 and 1119 by the nobleman Gherardo Asinelli, the tower is 97.20 meters high, it hangs westward for 2.23 meters and has a staircase composed of 498 steps inside.

What to see in Bologna in two days (48 hours)

  • First Day


  • Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is the beating heart of the city of Bologna. It is enclosed by buildings of great importance, value and historical interest: Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Comunale, Collezioni Civiche, Museo Morandi, Basilica di San Petronio, Palazzo dei Banchi.

  • Via Indipendenza

Via Indipendenza is the main street of the city of Bologna, starting from Piazza Maggiore and crossing the city, until you reach the central station. This street was completed in 1890, when Bologna itself became a very important railway junction, thanks to the inauguration of the Bologna-Ancona railway line. Today Via Indipendenza is the shopping area of Bologna, with many clothing stores and more.

  • The Two Towers of Bologna: Garisenda and degli Asinelli

The two towers of Bologna represent one of the most famous attractions of the city: Torre della Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli. The names of Asinelli (the eldest) and Garisenda (the youngest) derive from the families to whom they were traditionally attributed between 1109 and 1119. It is possible to visit the Asinelli Tower: walking along its 498 internal steps you can reach the top and from its 97,20 meters of height you can admire a breathtaking view of the city.

  • MamBO

MamBO is one of the main Italian museums of modern and contemporary art. It is the seat of the Istituzione Bologna Musei, oriented towards contemporary artistic research. It houses both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

  • Pinacoteca Nazionale

Pinacoteca Nazionale is one of the major Italian picture galleries, more precisely in its University District. In the same historical building that houses it, there is also Accademia di Belle Arti, also known as Accademia Clementina.

  • Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio (The Library of the Archiginnasio)

The archiginnasio is the first seat of the oldest university in Europe, it is a reference point for the history of medicine. Biblioteca Comunale with its 750 thousand volumes and pamphlets, is the most important among the Italian civic libraries. It is since 1838 that the Archiginnasio Palace houses Biblioteca Comunale, whose foundation dates back to 1801. It is the most important municipal library in Italy for the richness and variety of its ancient texts.

  • Second Day


  • San Petronio Basilica

The Basilica of San Petronio, dedicated to the city's patron saint (eighth bishop of Bologna from 431 to 450), is the largest and most important church in Bologna.

  • Palazzo d'Accursio

Palazzo d'Accursio is Bologna City Hall, seat of the city government. Free entrance (except for the municipal art collections on the second floor). You can visit the town council hall, Sala Rossa where weddings are celebrated, Sala d'Ercole and the horse stairs. On the second floor there are the municipal art collections.

  • Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is without doubt one of the most beautiful places in Bologna. An absolute must for anyone who lives or comes for a trip to Bologna.

  • Fountain of Neptune

Fountain of Neptune is one of the most important symbols of Bologna. It stands in all its magnificence in the centre of the square that takes its name. The statue of Neptune was completed in 1566, people in Bologna call  it "The Giant".

  • Palazzo del Podestà

Palazzo del Podestà was built in Renaissance style between 1484 and 1494  at the behest of Giovanni II Bentivoglio. The original nucleus is represented by the Torre dell'Arengo, a bell tower (1212) used to summon citizens on extraordinary occasions. The bell (called "il campanazzo") dates back to 1453. Located at the intersection of the two most important streets of the city, the four pillars of the tower form a cross vault called the Voltone del Podestà.

What to see in Bologna in three days

  • First Day


  • Basilica di San Petronio

Basilica of San Petronio, the largest church in Bologna: it is one of the most famous churches in the city and one of the dearest to the Bolognese, because it dominates the main square, Piazza Maggiore, and because it is dedicated to the patron saint.

  • Piazza Maggiore

The most suggestive square of Bologna, where you can see the cathedral (immense and imposing) and the statue of Neptune (always impressive). The square also offers many bars and entertainment places.

