Best Places to Visit in Emilia Romagna – The Perfect Itinerary

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission.


You will fall in love with the Emilia Romagna Region in northern Italy. The region is next to the Adriatic Coast and pretty close to Genoa and Milan. It’s one of my favorite places in Europe.

The best places to visit in Emilia Romagna are Bologna, Modena, Parma, Ferrara, and Ravenna. I’ve been to all of them and have the information you need to prepare your Emilia Romagna Itinerary.

You will see 4 UNESCO Listed World Heritage Sites that are amongst the prettiest in the country. Besides, the local food is famous around the world. You will eat like a king!

Emilia Romagna Itinerary

Best Places to Visit in Emilia Romagna


Bologna is the capital and the largest city in Emilia Romagna. It has a long and fascinating past. The oldest university in the world is here. Bologna University was founded in 1088!

Without a doubt, Bologna is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Though originally Etruscan, it flourished during the Middle Ages. At one point, it was one of the biggest cities in the world.

Bologna Piazza Maggiore

What to See in Bologna

Bologna has some of italy’s best attractions. Thus, you need at least a couple of days to explore the main ones. Start your visit at the imposing Piazza Maggiore. The Palazzo d’Accursio and the Basilica di San Petronio preside over the plaza.

The city’s most famous landmarks are two tall towers. These are Le due Torri: Garisenda e degli Asinelli. According to locals, two families built them to showcase their power. Notice that both of them lean.

There are several world class museums in Bologna. The one you can’t miss is the former main building of the Bologna University called Archiginnasio. The Archeological Museum and the National Gallery are other top museums.

Bologna Due Torri

The Best Tours of Bologna

If you are short of time, you should consider going on a tour around city. This walking tour takes you around Bologna’s historic center in two hours. It includes the main sites.

If you prefer something more particular, consider hiring this customized private tour. Your friendly local guide will take you around the places that you prefer.

Food lovers will be in heaven in Bologna. This tour takes you to a local bottega where you’ll try cheese and charcuterie. It also takes you to Bologna’s oldest tavern, where you’ll try delicious food and wine.

Bologna Old Town

Where to Stay in Bologna

The best places to stay in Bologna are in its old town. The Grand Hotel Majestic is not only Bologna’s best hotel, but one of the best in Europe. Book a suite, and you’ll never want to leave.

The Art Hotel Orologio is just off the main square. The best rooms overlook the square. The hotel has complimentary bicycles that are perfect for an afternoon ride.

If you like historic places, you’ll love Casa Isolani Santo Stefano. This lovely hotel is inside a 13tth-Century palace directly on San Stefano Square. The rooms have outstanding views.

Bologna Grand Hotel


Modena might not be as famous as Bologna, but its balsamic vinegar conquered the world. Yes, the sweet acid dark vinegar is a local product. I believe the city is gorgeous.

Modena is also famous for its car industry. Some of the world’s most famous car companies are local. I’m talking about Ferrari, De Tomaso, Maserati, and Paganini. Lamborghini has a factory here too.

History buffs will be happy to know that Modena has a perfectly preserved medieval old town. In fact, the city is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and lovely little squares.

Modena Piazza Grande

What to See in Modena

Begin your visit to Modena at its gorgeous main square. Locals call it Piazza Grande. UNESCO included the square, the Cathedral, and the Torre Civica in its list of World Heritage Sites.

The other square you must visit is Piazza Roma. Modena’s most famous baroque palace is on the plaza. The Palazzo Ducale is a sight to behold! Spend some time in Parco Giardino Ducale Estense.

As you can imagine, the best museums in Modena are related to cars. The most famous one is Museum Enzo Ferrari, dedicated to the car genius. The Panini Motor Museum and the Museum della Figurina are two other great museums.

Modena Ferrari Museum

The Best Tours of Modena

If you want to explore Modena with a guide, I suggest this tour. Your expert guide will take you to the main sites, including the Cathedral, the Town Hall, and the Cathedral Museum in two hours.

