Your Ultimate Parma Travel Guide 2024
Welcome to Parma, the charming city located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. This city has so much to offer its visitors, from exquisite Italian cuisine and historic monuments to breathtaking views of the countryside. With this comprehensive guide, you can make sure that you don’t miss a thing in Parma. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the must-see sights, from the impressive Duomo di Parma to the picturesque Giardini Margherita. You may also want to check out our Venice travel guide!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Parma
- Visit The Palazzo Della Pilotta: This is one of the most impressive landmarks in Parma and houses the National Gallery, the Palatine Library, and the Farnese Theatre. This imposing palace is definitely worth a visit.
- Admire The Duomo Di Parma: The cathedral of Parma is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, with a beautiful façade that includes pink and white marble. Inside, the church is filled with beautiful frescoes and a stunning altar.
- Stroll Through The Piazza Garibaldi: This charming square is the perfect place to relax and soak up the atmosphere of Parma. With beautiful architecture, street performers, and plenty of cafes, it’s a must-visit spot in the city.
- Explore The Parco Ducale: This is a lovely park in the center of Parma that was once the hunting grounds of the Duke of Parma. There are walking trails, a lake, and plenty of places to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.
- Indulge In Parma’s Culinary Delights: Parma is famous for its food, so it’s essential to try some of the local specialties. This includes Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and of course, pasta dishes like tortelli di zucca. Head to a local trattoria to try these delicacies.
Where To Stay In Parma
- Centro Storico: The heart of Parma’s old town, Centro Storico, is the ideal place to stay for those who want to be in the midst of all the action. You’ll find stunning historical architecture, including the beautiful Cathedral of Parma, and some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city.
- Oltretorrente: This multicultural neighborhood is situated across the Parma River, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Here, you’ll find a mix of locals and immigrants living in harmony, giving this area a unique vibe. Oltretorrente is known for its street art, traditional trattorias, and lively nightlife.
- Borgo Panigale: Located in the northeastern part of Parma, Borgo Panigale is perfect for those who want to be close to the airport. It’s also home to the famous Ducati factory, where you can take a tour and see how these iconic motorcycles are made. This neighborhood has plenty of green spaces, perfect for jogging or taking a stroll.
- Barriera Bixio: If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay with easy access to the city center, Barriera Bixio might be the neighborhood for you. It’s located just outside the city walls and is well-connected to public transportation. This residential area has plenty of cafes, shops, and parks, making it ideal for families and solo travelers alike.
- San Lazzaro: Situated in the southwestern part of Parma, San Lazzaro is a quiet neighborhood with a small-town feel. Here, you’ll find several green spaces, including the Parco della Cittadella, as well as historical buildings like the Basilica di San Lazzaro. This area is ideal for those who want to be away from the city’s hustle and bustle but still close enough to easily access all that Parma has to offer.
Top Parma Hotels
- Grand Hotel De La Ville: This luxury hotel is located in the heart of Parma and offers spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a gourmet restaurant.
- NH Parma: The NH Parma is a modern hotel located just a few minutes from the city center. Rooms are comfortable and stylishly decorated, and guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant and bar.
- Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati: This historic hotel is housed in a 14th-century building in the heart of Parma’s old town. Rooms feature elegant decor and some have original frescoes on the walls. The hotel also offers a terrace with stunning views over the city.
- Hotel Stendhal: Located in a restored 19th-century building, the Hotel Stendhal offers elegant and comfortable rooms, as well as a restaurant serving traditional Parma cuisine.
- Park Hotel Pacchiosi: This elegant hotel is set in a historic villa surrounded by a large park. Rooms are spacious and luxurious, and guests can enjoy the on-site spa, fitness center, and outdoor pool. The hotel also has a gourmet restaurant serving local specialties.
Where To Eat In Parma
Parma is known for its exceptional cuisine, from the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to prosciutto di Parma and beyond. To experience the best of Parma’s food scene, here are the top five places to eat in the city:
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- Trattoria Corrieri: A family-run trattoria since 1800, Corrieri is a must-visit for its classic Parma cuisine. The menu features local specialties like tortelli d’erbetta (handmade pasta filled with ricotta cheese and herbs), cotechino con lenticchie (sausage with lentils), and an array of charcuterie and cheese plates.
- Ristorante La Greppia: La Greppia is an upscale restaurant with a focus on traditional Parma cuisine. The restaurant features a variety of pasta dishes like tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil, as well as grilled meats and seafood. The atmosphere is refined and elegant, perfect for a special night out.
