Most of our best Bologna travel experiences have actually occurred outside of the city. Between the wineries in the Bologna Hills or unique culinary experiences near Modena and Parma, there are loads of great day trips from Bologna Italy.
For our Bologna travel guide, we wanted to not only share a Bologna Food Guide and to share tips on what to see in Bologna city center, but to give advice on great Bologna day trips. This Bologna blog lists several Bologna day trip options for food lovers, for wine lovers, and even for travelers counting countries. There are so many different ways to visit Bologna and the surrounding areas. Bologna tourism opportunities abound!
We’ve written A LOT on Emilia Romagna, check out our Emilia Romagna Food Guide for more travel tips. Or, if planning a Bologna trip, check out The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy, available on Amazon.
Things To Do in Bologna Italy
Before we start talking about leaving the Bologna city centre, there are loads of options on what to do in Bologna. This includes great restaurants, wine bars, and even Bologna museums. We covered this in great detail in our ultimate guide on things to see in Bologna. In that post, we offer recommendations for a Bologna walking tour and other Bologna Italy points of interest. If you are looking for something particular from this Bologna blog, use the handy table of contents above to jump right to it.
This Bologna Travel Guide only scratches the surface. If traveling in Emilia Romagna, check out our The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy, available on Amazon.
Our Top Recommendations – Bologna What To Do
This Bologna blog post, though, focuses on what to do outside Bologna center. There are certainly enough Bologna attractions for a weekend break in Bologna to keep the most active tourists occupied. But, there are loads of Bologna sightseeing to do outside of the city center. This includes possible car trips, train trips, or even the ability to book Bologna day tours with trusted Bologna tour operators.
In all, we will share 10 Bologna day trips to book through tour operators, 5 Bologna Italy things to do for more independent travelers, as well as 10 Italian cities that are (relatively) easy to visit when you have one extra day in Bologna.
Yes, that’s 25 options for Bologna Day Trips!
Visit a Parmigiano Reggiano producer is just one option for Bologna Day Trips:
Bologna Top 10 Day Trips
Bologna is a must see destination for any food lover, but there is so much to see in the Bologna region in Italy. There are Bologna day tours that can be booked quite easily to allow someone else to plan your Bologna day trips.
Here are our top ten Bologna day tours. They can all be booked through Viator. We like using Viator for day tours when traveling because you can arrange your Bologna day trip before leaving home. And, the best part, Viator allows you to book and confirm immediately. We also will make some other recommendations below, for customized tours and independent travel from Bologna.
Top Bologna Tours To Explore Outside the City
Tour Duration Price From Book It!
Italian Food & Museo Ferrari including visits to Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto, and balsamic producers 8 Hours in Small Group €153 Bologna Cooking Class with a professional chef in the Bologna Countryside 5 Hours €195 Private Group Food Tour with your own car, or upgrade to private driver 7 Hours in Private Tour €80 Small Group Food Tour with lunch and producer visits 8 Hours in Small Group €149 Bologna Day Tour Vineyards and Fortresses by bike and train 1 Day in Self-Guided Tour €100 Bologna Day Tour to Marconi's Villa and Thermal Baths by bike and train 10 Hours in Self-Guided Tour €140 Discover Ferrari & Pavarotti Tour Slow Food & Fast Cars, with Lambrusco and balsamic producers 1 Day in Group Transport €60 Private Venice Walking Tour with a gondola ride 6-8 Hours in Private Tour €180 Bologna to Modena Day Trip with a Local Host 8 Hours in Private Tour €106 Bologna to Ravenna Private Tour focused on history, mosaics, and Dante 5 Hours in Private Tour €105
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Best Day Trips From Bologna For Independent Travelers
If you are driving in Italy, or are interested in exploring by train, there are some great options for things to do around Bologna. In this Bologna day trip guide, we will share recommendations on Bologna food tour options, to local cities and towns, and recommendations for Bologna wine tours.
Looking for food tours in Bologna Italy city center? Book this Bologna food tour to learn about all of the Emilia Romagna food specialties. This Bologna food walking tour covers all of the key stops in Bologna.
