in the middle
Located in northern Italy, Bologna is a sizable city with lots to offer. Nicknamed la rossa, or 'the red', partially in reference to its colourful buildings, the city is one of the country's largest and it is home to Europe's oldest university. Its skyline is punctuated by Renaissance towers and, although it may not enjoy the same status as its northern neighbours such as Venice and Verona, it boasts a hidden and exciting array of attractions. While there, you can spend your time in sumptuous eateries, stylish bars, museums and more.
Bologna Airport is popular with low cost carriers and as such it can be a cheaper alternative to flying into Florence. It is about 90 minutes away from Florence and you can either take a shuttle or take the bus to Bologna train station and then the train onto Florence. Combining a low cost flight to Bologna and then purchasing a hotel only in Florence can give you a cheaper DIY holiday to Florence. To check out cheap flights to Bologna, or flights to other Italian destinations, simply use our search tool.
The best times to visit Bologna are arguably the spring and autumn, when the weather is warm, but not uncomfortably hot. It is also worth noting that in August, much of the city seems to shut up shop as residents head for their annual breaks to the seaside.
Direct flights from the UK to the Guglielmo Marconi Airport take around two hours. After arriving at the hub, which is located around six kilometres north-west of Bologna, it is possible to transfer to the city centre by taxi, bus or to hire a car.
While staying in the city, you can take advantage of its efficient bus system and taxis are also available. If you intend to drive, it's worth noting that much of the city centre is off limits to vehicles, although hotels sometimes offer tickets that entitle bearers to enter the limited traffic zone. Another option is to hire a bike.
From the triangular Piazza di Santo Stefano, it is possible to enter the Basilica Santo Stefano. This compound of religious buildings now comprises four churches and a series of courtyards, gardens and passageways.
Meanwhile, other must-see attractions in Bologna include the Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda. Standing at 97.2 metres and 48 metres respectively, these impressive towers are named after the families who built them in the 12th century. It is possible to climb the 498 steps to reach the top of the Asinelli.
The University Quarter, complete with its cafes, bars and clubs, is also well worth checking out.