Although there are loads of great things to do in Bologna, there are also a lot of destinations that are easily accessible as day trips from Bologna by train. The Bologna central rail station is one of the largest in Northern Italy. Its location in the center of the north makes it a perfect jumping-off point to visit a variety of Italian cities and towns as Bologna day trips.

Bologna Day Trips By Train – Within Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna is a region that should be explored by travelers and Bologna locals. Although Bologna is the largest and capital city of Emilia Romagna, the other cities within the region are definitely worth exploring. Each of these recommended cities is reachable by train and each is less touristy than other major Italian cities.

What you will learn in this Bologna travel blog post:

  • What are some of the best cities to visit during a day trip from Bologna
  • How to travel by train from Bologna to nearby Italian cities
  • What to do in each city visited during a day trip from Bologna by train

Bologna to Modena Day Trip

Bologna To Modena Day Trip
Mercato Albinelli can be visited during a Bologna to Modena day tip

Modena is one of the best day trips from Bologna Italy. In part because it is so close. But, also because it has an entirely different feel than Bologna. Whereas Bologna is large, with a population of over 400,000 people, Modena is a smaller city, with about 100,000 inhabitants. It is also home to some of the most famous food products eaten in Bologna.

Modena is home to world-famous products like Lambrusco wine, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Modena, and traditional balsamic vinegar. They say it is the land of Slow Food And Fast Cars because the city is also home to some of the most luxurious car makers in the world. Modena is the headquarters of automobile manufacturers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. One of the Museums to Enzo Ferrari is walking distance from the city center and the Modena train station.

Modena makes a great overnight or weekend destination, but if short on time then a day trip from Bologna to Modena is certainly possible. It also makes one of the quickest day trips. It’s possible to walk to visit all of the main sites in the city.

When in Modena, visit the Mercato Alibinelli, one of the most beautiful fresh markets in Emilia Romagna. Try climbing the Ghirlandina Bell Tower, which offers unobstructed views over the city. Stop for some artisan gelato at Bloom or Emilia Cremeria.

Bologna Travel Pro TipHow long is the Bologna to Modena train? The Bologna Modena train takes about a half hour. There’s no reason to book the slightly more expensive high-speed train as all of the trains complete the journey in about the same amount of time.

Bologna to Parma Day Trip

Eating Prosciutto di Parma on a Bologna to Parma day trip
Eating Prosciutto di Parma on a Bologna to Parma day trip

The next city on the train ride from Bologna to Modena is Parma, another top destination in Emilia Romagna, particularly for food lovers. Like Modena, Parma is home to two of the most famous Italian food products, Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. These are two of the must-eat foods when visiting Emilia Romagna.

By dining at any restaurant in Parma, you can taste these famous products. Or, stop by the agri-shop, Rural, to purchase some of the products from Parma and the surrounding areas. They focus on offering artisan products, including various cheeses, meats, and preserves. When not eating, wander the city and visit Garibaldi Square and the Piazza Duomo. Or, cross the Parma River and visit the large community garden called the Parco Ducale.

Bologna Travel Pro Tip: How long is the Bologna to Parma train? The Bologna Parma train is the same as the one that goes to Modena. It takes about an hour, with some trains quicker than others. Depending on the price, it might be worthwhile to take the high speed train in order to maximize your time in Parma.

Bologna to Piacenza Day Trip

Of the three cities in Emilia that are worthwhile day trips from Bologna, Piacenza is probably the least touristy of the three. Although known for the production of another cured meat product, pancetta, the city doesn’t generally make it onto the list of must-visit destinations in Emilia Romagna.

The high-speed train from Bologna to Piacenza arrives in about an hour and two minutes. While there, check out the Piacenza Cathedral or the Civic Museums of Palazzo Farnese. Or, grab a selfie at one of the equestrian statues in Piazza Cavalli.

Most of all, Piacenza is known for being the “land of taste.” In Piacenza, the focus is on salamis, including coppa, pancetta, and salame. In addition to being home to three DOP certified salamis, Piacenza is also home to two DOP kinds of cheese: Grana Padano and Provolone Valpadana. Try ordering a platter of meats and cheeses during lunch, with a glass of Malvasia wine.

