12 Amazing Things to Do in Ravenna, Italy: Must-See Attractions

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated July 4, 2024 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jem
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Planning a trip to Ravenna, Italy anytime soon? Get ready to explore some of the most exciting and unique things to do in Ravenna. From breathtaking mosaic art to rich cultural experiences, Ravenna’s array of attractions promises an unforgettable journey.

Ever dreamt of stepping into a world where every corner tells a story? Welcome to Ravenna, one of my favorite places to visit in Italy.

One moment you’re cycling by ancient mosaics, and the next, you’re chilling at a beach bar in Marina di Ravenna.

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Sounds cool, right? Whether you’re here to soak up history or just to have a good time, Ravenna has something for everyone.

From taking a mosaic workshop to dancing the night away at Rocca Brancaleone, I’m here to guide you through the best things to do in Ravenna. Let’s dive into the heart of Ravenna and discover its magic together.

The top things to do in Ravenna, Italy right now

Best Places to Visit in Ravenna, Italy

Ready to uncover the charms of Ravenna? From the breathtaking mosaics of the Basilica di San Vitale to the lively Piazza del Popolo, brimming with unique shops and inviting cafes, there’s an abundance of exciting things to do in Ravenna.

Whether you’re cycling through the serene Pineta di Classe or exploring the vibrant history at the Neoniano Baptistry, every moment here is an adventure. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best activities in Ravenna – each one a must-experience!

1. Marvel at the Mosaics in Basilica di San Vitale

Entering Basilica di San Vitale is like walking into a rainbow made of stone. The mosaics cover every inch with stories from centuries ago, all in dazzling colors. Each piece, from the grand scenes featuring Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora to the intricate details on the ceilings, is a masterpiece.

A tip from me for your visit: Take it slow. The details in these mosaics, like the expressions on faces and the patterns in the clothing, are worth a closer look. They bring history to life in a way that’s both beautiful and educational.

The dome is a highlight, offering a 360-degree view of art and history merging together. Visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon can give you the best light for photos and a more personal experience with the art.

Basilica di San Vitale stands out as one of the best places to go in Ravenna. It offers a unique window into the past, showcasing the creativity and skill of artists who’ve left a lasting legacy on the world.

It seems like entering a stone rainbow when you go into Basilica di San Vitale.
It seems like entering a stone rainbow when you go into Basilica di San Vitale.

2. Stroll Through Piazza del Popolo

If you’re looking for fun places to visit in Ravenna, head to Piazza del Popolo. It’s the city’s beating heart, filled with history and buzzing with today’s energy. Here, you can see ancient buildings while sipping coffee right next to them.

Walk around the square and you’ll feel the city’s heartbeat. The architecture is a mix of old and new, with some buildings showing off designs from centuries ago. It’s like stepping back in time, but with a modern twist.

Need a break? Grab a coffee or gelato from a local café. Sitting here, you get the best view of Ravenna’s daily life. It’s perfect for people-watching and soaking in the vibe.

In the evening, the square changes. Lights come on, music plays, and there’s a lively atmosphere. It’s a great spot to experience Ravenna’s nightlife in a laid-back way.

Piazza del Popolo is a must-visit for a real taste of Ravenna. It offers history, culture, and a chance to relax, all in one place.

The city's vital center, Piazza del Popolo, is both rich in history and teeming with modern energy.
The city’s vital center, Piazza del Popolo, is both rich in history and teeming with modern energy.

3. Cycle the Pineta di Classe

Riding through the Pineta di Classe is like escaping into a green oasis. This forest is a breath of fresh air—literally. It’s a few kilometers from the city center, but it feels worlds away. Here, the only sounds are the rustling leaves and the distant calls of birds.

Bring a bike or rent one nearby. The paths are flat and welcoming, perfect for a leisurely ride. As you pedal through, you’ll be shaded by towering pine trees. It’s cool, even on hot days.

This place is a favorite among locals for a reason. It’s peaceful, natural, and beautiful. You’ll find spots to picnic, paths to explore, and plenty of photo ops. Keep an eye out for wildlife, too. It’s not uncommon to spot rabbits or even deer.

Cycling in Pineta di Classe is one of the coolest things to do in Ravenna for anyone who loves nature. It’s a chance to unwind, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, it’s a fun way to see a different side of the area.

