Bologna, the main city in Emilia Romagna, is also called the red, the fat and the learned, due to the colors of the buildings, the excellent food, and the oldest university in the World. As a result, it’s obvious that in a city like Bologna there are many things to visit because it is very ancient.

In this article, you will find a guide on what to do in Bologna on a weekend, the best things to do, and to visit.

The historical center of Bologna

The historical center of Bologna is the oldest part of the town. Even though it dates back to the Roman period, the center has a medieval appearance, as it developed during the Middle Ages.

Since it’s the oldest zone in the city, it’s also the one with the most attractions, such as the squares and the churches.

Piazza Maggiore

The main square in Bologna, Piazza Maggiore, is where there are many important attractions of the city.

It is overlooked by the Basilica of San Petronio, one of the biggest churches in Europe, in gothic architecture. Furthermore, in the square, there are also other important monuments of Bologna, such as Palazzo d’Accursio, Palazzo del Podestà e Palazzo dei Notai.

Basilica of San Petronio

Basilica of San Petronio is the biggest church in Bologna and one of the biggest in Europe. It’s the last big gothic architecture in Italy, as it was started in 1390 and never completed. In fact, the facade is incomplete, which is also its peculiarity. There is a layer covered with marble, and the upper one still shows the bricks.

Fun fact: the Basilica has always been property of the Comune of Bologna and it passed to the Vatican State only in 1919, with the Lateran Treaty.


Archiginnasio is one of the most beautiful palaces in Bologna, which was commissioned by the Cardinal Borromeo with the aim of giving beautiful headquarters to the oldest university in the world. In the palace, there is a big arcade, which was decorated with emblems and frescoes. The palace is open to visitors, but the library is only accessible to students.

Piazza Nettuno

Piazza Nettuno is another important square in Bologna, and it takes the name from the statue at its center: the statue of Neptune. The statue is so big that Bolognese people call it the Giant, as it represents the greatness of the city.

Two towers

The two towers are among the symbols of Bologna, as they had an old military function as well as prestige. Nowadays there are only twenty towers left, and the most important ones are Torre degli Asinelli and Torre della Garisenda. The first one is more famous, as it is also the tallest leaning tower in Italy. So, it was used to watch the enemies.

Piazza Santo Stefano

Piazza Santo Stefano is a square in Bologna, overlooked by the Basilica of Santo Stefano, which is actually a complex of seven religious buildings. In fact, there are Basilica del Santo Sepolcro, Chiesa del Crocifisso and Chiostro Medievale, together with other important buildings.

A walk among the Jewish district and the university district

Even though you are not a university student anymore, a walk among the university district is always a good idea. Exploring via Zamboni and the surrounding area, you will come across many cafes and restaurants, where you can sit and drink a coffee in good company. Moreover, next to Via Zamboni, there is the Jewish District, a neighborhood that can be defined as a city in the city. There are many colorful houses and channels, as well as art galleries and shops.

National Art Gallery of Bologna

The National Art Gallery of Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna) hosts one of the most important collections of painting in Italy. You can come across many important painters, such as Raffaello, Tintoretto, Parmigianino, and Vasari. There are 30 exhibiting rooms, but the gallery has also the function of preserving regional art.

Bolognina district

The Bolognina district is very multicultural, one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Bologna. Here you can find typical Bolognese trattorias as well as ethnic restaurants, an anti-conformist and artistic environment. So, walking among this district is really worth it, as you can also admire the street art of Bologna.

May 27th, 2021