Bologna in 2 days: What to see in Bologna and how to enjoy it (+ map and useful tips)

bologna za 2 dny / co vidět v bologni itálie

Bologna is considered by many to be the hidden gem of Italy. A city undiscovered by foreign tourists, living in the seclusion of nearby Florence and Venice. If Bologna beckons, we’ve put together an itinerary of what to see in Bologna in 2 days and how to soak up the city’s atmosphere.

Bologna has an incredibly lively and relaxed atmosphere. The centre is packed with locals out for a stroll, to listen to live music and enjoy a glass of wine. The orange facades of the houses are interspersed with imposing churches, and the hidden alleyways hide excellent tavernas serving famous Bolognese cuisine.

Is it possible to visit Bologna in 2 days?

The centre of Bologna can be explored in one day. But if you’d like to visit the museums, take a trip to the Madonna di San Luca shrine or soak up more of the city’s atmosphere, two days in Bologna are ideal.

The city is compact, the centre itself is relatively small, and there are no hour-long queues to sightsee.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

Bologna in two days – route map

On the map you will find the marked route for visiting Bologna in two days. The route is largely pedestrian and passes by the main monuments of Bologna, through UNESCO-listed porticoes and near excellent trattorias.

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map with the route of what to see in Bologna in two days. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places mentioned in the itinerary for two days in Bologna, Italy. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.



9:00 Enjoy the view of La Piccola Venezia

A little bit of Venice in Bologna? La Piccole Venezia means “Little Venice”. This is a picturesque part of the city that got its name from the canals that were once visible in many parts of the city, like in Venice. Most of Bologna’s canals are now covered, but you can still see some of these waterways in La Piccola Venezia.

la piccola venezia bologna

The most famous spot in La Piccola Venezia is the Finestrella di Via Piella – a small window that reveals a view of the Canale delle Moline, surrounded by old buildings, which recalls scenes typical of Venice.

You won’t meet as many people as in the centre, but the district is small and easily filled with tourists. There is a long queue to see the view from the window, so it is better to come first thing in the morning and enjoy an uninterrupted view without the crowds behind you.

Hotels in Bologna 😴

ubytování bologna
The Social Hub

Modern hotel with swimming pool

ubytování bologna
Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna

4* hotel on the edge of town, free parking

10:00 St. Peter’s Cathedral

After a stroll through the streets around the canals of Bologna, we head to Via dell’Indipendenza, the main shopping street, right on which is the Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro.

At first glance, it is a bit hidden among the other buildings, but at the second glance, it immediately catches your eye with its baroque red brick façade.

It is an important spiritual building in the region as it is the seat of the Archbishop of Bologna. Inside, it is richly decorated, with works of art including frescoes and an accessible crypt. Entrance to the cathedral is free.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

10:30 Visit Piazza Maggiore

We walk just a few steps from the cathedral and arrive at the spacious Piazza Maggiore, which has been the centre of the city since the 13th century.

This magnificent square is surrounded by several important historical buildings, including the Basilica di San Petronio, Palazzo dei Notai, Palazzo d’Accursio and Palazzo del Podestà.

bologna in 2 days / what to see in bologna
bologna italy / things to do in bologna / piazza maggiore bologna

Fountain of Neptune

One of the biggest attractions in the Piazza Maggiore is the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain), which is located in the neighbouring Piazza del Nettuno (in fact, these two squares are immediately adjacent to each other and act as one).

bologna italy / things to do in bologna / piazza maggiore bologna

The fountain is famous for its magnificent sculptural representation of Neptune, the Roman god of the seas. He is depicted with his arms outstretched, one of which holds a trident, symbolizing his power over the waters.

The sculpture is placed on a high pedestal surrounded by four cherubs and other mythical creatures representing different aspects of marine life and waterways.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

10:45 St. Petronius Basilica

The Basilica di San Petronio is one of the dominant features of the square. This basilica from 14th century, dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Petronius, is the fifth largest church in the world. The interior of the basilica is rather austere, with Gothic vaults and a richly decorated main altar.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna / basilica of st. petronius bologna

Entrance is free and, as in other church buildings, there is a dress code – covered shoulders and knees (they check it). Queues can form inside, but they pass quickly.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

11:15 Palazzo Comunale and Torre dell’Orologio

Where to go for one of the best views of the city? Climb the clock tower of the Palazzo Comunale, the town hall from the 14th century.

