Bologna is the largest city and the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy with almost 400,000 residents. The diverse city boasts over 150 different nationalities as well, giving it a wonderful cultural experience for anyone.
Part of the reason for this diversity may be the fact that Bologna is the home of the oldest university in the world, which opened in 1088. Besides that, the Piazza Maggiore is also a popular attraction as the central square of Bologna since the 1400s with its Fountain of Neptune and Palace of Podesta.
While you are there, be sure to visit the Two Towers from 1100, the Basilica of Saint Petronius, and the Sanctuary of Madonna San Luca. But if the weather takes a nasty turn and you have a rainy day in Bologna or your plans fall through, you can always go visit some of the best museums in Bologna like the Museum of Modern Art, Gelato Museum, or the Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna.
From the narrow streets of Modena to the beautiful city of Venice, whether you want to learn history or taste regional cuisine, you can get there from here. Before you head out on one of these Bologna day trips, drop off any belongings you don't need to bring along at a nearby Bounce luggage storage site. There are many within walking distance of the city centre and local train station.
How to get out of Bologna
Where are you staying in Bologna? From buses to trains, Bologna has a great public transport system to get you around. The Transporto Passeggeri Emilia-Romagna (TPER) can get you to just about any nearby city you want to visit. Whether you want to catch a bus where you can see the countryside and stop at various neighborhoods or use one of the 700+ trains from Bologna Centrale, you can start your day trips from Bologna anytime.
Day trips from Bologna will typically start at a train station and many of them take you to a UNESCO world heritage site. Buy train tickets in the city centre to catch a fast train to Milan, Florence, or Venice, or get regional train tickets from any one of the TPER points, newspaper stands, or other resellers.
A direct train is the easiest way to get anywhere but sometimes you have to switch lines to get to the surrounding countryside. For more detailed ways to get around Bologna, check out our How to Get Around Bologna guide. You can learn all the ins and outs of public as well as private transportation from buses to bicycles.
From Bologna to Venice
From the city centre of one Italian capital to another, Venice is the capital of the Veneto region and is one of the most unique cities in the world being spread out on over 100 small islands. The island city is about 96 miles from Bologna and is a very easy day trip from Bologna. With its golden sand beaches and clear shallow water, you can spend the day swimming and enjoying the sun or visit the local attractions.
Venice is well-known for its many canals in which you can travel by boat or gondola to see the city without vehicular traffic. St. Mark's Square is one of the most popular spots for travelers where you can visit the stunning Saint Mark's Basilica, the bell tower, or go shopping along the Merceria to the Rialto. Don't miss the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal, which is just under the Basilica of St. Mary and the Doge's Palace.
How to get to Venice
Whether you hire a car service or use public transportation makes a big difference. If you use a car service, you can get there in 1.5 hours and you get to see so much of the countryside and coastline this way. That being said, the least expensive is the bus which takes 2.5 hours. The daily train takes 1.5 hours and is the next cheapest. The high-speed train is the fastest and takes about an hour.
From Bologna to Milan
Are you a fashionista? Milan is the fashion capital of the world. Or maybe you want to visit some of the most popular art galleries, castles, and cathedrals in the world. Milan is an ancient city with a lot of history to discover. In fact, it is the home of Da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie. Only 132 miles to the northwest, it is one of the most popular day trips from Bologna.
Fashion lovers will enjoy the city full of famous shops and boutiques as well as the Milan Triennial Museum, a renowned establishment with architecture, design, and cultural arts. One place every tourist wants to see is the Milan Cathedral. Dating back to 1386, it took almost 600 years to finish from the first stone to the last in 1965. Be sure to stop by the Sforzesco Castle and Royal Palace as well.
How to get to Milan
Only about 132 miles from Bologna, the stunning city of Milan can be reached in an hour by train. However, if you want to see the beautiful countryside or stop along the way, you will be better off driving yourself. The drive takes two hours if you do not stop anywhere but there are quite a few attractions you might enjoy like the Basilica of San Savino in Piacenza and the Ducal Palace and the Pilotta Palace in Parma.
From Bologna to Modena
Who doesn't want to visit the home of fast cars like the Lamborghini and the Ferrari? You can even visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum. A Modena day trip from Bologna is a great idea no matter whether you are a car fanatic or a foodie because it is also the birthplace of traditional balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
One of the most underrated Italian cities, Modena is a hidden gem not to miss with its Renaissance architecture and incredible food. One way to see all the highlights in one day is to take a guided tour. The Lambrusco and Pignoletto wine tasting tours are outstanding and then you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ghirlandina Tower, Piazza Grande, and Modena’s Cathedral.
