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Day trips from Bologna: 16 best things to do in Emilia Romagna

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Updated: 25th July 2023

You don’t just travel to Italy; you get consumed by Italy; the words stumbled out of my mouth as I tried to explain why it was one of my favourite countries and, in that particular moment, to express my admiration for all the incredible places to visit in Emilia Romagna.

The people, the passion, the food (oh boy, the food), the panoramas, the serenity; something about the lifestyle in this northern Italian region captures your heartstrings and reels them in. Emilia Romagna offers a fantastic blend of culinary treats, architectural wonders and art-based attractions, all wrapped up in some incredible day trips from Bologna, the regional capital. 

After multiple trips – there are so many top things to do in Emilia Romagna, one visit won’t be enough – exploring from the seaside towns to the hills of olive trees, I still know there are plenty more of Italy’s hidden gems to discover here.

Here are some of my top things to do in Emilia Romagna, many of which are possible as day trips from Bologna by train.


While this article is packed with day trips from Bologna, for those who are researching the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna, I better start by mentioning the region’s delicious and centre-stage capital city.

Sadly, Bologna is often overshadowed by the numerous other best cities in Italy, such as Venice, Rome and Milan. However, this city is seriously a star.

With the most extensive collection of porticos (covered arched walkways) in the world, imposing leaning towers – even more so than Pisa – littering the city, a hill-top monastery and countless restaurants, bars and markets serving up delicious treats around the clock, this is one epic city break.

The architecture throughout the city is outstanding, and the overall vibe is one of youthful energy alongside an aged environment; it’s romantic, but it’s also a buzzing university city – the oldest in Europe, in fact – and that gives the city a real mix of culture and cuisine.

You can read about how to enjoy a weekend in Bologna here, but for now, let’s dive into the best day trips from Bologna. Just don’t forget to book your train tickets and any line-skipping entrance passes in advance to maximise your time.

Brisighella surrounded by verdant hills

Best day trips from Bologna

These are some of the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna that can be enjoyed on a relatively quick and easy day trip from Bologna. Of course, they all are equally as deserving of a longer visit, so if you have the time, try to combine these places together as an extender road – or bus and rail – trip around Emilia Romagna.


When you think of Italy from the movies – you know the one: hair flying in convertible cars, verdant green hills of vines, castles towering above little ochre-roof towns – you’re essentially thinking of Brisighella. This medieval ltown is one of the best hidden gems of Europe.

Brisighella was my first day trip in Emilia Romagna, and it set the bar high. The picturesque streets with little cafes and gelato shops sit under the three hills of the town, each crowned by something else; one clocktower, one castle and one church. You can enjoy a casual stroll between the three and visit them before noshing down on all the gelato below. We saw one little tourist group there, but other than that, on a blissfully sunny June day, it was devoid of tourists.

Be sure to check out the surroundings, including the old quarry caves, which now host live music performances underground. The excavation site of the old castle which offers terrific panoramic views. Finally, head to the mountains for some fantastic fresh food and fresh air at the Parco Carnè visitor centre.

Top things to do in Brisighella, Emilia Romagna

  • Visit the hill-topping clocktower for some magnificent views
  • Climb the Torre Manfrediana (get access with a guide)
  • Get lost in the beautiful old town, and don’t miss the Via degli Asini, an ancient wooden-beamed portico
  • Tour the underground quarries or enjoy a seasonal concert
  • Head into the nearby hills for rural food and trails

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By train or car, the journey will take a little over an hour. If you’re using public transport you will need to change trains in Faenza. Don’t let this deter you; Brisighella is perhaps the best day trip from Bologna.

Read more: Exploring Brisighella, Emilia Romagna


If you visit Ravenna as a day trip from Bologna, be sure to give yourself enough time here as I wish I had been able to explore the plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Site protected artwork more in-depth. Luckily, I’ve since been able to return for a weekend in Ravenna, and If we’re being honest, at least two days are needed to start to do the city justice. Yet, with a fast-paced itinerary, it can mostly ‘be done’ as a day trip, although you may want to join a group tour of the UNESCO mosaics to manage your time best.