Eataly World – Bologna What To See Close By
One of the newest Bologna must see attractions is FICO Eataly World. A self-proclaimed Italian food amusement park, it is operated by the Eataly food store company. It’s a great option when looking for what to do in Bologna Italy because you can eat loads, shop, and learn about Italian food products. You can also take a bus to FICO directly from the Bologna train station.
We wrote a full review of FICO Eataly World when we visited, in its first week of operation. I think Eataly World is a great option for groups or families, or during inclement weather. There’s a lot to do inside, like a giant Italian food shopping mall. But, there is so much to experience in Bologna and in Emilia Romagna that is more authentic. If you only have one day in Bologna, then hire a Bologna guide and see the Bologna sites in the city!
Learn more about how to visit FICO Eataly World in Bologna
Discover Ferrari – Slow Food and Fast Cars Bologna Tourist Attractions
The Emilia Romagna tourism board set up the Discover Ferrari & Pavarotti Land tour as part of the Milan Expo in 2015. We did the tour with a visiting friend then and I am happy the kept it around after the Expo. It’s a way for visitors to Bologna to experience a lot of the Emilia Romagna offerings in an easy format.
It’s essentially a two-day ticket for a hop-on, hop-off Bologna bus tour that visits all of the main sites that surround Modena. You can also start the tour in Bologna making it super easy. It’s one of the best things to do in Bologna if you are short on time. See Ferrari, learn about Pavarotti, go wine tasting, and learn about cheese and meats.
It’s important when in Emilia Romagna to learn about a few key products. Those include Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Vinegar, as well as Lambrusco sparkling wine. Each of these four main products is covered in the Discover Ferrari itinerary, as well as many of the food day tours offered above. Because it’s a hop-on, hop-off Bologna bus tour, you can decide when to get off the bus to only see the Emilia Romagna attractions that are of interest to you.
Truffle Hunting – Top Things To Do in Bologna Hills
There are only a handful of places in the world where it’s possible to go truffle hunting and the Bologna Hills is one of those places. We went truffle hunting, with a truffle hunting dog and everything, during our first Bologna tour. The hunt takes place just outside of Savigno, the city of truffles.
A handful of companies can set up this kind of tour, but one of the best is Yummy Italy. They offer customized gourmet tours in Emilia Romagna, with a focus on the Bologna Hills. Or, perhaps drive out to Savigno on your own and dine at a Michelin Star restaurant known for truffles. Amerigo da 1934 has a very truffle-focused menu. Check out our review of Amerigo Savigno.
Check out our full review of our truffle hunting Bologna day trip with Yummy Italy
Bologna Wine Tour in the Bologna Hills
For me, if you only have one day to dedicate to a Bologna day trip, I would recommend wine tasting in the Bologna Hills. Some of our most memorable Bologna tourism experiences have occurred sipping wine with winemakers in the Bologna Hills. If you have your own car, it’s super easy to head out on wine tasting tours from Bologna, even if it means just a lunch and wine tasting at an agriturismo. I can recommend three experiences where you can have lunch and taste wine at an Italian agriturismo. It’s best to contact each ahead of time for a reservation or to at least confirm they are open and have a table.
Bologna Wine Tours And Tastings
Visit Corte d’Aibo for Pignoletto and lunch Visit Agriturismo Gradizzolo for lunch and Negretto, one of Italy’s secret wines Visit Mastrossaso in Savigno for lunch and Italian sparkling wine. That said, the best way to go wine tasting in the Bologna Hills is, once again, to have Yummy Italy arrange something special to do in Bologna Hills. Helena is a sommelier and can set something up special and unique.
Cooking Class at Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli
I included a cooking class above as one of the 10 day trips from Bologna. This cooking class, though, is a little more unique. At Casa Artusi, volunteers come in to teach cooking classes for traditional Italian dishes. The goal is to help keep the traditional cooking methods alive. Classes are all taught in Italian, but there really is no concern with communication. We learned how to make and prepare about a dozen different Emilia Romagna pasta shapes. Forlimpopoli can be reached by train in less than an hour from Bologna.