How to get to Modena
You can take a local bus to get to Modena from Bologna because it is only 29 miles away. Get there in less than 20 minutes on the train, which is the least expensive and the fastest. You can also take the bus to get there in 40 to 50 minutes. If you want to make stops along the way, rent a car and make a whole day of it.
From Bologna to Parma
If you are a foodie, a day trip from bologna to Parma is a great choice for you. Not only is it the birthplace of parma ham and other delicious food but you can also enjoy an Italian food tour to try some of the local tastes. The walking tours can be a private full-day tour or one of the shorter food tours.
Along the Parma River, the surrounding countryside is full of stunning parks and inviting vineyards where you can taste some of the local wine and cheese. Or visit the Pilotta Palace with its National Gallery and two museums. Another fantastic spot is the Ducale Park Garden featuring a duck pond and sculptures dating back to the 1500s.
How to get to Parma
Only 61 miles from Bologna, you can take a private car service so you can see the special Oriented Secchia River Preserve and other hidden gems. This will take a little over an hour. The train can get you there fastest at just over 45 minutes and the bus will take you close to an hour and a half.
From Bologna to Florence
Home of the Ponte Vecchio, Michelangelo Plaza, and other world-class model attractions, Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region. Known for the Italian Renaissance, the museums and art galleries in this Italian city house many famous paintings and other artifacts. It is also where the Medici family ruled during the 1400s. You can still visit their estates including the Palace Vecchio, where you can see a copy of Michelangelo's David.
Besides fantastic art and historic museums, Florence became known for its musical culture during the Middle Ages. From opera to symphony, the city was the birthplace of many famous concerts. This is the perfect Italy trip if you are a movie buff. Films like A Room with a View, Tea with Mussolini, and Inferno were all shot here.
How to get to Florence
Only 75 miles away, Florence is easy to get to by car, bus, or train. The train is the fastest, getting you there in just over half an hour. Or you can take a car and get there in about an hour so you can see some of the sights like the Sanctuary of Madonna of Bocca Rio and the Saddle of the Hills.
From Bologna to San Marino
San Marino is actually a microstate and one of the oldest republics and smallest countries in the world. It is known as the most serene republic with its rolling hills of the Apennine Mountains and is a perfect day trip from Bologna for those who want some serenity. San Marino is on Mount Titano and is known for its medieval walled town with narrow cobblestone streets.
Some of the highlights in this city include the Three Towers, which are castle-like fortresses dating back to the 11th century that can actually be climbed if you are adventurous. Be sure to visit the Piazza Della Liberta and its Palazzo Pubblico. Try to get there early to do some shopping and enjoy some of the unique cuisines of San Marino.
How to get to San Marino
Just 80 miles to the southeast, the best way to get here is to drive so you can take in the beauty of the coastline along the Adriatic Sea. You can get there in 35 minutes by car, but it will take longer as you stop to see the sights. The train will get you to this small Italian city in just over an hour and the bus takes 1.5 hours.
From Bologna to Ravenna
This ancient city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire from the 5th century and right up until 476 when the Empire collapsed. From that day on, it was used as the capital of the Province of Ravenna. Now, a Ravenna day trip from Bologna is just a short train ride away and offers a plethora of activities and places to visit.
Some of the highlights of this day trip include the Mausoleo di Balla Placidia, the Basilica of St. Apollinare, and the Basilica di San Vitale. The old town is known for its special architecture like the eight UNESCO world heritage site buildings in the historic centre. The Candiano Canal is also a fantastic feature to explore.
How to get to Ravenna
Less than 50 miles away, Ravenna is easily one of the most popular day trips from Bologna. If you enjoy train travel, the train will get you there in about two hours. The bus takes about three hours but lets you see more of the countryside. If you want to stop along the way, rent a car so you can see the palaces of Imola and other attractions on your journey.
Day Trips from Bologna
When arriving in Bologna, whether via Bologna Centrale Station or the airport, you'll be anxious to explore this incredible region. From rooftop bars in the city to shopping and meandering the streets, you'll be busy! Of course, there are hundreds of day trips from Bologna worth experiencing and we cannot list them all. For example, Rimini is home to spectacular beaches, historic bridges, and colorful street art, and Vicenza is an ancient city that became a part of the Roman Empire in 157 BC.