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Parma Travel Guide: Discover with a Local

Parma Travel Guide

Today, on my travel guide, I will take you to my native town, Parma. Parma is in North Italy, in a very central position near some of the most famous Italian cities like Milano and Bologna. It is famous for its architecture, music, art, and food. The city is also home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world, so the city is full of students from all over Europe.   

1. Who Am I?

Before starting to my Parma travel guide, my name is Lavinia. I am 24 and I live between Parma and Milan, Italy. I was born in Parma and now I am living in Milan, where I am taking a MA in Art. Meanwhile, I also have a degree in languages, English and Russian.

My parents love to travel so I am doing that since I was little. And of course, they passed their passion to me! When I travel with my parents, we often go to exotic places like Maldives and Micronesia, so I guess we have a luxury travel style. On the contrary, when I travel with my friend we search for cheap offers in Europe and we love adventures, so we have a more backpacker travel style. And, I love to document my travel and share a lot of photos and videos on my Instagram profile!

2. Duration of Ideal Stay and Visiting Season

Parma is not a big city, and the city center can be easily visited in one day. Many tourists stop in Parma as a shortstop on their journey. But Parma is also ideal for a relaxing weekend away from the traffic of the big cities and you can also spend a day visiting the stunning surrounding countryside.

Parma Travel Guide
Fontanellato is a small town in the province of Parma, in northern Italy. It lies on the plains of the River Po.

In terms of weather, the best time to visit Parma is from April to October. During the winter months, the climate is cold and often rainy. You could also run into the typical fog of the Po valley, which I do not wish to anyone! I personally recommend the spring and autumn months because high temperatures are often reached in summer and this could affect the visit in a negative way.

3. How To Get To Parma City Center From Airport?

Parma has an airport, but it does not offer many flights. The nearest airports are Malpensa (1.45 h), Linate (1.30 h), and Bologna (2 h). To reach Parma you can rent a car or travel by train. The cost of the train ticket from Milan to Parma is €11.10, from Boulogne to Parma is €7.35.

The train station is really closed to the center, so you should not spend too much on a taxi to get to your accommodation.

4. Where To Accommodate in Parma?

The most convenient place to accommodate in Parma is the historic center because most of the tourist attractions of this city are located right there. The price for a room in the historic center changes from area to area. A hotel room near the Duomo is more expensive than a hotel room over the river.

Parma hotels
Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati hotel just next to the Duomo

There are also some very nice neighborhoods around the center, where staying is convenient and cheap. For example, the San Lazzaro neighborhood is quiet, clean, and well connected to the city center.

Around the city there are also a lot of convenient B&B.

Parma offers a variety of accommodation types for different price categories; I will be going to list some by category.

Upper Class

  • Grand Hotel de la Ville
  • Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati
  • NH Parma
  • B&B A Parma Duomo

Middle Class

  • Hotel Tre Ville
  • Hotel Residence Parma
  • Novotel Parma Centro
  • Hotel Button

5. Parma City Transportation

As I said before, most of the tourist attractions of the city are located in the historic center, which is pretty small and easy to walk around.

In addition, the city offers good public transport service. If you want to go outside the historic center you can take the bus; there are three lines that stop in the main square and they run every ten minutes, even if they are not always perfectly on time. The single ticket costs 1,50 euros and 2,50 euros if you buy it on the bus. The day ticket cost 2,50 euros.

Parma Travel Guide

Parma also offers a car-sharing service and a bike-sharing service. The price of the car-sharing is 2,50 euros per hour, and you have to add also 0,65 euros per kilometer. The bike-sharing day ticket is 5 euros.

6. Suggested Budget for Parma

In Italy, the currency is the euro. The price of living varies a lot from area to area, in Parma, it is quite high. For some things, it goes around the prices of Milan.

If you want to eat at the restaurant the price is around 25/30 euros per person per meal. For lunch I recommend getting something to eat in a bakery, the food is delicious, and you can save time and money!

The entrance to the city parks and the churches is free. But to enter the rest of the tourist attractions, like the Baptistery and the National Gallery you have to pay.

If you need to change money you can do that in several banks scattered around the city. Some of them are in the historic center, like Unicredit, in Str. della Repubblica 4/A.

7. Best Things To Do in Parma

Now let’s get to the most important part of my Parma travel guide.

inside Parma duomo

The Parma cathedral is a Romanic Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The construction began in 1059 by bishop Cadalo. The main feature of the interior is the fresco of Assumption of the Virgin, which decorated the dome, by Antonio da Correggio, a famous Renaissance painter. In the right transept, there is the Deposition by Benedetto Antelami. The cathedral is open every day from 8 am to 12.30 am and from 3 pm to 7 pm.