Don’t rush it. Take your time, breathe in the fresh air, and let the tranquility of the forest recharge you. It’s a simple pleasure, but sometimes those are the best kind.

A ride through the Pineta di Classe is akin to finding oneself in a verdant haven.
A ride through the Pineta di Classe is akin to finding oneself in a verdant haven.

4. Discover the Neoniano Baptistry

The Neoniano Baptistry is a hidden gem in Ravenna, tucked away but full of wonders. Walking in, you’re greeted by some of the most stunning mosaics you’ll ever see. They cover the ceiling and walls, shining in blues and golds. It’s like stepping inside a jewel box.

This place is ancient, dating back to the 5th century, but the art feels timeless. The mosaics tell stories from the Bible in a way that’s both beautiful and profound. Look up at the dome to see John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. It’s a scene that’s been captivating visitors for centuries.

What makes the Neoniano Baptistry special isn’t just its age or beauty. It’s the feeling of peace inside. It’s quiet, cool, and a bit of a sanctuary from the outside world.

As one of the best attractions in Italy, visiting here is a must for anyone interested in history or art. It’s not as crowded as some spots, so you can really take your time. Don’t forget to bring a camera—the mosaics are something you’ll want to remember.

And here’s a tip from me: After your visit, take a walk around the neighborhood. It’s full of charming streets and less-visited sights that add to your experience of Ravenna.

Tucked away but brimming with surprises is Ravenna's hidden jewel, the Neoniano Baptistry.
Tucked away but brimming with surprises is Ravenna’s hidden jewel, the Neoniano Baptistry.

5. Explore Dante’s Tomb and Quadrarco di Braccioforte

Wondering where to go in Ravenna? I highly recommend visiting Dante’s Tomb. It’s a quiet spot in Ravenna, where the famous poet Dante Alighieri is buried. It’s simple, but visiting feels special, especially if you love books or history. The tomb is small and doesn’t take long to see, but it’s a powerful place to stand and think about Dante’s impact on the world.

Right next to the tomb, there’s a peaceful area called Quadrarco di Braccioforte. It’s a nice place to pause and enjoy a moment of calm. The architecture is old and adds to the feeling that you’re stepping back in time.

If you’re into Dante’s work, this visit can be pretty moving. It’s also a chance to see a part of Ravenna that’s not just about mosaics but about Italy’s literary history.

There’s a museum nearby that tells more about Dante’s life and how he ended up in Ravenna. It’s worth a look to get the full story and understand why this place matters.

After visiting, take a walk around the area. It’s quiet and has a different vibe from the busier parts of Ravenna. It shows you another side of the city, where history is everywhere, even in the quiet corners.

The renowned poet Dante Alighieri is buried in Dante's Tombis.
The renowned poet Dante Alighieri is buried in Dante’s Tombis.

6. Relax at Marina di Ravenna

Marina di Ravenna is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the sea. It’s a bit away from the city’s historic center, but it’s worth the trip for the beach vibes and fresh air. The beaches here are lovely, with soft sand and clear waters, ideal for a day of relaxation or a quick dip in the sea.

What I love about Marina di Ravenna is its laid-back atmosphere. There are plenty of beach bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite or a drink with a view of the Adriatic Sea. It’s a great place to taste some local seafood, which is fresh and delicious.

If you’re looking for activities, there’s more than just sunbathing. You can rent a paddleboard or a kayak to explore the coastline. It’s a spectacular way to see the area from a different perspective and get a bit of exercise too. If you ask me, this area offers some of the most fun things to do in Ravenna.

Don’t forget to stay until sunset. Watching the sun dip below the horizon here is breathtaking. It’s one of those moments that make you appreciate the simple beauty of nature.

Marina di Ravenna is a spot where you can relax, enjoy the sea, and escape the busier tourist areas. It’s a reminder of the diverse experiences Ravenna offers, from ancient mosaics to beautiful natural landscapes.

Relaxing and taking in the sea is ideal at Marina di Ravenna.
Relaxing and taking in the sea is ideal at Marina di Ravenna.

7. Take a Mosaic Workshop

One of the most unique things to do in Ravenna is not just to see the mosaics but actually learn how to make them. Ravenna is famous for its stunning ancient mosaics, so taking a workshop here feels extra special. It’s a chance to dive into the city’s artistry and take a piece of it home with you.