Get a copy of Pelligrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. We have a copy at home!
Learn more about Casa Artusi here
Enroll at Gelato University – Learn How To Make Gelato
Just a 20-minute drive from Bologna, towards Modena, is the Carpigiano Gelato Musem. It’s a must visit day trip for gelato lovers. There is a small museum dedicated to the history and technology of gelato and ice cream. They also run a Gelato University. Although the full course takes weeks and is intended for people who want to return to their home country to open a gelato shop, there are other options. They provide hands-on gelato making courses that last only a few hours. Best part? In the end, they offer all-you-can-eat gelato!
Read our full review of our Gelato University Experience
Where is Bologna Italy and What Are the Closest Cities Near Bologna to Visit
In addition to the Bologna day tours discussed above, there are so many great cities near Bologna to visit on a day trip or even an overnight excursion. Bologna is so centrally located by rail that it is close to many of Italy’s great cities and lesser-known destinations. In this section of our Bologna day trip guide, we share our recommendations on cities and towns close to Bologna, including how to get there and what to do (and eat) when you arrive.
Where is Bologna Italy
This is a good starting question. Bologna is in the center of Emilia Romagna and hosts the main rail station in Italy. The Emilia Romagna region stretches from the coast almost to Milan, in the north-central part of Italy. Emilia Romagna’s main cities include Bologna, Modena, and Parma, as well as other cities including Reggio-Emilia, Piacenza, Ravenna, Rimini, and Ferrara. All of the cities are easily reachable by train or car from Bologna. Because the Bologna train station is the largest, and one of the most central, it’s also pretty easy to travel from Bologna to other major tourist destinations within Italy
Thinking of hiring a car in Italy? Get our ultimate guide to driving in Italy for some top tips on renting a car and driving in the country
Day Trips From Bologna By Train
Each of these recommended cities is reachable via train by Bologna. For each city, we recommend a few top attractions, talk about the train from Bologna, and offer a recommendation for a place to eat. We also recommend a few day tours or food tours in some of the cities as well.
Bologna to Florence Day Trip
Many travelers to Italy flock to Florence. It’s one of the most popular cities in Italy for travelers to visit. It’s possible to take the Florence to Bologna train in only 40 minutes, making Bologna a great day trip from Florence. This is particularly true now that Eataly World is open outside of Bologna. I may, however, recommend something here that is a little more revolutionary.
Stay in Bologna and take a day trip to Florence.
I find Bologna to be so much more authentic than Florence, particularly over the summer months when Florence is so overrun with tourists. Stay in Bologna, eat great Bologna food, and then hop on the Bologna to Florence train to go see the Duomo and Uffizi, with enough time to be back for an Aperol Spritz aperitivo in Bologna. Buck the trend! Just do it! Just hop on the Bologna Firenze train!
How long is the Bologna to Florence train? It’s about 40-45 minutes. If possible, book Italian trains ahead of time. They get more expensive last minute.
If heading from Bologna to Florence on a day trip, check out this Gourmet Florence Food Tour. It’s only 3 hours, meaning there is plenty of time to hope the train there and back, and even hit one or two Florence museums while there.
If heading in reverse, and looking to visit Bologna on a Florence day trip, check out this Full Day Bologna Food Experience, leaving from Florence. It covers all of the top places to see in Bologna and the surrounding area giving you a taste of Bologna even if staying in Florence.
Where to Eat in Florence? We like Trattoria Gozzi, for traditional Italian cuisine in a centrally located restaurant. And it’s not too touristy.
Bologna to Milan Day Trip
Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and makes for a great day trip from Bologna. It also works as a possible stopover on the way to the airport when flying out of Milan. If short on time, a visit to the Duomo is a must. The Brera district is also worthwhile as a neighborhood to just wander and explore.
This Milan Walking Tour covers both food and fashion and is a great option to explore Milan on a day trip from Bologna.
