Introducing the city

£1.00 | 1.19 €

GBP | EUR

3 * Hotel p/n £27.33 | 32.55 €

One-way ticket £1.09 | 1.30 €

Beer £4.20 | 5.00 €

Main Course £12.59 | 15.00 €

About Bologna

One of Italy's most underrated and wealthiest cities, Bologna provides an authentic Italian experience with outstanding cuisine, a vibrant city landscape and some great historic attractions.

If ‘spag bol’ gets your tastebuds tingling, forget supermarket branded jars featuring an old man with a large moustache - Bologna is the birthplace of Bolognese sauce. When you’re not enjoying what the locals call ragu, this city, nicknamed ‘La Rossa’ ('the red one,' mainly for its distinctive ochre rooftops), is the perfect place for a weekend mini-break. Walkable, welcoming and whimsical, it attracts far less tourists than its Italian counterparts yet still offers a uniquely bellissimo experience.

With a population of nearly 380,000, Bologna is situated inland within the northern region of Emilia-Romagna. It’s regarded as one of the wealthiest cities in the country and provides a snapshot of medieval Italy with one of the best preserved historical centres and the oldest university in Europe. With a strong theatre and nightlife scene it also has a lively student side over the weekends as well as several summer festivals. Many Italian's consider Bologna as the ‘food capital’ of Italy, so don't expect pre-prepared jars of pasta sauce here. Sounds fine by us.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

May and September aren’t as hot as the summer months but still have warm days and fewer crowds.

The hottest months of the year, July and August, see an average high temperature of nearly 30 degrees Celsius whereas the coldest month - January - often experience lows below freezing. Periods of heavy rain can occur in spring and autumn with the most rainfall coming in November (although temperatures can still reach above 20 degrees Celsius during these seasons). In the hot summer months, the heat can be slightly uncomfortable.

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Travioor top tips

Walk The City
Museum Card
Library

Insider Info

  • Explore the city as much as you can by walking around the cobbled streets - try the area around Via Pescherie Vecchie.

  • Pick up a Museum Card if you’re planning on visiting a few of them. It’s cheap and gives you free or discounted entry to the main museums.

  • If you’re in desperate need of free Wi-Fi or a bit of peace and quiet, head to the Salaborsa where you’ll find a public library.

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Food and drink

Main Course £12.59 | 15.00 €

3-Course Meal £41.98 | 50.00 €

Cappuccino £1.24 | 1.48 €

Beer £4.20 | 5.00 €

The Scene

Foodies will be delighted to hear that some of the best authentic Italian cuisine can be enjoyed in Bologna with many referring to the city as the ‘food capital’ of Italy. Fresh local ingredients and a culinary heritage combine to create some truly memorable plates of food. Bologna is the home of tortellini, tagliatelle and ragù (what you might know as Bolognese sauce). Yet, you’ll have a tough job finding ragù with spaghetti, as Italians usually have it with tagliatelle. While many fantastic restaurants can be found in the city’s main areas such as Piazza Maggiore, you’ll find plenty of smaller hotspots nestled along Bologna’s cobblestone streets.

Bologna also has a thriving café and bar culture. The University Quarter boasts an array of pubs and clubs, while live music can be enjoyed at Take Five which features some of the best jazz music in town. To drink like a local, go for a spritz or two, which is a national speciality.

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History

Bologna’s Story

Founded in the 6th Century BC, Bologna was originally known as Felsina and then Bononia; it was ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Visigoths and then the Lombards, who used it as a hub for military operations. In 1088, Bologna became home to Europe’s first university and subsequently grew into one of the world’s most established medieval cities, helped by emphatic historical structures such as Due Torri. Papal troops invaded in 1506 and continued to develop the city by building a number of churches, convents and the botanical gardens. 1797 saw Napoleon conquer with the city and Bologna eventually joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Despite the damage caused to the city centre during WWII, Bologna has since established itself as a significant industrial centre thanks to its excellent railway links and wealthy status.

Language

Ciao | Hello
Grazie | Thank you

Italian

The official language of Bologna is Italian but many people speak the Gallo-Italic Romance language known as Bolognese. It is very close to ‘known’ Italian on paper, but you may hear slight differences when spoken. Less touristy than other Italian cities, English isn’t widely spoken in Bologna, although some people may know the basics. It’s best to have a translation book handy, particularly when you aren’t in tourist hotspots. We’ve listed some simple Italian below:

  • Please: Per favore
  • Excuse me: Mi scusi
  • Do you speak English: Parla inglese

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Need to know

+39 Dialling Code
112 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • Tipping is not expected although most will round up the bill.
  • Watch out for bikes and scooters when crossing the road as the city centre is packed with them.
  • You can get a free map at the Tourist Information Centre in Piazza Maggiore.

 

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Italy here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Piazza Maggiore

Take in the atmosphere at the square of Piazza Maggiore home to Neptune’s Fountain.

2. Eat Out

Dine in the local Italian restaurants and taste the famous ragu sauces.

3. Enjoy The Culture

Visit some of the city’s historic museums, galleries and churches.

4. Asinelli's Tower

Enjoy spectacular views of the city from Asinelli’s Tower.

5. The University

Experience the buzz of the University Quarter home to Europe’s oldest university.


See What's On In Bologna