  • Palazzo d'Accursio

Historical seat of the municipal offices of Bologna, this beautiful ancient building of medieval origin, still keeps inside several offices and utilities concerning the public administration. In addition to this, most of it can be visited and it is absolutely worth it.

  • Palazzo del Podestà

Sumptuous palace heterogeneously incorporated between Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuno.

  • Palazzo Re Enzo

Historical building in the centre of Bologna. To say the least, wonderful. It often hosts exhibitions or events for its great architectural impact.

  • Fountain of Neptune

In the centre of Piazza del Nettuno, opposite the entrance to King Enzo's Palace, stands the Fountain of Neptune, which the Bolognese call the Giant; in fact, the bronze statue of the sea god is 3.20 metres high and weighs 22 quintals.

  • Second Day
  • The Two Towers of Bologna: Garisenda and degli Asinelli

The two towers - Torre della Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli -  are an immense heritage for the city of Bologna. They are shrouded in myths and legends and are the protagonists of many stories and historical events that took place in Bologna. The view from above is breathtaking. Tickets can be bought at the tourist office in Piazza Maggiore.

  • Piazza Santo Stefano

It is one of the characteristic squares of Bologna.  In the middle of Piazza Santo Stefano you can find the basilica of Santo Stefano, which can be visited inside. The square is also a meeting place where many people meet. Nearby there are bars and restaurants and some shops. Don't miss it during your stay in Bologna.

  • Basilica of Santo Stefano

The basilica of Santo Stefano is known as the "Complesso delle Sette Chiese"  as it brings together buildings from different periods, ranging from the late antique to the modern age. Named after the first martyr Stephen, it can be said to be already structured as a set of churches, chapels and monastery in medieval times.

  • Corte degli Isolani

Corte Isolani is a covered passage that connects two of the main arteries of the historical centre of Bologna: Strada Maggiore and Via Santo Stefano. This route was inaugurated in 1995 following the renovation and restoration, by the architect Marina di Mottola, of the complex of the Isolani palaces, still owned by the brothers Gualtiero and Francesco Cavazza Isolani.

  • Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi

Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi is the work of Father Andrea Manfredi da Faenza and Master Antonio di Vincenzo, who had already collaborated together on the project for the Basilica of San Petronio. The Basilica stands out for its superb Gothic weaving, particularly remarkable in the apse where it has been enlivened by warm terracotta decorations. There are numerous works of art worthy of note, first of all the Madonna enthroned by Cimabue (13th century), followed by the marble altarpiece of the high altar by Michelangelo Montorsoli (1558-61), the 14th century frescoes by Vitale da Bologna, a unique terracotta polyptych by Lippo di Dalmasio and precious paintings by G.M. Crespi, Albani, Calvaert and other masters of the 16th, 17th and 18th century Bolognese school.

  • Palazzo della Mercanzia

Palazzo della Mercanzia is today the seat of the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Craftsmanship but it was built between 1384 and 1391 to a design by Antonio di Vincenzo (who already worked in San Petronio) and Lorenzo Bagnomarino. They built the palace, used as a Custom house.

  • Third Day


  • Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

It is an obligatory stop for those who come to Bologna. It is the symbol of the city and a wonderful viewpoint.

  • Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco is the first example in Italy of Gothic style of French derivation.

The church of St. Francis was built between 1236 and 1254 on the initiative of the Franciscan community settled in Bologna in 1218 with Bernard of Quintavalle, one of the first disciples of St. Francis.

The high façade has Romanesque-Gothic forms, but in general the building faithfully reproduces the French Gothic style. It has three naves, an apsidal ambulatory with a crown of nine radial chapels, very high vaults with acute arches supported by ribs and rampant arches on the buttresses.

  • MamBO

MAMbo is, since 2007, the Museum of Modern Art of Bologna, home of the Istituzione Gallerie d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, which also includes the Museum and Casa Morandi, Museum for the Memory of Ustica, Villa delle Rose.

  • Pinacoteca Nazionale

An art gallery absolutely to visit:  you can appreciate religious art from the late Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, with artists more or less known but with works of absolute value. 6€ the price of the ticket, absolutely cheap.

