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The Best Vegan Bologna Guide

Last Updated on September 30, 2020 by Nina Ahmedow

If you read my post on things to do in Bologna you know that I promised a vegan Bologna guide so here it is.

Italy is certainly one of the vegan-friendlier countries in Europe, and this isn’t only due to the fact that many traditional Italian dishes are already vegan. The vegan movement in Italy seems to be quite strong, and with Italy being a culinary paradise, all those new Italian vegans try to create great vegan versions of their favorite food.

If you’ve read my vegan travel guides to Milan and Rome you’ll know that I have found some amazing vegan food in Italy. With that said, my expectations were quite high when we booked our trip to Bologna. We all know that when our expectations are too high we can easily get disappointed, and well, that sort of happened to me in Bologna. Not because of the food itself, but many of the restaurants I would have liked to try for this vegan Bologna guide were closed during the weekend. That’s not to say we didn’t have good vegan food in La Grassa.

The Ultimate Vegan Bologna Guide

Vegan and Organic Breakfast in Bologna, Italy

As we arrived very early we definitely needed some breakfast first. Luckily, there was a vegan and organic bistro not far from our Airbnb. Canape Incontro has various dishes which you order directly from the counter instead of checking a menu. As I was quite hungry, I went for a croissant and a carrot cake while Alfonso had a slice of pizza (for breakfast!). I also had some tea because, as you may know, I love my tea.

Now, croissants are not the same in Italy as in France but once you know not to expect the typical croissant flavor and texture, the Italian version is not bad at all. This was a great start into our time in Bologna!
Via S. Isaia 57d. Open Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 8 pm, Saturday 8 am to 3 pm.

We really needed to go back to sleep after breakfast because we had woken up in the middle of the night to go to the airport. After we woke up, we walked around the city for a bit which you already know I loved!

Italy’s Best Vegan Restaurant

As the city center is very compact, it wasn’t difficult to find the next restaurant on this vegan Bologna guide when we were hungry. Botanica Lab was quite busy when we arrived during lunchtime. It is a very popular restaurant, and once we were inside we found out why. On the wall, we could see that Botanica Lab had been voted the best vegan restaurant in Italy in a 2017 Italian restaurant guide. Needless to say, this increased my expectations for the food.

I chose the salad because given the price I thought it would be quite filling. It certainly was very interesting! It was more about the presentation than the flavor, however, and I was left feeling a bit disappointed at how few ingredients were actually in the salad. I understand that you want your dishes to look pretty but at the price point I really expected more. As I still had room for dessert, I ordered the raspberry chocolate cheesecake which was fantastic!

I will admit that I probably didn’t choose the best dish. Alfonso had the gnocchi which were fine but not spectacular, but we saw some businessmen who were at Botanica Lab for their lunch break, and the burgers they ordered looked unbelievably good.

I would say that if you’re willing to pay a bit more and want to enjoy a really lovely atmosphere, check out Botanica Lab but see what the locals are ordering and get the same. If they come back for those dishes they must be mouthwatering, right?!
Via del Battibecco 4c. Open Monday 12:30 pm to 3 pm, Tuesday to Saturday 12:30 pm to 3 pm and 7:30 pm to 10 pm.

Veganized Italian Dishes

After exploring the city some more and listening to a free concert, we decided to have dinner at a another restaurant I am adding to this vegan Bologna guide called Un’Altra Idea. This place is owned by a couple with a young toddler and has a bit of a hippie vibe to it. There’s a lot of seating available and all sorts of decorations on the wall, from local artists’ drawings to hand-painted corners that brighten up the interior.

The best thing about Un’Altra Idea is definitely the friendliness of the owners. They are so kind and helpful, and you can tell that they really care about providing vegan options in the city. To go for a more Italian experience, I ordered the risotto while Alfonso chose a pasta dish. I also had some tea, and we later got the cutest heart-shaped cookies. The cookies were so yummy that we got more the second time we went and brought them home to share with friends.

I wouldn’t say that the meals were outstanding, but the kind service and good prices definitely had us coming back for more on our last day in Bologna.

The Best Vegan Croissant Ever

When we went back for more cookies we decided to have breakfast there as they seemed to have really tasty options. Remember I told you that the main dishes were nothing out of the ordinary? Not so the breakfast, oh my goodness! I had a croissant and hot chocolate which were both out of this world. Luscious, scrumptious, delicious, tasty, yummy. None of these adjectives could accurately describe how good this breakfast was.

