Bologna lies in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, Italy’s gastronomic capital. While that alone makes this city a must-visit especially for food-lovers, Bologna’s got a lot more going for it.
The city itself is beautiful and picturesque, filled with historic medieval and Renaissance structures. You can spend an afternoon relaxing in the Piazza Maggiore and walking around the cobbled streets under the shade of the porticoes. You can go up Italy’s tallest leaning tower from where you can capture a gorgeous panoramic view of the city.
Bologna’s central location also makes it an excellent base for road trips around northern Italy – from the foodie cities of Modena and Parma to the beaches of Rimini – and even across the border to San Marino.
If you’re looking for a holiday filled with delicious food, road trips, and a relaxing city break, Emilia-Romagna’s capital city is the perfect destination. Here’s where to stay in Bologna.
Where to stay in Bologna, Italy – a quick guide to the best areas and hotels in the heart of Emilia-Romagna
- If you want to explore Bologna’s cultural and gastronomical highlights easily, stay in the Centro Storico. Most of the city’s historical sights, finest restaurants, and shopping streets are within the historical center. This is an excellent base if you plan to really soak up the city’s atmosphere.
- If you plan to explore Emilia-Romagna by rail, stay near the Bologna Central Station. Bologna is a great base to explore the region from, and the Central Station is the main transportation hub. This area is perfect if you’re planning daily trips around the region.
- If you’re planning a road trip holiday in Emilia-Romagna, stay outside Bologna’s pedestrian zones. You’ll still be within walking distance of Bologna’s historical sights, while easily driving off to see the rest of Emilia-Romagna. This is also great if you’d like to stay in a calmer part of the city, but still within easy reach of the historical center.
Map – essential landmarks in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna
Use this map to plan your trip to Bologna and the rest of the Emilia-Romagna region. You’ll find all the essential landmarks and best places to visit in Bologna.
If you want to explore the city’s cultural and gastronomical highlights easily, stay in Bologna’s historic center
You can easily explore Bologna’s most beautiful landmarks from the Centro Storico, the city’s historical center. The Piazza Maggiore serves as the city’s cultural hub, where locals and tourists gather to enjoy open-air performances over wine and aperitivo. The piazza is bordered by stately buildings and the Basilica di San Petronio and opens to many winding streets lined with restaurants and marketplaces.
If you’re coming to Bologna for the city’s food, history, and architecture, the Centro Storico is the perfect base for you.
Best hotels in Bologna’s Centro Storico
★Travelers’ Pick: Hotel Al Cappello Rosso is one of Bologna’s oldest boutique hotels – and one that certainly understands the best of what the city has to offer. It’s right next to Piazza Maggiore and a great base if you want to fully immerse yourself in Bologna’s rich history and delicious food. The hotel has modern amenities, comfortable rooms, and most things you’ll need for a leisurely holiday. Double rooms start at EUR 105.
Art Hotel Commercianti and Hotel Corona d’Oro are also fabulous choices if you want to stay in the heart of Bologna’s historical center. For families and small groups who want a homier stay, check out Apartments Centre Bologna.
Bologna is a major transportation hub and a great base for exploring northern Italy. From Bologna, you can easily take day trips to foodie cities like Modena and Parma, seaside towns like Rimini and Cesenatico, and even take an overnight trip to the neighboring country of San Marino.
If you want to cover a lot of ground during your holiday to Bologna, stay near the Bologna Central Station. You’d still be within walking distance – or a quick bus ride – from Bologna’s historic center, and you’ll be able to go on plenty of day trips around Emilia-Romagna.
Best hotels near Bologna Central Station
★Travelers’ Pick: Unahotels Bologna Centro fits the bill if you’re looking for a modern and chic hotel in a central location. It’s right next to the Bologna Central Train Station, making it the perfect base if you plan to take train trips around the Emilia-Romagna region. It’s also within walking distance of the city center, so it can be your base for your entire stay. Double rooms start at EUR 85.
AC Hotel Bologna is also near the train station, although a bit farther from the city center. This is a better location if you’re also planning to visit the Fiera di Bologna convention center.
For families and small groups, you can check out MiaVia Apartments near Piazza di Porta Mascarella (they have many apartments that can fit 4-6 people). Couples who are looking for a cozy stay in a luxury apartment would find 4 Star Apartments perfect.
As convenient it is as to explore Emilia-Romagna by rail, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a road trip adventure. Driving in Emilia-Romagna means having coppa piacentina for lunch at Piacenza, searching for prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano at Parma in the afternoon, and indulging in bowls of tortellini for dinner in Modena.
There’s a lot to see – and taste – in Emilia-Romagna, and the best way to get to it all is by getting a car and driving there. If you plan to go this route, though, make sure to stay outside Bologna’s pedestrian zones. Here are the best areas and hotels outside Bologna’s city center.
Best hotels outside Bologna’s city center
★Travelers’ Pick: Savoia Hotel Regency in the Bologna Fiera district is a great option if you want a relaxing stay off the historic center. It’s an 18th-century villa surrounded by a park and with its own on-site restaurant serving delicious traditional regional cuisine. They have free parking and is close to the A14 motorway. This is also a great place to stay if you’re on a business trip and need to be near the convention grounds. Double rooms start at EUR 104.
Suite Hotel Elite is a lovely boutique-style hotel 15 minutes’ walk from the city center. It’s outside the pedestrian zone, so it’s perfect if you’re planning to do a lot of driving around Emilia-Romagna. They have nice, clean rooms, parking spaces, and boutique style amenities. Double rooms start at EUR 70.
Boutique Hotel Calzavecchio is in Casalecchio di Reno, a commune just outside Bologna. This is perfect if you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful base for your driving adventures around Emilia-Romagna. Hotel Calzavecchio has a great location, free parking, and boutique-style rooms and amenities. Double rooms start at EUR 105.
Tell us: What are you most excited about your holiday in Emilia-Romagna?
* * *
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Bologna, Italy!
Bologna is truly one of Italy’s most underrated destinations ever – you’ll get to taste so much fantastic food, walk around medieval streets and magnificent architecture, without the wearying crowds of Venice, Florence, and Rome.
We really had the most wonderful holiday in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region – so expect lots of blog posts on the region in the next couple of weeks. I’ll share the best things to do in Bologna, our road trip itinerary, and other regions you can hop to. In the meantime, if you’re traveling soon and have any questions, get in touch, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Happy travels to Italy!