What to see in Bolsena: our tips

HomedestinationWhat to see in Bolsena: our tips

Nestled on the shores of Lake Bolsena, the town of Bolsena offers a wealth of history, culture, and natural beauty. If you’re planning a visit, you may be wondering, “What to see in Bolsena?” In this article, we’ll guide you through the must-see attractions and hidden gems that make Bolsena a truly unforgettable destination. So, let’s dive in and explore the wonders of this charming Italian town!

what to see in bolsena

What to see in Bolsena and its surroundings? we guys tell you! just google “Lake Bolsena” to see the second largest volcanic lake in Europe. Of course the lake takes its name from the town of the same name, bolsena.

Bolsena is a small town in the province of Viterbo, famous for being a miniature city. Immersed in vegetation and history, Bolsena presents all the receptive structures and services that have many cities throughout Italy but if for you a village is too little, we will make you discover other pearls around Bolsena.

The Historical Center of Bolsena

The heart of Bolsena lies in its historical center, where you’ll find a maze of narrow streets, charming piazzas, and stunning architecture. Start your tour at the Bolsena Castle, a well-preserved medieval fortress that offers breathtaking views of the town and lake. Inside the castle, you’ll also find the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena, which showcases the region’s history, culture, and archeology. For more information about the museum and its exhibitions, visit their official website.

Just a stone’s throw away from the castle is the Basilica of Santa Cristina, a beautiful church that dates back to the 11th century. The basilica is famous for its catacombs and the Miracle of Bolsena, a Eucharistic miracle that took place in 1263. Don’t forget to explore the underground chapels and admire the stunning frescoes that adorn the walls.

Santa Cristina, Santa Cristina

The monumental complex of the Basilica of Santa Cristina arose outside the urban area, 350 meters from the southern edge of ancient Volsinii, near the early Christian necropolis and on the revered tomb of the martyr concittadina. Currently it consists of three well-defined and distinct nuclei:- the Basilica, a three-nave building with a Latin cross plan, consecrated in 1078 by Pope Gregory VII;- the New Chapel of the Miracle, built from 1693;- the Cave of Santa Cristina and the Catacomb (4th-5th century).In 1263, above the tomb of St. Christina, came the Eucharistic miracle, which prompted Pope Urban IV to extend to the whole Church the feast of Corpus Christi (bull Transiturus de hoc mundo, 1264).

Rocca Monaldeschi Castle

The Monaldeschi fortress of Cervara houses the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena,interesting for the classification it offers of the lake area and for some testimonies of material culture. The museum is distributed on three floors of the building: on the entrance floor, through plastic archaeological finds and educational panels, the sections concerning the formation of the volcanic basin of the lake,prehistory, protohistory and the Etruscan phase up to the Roman conquest are developed with particular detail. The central part of this plan consists of the Iron Age finds recovered as part of the town of the “Gran Carro”, found submerged near the eastern shore of Lake Bolsena in 1959. 

Lake Bolsena

One of the main attractions of Bolsena is, without a doubt, its namesake lake. Lake Bolsena is the largest volcanic lake in Europe, and its crystal-clear waters and lush surroundings make it a perfect spot for relaxation and outdoor activities.

Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore or rent a bike and explore the picturesque Via Francigena that runs along the lake. If you prefer to be on the water, you can rent a boat, go sailing, or even take a guided tour to the lake’s islands, Bisentina and Martana. For more information on boat rentals and guided tours, check out Bolsena Boat Rentals.

The Bisentina Island is home to several churches, lush gardens, and stunning views of the lake. You can visit the island with a guided tour or even organize a picnic on its shores. Martana Island, on the other hand, is famous for its connection to the Lombard queen Theodelinda and hermit Zenone. The island is privately owned and not open to the public, but you can still admire it from afar during a boat trip on the lake.

Savoring Local Cuisine and Traditional Products

During your visit to Bolsena, don’t miss the chance to taste the local cuisine and traditional products. Among the most famous dishes are “sbroscia,” a lake fish soup, and “coregone in porchetta,” a delicious fish dish flavored with herbs and spices. To accompany your meals, try the Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone wine, a dry and fruity white wine that perfectly complements the flavors of the local dishes.

To truly savor Bolsena’s cuisine, visit one of the town’s many restaurants and trattorias. A great starting point is Antica Trattoria del Moro, a historic establishment that offers traditional dishes in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.

Events and Festivals

Bolsena is also home to numerous events and festivals throughout the year. One of the

most famous is the Festa del Corpus Domini, which takes place in June and commemorates the Miracle of Bolsena. During this celebration, the streets of the town are adorned with intricate flower carpets, and a procession carries the Eucharist through the town. This event draws thousands of visitors and is a true spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.

Another popular event is the Bolsena Film Festival, held annually in July. This international festival showcases short films from around the world and offers a unique opportunity to discover new talents and enjoy cinema in a stunning setting.

In September, don’t miss the Sagra del Coregone, a culinary festival dedicated to the local lake fish. Visitors can taste a variety of dishes made from coregone and enjoy live music and entertainment throughout the event.

