When I visited Bologna, the plan was to eat as many of the delicious foods as we could find. We also used Bologna as a base, then explore more of the delicious Emilia Romagna region in Italy. Sadly, we didn’t have time to do all the day trips that make the region so interesting. Luckily for me, Joe & Alicia from Miles Less Traveled agreed to share the story of their day trip from Bologna to Modena. And they show you the best things to do in Modena on a day trip. Enjoy!
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Bologna to Modena Day Trip by Train
After spending 5 weeks traveling through Italy, my husband and I both unanimously agreed that the Northern region of the country, Bologna, Parma, Modena, and the surrounding area, was our favorite.
The food was some of the best we’ve ever had, the cities small and charming, and the locals kind and friendly. Mostly we hopped around, staying in one place for a few days at a time as we did in Bologna and then exploring from there.
That’s how we ended up in Modena. A charming town that has long been known for its high-quality Balsamic Vinegar and leather goods. In the last century, it became famous for producing some of the world’s most coveted luxury cars: Maseratis and Ferraris.
Today, Modena retains its successes in these traditions while also drawing people from around the world who want to sample the highly respected and award-winning food scene.
How to Get From Bologna to Modena?
It’s easy to get from Bologna to Modena for a day trip. You’ll find Modena only 45 km (28 miles) away from Bologna with every form of transportation available.
Day Trip to Modena by Train
The easiest and fastest way to go is by train. Trenitalia trains leave from Bologna Centrale and arrive in Modena within a half-hour, some as fast as 20 minutes. Also, trains in Italy are clean, well-kept, and generally a pleasure to ride.
Tickets for this trip range from 3 to 10 euros. Once there, the Modena train station is an easy walk to the Plaza and center of the city.
Bologna to Modena by Car
If you prefer, you can make the drive out as well. There is a major roadway connecting the two so driving should be relatively simple. The drive takes less than an hour on average from Bologna to Modena. Although this varies a bit depending on where exactly you’re headed and what time of day you’re driving out.
Find your parking space via the Parkopedia search option.
Day trip by Bus to Modena
You can also take a bus from Bologna to Modena, though they roughly cost the same as the train and a longer trip. Several companies have buses along this route, Trenitalia among them again. The bus takes anywhere from 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.
What To Do in Modena For Your Day Trip?
Once you get to Modena there is so much to explore. The city itself is historic, dating back thousands of years. In 1997, several of the sites were established as UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Piazza Grande, the home of the free Republic.
Go Shopping for Leather Goods in Modena
Yes, there is amazing leather to purchase all over Italy. But Modena has been producing fine Italian leather since the Middle Ages. As an agricultural region, there have been cattle farms here for centuries.
There are quite a few shops selling leather goods in Modena, but my personal favorite is La Vachetta Grassa, a tiny shop tucked into a side street right off the Piazza.
The owner has lined the small walls with beautiful, handcrafted bags, belts, wallets, and little knick-knacks. This is where we picked up beautiful little leather tortellini keychains that are as cute as they are elegant to bring home for gifts.
They will make custom items here as well if you want to pay to have it shipped home or are in the area for a while. The prices here aren’t cheap, but even if on a budget it’s a fine shop to wander around in.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Modena
Modena is an extremely old municipality. Start by visiting the Palazzo Comunale has been home to the governing body in the city for over 1000 years. In addition to the town hall, the entire Piazza Grande is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is open every day, excluding some holidays, from 9 am – 7 pm.
After the Palazzo, step over to the Duomo, a gorgeous building that dates back to 1099. Admission is free to walk through the dark, high-ceilings cathedral and imagine people sitting in similar pews almost 1000 years ago.
Even just walking through the piazza, viewing the Palazzo and Duomo from the outside, is a beautiful way to spend some time. Every important event that happened in Modena, and many that were important to the country as a whole, happened in this exact spot. It’s one of those places where you can feel the history as much as you see it.
Eat at Osteria Francescana in Modena
Like the neighboring cities, the food in Modena is some of the best in the world. In recent years, the town’s restaurant scene has been blasted onto the map for fine dining as Osteria Francescana has climbed the ladder of success.
Boasting 3 Michelin stars, Osteria Francescana has been named the best restaurant in the world on several occasions and has increasingly pushed the boundaries of what Italian food can be.
The chef, who has been featured on Chef’s Table, the Netflix award-winning docuseries, was born and raised in Modena. He proudly remakes dishes that his grandmother served him, but with a modern flair and elegance that elevates them onto a completely different level.
Getting a table here is no easy feat, but it is not impossible. When we visited, we emailed the staff and said we would take any reservation within a two-week window in the middle of winter, lunch or dinner, and when they responded with a date and time, we booked our entire trip around that one date. This was hands down the best meal I’ve ever had.
If you’re not in the market for an extravagant, expensive, and lengthy meal, opt for one of the many other delicious spots in town. The food here is great just about anywhere you go.
Looking for the more foodie adventures by Miles Less Traveled? Find the best pizza in Naples.
Experience a Modena Balsamic Vinegar Tour
Modena is the most famous region in the world for Balsamic vinegar, a title they take very seriously. They make balsamic vinegar in an Acetaia. Plan a tour to one of the companies in the consortium or book a tour through a travel company.
The tours operate similarly to winery tastings. During the visit to the Acetaia, you can expect to sample the vinegar they have in-house with a description of the history of the producer and why each one is different.
As someone who did not previously know much about the difference in balsamic vinegar, I find it fascinating how detailed and varied these can be!
If you’re interested and you’ll have little time, book your Modena balsamic vinegar tour here.
Sample the Goods at the Albinelli Covered Market
The market in Modena was what I had pictured Italian markets to be before I visited. Rows of stands lined up inside the small, old building, bursting with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and vinegar. The Sicilian strawberries so vibrantly red they reminded me of those plastic ones my grandma used to have in a fruit bowl.
It was, in fact, the only market I saw like it during my time there. Wandering the stalls, smelling the pungent cheeses, tasting the tart vinegar, and nibbling on bits and bites as you walk is a treat. Most vendors will give you a sample to try if you’re interested in buying. We purchased quite a bit to munch on during train rides over the following days and were so happy we did.
You can also book a market tour and a home cooking class here.
Take a tour of the Maserati factory
Luxury is something this part of Italy does exceptionally well, as noted most extravagantly in the cars they produce here. Both Maserati’s and Lamborghini’s are produced in the area, but the tour of the Maserati factory is the closest one to downtown Modena.
Watch how they make a Maserati in the showroom, get a complete history and rundown of the company, and get a guided walk down the assembly line during the 1 hr 30 min long tour. If you’re short on time, the factory also operates a quicker, 40 minute rundown of the showroom. Tours are available in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian and need to be booked in advance.
If you’re really interested in the world of luxury cars, you can also invest in one of Maserati’s classes at their master track or book a tour of the Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini Museum Tour here.
Bologna to Modena Day Trip
As you can see, Modena is packed with enough things to see and do, and taste, for a full day trip. With only a short and easy trip by train, you change the scenario and surrounding of your stay. Make sure to leave enough room in your Bologna itinerary, to do a day trip to Modena.
Have you been to Modena? What did you like best? And which is your favorite Balsamic to taste? Let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.