The airport is only 6 kms from the city centre and there is a bus which runs every 10 minutes to the city centre and costs 6 Euros, there are also taxis which are fairly reasonably priced. Getting around the city is easy but if you want to travel outside the centre you can buy a single journey ticket from machines on the bus. A 10 journey ticket at a reduced cost can be bought from a tabacchi. Single journies include a transfer of bus within 75 minutes of being validated.
Bologna is a good base for visiting the many other interesting places close by, Parma, Modena, Ferrara, Imola and Rimini. There are very good train and bus links and the train station and bus station are close by at the foot of Via Indipendenza.
As usual check the web sites www.booking.com and www.hotels.com, there are also apartments available to let and on our most recent visit we used an Italian company www.halldis.com who have some lovely apartments in Bologna and other Italian cities and offer a very professional service.
Albergo Atlantic, Via Galliera 46 is a short walk from the station and is a very well appointed reasonably priced hotel. The staff are very pleasant and the location is excellent.
Bologna is known as the food capital of Italy and it certainly lives up to that reputation. One piece of advice is if you want to have lunch on a Sunday book in advance, as a number of our favourite places were fully booked when we tried to get lunch.
L’Arcimboldo, Via Galliera 34/e, is highly recommended,the food and service was top notch. Every dish we had was excellent and there is a reasonably priced wine list. The atmosphere is lovely, the food outstanding and worth every euro, booking is a must. Returned on our most recent visit and it was again excellent, booking essential and try for the ground floor area.
Via Con Me, Via S. Gervasio 5/D, is close to the Mercato delle Erbe and is owned by the same people as Camera a Sud. It is a relaxed place for dinner and has an interesting menu with some twists on traditional dishes.
Va Mo La, Via delle Moline 3, is a beautiful looking place and having been tempted inside we were not disappointed, in fact we enjoyed it so much we returned for a second visit. The food is very good, the service lovely and the atmosphere great.
A Balus, Via del Borgo di San Pietro 9/2A, is a recent opening by the same owners as Va Mo La and we really enjoyed it on our most recent visit to the city. It has been well designed, with two separate rooms, excellent service and very good food.
Altro, Mercato delle Erbe, is one of the two main eating areas in the market of the same name, good cooking, friendly service, and a great atmosphere. It was another place that warranted two visits on this trip. On the most recent visit an incredibly rude staff member made us choose somewhere else, see below.
Polpette e Crescentine, Mercato delle Erbe, was a different choice for us from previous visits but we could see how popular it was with locals and were lucky to secure a table, very good food, the tortellini in brodo was excellent.
Banco 32, Mercato delle Erbe, is in the old fish section of the market and offers small plates of fish and seafood dishes. There is a daily changing menu based on what is available and is excellent value and a lively place to eat.
Pescheria San Gervasio, Via Belverdere 13D, is just outside the Mercato delle Erbe, it is a small place with a few tables on the terrace.The offerings are fish and seafood and are well cooked and excellent value.
Simoni Laboratorio, Via Pescherie Vecchie 3/B, is one of many similar places in this street but as the offshoot of one of the most respected meat and cheese providers in the city I think it is the best.Lovely meat and cheese platters, various breads and other dishes and very pleasant service.
Borgo 979, Via Gioto 12/A is a small place doing meat and cheese platters with a decent selection of wines and beers, friendly service.
051 are a group of of wines bars and restaurants around the city, the wine bar near the Mercato de Erbe is handy for a wine, there is also one near Simoni above, I do not think the platters are as good as Simoni but they are worth a visit if you come across any of the seven branches.
Osteria dell Orsa, Via Mentana 1,is a very popular cheap eating option,no bookings, communal & separate tables inside, and tables on the terrace in warmer weather. Good quality and friendly service and open all day.
La Montanara, Via Augusto Righi 15a, is one of many places in the street but stands out as it looks lovely and the food does not disappoint. There is a short but very tempting menu and everything was well cooked, the house wine was very reasonably priced. Fully booked when we tried to visit recently so a must, with a booking, for next time.
Tamburini, Via Caprarie is a Bologna institution as one of the best known food shops, it also does a great value self service lunch with pasta, mains, various drinks. Grab a tray and follow the locals and go early as otherwise there is no chance of a table.
Eataly, Via degli Orefici 19, is a food emporium with a bookshop attached. It was the first branch in Italy and while it is still worth a visit and a stop for a coffee or a wine, reviews of the food have been mixed recently. There is now Fico Eataly World, a huge complex outside the city which gets mixed reports.
Ice Cream is a big thing here and one of the best to try after a meal or in fact any time is from Galliera Bottega Gelateria, Via Galliera 49/B. Locals say it is the best in the city and the flavours are amazing.
The two main areas for a wide choice of places on previous visits seemed to be around the University and along Via Del Pratello. This time however the area around the Mercato delle Erbe was definitely our area of choice with some great bars and restaurants.
Acca Vineria, Via Nazario Sauro 19/A, was without a doubt our favourite wine bar on our most recent visit. This is a gem, a very local feel, lovely owner Franco and staff and an excellent range of wines and food on offer.
