1 day in Ravenna – what to do, where to stay, how to get there

With many ships now being moved from ports in Venice to Ravenna, you have the opportunity to spend 1 day in Ravenna (or more) before or after your cruise.

It was the Roman emperor Honorius who once claimed Ravenna as the capital of the western Roman empire. This fantastic small city boasts the famous Basilica of San Vitale and countless works of art in the form of mosaics.

And it’s well worth a visit.

Placed firmly on the visitors map thanks to, among others, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises who offer cruises from Ravenna to the Mediterranean or Greek Isles, Ravenna has long been a popular destination with Italians. Especially when visiting the regions of Bologne or Rimini.

Transport connections to Ravenna

Ravenna has a busy train station with good connections with both regional trains and fast trains. You can easily reach many major cities in Italy from here.

Closest airports to Ravenna

If you prefer to skip visiting Venice and fly straight to Ravenna, the closest airports are Rimini (60km) and Bologna International airport (80km). Book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel in Ravenna in advance with a trusted provider such as Viator.

Alternatively you can hop into a taxi at one of the official taxi stands outside of the arrival terminal. The journey time is around 1hr and 20 minutes and will cost you about 150-180 euros.

From Bologna airport to Ravenna by train

A much more cost effective way to travel is by train from Bologna to Ravenna. You will need to get the airport shuttle train – the Marconi Express – or a taxi to Bologna central train station, 6km from the airport. From the train station there is a direct train to Ravenna. The journey time by train is a little over one hour and costs around 8 euros per person.

From Rimini airport to Ravenna by train

If you are flying into Rimini airport, take a taxi to the main central station. From there you can get a direct train to Ravenna. Journey time is just under one hour and a one way ticket costs around 5 euros per person.

Visiting Venice before transferring to Ravenna

Most cruise guests flying into Venice airport will want to see and experience Venice before transferring to Ravenna or Trieste ports for their cruise.

We offering expert advice about visiting Venice before you cruise here. In addition you will find out about the port of Ravenna and how to get there here.

How to get from the port (Porto Corsini) to central Ravenna

If you are ending your cruise in Ravenna – often stated as Venice by the cruise lines but actually a town in itself 2.5 hours south of Venice), you are most likely using Porto Corsini. As always, check you cruise ticket for the exact name of your port.

Porto Corsini is a little seaside resort located about 11 km from the centre of Ravenna.

Local buses to and from the port to the city center

There is local public transport “Start Romagna” (bus line n° 90) that connects Porto Corsini to Ravenna railway station about every 1 hour. In this link from the Ravenna tourist office you can see the bus times. Scroll down until you see the information for “Linea 90”.

Taxi or private transfers

Alternatively there are taxis outside the cruise terminals. The journey time by car to central Ravenna is around 15 minutes in good traffic. The price of the taxi ride will be around 21 euros. Expect to pay around 26 euros if you travel later in the evening or at weekends.

Private transfers will be more expensive but ideal if you are travelling in a group of 4 or more and do not want to wait for a taxi or bus. Book so your driver is waiting for you when your ship comes into port. We recommend that you use a trusted supplier such as Viator.

Storing your luggage for the day in Ravenna

If you are only in Ravenna for one day without staying overnight at a hotel, then make use of the luggage storage facilities near the train station.

Perhaps you are taking an onwards journey to the airport at Bologna at the end of the day, or getting on an evening train bound for Venice. Whatever your plans, use the luggage storage in Piazzale Farini near the train station.

Parking options if you are driving to the port of Ravenna (Porto Corsini)

If you live in Europe and driving to the port in Ravenna, Porto Corsini, is an option for you, note that there is unfortunately no private parking or garage in Porto Corsini. You can, however, park your car in one of these garages in Ravenna. These 3 options are the closest garages to the bus route number 90 that stops on Via Maroncelli next to the train station.

  • Garage Mariani
  • Garage Navoni
  • Garage La Torre

Find more information on their website here.

Where to stay in Ravenna

It’s easy to visit Ravenna as a day trip, but we recommend that you make most of your time here by booking an overnight stay to enjoy the city and the friendly locals by day and night.

We like the hotel NH Ravenna. It is right in the hear of historic Ravenna and only a 5 minute walk from the train station.

This 4-star, 4-storey hotel has 84 guest rooms, free wifi and simple, fresh, clean rooms. Ask for a room on the upper floor for good views over the city. If you are a family and need more space there are family suites or rooms with connecting doors.

There is a restaurant and cocktail bar at the hotel, or several good restaurants nearby.

With English speaking staff, an excellent breakfast buffet and luggage storage facilities if you room is not quite ready when you check in, the NH Ravenna is ideal for your stay.