- Salumeria Garibaldi: This is not a sit-down restaurant but rather a gourmet food shop that specializes in high-quality charcuterie, cheese, and other delicacies. It’s an ideal spot for a quick and tasty lunch, with the option to grab a bottle of wine or beer to accompany your meal. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will happily offer samples before you make a purchase.
- Osteria Dello Zingaro: With a rustic and cozy atmosphere, Osteria dello Zingaro is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The menu focuses on traditional Emilian dishes like bollito (boiled meats) and zuppa inglese (a layered dessert made with sponge cake, custard, and liqueur). Don’t miss their extensive wine list, which includes many local bottles.
- Mercato Albinelli: A bustling covered market, Albinelli is a great place to experience the vibrant food scene in Parma. It’s full of vendors selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other local specialties. You can grab a quick lunch from one of the street food stalls, like the fried gnocco or prosciutto sandwich, or sit down at one of the small eateries for a more substantial meal.
Overall, Parma offers an abundance of delicious dining options, ranging from casual street food to elegant restaurants. No matter where you go, be sure to sample the local specialties and enjoy the bounty of Emilian cuisine.
How To Get Around Parma
Getting around Parma is easy and convenient thanks to its well-connected transportation system. Here are the various modes of transportation you can take when exploring the city:
- Public Transportation: The city of Parma has a reliable public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and trolleys. The tickets can be purchased from vending machines or newsstands and are valid for one hour. You can also buy daily, weekly, or monthly tickets depending on your needs. Public transportation is affordable, and it covers most of the city, making it a great way to get around.
- Walking: Parma is a walkable city, and you can easily explore most of its sights on foot. Walking is also a great way to get a feel for the city and immerse yourself in its rich culture. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes and carry a bottle of water, especially during the summer months when the weather can get hot.
- Bike: If you prefer cycling, you can rent a bike from various bike rental shops around the city. Cycling is an eco-friendly and healthy way to get around, and it allows you to explore Parma’s charming streets and alleys at your own pace. Cycling in Parma is safe, and the city has bike lanes on most major roads.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Parma and are a great way to get around, especially at night or when you’re in a hurry. They can be hailed from the street or called ahead of time. Taxis in Parma are metered, and the prices are reasonable.
- Car Rental: If you want to explore Parma and its surroundings at your own pace, renting a car is a great option. Car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and Europcar have offices in Parma, and you can book online in advance. It’s important to note that parking can be difficult to find in the city center, and some streets are closed to traffic, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations before driving.
Parma has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. The summers can get quite warm, while winters can be cold and damp. Here’s what to expect during each season in Parma:
- Spring (March to May): The spring season in Parma is mild and sunny with occasional rains. Temperatures range between 11°C to 21°C. This is a great time to explore the city’s gardens and parks when the flowers are in bloom.
- Summer (June to August): Parma summers are hot and dry, with temperatures ranging between 21°C to 31°C. August can be quite humid. The city is lively with festivals and outdoor events during this time. It’s a good idea to pack sunscreen and a hat if you’re visiting Parma in the summer.
- Fall (September to November): Fall in Parma is mild with comfortable temperatures ranging from 8°C to 20°C. This season sees less rainfall than spring, and the autumn foliage is stunning in the parks and countryside surrounding Parma.
- Winter (December to February): The winter season in Parma is cold and wet, with temperatures ranging between 2°C to 9°C. It can snow in Parma, although not heavily. Bring warm clothing and an umbrella if you’re visiting Parma during the winter months.
No matter what season you choose to visit Parma, there’s always something to see and do. Make sure to pack accordingly, and check the weather forecast before heading out each day.
Best Time To Visit Parma
The best time to visit Parma depends on what you want to see and do while you’re there. Summer is the busiest time of year for tourists, and temperatures can reach up to 30°C (86°F) in July and August. If you don’t mind the heat and crowds, this could be a great time to visit.
If you’re looking for a quieter and cooler experience, then spring and autumn might be the best times to visit. The weather is milder, with temperatures averaging between 15°C (59°F) and 20°C (68°F). These seasons also bring with them a burst of vibrant colours as the trees and flowers come into bloom or turn golden.
