The main departure hall is to the right, the Ovest entrance is on the far left

Bologna Centrale (Bologna)

This guide to using Bologna Centrale can help make sense of navigating each part of this large, multi-faceted, station to find your way to and from the trains.
We also talk you through how to transfer to the city centre and show you why Bologna makes a great base for a holiday based around day trips by train.

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Platform/binario 19 in the AV (high speed) station at Bologna Centrale Platform/binario 19 in the AV (high speed) station at Bologna Centrale
Looking towards the Ovest station from binario 4 in the main station in Bologna Looking towards the Ovest station from binario 4 in the main station in Bologna
Looking across the platforms/binari 4 - 11 in the main station at Bologna Centrale Looking across the platforms/binari 4 - 11 in the main station at Bologna Centrale
A Frecciarossa 1000 train has arrived in the AV (high-speed) station A Frecciarossa 1000 train has arrived in the AV (high-speed) station

An introduction:

What isn't immediately obvious when using this station for the first time, is that Bologna Centrale is in effect four stations in one.
This can be a touch confusing, particularly if you're new to taking the train in Italy, hence the weight of text below!
Though the access to/from the trains is actually easier than at other main stations in Italy, once you have worked out in which direction you need to head.
The announcements and the signage at the station are both multi-lingual, but two translations that will help make sense of our notes are:
Binari = platforms/tracks (plural)
Binario = platform/track (singular)

at platform level in the AV station at platform level in the AV station
The main station at Bologna Centrale, the view is of binario 3 from binario 4 The main station at Bologna Centrale, the view is of binario 3 from binario 4
The Est departure concourse at Bologna Centrale towards the end of binario 3 The Est departure concourse at Bologna Centrale towards the end of binario 3
The Ovest station concourse at Bologna Centrale train station The Ovest station concourse at Bologna Centrale train station

Good to know:

Five Things Worth Knowing About Bologna Centrale:

1: The four distinct areas of Bologna Centrale station are:

  • The main station which comprises platforms/binari 3 -11; this is located beside the main booking hall and has access to platforms/binari 4 -11 and the AV station.
  • The subterranean high speed AV station; platforms/binari 16 -19.
  • The Ovest/West hall; the location of platforms/binari 1 Ovest - 6 Ovest.
    And this Ovest concourse also has access to platforms/binari 4 -11 and the AV station.
  • The Est station; the location of platforms/binari 1 Est - 4 Est.

2: What can be particularly confusing at Bologna Centrale, is how the binari (platforms/tracks) are numbered.
For example, if you see ‘4’ on the departure boards; then this platform/binario is in the main station.
But ‘4 Ovest’ and ‘4 Est’ are different binari (platforms/tracks); which are located in their respective parts of the station.
(There are no platforms/binari numbered 12 – 15).

3: Bologna Centrale is a key station on the Italian railway network.
From the north it's where the main line from Milan and Turin meets the main railway routes heading south from Venice and Verona.
To the south it's where the routes from these cities to Florence and Rome, splits with the railway line which heads down the Adriatic Coast to Bari and Lecce.

4: Always check the electronic departure indicators to confirm the platform/binari number that your train will be departing from.

5: Different train services TEND to use the respective parts of the station.

Trains services which use the 'main' station:

As a general rule (always confirm on the departure screens) the train services that depart from/arrive at the main station include:

  • all of the Intercity, ICN and Frecciabianca trains from and to Bologna
  • the EC train to Muenchen/Munchen/Munich
  • the RV trains to Ancona, Piacenza and Venezia
  • the R trains towards Ferrara, Ravenna and Rimini

Train departures from the AV (high-speed) station:

  • all AV (Frecce and Italo) trains to Bolzano, Brescia, Padova Torino, Verona and Venezia
  • 99% of the AV trains to Milano and Torino
  • 99% of the AV trains to Firenze, Roma, Napoli and Salerno.

Note that a very small number of AV trains DO depart from the main station.