Outdoor Activities and Excursions

Bolsena and its surroundings offer a wide range of outdoor activities and excursions for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Among the most popular activities are hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. There are numerous trails in the area, such as the Sentiero del Lago and the Monte Bisenzio Trail, which offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

For those interested in water sports, Lake Bolsena provides the perfect setting for swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and canoeing. Many local operators offer equipment rentals and lessons for those who want to learn a new skill or improve their technique. Visit Bolsena Watersports Center for more information on available activities and rentals.

How to Get to Bolsena and Getting Around

Bolsena is easily accessible by car, train, or bus. If you’re driving, take the A1 highway and exit at Orvieto, then continue on the SS71 road until you reach the town. If you prefer to travel by train, the nearest station is Orvieto, from which you can take a bus or taxi to Bolsena. For train schedules and ticket information, visit the Trenitalia website.

If you’re traveling by bus, consult the Cotral bus company website for schedules and ticket information. Once in Bolsena, you can explore the town on foot or rent a bike to discover the surrounding area.

Accommodation Options in Bolsena

Bolsena offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from hotels and B&Bs to vacation rentals and agriturismos. To find the best option for your needs, we recommend checking out Booking.com or Airbnb to compare prices, reviews, and services provided by various establishments.

For a more immersive nature experience, consider staying at one of the many campgrounds and RV parks in the area, such as Camping Massimo, which is located directly on the shores of the lake and offers all the necessary amenities for an enjoyable outdoor stay.

We hope that this guide has provided you with valuable insights into what to see in Bolsena and how to make the most of your visit. With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and delicious cuisine, Bolsena is a destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

Bolsena’s Surrounding Attractions

While there is plenty to see and do in Bolsena itself, you might want to consider exploring some of the nearby attractions as well. Here are a few destinations worth adding to your itinerary if you have some extra time during your visit.


Another charming town near Bolsena is Montefiascone, which is just a 20-minute drive away. Known for its breathtaking views of Lake Bolsena, Montefiascone is a picturesque destination rich in history and culture. Visit the Rocca dei Papi, an ancient fortress with stunning panoramas, and the beautiful Basilica of Santa Margherita, which dominates the town’s skyline. Don’t forget to sample the local wine, Est! Est!! Est!!!, which has a fascinating legend behind its name. For more information about Montefiascone and its attractions, visit I Love Montefiascone.

Civita di Bagnoregio

Just a 30-minute drive from Bolsena, you’ll find the enchanting hilltop village of Civita di Bagnoregio. Often referred to as the “dying city” due to its precarious position on a crumbling hill, this ancient town is accessible only by a pedestrian bridge. Its well-preserved medieval architecture, stunning views, and peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit destination.


The charming city of Orvieto is another nearby gem worth exploring. Located atop a volcanic tuff plateau, Orvieto is known for its stunning cathedral, the Orvieto Duomo, with its intricate façade and stunning frescoes. Other attractions in the city include the underground network of caves and tunnels, Orvieto Underground, and the unique 62-meter-deep well, Pozzo di San Patrizio. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious local cuisine, Orvieto is a perfect day trip from Bolsena.


About an hour’s drive from Bolsena, Viterbo is a beautiful medieval city that boasts a well-preserved historical center, ancient city walls, and numerous churches and palaces. Don’t miss the Palazzo dei Papi, a former papal residence, and the beautiful Cathedral of San Lorenzo. While in Viterbo, take the time to explore the surrounding area, which is home to several natural hot springs, such as the famous Terme dei Papi, where you can relax and enjoy the therapeutic properties of the mineral-rich waters.


Pitigliano, often referred to as “Little Jerusalem,” is a picturesque town perched on a tuff rock cliff about an hour and a half drive from Bolsena. Its narrow streets, charming piazzas, and stunning views make it an unforgettable destination. The town is known for its Jewish heritage, with attractions like the Synagogue of Pitigliano and the ancient Jewish cemetery. While in Pitigliano, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the nearby Etruscan necropolis and the fascinating underground tunnels known as the “Vie Cave.”

Travel Tips for Visiting Bolsena

To make the most of your visit to Bolsena, here are a few practical tips to keep in mind:

  • The best time to visit Bolsena is between April and October when the weather is pleasant, and outdoor activities can be fully enjoyed. However, note that July and August can be quite busy with tourists, so if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April-June or September-October.
  • As with any destination, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases or in case some businesses do not accept credit cards.
  • Italian is the official language in Bolsena, so learning a few basic phrases can go a long way in enhancing your experience and interacting with the locals.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to bring a good quality camera or smartphone with plenty of storage space to capture the beautiful memories you’ll make during your visit.

Bolsena and its surroundings offer a truly unique and unforgettable travel experience. With its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and delicious local cuisine, this charming Italian town is an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of more tourist-heavy areas. So pack your bags, and get ready to explore the wonders

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An experienced photographer and passionate traveller, I am a Communication Sciences graduate with experience as a Social Media Manager. I created this blog to share my passion for travel, the discovery of fascinating new places and the exciting stories we encounter along the way.

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