Workshops are available for all skill levels, from beginners to those who have tried their hand at mosaic making before. Instructors are patient and knowledgeable, guiding you through the process of creating your own mosaic art. I highly recommend checking out Mosaic Art School, who offer a variety of packages.

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The best part? You don’t need to be an artist. The workshops are designed to be fun and engaging, whether you’re crafting a simple design or something more complex. Plus, working with the colorful tiles is surprisingly relaxing.

This experience gives you a new appreciation for the mosaics you see around Ravenna. After spending a few hours cutting and placing tiny pieces of tile, you’ll look at the city’s famous artworks with a whole new perspective.

Taking a mosaic workshop is a unique way to connect with Ravenna’s history and culture. It’s something I always recommend when asked what to do in Ravenna, Italy.

Attending a course in Ravenna is particularly meaningful because of the city's renowned historical mosaics.
Attending a class in Ravenna especially relevant due to the city’s renowned historical mosaics.

8. Enjoy the Nightlife at Rocca Brancaleone

Rocca Brancaleone is where history meets party. This old fortress turns into a buzzing spot at night, hosting everything from live music to movie screenings under the stars. It’s a unique place to hang out, where you can dance or chill inside ancient walls.

Here’s the deal: the music’s always good, and the vibe’s even better. Whether you’re into jazz, rock, or something in between, you’ll find your groove. And if you’re into movies, catching a film under the stars here is a must-do. It’s a magical experience, surrounded by the night air and the ancient stones.

Grabbing a drink and finding a cozy spot is easy. The place is laid out so everyone can have a good time, whether you’re here to meet new people or just enjoy the show. It’s friendly, so you’ll feel part of the Ravenna night scene in no time.

Rocca Brancaleone is a must-visit for anyone looking for things to do in Ravenna at night. It’s not every day you get to party in a fortress, right? So, make sure to check it out and add a bit of historical fun to your nightlife.

Tradition and celebration converge at Rocca Brancaleone.
Tradition and celebration converge at Rocca Brancaleone.

9. Sample Local Romagna Cuisine

When in Ravenna, diving into the local Romagna cuisine is a must. This region’s food is all about bold flavors and fresh ingredients. Think handmade pasta, succulent seafood, and, of course, the legendary piadina—a flatbread filled with anything from cheese to prosciutto.

For a truly memorable meal, I recommend checking out Osteria del Tempo Perso. One of the best restaurants in Italy, it’s a cozy spot where the charm of the city’s streets meets the warmth of Italian hospitality. The menu showcases the best of local dishes.

Don’t skip the tagliatelle al ragù. It’s a pasta dish that’ll make you understand why Italians cherish their food so much. And if you’re by the coast, the grilled fish is as fresh as it gets, caught and cooked to perfection.

Pair your meal with a glass of local Sangiovese wine. It’s the perfect complement to the rich flavors of Romagna cuisine, enhancing the dining experience with its robust taste.

Eating in Ravenna isn’t just about filling up. It’s about savoring each bite and enjoying the local culture. Osteria del Tempo Perso offers that authentic experience, which makes it a top recommendation for anyone wanting to taste the heart of Ravenna.

The cuisine of this area emphasizes strong flavors and seasonal ingredients.
The cuisine of this area emphasizes strong flavors and seasonal ingredients.

10. Visit the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe

Just a short drive from Ravenna’s center, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe is a breathtaking sight. Surrounded by green fields, this ancient church is famous for its stunning mosaics and serene atmosphere. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but absolutely worth the trip.

The basilica stands out for its impressive architecture and the beautiful mosaics that adorn its interior. The apse mosaic, depicting Saint Apollinaris among the sheep, is a piece of history that tells stories from the early Christian era. The colors and details in these mosaics are something you have to see up close to believe.

What I love about this hidden gem in Italy is its peaceful vibe. It’s quieter than the sites in the city center, allowing you to really soak in the beauty and spirituality of the surroundings. Take a moment to sit and reflect. It’s a perfect spot for some quiet contemplation.

Don’t forget to explore the exterior and the surrounding area.

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The basilica’s setting among the fields makes it a picturesque spot for photos or a leisurely walk. Trust me, it’s one of the best places in Ravenna to visit.

