15 Best Bologna Tours

Located in northern Italy, Bologna is the capital and most populous city of the country’s Emilia-Romagna region, with about 400,000 inhabitants.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, Bologna is home to a diverse population of people from over 100 countries. It is located between the Savina and Reno rivers and borders the foothills of the Apennine Mountains.

It’s known for its amazing food, supercar makers and rich historical attractions, but it tends to have fewer tourists than other Italian cities like Rome and Venice.

Here are 15 of the best itineraries in Bologna, ranked high on many travelers’ itineraries.

1. Experience Bologna with a Local: Customized Private Party

Bologna aerial view

For those who would rather let a travel and tourism professional handle all the nasty details, this private, customizable tour of Bologna with a local guide will be perfect.

Guests simply contact the tour provider, answer a few questions about their interests and preferences, and they’ll create an itinerary for you and your travel companions.

The tour includes many of Bologna’s most important historical and cultural attractions, as well as some slightly out-of-the-way spots.

Options include excursions of two, four, six or even eight hours, starting with a brief meet and greet with a local host.

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2. Bologna themed tour: Europe’s oldest university

Palazzo Achinacio

Some tourists were surprised to learn that the oldest university in Europe is not in the UK or France, but in Bologna, Italy.

Founded in the 11th century, the University of Bologna has many attractions on campus, including monuments to founders, teachers and students dating back to the Middle Ages.

On this priceless two-and-a-half-hour themed tour, guests will follow an experienced local guide to explore many of the historic city’s most iconic sights.

The tour also includes the Renaissance Palace and the Archiginnasio Palace.

Food, drinks and tickets are not included, so bring a few extra bucks.

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3. Downtown Walking Tour

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

For those who don’t want to waste precious vacation time cramming into a bus full of enthusiastic tourists, walking tours are a great way to see things up close and learn how Bologna is laid out.

The tour starts in Piazza del Nettuno, located in the city center. After a brief tour overview, participants will begin exploring the city’s attractions, including Piazza Maggiore, the Basilica of San Pietroño, and the world’s oldest library in Piazza San Stefano.

Although the Mediterranean climate is relatively mild, the weather can get warm, so if you will be visiting in summer, it is best to dress appropriately and bring a hat and sunglasses.

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4. Full Day Ferrari Experience

Ferrari Museum in Maranello

With powerful engines, sleek lines and hefty price tags, Ferrari’s cars aren’t everyday cars. But for those visiting Bologna, there are many inexpensive ways to experience them in all their glory.

This full-day tour is all about the iconic Italian automaker, and at its heart is the official Ferrari Museum on Maranello Road.

Each outing includes a guided factory and testing tour, as well as a trip to Enzo Ferrari’s home in Modeno, after which everyone will head out to a local farm just outside the city for a traditional lunch.

Tours last about eight hours and include a moderate amount of walking.

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5. Red bus city tour and local food tasting

Borgona's Red Bus City Tour

The weather in Bologna is perfect for outdoor activities most of the year. For those who don’t want to spend a lot of energy walking or cycling, an open-air bus tour of the city is an excellent option.

The Red Bus Tour offers audio guides in multiple languages. At each attraction, guests get a historical overview of what they’ve seen and decide if they want to leave and take a closer look.

The tour includes optional food tastings and stops at the Basilica of San Pietroño, Palazzo dei Notai, and Palazzo Comunale, to name a few.

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6. 3-Hour Secret Food Tour

Bologna Food Tour

Bologna’s Quadrilatero neighborhood, one of the city’s foodie hotspots, happens to be the starting point for this popular 3-hour secret food tour.

While many food tours tend to head to well-known locations, this time the focus is on those with less traffic.

That means more memorable and authentic experiences, as well as the chance to mingle with locals, learn about the city’s history and culture, and sample amazing traditional and modern cuisine.

The tour includes six stops and samples of everything from aged balsamic vinegar and Parmesan Reggiano cheese to homemade pasta and cured meats.

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7. Private and Personalized Best Walking Experience in Bologna

old town of bologna

In the US at least, we usually associate Bologna with the over-processed mystery meat logs produced in places like Kansas City and New Jersey.

Thankfully, Bologna, Italy, bears no resemblance to the above.

In fact, it is an exotic place known for its stunning natural beauty, rich historical attractions, friendly people and vibrant cuisine. A private and personalized walking tour like this is probably the best experience.

The tour includes a customizable itinerary, the services of a local guide, and pick-up from your accommodation in Bologna.

Expect to get away from other tourists, rub shoulders with the locals, and see the city from a unique perspective.

