An Interrailer’s Guide to Bologna: where to go and what to see

Welcome to Bologna, the vibrant city in northern Italy! As an Interrailer, you’re in for a treat with its rich history, delicious cuisine, and lively atmosphere. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit!

Why you should visit Bologna on your Interrail trip

There are numerous reasons why young people should visit Bologna. As a lively and dynamic city, Bologna offers a wealth of experiences that cater to the interests and preferences of young travellers. Here are some compelling reasons to visit:

Vibrant University Scene

Bologna is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, and its student population contributes to a vibrant and youthful atmosphere. The city’s energy is palpable, with students from various countries creating a diverse and welcoming environment.

Rich Cultural Heritage

Bologna boasts a rich cultural heritage, from its well-preserved medieval architecture to its renowned art galleries and museums. Young visitors can explore centuries of history, art, and architecture, providing both educational and enriching experiences.

Food and Culinary Delights

For food-loving interrailers, Bologna is a culinary paradise. It’s famous for its delicious pasta dishes like tagliatelle al ragù (Bolognese sauce) and tortellini, as well as its mouthwatering cured meats, cheeses, and ice cream. Exploring the food markets and dining at local trattorias is a must.

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Lively Nightlife

Bologna comes alive at night, offering a fantastic nightlife scene. The city is filled with bars, pubs, and clubs where young people can enjoy drinks, music, and dancing. Via del Pratello is a popular street for nightlife, known for its many bars and bohemian atmosphere.

Affordable Destination

Compared to some other Italian cities like Rome or Venice, Bologna tends to be more budget-friendly, making it an attractive destination for interrailers seeking to explore Italy without breaking the bank.

Music and Festivals

Bologna hosts various music festivals and events throughout the year. From classical concerts to contemporary music festivals, there’s always something happening for music enthusiasts.

Street Art and Urban Culture

Bologna has a thriving street art scene, with colourful murals and graffiti adorning many walls throughout the city. Exploring the street art and urban culture offers a unique perspective on Bologna’s artistic expression.

Easy to Explore on Foot or Bicycle

Bologna’s historic centre is compact and pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to explore on foot or by renting a bicycle. This allows interrail travellers to immerse themselves fully in the city’s charm and discover hidden gems.

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Day Trips to Nearby Cities

Bologna’s strategic location in northern Italy makes it an excellent base for day trips to nearby cities like Florence, Milan, Parma and Venice. Utilise your Interrail pass to explore more of Italy’s iconic destinations without the need for long journeys.

Friendly Locals

The people of Bologna are known for their warmth and friendliness, making it an inviting destination for Interrail travellers seeking authentic cultural experiences and interactions.

Bologna’s unique blend of history, culture, cuisine, and youthful energy makes it an ideal destination for interrailers seeking an exciting and enriching experience in Italy.

What to do in Bologna

Now you’ve decided to stop off in Bologna on your Interrail trip, you need to decide what to do there. Here are our top recommendations:

Piazza Maggiore

Start your Interrail stop at the heart of Bologna, the Piazza Maggiore. This large square is surrounded by historic buildings and landmarks like the Basilica di San Petronio, the Palazzo d’Accursio, and the Palazzo dei Banchi. It’s a great spot to soak in the city’s atmosphere and people-watch.

Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower

These iconic leaning towers are among Bologna’s most recognisable symbols. Climb the Asinelli Tower for a stunning view of the city, but be prepared for a steep ascent. Both towers are medieval relics and offer a unique perspective on Bologna’s architectural heritage.

Basilica di San Petronio

This grand basilica dominates Piazza Maggiore and is one of the largest churches in the world. Its unfinished facade and impressive interior are worth exploring. Don’t miss the Meridian Line, a sundial on the floor that marks the equinoxes and solstices.

Archiginnasio of Bologna

Once the main building of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world, the Archiginnasio now houses a fascinating library and an anatomical theater. Marvel at the intricate wooden decorations and immerse yourself in the city’s academic heritage.

Basilica di Santo Stefano

Known as the Seven Churches, this unique religious complex consists of multiple interconnected churches and chapels. Each has its own charm and history, making it a must-visit site for history and architecture enthusiasts.

Eat and Explore in Quadrilatero

Bologna is renowned for its food, and you must explore the Quadrilatero area to indulge in local delicacies. Visit traditional food markets and try the city’s specialties like tortellini, bolognese, mortadella, crescentine and ciccioli.


If you’re interested in art and history, don’t miss the National Art Gallery of Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna) and the Archaeological Museum of Bologna (Museo Civico Archeologico). Both offer impressive collections spanning various periods.


Bologna is famous for its porticoes that stretch over 40 kilometers throughout the city. Take a stroll under these covered walkways and enjoy the unique architectural feature that has earned Bologna the nickname “the city of porticoes.” This makes the city an ideal pick if you’re Interrailing out of season, as you can walk most of the city under cover, which is great if it rains!

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Giardini Margherita

When you need a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, head to Giardini Margherita. This large park is perfect for relaxing, having a picnic, or renting a boat on the lake.

Remember to take your time and savor the laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere of Bologna. Whether you’re exploring its historic sites, enjoying its delicious cuisine, or simply wandering through its picturesque streets, Bologna is sure to leave a lasting impression on your Interrail journey.