If there's one word that sums up Bologna, it's food. This city is arguably the culinary center of the whole of Italy, and since Italy is arguably the culinary center of the world, you're in for a treat when it comes to eating and drinking in this beautiful city.

But it's not only the cuisine that's impressive, here. Known for its iconic walkways called porticos (which provide much-needed shelter on the rare occasion it rains), Bologna's architecture and history are equally as impressive. Its small size is more than made up by its big personality.

In fact, Bologna has three nicknames – the red one, the fat one, and the learned one. The first nickname nods to its red and orange-colored buildings, the second pays tribute to Bologna's unbeatable food culture, and the last references Bologna's university, which is one of the most renowned in Europe.

Not sure where to stay in this historic city? I've got you covered, with a list of not only the best areas but also the best hotels in Bologna for you to rest your head after a busy day of sightseeing.

The best places to stay in Bologna

Centro Storico – For first-time visitors to Bologna or those wanting to cram the main sights into just a few days, the historic city centre is undoubtedly the best place to stay and the area where you'll find the most Bologna hotels. Central Bologna is easy to walk around and packed full of historic sights.

Saragozza – If you want to be near all the major attractions while saving a bit of money, head to Saragozza instead. With its own unique personality, this neighborhood has a cool, laid-back vibe.

University District – Bologna is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, so this district is great to stay in if you're interested in checking out this ancient place of higher education. It's where plenty of students live, too, so it's got a lively and laid-back young vibe.

Via del Pratello – If nightlife is your thing, stay as close as possible to Via del Pratello. This famous street in Bologna is lined with the city's hippest bars and eateries. You'll find it's lively here until the early hours of the morning with locals enjoying a vermouth.

Fiera di Bologna – If you're staying in Bologna for a business trip or simply looking to live as the locals do, head to Fiera di Bologna. This upmarket area is where most of the city's companies are located and it's central enough without being full of tourists.

Bolognina – Bolognina, which means ‘Little Bologna' is located just behind the main station and is a hub of alternative lifestyle and activity. Still within walking distance of the main sights, Bolognina is unapologetically multicultural and home to many artists and hipsters.

Ghetto Ebraico – The former Jewish ghetto is located in the medieval quarter of this bustling city and is the perfect place to stay in the historic city center if you're a culture vulture interested in the city's past.

1. Where to stay in Bologna for first-time visitors: Centro Storico

Where to Stay In Bologna - centro

Bologna's city center straddles two worlds – on the one hand, elegant and on the other, unapologetically laid-back and cool. Home to the city's main landmark, Piazza Maggiore (a centuries-old square with impressive buildings), the historic centre of Bologna is the best place to stay if sightseeing is your main goal.

Around Piazza Maggiore, you'll find streets lined with bars and restaurants serving up specialty dishes from Bologna, including cured meats such as mortadella and the famous tagliatelle al ragu (which Brits know as spaghetti bolognese).

You'll also find the main shopping street and the best luxury hotels, so it's probably the most tourist-friendly neighborhood in this city.

Bear in mind that this means you'll find just that – tourists. If you're looking to escape the crowds or stay somewhere quieter, consider one of the neighborhoods that are more off the beaten track.

Things to do in Centro Storico:

  • See the iconic Two Towers

  • Hang out in Piazza Maggiore

  • See the Basilica di San Petronio

  • Grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants surrounding the main square

  • Visit the Fontana del Nettuno

  • Look through a secret hatch to check out a mini Venice at Finestrella di Via Piella

  • Play around with the whispering walls

Best area for:

  • Tourists

  • Sightseeing

  • Bologna's main attractions

  • First-time visitors

Best hotels to stay in Centro Storico

($$$) Grand Hotel Majestic gia' Baglioni

($$) Art Hotel Commercianti

($) Hotel Panorama Bologna Centro

2. Where to stay in Bologna on a budget: Saragozza

Where to Stay In Bologna - saragozza

This quiet residential area is ideal for being close to the action while ensuring a good night's sleep and the option to avoid crowds of tourists.

Thanks to Saragozza's more residential vibe, it's one of the places you can look for more affordable accommodation in Bologna. This doesn't mean it's boring though – quite the opposite.

Saragozza is home to plenty of friendly cafes and bars where the locals hang out, so you can find a croissant and espresso to enjoy for breakfast or a glass of wine to help you chill out after a day of sightseeing.