This really goes to show that it’s always a good idea to try more than one dish at a restaurant. If we had not come back I would have missed out on one of the best breakfasts of 2018.
Via Marsala 29b. Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm and 6:30 to 11pm, Saturday 10 am to 11 pm, Sunday 10 am to 7 pm.

Quick Vegan Bites

As I mentioned before, some of the vegan and vegetarian places in Bologna are closed on the weekend which makes it a bit more difficult to find vegan food. We did find another spot called Malerba in the university quarter, though. Malerba is a very small place more suitable for takeaway even though there are stools to sit down. We didn’t want a heavy breakfast so I only got a muffin and a juice while Alfonso decided to have a club sandwich.

The muffin was absolutely incredible and definitely much better than I had expected from such a small and understated place. The guy that was working at Malerba was one of the friendliest people I’ve ever seen working on a Saturday morning!

Nothing but smiles at Malerba, but sadly we couldn’t come back a second time!
Via Petroni 15b. Open Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to 3 pm, Friday 11:30 am to 5 pm.

Give Vegetarian Restaurants a Chance

Lunch proved to be a more difficult endeavor with so many of the restaurants being closed. We ended up going to Estravagario, a vegetarian and organic restaurant outside of the Old Town. Unfortunately, they had a brunch menu that day which wasn’t very vegan-friendly. The vegan option included far fewer dishes. However, the flavors were so wonderful that this was certainly one of the places I would recommend most on this vegan Bologna guide.

We got soup, some juice, and some bread with various spreads, but oh my, how delicious it was! It really made me taste the difference between organic and non-organic food. The pictures don’t do the dishes justice.

What looks like a very simple and possibly boring combination of food burst with flavors. The staff didn’t actually speak English but were beyond friendly, and, after all, don’t you agree that a restaurant seems all the more authentic if its staff doesn’t seem to be used to tourists?

We really wished we had found Estravagario sooner because it was our favorite food spot mentioned on this vegan Bologna guide.
Via Mascarella 81h. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 4 pm.

Perfect Vegan Takeaway

For dinner, we ventured out of the Old Town again to a place called Missfagiola. Like Malerba, they had limited seating so we opted for takeaway. Now, we may have gone a little overboard here as we ordered a hummus and avocado salad, two panini, a slice of cheesecake, and some cocoa balls. Everything was so unbelievably delicious. The owner is clearly passionate about providing interesting but simple vegan dishes that are quick but still healthy!

I imagine that if I lived in Bologna I would go there quite often for a little takeaway snack. Everything from the décor to the food is made with so much love that it would be hard not to fall in love with Missfagiola.
Via San Felice 116b. Open Monday to Saturday 12 pm to 6 pm.

An Unexpected Vegan-Friendly Gem

We had some more time to spend walking around Bologna before our time there was coming to an end. Before heading to the airport we wanted to have a quick lunch, but the only thing we could find was a non-vegan, non-vegetarian panini place with vegan options. Rather than starve, we chose to give them a try and had another delightful food experience. Pan8 makes their own vegan ham and other cold cuts out of beans and lentils, and oh my God, the flavors that exploded in my mouth were simply life-changing!

I usually try to avoid non-vegan places because I want to support vegan businesses, but when I had my panino at Pan8 I was a bit worried about what else I might be missing out on. Not only were the panini excellent, but the service was also great. Pan8 seems like the perfect place for a vegan to go to with non-vegans. Everyone will be happy, and you will demonstrate that being vegan doesn’t have to mean missing out on anything.
Via Massimo d’Azeglio 8. Open Monday to Sunday 11 am to 3 pm, 6 pm to 10 pm.

Tips for Vegan Travelers in Bologna, Italy

To sum things up: The restaurants we expected most from also disappointed us the most, while the non-vegan spots on this vegan Bologna guide really outdid themselves with regards to the quality of their foods. Maybe this is a lesson I have to take with me on future trips: Give non-vegan places a try if they have a proven record of providing awesome vegan food. At least that way, they’ll be happy to have made the effort of adding vegan items to their menu.

vegan bologna italy guide pin lemons and luggage

What do you think about this vegan Bologna guide? Which vegan places did I miss?

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68 Comments

  • Reply
    Katy Malkin
    February 23, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    You’re making me want to go just for the cheesecake! Thanks for the fab read.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      February 24, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Hahaha, you absolutely must go!

    • Reply
      Poorna
      August 5, 2019 at 10:49 pm

      Seriously missing Italy after reading your post – I am supposed to go with a vegetarian ffriend, so bookmarking this for her.

