Known for its famous ham Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma is recognized by UNESCO as a Creative City for Gastronomy. But besides its world-class culinary scene, the city is also known for its architecture, art, and music, with popular natives, including the painters Parmigianino (Francesco Mazzola) and Correggio (Antonio Allegri) and one of the greatest conductors, Arturo Toscanini.
Parma is located in the Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy, a region of artistic beauty and unrivaled charm, and is home to an array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s only a short drive from other notable cities, like the renaissance city of Ferrara, Modena, and Bologna, the capital and largest city of Emilia-Romagna. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or a thrill seeker, you’ll get the most out of the exciting day trips from Parma. You can discover the many medieval towns, castles, parks, mountains, and other incredible sightseeing opportunities waiting for you outside the city.
However, not everything can go according to your plans, especially when traveling. If the weather makes a day trip tricky or even impossible, you can still plan a day out touring the best museums in Parma. Once you’ve taken care of your bags and placed them in a safe luggage storage facility in Parma, you can be on your way to a memorable adventure!
How to get out of Parma
If you know how to get around Parma by car or public transport, it will be easy to get out of the city center and see more of the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region. Renting a car seems the most logical way to see the surrounding area, providing freedom of movement during your day trip. It also allows you more time and convenience to maximize your adventures, explore off-the-beaten-track, and discover smaller villages and hidden gems around the typical tourist spots.
However, take note of Limited Traffic Zones or restricted areas when driving in Parma. The city has restrictions on where motorists are allowed to go and when they can access certain parts of the city by car.
While driving by car is a lot more practical, you can also rely on the city’s public transport. The train is the most comfortable way to reach the neighboring cities and towns in the region. You can find the schedules or timetables on the Trenitalia official website and buy train tickets online or at the station from 6 AM to 9 PM.
The Stazione di Parma is the primary rail station situated on the city's northern edge. It is a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from the main tourist areas, and both local and long-distance trains arrive here. If you want to travel by bus, Parma has various bus services that will take you to different areas of Italy.
From Parma to Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Dairy
Before going further to other neighboring cities, organize a visit to the countryside and sample Italy’s famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It’s a product with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), produced based on the rules in the Production Regulation.
Visiting a Parmigiano Reggiano factory should be part of your itinerary, as cheese has been manufactured for nearly a thousand years using three natural ingredients: salt, milk, and rennet. It can be included in your food tour, and you can witness the intricate process of making Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese.
Book a guided tour and experience the production and unique craft of cheese masters. The food tour will take you on a journey of learning and education. You’ll gain insight into the land and history of families who produce inimitable cheese.
How to get to Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Dairy
The best way to get to the Parmigiano Reggiano factory is by joining a food tour. It's a culinary adventure in Italy where you can sample the traditional balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, and cheese. You’ll find a number of producers offering guided tours of the production process, including tastings and pairings. If you don’t want to be part of amazing food tours, you can organize a visit on your own and drive to the nearest dairy from Parma.
From Parma to Ferrara
The Renaissance art city of Ferrara is one of the exciting day trips from Parma you shouldn’t miss. It boasts an astounding cultural landscape with a network of cobbled streets and walls closely lined with churches, palaces, and gardens. In 1995, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Center, home to an intriguing palace, remarkable monuments, and other historic buildings.
Ferrara has a long and complicated history. Very little in the city has survived the Middle Ages, but one of the important survivals of this medieval city is the massive Estense Castle. Also known as Castello di San Michele, Estense Castle is nestled in the city’s historical center. It was built as a fortress by the House of Este between 1285 and 1393. Though it has been extensively restored, its original medieval design remains.
The castle’s main attraction is the inner court. Here, visitors can admire medieval frescoes by artists like Lippo Memmi, Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, and Jacopino del Conte. It also features a stylish courtyard with Italian-style gardens filled with lilies, daisies, roses, and carnations. The castle is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. An admission fee is applicable only among adults and costs around $6.
How to get to Ferrara
You can drive or catch a train to get to Ferrara city from Parma. The distance between the two cities is about 88 miles (142km), which takes about an hour and a half to drive in regular traffic. By train, expect the journey to take around two hours and thirty-six minutes. However, the fastest trains can take the same time as driving from Parma to Ferrara.
From Parma to Reggia di Colorno
Another excellent day trip from Parma is the impressive Ducal Palace or Reggia di Colorno, a complex architectural structure established at the beginning of the 18th century. It is conveniently located at the heart of Colorno, a comune in the province of Parma, about 90 kilometers northwest of Bologna and fifteen kilometers north of the city of Parma.
The Palace features over 400 rooms with spectacular frescoed ceilings, marble floors, large marble fireplaces, stucco decorations, elaborate paneling on the walls, etc. It also has a newly restored French garden perfect for strolling and enjoying the relaxing environment.
Guided tours are available to explore the palace and visit the rooms. It also includes a tour of the Ducal Chapel of San Liborio, the New Apartment of Duke Ferdinando of Bourbon, and the Piano Nobile. You’ll have to leave your backpacks and bags at the reception or the cloakroom.