Winter is the quietest time of year for tourism, but it can also be a magical time to visit. The city is decorated with Christmas lights, and the aroma of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine fills the air. Temperatures can drop to freezing point, but the city is relatively sheltered from heavy snowfall. In summary, the best time to visit Parma is between spring and autumn if you want to avoid the heat and crowds of summer. However, each season brings its own charm, so plan your trip based on your preferences.
How To Stay Safe In Parma
Parma is a relatively safe city, but like any other destination, it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in Parma:
- Be Cautious In Crowded Areas: Pickpocketing can happen in crowded areas like train stations, markets, and tourist attractions. Keep your valuables close to you and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Avoid Walking Alone At Night: Stick to well-lit streets and try to walk in groups, especially in areas that are unfamiliar to you.
- Be Mindful Of Traffic: Like many Italian cities such as Turin and Rome, Parma’s roads can be busy and chaotic. Always be aware of your surroundings when crossing the street, and use crosswalks when possible.
- Beware Of Scams: Scammers can target tourists, so be cautious of anyone who approaches you with a deal that seems too good to be true.
- Stay Alert In Tourist Areas: Tourist areas can attract pickpockets and scammers, so be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables close to you.
- Follow The Rules Of The Road: If you are renting a car or scooter, be sure to follow traffic laws and drive defensively.
By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience in Parma.
Parma Customs And Etiquette
Like most places in Italy, Parma has a rich cultural heritage and traditions that you should be aware of when visiting. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette to show respect to the locals and avoid any social blunders. Here are some tips to help you blend in seamlessly and enjoy your time in Parma.
- Dress Appropriately: Italians are known for their fashion sense, so make sure you dress appropriately when visiting Parma. Shorts, beachwear, and revealing clothing are considered inappropriate for most public places, including churches and museums. Instead, opt for smart casual outfits or dressier clothes when dining out.
- Greetings And Expressions: Italians are known for their warm hospitality, and you’ll often hear them greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to use their title (e.g., signor, signora) and last name until they invite you to address them informally.
- Table Manners: Italians take their food seriously, and table manners are essential. Always wait for the host to invite you to sit before taking your seat. Do not start eating until everyone at the table is served. Do not ask for extra cheese, salt, or pepper, as this may be interpreted as an insult to the chef.
- Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in Italy, as service charges are often included in the bill. However, it’s common to leave a few euros for good service or to round up the bill as a gesture of appreciation.
- Language: Italian is the official language in Parma, so it’s useful to learn a few basic phrases to communicate with the locals. You’ll find that most Italians are eager to help visitors, but learning a few polite expressions can go a long way in showing your appreciation.
By keeping these customs and etiquette in mind, you’ll not only enjoy a more authentic cultural experience but also show respect for the local way of life. Parma is a city rich in history and tradition, and respecting these customs will only enhance your visit.
Other Things To Know About Parma
Before visiting Parma, it’s important to know a few basic facts about the country. Parma is located in Italy, which is a member of the European Union. The currency used in Italy is the Euro (EUR), which is widely accepted throughout the country, including in Parma. The official language of Parma is Italian, although many locals also speak English, especially in tourist areas.
Parma is located in the Central European Time Zone, which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). During daylight saving time, which is typically from late March to late October, Parma observes Central European Summer Time, which is 2 hours ahead of UTC. It’s also important to note that Parma is a very safe city to visit, with a low crime rate. However, visitors should still take standard precautions such as not leaving valuables unattended and being aware of their surroundings.
When it comes to customs and etiquette in Parma, visitors should be aware of the Italian custom of greeting people with a kiss on each cheek. This is a common greeting among friends and family, but may not be appropriate in all situations. It’s also important to dress modestly when visiting churches or other religious sites. Overall, Parma is a welcoming and friendly city with much to offer visitors. With a little bit of preparation and knowledge, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your time in this beautiful city.
Parma Travel Costs
Parma is a wonderful destination that offers a lot to see and do. But like any trip, you need to factor in the cost of traveling to and around the city. Here are some of the costs to keep in mind when planning your trip to Parma:
- Accommodation: Accommodation prices vary depending on the season. During peak seasons such as spring and summer, the prices for accommodation are usually higher. However, in winter and autumn, prices may be lower. Expect to pay around €60-€200 per night for a double room in a mid-range hotel.
- Transportation: The city of Parma is relatively small, so walking or cycling is the most convenient way to get around. Public transportation is also available, with a single bus or train ride costing about €1.50. Taxis are also available, but they tend to be expensive. A typical taxi ride will cost around €10-€20, depending on the distance.
