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Free Walking Tours in Bologna

The ancient landmarks and charming streets of Bologna make it an intriguing place to explore on foot. This lively city in northern Italy is packed with Renaissance buildings, eye-catching piazzas, and medieval towers. It’s like stepping between the pages of a history book.

Signing up to free walking tours in Bologna is a fun way to see all the best bits. You’ll visit major monuments as well as hidden corners that few tourists get to experience.

How do free walking tours in Bologna work?

One of the best ways to experience the city is by joining one of the free tours in Bologna and visiting the highlights with an expert local guide.

There are no set prices for these excursions. Instead, you just tip your guide after the tour if you have enjoyed the experience. Just pay what you think it was worth and you can’t go wrong.

Remember to take some cash with you on the day for your tip.

How much should you tip for a free walking tour in Bologna?

Although free walking tours in Bologna have no prices attached, most people tip the guide between €10 and €15 per person. Some even pay up to €50 if they’ve had an incredible time.

Still feeling unsure? Then think about how much you learned from the guide, and how long the tour lasted to work out an amount. If you’ve been really impressed, then feel free to show your appreciation.

What are the best free walking tours in Bologna?

There are two types of free walking tours in Bologna. One is history-themed and takes in all the top monuments and ancient sites. The other combines heritage with a bit of food tasting along the way.

If you have time, why not consider doing them both?

Historical landmarks of Bologna free walking tours

These tours take you time traveling through the medieval heart of the city, exploring the culture and architecture of ancient Bologna. The jewel in the crown is Piazza Maggiore, the central square that has changed little since the 15th century. Admire the stunning architecture of the Palazzo dei Notai, the Basilica of San Petronio, and the Palazzo d’Accursio.

Continue to the Two Towers which have been symbols of the city since the 12th century. These imposing icons were once used for everything from city fortifications to merchant guilds and even shops.

Next up are the seven churches that surround the Piazza Santo Stefano. Other highlights on your Bologna walking tour include the Archiginnasio – the main building of Europe’s oldest university – and the quaint Galvani Square. Some excursions also stop at Quadrilatero, Bologna’s ancient market, where artisans have been plying their wares for centuries.

Bologna tastes and sights free walking tours

Experience the best of both worlds on these combined walking tours. You’ll be checking out the main historic sights, and also sampling some of the delicacies that have put Bologna firmly on the foodie map.

As you stroll through the medieval center, admire the majestic San Petronio Cathedral and the Piazza Maggiore before stopping at different venues for tastings.

You'll explore open-air food markets and pop into cafés to try the world-renowned local specialties. Dig into lip-smacking finger foods that range from cheeses and charcuterie to ice cream and sweets. The city is so much more than the famous bolognese! You can try some local wine at a few of the establishments too.

On some excursions, you’ll get to watch pasta making as well as tasting some of the best balsamic vinegar in all of Italy. If all that has made you hungry, then your guide will be happy to suggest some great places to eat after your tour.

Note that food isn't included and must be purchased separately at the different venues.

7 secrets of Bologna free tours

This free tour focuses on the discovery of the 7 secrets of Bologna. You'll be guided to check out some interesting and unusual places that you can find in the city center of Bologna, like the little window on the Reno canal, where you can see a view similar to Venice (it's actually called Little Venice).

Your guide will tell you about the history of the city plus unusual facts while checking out these little secrets in the city.

In which languages are free walking tours in Bologna operated?

Nearly all the free tours in Bologna are offered in English and Italian. Some are also available in Spanish.

English is widely spoken in the city so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a tour suitable for your group.

Where do free walking tours in Bologna start?

It’s easy to find the starting points for free walking tours in Bologna. They’re all central, and accessible on foot or by public transport.

Most of the traditional historical walking tours begin in front of the Neptune Fountain in Piazza Maggiore. Some excursions depart instead from beside the Garibaldi statue in Via Indipendenza.

The popular Neptune Fountain is also the meeting point for the combined historic sights and tasting tours.

How long do free walking tours in Bologna last?

Bologna walking tours are between 1.5 and 2 hours long. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the major sights without getting tired during these bite-sized experiences. Comfy shoes are advised.

These excursions are suitable for most ages and abilities as they have a fairly relaxed pace.

When is the best time to join a free walking tour in Bologna?

You’ll find that free walking tours in Bologna run during mornings and afternoons, giving you a choice of times to fit into your schedule. Mornings tend to be a little quieter, but Bologna is big enough to easily absorb tour groups at any time of day.

It’s a good idea to book your Bologna jaunt for the beginning of your visit, so you can scout out the lay of the land with a little local help.

Should Bologna free walking tours be booked online?

Definitely! You risk missing out by leaving booking your place until the last minute as these tours are popular and do sell out.

You can make a reservation free of charge, and there’s no fee for canceling either should you change your mind. Plus, you won’t need to enter any credit card details to secure your slot.

One of the benefits of free walking tours in Bologna is that they take the hassle out of finding your way around a new city. Arrange one for your first day in town and let the local insider help you get your bearings.