Departures from the Ovest station:

  • the RV trains to Milano, Brennero and Bolzano
  • R trains towards Modena, Verona and Porretta Terme

Departures from the EST station:

The train services that depart from/arrive at the EST station include the R trains to Prato.

Departing by train:

What isn't particularly obvious when using Bologna Centrale railway station for the first time, is that there are multiple routes within the station to the binari (platforms/tracks) which most of the express trains depart from.

There are also two routes to the AV (high speed) station from the main entrance(s) on the city side of Bologna Centrale; the AV station is on the opposite side of the station to the city centre.

Accessing trains from the main departure hall

As you approach Bologna Centrale from the city, its main departure hall is directly in front of you - it's the part of the station with the clock on its roof.
It houses the main ticket office and over to the left, within this main hall, is the entrance to the central passage way.

This is one of the TWO passage ways which cross the station beneath the railway lines and give access to the trains which leave from the main part of the station and the AV station
(The other passage way can be accessed from the Ovest concourse - see below).

Above the stairs and the lift that lead down to this central passage way. there is a large sign indicating that this is the route to the high speed trains from binari 16-19, but they're not the only train services that can be accessed by using it.

This central passage way;

  • is ONE of the access points to the AV (high speed) station,
  • ALSO gives access to platforms/binari 4 -11 in the main station,
  • has lift access from the departure hall and lifts up to platforms/binari 4 -11,
  • has no escalators.

Queues can inevitably build up in this departure hall for the one lift.
So if you're happy to use escalators, a better option for accessing platforms 4-11 and 16-19 (the AV station) is to use that Ovest passage way.

To access train departing from binari (platforms/tracks) 1 Ovest - 6 Ovest, you can simply walk through into the Ovest part of the station.

Accessing trains from the Ovest departure hall:

The departure hall in the Ovest part of the station The departure hall in the Ovest part of the station

As you approach Bologna Centrale from the city, the Ovest departure hall is to the left of the station forecourt and the main departure hall; though it is linked to the main hall, so it's not an entirely separate part of the station.

Only Regionale trains to the north depart from the binari (platforms/tracks) 1 Ovest - 6 Ovest; which are directly linked to the street level Ovest concourse (piazalle Ovest)
If you see Ovest beside the platform/binario number on the electronic departure screens, you need to head to this part of the station.

However, what isn't obvious is that this Ovest departure also has easy access to other platforms/binari which ALL the long distance trains depart from.

If you...

  • don’t want to buy a ticket from the booking office, because you already have one, or are happy to use a ticket machine,
  • don't need to take the lifts, then use this OVEST concourse to access the trains that depart from binari/platforms 4 – 19.
    ...the Ovest departure hall:
  • is much quieter than the constantly busy main hall
  • has better food/drink outlets
  • has electronic screens showing all departures/partenze - irrespective from which part of the station the trains are departing from.

The Ovest passage way:

This Ovest part of the station is linked to the both the platforms/binari (4-11) in the main station AND the AV station (platforms/binari 16-19) - by the Ovest passage way.

There is no need to use the stairs to access this Ovest passage way.
The escalators are behind the stairs at the far end of the Ovest concourse (the piazalle Ovest) - by the platforms/tracks/binari that are in this part of the station

This Ovest passage way;

  • isn't equipped with elevators
  • but it has escalators (and stairs) that give access to/from the platforms/binari 4 -11 in the main station
  • leads to the same access point to the AV (high speed) station (the taxi drop-off zone), that the central passage way exits on to.
  • is the location of the left-luggage office.

Departures from the Est part of the station:

The Est station at Bologna Centrale is used by some Regionale (R) trains between Bologna and destinations to the south, including trains to Prato.
It has its own entrance hall at Piazalle Est - which is some distance from the main station.

In the main Bologna Centrale departure hall, if you see Est on the departure boards/posters next to the binari/platform number - then your train will be departing from here.
Don’t confuse it with the Ovest binari/platform numbers.

