Solo Traveler's Guide to Bologna - Things To Do Alone in Italy

By Stefania Borghi An eccentric and cheerful Bologna resident who loves exploring, ancient history and theatre.

Edited by Holly Stark

Are you traveling alone in Italy? If you’ve added Bologna la dotta, la rossa, la grassa - ‘the learned, the red, the fat’ as it’s affectionately known - to your travel plans, you may be looking for things to do alone in Bologna. When planning solo travel to Bologna, it’s important to see everything you want to see and make the most of your visit, which should feel like a breeze since you don’t have to wait around or rely on anyone else when you’re cultivating important adventures! For me, this city is like a mother cuddling her child; full of comfort, love and the joy of life. A great city to wander through alone; the pretty streets, distinct Italian architecture, and differences in each district will keep you engaged. So whether you’re taking the leap with your first-ever independent trip and traveling alone to Bologna or are already a keen solo traveler, discover the best of things to do alone in Bologna with my ultimate Bologna solo travel ideas that encompass the ideal mix of the city’s best kept secrets, top local spots, a Bologna food guide and some of the top free things to do in Bologna!

Eat Pistachio Ice Cream at La Sorbetteria Castiglione

If I was spending a day by myself in Bologna, my ideal day would include gelato, for sure! Starting with a yummy, local breakfast, coffee and a walk, I would then head away from the centre and read a book under the shadow of a tree. After that, I’d wander through the city centre and have ice cream at my favourite gelateria. In winter, when the weather is cooler, I love to visit a morning exhibition at an art gallery. I always tell my friends travelling alone to Bologna: “Don’t forget the ice cream.” Life is too short for bad gelato, so head over to La Sorbetteria Castiglione, and grab a pistachio gelato. Bologna is really one of the best cities in Italy for gelato; we even have a gelato museum and you can’t go wrong with quality in most of Bologna’s gelaterias. For me, however, the most impressive gelateria that you shouldn't miss is La Sorbetteria Castiglione; a well-loved Bologna institution since 1994, and a temple to gelato. Eat like a local and try decadently creamy flavours like pistachio, gianduia (chocolate mixed with hazelnuts) and salted caramel.

Check Out an Open Air Cinema

For an unforgettable sensory and cultural experience, don’t miss one of the city’s special outdoor cinema showings from your Bologna solo travel itinerary. Bologna sees a special film festival named Sotto le stelle del cinema which means Under the movie stars, which hosts free nightly screenings of local, national, international and silent movies, shown in their original language with subtitles in English, in Italian or both. What’s more, the location is especially unique. Head over to the Piazza Maggiore central square of Bologna in the summertime and discover one of the biggest screens lit up when the sun sets. The schedule is always brimming with interesting international films and is something I love to do alone. Each movie usually begins at around 9:45 pm but I’d suggest arriving at least thirty minutes before, especially for popular, well-known showings. You can even decide to grab a snack, a pizza or take-out pasta, an ice-cream in the nearby streets and have dinner while watching. I prefer to grab food on the go and sit with fresh pasta from via del Pratello where old ladies make incredible fresh pasta.

Grab Local Food at Mercato delle Erbe

Every Italian city has its traditional markets and solo travel to Bologna would not be complete without a trip to a typical market. One of my favorite markets here is Mercato delle Erbe which means “herb market.” I think it’s a real hidden gem of the city. The covered market is hundreds of years old and is off the beaten path; unknown to many tourists - and even some locals! Imagine food vendors of the middle-ages selling fruit, veg, poultry, cheese and wine to the locals. Soak up the vibe and shadows of professors, students, innkeepers, traders and craftsmen who frequented the market on a daily basis. Over time, the market has changed a lot; including its location. During World War II, much of Bologna was bombed and destroyed. Consequently, the market had to close. But, following the devastation, the market was restored and reopened in 1949. Today, the Mercato delle Erbe offers a very interesting culinary variety and is great for a quick break or lunch. It can be accessed from via Ugo Bassi and via Belvedere. Wondering where to eat in Bologna alone? Choose from many shops, vendors and local restaurants on a Monday through Thursday from 7:00 am to midnight or head on a Friday or Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 am.

Meet Locals at Osteria del Sole

I would really recommend someone traveling alone in Bologna to visit Osteria del Sole at night if they want to connect with the locals and other travelers. One of my top things to do in Bologna is visiting the old tavern of Osteria del Sole is a must. The spot has been serving locals drinks in the traditional bar since 1465. Have dinner with a Bolognese at Osteria del Sole, and head on an Italian adventure through time. Sip a delicious glass of wine and soak up the super cool, traditional vibe. Everything remains the same; from the walls, the courtyard, the garden, and the stairs that lead to the cantina, which undoubtedly makes it one of the coolest, quirkiest places to spend a night in Bologna. The place is home to a great wine list - for both red and white lovers - beer on tap, and other Italian liqueurs and digestives such as grappa and locally produced Montenegro. There’s a bring your own food (BYOF) policy to, so if you’re wondering what to do in Bologna at night be sure to grab some cheese, bread or cured meats from the Mercato delle Erbe or the Quadrilatero food market and head over to Osteria del Sole for a great night in Bologna.

Subscribe now and thank us later

Get travel tips from our hosts across the
world plus exclusive offers and discounts

Any questions?

If you’re unsure about anything you can
reach us on any of these channels.

Back to top