Finding the right place where to stay in Bologna shouldn’t be a problem. The city is amongst the prettiest in Italy. Not only that, but its cuisine and museums are some of the best in the world. We love it!
We’ve been to the city countless times. As architects, we consider it as impressive as Rome, Florence or Pisa. No wonder it is one of the most popular cities in Italy. No worries, Bologna has some of the best hotels in the country.
Bologna is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Indeed, the city’s past is long and rich. Today, approximately 1 million people call it home. That’s why Bologna has such diverse and beautiful neighborhoods. You will find the one you like!
The Best Places to Stay in Bologna
The Old Town – Centro Storico:
Close to Piazza Maggiore
The best place to stay in Bologna is close to the Piazza Maggiore. Everybody visits the plaza to shop, enjoy some art, grab a bite, and socialize. Since you will gravitate towards it anyways, it’s better to stay near.
The Basilica de San Petronia presides over the plaza. The Notary Palace from 1381 is next door. The tourist information office is in front. You will see the Clock Tower in the corner. Go up to enjoy epic views of the city.
Spend time in the Palacio Accursio. The 14th Century Town Hall homes an incredible museum full of exquisite frescoes. The iconic Statue of Neptune is in front. Don’t forget to visit the plaza at night. It’s even prettier empty.
We Recommend These Hotels near Piazza Maggiore:
Grand Hotel Majestic
If you have the money to splash, do it on this one. We spent two nights at the Grand Hotel Majestic and didn’t want to leave. The fantastic palace is next to the plaza. Everything is elegant, plush, and luxurious. The Majestic is one of the best hotels in Europe. There are no other 5 star hotels in Bologna.
Art Hotel Orologio
The Art Hotel Orologio is in front of the Clock Tower. They have rooms and apartments perfect for families. Book a suite to enjoy views over the plaza. They have complimentary bicycles! We loved biking around the city at night!
Between Piazza Santo Stefano and Piazza San Domenico
This area is southeast of the main square. Therefore, you are still in the middle of the old town and within walking distance of most landmarks. Grand palaces, shops, restaurants, and bars line the neighborhood’s narrow streets.
The San Stefano compound presides over Santo Stefano Plaza. You have 7 temples to discover! From there, go to the History Museum of Bologna, a 13th Century building. Walk along Farini Street to check the city’s fancy shops and art galleries.
Stop by Cavour Plaza to admire the ancient trees. The monumental San Domenico Basilica is near. The body of the founder of the Dominican order is inside the massive compound from the 13th Century. Stop by Domenico Park to rest in the shade.
We Recommend These Hotels between the Santo Stefano and San Domenico Squares:
If you love views, history, and class, book a room at Casa Isolani Santo Stefano. The hotel on the plaza is an original palace from the 13th Century. The rooms are big and offer epic views over the city.
We had a great time here. Hotel Touring is next to San Domenico square. The hotel has a splendid rooftop terrace with amazing views. They also have a hot tub! Book a room with a balcony for added pleasure.
Ghetto Ebraico and the University District
The Jewish Quarter is north of the Main Square and behind the Cathedral. It’s a neighborhood of narrow streets and aisles. Locals flock to the neighborhood in the afternoon and night to have a drink. It’s pretty authentic.
Begin your walk at the Two towers. The two 12th Century towers are the symbol of the city. Book your ticket in advance, show up at the right time, and go up 500 steps! You won’t regret it.
The University of Bologna is the oldest in the western world. It’s to the east of the Jewish Quarter. You have to visit the Poggi Palace and the National Gallery, two of the best museums in the city.
We Recommend These Hotels in Ghetto Ebraico and the University:
The Acquaderni is next to the two towers. You can see them from the hotel! This is a small property with impeccable service and super comfy rooms. They have a common kitchen and lounge area. Book in advance because it gets full!
To be in the middle of the University District, book a room at Residenza Bianconcini. The hotel is a refurbished palace with original frescoes and wooden beams. Go for a deluxe room. It’s bigger and has views.
Between Piazza VIII Agosto and Bologna Centrale
The area between the Piazza VIII Agosto and the main Train station is safe and clean. Besides, the Piazza Maggiore is just a 20-minute walk away. Therefore, you will be out of the touristy area. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Bologna is a couple of blocks east of the station.
Walk around Montagnola Park. The park is from the 19th Century, but the remains of the castle are from the 14th. On Fridays and weekends, there’s a market on Agosto Square. It’s the perfect place to mingle with the locals.
Continue east 2 minutes to the Botanical Gardens of the University of Bologna. The gardens, founded in 1536, hold over 5000 plants! You will see a couple of medieval gates and the best-preserved sections of the city wall next to the gardens.
We Recommend These Hotels between the Piazza VIII Agosto and Bologna Centrale:
Hotel I Portici
We spent a couple of nights at Hotel I Portici and loved it. The hotel is part of the park and has a Michelin-starred restaurant, frescoes, and a terrace overlooking the park. Our room had a painted ceiling!
Royal Hotel Carlton
The Royal Carlton is set in a big garden with a fountain. It’s 5 minutes from the train station. The hotel features a gym and a spa with saunas. The best rooms are on the top floor and have balconies.
Outside of the Old Town:
From the Saragozza Gate to the Main Square, it’s just a 15-minute walk. That’s why Saragozza is the best area to stay in Bologna if you want peace next to the city. The streets are wider and lined with trees.
