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Guide to Bologna Outdoors

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Bologna is the ideal city for walking and satisfying your cultural, historic and culinary tastes. It is always a pleasure to walk under the shelter of the long porticos, but it is upon leaving those—and getting lost in the narrow medieval—that your authentic experience starts. Enjoy simply wandering without a destination, looking out for evocative glimpses, and following captivating smells as you go.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

10 Places

9 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Giardini Margherita

Other Outdoor Activities

Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda

Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Santuario di Madonna di San Luca

Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

Piazza Maggiore

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Certosa di Bologna

Cemeteries

Piazza Otto Agosto

Gift & Speciality Shops

Parco Storico di Monte Sole

Parks

Orto Botanico

Speciality Museums

Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi

Parks

Quadrilatero

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Lara S's City Tips

  • Riding your bike under the portico is forbidden—even if it can be tempting during rainy days, it is very annoying for the pedestrians.
  • If you cycle, always lock both wheels of your bike to an immovable object.
  • The city center is closed to vehicles during the weekends. Enjoy the opportunity to reach your destinations easily on foot!
  • If you feel like being active, I suggest renting a bike! The city is not big and is mainly flat. However, there are not many cycle lanes available, so be careful.
  • To get around by bus, a daily ticket (24h) or a city pass (10 rides) is more economical than a single.
  • Bus tickets are sold in newsagents and at ticket offices. You can buy a ticket on the bus, but it's more expensive.
  • Bologna has an efficient 24-hour bus service. You can plan your journey online at TPER website.
  • Bologna is full of delicatessens where you can buy traditional food and enjoy a tasty break.
  • Don't miss sampling Bolognese ice cream! There are many artisan ice cream shops around the city where you can taste one of Italy's finest ice creams.
  • Save
    Giardini Margherita
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    Located just out of town—or 'fuori porta' (outside the gateways) as a local would say—the Margherita Gardens is the biggest park in the city, extending to 26 hectares. You can jog, rollerblade, or skate along its tree-lined boulevards, or relax and picnic on its fresh grass.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • I recommend walking here—it's about 15 minutes from the Piazza Maggiore. The bus is also an easy option.
    • In the middle of the lake, there is a club called Chalet.
    • In the old greenhouses, you'll find a bar that serves food among waterlilies and tomato plants.
    • The park is open until midnight from April to September, but closes at 6pm during winter.
    • In the afternoon, you can join a yoga or Capoeira class in the park.
    • During your visit, don't forget to explore the little lake, liberty-style greenhouses, and Etruscan tomb.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 15 Outdoor Activities in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Bologna’s city park 09/10/2017
    • Wonderful park with the lake and tortures in it 04/09/2017
    • Giardini Margherita
    Address:
    Viale Gozzadini
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 333303
    Hours:
    Sat - Wed
    08:00 - 02:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
    Observation Decks & Towers, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    These two towers are the symbol of Bologna, built in the Middle Ages by noble families seeking status. There are also other towers still intact, such as Azzoguidi o Altabella Tower, Prendiparte o Coronata Tower, Guidozagni Tower, Uguzzoni Tower and Galluzzi Tower—a visit to any of these examples of Medieval Bologna will allow you to explore other very charming and little frequented areas of the city.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • You can climb the Asinelli Tower for great views of the Mediterranean Sea.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Must do! 15/12/2017
    • Excellent views 11/12/2017
    • Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda
    Address:
    Piazza Ravegnana
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 041 2960 8401
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 17:45
    Other:
  • Save
    Santuario di Madonna di San Luca
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca is the first thing you will see when arriving in Bologna. Built on the Della Guardia hill, it is linked to the city center by a portico that goes from Saragozza Gateway to the Meloncello Arch (nearby the stadium), and then up to the top of the hill. This is one of the most popular Sunday walks among the locals!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • You can reach the sanctuary by car. If you drive, I recommend parking at the Meloncello Arch in order to enjoy at least the last part of the walk.
    • At the foot of the hill is a great pizza place—Pizzeria Vito.
    • Only well-trained bikers can reach the top of the hill on two wheels!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very good... but not on a day when the clouds have descended 21/11/2017
    • nice walk from Bologna to San Luca 20/11/2017
    • Santuario di Madonna di San Luca
    Address:
    Via di San Luca 36
    40135 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 614 2339
  • Save
    Piazza Maggiore
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    Piazza Maggiore is one of the most beautiful Italian squares, enclosed within Bologna's most famous monuments: San Petronio Basilica, Palazzo D'Accursio, Plazzo dei Notai, Palazzo dei Banchi, and the Palazzo del Podestà. The famous fountain by Giambologna sits nearby, and from this central location, you can easily reach Via del Pratello and its taverns (following Via Ugo Bassi), or take Via Rizzoli and end up under the Two Towers, where the lively university area starts.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • In summer, the square turns into an open-air cinema with free art-house film projections.
    • The four main shopping streets start here: Via Indipendenza, Via Rizzoli, Via Ugo Bassi and Via d'Azeglio.
    • Under the portico of Palazzo del Podestà, you can find the tourist information center "Bologna Welcome."
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Neptun&Terrazze under reconstruction 15/12/2017
    • Interesting area 11/12/2017
    • Piazza Maggiore
    Address:
    Piazza Maggiore
    Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 231415
    Other:
  • Save
    Certosa di Bologna
    Cemeteries
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    Follow the trail around this monument-filled cemetery to see cloisters, loggias and wonderful sculptures by Bolognese artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many famous people are buried here, including the painter Giorgio Morandi, Nobel Prize poet Giosuè Carducci, opera singer Farinelli, and singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Certosa is a 45-minute walk from the city center—take a bus if time is tight.
    • In summer, enjoy special events here, including concerts and guided tours.
    • Download the English-language guide from the Certosa website in advance.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • monumantal cimitery worth seeing 30/11/2017
    • A Walk through Eternity 22/11/2017
    • Certosa di Bologna
    Address:
    Via della Certosa 18
    Di Fronte a Viale Gandhi
    40134 Bologna
    Italy
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Piazza Otto Agosto
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    Every Friday and Saturday, 6.30am-8pm, this big local market comes to life in the Montagnola Park and Piazza VIII Agosto. With more than 400 stalls selling vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, ethnic handicrafts, shoes, and much more, La Piazzola is an excellent place to shop and a colorful and lively spot to experience.