How to see Ravenna in one day

There are no less than eight ancient monuments in the historic city of Ravenna that are an Unesco world heritage site. But Ravenna, once the capital of the western Roman empire, is best known for its breathtaking early Christian and Byzantine wall mosaics.

Start the day at the train station, it’s a central meeting point and located in the heart of the city. Walk past Giardino Speyer park towards the arian baptistery, Battistero degli Ariani, located on Piazzetta degli Ariani.

From here, visit Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo on Via di Roma. It’s an easy walk and shouldn’t take more than about 15 minutes. This is your starting point for seeing the first of Ravenna byzantine mosaics and what must surely be the most beautiful mosaics in the world.

The best of Ravennas Byzantine and Christian mosaics

After you have been inside, continue your walking tour in this order before heading into the center of the city.

  • Archbishop’s Chapel of St. Andrew, on Plaza Arcivescovado
  • Neonian Baptistery (Battistero Neoniano) in Piazza Duomo
  • Basilica di San Vitale on Via San Vitale
  • Mausoleum of Galla Placidia also located on Via San Vitale
Byzantine and Christian mosaics in Ravenna
Byzantine and Christian mosaics in Ravenna

Of all the Unesco world heritage sites, the Basilica di San Vitale deserves a special mention. This is the most visited place in Ravenna to admire the mosaics.

Therefore if you are really pushed for time then make this your only stop from the list above. Built in year 525, admire mosaics such as Voice of the Verb and The Emperor and the Lamb. The church is open daily except Christmas and New Year’s Day, and the entrance fee is 10.50 euros per adult. More information about booking your tickets in advance can be found here.

Right next door to the Basilica di San Vitale, visit the National Museum to see the stunning collection of 14th century frescoes. It costs a modest 6 euros entrance fee and you can buy tickets online or at the door. In addition, if you are lucky enough to be there at the beginning of the month, the first Sunday of each month offers free entrance.

The tomb of the poet Dante Alighieri

At the end of your visit to the beautiful Ravenna mosaics, walk towards the 700 hundred year old Dante’s Tomb admiring the byzantine architecture and baroque frescoes as you go. The tomb of the legendary Italian poet Dante Alighieri is located next to the Basilica di San Francesco in central Ravenna.

Shopping, markets and fairs

As you can imagine, Ravenna is packed full of art shops featuring mosaics. Having gained inspiration no doubt from your morning of viewing the incredible mosaics in the historical buildings around the city, find handmade replicas of your favorite image to take home. Images depicting Roman history are popular and the fantastic multi-colored mosaics are a great souvenir.

Many of these small artisan shops can be found in the main shopping street of via Cavour, via Diaz, via Cairoli, via Corrado Ricci, Piazza del Popolo, via IV Novembre, via Matteotti and via Mazzini. Head there is the afternoon and take your time chatting to the local artisans and mosaicists who skillfully recreate part of Ravenna’s history and the byzantine periods in their chosen art form.

Ravenna cuisine – where to eat

The Emilia Romagna region offers wonderful gastronomic delights. Many of these can be found in the fabulous covered market in the city center. It’s also the perfect place to stop for lunch in the restaurant there. We promise you won’t be sorry.

Located on Piazza Andrea Costa, the covered food market, called Mercado Coperio, boasts food stalls with local cured meats and cheeses, a great restaurant for lunch or dinner, wine and food workshops, freshly made bread and catch of the day straight from the coast. It’s one of the best food markets we have been to anywhere. Try the traditional Romanic dishes incorporating egg pasta and seafood.

If you have the time, you can even join one of the food and wine tours within the market itself. Find out more about Mercado Coperio, the covered food market of Ravenna, here.

After Ravenna – ways to continue your discovery of Italy

Due to its location on the north-east of Italy, close to the Adriatic sea, Ravenna offers numerous possiblities to combine your trip with buck list destinations such as Florence, Bologna and Venice.

Some of the most popular train routes booked by cruise guests are:

  • Ravenna to Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) : Regional train and fast train “Frecciarossa”; ca. 2 hours and 5 minutes; often 1 change (in, for example, Bologna); from ca. 15 euros
  • Ravenna to Bologna (Bologna Centrale) : Regional train; ca. 1 hour and 10 minutes; direct; from ca. 8 euros
  • Ravenna to Venice island (Venezia S Lucia) : Regional and high speed train “Frecciargento”; ca. 3 hours; often 1 change (in, for example, Ferrara); from ca. 15 euros

Further afield, good rail links make it possible to reach Genoa, Milano and Turin in the north, and Rome & Naples in the south. The name of Italy’s main train operator is Trenitalia and you can book train tickets around 3 months prior to your date of travel directly on their website here.

Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..