While the beautiful, food-centered city of Parma is better known as an excellent place to day trip to rather than as a place to base yourself when visiting Emilia-Romagna, the truth is that there are several excellent day trips from Parma, too!
Situated about an hour northwest by train of its more famous cousin, Bologna, Parma is known for being the origin of both Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma–but for most visitors, tastes of these delicacies and perhaps a quick jaunt through the historic center are all that they get to see of this beautiful city.
If you’re lucky enough to get to explore Parma and the surrounding area for longer, though, you (and your tastebuds!) will be richly rewarded.
We spent several days based in Parma on our second trip to the city and found ourselves becoming more smitten with its beautiful architecture, delicious food, lack of crowds, and convenient location by the day.
True, Parma isn’t quite as conveniently situated for day trips as Bologna is–but odds are, you’ll still find yourself with more places that you hope to visit than you have time to see.
If you’re considering staying in Parma for a couple of days or more, here are the best day trips from Parma to add to your wish list!
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Transportation Tips for Your Parma Day Trips
The vast majority of these day trips from Parma can be easily accessed in under 90 minutes by train (and some significantly less than that).
We recommend checking transportation schedules and prices with Omio, which will pull up all relevant companies and routes.
Note that for regional trains (marked as regionale) there’s generally no need to book tickets in advance–you can even simply buy them at the station.
High-speed trains (like Frecciarossa, for example) use dynamic pricing, and tickets for these trains are best booked ahead of time.
If you have your heart set on a particular day trip, we recommend researching exact train times and prices as soon as possible to get a realistic look at what your day will look like.
Want to get a bit further off the beaten path?
We love road-tripping in Emilia-Romagna and can highly recommend it (in fact, we had a car with us throughout our most recent trip to Parma).
Fun Day Trips from Parma, Italy
Parmigiano-Reggiano + Parma Ham Day Trip
Like many travelers, the idea of visiting Parma first caught our eye years ago for exactly one reason: the desire to visit a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory and marvel at endless rows of aging cheese!
Now, of course, we love the city for many more reasons, but touring a Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma factories as part of a Parma day trip absolutely lived up to the hype, and we consider it one of our most memorable travel experiences in Italy.
From getting to experience the behind-the-scenes process of how one of the world’s most iconic cheeses is made in a traditional setting to–of course–the chance to sample lots of cheese and ham along the way, taking a cheese and ham-focused day trip from Parma was an incredible experience.
How to Travel From Parma to the Factories
You’ll find the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma factories in rural areas outside of town, so you’ll need to either book a guided tour or arrange a time with the factory in advance and drive out yourself.
Many tours, including this popular one, include a visit to a Prosciutto di Parma factory in addition to a Parmigiano-Reggiano one, which is worth experiencing!
However, if you’d rather stick to just cheese, this shorter tour is an excellent option.
As any Italy-loving foodie will tell you, true, traditional balsamic vinegar can only come from Emilia-Romagna… and more specifically, from Modena.
If you’re a balsamic vinegar lover, Modena needs to shoot to the top of your list of day trips from Parma.
And, if you’re not a big fan of the condiment when poured over salad, we recommend giving it a try anyway!
Traditional balsamic vinegar isn’t remotely similar to what you find in most grocery stores and is more like a decadent syrup than anything else.
After first falling in love with the flavor years ago, we returned to Modena on a Parma day trip specifically to buy a bottle to take home with us!
For car lovers, Modena is also home to something special: the Enzo Ferrari Museum, which tells the story of the founding of Ferrari and also–unsurprisingly–is home to some incredible classic Ferraris.
While visiting Modena, don’t miss the chance to visit the interior of the cathedral, either–it’s gorgeous.
How to Travel From Parma to Modena
You can easily reach Modena from Parma in 30-50 minutes by direct train.
Sure, taking a day trip to Parma from Bologna is the more common option… but it works the other way around, too!
With one day in Bologna, you can easily enjoy many of the highlights of the city, while also knowing that the peace, quiet, and somewhat lower prices of Parma await you back “home” in the evening.
During a day trip to Bologna from Parma, consider heading to the top of Asinelli Tower for some amazing views of the city, hunting down Bologna’s hidden canals, visiting the Anatomical Theatre and Library of Archiginnasio, and strolling through Bologna’s many food markets.
Of course, as the capital of Emilia-Romagna, any day in Bologna should be centered around food.
Tagliatelle al ragu, mortadella, and tortellini en brodo are all must-sample dishes when visiting Bologna!
How to Travel From Parma to Bologna
The easiest way to take a day trip to Bologna from Parma is by train, which takes about an hour.
Many trains run throughout the day, with the cheaper regional trains taking a few minutes longer.
Recognized as one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small town of Castell’Arquato, Italy is a fantastic day trip idea for those hoping to get off the beaten path!
We loved our day here and would be happy to return again, even though there’s not much to “do” in Castell’Arquato.