Head out of the main departure hall on to platform/binario 3 and turn right - the Est station/piazalle Est is a 3 min walk away along binari 3.
A plus is that the platforms/binari 1 Est - 4 Est have step free access from the main departure hall.

... from the AV (high-speed) station:

Platforms/binari 16-19 were built with the high speed line - they are located on the opposite side of the station to the main entrance, hence this part of the station being referred to as the AV station (Alta Velocita = high speed).

It isn't a separate station as it is adjacent to the main station; the pedestrian access to the AV station from the city centre side of Bologna Centrale, is through the older station.

Departure summary:

The train services* which depart from the AV part of Bologna Centrale station are:
(1) All the Italo trains.
(2) All Frecce trains to Verona, Brescia and Bolzano.
(3) All Frecciarossa and Frecciarossa 1000 trains to Padova and Venezia
(4) All Frecciarossa and Frecciarossa 1000 trains to Torino and Salerno
(5) All Frecce trains to Napoli
(6) 99% of the Frecce trains to Firenze Roma and Milano

*The type of Trenitalia 'Frecce' train which you will be taking will be shown towards the top of your ticket.

Arriving by taxi:

If you'll be taking one of the train services listed above from Bologna Centrale, tell the driver to take you to the AV station - it has a dedicated taxi drop-off zone.

To the AV station from the city side of the station:

If you enter by the main entrance of Bologna Centrale, do check the electronic Departure/Partenze indicators to see which specific binario/platform/track your train will be departing from.
If it is departing from binari/platforms 16-19, you need to head to the AV station.

Allow a minimum of 5 mins to make the transfer from the main entrances to the station and being on platforms/tracks/binari 16-19.
Allow 10mins if you want to use the lifts to access the AV platforms/binari.

If you enter the station through the main (city side) entrance - you can use one of two passage ways to access the AV station.
If you need to use the lifts, then use the main departure hall to access the central passage way.

If you don't need to use the lifts, then our recommendation is to access the AV station from the Ovest departure hall.
Both these passage ways exit by the AV station's taxi drop off zone:

Accessing the trains:

A general view across the enormous AV concourse A general view across the enormous AV concourse

From this taxi drop off area, the AV station concourse below, can be accessed by escalators and somewhat hidden elevators.
This enormous AV concourse houses numerous Trenitalia ticket machines, which are much less busy than those in those in the main booking hall.
You can access this AV concourse without having to buy a ticket.

Each pair of platforms/binari 16-17 and 1819 are on the level below, and they can be accessed by multiple escalators and elevators which lead down to each pair; then having reached them it's best to initially wait for your train towards the middle of the binario/platform.
Make sure you can see the departure screens, your train may not be the next train to leave.

Around 3-5 mins before the train arrives, the coach/carrozza numbers will appear on the red info screens.
So be aware of the coach/carrozza number in which your reserved seat will be located and make your way to the matching number on the screens.

Arriving by train:

Because Bologna Centrale is in effect four stations in one, how you exit the station or access the other binario/platforms, depends on which part of the station your train has arrived at.

in the AV (high-speed) station

One of the escalators which connect the AV concourse to the taxi area and exits One of the escalators which connect the AV concourse to the taxi area and exits

It will be obvious if your train has arrived at the AV station in Bologna Centrale, as this is the only part of the station which is below ground.
Use the escalators or lifts you find on each binario (platform/track) to ascend up to the AV station concourse; there are multiple escalators and lifts, so use which ever you come to first.

From this AV station concourse, separate escalators and lifts lead up the taxi pick up/drop off zone; even if you won't be taking a taxi, you need to take this route.

TWO passage ways lead from this taxi zone to the main exits; and the other binari/platforms at the station.
(1) The main passage way has ELEVATORS and stairs to the other binari/platforms and exits.
(2) The Ovest passage way has ESCALATORS and stairs to the other binari/platforms and exits.

