13 Things To Do In Bologna With Kids
There are many Italian cities that get more attention when it comes to choosing a holiday in Italy, but if you want to avoid busy streets and long lines, then visit Bologna. Mainly known as a university city in Italy, (and for bolognese sauce) you will find a lot of hidden treasures when you explore the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna.
Unlike the popular Italian coastal cities like Venice and Rome, your children won't get bored standing in long lines waiting to see great works of art and other tourists attractions. When visiting Bologna your kids will eat good food in one of the many restaurants, visit iconic churches, and just have a great time without having to wait. You may find when you walk to one tourist attraction there is one right next door, like in the Piazza Maggiore.
You could be so excited you might want to start to explore Bologna as soon as you land in Marconi International Airport, but before you rush off to discover Bologna with kids in tow you will need to store your luggage. And you can store it safely and securely at a luggage storage locker in Bologna. Then, go have fun!
Visiting one of these eco-farms will be a blast for your kids, as these are more than just petting zoos – they are amusement and theme parks.
FICO is an Italian rural factory that is a food theme park sure to please everyone in the family. You and your kids can learn about healthy eating, how food was farmed and made in the early days, and even get yourself a little messy with come cooking classes. There are tours that give you a chance to learn more and do some tastings such as wine, cheese, and the world-famous mortadella meat of Bologna.
Check out the Luna Farmer amusement park for bumper cars, a mini-rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel, spinning cups, and more. You can play a round of minigolf, hit basketball, or beach volleyball courts, attend a cooking show, and your little ones will go crazy in the house of bubbles. And, of course, pet the animals. Donkeys, goats, rabbits, and many more are all there for your kids to interact with.
And if all this activity makes you hungry then you can visit one of the restaurants or kiosks for a bite to eat. And for dessert try the gelato-making course where the kids get to make real Italian gelato and eat it too. With 13 factories, multiple play areas, and 5 multi-media carousels, plus all of the above, spending a day at FICO will definitely keep children of all ages entertained.
Go to the Petting Zoo at Dulcamara
If you would like a petting zoo that is a little more relaxed, head to Dulcamara, a fabulous eco-farm restaurant and hotel just outside of Bologna. The view of the city is great and you are only 20 minutes from the Bologna city center. You and the kids can saddle up on some horses, go trekking to some caves, or chill out and play in the park.
There are fun workshops on how to recognize herbs and fruits, your little ones can even get their feet dirty stomping fruit at the harvest. And to top it all off there are plenty of animals to pet and interact with. It is not quite as "full-on" as FICO but it is still a great place for the kids.
See Parco della Resistenzza
Kids like dinosaurs, that's just the way it is and at Parco della Resistenzza they have some of the best. Life-size versions of all their favorites, T-rex, triceratops, saber-tooth tigers, and more that will excite your little ones as they run around finding each of the more than thirty dinos in the park. There are playgrounds, restaurants, multi-purpose sports courts, and plenty of open green areas to enjoy a picnic.
Enjoy a Walk in Botanic Garden
While technically not a park, the Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to take a break from the crowds. There is a pond, rock garden, and the herbarium to check out, and there are even some carnivorous plants to see in the small greenhouse.
Explore Giardini Margherita
The largest park in Bologna is Giardini Margherita, spread across 26 hectares of green space, with a cute lake and a small outdoor museum. This is a place to relax, people watch, and maybe do some walking in, with plenty of paths, a few playgrounds, and sports courts. It was designed to be a quiet peaceful place in the middle of a big city.
Play in Parco della Montagnola
Parco della Montagnola is the oldest of the city's parks, where throughout the year you can attend live concerts, theater shows, amazing monuments, and fountains. You can find plenty of kids' play areas and a few places to eat. This is one of the prettiest parks in Bologna.
Go to Cool and Interactive Museums
It might be a little hard to convince your children that going to a museum can be fun, but the ones in Bologna are different than others because you can make gelato at one of them.
To learn more about the historical city of Bologna all you need to do is visit the Museo della Storia di Bologna. This history museum is not one of those boring ones that don't let you touch anything, on the contrary, this one encourages interaction with a lot of their exhibits. They make it more fun for children with their cartoon interface that explains things in a very entertaining way. And when you get to the underground tunnels, you and your kids will be blown away by the light display, so cool!