The neighborhood is beneath a hill full of gardens. From Saragozza Gate to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is an hour’s walk up the hill. You will pass by several villas and gardens until you reach the Arco del Meloncello.
It’s a super safe walk along the Portico di San Luca. The Sanctuary from 1765 is beautiful. You can take a public bus from Piazza Maggiore to the Portico and walk for half an hour. The San Luca Express takes tourists directly from the square to the sanctuary. It’s included in Bologna Welcome Card.
We Recommend These Hotels in Saragozza:
Our favorite hotel in Saragozza is the Tempobianco. The cute and traditional Italian building is within walking distance to most attractions. The rooms have extra-comfy beds. Book the Junior Suite with a balcony. You won’t get a better room in Bologna at this price.
Suite Hotel Elite
The Suite Hotel Elite is less than half an hour walking to the Main Square. It’s got free onsite parking! The units have a balcony and some fantastic views. The apartments are big and offer great value for money.
Bolognina is behind the main train station. It’s the best place to stay in Bologna for an authentic experience. There aren’t many tourists in the neighborhood and is pretty safe and lively. We love it because of its graffiti art.
Stay in Bolognina if you are short of time. Due to its location, you can walk to the center in no time and take an early train. Bolognina is the best place for budget accommodation in Bologna.
The neighborhood is full of Chinese, Arab and Italian eateries. Mingle with the locals at the Lucio Dalla Community Gardens. It’s a huge undulating structure with restaurants, bars, and games. The hippodrome is to the north.
We Recommend These Hotels in Bolognina:
The best hotel in Bolognina is the Starhotels Exclesior. The contemporary building is next to the train and bus stations. However, it’s very quiet. The beds are super comfortable. It’s got onsite parking, and they can store your luggage for the day!
Considering its class and location, the TSH Hotel is great value for money. It’s a modern building with a pool, ping pong tables, and a gym. You can even use the washing and drying machines! The local bar is inexpensive and visited mostly by locals.
Fiera di Bologna
The Fiera di Bologna is one of the largest convention centers in Italy. It’s north of the main station, some 2.5 miles (3.3 km) from the main plaza. The compound includes 20 venues, several towers, and gardens.
If you are visiting Bologna for business, this is where to stay. You can walk to the center in 45 minutes. However, there are public buses that take you there fast. If you are tired, hop on a taxi and you’ll be back in no time.
The area north of the fair is kind of rural. You will be in the middle of agricultural fields and old traditional houses. For authentic Italian food in a field, head to La Fabbreria Restaurant. If you like live music, go to Covo Club near the fair.
We Recommend These Hotels in Fiera di Bologna:
We loved the Savoia Regency Hotel across the road in front of the fair. The grand palace is set in a massive garden with a pool. The complimentary breakfast is delicious! Book a room with a balcony for added pleasure. Has onsite parking. This one is one of the best luxury hotels in Bologna.
The Sydney Hotel
To be closer to the fair, book a room at the Sydney Hotel. You will be literally within walking distance. It’s a big tower with a pool, gardens, and a gym. The Deluxe Rooms are bigger and come with an espresso machine. Onsite parking.
Cirenaica and Murri
These two neighborhoods are east of the old town, across State Road 9. Cirenaica is close to the university area. Therefore, it’s a lively area full of students. You can walk to the main plaza in less than half an hour.
Since the restaurants and bars cater to locals, they are better. We like the ones on Via Murri and Via Mazzini. The city’s biggest and nicest park is in Murri. The Margherita Gardens feature running paths, tennis courts, fountains, and a fantastic coffee shop with views.
Murri is a posh neighborhood of leafy streets and traditional houses. To go to the center, enter through the 13th Century Maggiore Gate and walk 25 minutes to the main square. We love Murri because of its tall trees.
We Recommend These Hotels in Cirenaica and Murri:
Hotel Blumen is a couple of blocks from the Maggiore Gate. It’s got easy parking behind the hotel and big rooms. Book the one with a balcony. The complimentary breakfast is delicious and the service is impeccable.
La Corte del Sant’Orsola
The family-owned La Corte Hotel is close to the University of Bologna area. The rooms are big and spotlessly clean. Book the one with a terrace for extra space. Your host Massimo will take good care of you.
How Long to Stay in Bologna
You can spend weeks in Bologna and never get bored. The city has countless museums, palaces, villas, parks, restaurants, bars, etc. The last time we went, we spent a week and felt we didn’t have enough time.
However, we all have time constraints and a huge world to discover. So you are probably wondering how many days are needed in Bologna to cover the basics. We believe you must spend at least 3 days in the city.
You will have to rush a bit, but you will get to enjoy your time. That’s why we strongly recommend staying in the center. We once spent a weekend at the Grand Hotel Majestic and had the time of our lives.
Moving Around Bologna
The best way of moving around Bologna is walking. In winter in Bologna, the weather is not a problem. All you need is proper shoes and a good coat. Better still, buy them in the city. The shops are amazing!
All of the hotels we mention in the center are within walking distance of all attractions. Another fantastic way of discovering Bologna is biking! However, we don’t advise doing so in the center. Tie your bike and walk.
The city has a public share bike system. There are also buses that take you everywhere. Ask around. Italians are super nice and will help you out. There’s a train and buses to the airport. You can reach all of Italy from the main train station.