How long is the Bologna to Milan train? The high-speed Frecciarossa only takes an hour.
Where to eat in Milan? If there’s one place to eat or at least snack, in Milan it’s Luini near the Duomo for tasty panzerotti, which is deep-fried bread stuffed with cheese, sauce, and tastiness.
Bologna to Venice Day Trip
Yes, it’s possible to do a Bologna to Venice day trip. Venice is one of the top destinations to visit in Italy. We stayed in Venice during our very first trip to Italy in 2000. Venice can be a bit much, though, particularly in the summer months. If you are dying to visit the City of Canals, perhaps do so on a day trip from Bologna.
How long is the Bologna to Venice train? The Bologna-Venice high-speed train takes about one hour and twenty minutes. It’s a little farther than some of the other Bologna day trip options, but not by much. Just watch the train you book. The more local Italian trains can take over two hours.
Where to eat in Venice? Check out one of the Cicchetti bars, which serve Venetian style tapas.
How can I make the most of my time? Consider purchasing skip the line tickets for Venice to make sure you see all the main sites in one day.
More Bologna Day Trips By Train – Within Emilia Romagna
So far, we’ve focused on destinations a little farther out. One of the best ways to explore the region, though, is to visit one of the other main cities within Emilia Romagna. Each one is accessible by train, is less touristy than other major Italian cities, and offers culinary travelers a way to eat some of the most notable Italian foods!
Bologna to Modena Day Trip
I enjoy my time in Bologna every time we visit, but I love Modena. It’s less crowded, easier to get around, with great restaurants. Most important, almost all of the most well-known products from Emilia-Romagna are found around Modena, including Lambrusco, Parmigiano Reggiano, and traditional balsamic vinegar.
It’s also home to one of the Ferrari museums, which is walking distance from the city center. My recommendation is to try to stay a few nights in Modena, to wander around the city and try some of the best restaurants. But, if you are short on time, it’s definitely possible as a day trip from Bologna.
Of all of our recommended cities for a day trip, Modena would be my first choice. It has gained a lot more attention recently by being featured on the Netflix program Master of None. More notable, it is home to the current number one restaurant in the world, Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana. While in Modena, be sure to visit the Mercato Albinelli (see our review of the Modena food market here). Work off lunch by climbing the Ghirlandina Bell Tower to take in a view of the city of Modena.
How long is the Bologna to Modena train? The Bologna Modena train takes about a half hour. Normally I am a fan of high-speed trains, but in this case, the local is a lot cheaper and only takes a bit longer.
Where to Eat in Modena? We wrote a guide on Modena restaurants, with loads of recommendations. If you can, try Trattoria Aldina across from the market, which is my favorite. And, stop for artisan gelato at Bloom or Emilia Cremeria.
Bologna to Parma Day Trip
Just a little father past Modena is another top destination in Emilia Romagna, the gastronomic city of Parma. Parma is home to two well-known products including Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. There are other products produced outside the city as well, including the lesser-known but more widely acclaimed Culatello di Zibello.
To truly understand the key food products of Parma, I recommend taking a Parma day trip to visit some of the producers. If that’s not an option, stop by Rural, an agri-shop within the city center dedicated to protecting and promoting small producers. Within the city, wander through Garibaldi Square and the Piazza Duomo.
How long is the Bologna to Parma train? The Bologna Parma train is the same as the one that goes to Modena. It takes about an hour, with some trains quicker than others. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the train station to the city center.
Where to eat in Parma? For traditional fare try Ristorante La Forchetta or Ristorante Gallo D’Oro. There’s also a great wine bar called Tabarro. Or, if you make your way to Parma via car, then check out Hosteria da Ivan, about 20 minutes outside of town. There is an agriturismo for lunch, or book Ivan’s soon-to-be-famous salumi therapy, where he explains how to experience cured meats in a way no other can.Prosciutto di Parma To truly understand the key food products of Parma, I recommend taking a Parma day trip to visit some of the producers. If that’s not an option, stop by Rural, an agri-shop within the city center dedicated to protecting and promoting small producers. Within the city, wander through Garibaldi Square and the Piazza Duomo.