So follow the signs to ‘Piazalle Ovest’ if you’re happy to use escalators to exit the station.
Though when you reach the end of this Ovest passage way, ignore the sign pointing the way to the Uscita (Exit) as the escalators are over to the right.
These escalators leads up the ‘Piazalle Ovest’ concourse and there are multiple street level exits from here.

in the main part of the station:

The escalators on a binari (platform) in the main station The escalators on a binari (platform) in the main station

If your train arrives in the main station at binari/platforms 4-11 - it won’t be particularly obvious that there are two alternative passage ways that can be used to exit the station.
There is no need to follow the crowds and head down the stairs if you have luggage etc, but if you’re happy to use the stairs - take the nearest exit.

Using the lifts:

If you want/need to use the lift you may have to walk along the platform to find it.
They're towards the front of trains that have arrived from the north - and towards the rear of trains that have arrived from the south,
The lifts lead down to the central passage way at the station - all of the binari/platforms 4-11 in this part of the station, have lift access to and from this central passage way.

However, at the end of this central passage way there is only a single lift - giving access to the main exit/uscita in the central departure hall.
At busy times you’ll have to queue for this lift.

Using the escalators:

Using the escalators that lead down to the Ovest passage way can enable a speedier exit – to find them on the binario/platform follow the signs to Piazalle Ovest
You may have to walk passed the lifts and stairs to access these escalators.
They're towards the front of trains that have arrived from the south - and towards the rear of trains that have arrived from the north.

Along the Ovest passage is a sign pointing to the exit/uscita - the passage way bends round to the left, but there are only stairs at the far end of the passage way.
Instead of turning to the left, you can use the escalators that are over to the right - the signs will point the way to the ‘Piazalle Ovest’.

The escalators lead up to the Ovest concourse, but this is at the same street level as the main exit – which will be behind you when you step off the escalator.

in the Ovest station:

If your train arrives at the Ovest platforms/binari simply walk ahead across ‘Piazalle Ovest’ to access the Ovest Hall - which exits on to the main square in front of the station.
The main taxi rank at Bologna Centrale and the bus stops are on this square.

Or if you're changing trains, use the escalators to head down to the Ovest passage way, if your connecting train is departing from platforms 4 -11 or 16-19.

in the Est station:

If you arrive at the Est station and:

  • don't need to change trains
  • want to take a taxi
  • will be taking a local bus
    you can use the exit to the left of the Est concourse - piazalle Est.

This exit is the quickest route to the city centre from this Est station.
The piazalle Est is also across the street from Bologna's main bus station.

Though if you will be changing trains you will need to turn to the right and walk along the exceptionally long binario/platform 4, in order to access the main part of the station.

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Accessing The City Centre

Bologna Centrale station is located towards the northern edge of the city centre - so virtually all of the city’s tourist attractions are a 15 - 25 minute walk away (through charming streets with the covered walkways that the city is famous for).
Pick up a map at the station’s Tourist Information office before you head off into the maze of streets.

Bologna has no metro or tram system, so buses provide the public transport in the city.
Bus line A links Bologna Central (Stazione FS) with the main square in the heart of the city - leave the bus at the 'P. Maggiore' stop.

Convenient Hotels/Hostels by Bologna Centrale

Despite its location on the northern edge of the city centre, Bologna Centrale is a magnet for accommodation, but comparatively few of the places to stay in the area have guest ratings of above 80%.

The immediate vicinity of the station is dominated by 4* hotels, but all the options below are within a 10 min walk of the station.

Luxury:
Starhotel Excelsoir Bologna

Una Hotel Bologna (personally recommended)

Royal Hotel Carlton

I Portici

Hotel Internazionale

Mid-Range:
Hotel Atlantic (personally recommended)

Nuovo Hotel Del Porto

Budget:
ABC Bologna B%B

Dormi Re Bologna

B&B Mercurio

We_Bologna Hostel

Day Trips from Bologna By Train

Bologna is the hub of the Italian rail network, so it makes a great base for exploring a multitude of fabulous destinations by train.