Things to do in Saragozza:

  • Walk 10 minutes down the road to taste one of Bologna's best pizzas at Berberè Pizzeria

  • See the Porta Saragozza medieval wall

  • Visit Renato Dall'Ara Stadium

  • Take a stroll around the local coffee shops and pick up a cheap espresso

Best area for:

  • Saving money

  • Living like a local

Best hotels to stay in Saragozza

($$$) Villa Benni B&B

($$) Bologna Esclusivo Appartamento Magico

($) Charming apartment near Saragozza Bologna

3. Where to stay in Bologna for nightlife: University District

Where to Stay In Bologna - university district

As one of Bologna's nicknames, the learned one, hints at, Bologna is famous for education, namely its university which was founded in 1088. In fact, it's the oldest university in continuous operation in the world.

As a result, students from Europe and beyond flock to this university to study and places here are sought-after by Italian citizens. The district surrounding the university is known for being lively and friendly with a young crowd, home to plenty of students and bars to keep them in a constant supply of beers.

If you want to stay in an area that's quintessential Bologna but will have you living among locals rather than tourists, look no further than the University District. Full of hipster watering holes and streets that are older than some countries, this neighborhood is the perfect place to stay in Bologna which is full to the brim of character and excitement.

Be warned though, if nightlife isn't your thing or you're visiting with family, you might find this area a little noisy at night.

Things to do in the University District:

  • Take a stroll around the grounds of the University of Bologna

  • Visit one of the many affordable student bars in the area

  • Visit the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio

Best area for:

  • Students

  • Nightlife lovers

  • Architecture fans

  • Visitors on a budget

Best hotels to stay in the University District

($$$) Albergo Rossini 1936

($$) Almarossa

($) Hotel Accademia

4. Where to stay in Bologna for food and drink: Via del Pratello

Where to Stay In Bologna - via del pratello

Bologna is no stranger to good food and a good time and if you're not either, head straight to Via del Pratello and the surrounding areas. At weekends and during the evenings, this stretch of Bologna transforms into a hub of nightlife, with friends and colleagues overflowing into the streets with glasses of wine and cuts of traditional meats from Bologna.

To understand the culture of this area it truly must be experienced, so head there on a weekend evening to enjoy a chat with the friendly locals and a glass of wine from the Emilia-Romagna region.

Even if staying here isn't for you (the weekends can be quite noisy after all), it's well worth visiting for a night or two during your stay in Bologna.

Plus, Via del Pratello is sandwiched nicely between Saragozza and the city center, so you won't have to walk far to be either in the tourist-heavy center or a more residential area.

Things to do in Via del Pratello:

  • Grab a drink in one of the many bars

  • Soak up the lively evening atmosphere with a stroll

  • Try a typical dish from Bologna, crescentine, at Indegno

  • Look out for impressive local street art

Best area for:

  • Nightlife

  • Bars and pubs

  • Food on-the-go

  • Good vibes

  • Groups of friends

Best hotels to stay in Via del Pratello

($$$) Boutique Hotel Re Enzo

($$) Tourist House Bologna Pratellino

($) Affittacamere Pratello 97

5. Where to stay in Bologna to escape the crowds and for business trips: Fiera di Bologna

Where to Stay In Bologna - fiera di bologna

Fiera di Bologna is Bologna's business district. It's slightly more buttoned up than Via del Pratello or the University District, but it's the perfect place to stay for business trips or just to get away from the seemingly inescapable crowds in the city center.

It's also home to the food park, FICO Eataly World, so it's a great place for foodies to head to. The best part is that all these attractions are within a 20-minute walk of the city center, so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of central Bologna without having to deal with the crowds.

If you like living like a local and exploring a more authentic side of Bologna, Fiera di Bologna is the perfect place to stay.

Things to do in Fiera di Bologna:

  • Grab some delicious food at FICO Bologna

  • Attend the Convention Center if visiting Bologna for business

  • Visit a free exhibit at CUBO Condividere Cultura

  • Catch a show at Teatro EuropAuditorium

Best area for:

  • Business trips

  • Foodies

  • Escaping the crowds

Best hotels to stay in Fiera di Bologna

($$$) UnaHotels Bologna Fiera

($$) Savhotel

($) Elizabeth Lifestyle Hotel

6. Where to stay in Bologna for hipster vibes: Bolognina

Where to Stay In Bologna - bolognina

Located just behind the city's main train station, Bolognina is the perfect area to stay if you like visiting neighborhoods off the beaten track and you're not afraid of a little hipster culture.

Arguably the most charming of the neighborhoods in Bologna, Bolognina is multicultural, home to many immigrants from diverse sets of backgrounds.

This multiculturalism also means Bolognina is the best area to find non-Italian food, which can be pretty difficult in the Emilia-Romagna region. Foodies will love the range of cuisines on offer here, and dishes tend to be available at affordable prices.