    Good for
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • You can easily get to the market from the train station, following Via Indipendenza, then turning right into Via Irnerio.
    • Avoid visiting the Montagnola Park at night.
    • It is very hard to get a discount, so save your bargaining energy for more shopping!
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 80 Shopping in Bologna
    • Cramped and rather depressing 05/11/2017
    • Busy (mostly) clothing market 16/06/2017
    • Piazza Otto Agosto
    Address:
    P. za Otto Agosto
    40100 Bologna
    Italy
    Other:
  • Save
    Parco Storico di Monte Sole
    Parks
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    In this park, which was created as a memorial to the local farmers who died during the Second World War, you will find an interesting mix of nature and history. Five themed itineraries—including nature, art, history, and religion—are available to satisfy a variety of interests, and guests can follow these as they explore. I would recommend the itinerary 'Percorso del Memoriale,' which features many villages affected by the 1944 massacre, as well as other important places from the liberation struggle.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is not well connected to the city by public transport—take a taxi.
    • Wear sporty/comfortable clothing and bring some water with you—there are no water fountains inside the park.
    • At the Visitor Center, you'll also find a guesthouse, a bar, and a restaurant.
    • Check out the Visitor Center ("Il Poggiolo") to find out about upcoming events.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in Marzabotto
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Into the nature. 10/04/2017
    • Well Worth a Visit 17/08/2014
    • Parco Storico di Monte Sole
    Address:
    Via Porrettana 4
    40043 Marzabotto
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 932525
    Other:
  • Save
    Orto Botanico
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    Founded in 1568, the Botanic Garden of Bologna University is one of the oldest gardens in Italy. There are millions of local and exotic plants displayed in different sections here. I particularly enjoy the ones dedicated to medicinal plants, ornamental plants, and the woods. There are also three greenhouses with tropical and succulent plants to discover.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The botanic garden closes at 3:30pm on weekdays and at 1:00pm on Saturdays. It is closed all day on Sundays.
    • Check out the program on the website before going. They often organize thematic exhibitions and guided tours on Saturday mornings.
    • If you visit the botanic garden in summer, go also to the nearby S. Filippo Re Gardens where you can find live music and food stalls.
    • Dogs are not allowed.
    Plan to stay:/
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #108 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    • In need of your help, so go! 02/01/2017
    • Not a patch on Cambridge! 28/09/2016
    • Orto Botanico
    Address:
    Via Irnerio, 42
    40126 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 209 1325
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 15:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi
    Parks
    Lara S Says:

    This park is located in the hills just outside Bologna and is famous for its chalk outcrops, karst systems, caves and the Calanchi (ravines) dell'Abbadessa. The fascinating landscape makes Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi an ideal place for passionate walkers and those who'd like to be a speleologist (cave expert) for a day!

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Wear sporty/comfortable clothing. Boots or trekking shoes are recommended.
    • Cave excursions need to be booked in advance and usually take place on weekends. Check the program online.
    • If you are traveling with children, be aware that there are age limits to access certain caves.
    • The visitor center, Casa Fantini, is located in the middle of the park and is easiest to reach by car. The nearest bus stop is 5 km away.
    • There are two tracks that are also suitable for those with disabilities.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 18 things to do in San Lazzaro di Savena
    • Finally got out of the city 🚲🎒🌳 24/03/2017
    • qua si pedala!!! 02/11/2017
    • Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi
    Address:
    Via Carlo Jussi 171
    40068 San Lazzaro di Savena
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 625 4821
    Other:
  • Save
    Quadrilatero
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Lara S Says:

    This is the old medieval market and food shopping area, whose tiny cobblestoned streets are framed within a quadrilateral area by Piazza Maggiore, via Rizzoli, via Castiglione, and via Farini. The market has occupied the same area in the city center since Roman times and is now characterized by many food shops, delicatessens, and delis that sell local products such as tortellini, mortadella, tagliatelle, and ragù.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • You can buy your lunch in one of the many delicatessens, and have a glass of wine at the Osteria del Sole. Book a table if you are in a large group.
    • Try local cured meat and cheeses with "cresentina," deep-fried bread.
    • This area is also well-known for its antique shops and designer clothing boutiques.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 348 things to do in Bologna
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • magical medieval atmosfere 03/12/2017
    • a-maze-ing 25/11/2017
    • Quadrilatero
    Address:
    via Clavature & via Pescherie Vecchie
    40124 Bologna
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 051 263411
    Other:
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