10 Things To Do You Can't Miss Around Ferrara, Italy

things to do in ferrara italy
| 5 min read

Ferrara is a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Situated 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Bologna and 2 to 3 hours away by train from Florence or Venice, its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ferrara is not on the typical foreign tourist’s itinerary, which makes it perfect for the travelers looking for something less common than Venice, Florence and Rome. Extremely picturesque and mainly built by Renaissance’s all-powerful Este family, Ferrara is a great addition to your list of must-visit cities of the world.

This is one of Italy’s greenest cities, full of medieval castles, parks and churches (such as the magnificent Castello Estense and the 12th-century Duomo), where almost every museum and tourist attraction is housed in a luxurious palace. In this article, we’ll look at 10 top-ranked activities that will surely make your vacation in Ferrara, a fun and unforgettable one.

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1. The Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio Martire

Ferrara 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Herbert Ortner used under CC BY 2.5

The Basilica Cathedral di San Giorgio Martire is the largest religious edifice in Ferrara. Located in the city center, not far from the Palazzo Comunale and the famous Castello Estense, the12th-century cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and displays several architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque) and also paintings which make the place worth a visit. Look forward to its spectacular Romanesque design mixed with Baroque and Renaissance paintings, portals, statues and bas-reliefs. Usually operating from 7.30am to 6.30pm during the working days, it’s an unmissable site to discover for art and history lovers.

Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio Martire

Address: Piazza della Cattedrale, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Website: Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio Martire

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2. The Castello Estense

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Microsoikos used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Castle Estense or Castle of Saint Michele is a massive moated medieval fortress in the center of the city built in 1385 by the Este family to protect themselves from the citizen revolts. Centuries went by and the risk of riots disappeared, then the castle became the magnificent residence of the court and was embellished with roof terraces at the top of the towers, marble balconies, and a Renaissance-style courtyard. Nowadays, the fortress is mostly open to visitors from 9.30am to 5.30pm and visitors can access almost the whole building and explore its wonders. Its immense courtyard is also used to host local fairs and festivals, especially during the summer.

Castello Estense

Address: Largo Castello, 1, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Website: Castello Estense

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3. The Parco urbano G. Bassani

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This park of 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) is located in front of the Ferrara’s ramparts and along the walls of cycle paths. It was one of the Este’s game reserves, related to the famous “Delizia di Belfiore,” devoted to the entertainment and amusement of a refined and cultivated court. Today, the Parco urbano G. Bassani is a great place for travelers to cycle, walk and enjoy several cultural events, various social and sports facilities, such as the CUS (University Sports Center), the municipal swimming pool, and the Golf Club.

The Parco urbano G. Bassani

Address: Via Riccardo Bacchelli,103, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Website: The Parco urbano G. Bassani

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4. The Parco Pareschi and Massari

Massari Inside
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sien used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

These are beautiful parks located in the city, in Corso della Giovecca. The Pareschi Park was originally the garden of the Palazzo di San Francesco, built in the second half of the 15th-century. Today, during the summer months, the park is used for outdoor events, thanks to its easily accessible central location, such as the open air cinema.

The Massari Park was built in 1780 and was formerly equipped with seven imposing access passages, of which only two remain nowadays. The park was also famous for the number of statues that decorated it in addition to the large amount of plants and shrubs. Both of these places are great locations for a peaceful walk and quiet time within the city.

Parco Pareschi and Massari

Address: Corso della Giovecca, 44121 Ferrara, Italy / Corso Porta Mare, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

Website: Parco Pareschi

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5. The Palazzo Schifanoia

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Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Francesco del Cossa used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

This beautiful Renaissance palace near the river has been turned into a historical art museum. Built for the Este family, its name “Schifanoia” is thought to originate from “schivar la noia” meaning literally to “escape from boredom”. Beside of its luxurious gardens, the palace displays numerous decorations including allegorical frescoes from the 15th-century, a unique survival of their time for the pleasure of art lovers.

The Palazzo Schifanoia

Address: Via Scandiana, 23, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Website: The Palazzo Schifanoia

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6. The Palazzo dei Diamanti

Ferrara 07-05 (37)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nicolò Musmeci used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Palazzo dei Diamanti is an unmissable building of Ferrara, covered with more than 8,500 faceted marble blocks. This beautiful Renaissance castle was, like the other main historical sites of the city, part of the Este family, in the late 1400s. Today, tourists can visit the palace opened from Tuesday to Sunday (9.30am to 6 pm). The building displays a 13th to 17th-century paintings collection hosted in the Pinacoteca Nazionale (National Gallery) and changing exhibitions in the gallery d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, featuring major works by impressionists, post-impressionists, and other later artists.

The Palazzo dei Diamanti

Address: Corso Ercole I d'Este, 21, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Website: The Palazzo dei Diamanti

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7. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Ferrara, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, antiche imbarcazioni
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Palickap used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The National Museum is a beautiful 15th-century Renaissance palace displaying a huge spectrum of arts and historical collections, such as its gorgeous artifact collection of Greek, Attic vases, bronzes, jewelry and other Etruscan objects from the 6th to the 3rd-century BC City of Spina.

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Address: Via XX Settembre, 122, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

Website: The Museo Archeologico Nazionale

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8. Le Mura di Ferrara

Ferrara mura
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Texcarson used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The brick walls that surround Ferrara’s historic center is an 8 kilometer (5 mile) long medieval defensive structure, among the oldest in Italy. It displays all the elements medieval cities used to defend themselves, including earthworks, moats, city gates, bastions, and towers. Today, the area is a favorite place to walk and cycle around the several parks along the walls, and moat. The beautiful construction also provides several points of view of the city and countryside.

Le Mura di Ferrara

Address: 44121 Ferrara, Province of Ferrara, Italy

Website: Le Mura di Ferrara

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9. The Via delle Volte

Ferrara, Via delle Volte - panoramio - Carlo Pelagalli (1)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carlo Pelagalli used under CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s one of the oldest and most picturesque roads in Ferrara. Via delle Volte is a medieval road that once connected the local warehouses with the workshops. If you are looking for authentic architectures and scenic walks, a stroll across the ancient road allows for the opportunity to discover the charm of old buildings and the characteristically narrow alleys.

The Via delle Volte

Address: 44121 Ferrara, Province of Ferrara, Italy

Website: The Via delle Volte

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10. The Centro Storico Ferrara

Ferrara - Piazza Trento e Trieste
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sien used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The historic center of Ferrara has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1995 and has an invaluable architectural heritage. The buildings, castles and churches’ architecture there is typical of a Renaissance City, being conceived and realized in a unique and homogeneous way.

Centro Storico Ferrara

Address: 44121 Ferrara, Province of Ferrara, Italy

Website: Centro Storico Ferrara

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Discover Ferrara's secret patrimony

Less known than Venice, Florence and Rome, Ferrara has yet its fair panel of historical sites, monuments and activities. With this “things to do” list, you will discover the several places of interest in the city, which are definitely great additions to your itinerary.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Felix Brassier is a French digital filmmaker / visual storyteller for the web and digital nomad traveling all over the place. Crazy about videography, photography, he's also writing for the web and...Read more

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