Bologna to Ravenna Day Trip

So far, the three recommended Emilia Romagna day trips from Bologna focused on the Emilia half of Emilia Romagna. Each of the cities lies to the west of Bologna. To the east of Bologna lies the Romagna side of the region. Whereas the cities to the west (Modena, Parma, and Piacenza) really focus on gastronomy, the cities to the east tend to focus more on history, culture, and nature.

Ravenna is the closest of the Romagna cities to visit from Bologna. It is a city with eight UNESCO world heritage sites that is most known for its mosaics. The most notable of the mosaics is in the Basilica of Sant Apollinare Nuovo.

The Bologna Ravenna train takes a little longer, averaging about 90 minutes depending on the time of day and the train chosen. The faster trains will be a little more expensive. The train station is about a 5-10 minute walk from the center of the city.

Bologna to Ferrara Day Trip

During a visit to Bologna Italy, Ferrara is another great option for a day trip within Emilia Romagna. The city is most known for its Renaissance-style architecture. The historic Estense family is well-known for the success and wealth of Romagna during the Renaissance. They are almost like the Medicis of Romagna. You will find their name attached to several of the historic buildings in Ferrara, including the Estense Castle.

For adventurous eaters, try Ferrara’s most famed dish, eel, to be paired with one of the areas salt wines. The salt wines are so called because they grow a sandy, beach-like environment and soak up the seawater from the nearby Adriatic. Ferrara is also a lot closer than Ravenna. The train from Bologna to Ferrara only takes about 30 miutes.

Bologna Travel Pro Tip: Where to eat in Ferrara? Try Al Brindisi, which translates to “the toast.” It claims to be one of the oldest wine bars in the world, dating to 1435.

Day Trips From Bologna By TrainFurther Afield

The most common destinations for day trips from Bologna tend to be the cities within Emilia Romagna. It’s possible, though, to visit a few additional famous Italian cities during a day trip as well. Many travelers to Italy tend to stay in one of these other cities and day trip to Bologna. Obviously, at Bologna Living, we think you should buck the trend and do the opposite!

Bologna to Florence Day Trip

Bologna to Florence day trips
How to travel from Bologna to Florence on a day trip

Travelers to Italy are often surprised by how easy it is to travel between Bologna and Florence. The high-speed Florence to Bologna train takes only 40 minutes, making Florence the perfect Bologna day trip.

Our recommendation is to avoid the crowds of Florence, particularly in the summer, and stay in Bologna. Then, hop the train to Florence, see the Duomo and the Uffizi galleries, have lunch, wander the city, and pop back to Bologna in time for aperitivo or dinner.

Bologna Day Trip Pro Tip: How long is the Bologna to Florence train? It’s about 40-45 minutes. If possible, book Italian trains ahead of time. They get more expensive last minute. This is particularly true on this high-speed trainline.

Bologna to Milan Day Trip

Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and makes for one of the best day trips from Bologna. If short on time, a visit to the Duomo is a must. Set in front of the Piazza del Duomo, wander through the Galleria on the north side of the square to see the Teatro all Scala, one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Milan is also home to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Summer, which can be viewed during a visit to Milan. Tickets are required and must be booked well in advance.

Bologna Pro Travel Tip: How long is the Bologna to Milan train? The high-speed Frecciarossa only takes an hour. The local train will take significantly longer and reduce the time to explore the city, so be sure to choose the high-speed train.

Bologna to Venice Day Trip

Yes, it’s possible to take a Bologna to Venice day trip. Venice is one of the top destinations to visit in Italy. Spend an afternoon wandering the canals, just use your GPS to avoid getting lost and missing your train from Venice back to Bologna.

How long is the Bologna to Venice train? The Bologna-Venice high-speed train takes about one hour and twenty minutes. It’s a little farther than some of the other Bologna day trip options, but not by much. Just watch the train you book. The more local Italian trains can take two hours or more.

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