While not the most bar-filled neighborhood in the city, Bolognina is no stranger to nightlife, so it's a great area to stay if you're planning on visiting with friends and want to explore bars, pubs, and clubs.

Things to do in Bolognina:

  • Enjoy food from other cultures

  • Visit one of the area's many bars

  • Visit the Museo per la Memoria di Ustica

  • See the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Best area for:

  • Nightlife lovers

  • Young travellers

  • Non-Italian cuisine

Best hotels to stay in Bolognina

($$$) Hotel Il Guercino

($$) The Social Hub Bologna

($) Hotel Arcoveggio

7. Where to stay in Bologna for culture: Ghetto Ebraico

Where to Stay In Bologna - gheto ebraico

If you're visiting Bologna to understand the rich history and culture of this fascinating city, you'll be best placed staying in the Ghetto Ebraico.

This district is actually located in the city's historic center, so you won't have to walk far to reach Bologna's most iconic attractions.

This area was once home to Bologna's Jewish population, so there are centuries worth of history in this area, making it a highlight for culture vultures. Its unique architecture and fascinating history continue to draw tourists, who enjoy the proximity to the sights while staying in this one-of-a-kind area.

Things to do in Ghetto Ebraico:

  • Take in the ancient streets with a stroll around the neighborhood

  • Shop at Via dell'Inferno

  • Visit the Museo Ebraico and learn more about Jewish culture and history

Best area for:

  • Getting to know Jewish culture

  • History buffs

  • Interesting architecture

Best hotels to stay in Ghetto Ebraico

($$$) Hotel Corona d'Oro

($$) Residence le Porte

($) Hotel San Donato

Where to Stay in Bologna – Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Is it worth staying in Bologna?

Bologna is absolutely worth visiting! While underrated, Bologna has just as much to offer as nearby cities that are better known. With unique architecture, friendly locals, and some of the best food in the world (yes, really!), you should definitely consider adding Bologna to your list of Italian destinations.

🚶 Is Bologna walkable?

Bologna is a walkable city. Most of the biggest sights are conveniently located within walking distance of the city center and the majority of neighborhoods can be reached using public transport or a local taxi service. If you plan on visiting other cities nearby such as Florence or Turin, Italy has excellent high-speed trains you can take, but there are car rental facilities if driving is your preference.

❓ Which part of Bologna is the best to stay in?

Choose your ideal Bologna neighborhood based on your situation and plans. If you want to be in the heart of it all, you should stay in the Centro Storico or the Ghetto Ebraico, both of which are home to most of Bologna's historical buildings. Nightlife lovers will find the best spots for socializing in either the University District (home to many affordable watering holes) or the area surrounding Via del Pratello. Bolognina is the best place to look for non-Italian food just in case you get sick of pizza (okay, I know, that's not possible!) while Fiera di Bologna is also great for foodies since it boasts the FICO food park. Fiera di Bologna and Saragozza are also the best places to stay to escape the crowds. You'll find the most affordable accommodation in Saragozza, too.

Luckily, no matter which part of Bologna you stay in, you'll be able to walk to the main sights and to other neighborhoods with ease.

📅 How many days should I stay in Bologna?

Bologna is relatively small, so you can see the majority of sights within just a few days. You can easily get around most of Bologna in a long weekend or even just a day trip, but if you truly want to get the most out of your trip and discuss multiple neighborhoods, consider visiting for a week. Since Bologna is so accessible from other cities in northern Italy, you can easily include it in a wider tour, too.

🍴 What food is Bologna best known for?

Bologna is the culinary center of Italy and there are a few dishes in particular that it's best known for. In general, Bologna is known for cured meats, so it's safe to say it's not really a vegetarian paradise (although there are plenty of places to eat veggies if that's your thing).

Mortadella, a type of savory sausage that comes thinly sliced, is a classic dish from Bologna. Parmigiano Reggiano (also known as parmesan) is from the area, as is tagliatelle al ragu, which is pasta with a meat sauce. Crescentine fritte is also well worth tasting – puffy fried bread that is typically served with meat and cheese.

Where to stay in Bologna – Final Words

The good news is that wherever you stay in Bologna, you'll be almost guaranteed to have an incredible time. This fascinating city is home to amazing architecture, a ton of history, and some of the best food you'll ever eat, honestly!

The best place to stay in Bologna for you depends on your preferences and what you plan on doing during your time in the classic Italian city. Set out your plans and look for a neighborhood that matches your preferences. Just don't forget to enjoy some ragu while you're there!

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