How To Get Around Bologna
Bologna is one of the most underrated cities in Italy and is located towards the northern part of the country in the Emilia Romagna region. It has been given three nicknames that help describe what the town is best known for; it is called La Dotta which represents learning, as the city is home to the world's oldest university, the name La Rossa represents the red ceilings of the gorgeous terracotta porticoes scattered throughout the whole city, and La Grassa which represents the great food that is made here.
Bologna is not often the first place that people think to travel to in Italy, but that only makes it more special since it is not controlled by tourism and visitors can get an idea of what life is really like in this authentic city.
There are lots of things that make Bologna worth visiting, like the stunning porticoes and impressive old buildings. This town is just a train ride away from some of the more popular Italian cities. This means that it can be easy to take multiple trips to different places if you want to take a day trip outside of Bologna.
To get anywhere inside or outside of the city limits then you will need to know how to use the public transport system, and we can help you understand how it all works. If you want to keep your luggage safe while you are traveling around you can leave it all at a suitcase storage facility in Bologna.
How to get around Bologna by train
When you arrive in Bologna chances are that you are getting here by airplane, bus, or by train. The Guglielmo Marconi Airport has national and international flights coming in and going out fairly often and is probably the quickest way to reach Bologna, although it does have additional costs compared to the bus or train.
You will find the city's main train station in the city center and very close to some of the places that you will want to visit, like the Piazza Maggiore and the Via Indipendenza which is a great spot to go shopping. The trains are mostly only used to get in and out of Bologna but are fast, efficient and are great for reaching other cities in Italy.
The high-speed railways can bring you to Rome or Turin in about two hours, to Milan in under an hour and to Florence in about 40 minutes. If there is anything that you want to do in these other Italian cities then getting there is quick and easy from Bologna, and you should take advantage of it to visit several towns in one vacation.
You can get to the train station easily by bus, taxi or even by foot. If you want to go here straight from the airport then you will be glad to hear that it is connected to the airport shuttle service. This station is called the Bologna Centrale and is often busy as thousands of people use it every day.
How to get around Bologna by bus
Just a short walk away from the Bologna Centrale train station is the bus station that can bring you in and out of the city or around it. This form of transport cannot get you to other places in Italy as quickly as the train but the buses are comfortable and a good option. Once you enter Bologna you can take the airport bus to get into the historic center of the city.
As for getting around inside the city, the Bologna buses are going to be your main way of traveling around, other than walking. The buses are efficient and well organized, and using them is usually simple and pain-free. The system is run by a company called TPER and they have several bus lines throughout all of Bologna. The buses begin at 6:30 am and usually stop running at 7 pm, although some routes go until 11 pm. If you want to grab your own map of the bus routes you can get one from the tourist office.
When you go to get on the bus you will need to buy a pass. Tickets can almost always be bought on the bus, but if the ticket machine ever happens to be broken, which is rare but possible, then you will need to use a TPER Card or pre-purchased passes which we will tell you about below. In general, tickets cost 1.3o euros if you buy them in advance, but if you want to buy your pass on the bus it will cost 1.50 euros.
You should make sure to always have a ticket on you when you ride the bus because security can come on and ask to see it at random points throughout the ride. If you fail to show them a ticket you will be fined and that can be expensive, so save yourself the stress and make sure to buy a bus pass! Bus tickets are valid for 75 minutes once they are activated and during that time you are able to change buses or go back on the same one without having to pay again.
Aside from buying disposable tickets, you have several other options in Bologna. If you know that you will be using the buses a lot in one day then you might benefit from having a day pass. These tickets cost 5 or 6 euros and are valid for the whole 24 hours in total once they have been activated. During this time you can use the buses as often as you like using the same ticket and you will not have to pay each time, which can be easier and will save you money. Another option is to buy TPER Cards which can be used to store passes, although you will need to show an ID to get one. They are reusable and can be found at most convenience stores and supermarkets.