This is one of my favourites, and hands-down perhaps the best place to visit in Emilia Romagna other than Bologna. Famed for its historical and mesmerising colourful mosaics, which can be found on walls, inside churches and hiding down little alleys, it’s an intricate treat.

With a vast collection of religious buildings – and either UNESCO inscribed monuments – you’ll be busy. The outstanding Mausoleum di Teodorico, a 6th-century tomb for a king, it’s one of the standouts. Don’t miss the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare near the train station, easily missed if you’re making a beeline to the city centre. 

Top things to do in Ravenna, Emilia Romagna

  • The mosaics in Basilica di San Vitale are one of the best things to do in Emilia Romagna
  • Be sure to head inside Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe; the grand architecture is home to Byzantine art
  • Katun is a large theme park just outside the city, a fun way to entertain kids who may need a break from the architecture overload
  • The 6th-century Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo is a real sight to behold
  • Squeeze in another UNESCO-listed site, the 5th-century Battistero degli Ariani, if time allows

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By train or car, getting to Ravenna will take just over an hour.

Cesenatico, Emilia Romagna
The cute canals of Cesenatico, Emilia Romagna


Cesenatico was one of those places where I just pointed at a map and went with no real research (it’s one of my best skills in life). I had wanted to visit the charming canals of Comacchio, which had been touted as a ‘Venice without the people’, but time was not on my side.

Luckily, quaint Cesenatico is an ideal day trip from Bologna. Sure, it has a beach on the Adriatic – and a little out of the centre, you’ll find some more untouched sands – but the real charm is in the compact core, regarded as one of the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna.

Adorable would be a fair word to describe this small town. With colourful houses lining the few small canals, a maritime museum, and enough laid-back little restaurants, Cesenatico is a good size for a day trip from Bologna.

Top things to do in Cesenatico, Emilia Romagna

  • Relax alongside the pretty central canal, Porto Canale Leonardesco
  • Visit the maritime (and Da Vinci) museum, Presepe della Marineria
  • Head to the beach and top up your tan 

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By train, it will take around 90 minutes each way to Cesenatico from Bologna.

The historic streets of Ferrara


I’m gonna be honest, my friend Janet and I spent (too) much of our time in Ferrara drinking wine, Aperol and anything else we could use to ‘rehydrate’. While this large city has plenty going on it also seemed like the perfect place to have a lazy day of sightseeing and bar-hopping.

Start your day off in the striking centre at the Castello Estense and marvel at the interior artwork before taking in the city from the viewing tower. Then visit the Palazzo dei Diamanti which holds the renowned National Picture Gallery.

The city is split between medieval and renaissance art, and you can easily hire a bike as part of your day trip from Bologna to hop between both sides and see the contrast of the little streets change as you ride through.

Just don’t get as tipsy as me and miss your train back to Bologna!

Top things to do in Ferrara, Emilia Romagna

  • Visit The Este Palace – the photo opportunities from the roof terrace are fantastic, and it’s one of the top things to do in Emilia Romagna
  • Explore the city walls by bicycle
  • Admire the Cathedral of Ferrara for its ornate decoration
  • Head to Volte, a cobbled Roman street, to see another side of the city away from the Renaissance architecture
  • Take time to enjoy Aperitivo cocktail hour – there is a lively atmosphere thanks to the university 

Make it a day trip from Bologna: This is a super easy day trip, as the train takes less than 30 minutes.

Read more: Exploring the history of Ferrara by bicycle


Modena is famous for two things: Fast cars and Balsamic Vinegar. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take a day trip here. It’s also pretty and one of the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna. While the Ferraris and Lamborghini which you can book to test drive provide a contrast to the more classical opera scene, there are plenty of impressive sights to enjoy.

The Torre della Ghirlandia –  a giant bell tower – is perhaps the most famous and imposing, offering panoramic views of the city. The Roman castle nearby also completes the impressive central square.

For those who are into art and sophisticated architecture, this might actually be one of the best day trips in Emilia Romagna. With multiple museums and palaces which date back over a thousand years, you can slowly hop between each sight while stopping for coffee refills as needed. The Galleria Estense is a notable must-visit for its painting collection from the 14th century onwards.