To other destinations in Emilia-Romagna by train:

It’s relatively straight forward to combine multiple destinations in Emilia-Romagna on day trips from Bologna by train.

Regionale (R) Regionale Veloce (RV) trains can be used to follow the suggested itineraries and the plus of taking these trains, is that the tickets won’t cost any more if booked at the station compared to online.
So you can be spontaneous and decide where you want to go each day.

The itineraries below are all possible within a day - if you set off from Bologna Centrale before 10:00 you can spend more than three hours in each location and be back in Bologna in the evening.
The stations in all of the locations below are within a 15 min walk of the historic town centres and the station in Rimini is also within a 15 min walk of the beach.

(1) Bologna – Ferrara – Ravenna – Bologna
(2) Bologna – Ravenna – Rimini - Bologna
(3) Bologna – Parma – Modena – Bologna; there are direct trains between Ferrara and Ravenna and between Ravenna and Rimini.

When you arrive at your first destination, confirm the times of the trains on to your next stop before leaving the station.
Allow time to purchase a ticket before boarding your next train.
Take care when looking at the paper departure boards if you’re travelling at weekends; it’s easy to miss that some trains won’t be operating on a Saturday or a Sunday.

To destinations beyond Emilia-Romagna by train:

It’s also possible to make day trips by train between Bologna and a swathe of must-see cities beyond Emilia-Romagna.
Regionale Veloce trains are an option for day trips to the likes of Milano, Padova/Padua, Piacenza, Verona and Venezia/Venice.

Faster Frecce trains are also available to those destinations.
Take the Frecce trains and those further destinations can all be reached in under 90 minutes from Bologna; but you will need to book in advance to save money.

To and From Florence/Firenze:

Frecce and Italo trains are the only DIRECT city centre to city centre daytime trains between Bologna and Firenze/Florence, the journey time from Bologna Centrale and Firenze S.M. Novella stations is under 45 minutes.
If you book in advance online, you can save more than 50% on the price of this journey, but it's still a comparatively expensive journey considering the distance.

City Guides

We're big fans of Bologna - and not just because it's a great base for exploring Italy by train, but we're not the only ones.

Here's some other reasons as to why Bologna is a great place to travel to by train.

The Best of Bologna (The Guardian)

Bologna City Guide (Lonely Planet)

36 Hours in Bologna (The Telegraphh)

Bologna City Guide (Suitcase)

A First Timer's Guide (Travelinmad)

36 Hours in Bologna (The NY Times)

86 Tips From Locals (Likealocal)

A Long Weekend In Bologna (UrbanTravelBlog)

Journeys

# Jump to a direction
Journeys from Bologna Centrale
Jump to directions
Bologna to Bari by train
Bologna to Bergamo by train
Bologna to Firenze / Florence by train
Bologna to Innsbruck by train
Bologna to Lecce by train
Bologna to Milano / Milan / Mailand by train
Bologna to Modena by train
Bologna to München / Munich by train
Bologna to Napoli / Naples by train
Bologna to Padova / Padua by train
Bologna to Parma by train
Bologna to Perugia by train
Bologna to Prato by train
Bologna to Ravenna by train
Bologna to Rimini by train
Bologna to Roma / Rome by train
Bologna to Torino / Turin by train
Bologna to Venezia / Venice / Venedig by train
Bologna to Verona by train
Bologna to Zurich by train
Journeys to Bologna Centrale
Jump to directions
Firenze / Florence to Bologna by train
Innsbruck to Bologna by train
Milano / Milan / Mailand to Bologna by train
München / Munich to Bologna by train
Roma / Rome to Bologna by train
Torino / Turin to Bologna by train
Venezia / Venice / Venedig to Bologna by train
Verona to Bologna by train
Zurich to Bologna by train
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