Bologna to Piacenza Day Trip
Piacenza is the city of pancetta. There are a lot of similarities between Piacenza and Modena and Parma, particularly with there being so much focus on food. One thing is, though, it is even less touristy than the other cities and doesn’t end up on the must-visit list for many Bologna travelers.
Piacenza is known for being the “land of taste.” Its food and wine not only differs from other provinces in Emilia Romagna, but also within the province itself. (It depends on whether a meal is prepared in the misty hills, or in the lowlands close to the River Po.) The biggest constant in Piacenza is the focus on salamis, including coppa, pancetta, and salame. In addition to being home to three DOP salamis, Piacenza is also home to two DOP cheeses: Grana Padano and Provolone Valpadana.
How long is the Bologna to Piacenza train? The high-speed train takes about an hour and twenty minutes.
Where to eat in Piacenza? Ristorante la Carrozza in the city center is good for traditional cuisine. They are known for their risotto.
Bologna to Ravenna Day Trip
Heading east from Bologna towards the Adriatic Sea, most of the cities that make great Bologna day trips are focused more on history than food, although food is still very much part of their culture. Ravenna is a lovely city with 8 UNESCO world heritage sites. It’s also a town known for its mosaics, which can be seen in many of the churches throughout the city, most notable is the Basilica of Sant Apollinare Nuovo.
How long is the Bologna to Ravenna train? The Bologna Ravenna train can take between an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the train chosen.
Where to eat in Ravenna? Antica Trattoria Al Gallo 1909, a third generation family-run restaurant, with a focus on homemade pasta and Adriatic fish. It’s about a 5 minute walk out of the center of town.
Bologna to Ferrara Day Trip
Ferrara makes another great day trip from Bologna based on its history and Renaissance-style architecture. At the center of the city is Estense Castle, named for the Estense family who was responsible for much of the success and wealth of the region during the Renaissance. You can experience the charm of the city simply by wandering around or enjoying a cafe or a glass of wine at an outdoor cafe. Or, enjoy Ferrara’s most celebrated dish, cappellacci di zucca, a pasta filled with pumpkin. Ferrara is also known for eel, and what are known as “salt wines,” which pair perfectly with eel.
How long is the Bologna Ferrara train? The Bologna to Ferrara train takes only 30 minutes.
Where to eat in Ferrara? Try Al Brindisi, which translates to “the toast.” It claims to be one of the oldest wine bars in the world, dating to 1435. For something a little quicker, try Mordicchio La Piadina, a spot for cheap Romagna eats, including piadina with cured meats and cheeses.
A Bologna Day Trip to a New Country – San Marino
I’m squeezing this option in for the county counters out there. San Marino is an independent republic, and one of the smallest countries in Europe. It’s also one of Europe’s oldest republics. It’s most known for views from the Guaita, the city’s oldest fortress, which offers birds-eye views over Emilia Romagna. The City of San Marino can get a bit touristy because it is home to tax-free shopping, so many Italians visit frequently.
The train from Bologna to San Marino can take between three and three and a half hours. It’s the longest journey of our Bologna day trip options, and driving would be quicker (about 90 minutes). But, if you are interested in adding another country on your travel resume, it’s a great option. Check out what there is to do in San Marino during a day trip.
Tourist Information Bologna
We’ve traveled to Bologna more times than I can count. During that time, we’ve been hosted by Emilia Romagna Tourism and Bologna Welcome, the Bologna tourist office. We’ve also been several times on our own over the years. It’s why we have one of the most comprehensive lists of Bologna highlights and what to see in Bologna Italy. The Bologna tourism office, Bologna Welcome, is located right in the heart of Bologna, on Piazza Maggiore, across from the Basilica. They can provide free tips and resources, Bologna tourist maps, and can tell you about events and what’s on in Bologna.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Pin It! 25 Best Day Trips From Bologna
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.