Bologna is famous for its red roofs and towers, which create a magnificent panorama when viewed from a bird’s eye view. From Torre dell’Orologio, you can see the whole of Piazza Maggiore.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

For most places in Bologna it is not necessary to book tickets in advance. But this is not true of Torre dell’Orologio. It was completely sold out during our visit, so definitely book in advance.

The entrance to the tower is located in 2nd floor (stairs or elevator). The tower can be reached in 3 time slots per hour. Follow the link above for more information, admission and opening times.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

12:00 Lunch

It’s lunchtime, and the good news is that there are plenty of places to eat around Piazza Maggiore. One of the most popular is the Mercato di Mezzo, where there are several small snack bars. It is open daily from 9:00 until midnight.

Mercato di Mezzo is located in Il Quadrilatero, a small district of medieval streets that are literally lined with shops and restaurants. On the one hand, it’s touristy, but the locals like to come here too.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

14:00 Le due Torri

No visit to Bologna is complete without a visit to Le due Torri, two iconic towers located just a few minutes’ walk from Piazza Maggiore.

And these are not just any towers.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna le due torri asinelli

The Torre degli Asinelli is about 97 metres high and is the tallest tower in Bologna. This is usually the most popular panoramic point in the city, reached by climbing almost 500 steps. However, the tower is currently inaccessible due to construction work (valid for May 2024). You can check the official website for the latest opening dates.

le due torri bologna

Torre Garisenda is much lower, reaching a height of approximately 48 metres. Originally, however, it was higher, around 60 metres. Due to the unstable base and subsidence movements, it was tilted significantly and later deliberately lowered in height for safety reasons.

The two towers also symbolise the period when the city of Bologna had more than 100 towers, which served for defence and as status symbols for wealthy families.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

15:00 Piazza Santo Stefano

From Le Due Torii we arrive in a few minutes at Piazza Santo Stefano, one of the most beautiful squares in Bologna.

The central point of the square is the Santo Stefano complex, also known as the Seven Churches (Sette Chiese). The complex includes several church buildings and chapels, which were gradually connected and expanded from early Christian times to the Middle Ages.

piazza santo stefano bologna

You can visit the church for free. After the afternoon break it opens to the public at 14:30.

Or sit in a café or restaurant surrounding the square and enjoy the view of the historic buildings.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

16:00 Discover the porticoes of Bologna

The porticoes are one of Bologna’s most distinctive features, stretching for more than 40 kilometres and forming the most extensive network of covered walkways in the world. This has earned them a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation as of 2021.

Porticoes were built in Bologna in the Middle Ages. The aim was to increase living space in densely populated urban areas. The structures extended out from the first floor of the buildings, while leaving the ground floor open to provide cover for pedestrians.

bologna portico

Porticoes vary in style, from simple wooden columns and arcades in some of the older parts of the city to tall, elegant arcades decorated in Renaissance or Baroque style in newer areas. Some of them are quite plain and a bit neglected, while the porticoes more in the centre are more preserved and decorative.

☞ Read: Best Things to do in Bologna.

17:00 Visit the library in the Archiginnasio Palace

The last sight on the first day of our 2-day itinerary in Bologna is the beautiful library in the historic Archiginnasio building (Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio). It was formerly the main building of the University of Bologna.

It’s a bit of a hidden spot, located just a few steps from Piazza Maggiore, and easy to reach when exploring the streets of the city centre.

bologna italy / things to do in bologna

The architecture of the library and the entire palace is typical of the Renaissance style, with richly decorated arcades and frescoes.

You can visit the courtyard for free, but you can peek inside for a small fee of €3. Open daily except Sunday 9:00-19:00, closing an hour earlier on Saturday. A beautiful place that is worth at least a short visit.

archiginnasio palace bologna
bologna italy / things to do in bologna / archiginnasio palace and library

17:30 Dinner

End your day in Bologna with dinner at a trattoria, where you can taste traditional cuisine in a pleasant rustic setting. Here are some of our tips, which we have also marked on the map at the beginning of the article.

  • Osteria dell’Orsa
  • Trattoria del Tempo Buono
  • La Prosciutteria
  • Osteria Al 15
  • Osteria Le Sette Chiese
bologna italy / things to do in bologna



Morning: Santuario Madonna di San Luca

First thing in the morning we will go to Santuario Madonna di San Luca. It’s less crowded at this time of year, and if you’re visiting Bologna in the summer, you’ll avoid the sultry afternoon sun.

The main purpose of the shrine was to protect an icon of the Virgin Mary, which was allegedly brought from Byzantium in the 12th century and was considered miraculous by the locals.