The sight of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe is amazing.
The sight of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe is amazing.

11. Attend the Ravenna Festival

Every year, from late May to July, Ravenna turns into a huge stage for the Ravenna Festival. This is when the city shines, showing off a mix of music, dance, and theater. You’ll find performances in cool places like ancient churches and outdoor forts, making it more than just a show—it’s an experience.

The festival has all sorts of acts, from famous opera singers to local jazz bands. It’s a great chance to see world-class performances in a unique setting. My advice? Look up the schedule early and grab your tickets, especially for the big names, as they sell out fast.

Even if you’re not into buying tickets, the festival vibes spread across Ravenna. There are free street performances and lots of energy around.

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It’s fun just being in the city at this time.

Going to the Ravenna Festival lets you dive into the city’s culture head-first. Hands down, it’s one of the most exciting things to do in Ravenna during the summer. Plus, seeing a show in a place with so much history is pretty cool.

The city comes alive during the Ravenna Festival, showcasing a variety of dance, theater, and music.
The city comes alive during the Ravenna Festival, showcasing a variety of dance, theater, and music. | Image Credit: ravennafestival

12. Explore the Po Delta Park by Boat

The Po Delta Park is a natural wonder of Ravenna, offering a unique way to see wildlife and landscapes you can’t find anywhere else in the city. Taking a boat tour through the delta is an experience you won’t forget. I highly recommend Po Delta Tourism.

The tours usually run from spring through autumn, peaking in the warmer months from April to October, when the weather is perfect for being on the water.

On the boat, you’ll glide through serene waterways, surrounded by lush greenery and an array of birdlife. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, flamingos, and other birds that call this place home. It’s a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike.

The guides are locals who know the delta inside out. They’ll share stories and facts about the area. This makes the trip not just scenic, but informative too. You’ll learn about the delicate ecosystem and the efforts to preserve this unique environment.

A boat trip in the Po Delta Park is relaxing but also engaging. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility. Plus, it’s an activity that suits everyone, whether you’re solo, with friends, or family.

Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and your camera. The views are stunning, and you’ll want to capture the beauty of the delta. It’s a peaceful break from the city and a reminder of the diverse experiences Ravenna offers.

There's nowhere else in the city like Po Delta Park to witness wildlife and sceneries like this.
There’s nowhere else in the city like Po Delta Park to witness wildlife and sceneries like this.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Ravenna, Italy:

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Ravenna, Italy? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Ravenna, Italy.

Is Ravenna, Italy, worth visiting?

Yes, Ravenna is definitely worth visiting. This city is a treasure trove of history, art, and culture, renowned for its stunning Byzantine mosaics that are unlike anything else in the world. Beyond the mosaics, Ravenna offers a rich food scene, serene natural landscapes, and a vibrant atmosphere that captivates every visitor.

How long should you spend in Ravenna?
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Spending two to three days in Ravenna is ideal. This allows ample time to explore the city’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Basilica di San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, at a leisurely pace. Additionally, dedicating time to experience a mosaic workshop or to enjoy the local cuisine can enrich your visit. For those who wish to delve deeper into Ravenna’s culture and surroundings, extending your stay to include nearby natural parks or the Adriatic coast could be rewarding.

Ravenna has something to offer everyone, regardless of whether you're here to take in the history or simply have fun.
Ravenna has something to offer everyone, regardless of whether you’re here to take in the history or simply have fun.

What airport do you fly into for Ravenna, Italy?

The nearest major airport to Ravenna is Bologna’s Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). Located approximately 80 kilometers from Ravenna, it serves as the most convenient gateway for international and domestic flights. From Bologna, travelers can reach Ravenna via train, bus, or car rental, with the journey offering a glimpse into the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region.

Is Ravenna walkable?

Ravenna is highly walkable, and it’s a pleasure to explore on foot. The city’s compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets invite visitors to stroll through its historic center. Many of Ravenna’s famous mosaics and architectural landmarks are located within walking distance of each other. Walking in Ravenna not only allows for an immersive exploration of its art and history but also offers opportunities to discover charming cafes, shops, and hidden corners that contribute to the city’s unique character.

The top things to do in Ravenna, Italy for all type of travelers
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