A sea of honey-hued palazzos and red-brick squares greets visitors to rambunctious Bologna. It’s a welcome that heralds one of Italy’s culinary hubs – this is the home of mortadella and tortellini! It’s a ‘buongiorno‘to the oldest student city in the world, and a UNESCO site famed for leaning towers (move over Pisa!) and grand porticoes and vast piazzas that bubble with life. The main sights include the statue of Neptune and the gravity-defying Tower of the Asinelli, which will soon give way to enthralling museums that burst with Etruscan relics and sleepless university bars alike.
If you’re craving a little pad to call your own while exploring this fantastic Italian city, be sure to get a-searching for Airbnb in Bologna. There’s a whole wine cellar’s worth of options to pick from, including deluxe flats with minimalist interiors and family townhouses where the whole travel crew can unwind after long lunches. This guide runs through all the top areas where you can focus your accommodation quest, and offers a few tips on the cream of the Airbnb crop…
Airbnb in Italy is totally legal and allowed. That means you can zoom in on the map of The Boot to discover Bologna and check out as many short-term city flat lets or country villas as you like without having to worry about breaking the law. You may be asked to pay an extra tourist tax on top of the price of your chosen stay, and you will probably need to provide a passport or ID card when you come to check in. All that’s handled directly with the host, so be sure to contact them over the platform if you have any queries.
Where should I stay in Bologna Airbnb?
Bologna begins in the Centro Storico(1). It’s the area all first-time visitors need to delve into to find the leaning towers and the grand palazzos and the arcades. Just north east of that comes the Ghetto(2) district with its colourful street scenes and great cafes, followed by the University District(3) – a mecca for nightlife and eating. Beyond the train station and the ring roads, you can find good bargains in lived-in Bolognina(4), along with business-travel flats around Bologna Fiere(5). For a taste of great Italian wine and a stay in an Airbnb agrotourismos, choose the rustic Colli (6) hills to the south.
The closest of all to Bologna’s historical sights
Atmospheric area that dates back millennia
Plenty of choice on the Airbnb front
The Centro Storico (otherwise known as the Historic Centre) is the heart of old Bologna. It justifies its UNESCO World Heritage Site credentials with stacks of eye-catching landmarks that date back hundreds and hundreds of years. This is the place you’ll see the Asinelli Tower and the water-spurting Neptune Fountain, along with major thoroughfares and hubs like the Piazza Maggiore – there’s people watching aplenty there. Palaces, ancient libraries, and imposing castles seem to dot every corner, concealing oodles of trattoria and wine bars, many of which unashamedly cater to the tourist crowd. In short: Stay here to be right by the sights.
The Ghetto is a wedge of streets that’s tucked between the University District and the old centre of Bologna. It has a distinct character from much of the rest of the downtown on account of its unique and enthralling Jewish past. Colourful houses painted in bright orange and terracotta line the narrow roads, while a web of canals drift this way and that past intriguing cafés and wine bars. Because Ghetto is small, there aren’t a whole load of Airbnbs to pick from, but expect stylish pads with Plus ratings from the ones that do exist.
The University of Bologna was established way back in the 11th century, so it’s hardly a surprise that the venerable learning institution has become an integral part of the city’s fabric over the last millennium. These days, it’s the anchor of its very own district, which extends north-east of the Centro Storico all the way to the Porta San Donato. A hubbub of student life, it’s brimming with bars and drinking spots, along with loads of affordable eating. The upshot? Dodge it if you’re a family; embrace it if you’re a backpacker or young couple!
Cut-off from the trodden tourist trail of the old city and the UNESCO sites by the train station, Bolognina is a whole other world. This is lived-in, down-to-earth, workaday Bologna. It’s home to a truly diverse and multifarious group of people. They’ve gifted the streets everything from Japanese takeaways to art-house cinemas to British-style pubs, which means you’re in for a glimpse of a more local side of the metropolis if you choose an Airbnb within.
There are loads of Airbnbs in Bologna in the vicinity of Bologna Fiere, but they should probably be off limits if you’re in the Emilia-Romagna capital for sightseeing and culture. Placed close to most of the business headquarters and light industry of the city, they tend to come in the form of VIP apartments and luxury condos – tailor-made for conference visitors and the like. They also offer easy road access to the airport and the regional motorways.
Most of the region of Emilia-Romagna is flat, but there’s a small section of hills rising to the south of Bologna that come draped in vineyards and farmlands. City dwellers refer to them as Colli, and they represent a great escape from the downtown, for days of wine tasting, ground-to-table foods and local cooking. There aren’t so many Airbnbs on offer in the region, but the ones that are here usually mean something special – think agrotourismos or regal country estates with swimming pools and wine cellars.
With a location that puts you right on the cusp of bustling Piazza Maggiore (the beating heart of the Centro Storico), this deluxe apartment also sports terraces overlooking the UNESCO-tagged towers that feature on so many a Bologna postcard. Inside is all about toned-down and uncomplicated living spaces, done out with woods and whitewashed walls. There’s a self-catering kitchen along with a lounge that has a flat-screen TV, including a loft-style double bedroom with landscape window panoramas.
Wake to the smell of dew on the grass and the sound of swaying oak trees by getting out of the city and into the hills of the Colli. It’s the quieter southern edge of Bologna, which might be far from the main sights but means a taste of rustic Emilia-Romagna at its best. This house is the ticket in those parts, with its wrap-around loggias and sweeping views of the mountains.
This Airbnb-curated Plus listing offers three bedrooms in an elegant palace that dates back several centuries. Duck behind the beautiful magenta-painted façade to discover a two-storey property linked with a stylish spiral staircase. The full kitchen combines minimalism with dashes of colour to provide a space where the whole crew can dine together. Oh, and you get two full bathrooms, which should help cut the queue for the shower each morning!
Quirky doesn’t quite do this strange and offbeat rental on the western edge of the University District the justice it deserves. Curious art installations reign supreme throughout, from decorative Piaggio scooters to Pop Art chairs to plastic penguins (life-size, mind you!). Interest piqued? Good. It’s the perfect pad for large groups in Bologna, with six bedrooms and space enough for up to 13 people at any one time.
With the famous Bologna towers looming overhead and the painted loggias of the Galleria Acquaderni just outside the door, this chic flat puts you and your other half in the midst of the city’s most atmospheric quarter. It’s a dream inside for couples who love their own space, what with a large and luxurious bedroom and a dedicated kitchen done entirely in contemporary style.
There are sure to be some Airbnbs in Bologna that are way pricier than hotels. However, there will also be loads that come in cheaper. Generally speaking, there’s plenty to be saved by going down the Airbnb route in the capital of Emilia-Romagna, especially if you aim to make the most of generous weekly or monthly rental discounts (sometimes as much as 50% off the cost of the whole stay!).
Of course, an Airbnb isn’t the same as a hotel stay. You might save some euros for your tortellini and Modenese balsamic, but you will sacrifice a few frills. Take the Hotel Internazionale. It’s a four-star establishment with a desirable location between the train station and Piazza Maggiore. You could score that with your own flat, but what about the buffet breakfasts, the daily room cleaning and the dedicated front-of-house team with their in-the-know tips about the city?
Foodies, culture buffs, history lovers, and backpackers on the hunt for vibrant nightlife will all love Bologna. Thankfully, Airbnbs in the city can whisk you to all quarters, no matter if you’re seeking parties with the students at the ancient university or romantic nights of dining under the UNESCO-attested porticoes.