The Museo Geologico Capellini is small (as museums go) but an awesome museum for kids. With huge dinosaur displays and a ton of fossils to check out, the kids always have a good time here. Another great thing about it is that it's free, although they do ask that you make a small donation.
Nowadays kids are into video games and other high-tech stuff so why not take them to a museum where the VR is in the name, The Virtual Reality Museum. You can sit and experience the building of Bologna, play a medieval fantasy game, or find the clues to escape the templars' room. You do have to book in advance, but what a fun, cool, and educational place this is for kids of all ages.
Gelato is possibly the best version of ice cream you can imagine. Smooth, creamy gelato on a hot day (any day really) is the best. And the history of the Italian treat is available at the Carpigiani Gelato Museum, where you not only learn about gelato you get to make it and eat it! Now that is a museum that kids can really appreciate.
Be Amazed by Basilica di San Domenico
With so much history in one place, it is easy to miss something, a church, ruin, or landmark. And as hard as it can be to gets young kids interested in history there are a few places that you just shouldn't miss. This place (and those listed below) is pretty cool with beautiful paintings and sculptures that will get your children ooh-ing and ah-ing.
The stoic medieval structure of the Basilica di San Domenico belies the beauty of the interior of the building. The arched ceilings adorned with incredible frescos and a few sculptures by the famous Michelangelo are just a few of the amazing sights that await you. It's a good idea to do a little reading about the place before you get there, it will make your visit much more interesting.
Walk to Santuario della Madonna di San Luca
A place that requires a little more effort to get to, as you need to walk up a hill, is the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca. This is the most iconic and important church in Bologna. Over 650 arches, 15 chapels, works of art by Guido Ren and Guercino, plus the Madonna and Child icon can all be found in the 17th-century sanctuary.
Marvel at The Two Towers
One of the most iconic towers in Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but Bologna has The Two Towers (Le Due Torri) one of which leans more than one in Pisa. 498, that is how many steps it is to the top of the taller tower, which takes about 15 minutes, maybe more with kids, but the view is just spectacular. Tickets can be purchased at the Bologna Tourist Office in the Piazza Maggiore across from the Basilica di San Petronio.
View Piazza Maggiore
The Piazza Maggiore is another interesting place to explore with a myriad of historical buildings. The Basilica di San Petronio, the building of this impressive church started in 1390 and, and believe it or not, it is still not completed. You will also find the famous Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno) and City Hall (Palazzo D'Accursio).
Get Some Fresh Food
The Mercato Ritrovato is a farmers' market that hosts some great events throughout the year. Enjoy free music concerts, great street food, and some fun programs for kids and adults at the Cineteca building. Your kids can do some fishnet weaving, watch puppet shows, or get covered in flour while making bread. So while your little ones are busy having fun you can pick up some fresh produce, fruit, or even a local wine (not for the kids) to enjoy for a picnic later.
Beat the Heat at an Aquapark
Villaggio della Salute Più is not just an aquapark, it is also a hotel and wellness spa so there is something for the whole family. If you are staying in Bologna, it is just an hour's drive south. The place has a ton of facilities and experiences like salt baths, several restaurants, and giant waterslides. For the younger children, there are splash pools, mini-slides, and family boats to row on the lake.
It's located in the hills that surround Bologna, which makes for nice views while you are relaxing by the pool or lakeside. The hotel and wellness spa are open year-round but during the summer months it is extremely busy so you may want to plan around that if you plan on staying there.
What are the best family activities in Bologna?
When visiting Bologna with kids you need to make sure they're entertained non-stop, but you want to have fun too, so what are the best family activities to do in such a lovely place as Bologna? Any of the places where making gelato is offered will always be a hit, like Carpigiani Gelato Museum or FICO. Getting a little messy and then getting to eat the sweet and creamy dessert is fun for the whole family.
Sightseeing is always a good time but finding ones that are close together like the Two Towers and Basilica di San Petronio, which are in or near Piazza Maggiore, is better so your kids don't get bored with too much walking.
Bologna City Center and Beyond
There is so much to do and see but when in Bologna with kids it's recommended to rent a car. The streets are less crazy with traffic and some of the best places to visit are in more rural areas. Just make sure to use a reputable agency as there are some sketchy ones in Italy. This truly is one of the most beautiful areas of the world and you want to be able to see as much of it as possible.