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Things to do in Bologna

Discover Bologna's red-hued medieval architecture on foot, following the extensive covered porticoes across the city. Make a bee-line for the historic centre's heart, Piazza Maggiore, throwing a coin in the Neptune Fountain nearby. Visit the enormous San Petronio Basilica before heading east to the Two Towers. The taller Asinelli Tower can be climbed for bird's-eye views. Most museums close on Monday and smaller museums also shut for lunch.

Porticoes, Bologna. © Heather Sills

Museums and Galleries

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  1. 1. Medieval Civic Museum - Museums and Galleries

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    Statue of Pope Bonifacio VIII, Medieval Museum of Bologna, Bologna. Courtesy of the Medieval Museum of Bologna

    Bologna's Medieval Civic Museum sheds light on the city's often turbulent history. The museum's fascinating collection of bronze statues, armour, artefacts, illuminated books and monumental tombs is housed in the beautifully frescoed Ghisilardi-Fava palace, north of Piazza Maggiore square.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free; exhibition charges may apply

    Opening hours

    Tue-Fri 9am-3pm; Sat & Sun 10am-6.30pm

    Address

    4, Via Manzoni, Bologna 40121

    Telephone

    +39 051 219 3916

    Transport

    Bus 20 to Via dell'Indipendenza

    Website

    Medieval Civic Museum Website

  2. 2. National Picture Gallery of Bologna - Museums and Galleries

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    National Picture Gallery of Bologna, Bologna. Courtesy of the Ministery of Cultural Affairs

    Bologna's outstanding collection of 13th-18th-century paintings is one of Europe's finest. Housed in a former monastery north-east of Piazza Maggiore square, the National Picture Gallery of Bologna's highlights include classic works by Raphael, Tintoretto, the Carracci brothers and Guido Reni.Show this on map

    Cost

    €4; concessions €2; children free

    Opening hours

    Tue-Sun 9am-7pm

    Address

    56, Via Belle Arti, Bologna 40126

    Telephone

    +39 051 420 9411

    Transport

    Bus 36 and 37 to Porta S. Donato

    Website

    National Picture Gallery of Bologna Website

  3. 3. Archaeological Museum of Bologna - Museums and Galleries

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    Civic Archaeology Museum, Bologna. © Paris Franz

    South-east of Piazza Maggiore square, the Archaeological Museum of Bologna occupies a remarkable 15th-century palace. Collections trace Bologna's development from prehistoric to Roman times, with fine displays of statues, tombstones and coins. The Etruscan and Egyptian collections are particularly good.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Tue-Fri 9am-3pm; Sat & Sun 10am-6.30pm

    Address

    2, Via dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna 40124

    Telephone

    +39 051 27 57 211

    Transport

    Bus 11, 20 or 30 to Piazza Maggiore

    Website

    Archaeological Museum of Bologna Website

Attractions

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  1. 4. Neptune Fountain - Attractions

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    Neptune Fountain, Bologna. Photo by Vito Arcomano, © Fototeca Enit

    Surrounded by cavorting cherubs and mermaids representing the Ganges, Nile, Amazon and Danube, the muscular statue of Neptune dominates Piazza Maggiore square's north-west corner. Neptune Fountain was sculpted by Flemish artist Giambologna in 1563. Visit at night when floodlit.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily all day

    Address

    Piazza del Nettuno, Bologna 40124

    Transport

    Bus 11, 20 or 30 to Piazza Maggiore

  2. 5. Two Towers - Attractions

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    Two Towers, Bologna. Photo by Vito Arcomano, © Fototeca Enit

    Medieval Bologna was dotted with perhaps 100 towers, built by competing families for protection and prestige. Twenty remain, and the Asinelli and Garisenda, east of Piazza Maggiore square, are the most famous. Climb the taller, less tilted Asinelli for spectacular views.Show this on map

    Cost

    €3

    Opening hours

    Daily May-Sep 9am-6pm, Oct-Apr 9am-5pm

    Address

    Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, Bologna 40126

    Transport

    Bus 14 to Piazza Porta Ravegnana

  3. 6. San Petronio Basilica - Attractions

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    Basilica of San Apollinare, exterior plus mosaics of procession of saints

    Named after Bologna's patron saint, San Petronio Basilica is the city's most important church. The Gothic masterpiece dominates Piazza Maggiore square, with 22 chapels and a notable carved doorway. Visit the museum to explore the history of the building's construction.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily 7.45am-12.30pm and 3pm-6pm

    Address

    Piazza Maggiore, Bologna 40124

    Telephone

    +39 051 231415

    Transport

    Bus 11, 20 or 30 to Piazza Maggiore

  4. 7. Piazza Maggiore - Attractions

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    Piazza Maggiore, Bologna. Photo by Vito Arcomano, © Fototeca Enit

    Pedestrianised Piazza Maggiore is Bologna's main square and favourite meeting point. Perfect for people-watching, the piazza is flanked by bustling cafés and some of the city's most imposing medieval and Renaissance buildings, including San Petronio Basilica and Palazzo Comunale (town hall).Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily all day

    Address

    Piazza Maggiore, Bologna 40124

    Transport

    Bus 11, 20 or 30 to Piazza Maggiore

  5. 8. Botanic Garden - Attractions

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    Botanic Garden, Bologna. Courtesy of the Botanic Garden

    Bologna University's Botanic Garden is amongst the oldest in Europe, founded in 1568. A welcome stretch of green in the university precinct, the gardens include local and exotic specimens, medicinal plants, greenhouses, ornamental gardens and natural woodlands.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Mon-Fri 8am-3pm; Sat 8am-1pm

    Address

    42, Via Irnerio, Bologna 40126

    Telephone

    +39 051 2091299

    Transport

    Bus 20 to Via Irnerio

    Website

    Botanic Garden Website

Special things to do

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  1. 9. Sunday Passeggiata - Special Things to do

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    Porticoes, Bologna. © Heather Sills

    Taking a Sunday Passeggiata (stroll) under Bologna's famous porticoes is a centuries-old tradition. From Piazza Maggiore square, head south-west to Porta Saragozza. From here, the world's longest portico leads to hilltop Madonna di San Luca Sanctuary for fabulous views.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily all day

    Address

    Piazza Maggiore, Bologna 40124

    Transport

    Bus 11, 20 or 30 to Piazza Maggiore

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