Saravino, Via Belvedere 11/A, is just outside the Mercado delle Erbe, there are a number of bars in this street but this was our favourite. Friendly staff and a good atmosphere. tables outside are prized but squeeze inside until a table comes free.
Vineria All Erbe is in the market building, and has a very good wines selection and some good food on offer. Definitely worth a visit and very helpful staff to assist with your choice.
The three wine bars above are members of a small local organisation called AMO which promotes locals wines and food, pick up a card in any of the 14 or so wine bars and restaurants and seek out some new places. Any below that are members show AMO in the description.
Also in the market in one of the corners in the Altro restaurant part is a small wine bar with an excellent range of reasonably priced wines and panini.
Fabrik in Righi, Via Augusto Righi32/E is a recently opened bar and became a firm favourite. The staff are friendly, the tables both inside and outside comfortable and they have a great food and wine selection. The platters and the crostini are top notch and reasonably priced. On our most recent visit this was again a favourite, service, wine and food all top notch. Our favourite without a doubt when we are in Bologna.
Gianni Vini, Via Frederico Venturini 1, is just off Via Augusto Righi and seems to have changed into more of a wine bar than the wine shop I remembered. We visited a couple of times and enjoyed the wines.
Camera A Sud (AMO), Via Valdonica is a modern wine bar also doing small meals, very popular and always a place to visit, have yet to eat there but can usually get a place outside or at the bar for a wine.
Cafe Rubik, Via Marsala 31/B is a small quirky bar with outdoor seating on one of the many covered colonnades, pleasant owner.
Marsalino, Via Marsala 13/D, was a recent find and it is a lovely bar.It is very popular especially early evening, good wine, food and cocktails and a fun atmosphere. On a visit on our last stay the bar was full but the manner of telling us that was unfortunate.
Antica Drogheria Calzolari, Via Giuseppe Petroni 9, is in the university area and is a beautiful old school wine shop where you can also get a glass of wine. They have an excellent range of wines and they are very reasonably priced.
Enoteca Storica Faccioli, Via Altabella 15/B, is an old school wine bar in the centre of the city, it is more expensive than some similar places but is worth a visit.
Signorvino, Piazetta Maggiore 1,is a wine bar and wine shop and given its situation with a terrace on Bologna’s main square looks like somewhere that will be overpriced but not at all. A bottle of local sparkling or white wine starts at around 11 Euros, there is no mark up on the wines from the shop prices. A great place to share a bottle of wine although the service can be slow. They also serve wine by the glass but much better value by the bottle.
Drogheria Gilberto, Via Drapperie 5,is a lovely old school grocers and wine shop with a small bar at the back, very good to buy wine and food souvenirs and then have a lovely glass of wine.
Vineria Favalli, Via San Stefano 5, we first came across on an early visit and were impressed with the wines on offer. On our most recent visit we popped in a couple of times and really enjoyed the wines and service,. they also have a place next door doing food.
There are a number of very busy bars close to the church of San Francisco attracting mainly a young crowd.Antica Taverna De Marchi opposite the church is very popular and the prices are incredibly cheap.
Lortica, Via Mascarella 26, is in the heart of student land but is well worth a visit, it has a wide range of drinks and is very reasonably priced.
Cantina Bentivoglio, Via Mascarella, wine bar and jazz venue, also does food, this was recommended by some locals and gets good reports of the food and the music.
Zanarini, Piazza Calvani, is a fabulous cake and chocolate shop with a bar where you get to graze on the excellent buffet when you buy a glass of wine, spritz or cocktail. Worth every euro as the quality is excellent, it turns into a very reasonable light lunch.
Aperitivo time, is mainly found in Northern Italy, we first came across it in Milan. Between 6 and 9 pm, locals go out for an aperitivo drink, often a campari or aperol spritz, a martini, or several other choices. Bars will lay on a buffet of finger food free to be eaten with your drink. Often the drink is more expensive to cover the food but depending on the quality of the buffet you can almost have your evening meal as many younger students seem to do. Choose a bar popular with locals and a good buffet and join the aperitivo scene.
Bologna is in Emilia Romagna one of Italy’s many wine growing regions producing around 15% of all wine. The reds from this area are Sangiovese and Lambrusco used in sparkling reds, try the Lambrusco you will be pleasantly surprised by how good it can be. For whites look out for Malvasia and Pignoletto from around Bologna. The Pignoletto whites are available as sparkling and normal white both are very good.
Walk around the old centre of the city, and the market streets to the east of the Piazza Maggiore. It doesn’t matter what area you wander around you are bound to be walking through some of the 44 kms of arcades in the city.
Modena is well worth a visit, it is only 30 minutes from Bologna by train and is a lovely city to explore. It is also home to one of the top three restaurants in the world Osteria Francescana, however if it is out of your price range and failed to get a booking three months in advance there is an alternative. There is a less formal and cheaper version also owned by Massimo Bottura called Franceschetta 58 at Via Vignolese 58. It is about ten minutes walk from the centre and is open for lunch and dinner. The food is outstanding, the service great and the price for the quality simply amazing. Booking required and this can be done on line.