- Food And Drink: Parma is known for its culinary heritage, and food is a major attraction for many visitors. Expect to pay around €20-€30 for a basic meal at a mid-range restaurant. However, some high-end restaurants can charge up to €100 per meal.
- Sightseeing: The cost of sightseeing can vary depending on your itinerary. Admission to popular museums and historic sites usually costs around €5-€10. A city tour or guided walking tour costs about €20-€50.
- Other Expenses: Other expenses to keep in mind when traveling to Parma include shopping, souvenirs, and nightlife. If you plan to buy some souvenirs or do some shopping, expect to spend about €50-€100. Nightlife in Parma is not as expensive as in other cities, and a typical night out will cost around €30-€50.
Overall, traveling to Parma can be affordable if you plan ahead and make smart choices. Look for budget-friendly accommodation and dining options, and consider taking public transportation or walking to save money. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy all that Parma has to offer without breaking the bank.
Finding Affordable Flights To Parma
Parma is a popular travel destination in Italy and it’s easy to find affordable flights to get there. Here are some tips on how to find the best deals on flights to Parma.
- Use Flight Search Engines: The easiest and quickest way to find affordable flights to Parma is by using flight search engines. Some popular ones include Expedia, Kayak, and Skyscanner. Simply enter your departure and arrival city, select the travel dates, and compare the prices of different airlines.
- Look For Discounts And Deals: Check airline websites for discounts and deals on flights to Parma. Sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media to stay updated on their latest promotions.
- Book Your Flights In Advance: Booking your flights in advance is the best way to get the cheapest prices. Aim to book your flights at least three to four months in advance.
- Fly On Weekdays: Flying on weekdays is usually cheaper than flying on weekends. Try to plan your travel around the weekdays to save money on your flight tickets.
- Consider Alternative Airports: Parma has a small airport that is not always the cheapest option. Consider flying to nearby airports such as Milan or Bologna, which are larger and have more flight options. You can take a train or a bus from there to Parma.
- Use Points And Miles: If you’re a frequent flyer or have a credit card that offers travel rewards, consider using your points and miles to book your flight to Parma. This can help you save a lot of money on your flight tickets.
In summary, finding affordable flights to Parma is easy if you follow these tips. Use flight search engines, look for discounts and deals, book in advance, fly on weekdays, consider alternative airports, and use your points and miles to save money. With these strategies, you can easily plan your trip to Parma without breaking the bank.
Backpacking Parma Suggested Budgets
If you’re a budget traveler, Parma can be an affordable destination with a bit of planning. Here are some suggested budgets for backpackers in Parma:
If you’re on a tight budget, you can expect to spend around €25-€35 per day. This includes staying in a hostel dorm room (around €15-€20 per night), cooking your own meals (around €5-€10 per day), and using public transportation (around €3 per day). You can also explore the city’s free attractions such as Parco Ducale and Parma Cathedral.
For a more comfortable backpacking experience, you can budget around €50-€70 per day. This includes staying in a budget hotel or private room in a hostel (around €30-€50 per night), dining out occasionally (around €15-€25 per day), and using taxis or renting a bike (around €5-€10 per day). You can also add paid attractions such as a guided tour of Teatro Farnese (around €8) or a visit to the Casa della Musica (around €5).
If you’re willing to splurge, you can expect to spend around €100-€150 per day. This includes staying in a mid-range hotel or apartment (around €70-€100 per night), eating at upscale restaurants (around €50-€70 per day), and renting a car (around €30-€50 per day) for day trips to nearby attractions such as the Castello di Torrechiara or the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factories.
Regardless of your budget, make sure to always have some cash on hand as some places may not accept credit cards. You can also save money by using free walking tours, opting for street food, and booking accommodation in advance to get better deals. Happy backpacking!
Parma Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Parma doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some money-saving tips to help you stretch your budget while enjoying all that this beautiful city has to offer:
- Eat Like A Local: Dining out in Parma can get expensive, but you can save some money by eating at trattorias or osterias. These are small, local restaurants that serve traditional Italian cuisine. The food is delicious and the prices are reasonable.
- Visit Museums And Art Galleries For Free: Some of the museums and art galleries in Parma offer free admission on certain days or at certain times. For example, the Galleria Nazionale di Parma is free on Tuesdays from 2pm to 6pm.
- Take A Walking Tour: Walking tours are a great way to see the city and learn about its history without spending a lot of money. You can join a group tour or download a self-guided tour from the internet.