This unique tour takes you to several places related to the famous Ferrari brand. You’ll visit the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, the Museo della Fabbrica in Fiorano, and the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. It includes lunch.

This one-hour tour takes you through the history and traditions of the famous Black Gold of Modena, balsamic vinegar. At the end of the tour, you get to try vinegar, local food, and wine.

Modena Old Town

Where to Stay in Modena

The best places to stay in Modena are in or around the old town. Hotel Rua Frati 48 in San Francesco is the city’s only 5-star hotel. The 16th-Century palace is amazing!

If you are looking for a comfortable place to stay close to the train station and the Enzo Ferrari Museum, then the Best Western Premier Milano Palace Hotel is your best bet.

Another great historic hotel is PHI Hotel Canalgrande. The hotel is a step away from the main square. The rooms are modern and comfortable. The lounge features 18th-Century frescoes.

Modena Elegant Building


Parma is another city famous for its food. Who hasn’t heard of parmigiano cheese or the famous prosciutto di Parma? This first-class ham owes its taste to the sweet, dry, and aromatic air of the mountains that surround the city.

Parma is also a very important university center with a great youthful vibe. Hang around the Piazza de la Pace, and you’ll see what I am talking about.

That is not to say that architecture buffs will leave Parma empty-handed. On the contrary, the elegant Old Town is full of delightful old palaces and colorful churches.

Parma Piazza del Duomo

What to See in Parma

Parma’s two main sites are on the Piazza del Duomo. I am talking about the 12th-Century Cathedral and the Baptistery. If you think they look gorgeous from the outside, wait till you get inside. The frescoes will take your breath away.

The other square you should visit is Piazza Garibaldi. The Palazzo del Governatore is on the plaza. Don’t miss the nearby Santa Maria della Steccata Church.

Don’t forget to visit the imposing 16th-Century Palazzo della Pilotta in the center of Parma. It is home to the National Gallery, the Teatro Farnese, and the Biblioteca Palatina.

Parma Piazza Garibaldi

The Best Tours of Parma

If you want to discover Parma with a local guide, I suggest you hire this tour. It takes you to the main sites like the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the Farnese Theater. Entrance to the Baptistery included.

You can’t leave Parma without learning about its ham and cheese. This tour takes you to a traditional cheese and a ham factory. You’ll taste delicious local cheese, ham, and wine.

If you want to try more local cuisine, I suggest this tour. It takes you to five different street food places where you’ll try delicacies like Tortelli, Carciofa, Bomba di riso, or Tigelle.

Parma Old Town

Where to Stay in Parma

Most of Parma’s hotels are in the city center or across the river. The city’s finest hotel, the Grand Hotel De La Ville, offers luxury at the edge of the Old Town.

If you are short of time and want to explore the region, I suggest staying at the Novotel Parma Centro. The modern hotel is just a step away from the train station.

My favorite hotel in Parma is the Starhotels du Parc, right next to the Parco Ducale. They offer spacious rooms in a beautiful setting.

Parma Starhotel


Ferrara is one of those Italian cities where time seems to have stopped. Originally an Etruscan city, it flourished during the Renaissance when it was the seat of the prosperous House of Este.

Of all the cities on this list, Ferrara is the one with the most relaxed vibe. There are several large squares with extraordinary buildings on all sides. There is also a unique arched lane.

However, what sets Ferrara apart is the massive castle right in the middle of it all. Indeed, the 14th-Century Castello Estense is a sight to behold.

Ferrara Piazza Trento e Trieste

What to See in Ferrara

The first thing you should do is pay a visit to Este Castle. Touring its private chambers, chapel, prison, garden, and towers will take a while, but it’s worth it.

Once done with the castle, get lost in its charming squares. The Cathedral is by the long Piazza Trento e Trieste. Pay attention to several intricate towers.

If you have time, stroll along the Ferrara city walls. Though most of the original wall is not there anymore, it’s a splendid walk around the city. Spend some time in Chiesa di San Cristoforo alla Certosa.

Ferrara Castelo Estense

The Best Tours of Ferrara

If you want to get to know Ferrara with a local guide, this small group tour is a great option. It takes you around the main sites in only two hours.

