Recently, I visited Bologna in the Emilia Romagna province of Italy with my boyfriend. We had 4 full days to explore and decided to take a day trip to the region to see more. We went on a day trip from Bologna to Parma by train. I’ll show you how the train from Bologna to Parma works, what things to do in Parma in one day, and what to eat.
In the end, I have some other suggestions for day trips from Bologna in case you have more time to explore. Are you ready? Let’s go!
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Day Trip from Bologna
After 3 days in Bologna, we decided to head out for a day trip and explore more of the surrounding area. We considered a few day trips from Bologna, but finally decided on Parma. Mainly because it would be easy to get to and because of the food.
But do you already get tired of Bologna after 3 days? Not really. Bologna is a great city for exploring. It has high towers, a cathedral, some museums but no major tourist attractions like the leaning tower of Pisa or the museums of Florence.
We had a great apartment in Bologna and used this as a base to explore the city. After we wandered around the city for days, drinking coffee, having cake, and just enjoying the good life in Italy, we wanted to do the exact same thing somewhere else. So we planned a day trip from Bologna to Parma.
Train from Bologna to Parma
We flew to Bologna and took the bus to Bologna city. Therefore, we didn’t have a car and wanted to take the train from Bologna to Parma. I checked the train schedule online and found out that the train from Bologna to Parma takes 55 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes and doesn’t need changing. The Bologna Parma train stops also in Modena and Reggio Emilia.
There are several different types of trains from Bologna to Parma. The Frecciabianca train is the fastest (50 min) but also the most expensive (€16). The Intercity takes 1 hour and 10 minutes from Bologna to Parma but costs €12.
We decided to take the less frequent Regionale train. It also takes 1 hour and 10 minutes but costed a little over €7. You can buy a lot of wine for that price difference!
There is also a Regionale Veloce train to Parma from Bologna. This one takes 55 minutes and also costs €7,35. These regional trains also stop in Castelfranco Emilia, Modena and Reggio Emilia.
We headed to the train station in Bologna (Bologna Centrale) and bought our train tickets to Parma from the vending machines in the lobby. As we’re now Italian train travel pro’s, we immediately searched for the egg shaped green validating machines to make sure not to get a fine!
TIP: Always validate your ticket before you enter the train! This is a common mistake among travelers which will costs you a hefty fine. The “I’m a tourist – I didn’t know” excuse won’t help you.
After a little over an hour of pottering along through the Emilia Romagna landscape, we arrived in Parma. The sun was shining fiercely and guided by my maps.me app, we strolled to the center of Parma to start exploring.
Things to do in Parma Italy
In all honesty, I didn’t really thoroughly research the things to do in Parma. I just did a quick google image search on my phone and thought it looked nice enough to visit on our day trip from Bologna. So I didn’t expect major tourist attractions and just figured we’d see something new and nice on our Parma day trip.
As you might want to plan your own day trip to Parma, I give you a quick overview of the things to do in Parma (Italy) in one day.
Cathedral of Parma
I always love to see the main church of a new city and the Roman Cathedral of Parma was quite pretty. Although I prefer Gothic churches over Roman churches, there is something to say for the bulky presence of the Parma Cathedral. The main feature and worth seeing is the ceiling fresco by Correggio.
Baptistery of Parma
The pink octagonal Baptistery of Parma is right next door to the Cathedral. Although I really enjoyed the baptisteries in Florence and Pisa, we decided to not enter the Parma baptistery. This was mainly due to the €8 entrance fee (for both baptistery and museum, the cathedral is free).
In the Netherlands, there is a song about Garibaldi, so when we learned there was a Garibaldi square we headed straight to it. We checked out the Garibaldi statue and the sundial and sung the song. For people who don’t know the song and have nothing with Garibaldi, the square is a great lunch spot as it is lined with restaurants. This makes it a great meeting spot or people-watching spot.
Have a picnic in the Park
After strolling around town, we found a place where we wanted to have drinks and dinner, but the place wasn’t open yet. We walked towards the Parco Cittadella in the posh neighborhood of Parma. We enjoyed the sun and the surrounding. If we’d brought a picnic, this would have been the perfect spot for it. Another great park in Parma is the Ducale park, it even has a palace!