Top things to do in Modena, Emilia Romagna

  • The Duomo di Modena, with its bell tower, should be your first port of call
  • Learn about the history and methods of Modena Balsamic Vinegar with a visit to one of the old production houses, one of the best things to do in Emilia Romagna
  • Tour Galleria Estense to view a vast array of paintings dating from the 14th century
  • Visit the Mercato Albinelli to see some of the best regional produce and daily life
  • Hit up one of the fast car museums and manufacturers, such as Ferrari, just outside the city

Make it a day trip from Bologna: Modena is quick and easy to reach, taking just 17 minutes on the fastest train service.

Architecture and coast collide in Rimini


Rimini is a city of many things to many people, and is enjoying something a rebirth. That means, for some, it’s a great base, while others may see it as somewhere to avoid. As such, I recommend meeting in the middle by having a day trip from Bologna here.

If you are after sun, sea, sand and some nightlife, then Rimini offers these in buckets and spades, but you can also take to the old streets and discover another side. From 13th-century churches and historic bridges to Roman excavation sites and perfect for people-watching piazzas, it’s a city with its own character.

Personally, I didn’t rate Rimini as highly as some of the other best places to visit in Emilia Romagna, but don’t let that discourage you; as I said, for many, this is somewhere not to miss.

Top things to do in Rimini, Emilia Romagna

  • Walk under the imposing city entrance, the Arch of Augustus, a slice of Roman architecture
  • Visit the 13th-century Malatestiano Temple
  • Enjoy the long stretches of golden beach sands
  • Take the kids to Italia in Miniatura, a mini land of many Italian attractions, or a seaside amusement park, Fiabilandia
  • Admire Ponte di Tiberio, one of the most iconic bridges in the country

Make it a day trip from Bologna: Rimini can be reached from Bologna in less than an hour using high-speed rail.

A trio of historic buildings occupy an old square in Parma


When it comes to foodie destionations the world should be grateful for, send your thanks for Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) and Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham) right here.

A buzzing city, and one of the largest in the region, Parma is a captivating cocktail of historic buildings and storied culture shaken up with a university atmosphere.

Perhaps the most unique and striking of the city’s architecture is the Baptistery of Parma. The incredible pink marble exterior and unique design really astound me. Just next door, when you step into the cathedral, you’ll find a dazzling display of art across the ceilings and walls that puts many other churches to shame.

Culture and the arts are especially highlighted here, from the 19th-century opera house with its magical performances to the much older wooden theatre, which still draws in crowds.

Parma might be a destination you head to for the food, but there is plenty more to discover. While it’s an easy day trip from Bologna, the city could also lend itself to a two-day visit. If you’re pushed for time, you might want to book a full-day food tour so you can arrive by train, and then quickly get into all the tasty treats.

Top things to do in Parma, Emilia Romagna

  • Take a tour of a Parmigiano Reggiano factory to see this famous cheese being produced
  • Visit the unique Baptistery of Parma, with its marble exterior
  • Tour the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata, full of incredible frescos
  • See the Governor’s Palace illuminated at night
  • Head inside the Cattedrale di Parma, one of the most impressive in the region
  • Sample Prosciutto di Parma at its source

Make it a day trip from Bologna: You can easily reach Parma from Bologna in less than an hour by rail. 

Reggio Emilia

When I ventured to an almost deserted Reggio Emilia on a chilly Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but warm to its charm. A quick and easy day trip from Bologna, this quieter city might not have as many bold claims as its neighbours, but it’s the perfect place to soak up a laid-back Emilia Romagna vibe.

As with many of the region’s cities, it’s the food and architecture that makes a trip to Reggio Emilia worth it. Inside the imposing Santa Maria cathedral, you’ll find the remains of a Roman floor mosaic while the 17th-century facades across the city complement the multicoloured pastel hues of the various buildings and porticos.