      • Reply
        Nina | Lemons and Luggage
        August 11, 2019 at 5:51 pm

        That’s amazing! When and where are you going?

  • Reply
    Marissa | Marissa's Teachable Moments
    February 25, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    My best friend is vegan, so I find myself looking for vegan-friendly places when we travel together. These dishes look delicious! The pictures of all of the sweets make me want to hop on a plane.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      February 25, 2019 at 9:31 pm

      Thank you so much for the comment, Marissa! I love that you try to look for places that make it easier for your friend to find food there as well. Not everyone does that!

  • Reply
    Laura
    March 3, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Wow that food looks incredible! For my vegan friends, I’m so glad that the options around the world are improving, it seems a lot of countries are embracing it xx

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      March 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you, Laura! It’s definitely becoming easier every year!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    April 2, 2019 at 2:30 am

    Vegan (and other dietary restrictions) food can be so hard to come by when traveling (and it sucks not being able to participate in all that great food and new culture!). I actually recently traveled with my vegan friend and discovered this dilemma first-hand! It’s awesome that you were able to find some delicious vegan eats in Italy. It all looks so yummy!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 2, 2019 at 10:06 pm

      Yes, Italy is much easier than some other countries I’ve been to. I’m glad that there are now many restaurants in different countries that offer veganized versions of traditional dishes. That way, I don’t have to feel like I’m missing out on too much.

  • Reply
    LaRena Fry
    April 2, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Thanks so much for sharing. What a great list.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 2, 2019 at 10:05 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Kalena
    April 2, 2019 at 6:06 am

    The food looks amazing! What great finds. I visited the city years back and would definitely go again.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 2, 2019 at 10:04 pm

      It’s such a cool city, right? Well worth more than one visit!

      • Reply
        Lanae Bond
        June 17, 2019 at 9:59 pm

        The food looks so good.I think any traveler would love these places.

        • Reply
          Nina | Lemons and Luggage
          June 18, 2019 at 11:15 am

          Thanks for the comment, Lanae!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    April 6, 2019 at 2:30 am

    This all looks delicious! It is good to know vegan options before traveling somewhere.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 6, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you for the comment, Nicole!

  • Reply
    Vox
    April 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I like the idea of trying the vegan options at a non-vegan restaurant if you know they serve great food, in general. In the end, no matter what your diet, when you eat out, you want a good meal. So if a restaurant already serves flavorful food, then there’s a really good chance that their vegan food will be tasty. Thanks for sharing quite a comprehensive look at the vegan experience there.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 7, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      It’s certainly something I will do every once in a while. Thanks a lot for the comment!

  • Reply
    Kat
    April 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

    That lunch at the best vegan restaurant in Bologna… Oh dear, let’s just take a minute to envy you! haha
    I wish I could go to Italy now as easily as when I was living in Europe. I’ve never been lucky to visit Bologna though… Maybe one day.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 7, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Yea, traveling within Europe is so easy!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    April 8, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    All of the food looks so delicious!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 8, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      It most certainly was.

  • Reply
    Mariamma
    April 8, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    This food looks amazing!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 8, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      It really was!

  • Reply
    Ryan K Biddulph
    April 9, 2019 at 8:02 am

    I would love a pizza and cake breakfast. I never knew Bologna had those types of vegan options. Quite amazing.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 12, 2019 at 11:39 pm

      Great way to start the day for sure!

  • Reply
    Priti Mirashi
    April 9, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Nice one thanks for sharing it..!
    Good Work Keep It Up…

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you, Priti!

  • Reply
    Emily Eaton
    April 15, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, looks delicious! I’d love to go!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 15, 2019 at 11:11 pm

      You absolutely have to!!

  • Reply
    Mary
    April 20, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    thanks for an informative read, travelling with my vegan daughter to italy this summer so this will come in handy

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      April 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Ohh nice! Which cities will you be exploring?

  • Reply
    kathleen
    May 14, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    these looks like such yummy options!!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      May 15, 2019 at 11:41 am

      Absolutely! You have to try them if you ever go to Bologna.

  • Reply
    Angela C.
    May 19, 2019 at 2:41 am

    My goodness! What an endless selection!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      May 19, 2019 at 2:00 pm

      Yes, it was quite amazing!

  • Reply
    Denise Dixon
    May 20, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Love love love love LOVE that you are writing about traveling as a vegan! I was hesitant to travel to Italy, with so much emphasis on CHEESE and meat, but I feel inspired to consider a trip, after reading your very helpful post. Grazie!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      May 21, 2019 at 2:32 pm

      Thank you, Denise! I hope it convinces you to travel to Italy. It’s actually fairly easy to find vegan options there. Feel free to also check my posts on Rome and Milan.