Enjoying the food and atmosphere is an enormous amount of the appeal of visiting, though there are a few attractions to be sure to put on your radar!
In particular, the small castle of Rocca Viscontea (featuring beautiful views and the town’s fortress museum) is a must-see, as is the Collegiata di Castell’Arquato (don’t miss the frescoes in the Chapel of Santa Caterina).
How to Travel From Parma to Castell’Arquato
There isn’t a train station in Castell’Arquato itself, but you can connect to the town by bus.
We opted to drive to Castell’Arquato and found it very easy to do, with plenty of parking surrounding the city center (we go into a bit more detail on getting to Castell’Arquato in our guide to the town).
While Parma is generally purported to be the home of parmigiano-reggiano and Modena the home of balsamic vinegar, there is one place that would like to dispute both those things!
The town of Reggio Emilia, which is conveniently located right between the two cities, contests the claims of both (that’s the “Reggiano” part of “Parmigiano-Reggiano”).
Make Reggio Emilia one of your day trips from Bologna to get a first-hand look at some sibling rivalry, Emilia Romagna style!
Less visited than either Modena or Parma, but with a laid-back charm all its own, Reggio Emilia is a delightful place to enjoy la dolce vita for a day.
How to Travel From Parma to Reggio-Emilia
Reggio-Emilia is easily accessed from Parma by train, which takes about 15-30 minutes.
Regional and high-speed trains take about the same amount of time for this route, but the high-speed tickets are a bit more expensive.
Located in southern Lombardy, the peaceful city of Cremona is known above all for one thing: violins.
Cremona has been associated with the string instrument for centuries, even achieving UNESCO recognition for this aspect of its intangible heritage, and is well-known among orchestra lovers.
For that reason, visiting the wonderful Violin Museum is easily one of the best things to do in Cremona.
Cremona’s Duomo, sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of the North”, is also a must-see when visiting!
Be sure to stop for a bite of torrone–popular and tasty local nugget–as well.
How to Travel From Parma to Cremona
Cremona is reachable in about an hour from Parma by either train or bus.
If you’re short on time and want a small taste of Italy’s fashion and business capital, Milan is perfectly set up for sampling in one day.
The main sights can be covered quickly, and a Parma day trip is plenty of time to see the famous Duomo (including the cathedral’s epic rooftop), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Piazza del Duomo, the Sforzesco Castle, and more.
As a bonus, Milan’s central train station is one of the most beautiful we have ever seen–so the sightseeing can begin as soon as you arrive in Milan!
As for the Last Supper, tickets sell out well in advance–if you’re taking a last-minute day trip, you’ll likely need to book a guided tour like this if you want to see the fresco during your visit.
How to Travel From Parma to Milan
The best way to travel from Parma to Milan is via train, which takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours depending on the route.
Trains run near-constantly, but arrival times vary considerably between regional and high-speed trains.
Also, note that Milan has several train stations–Milano Centrale is the one you’ll want to use when taking a day trip from Parma.
If you’re hoping to explore a beautiful Italian city that is simultaneously far off the beaten path and extremely easy to access on a day trip from Parma, look no further than Piacenza.
Located between 3 rivers, including the famous Po River that has been so important to northern Italy’s economy for centuries, Piacenza is stately, charming, and incredibly uncrowded.
Don’t miss the beautiful Piazza dei Cavalli, the Palazzo Farnese, or the city’s many beautiful churches (especially the Duomo and the Basilica of Sant’Antonio).
How to Travel From Parma to Piacenza
Piacenza is easily accessed from Parma via train.
The route takes about 30-45 minutes, with trains running about every 30 minutes throughout the day.
Other Parma Day Trip Ideas
We’ve intentionally designed this guide to highlight some of the absolute best day trips from Parma, meaning that they are places of interest that are just as easy, or easier, to access from Parma than from other major cities in Italy.
However, they are far from the only Parma day trip options!
Other popular Emilia-Romagna destinations, including Ferrara, Ravenna, Comacchio, and Brisighella, are also all very doable day trips from Parma, especially if you’re driving–but they are even simpler to take from Bologna, so we left them off here.
Trains to these places will generally connect through at least Bologna, if not another station or two beyond that, so public transportation is generally not the best option in these cases.
(In the case of Cinque Terre, you’ll want to drive to La Spezia and then take the train to the villages from there, similar to what we detail in this blog post).
Is Parma the best place to visit these places from? No, certainly not–and they all deserve more than one day to explore.
However, if you’re enjoying some slow travel through Emilia-Romagna and are eagerly pouring over maps that show just how tantalizingly close Parma is to many other destinations, it’s worth noting that you have many options, both on and off the beaten path, at your fingertips.
Read More About Visiting Emilia-Romagna + Beyond
Planning a trip to Parma soon?
You can browse our 100+ Italy blog posts here, or check out these travel guides:
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Map of the Best Day Trips From Parma, Italy
Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.