I got the feeling that Reggio Emilia isn’t as used to seeing tourists as other parts of the region, and while I think the residents of Emilia Romagna are some of the most friendly and welcoming in Italy, in Reggio Emilia, the hospitality from those I met was heightened. The tricolour flag that we now know as the Italian flag also hails from this city, and a selection of smaller museums and ancient sites can also be visited.

Top things to do in Reggio Emilia, Emilia Romagna

  • See the mosaic in Santa Maria Cathedral
  • Head inside the Basilica della Ghiara, for one of the most impressive spots in the city
  • Visit The San Prospero Church, mainly for the people-watching cafes on the terraces in front

Make it a day trip from Bologna: The journey by train takes between 22-30 minutes, depending on the type of service.

One of the San Marino towers at sunset
San Marino, a country inside Emilia Romagna

Further afield day trips from Bologna

If you have a car and don’t mind making it a long day – aim for late spring until early autumn, when the days are the longest – then these places could work as a day trip from Bologna. However, given these are some of the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna, they would be best for at least an overnight stay.

San Marino

To avoid any doubt, San Marino is no longer Italy, and yes, one of the best things to do in Emilia Romagna is to go to another country!

But given Emilia Romagna surrounds it, it’s a must-do while you’re here, although a day trip from Bologna would be rather intense. 

In fact, I’d suggest you stay overnight. This tiny republic is the 5th smallest country in the world and the least visited in Europe, and post-sunset when the day visitors depart, you have the most magical ancient experience walking its old city without any crowds.

San Marino
San Marino’s National Stadium

It’s a truly fascinating place being one of the oldest republics in the world. Italy surrounds it but is not part of the EU (although it has no borders). They use the Euro and have individual San Marino coins. They have two presidents at any time who serve six months each. They have their own calendar. You get the point, it’s a pretty unique place, and as such, you should certainly make the time when planning your Emilia Romagna day trips to fit it in.

Top things to do in San Marino

  • Visit the three towers which crown the Città di San Marino
  • Tour the collection of fascinating and sometimes bizarre museums
  • Experience the oldest part of the country at dusk when all the day trippers have left
  • Learn about the nation’s intriguing calendar, politics and national sport
  • Soak up the feeling of being in the ‘best places to visit in Emilia Romagna’ while no longer even being in Italy

Make it a day trip from Bologna: Allow around two hours by car each way. By public transport, you’ll first need to get to Rimini (around an hour by train) and then take the bus (approximately 50 minutes) up to San Marino. There are no border checks or anything like that to worry about. If there are a few of you, a private tour from Bologna might be a quicker option, as you could split the cost.

Read more: Why you shouldn’t day trip San Marino but stay overnight


It took me a few visits to Emilia Romagna before I finally made it to Comacchio, but it was certainly worth the wait! Comacchio isn’t the most accessible place to get to in Emilia Romagna as it does not have a train station, but whether you hire a car or make it here by bus, it’s well worth taking a detour for!

Often billed as ‘Little Venice’ due to it being close to the Veneto border, it comes complete with canals and remains relatively devoid of tourists. This is an ideal base to explore the local nature, such as the Po Delta.

The main town itself is everything you would expect: mirror-like canals reflecting colourful buildings, streets lined with excellent restaurants and bars, and the joy of not being too crowded by tourists. It’s well worth hiring a bike to explore the local area and the Po Delta after you’ve enjoyed a couple of chilled days and sampled the local fish speciality, eel and clams.

Top things to do in Comacchio, Emilia Romagna

  • Walk the canals and bridges, hunting out cute corners
  • Admire the ancient ship inside the Museo Delta Antico
  • Hire a bike and spot flamingos in the saltpans 
  • Try the local delicacy eel – they even have an annual eel festival

Make it a day trip from Bologna: With no train station, a car journey of around 80 minutes is the easiest. On public transport, it is possible as a day trip, though you’ll need to really plan to not miss the return journey. First, take a train to Ferrara and then another to Ostellato before changing to a local bus. Alternatively, you can head to Ravenna and take a local bus from there.

Read more: Comacchio and the Po Delta

Po Delta Nature Park

The Po Delta Nature Park straddles both the Emilia Romagna and Veneto regions. While this could be an intense day trip from Bologna, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Emilia Romagna, and indeed Italy.