  • Reply
    Britt
    June 8, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    The food all looks so delicious! I love that the area is so pro-vegan. A lot of other countries could really learn a thing or two from that example.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      June 9, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      Italy is really one of the easiest countries to be vegan!

  • Reply
    Natasha @ Away From Origin
    June 17, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Wow, all of this looks amazing! Definitely pinning 😋

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      June 18, 2019 at 11:14 am

      Thank you! I hope you get to try some of these dishes if you ever go to Bologna!

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 17, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    These dishes all look really nice! I am not vegan but I would like to try vegan dishes more often!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      June 18, 2019 at 11:15 am

      Luckily, it’s now easier to find vegan options everywhere so you will be able to try quite a few dishes yourself.

  • Reply
    Rick Lowe
    June 22, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Now, I’m no vegan. That’s for sure.

    I have no interest in being a vegan, nor am I an a-hole that preaches to people as to how they should live their lives…

    …BUT…

    SERIOUSLY, if you can tear me away from that chocolate cheesecake, you’re better than I am. It looks DELICIOUS.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a MASSIVE fan of a good cheesecake, and that one looks GOOD!!

    Yum.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      June 23, 2019 at 11:04 pm

      Hope you get to try it, Rick!

  • Reply
    Lauren Elena
    June 22, 2019 at 4:14 am

    It was a bummer a lot of places were closed but it sounded like you ended up finding some tasty places! Your post has made me hungry even though I already ate! I wish I could try the places that you loved. Maybe one day!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      June 23, 2019 at 11:03 pm

      Yes, I really didn’t expect so many spots to be closed on the weekend, but luckily there were enough other places to try. Hope you get to go to Bologna soon as well!

  • Reply
    Bacefi
    July 2, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    My god I think Eataly is friendly with the vegans, I mean you can eat pasta and there is pasta everywhere, well maybe is everybody friendly cos they have even many gluten free things. But some countries could be very hard if you’re vegan, like 95-100 restaurants don’t have something you can eat.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      July 3, 2019 at 2:38 pm

      I guess it’s because Italians like good food so they want to make good food for everyone!

  • Reply
    Payton
    July 4, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Good to know Italy is one of the more vegan-friendly countries in Europe! And pizza for breakfast sounds just my style, lol. Seems like a fun trip!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      July 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

      And if it’s Italian pizza… 🙂

  • Reply
    Ceci Rey
    July 6, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    I am not vegan…but these look delicious! Descriptions and pictures are fantastic!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      July 8, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Thank you very much for your comment! I’m sure even as a non-vegan you would like some of these dishes.

  • Reply
    Natasha
    July 9, 2019 at 11:47 am

    There seems to be so many delicious-looking Vegan options! I wonder about gluten-free… 🤔 Great post!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      July 10, 2019 at 11:24 am

      I believe several of these places also had decent gluten-free options.

  • Reply
    Joleisa
    August 5, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    I must say that this post came right on time! My friend went off to Italy yesterday and she has us drooling over the food and the views!
    I enjoyed reading about all the eateries you went to and I particularly like the fact that you didn’t just give everything glowing remarks. That’s so rare in posts like this. Thanks so much for sharing and your pics look great by the way.

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      August 11, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you so much, Joleisa! I really believe it’s important to give my honest opinion. Of course, if I only visit a place once and don’t like it that doesn’t mean the place is generally awful, but I want my readers to have to the most accurate description of what I experience.

  • Reply
    Bryan
    August 5, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Italy is synonymous with great food. Good to know that so many vegan options exist!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      August 11, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Yes, exactly! Because they are so good with food they also make amazing vegan food!

  • Reply
    Liz - The Spectacular Adventurer
    August 6, 2019 at 3:27 am

    These look like such amazing options throughout the city!!! Thanks for posting and sharing!

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      August 11, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      For a relatively small city, Bologna definitely has its fair share of vegan options.

  • Reply
    Laux Wilson
    August 6, 2019 at 4:54 am

    We are transitioning to a vegan diet. This gives me much hope!! Thanks for.sharing

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      August 11, 2019 at 5:47 pm

      That’s so great to hear. All the best!

  • Reply
    Angelina Anzalone
    August 10, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    Omg everything looks amazing! So glad to know there are vegan options over seas. ☺️

    • Reply
      Nina | Lemons and Luggage
      August 11, 2019 at 5:47 pm

      Italy is sooo vegan-friendly!

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