- Shop At Local Markets: Parma has several outdoor markets where you can find fresh produce, meat, cheese, and other local products at a lower cost than in supermarkets.
- Use Public Transportation: The bus system in Parma is affordable and convenient. You can purchase a day pass for €5 that allows unlimited travel on all city buses.
- Book Accommodations In Advance: By booking your accommodations in advance, you can often find better deals than last-minute bookings. You can also consider staying in a hostel or renting an apartment instead of a hotel.
- Enjoy The Outdoors: Parma has several parks and outdoor spaces that are free to enjoy. You can take a stroll in Parco Ducale, go for a hike in the Appenines, or relax by the river.
By following these money-saving tips, you can make the most of your trip to Parma without breaking the bank. Happy travels!
What To Pack For Parma
When planning a trip to Parma, it’s important to consider what to pack so that you’re comfortable and prepared for all activities. Here are some essential items to pack for your trip to Parma:
- Comfortable Shoes: Parma is a walking city, so make sure to pack comfortable shoes that will allow you to explore the city for hours without feeling fatigued.
- Light Layers: The weather in Parma can be unpredictable, so pack light layers that you can easily put on or take off depending on the temperature.
- Umbrella Or Rain Jacket: In case of rain, be sure to pack an umbrella or a rain jacket to stay dry.
- Sunscreen And Hat: During the summer months, the sun can be intense, so make sure to pack sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin from sunburn.
- Camera: Parma is a beautiful city with stunning architecture, so don’t forget to pack your camera to capture all of the beautiful sights.
- Power Adapter: The power outlets in Parma are different from those in North America, so make sure to bring a power adapter to charge your electronics.
- Italian Phrasebook: While many locals speak English, it’s always helpful to have a phrasebook with basic Italian phrases to help you communicate.
- Wallet With Euro Currency: The currency in Italy is Euro, so make sure to bring a wallet with some cash on hand for purchases.
By packing these essential items, you’ll be ready for all that Parma has to offer!
Can You Drink Tap Water In Parma?
Yes, tap water is safe to drink in Parma. In fact, Italy has strict regulations on the quality of tap water, and Parma’s water is tested regularly to ensure its safety. It is also free and widely available in restaurants and cafes. However, if you prefer bottled water, there are many options available at local stores and markets. Keep in mind that bottled water can be quite expensive in Parma, so drinking tap water can save you some money during your trip. Overall, it is safe and acceptable to drink tap water in Parma, but if you have any concerns or prefer bottled water, it is readily available.
Other Things To See And Do In Parma
Parma is not only known for its rich history and stunning architecture but also for its cultural scene and unique attractions. Here are some additional things to see and do in Parma:
- Visit The Teatro Regio Di Parma: This stunning opera house is renowned for its acoustics and hosts some of the world’s best operas.
- Explore The Parco Ducale: This picturesque park boasts over 60 hectares of green space, perfect for a relaxing picnic or stroll.
- Admire The Art At The Galleria Nazionale Di Parma: This gallery features an impressive collection of art from medieval to contemporary times.
- Check Out The Museo Lombardi: This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Emilia-Romagna region, with a focus on Parma’s unique contributions.
- Taste The Local Delicacies: Parma is famous for its prosciutto and Parmesan cheese, but it’s also worth trying other local dishes like tortelli di erbetta and anolini in brodo.
- Take A Day Trip To Nearby Attractions: From Parma, you can easily visit the charming town of Cremona, the stunning Castello di Torrechiara, and the Ferrari Museum in nearby Modena.
- Attend A Festival: Parma is host to many festivals throughout the year, including the famous Verdi Festival celebrating the composer Giuseppe Verdi.
With so much to see and do in Parma, there’s something for every traveler. Don’t forget to take your time and soak up all the unique sights, sounds, and flavors this enchanting city has to offer.
The Bottom Line
Parma is a stunning destination with an impressive range of attractions to explore, from cultural landmarks and delicious food to stunning natural scenery. With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why this Italian city is growing in popularity as a top tourist destination. Whether you’re planning a short weekend break or a longer holiday, Parma has something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie looking to sample some of the world’s best cuisine, a history buff keen to explore the city’s many cultural treasures, or a nature lover keen to experience the beautiful countryside, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Parma. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and start planning your next adventure to this enchanting city. With so much to see and do, Parma is the perfect destination for an unforgettable vacation.