Parma Travel Guide

It was built between 1196 and 1216 and designed by Benedetto Antelami. Is one of the most important monuments of the transition from Romanesque to early Gothic architecture. It is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. To visit it you can buy a cumulative ticket with the Museo Diocesiano. The full fare is 12 euros, the reduced ticket is 10 euros and the student ticket is 5 euros.  

Teatro Regio
Parma Travel Guide

It is considered one of the most important traditional theaters in Italy. The theatre was built between 1821 and 1829 and it was commissioned by Maria Luigia, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. it is associated with names of the caliber of Verdi and Rossini.

Pilotta Palace
Parma Travel Guide

The Pilotta is an important palace, symbol of the Farnese family. It is the historic and civil center of the city. Today is a unique monumental complex made up of several buildings and numerous architects who worked on the construction at different times. It includes:

  • The Farnese Theater: It was built in a very short time, using lightweight materials such as painted wood and stucco. Given the complexity of the operation of the stage machinery and the high cost of the shows, the theater was used only nine times from 1652 to 1732;
  • The National Gallery: The museum exhibits, among others, work by Beato Angelico, Canaletto, Leonardo da Vinci, Parmigianino, Tintoretto, Correggio;
  • The National Archeological Museum: Founded in 1760 by duke Don Filippo di Borbone is housed from the first half of the XIX century in the south-western wing of the palace;
  • The Palatine Library: Established in 1761 by don Filippo di Borbone, duke of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla. The intention was to establish a library that was to serve the education of all kinds of studies in a land where culture was in decline.
Parco Ducale
Parma Travel Guide

The perfect place if you want to take a break from the sightseeing and you enjoy nature. The park dates back to the 16th century and is located along the west bank of the Parma River. It became public after the unification of Italy.

Food and Wine tour

In the city, there is a strong food and wine tradition. So, if you have already visited the city and you have some free time I suggest taking a food tour in the countryside. You can check the Food Valley website for further information.

Nightlife in Parma

In the historic center, there are a lot of wine bars, where you can spend a pleasant evening sipping good wine and tasting some parmesan delicacies. The most famous is between via Farini, Piazza Garibaldi, and Via D’Azeglio.

Shopping and Souvenirs in Parma

Parma Travel Guide

In the historic center, there are major brand shops, such as Zara and HM, as well as traditional and craft shops. There are no real souvenir shops like the ones you can find in big tourist cities, but you can find souvenirs on newsstands and tobacconist. Shopping malls are on the outskirts, so if you don’t have a car, they are a bit far to reach, but they are still connected to the historic center by bus.

Special Events in Parma

Every year, in October, Parma host the Verdi Festival, an important Italian opera music festival. Verdi was a very important Italian composer. If you like opera, this is the best time to visit Parma, so you can experience go to the opera at the stunning Teatro Regio.

Another nice event is the Multicultural Festival in Collecchio, a small town you can reach in 20 minutes by car from Parma. A festival that brings together various cultures, with food stands dedicated to the cuisine of several countries from all over the world, conferences, seminars, workshops, and live music.

Parma Tours

Parma offers a Train Tour: a small electric train that will take you on a tour of the city between the best known and the most unexplored areas. The ticket is from 3 to 6 euros. There are no Hop on & Hop-off tours available in the city since it is really small.

8. What To Eat/Drink in Parma?

Now, I am going to take you to the most delicious part of my travel guide for Parma.

parmesan cheese
Famous Parmesan Cheese of Parma

Parma was designated UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015 and is also the epicenter of the Italian Food Valley. This already makes you understand the importance of our culinary tradition. It is one of the destinations with the largest number of typical products protected by quality brands in Italy, like the Parmesan Ham and the Parmesan Cheese, famous all over the world. Obviously, there are many great restaurants located around the city and in the countryside as well.

  • Angiol D’Or: One of the most famous restaurants in Parma, located right in the historic center, next to the Duomo.
  • Ristorante Rosa Croce: Keywords: excellent service and dream atmosphere.
  • Trattoria Rigoletto: The perfect option to try all the traditional dishes of Parma cuisine.
  • Il Trovatore: An elegant restaurant located in the historic center.

Almost every restaurant have the vegeterian option.

There are also many nice places to have an “aperitivo”, that is, for who doesn’t know, basically having a drink while eating something. You can have it both before lunch and in the late afternoon. The most famous cafés are located in the main streets of the historic center.

  • Le Malve
  • Dolcevita
  • Caffè Cavour

9. Warnings, Tips and Tricks for Parma

Parma is a very safe and quiet city. The least recommendable area in the evening is the train station and the neighborhood behind it, so I don’t suggest looking for accommodations there. In general, the level of crime is low compared to larger Italian cities.

I hope you enjoyed this travel guide of Parma. Don’t forget to leave your comments and thoughts about my Parma travel guide!

Also, you can check more travel guides from here!

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