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The Perfect One Day in Bologna Guide – Everything You Need to Know

If you are planning a trip to Italy then I highly recommend you spend at least one day in Bologna. After spending two months in Italy, it remains one of our favorite cities in “the boot”! You might think how could you possibly see everything in a single day, but Bologna is not a huge city that needs to be conquered over a few days. One day in Bologna is truly all you need to see everything. From piazzas to basilicas, palaces and foodie experiences such as eating a classic Bologna meal – there is plenty to enjoy with only one day in Bologna.

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How to Get to Bologna for One Day

Bologna is an easy and accessible day trip from a few major cities such as Florence, Milan, and Venice. It takes anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes by train to go from any of those cities to Bologna. So you can easily arrive at Bologna before 10 am ready to start exploring the city and leave shortly after dinner. A full ten hours is more than enough time to see everything in one day.

The Bologna Card

6 Things you Must See in One Day in Bologna

There are quite a few things to do in Bologna, but here are three main sites you can see in one day in Bologna – Piazza Maggiore, San Petronio Basilica and Palazzo Re Enzo. As we have stated earlier, Bologna is a small city, thus all of these sites are within a fiveminute walking distance from each other.

Morning Climb to the Asinelli and Garisenda Towers

An Afternoon at the Piazza Maggiore

The central square in Bologna is called, Piazza Maggiore, and is surrounded by the city’s basilica and former administrative buildings. Piazza Maggiore is the heart of Bologna and the perfect area to explore or relax during your one day in Bologna. If you have the opportunity, Piazza Maggiore is quite stunning during sunset. Grab an Aperol spritz and watch the sunlight go down casting shadows over the top of the piazza buildings.

Watching the sunset in Piazza Maggiore during our layover in Bologna, Italy

San Petronio Basilica

The San Petronio Basilica is one of the more unique basilicas we have seen in Italy because of its brick architecture and unfinished facade. It is the largest church built by bricks and the tenth largest church in the world by volume. In our opinion, the unfinished facade really brings more character to the basilica than if it was finished, which is why we find it so unique.

Palazzo Re Enzo

The Palazzo Re Enzo is Bologna’s heart and prestigious symbol of the city. Visitors can explore the palace and learn about its rich history. Or visit the palace’s whispering gallery and have a little giggle. Go to a corner of the whispering gallery while another person goes to a corner across the room. Then whisper a secret, like “I love you” and only they will be able to hear it!

Enjoy a Classic Bologna Dinner

Bologna is a food lovers dream! There are simply so many foodie things to enjoy in Bologna – one being the famous bolognese sauce. Honestly, what better way to spend a layover in Bologna than enjoying a classic Bologna dinner with drinks!?

There are several restaurants to dine outside at in the Piazza Maggiore. We highly recommend everyone enjoy Bologna’s famous bolognese sauce with everything! Two popular dishes are the tagliatelle pasta with bolognese ragu and Emilia Romagna’s traditional lasagna verdi alla bolognese.

Lasagna verdi alla bolognese is Bologna’s classic lasagna made with spinach pasta, hence the verdi “green”. It is also made with their classic bolognese ragu and bΓ©chamel sauce layered between the spinach sheets. This lasagna was hands down the best we have ever had. Make sure you get your lasagna verdi alla bolognese during your layover in Bologna – we promise you will not regret it!

Cinema Ritrovato Festival

If you are lucky, you can enjoy Bologna’s annual Cinema Ritrovato Festival during your one day in Bologna. This festival is dedicated to restoring and rediscovering iconic movies, as well as little-known films during the silent movie period. The festival has a selection of at least four hundred films from all around the world. The silent movies are accompanied by live music composers and musicians. The festival is always held in late June and you can find tickets here. After the film, you can travel back to your original destination or stay the night and depart the following morning.

Other Sights to See in One Day in Bologna

More than One Day in Bologna? Take Day Trips!

Though Bologna is a great city to explore in one day, I also recommend staying here for a few days as a central hub. You can easily take day trips Modena, Padova, Ravenna, Verona, Brescia, and even Florence and Venice. Furthermore, if you are on a budget, staying in Bologna rather than Venice and Florence is a great alternative.

I hope you have enjoyed my one day in Bologna guide. It is truly one of Italy’s best cities, especially for foodies and a destination you cannot miss!