Thus, you may want to stay for some nights.  I checked in at the Spiaggia Romea Club Village. This large resort, with pools, water sports, horse riding and a range of accommodations is set in a beautiful area that has been preserved by the current owners. Earmarked initially to be property development, the land was all brought, and the resort takes up just a fraction, leaving the rest of the area to nature and wildlife to blossom; an electric golf cart can take you on a ‘mini-safari’ through this part of the park.

But the real magic lies in the lagoons and saltworks of the park just outside Comacchio town. Whether you opt to cycle, take a boat, or both, the views are made more special by the flamingos that can be found on the lake. Although a migration spot, there are now permanent flocks of flamingos who have set up their home here.

Other options in the Po Delta National Park include heading to the Sacca di Goro by the Veneto border to see traditional clam fishing with the ‘rasca’ (although this is quite a detour, so, not ideal if you are short on time) or relaxing in one of the spa and wellness facilities.

Top things to do in the Po Delta Nature Park, Emilia Romagna

  • Watch birds dance above the lagoons and saltpans 
  • Take a boat tour to see flamingos and the traditional stilt fishing huts
  • Spot wildlife, or horse ride, through the protected park 
  • See traditional clam fishing use a ‘rasca’ in the Sacca di Goro

Make it a day trip from Bologna: With a car, you’d want to allow around two hours each way. By public transport, it wouldn’t really work as a day trip.

Read more: Comacchio and the Po Delta

The National Park of the Forest with Clouds in Emilia Romagna
Walking amongst the clouds and region border

Best places to visit in Emilia Romagna for a longer stay

Given the distance from Bologna, the logistics, and the experience you’ll have in these Emilia Romagna destinations, I recommend planning enough time to enjoy these spots.

At Cala Zingaro beach you'll find umbrellas and 'wild' empty sands
At Cala Zingaro beach you’ll find umbrellas and ‘wild’ empty sands

Cervia and Milano Marittima

Along Emilia Romagna’s coast sits Cervia, a city steeped in salt history. The slightly sweet salt produced here is so treasured it’s called white gold. But that’s not all; once upon a time, the Pope himself owned all of it and the land, and even now still gets an annual delivery.

Across salt pans dotted with flamingos, interesting historical museums, and a network of canals, towers and salt warehouses, you can learn the history of what put Cervia on the map. Though for many locals nowadays the main draw is actually the beaches.

A beloved summer getaway, the sands between Milano Marittima and Cervia offer everything from empty wild spots to concessions lined with parasols and sunloungers – plus plenty of beach bars and clubs. In fact, Milano Marittima was basically built to be a holiday resort town for wealthy people escaping the city heat of Milan. With plenty of flowery gardens, luxury hotels, and seafood restaurants, this is a great spot to break up your tour of all the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna with a bit of beach relaxation.

Top things to do in Cervia and Milano Marittima, Emilia Romagna

  • Spot flamingos and the learn the city’s salt history at the salt pans
  • Visit the MUSA museum to fill in the gaps
  • Eat delicious seafood – especially Cervia’s mussels – which differs from inland Romagna
  • Laze on the beaches around Milano Marittima

Make it a day trip from Bologna: You can reach Cervia in around 90 minutes by train from Bologna and enjoy a fast-paced day on the beach and salt pans. However, I’d suggest this is a better spot to enjoy a holiday on the Emilia Romagna Riviera rather than rush.

Read more: Things to do in Cervia and Milano Marittima

Various renovated buildings in Cervia have salt connections
Various renovated buildings in Cervia have salt connections

The Casentinesi Forest National Park

Amongst the Casentinesi Forest National Park, you’ll find some cute villages worth calling at, so you can easily combine a stay in Bagno di Romagna (below) with some other spots on a road trip to lesser-known Emilia Romagna. This part of the region borders Tuscany, so another option is to continue on to the likes of Florence.

