Day Trip to Modena

Just 25 miles from the regional capital of Bologna, Modena is a charming city with an even stronger tradition of culinary excellence than its sister city. Excellent food and wine such as balsamic vinegar, cotechino, zampone, parmigiano reggiano, tortellini and lambrusco hail from this land, as well as iconic figures like Luciano Pavarotti, Enzo Ferrari, and Chef Massimo Bottura. Welcoming and walkable, it’s a treasure in the heart of Emilia-Romagna waiting to be experienced.

Start your day with a delicious breakfast, then begin your exploration of Modena from its center, which has been its beating heart since the Middle Ages. While strolling the narrow streets with pastel-colored houses and lively squares, you'll appreciate the city's rich artistic and historic heritage. Whether you love fast cars or slow food, you’ll find engaging activities to pass the day before a can’t-miss dinner that will be a highlight of your travels. 

Getting Around

Modena is easily accessible by car and train from Bologna and is less than a half-hour’s travel by either method, making it an easy day trip. (If you drive in, park your car at Novi Park, a large underground parking facility that is open 24/7 just a few minutes’ walk from Piazza Grande.) To live like a local a little bit longer, extend your visit with an overnight stay at our favorite inn. Whatever you choose from this guide, let yourself be charmed by this special city.


   Mon Café

Modenesi love this café for a cozy breakfast to start the day, especially at their outdoor seating overlooking Corso Canalchiaro. Enjoy creamy cappuccinos, special coffees, and seasonal juices with sweet and savory croissants.

Corso Canalchiaro, 128
+ 39 059 223257

   Caffè Dell'Orologio

Caffè Dell'Orologio

Dating all the way back to 1787, this historic café has antique charm and has been a favorite spot over the years for Modena’s notable citizens. Enjoy great coffee and incredible people watching comfortably seated on the charming square overlooking the bustling Via Emilia.

Piazzetta delle Ova, 4
+ 39 059 473 7345


Enjoy breakfast at an outdoor table in one of the most beautiful corners of Modena, admiring the beautiful view of Modena Cathedral. Their artisanal sweets include cakes, macarons, cannoli, croissants, and brioches. If you need an energy boost to start your day, consider adding their irresistibly sweet zabaglione to your coffee.

Corso Duomo, 19
+ 39 059 3966345

   Trattoria Aldina

Trattoria Aldina

Up the stairs of a pastel-colored house just a few steps from the entrance of the Albinelli Market, you’ll find this informal trattoria that’s a favorite with locals. Here, you can enjoy home-style modenese dishes like tortellini en brodo and tagliatelle with ragù in a warm, no-frills setting. Lunch is served every day except Sunday and is first-come, first-serve—no reservations. Read more about Trattoria Aldina here.

Via Luigi Albinelli, 40
+39 059 236106

   Piccola Osteria Zemiàn

Intimate, welcoming and elegant, this osteria is a little gem in the heart of Modena. Ask the friendly, knowledgeable owner for his suggestions on the menu—you can’t go wrong with any of the refined traditional dishes he prepares.

Via Fonte d'Abisso, 23
+39 059 4722600

   Bloom Gelato

Bloom Gelato

At this award-winning artisanal gelateria, flavors range from traditional artisanal classics to seasonal fruit and unique creations. All the gelato is completely natural, free of additives, preservatives, or artificial flavors and made with top-quality raw materials. For the best gelato in the city, this is the place to be!

Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 42
+ 39 059 7148614

   L’Erba del Re

This Michelin-starred restaurant from Chef Luca Marchini serves traditional food with a modern twist in a historic palazzo near one of the city’s oldest churches. They offer several creative tasting menus as well as à la carte options, but we love the tasting menu that is a tribute to Modenese food culture, with your choice of four or seven courses that will take you on a journey through local peasant and popular history. 

Via Castelmaraldo, 45, Modena
+ 39 059 218188

   Ristorante Strada Facendo

Located in an ancient mill just a few minutes by taxi from the center of town, this restaurant has a gorgeous combination of ancient details and modern design. The dishes, too, blend tradition and modernity with great attention to detail and intensely balanced flavors inspired by the chef’s personal history. The wine list is extensive, and the service is impeccable.

Strada Barchetta, 351
+ 39 351 9585618

   Osteria Francescana

Osteria Francescana

Multiply ranked the best restaurant in the world, this is the three-Michelin-starred home base of Chef Massimo Bottura. Intimate, modern and elegant, it offers 12 tables in the heart of the historic center of Modena, near the church of San Francesco from which it takes its name. Here, Italian hospitality is impeccably down to the smallest details. The cuisine is both traditional and contemporary, a journey through Italian food and wine that is truly unique. Reservations are extremely difficult to secure but absolutely worth the effort.

Via Stella, 22
+ 39 059 223912


   Walking Tour with VisitModena

When time is limited, a great way to discover a city is a tour with a knowledgeable guide who can share all the details about what you're seeing. Arrange yours through the city’s official tourism office to learn all about the UNESCO-listed complex of buildings on Modena’s Piazza Grande (including the Ghirlandina, Modena’s own leaning tower!), the beautiful Piazza Roma that frames Palazzo Ducale, and much more.

Piazza Grande, 14
+39 059 2032660

   Mercato Albinelli

This beautifully restored art nouveau–style market built in 1931 still has its original cast-iron canopies and is anchored at its heart by the bronze fountain “The Girl with a Basket of Fruit” by famous local sculptor Giuseppe Graziosi. It’s an all-in-one stop to admire everything that’s great about modenese culture and gastronomy, with vendors selling the freshest produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, fresh pasta, wine, and balsamico. Read more about Albinelli Market here.

Via Luigi Albinelli, 13

   Enzo Ferrari Museum 

Just a five-minute walk from the city center, this extraordinary complex deserves a visit even if you’re not a car enthusiast. On one side, you’ll find Enzo Ferrari’s family home, where the Ferrari Engine Museum is now located inside a former workshop, offering a fascinating look at Modena’s automotive history. On the other side, a futuristic building with sloping glass facades houses the current Ferrari lab, where incredible supercars are dreamed up and exhibited.

Via Paolo Ferrari, 85
+39 059 4397979

   Casa Giusti Tour

If you came to Modena because it’s the home of balsamic vinegar, you can’t miss this magical stop at the oldest acetaia (vinegar producer) in the city. A free tour begins in the beautiful museum that takes you back over four centuries of the Giusti family’s history, followed by a tour of the ancient aging rooms and plenty of delicious samples. Save room in your suitcase for souvenirs from the shop!

Strada delle Quattro Ville, 52
+39 059 840135


   Casa Maria Luigia

To extend your time in Modena a little longer, book at Casa Maria Luigia, opened by Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife in 2019. Immersed in the Emilian countryside, this beautiful 18th-century residence is meticulously renovated and adorned with art from their private collection, including vintage cars and motorcycles. Bonus for those who couldn’t score a reservation at Osteria Francescana: The restaurant here serves a selection of its iconic dishes at communal tables that are open to the public as well as guests of the inn.

Stradello Bonaghino, 56
+ 39 059 469054

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