1. Bologna to Ravenna
Ravenna has the rare honour of being both the Mosaic Capital of Italy and the Theme Park Capital of Emilia-Romagna. That sure makes it a unique place for day trips from Bologna. It also means that Ravenna has the potential to please a wide range of people. Keep the whole family entertained at fun attractions, wander down picturesque medieval streets for a few hours, or delve into time-tested mosaic-making techniques. And thanks to Trenitalia's direct regional trains, which frequently run from 05:00 to midnight every day, it's only one hour from Bologna Centrale to Ravenna.
Ravenna's mosaics are incredible. And they’re worth a special trip, even if you're not much into art. Start with wandering through the old centre of Ravenna, where the San Vitale Basilica, Sant'Apollinare Basilica, and Galla Placidia Mausoleum are among many historical buildings adorned by eye-catching, colourful mosaics. The TAMO Museum, inside the Church of San Nicolò, has interactive displays on mosaic-making techniques if you want to learn more. You can also visit the Tomb of Dante, the revered medieval Italian poet, in Ravenna. And Mirabilandia, a gigantic amusement park with dozens of rides, roller coasters, water rides, and massive Ferris wheel, is located just outside Ravenna.
2. Bologna to Modena
If you like balsamic vinegar, then you’ll love Modena. Because this is the spiritual home of Italy's most famous fermented condiment. And you can find tastings, lectures, workshops, and every kind of vinegar-themed activity you ever thought possible. Given Emilia-Romagna's already incredible food heritage, including the cheese and ham of nearby Parma, it's needless for us to point out that you won't be at a loss for delicious lunch options in Modena. But as if one world-famous icon wasn't enough, Modena has two more.
Modena has long been known for its opera heritage. The elegant 1838 Modena opera house was renamed the Luciano Pavarotti Theatre in honour of the late tenor, who was born in Modena. The legacy of Enzo Ferrari, another local boy, and his game-changing sports car design, is celebrated at the magnificent Enzo Ferrari Museum. It's only an 18-minute journey from Bologna Centrale to Modena railway station if you travel on a Frecciargento high-speed train, and there are over 50 trains a day, running from early morning until 22:30 – so diving into Modena's multi-faceted heritage couldn't be easier.
3. Bologna to Rimini
If you're looking for a day trip from Bologna to the beach, Rimini is your best bet. This elegant resort town has been a favoured seaside retreat for Italy's well-to-do for over a century. The route from Bologna Centrale to Rimini Station takes only around an hour on Trenitalia's Frecciabianca service. This leaves you plenty of time at either end. And the last train from Rimini to Bologna leaves at 22:03, providing even more flexibility, just in case you want to hang around longer than planned – we wouldn't blame you if you did.
In addition to long, beautiful beaches, Rimini is brimming with classic seaside resort charm. Italy in Miniature, with small-scale models of European landmarks, can be found here. As can Fiabilandia, a seafront theme park with family-focused zoos, water games, and rides. Just outside Rimini is the Ciclabile della Val Marecchia, a trail of walking and cycling paths following the Marecchia River to Borgo San Giuliano, a quiet old fishing village with cobblestone streets and lovely seafront cafes. If you want a peek into Rimini's rich heritage, visit the City Museum housed inside the Jesuit College. Its unique artefacts include a collection of ancient Roman surgical instruments excavated nearby.
4. Bologna to Venice
Venice may be well known for gondola rides, glass blowing, St. Mark's Square, and a colourful Carnival. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Start your day trip from Bologna by ticking off all the deservedly best-known sites in the morning, including St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. All of these are stunning, easy to combine, and likely to live up to or even exceed your expectations in real life.
Beyond the star attractions, there are many more gems tucked in various corners of the city. The Arsenale is a fascinating museum, detailing Venice's rich naval and maritime history. Beautiful Burano and Murano islands are famous for lace-making and glass-blowing, respectively. But for a quieter option, Cannaregio has similarly beautiful canalside buildings. Art-lovers overwhelmed by the size of the Galleria dell'Accademia's collection should head for the superb Peggy Guggenheim Collection or the Oriental Art Museum. If food drives you, then let it drive you over the Rialto Bridge to sample the teeming, magical markets there. Frecciarossa, as well as high-speed Italo and Frecciargento trains, run throughout the day between Bologna Centrale and Venezia Santa Lucia, taking from 1h 13m each way.
5. Bologna to Verona
It can take as little as 52 minutes to get from Bologna to Verona on a Frecciargento train. The setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, this "City of Love" does indeed have an unmistakable air of romance. But whether you're a fan of Shakespeare, literature, or history, Verona has plenty of sites of interest. Particularly those relating to the powerful Capuleti and Montecchi families, a rivalry that inspired Italian poets as early as the 12th and 13th centuries.
Beyond the famed statue of Juliet and the building known as Juliet's House, Verona is full of fascinating historical sites. Piazza delle Erbe, which was the centre of the city in Roman times, still hosts a lively fresh produce market, while the beautiful 12th-century Verona Cathedral houses “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Titian. Castelvecchio is a 14th-century fortified castle which displays medieval paintings, sculptures, and weapons. The Ponte Pietra (‘Stone Bridge’) and Verona Arena, a gigantic 1st-century amphitheatre right in the town centre, are reminders of Verona's Roman heritage.
These are just a few of the great day trips from Bologna by train. And as you can see, travelling by train provides a fast, easy way to do them. So if you'd like to discover more day trip options, have a browse through different train routes and destinations from Bologna. There are plenty more just waiting to be discovered.