There is an array of activities you can do in the park, such as hiking through the deer-inhabited forest while hunting for mushrooms, and these activities can be arranged through local guides. Be sure to stop off at one of the agriturismo restaurants here, where the produce is local and cooked family-style. I had a delightful meal in Poderone where we gorged on beetroot-infused pasta, traditional ragu, and plate upon plate of local vegetables.

Another popular option in the park is to go E-Mountain Biking, especially around the Ridracoli Dam, with bike tours starting from the Idro Eco-Museum, which details how the water and dam work in harmony with nature in the local area. Although a lot of the region’s drinking water runs through this dam, you can cycle through the mountains and around the water and even head out onto the dam by boat or Kayak. In the summer season, cafes and shops are also to be found here.

Top things to do in The Casentinesi Forest National Park, Emilia Romagna

  • Forage for mushrooms in season in the forest
  • Stay, and eat at a rural farm-style lodge called an agriturismo
  • Take a mountain bike tour through the forest
  • Kayak on the Ridracoli Dam in the summer

Make it a day trip from Bologna: You’re looking at a rather long journey, with a train to Forlì followed by a slower local bus. By car, it’s possible, but as this is one of the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna to relax and connect with nature, it might seem a bit rushed on a day trip.

Bagno di Romagna

Nestled amongst the mountains of the Casentinesi Forest National Park, you’ll find Bagno di Romagna. Charming and compact, the town is renowned locally for the many thermal spa hotels and resorts here. Not that well known with foreign tourists, this is an ideal place to escape for some R&R.

I stayed at the Euroterme Wellness Resort, which was vast and offered everything from a spa circuit and indoor and outdoor thermal pools to (not needed by me) blood sampling and recovery options.

The town itself isn’t large, but it has a quaint and relaxing fresh-mountain air to it. It’s a great retreat, whether you want a quick hop to nearby hiking options or just to indulge in the Romagna side of the region’s cuisine. There is a difference even here in Emilia Romagna. 

An excellent location to sample the differences in regional cheese and ingredients – with mushrooms being a real focus during the season – is the lovely Hostaria Volante. This small restaurant in the town has a very creative owner who, as well as designing the menu, has handmade many items, from water glasses to lampshades.

Top things to do in Bagno di Romagna, Emilia Romagna

  • Check in to a thermal spa and be pampered
  • Walk along the verdant ‘Path of the Gnomes’
  • Visit the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption
  • Stroll the streets of the village at night when they are even prettier

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By train, this would be too long and complicated as a day trip due to the connections. It could be done by car, with a 90-minute journey time, but given the main reason to visit the spa town is to relax, at least an overnight stay is best. 

Emilia Romagna food
Traditional Ragù in a small Bologna restaurant

Best things to do in Emilia Romagna

Of course, no trip to Emilia Romagna is complete without enjoying the region’s best experiences. These are some of my favourite things to do in Emilia Romagna.

Devour all the food

Emilia Romagna is often touted as ‘the home of food’, partly due to being the birthplace of Ragu. To the horror of most Italians, we call it Spaghetti Bolognese, but the dish’s origins are here as a more meat-based sauce served with tagliatelle – yup, we all eat an Italian dish that doesn’t really exist.

But this region is full of treats, and most of the best things to do in Emilia Romagna hinge around food. From gelato tours in Bologna to cheese factory tours at Parmigiano Reggiano – home to the original and certified hard cheese – getting to meet the makers is one of the best things about this region.

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is also a famous export and, again, certified. If it’s not from here and with the label, then it’s not the real deal. From small trattorias to bustling food markets, such as FICO, the world’s first food theme park, any hardcore foodie is going to be spoiled here!

Read more: Best food experiences in Emilia Romagna

Drive a sports car

Another of the region’s nicknames is Motor Valley, so it’s unsurprising that one of the top things to do in Emilia Romagna is to get behind the wheel of a sports car.

There are a lot of car and motorcycle manufacturers here – such as Lamborghini, Ducati, Maserati and Ferrari – and with museums dedicated to these luxury drives and even tracks where you can test drive a Ferrari, those with a penchant for speed will be in their element.