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8. Torre degli Asinelli and Food Tasting

Torre de Griacinelli

Built more than 900 years ago and reaching nearly 300 feet into the blue sky, Torre degli Asinelli is Italy’s tallest tower and one of Bologna’s main attractions.

For those with the courage and perseverance to reach the summit, it will take almost 500 steps, but the views are extraordinary and worth the effort.

After visiting and learning about the tour, guests will enjoy gourmet tastings including traditional local, regional and national dishes such as pasta, cheese and baked goods.

The entrance fee to the tower is included, and guests will receive an ice cream voucher to enjoy later after the tour.

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9. Cooking class and dinner with a local chef

Bologna cooking class

Italians love to eat, and many of them are equally keen to share their culture and cuisine with tourists from all over the world.

For those who consider themselves die-hard foodies and amateur chefs, this cooking class and dinner with a selection of local chefs is a great way to have a fun, engaging and educational evening.

The event centres on Bologna cuisine, which naturally includes the preparation of traditional pastas and sauces using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Also includes wine, camaraderie, hands-on kitchen time, three-course meals and warm Italian hospitality.

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10. LGBT Bologna: Book a local and like-minded friend

Fontana di Nettuno in Bologna

It’s often said that money can’t buy friends, but this LGBT-focused tour of Bologna offers visitors the opportunity to do just that.

Forget traditional travel guides with canned narratives and rigid itineraries; this private, personalized tour option is customizable and geared toward globe-trotting LGBT people.

Before booking, potential participants will answer some questions about their interests and preferences. Soon they will receive itinerary and information from like-minded guides.

Tours depart from one convenient location, and at any point during the tour, the guide and guests can jointly decide to change things if the collective spirit moves them.

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11. Delicious Italian Food and Wine Tour with Long Lunch

Bologna Food and Wine Tour

Love a delicious Italian meal and a leisurely lunch in an idyllic setting?

If so, the pre-tour survey is officially complete, and it’s time to dig into what made this eight-hour tour so popular.

First and foremost, it’s all about Bologna’s cultural and culinary traditions, including local food guides and pick-up and drop-off from multiple convenient locations in central Bologna.

Guests will visit the facility that produces Parmesan, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and wine.

They’ll learn how these staples of Italian cuisine are made, taste them to their heart’s content, and enjoy an epic six-course lunch and wine at the family-run restaurant.

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12. Ferrari, Pagani and Lamborghini Museum and Factory Tours

Lamborghini Museum

When it comes to having more supercar makers than anywhere else in the world, Italy is clearly a standout.

Home to world-renowned brands such as Ferrari, Pagani, Lamborghini, and more, Bologna and the surrounding area is like a playground for car lovers from near and far.

The tour includes an English-speaking guide, pickup from the train station, airport, or hotels in Bologna, as well as visits to the factories and museums of the aforementioned car manufacturers.

Test drives at each location are optional. As exciting as they are, they may not be suitable for those on a budget.

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13. FICO Eataly World 1-Hour Tour

FICO Eataly World

FICO Eataly World in Bologna is a one-stop attraction for those who want to maximize their exposure to the wonders of Italian gastronomy without spending a whole day.

This one-hour guided tour covers all aspects of agriculture, history, culture and food. Despite its short length, it is often considered one of the most memorable experiences for tourists.

The facility includes dozens of restaurants and cafes, street food vendors, as well as markets and shops, offering a truly unique experience.

Due to the expanse of FICO Eataly, many tourists choose to visit again in the following days, which is a particularly big hit for those travelling with children.

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14. Take the train from Bologna to the Basilica of San Luca and taste the food

Cathedral of San Luca

Regardless of age and interests, it is common for many tourists to spend all their holidays in Bologna without venturing into the country.

For some, however, day trips and outings are a fun way to broaden your horizons and get away from the urban environment.

This combined train and food tour starts and ends in Bologna and includes an audio guide in eight languages, available multiple times a day.

Each guest is given a train timetable before departure, so they can explore San Luca Cathedral and other attractions at their own pace without fear of falling behind.

Guests can also receive coupons for gourmet tastings.

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15. 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Cathedral of San Petronio

An excursion like this three-hour walking option is a great way to experience Bologna without spending a whole day.

Many of Bologna’s landmarks and attractions are located in the city center, which makes it relatively easy to combine them with each other.

On this tour, guests will see the Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Maggiore and Mercato de Mezzo – one of the city’s main gastronomic attractions, where many residents and restaurateurs buy their ingredients every day.

For those looking to take things to the next level, take advantage of options at extra cost, such as food and wine tastings and a visit to Archiginnasio’s Anatomy Theater.

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