How to get to Reggia di Colorno
Since it’s near Parma, it might be easy to drive to Colorno and discover the palace. It’s also a great chance to see more of the town of Colorno. Otherwise, you can catch a bus or a train from Parma to Colorno, which can take from 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the bus or train service you take.
From Parma to Bologna
No day trips to the Emilia-Romagna region are complete without discovering its capital when visiting Italy. A short drive from Parma, Bologna is a lovely city, offering a blend of history, tasty traditional Italian food, and fascinating culture. It is nestled among winding valleys, rolling hills, and vast plains with unmatched panoramas.
And while in the area, why not continue your journey and treat yourself by embarking on fascinating day trips from Bologna? But if you don’t have enough time and can only travel from Parma to the ancient town of Bologna and back, then don’t waste any second of it and stop by Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore.
Nearly every top attraction in the city is a stone’s throw from these squares, including the majestic Two Towers, the Basilica di San Petronio, and the bustling market in the Quadrilatero. There are also restaurants and cafes nearby for refreshing snacks and drinks.
How to get to Bologna
You can catch a taxi or ride a bus to Bologna, but a train is the most reliable form of public transport. Several direct trains will take you from Parma to Bologna, and the journey takes about an hour to an hour or less. Thanks to the reliable and speedy Frecciargento service, you can reach your destination in under an hour without worries. From Parma, it will take you to Bologna Centrale train station, which is within easy walking distance of many city attractions and famous shopping streets.
From Parma to Vigoleno
History buffs and architecture enthusiasts will undoubtedly love a day trip from Parma to the fortified medieval village of Vigoleno. It’s both a small village and a fortress perched on a hill, representing a remarkable historical monument. It dominates the Piacenza area with an elevation of 357 meters above sea level and is among the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.’
Besides its elegant appearance, this perfectly preserved example of a late-medieval town also offers relaxing activities year-round. Of course, the first thing to do is stroll through the castle square and narrow streets and take in the stunning views of the countryside from above. Hike the hills or bike through Stirone Park nearby. You can also visit a local winemaker and try the tasty Vin Santo of Vigoleno DOC.
Vigoleno is also not far from Castell'Arquato, another enchanting medieval village dominating the valley. It is known for its scenic views and gorgeous landscape, which is why it has been chosen as a film location for several productions.
How to get to Vigoleno
Catch a bus from Parma to Salsomaggiore Terme Station, which can take about an hour and five minutes. From the station, catch a fifteen-minute taxi ride to Vigoleno. If you have a car, the journey will take just an hour or less, depending on your stops and the traffic.
From Parma to Modena
Modena is one of Italy’s most underrated cities, only a short drive from Parma. It lies northwest of Bologna, between the Panaro and Secchia rivers. It boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Modena’s Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower, and Piazza Grande.
Set against the backdrop of the iconic Ghirlandina belltower is the Piazza Grande. This square originated in the 12th century and got its name ‘Grande’ in the 17th century. It has always been the heart of the city where civil, religious, and historical events in Modena take place. In the northeastern corner, you’ll find the Town Hall, with a spacious 17th-century portico and the tower.
Modena’s web of cobbled streets features an abundance of shops, from designer brands to independent retailers and hardware stores. There are also plenty of museums, galleries, and restaurants to keep everyone full and entertained.
How to get to Modena
Several train and bus services will take you directly from Parma to Modena, including FlixBus, with a travel time from around 50 minutes to an hour. You can take a bus from Parma station to Modena Bus Terminal Gottardi, with services departing five times a day. For trains, services depart every three hours, and the journey takes around half an hour.
From Parma to Fontanellato
If you don’t have enough time for long day trips from Parma, head to the small town of Fontanellato. Its name comes from fontana lata, meaning large fountain since the town lies between the Stirone and Taro rivers. It’s less than half an hour’s drive from the city, with a driving distance of 13 miles (21 km).
The highlight of your visit is the Rocca Sanvitale, a massive castle surrounded by a water-filled moat. It was originally constructed in the 14th century for defense. It’s the center of the town, dominating the area.
Other notable attractions in Fontenellato include Chiesa di San Croce, an important church built in 1447 but renovated in the 16th century, and Santuario Della Beata Vergine Del Rosario, a large complex constructed between 1641 and 1660.
How to get to Fontanellato
Fontanellato is a small town, and most people come here as part of their day trips from Bologna and Parma. You can drive or get a taxi to the town and walk around the area. Otherwise, you may catch a bus from San Pancrazio in Parma to Fontanellato. The journey takes around twenty minutes.
Organize Fun Parma Day Trips!
Maximize your journey through the region of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy by planning a day trip from Parma. It provides an unparalleled opportunity to see other towns and medieval villages and immerse yourself in the unique Italian culture, sample local cuisine, and learn history outside the city center.