Join a food tour in Parma
What better place to taste Parma ham, than in Parma? The city is oozing with food and the DOP products will hit you left, right and center.
What to choose and where to eat? I’d suggest to join a food tour and have a local foodie explain to you everything about the Parma market, the Parma ham, and the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Or learn how to make pasta according to the locals!
Have wine at Enoteca Fontana
When I found this place on the corner of the street in Parma, I checked out the list of wines and the prices. Great wine for super cheap?! I’m in!
We waited until it opened and then sat outside for 3 hours, enjoying one wine after the other. Slowly, the night fell. The people from Parma came home, started their Friday night with aperitivo, and talking to each other in the street.
Soon, the whole outside seating area was full and people gathered around this wine shop for drinks and conversation! What a great place to hang out and one of the top things to do in Parma!
What makes Enoteca Fontana Wine bar so great is its wide range of good wines for very little money. 3 hours of drinking wine and a small snack cost us only €18, a bargain if you ask me!
Foodie finds in Parma
One of the most fun things to do in Parma Italy was to shop for foodie souvenirs in Parma. We already did a food coma tour from Bologna the day before so we decided not to join a food tour in Parma. Instead, we browsed all the different deli’s in Parma and shopped for some foodie souvenirs for back home.
We ended up with 1 kilo Parmigiano Reggiona cheese and 1 kilo of 24 months old Parma ham (Prosciutto di Parma). Back home, this would have costed us an arm and a leg. In Parma prices are more than reasonable and you know for sure it is the right product and locally sourced.
At the end of the day, we ate a hugantic pizza at a local pizza place and felt like we truly experienced all the tastiest things to do in Parma Italy!
Other Day Trips from Bologna
After our pizza, we returned ‘home’ to our apartment in Bologna and ended our day trip. In case you have more time to spend in Emilia Romagna and Bologna, here are some other day trips from Bologna that you can take.
The great thing about Bologna is that it is very centrally located in the region and it has a train hub to all major different Italian cities. That makes day trips from Bologna by train super easy (and affordable).
Read everything you need to know in this first-timers guide to Bologna.
Parmigiano Reggiano & Ham Food Tour
I did a full-day food tour as a guest of Italiandays and had an amazing time. We were picked up by minivan and toured the countryside of Emilia Romagna for a whole day.
We visited a local farmer and witnessed the making of Parmigiano Reggiona Cheese. I learned everything there is to know about making Balsamico and we visited a Parma Ham drying house in Modena.
In the end, the tour took us to an agriturismo who provided us with the best food I have ever tasted. All paired with amazing wines, leaving me drunk and satisfied for the food coma to get me.
Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati
If you’re a lover of fast cars and motors, then Bologna has quite the spread for you! Visit the Ferrari museum in Maranello and gawk around at the Lamborghini museum.
There are several tours from Bologna that combine these fast cars so you can get your speed on.
Day Trip from Bologna to Ravenna
Ravenna is another cute, historic town in Emilia Romagna. In all fairness, it was hard to decide between Ravenna and Parma. In the end, we took a day trip from Bologna to Parma instead of Ravenna.
Food won over history. The Ravenna baptistery and the Ravenna Cathedral look equally impressive and the whole town just radiates with Italian cuteness. For more things to do in Ravenna, check here.
Day trip to San Marino
The idea to visit another miniature country while in Italy was very appealing. You can take the train up to Rimini and from there take the bus to this mountainous miniature state. In the end, we were too lazy to go to San Marino on a day trip from Bologna, but I’d still like to do it one day. Tell me if you go!
If you’re looking for a sunfilled day trip from Bologna, the beach resort town of Rimini is the perfect pick for you! White sandy beaches, holiday vibe around town and some spectacular sights, Rimini is the place to be.
Visit Parma on a day trip from Bologna
In the end, we only took one day trip from Bologna and went to Parma by train. I cannot compare the other options, but we loved Parma. The town was so cute and small and we had some amazing food, saw a new town and just explored for the afternoon. If you have a little extra time, take the train from Bologna to Parma for a day trip and enjoy!
Have you visited Parma? What did you think? What did you eat?! Let me know in the comment section below!