Santuario Madonna di San Luca bologna

The building is significant for its Baroque architectural style, with a distinctive dome and a long arcaded corridor leading up to the basilica. This passageway, the Portico di San Luca, is one of the longest arcaded passages in the world, measuring almost 4 kilometres. The arcades were originally built to protect pilgrims from bad weather during their journey up the hill.

Santuario Madonna di San Luca is open daily from 07:00-19:00. Admission is free. Click here for up-to-date information on opening times.

How to get to Santuario Madonna di San Luca

  • on foot through Portico di San Luca – approx. 5 km ascent through the porticoes from the city centre. Calculate the time around 1.5 hours.
  • by bus no. 20 from the centre of Bologna to the stop Villa Spada, where you change to bus no. 58, which will take you to the shrine. Here you can find the timetable for line 58.
  • by car to the free parking lot just outside the sanctuary. Ideal for a short visit in the evening.
  • Tourist train from the centre of Bologna, which stops directly at Piazza Maggiore – usually on the left side of the basilica.

Hotels in Bologna 😴

ubytování bologna itálie

4* hotel with roof terrace and excellent cuisine

ubytování bologna itálie
Combo Bologna

Cheap, clean accommodation in the centre

Afternoon – Option 1: Museums in Bologna

After a morning hike to the sanctuary, enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Bologna. You can visit one of the museums such as the MAMbo with modern art, the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna with traditional art collections or the Museo Civico Archeologico with archaeological artefacts.

If prestigious brands tempt you, there’s the Museo Ducati on the edge of town and the Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini to the north, where you can learn more about the Lamborghini car brand.

Or just wander the city’s streets, discover hidden squares and search for the best Italian gelato. Here are some of our tips for the best gelaterie:

  • Cremeria Cavour
  • Venchi a short walk from Piazza Maggiore
  • Cremeria Santo Stefano
  • Gelateria Gianni for interesting flavours

Afternoon – Option 2: Modena

Would you like to discover more of the Emilia-Romagna region? Take the train and get off in 20 minutes in Modena.

Modena is much smaller than Bologna, but still harbours a magnificent historic centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss a tour of the Duomo (free) or a climb up the tower, from which you’ll have Modena in the palm of your hand.

☞ In our previous article you will find a detailed guide to Bologna Airport.


Modena is also home to Ferrari and Maserati. A short walk from the station is the Museo Enzo Ferrari, a modern glass building with an exhibition about Enzo Ferrari, designed by Czech architect Jan Kaplický.

Where to stay when visiting Bologna for 2 days?

  • The Social Hub: Modern hotel with pool, gym and restaurant just a short walk from the station and the centre
  • Combo Bologna: Cheap but clean accommodation a short walk from the station, suitable for singles, couples and families
  • Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna: 4* hotel on the outskirts of Bologna, free parking
  • Savhotel: Elegant hotel with roof terrace, excellent cuisine and wellness

Hotels in Bologna 😴

ubytování bologna
The Social Hub

Modern hotel with swimming pool

ubytování bologna
Hotel Cosmopolitan Bologna

4* hotel on the edge of town, free parking

How to enjoy Bologna for 2 days

  • Wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan to visit Santuario Madonna di San Luca. In addition, the floor under some porticoes can be a bit slippery.
  • Try the Bolognese cuisine, which is renowned and there are often queues inside the restaurants. You can find some tips for delicious trattorias right in the article.
  • Summer or winter, Italian gelato is a must-try, even if it’s slightly above freezing. The best gelato they make in the city centre at Cremeria Cavour, in Venchi just off Piazza Maggiore, Cremeria Santo Stefano on the edge of the centre. Or go to Gelateria Gianni for interesting flavours.
  • Book tickets for the clock tower and enjoy the view of the red roofs of Bologna.
  • Explore Bologna in the evening, when Piazza Maggiore is beautifully lit.
  • See if you can save money with the Bologna Welcome Card.
bologna italy

These were our tips on what to see in Bologna in two days. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

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More information about Italy

BOLOGNA: Get inspired by tips on sights and attractions to visit in Bologna. See our previous article for a detailed guide to Bologna Airport.

NORTHERN ITALY: Here is the itinerary and route map for 2 days in Venice. See the most beautiful places to visit in Verona. Or enjoy a wonderful holiday at Lago di Garda.

TOSCAN: Florence is just half an hour from Bologna – here are the most beautiful places in Florence. Are you planning to explore the whole of Tuscany? We’ve put together our tips for what to see in Tuscany, including a map. Here is a detailed itinerary for a 5-7 day roadtrip in Tuscany.

ITALY: Get inspired by the most beautiful places in Italy.

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