How to get around Bologna by car
Bologna is a city that is easily navigated by foot and that is the recommended way of getting around, but if you would rather drive then traveling around the city by car is another possibility. You can reach the city through several of its highways, more specifically the A1, A13 and A14, so it is definitely possible to bring your own car on your vacation.
However, it is important to note that most of the city center and some of the surrounding areas are a Limited Traffic Zone and you will need to have a pass to use the parking on the streets or in the parking lots. These passes can be given to you by your hotel, otherwise, you will risk getting a fine.
If you don't want to worry about parking fines, traffic or gas prices then you can hail a local taxi to bring you where you need to go. It can sometimes be hard to catch a taxi from the city streets but they can be hired easily from the taxi ranks lined up at most of the major attractions and big hotels, as well as the train station and Piazza Maggiore. As with most places, taxis can get expensive so if you are looking for an economical way to get around then this is not your best choice.
It is important to note that if you have an Uber account it is not usable in Bologna. Instead, the city has a car sharing service called Corrente which is run by TPER, the same company that runs the buses. They have full cars that you can use to get around although where you are allowed to use them is quite limited and the price rises quickly.
Corrente costs about 0.25 euros per minute and they can charge you up to 30 euros per day. The best time that these cars can be used is for grocery trips or moving something, otherwise, you can benefit more from walking or using the buses. There are also a couple of car rental companies that you can borrow a car from, although you will have to be over the age of 21.
Can I get around Bologna by foot?
Most areas in the city center of Bologna can be accessed easily by foot and it is the most recommended way of traveling. You can get much more from your experience if you visit all of the touristy spots by walking, and if you choose to take the bus instead then you can miss out seeing on something cool. Plus, nothing beats taking a stroll along a quiet street in the beautiful city of Bologna.
The only place that you might actually need to take a bus is to the Basilica of San Luca because it is located outside of Bologna's historic center and is a bit too far away for most people to walk to. As well, it is home to the world's longest portico and it can be quite a climb, so if you aren't up for the walk then you can ride a bus to the top.
Some parts of the old town are made of pedestrian only streets so taking a car or bus isn't always an option anyway. Even if you get lost from walking around, chances are that you will stumble upon something new. You never know what you might find from just exploring the streets and often some of the best parts of the city are hidden away in an alley. There are so many great Bologna restaurants that can serve you a nice dinner, cafés that sell delicious brunch, and impressive buildings that you might never see from the windows of a bus.
While you are out exploring, make sure to stop by the main square of Piazza Maggiore which can easily be reached by foot from almost anywhere in Bologna. From here you can make your own walking tour of the Old Town and visit more landmarks. The Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower, also called the Due Torri, are the two towers that are an iconic symbol of the city and you should take a walk to see them, too.
Stop by the Basilica of Santo Stefano, which is also called the complex of Seven Churches, the Public Library or the main cathedral of the city on your walking tour. If you are worried about missing something you can buy tickets for an official tour or grab a paper from one of the newspaper kiosks to see if any events are happening during your stay.
Bologna by bike
If you don't feel like walking then the next best option is to bike and since most of the city terrain is flat it won't be too challenging. Bikes can get you to different areas quickly and save you some money, too. You won't have to worry about cars or traffic since most of the town is blocked off from private vehicles. If you didn't bring your own bike then there is no need to worry since Tomi Bici bikes are available for rent.
The Best Ways to Visit Bologna
Whether you are visiting Bologna for a week or just popping by for a couple of day trips, you will need to know how to get around. It won't take you long to figure out how the trains and buses work, although most places are within walking distance from the central square so if you don't want to use the public transport system you might not even need to.
If you are going to be heading in and out of the city often we recommend staying somewhere close to Bologna Airport or train station. However, most hotels are just a minute walk away from a bus station or taxi rank that can take you everywhere you need to go. Now that you know how to get around, we know you will enjoy your time in this amazing Italian city.