Head to the beach

While I wouldn’t say the region’s beaches are the top thing to do in Emilia Romagna, they are very welcome on a hot summer’s day. Personally, I found the beaches in Rimini to be a little too developed, with beach clubs and umbrellas and people as far as the eye can see. So, it’s best to head to the beaches a little further from the city if you want a serene shoreline escape.

Visit a county in a country

While Lazio may have the Vatican, here they have San Marino. This makes visiting another country one of the best things to do in Emilia Romagna, and not just for a novelty value – the ancient city crowning the country is both breathtaking and fascinating. 

Day trips from Bologna beyond Emilia Romagna

Making use of the high-speed rail network, these destinations in neighbouring regions could work as day trips from Bologna. However, I believe they are more deserving of a separate visit. 


Tuscany’s capital city is crowned by the heart-stopping sight of the world-famous Duomo. On a day trip from Bologna, you could squeeze in a quick visit to this grand cathedral, spot some of the most beautiful bridges in the city, and take a quick peek inside the magnificent Uffizi Gallery (you’ll want to buy skip-the-line tickets).

So impressive is the art collection in the Uffizi you could easily spend a day alone inside the gallery. If you also want to see Michelangelo’s David, be sure to buy your timed entrance ticket in advance. To me, Florence deserves, at minimum, a two-day visit if time allows.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By train, you can arrive in Florence in less than 40 minutes. Driving time is at least 90 minutes, more with traffic.


If you’re keen on a flying visit to Tuscany’s famed leaning tower, it can be done on a fast-paced day trip from Bologna. While you will most likely need to travel via Florence to arrive here, it’s a small city in terms of attractions and better suited to a day trip.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By car and train, the journey will take around two hours, including a change in Florence.

A grand theatre, looking out from the stage to the stools and boxes in Mantua
The stunning inside of Teatro Bibiena, Mantua


Steeped in art, culture and music, Mantua in the Lombardy region has played a sizable contribution to the opera scene. This is perfectly captured in Teatro Bibiena, a small but perfectly-formed theatre and one of the most beautiful in Europe. There’s also some grand architecture here courtesy of the Gonzaga Dynasty, and on a day trip from Bologna, you could certainly fit in the highlight: The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova, a vast stately complex which combined forms one of Europe’s largest residential buildings in one of Europe’s most underrated cities.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By car and train, the journey will take around two hours, including a change in Modena.


Doing the fashion capital as a day trip from Bologna will certainly be fast-paced – it’s better to spend at least two days in Milan. Still, you would be able to visit the highlights such as the Duomo – but absolutely book tickets ahead so you don’t need to wait – and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. If you don’t mind taking a late train back to Bologna, you could also enjoy sunset cocktails along the Canals of Navigli.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By fast train, you can reach Milan in just 80 minutes.


The city of Romeo and Juliet is another possible day trip from Bologna. While you won’t be able to visit all the attractions, you should book tickets in advance to enter the Roman amphitheatre, explore the Centro Storico (Old Town) on foot, and spot some of the city’s Romanesque architecture.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By fast train, you can reach Verona in a little over an hour. By car, allow for more than 90 minutes.

Venice, Italy


Can Venice be a day trip from Bologna? Yes, it can – but the question is should it be? With a new day trip entry ticket starting in 2023, that’s something to keep in mind. But, if you’re so inclined, you could enjoy a slightly rushed day living your best life along the canals of this masterpiece of a city.

Make it a day trip from Bologna: By fast train, the journey to Venice can be as quick as 90 minutes, though it will take perhaps an extra 30-60 minutes by car.

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14 replies
  1. Megan says:

    The way of writing the content is so beautiful and I appreciate the way of writing this beautiful content. The blog is worth reading Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jason says:

    Hi Dan – really appreciate the blogs (making my way through many now). I want to get a car to visit much of these smaller towns however what do you suggest in terms of a base, as you cannot enter the inner cities of bologna, parma etc due to zoning? I want to be able to enjoy dinner and drinks whist stumbling home but also have the freedom to visit these smaller towns – what would you recommend for that?