If you prefer a private guide just for yourself, then consider hiring this tour. It takes you through a similar route, but you will be alone with the guide.

Another great tour is this bike tour around Ferrara. Apart from the city center, you’ll visit the jaw dropping Ferrara University and bike along the old city walls.

Ferrara Old Town

Where to Stay in Ferrara

Most places to stay in Ferrara are in the Old Town. My favorite hotel is the Princess Art Hotel. All of their rooms come with antique furnishings and wood-beamed ceilings. The best rooms have a fireplace and a seating area.

You can’t get closer to Este Castle than at the Hotel Annunziata. Some of their rooms have direct views of the castle. The hotel offers bicycles for rent.

If you are looking for something modern and chic, I suggest staying at the Maxxim Hotel. Housed in a former count’s residence from the 15th Century, it offers spacious and comfortable rooms and apartments.

Ferrara Hotel


I’ve saved the best for last. Ravenna is my favorite city in the region. The city has a long and glorious past. Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and Byzantine Italy until the 8th Century. It gradually lost importance through the centuries.

Today, the city has an incredible architecture. You probably have heard of the famous Ravenna mosaics.

You have to visit eight extraordinary monuments that have survived until this day. UNESCO included them all in its list of World Heritage Sites. These are called the Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna.

Ravenna San Vitale

What to See in Ravenna

Start your visit at Ravenna’s most spectacular site: Basilica di San Vitale. The city’s most impressive mosaics are inside the temple. Do not miss the mosaics of Justinianus I and Theodora.

The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo is another must-visit church. The mosaics inside this temple will leave you speechless. Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the Baptistery of Neon and the Arian Baptistery.

Don’t rush and enjoy these ancient sites. Then take a stroll around Ravenna’s cobbled streets. Stop at the Piazza del Popolo and grab a bite at the Mercato Coperto. Don’t miss Dante Alighieri’s tomb.

Ravenna Mosaics

The Best Tours of Ravenna

If you want to learn about Ravenna’s historic sites from an expert guide, book this tour. It takes you to the main sites in three hours. Tickets included.

If private tours are your thing, I suggest hiring this one. A local expert guide will take you to Ravenna’s historic center, including the main sites.

Book lovers will be delighted to know there’s a tour focused on renowned Italian writer Dante Alighieri. It takes you to places related to his life and death, including his tomb and the church where his funeral was held.

Ravenna Old Town

Where to Stay in Ravenna

The hotel offer in Ravenna is somewhat limited. The elegant Palazzo Bezzi is the best hotel in Ravenna. It’s next to the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo.

If you plan to base yourself in Ravenna and visit other nearby places, I suggest staying at the NH Ravenna. The hotel is between the train station and the historic center. The rooms are comfortable and big.

If you are looking for something a little bit more low-key, stay at the Albergo Cappello. The hotel is right across the marketplace. The plush rooms have wood-beamed ceilings.

Ravenna Market

Other Places to Visit

I’ve mentioned the best places to visit in Emilia Romagna, but the region has many other fantastic ones. You will love them all! Rimini is the region’s main beach resort. It’s a cute city with a long sandy beach.

You can visit cute little towns and villages. Dozza and Brisighella are great day trips from Bologna. Comacchio makes a great day trip from Ferrara.

The other two big cities worth visiting are Piacenza and Reggio Emilia. The region’s most impressive castle is Torrechiara. Finally, go to Fermo. This gorgeous town is in the nearby Marche Region.


Traveling Around Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna is a popular travel destination with four international airports: Bologna, Rimini, Parma, and Forli. The biggest is the one in Bologna. Most international flights arrive there.

You shouldn’t have any problems traveling from one city to another. Direct trains connect them all. Most of the trains are frequent and relatively reliable.

To visit smaller towns or villages, hop on a local bus. However, local buses can take way too long. If you are short of time, I recommend going on a tour. Driving is another option. The best way of moving in each city is by walking and biking.

Emilia Romagna Places to Visit

Source link