Bologna On A Budget? Here’s 13 Free Things to Do

If you’re looking for an affordable European city break, Bologna should be top of your list. While accommodation and food can be pricey, there are plenty of free things to do in Bologna that will help you stick to your budget. From visiting historical landmarks to taking a walk in one of the city’s many parks, here are 13 free things to do in Bologna that will make your trip unforgettable.

 

1. Visit Piazza Maggiore

Visit Piazza Maggiore on any day of the week and you’ll see why it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. Located in the heart of Bologna, the square is surrounded by beautiful medieval and Renaissance architecture, making it a perfect place to take a break from sightseeing and people-watching.

The centerpiece of the square is the Fontana del Nettuno, a stunning fountain dating back to 1563. Don’t miss the opportunity to sit on the steps of the Palazzo d’Accursio and enjoy a gelato while taking in the sights and sounds of this fascinating city.

Address: Piazza Maggiore, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Visit Piazza Maggiore
Visit Piazza Maggiore

 

2. Take a Walking Tour Around the City Streets

Bologna is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in Italy, and a walking tour is the best way to see it! Start in the heart of the city at Piazza Maggiore, where you’ll see the stunning 14th-century Palazzo Comunale and the Basilica di San Petronio.

Then, wander through the narrow streets of the medieval center, admiring the architecture and stopping in at some of the many bars and cafes. Be sure to try a delicious gelato before continuing on to the University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe!

Finish up your tour at Piazza del Nettuno, where you can admire the beautiful Fountain of Neptune. After a day of exploring, you’ll understand why Bologna is known as “La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa” – the learned, the fat, and the red (referring to the color of its buildings)!

Take a Walking Tour Around the City Streets
Take a Walking Tour Around the City Streets

 

3. See the Basilica di San Petronio

The Basilica di San Petronio is a must-see for anyone visiting Bologna, Italy. The largest church in the city, it was begun in 1390 and is still unfinished.

The exterior is an austere brick facade, but the interior is a magnificent display of marble, mosaics, and frescoes. Best of all, it is free to enter.

Visitors can explore the nave, admire the main altar, and climb to the top of the bell tower for sweeping views of Bologna. The Basilica di San Petronio is a beautiful example of Italian Renaissance architecture and an essential stop on any trip to Bologna.

Address: Piazza Galvani, 5, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

See the Basilica di San Petronio
See the Basilica di San Petronio

 

4. Climb the Asinelli Tower

The Asinelli Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bologna, Italy. Standing nearly 200 feet tall, it offers breathtaking views of the city below. Best of all, climbing to the top is free!

Visitors can take the stairs all the way to the top, or take a break and ride the elevator partway up. No matter how you reach the summit, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction.

Make sure to bring your camera so you can capture the incredible views. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even sign up for a guided tour that takes you all the way to the top of the tower’s spire! A visit to the Asinelli Tower is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Address: P.za di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Climb the Asinelli Tower
Climb the Asinelli Tower

 

5. Stroll Along the UNESCO Porticoes

Bologna, Italy is home to the longest porticoes in the world. These covered walkways are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stretch for over 38 kilometers throughout the city.

They were first built in the 12th century as a way to protect pedestrians from bad weather, but today they are one of the most distinctive features of Bologna. The porticoes are especially popular with students, who use them as a place to study and socialize.

They are also a popular destination for tourists, who come from all over the world to see this unique feature of the city. Whether you’re looking to escape the heat or the rain, or simply want to enjoy some of Bologna’s finest architecture, a stroll along the porticoes is a must-do activity.

Stroll Along the UNESCO Porticoes
Stroll Along the UNESCO Porticoes

 

6. See the Fountain of Neptune

Situated in the heart of Bologna, Italy, the magnificent Fountain of Neptune is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Standing 26 feet tall, the fountain was designed by architect Tommaso Laureti and completed in 1567.

The statue of Neptune that rests atop the fountain is a copy of an ancient Roman original, and it is said to be one of the most accurate replicas in existence. Visitors to the fountain can admire its intricate design and marvel at its history.

The Fountain of Neptune is truly a sight to behold, and it is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who see it.

Address: Piazza del Nettuno, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

See the Fountain of Neptune
See the Fountain of Neptune

 

7. Take a Picture at Two Towers

The Due Torri, or Two Towers, of Bologna, are one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Italy. The taller of the two towers, the Asinelli Tower, stands over 97 meters tall and was built in the 11th century.

The second tower, the much smaller Garisenda Tower, is just under 48 meters tall and dates back to the 13th century. Though both towers are currently in a state of disrepair, they remain an imposing sight and a popular photo spot for tourists.

Visitors can even climb to the top of the Asinelli Tower for stunning views of Bologna and the surrounding countryside. So if you find yourself in this beautiful city, be sure to take a picture in front of the Two Towers!