    Also – if you had to choose 3 day trips using Bologna as a base – what would they be? Note that Parma and Modena are already a given. Late 20’s – massive foodie, love nice scenery, wineries etc


    • Daniel James (Dan Flying Solo) says:

      Hey Jason,

      Personally, I’d still opt to stay in Bologna, as the zoning area is the historical centre. For example, the area just behind the train station, the more modern part of the city, there’s quite a bit of parking and accommodation there and it’s about 15/20 minutes into the centre – likewise for a few other areas on the outskirts. Similar for the other cities in the region, the walks are quite short from the centre and I felt fine walking around after dark. For Parma and Modena, the trains are pretty decent too, but for the smaller spots yeah a car will make a huge difference.

      My top three, in order would be (excluding Parma and Modena)
      Brisighella – as it’s a bit different, more of a Tuscany village vibe and as it’s quite small, it wouldn’t need to be a full day. It is a 1-hour drive each way though, so depends if that kind of place is your interest, but scenery wise it’s great and theres some nice small places to eat and wineries in that area.

      The mosaics and architecture in Ravenna would make it a must visit for me, they really are spectacular, and then you aren’t far to spend a couple of hours in Commachio, for the canals there and maybe dinner on route back.

      If you are already doing Bologna/Modena/Palma I’d personally say skipping places like Reggio Emilia or Rimini isn’t a problem, as they are all relatively similar in architecture, and I don’t really rate the beaches too much for Rimini. San Marino is obviously a cool day trip, for the fact you can go to another country and it is spectacular, but for the smaller forest towns, I think they would be a bit of a hassle for a day trip and perhaps not worth it IMO.

      Safe travels!

  3. alessandro says:

    Hi Dan, very good article but what you have written about is just a little and most touristy part of Emilia and part of Romagna. You missed and didn’t mention, (probably cause I you haven’t been here at all) the cities of Forlì and Cesena, the real and autherntic heart of Romagna,thre hills, the food, wine, tours, cycling etc.
    Enjoy your next trip

    • Daniel James (Dan Flying Solo) says:

      Hi Alex,

      Sadly I didn’t make it to Forli or Cesena, I hoped to go to the latter from Cesenatico but always seemed to be transport problems when I was around the area. I spent some time in Foreste Casentinesi, Ridracoli Dam and Bagno di Romagna, which I touched on at the end of on my Po Delta Article (https://www.danflyingsolo.com/comacchio-emilia-romagna-po-delta/) but haven’t had a chance to write anything in depth about the hills yet. Don’t worry, there was plenty wine tasting, cycling and of-course food tours! I’ve had four visits to Emilia Romagna, and fell behind on my content there, I criminally haven’t even written an article about Bologna alone yet :)

      Thanks, and safe travels!

  4. Jerni says:

    Hello! Just wanna share what might occur as useful relevant information. We love to travel and see another part of the world, and sometimes it is sad when we see that the world is dying because of climate change and thinking like nothing we can do, but actually I know this cool website, if you use it to book, then they will plant a tree for free. At no extra cost. I am so amazed to find out that there is such a thing, at least I can participate in something positive for the earth. Here is the link http://bedandtree.com

  5. Glynnis Elaine Newdigate says:

    Hi Dan
    Thanks for stunning pictures and good information. Inspiring and useful. My daughter and I are planning a week’s road trip from Lucca to Bologna. Would car be the best way to travel?
    Colognora (bit of a detour!) Brisighella and Dozza look nice. Any other recommendations en route to Bologna. Thanks Glynnis and Sam

    • Daniel James (Dan Flying Solo) says:

      Hi Glynnis,

      Have a fantastic time in Italy. While trains are pretty good, the connections to some of the smaller spots aren’t ideal, so I do recommend hiring a car yes, it will make it much easier, though try to seek accommodation that provides parking options, especially in any cities where on-street parking is scarce.

  6. Dominique says:

    Bologna is highest on my list for places to visit in Italy. I don’t know why but the province really appeals to me. It’s partly due to the delicious food, I’m sure. This post will come in handy when I’m planning a trip there. I love that all those cities are easily visited during a day trip and that you don’t seem to need a car for it!

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