Bologna with kids

Bologna is a city where children have fun:  if you are a parent, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna is the best place for your son or daughter. There are many things to do in Bologna with a baby or with an older child.

  • Giardini Margherita

They are the "green lung" of Bologna: an oasis of greenery and peace, a children's paradise because of the wide safe spaces (no cars can circulate inside) of the paved inner avenues. Huge areas of well-kept lawns with numerous majestic shady trees invite you to relax in complete tranquility. The small lake with adjoining bar is a very pleasant characteristic place, especially in summer to cool off.

Museo Realtà Virtuale - La macchina del Tempo allows you to experience first hand with VR viewers the exciting experience of "physically" entering historical scenarios accurately reconstructed in 3D. For example, it gives you the opportunity to live the experience of "Medieval Bologna".

Museo della Comunicazione - "Mille voci e Mille suoni" collects 2000 objects and testimonies on the history of communications.

The Gelato Museum Carpigiani is a museum space dedicated to the history, culture and technology of artisan gelato, located in Anzola dell'Emilia in the province of Bologna. Visiting this museum is the best thing you can do in Bologna with a toddler.


Bologna Monuments — The List

09.00 - 19.00

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

You thought there was only one Leaning Tower in Italy right? Well, you’re wrong, the Asinelli Tower is the second most important one.

Piazza Maggiore

The Main Square of Bologna, where you can find the main fairs, and also Saint Petronius’ church.

Open Everyday

Piazza del Nettuno

Made by the sculptor Giambologna, the Neptune Fountain – also called Żigànt – is one of the trademarks of Bologna.

Church Opening Times

007.45 – 13.30 — 14.30 – 18.00 Monday to Friday, 07.45 – 18.30 Saturday & Sunday

Terrace Opening Times

11.00 – 13.00 — 15.00 – 18.00 Monday to Thursday, 10.00 – 13.00 — 14.30 – 18.00 Friday to Sunday

Piazza Galvani, 5

Bologna’s most important church, Saint Petronius is the sixth largest church in Europe. Built in an Italian Gothic style, you have to visit it whenever you get a chance.

  • Portici

All around the city

Open Everyday

Another staple in the Bolognese life, the Portici go all around the city center and are great for rainy days for shelter, and sunny ones for shade..

09.00 – 19.00 Monday to Friday, 09.00 – 14.00 Saturday, Closed on Sunday

Piazza Galvani, 1

The first location of Bologna’s University, the Archiginnasio is a symbol not only of Bologna but any academic in the world

Bologna Museums — The List

09.00 – 18.00 Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 10.00 – 18.30 Saturday & Sunday, Closed on Tuesday


€3 atm because under renovation

Via dell'Archiginnasio, 2

Inside Palazzo Galvani, you can see some of the best historical artifacts in all of Italy, ranging from the prehistoric era to the Etrusco-Roman one.

08.30 – 19.30 Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Monday


€€6 entry fee – €3 reduced (18 to 25 years old)

Via delle Belle Arti, 56

NIn the same building as the Accademia delle Belle Arti – the art school – you can find the Pinacoteca Nazionale, showing some of the arts most important works.

10.00 – 19.00 Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Monday


Cumulative ticket with Palazzo Fava

Via Castiglione, 8

After visiting the Museo Archeologico, you must follow the timeline and pass from the Etrusco-Roman era to Modern Times at Palazzo Pepoli.

10.00 – 19.00 Tuesday to Sunday, Closed on Monday


A cumulative ticket with Palazzo People (Museum of History)

Via Manzoni, 2

PPalazzo Fava is one of the best places to view expos in Bologna. Check the dates and enjoy the culture.

10.00 – 18.30 Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10.00 – 22.00 Thursday, Closed on Monday


Entry Fee €6 – Reduced Fee €4

Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 14

Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art, at MamBO you will get the chance to encounter the most captivating modern art there is to see today.