Home to the oldest university in the world, established 1088, Bologna has a student population nearing 100,000. And there are many reasons why you should become one of them. The red city that blessed the world with ragù – which has somehow become known as Spaghetti Bolognese, despite the fact the traditional dish is served with tagliatelle – is a very tempting alternative to the likes of Milan, Rome and Florence, often overwhelmed by tourists. From jazz bars to rich cuisine and market culture, steeped in tradition and socialist rebellion, Bologna is one of Italy’s finest.
Originally inspired by the romantic English garden, Bologna’s biggest park is just outside the city centre. Bring a book or some running shoes and soak up some of the sun next to the lake!
This live jazz bar doubles as a restaurant, making for a truly unforgettable experience. Make sure you smarten up and book yourself a table in the sala musica (music room) at our experts’ favourite place in town. Photo credit: Cantina Bentivoglio
Finestrella di Via Piella
Finestrella means window, and when you open this one, you will feast your eyes on the Canale di Reno. Just like this hidden surprise, Bologna is waiting to be discovered – you just have to open its doors. Once you’ve taken a picture, indulge in a gelato, a coffee stop or perhaps an Aperol Spritz if it’s nearing 5 o’clock.
If it is a proper party that you seek, take a 30 minute bus ride to just outside of Bologna to the cultural-hub-come-club known as Link. There’s live music, club nights, cinema showings, food and ample outside space, meaning you’ll never be cramped in a smoking area when you need a breath of fresh air.
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Looking for long term stays? Read our guide below.
If you’re looking for short-term stays:
Bologna is very well-linked to lots of neighbouring Italian cities by train. Verona, Milan, Florence, Turin, Trieste…that’s just to name a few. Within the city itself, it is best to get around by bike or simply on foot – do not rush through its winding streets, past its ancient monuments or the smells of the traditional kitchens that perfume its streets.
Mobike is a really convenient way to get around the city (as Bologna is relatively small) and costs about 25 cents an hour.
Doing day trips from Bologna is so easy but be aware that the trains leave exactly when they say they will and you have to validate your ticket first or you will get fined. Make sure to have a lot of time in the train station.
There is no Uber in Bologna and you cannot simply hail a cab and jump in so if you really need one it will have to be booked in advanced. As Bologna is quite compact you will most probaby never need one!