Flights to Bologna (BLQ)

Flights to Bologna touch down in an energetic university town boasting architectural masterpieces and some of Italy’s best cuisine.

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Flights to Bologna

Rome and Florence may get more attention and more visitors, but underrate Bologna at your own risk.

Once your flight to Bologna lands, you’ll likely spend your days in the city walking from cafe to gelateria to pasta restaurant to pizzeria. You might leave a little heavier, but you won’t regret it. You can burn off some of those calories with a trek to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, a basilica that looks out over the city from the top of a hill, with 666 arches that connect it to the city walls. Or walk through the historic centre, which, with its exceptional medieval architecture and gorgeous piazzas, deserves ample time dedicated to exploring its infinite exquisite details.

The city’s red roofs and nearly 40km of arcades make this the perfect place for photo opportunities, but take time out from admiring the architecture to try a pasta-making class, explore a museum, or spend a couple of hours in the botanical gardens. The city is overflowing with hidden delights that are well worth exploring.

Wander around the Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca

A short drive or 30-minute walk from the city centre, this magnificent 18th century basilica is connected to the city walls by a portico of 666 arches. There is a group of churches here that are worth spending an afternoon wandering through, and the atmosphere and setting are refreshingly peaceful.

Via di San Luca 36
+39 51 648 0611

Marvel at the Two Towers

Leaning towers are a bit of a theme in Italy, and Bologna’s got two. Climb to the top of the tallest one, Asinelli Tower (498 narrow steps up, at a lean of 1.3m) for a fabulous city view. The towers, the dominant symbol of Bologna, date back to the early 12th century and the second, shorter one (the Garisenda Tower) has a precarious 3.2m lean.

Piazza di Porta Ravegnana

Take a tour of Orto Botanico (Botanical Gardens)

The botanical gardens are part of the University of Bologna and they have an interesting history that dates back to the 1500s, when they functioned as a centre for growing medicinal herbs. At certain times of the year there are guided tours, which can be invaluable in identifying the more unusual varieties of the 5,000 species on display.

Via Orto Botanico 15
+39 49 827 2133 
(Italian language website)

Explore the Piazza Maggiore

This city square is the heart of Bologna, with its medieval city hall, a surfeit of gorgeous churches and a handful of touristy cafes that are still worth visiting, if only for the view. Come here to see Neptune’s Fountain (Fontana di Nettuno), test the ‘whispering walls’ with a friend, marvel at the enormous Basilica of San Petronio, or simply sip a cappuccino and take in the ancient grandeur.

Piazza Maggiore
+39 51 239 660

Take a pasta-making class at the Culinary Institute of Bologna

Learn how to make pasta at the Culinary Institute of Bologna, where professional chefs will take you shopping to local markets and teach you the art of Bologna’s incredible tagliatelle, pappardelle, and tagliolini. Classes range from one hour to multi-day, and there’s even one for vegetarians.

Via Righi Augusto 30B
+39 51 056 6087

Sample a sweet treat at Gelato Museum Carpigiani

Yes, there’s an entire museum in Bologna dedicated to gelato. It opened in 2012 with exhibits covering the ice cream’s long and illustrious history, guided and interactive tours, gelato workshops and tastings. Tours are required and reservations are a must.

Via Emilia 45
+39 51 650 5306

Mercato di Mezzo (Market)

Renovated in 2014, this magnificent mercato has been a market since the Middle Ages. Now, it’s one of the best places to sample the gastronomic offerings of Bologna, with a slew of stalls and vendors selling everything from fruit and bread to pasta and pastry, as well as hosting plenty of restaurant options. It’s open all day until midnight.

Via Clavature 12
+39 51 228 782

Caminetto d’Oro (Italian)

This simply decorated restaurant has been a local favourite for more than 80 years. The breads and pastas are all made here, and if you’re craving some protein, the steaks, from locally raised cows, are top-notch. The food, while traditional, still has a dash of creativity, which can be seen in dishes such as the chickpeas and codfish with candied lemon.

Via dè Falegnami 4
+39 51 263 494 
(Italian language website)

Ristorante Pappagallo (Italian)

‘The Parrot’ is a classic, deservedly so, and it’s conveniently located right in the city centre. The menu, which might include anything from tortellini in a capon broth to a classic tagliatelle with ragú, is traditionally Bolognese, but with the occasional modern twist to surprise you.

Piazza della Mercanzia 3
+39 51 232 807

Il Gelatauro (Gelateria)

Pumpkin and cinnamon gelato? Fennel seed flavour? A mix called ‘shepherd’s cream’, made with ricotta, eggs and coffee grounds? A thousand times yes. This exceptional gelato shop also sells excellent cakes (made in-house) and coffee.

Via San Vitale 98
+39 51 230 049

Drogheria della Rosa (Italian)

Once an apothecary, now a much-beloved restaurant where the house-made pasta is just one of the Bolognese dishes on the menu. Fresh seafood, stuffed tortelli and eggplant ravioli are all excellent, as is the mascarpone for dessert. The decor is suitably old-fashioned and pays homage to the restaurant’s previous incarnation.

Via Cartoleria 10
+39 51 222 529

Alce Nero Berberè (Cafe)

Truly exceptional pizza is on the table at this chic cafe-cum-deli. The owners have dedicated considerable time and energy into developing a light pizza made with a mix of healthy flours like rye and spelt, and topped with burrata, Swiss chard or blue cheese.

Via Giuseppe Petroni 9C
+39 51 275 9196

Grand Hotel Majestic Già Baglioni

The 18th century charm of this hotel is considerable, with rooms boasting chandeliers, elegant mouldings and luxurious fabrics – in addition to free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. An excellent breakfast is served in your room or outdoors, so partake before making the short walk to Bologna’s main sights.

Via Indipendenza 8
+39 51 225 445

I Portici Hotel

I Portici is a hotel built inside a palazzo from the 1800s, and its rooms are either simple and very modern or restored and decorated with frescoes and parquet floors. Either way, they’re comfy and occasionally available at very good rates. The hotel’s food and beverage options are on point in every respect, and the flagship restaurant has a Michelin star.

Via Indipendenza 69
+39 51 42185

Art Hotel Novecento

A newish, modern hotel in the city centre, the Novocento has a very cool 1930s design and just 25 rooms, some of which have balconies with stunning views, especially at night. There are large suites in the adjacent building.

Piazza Galileo 4/3
+39 51 745 7311

Bologna Center Town B&B and Guest House

Large, clean rooms with parquet floors, beds and not much else – that’s Center Town in a nutshell. A great budget choice, especially for the location (you can walk from the train station in seven minutes), but book ahead as there are just three rooms. Breakfast, served in your room, is included.

Via Guglielmo Marconi 28
+39 331 273 1318

Hotel Porta San Mamolo

The friendly staff are the big draw at this small hotel, which is bursting at the seams with Old World charm. Close to the Piazza Maggiore, the hotel offers clean, old-fashioned rooms with polished wooden floors and striped wallpaper, a charming garden and a breakfast that gets rave reviews.

Vicolo del Falcone 6/8
+39 51 583 056

Il Convento dei Fiori di Seta

A convent way back in the 15th century, this lovely hotel is intimate and comfortable, with minimalist chic furnishings that don’t distract too much from the restored stone walls and vaulted ceilings. An unusual and beautiful place to stay, there are just ten rooms but plenty of amenities to boot.

Via Orfeo 34/4
+39 51 272 039

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