Address: P.za di Porta Ravegnana, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Take a Picture at Two Towers
Take a Picture at Two Towers

 

8. Relax in Parco della Montagnola

The Parco della Montagnola is a serene and beautiful spot located in the heart of Bologna, Italy. This park is the perfect place to relax and take in the natural beauty of the city. The park is filled with trees, flowers, and a variety of birds and animals.

Visitors can stroll through the winding paths, sit on the benches, and enjoy the peace and quiet. The Parco della Montagnola is also a great place to people watch. There are often musicians playing in the park, and it’s not uncommon to see people dancing or playing games.

On warm days, the park is filled with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the sunshine and good company. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an opportunity to mingle with locals, the Parco della Montagnola is definitely worth a visit.

Address: Via Irnerio, 2/3, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Relax in Parco della Montagnola
Relax in Parco della Montagnola

 

9. Attend a Free Concert at Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Teatro Comunale di Bologna is one of the most important opera houses in Italy. Located in the city of Bologna, the theatre was designed by Giovanni Piermarini and completed in 1763. Today, the theatre is home to several noted opera companies and orchestras, and it hosts a wide range of musical events throughout the year.

One of the best ways to experience the Teatro Comunale di Bologna is to attend one of the many free concerts that are held in the theatre’s adorable outdoor amphitheater. The amphitheater is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, and it offers stunning views of the city.

Concerts are typically held in the evenings when the weather is cooler, and they feature a variety of music, from classical to contemporary. Whether you’re a music lover or simply looking for a unique way to experience Bologna, attending a concert at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Address: Largo Respighi, 1, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Attend a Free Concert at Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Attend a Free Concert at Teatro Comunale di Bologna

 

10. Check Out the Palazzo d’Accursio

The Palazzo d’Accursio is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture, located in the heart of Bologna, Italy. The palazzo was built in the 13th century and has been home to the city’s government since the 16th century.

Visitors can admire the stunning façade of the building, which is decorated with intricate carvings and statues. Inside, the palazzo houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts. The palazzo is open to the public and is definitely worth a visit when you are in Bologna!

Address: Piazza Maggiore, 6, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Check Out the Palazzo d'Accursio
Check Out the Palazzo d’Accursio

 

11. Go for a Stroll in Giardini Margherita

For a dose of nature in the city, take a stroll through Giardini Margherita in Bologna. This large park is filled with trees, flowers, and green space, making it the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Take a seat on one of the benches and people-watch, or meander through the paths and explore all that the park has to offer. Don’t miss the lake where you can feed the ducks or the rose garden with over 1,000 different types of roses.

Giardini Margherita is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including squirrels, hedgehogs, and even peacocks. Whether you’re looking for a place to take a break during a busy day or want to spend an afternoon exploring, Giardini Margherita is definitely worth a visit.

Address: Viale Giovanni Gozzadini, 40136 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Go for a Stroll in Giardini Margherita
Go for a Stroll in Giardini Margherita

 

12. See the Palazzo della Mercanzia

The Palazzo della Mercanzia is one of the most iconic buildings in Bologna, Italy. Built-in the 13th century, the palazzo was the seat of the city’s powerful merchant guild.

The exterior of the building is decorated with elaborate sculptures and bas-reliefs, and the interior is filled with beautiful works of art. Today, the Palazzo della Mercanzia houses a museum and frequent art exhibitions.

Visitors can also take a tour of the building to learn more about its history and architecture. Whether you’re interested in art or history, the Palazzo della Mercanzia is definitely worth a visit.

Address: Piazza della Mercanzia, 4, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

See the Palazzo della Mercanzia
See the Palazzo della Mercanzia

 

13. Visit the Seven Churches of Santo Stefano

Santo Stefano is a complex of seven religious edifices in Bologna, Italy. The churches, which are located on three different sites, were constructed between the 4th and 12th centuries.

Today, Santo Stefano is a popular tourist destination, and it is well worth a visit for anyone interested in Italian history or architecture. The complex includes the church of Sant’Agata, which was built in the 4th century; the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which dates to the 5th century; the 6th-century basilica of Santo Stefano Maggiore; and the church of San Vitale, which was built in the 12th century.

In addition to these churches, Santo Stefano also includes a cloister, a museum, and a hostel. Visitors can explore all of these sites at their own pace, and there is no entrance fee. Whether you are a history buff or simply looking for a unique place to visit in Italy, Santo Stefano is sure to impress.

Address: Via Santo Stefano, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy

For pictures, booking, and more information, click here.

Visit the Seven Churches of Santo Stefano
Visit the Seven Churches of Santo Stefano

 

In Conclusion

There you have it! 13 free things to do in Bologna, Italy. From churches and museums to parks and gardens, there is something for everyone. So whether you’re on a budget or just looking for some unique things to do in Bologna, be sure to check out these 13 options. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Bologna today!

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