๐Ÿง€ Parma Day Trip in Italy: Firsthand Review & Tips

A woman leaning against a balcony going over a river.
๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating5.9
๐Ÿฆ„ UniquenessLow
๐Ÿ˜Š EnjoymentModerate
๐Ÿ’ฐ ValueModerate
๐ŸŽ’ PreparationMinimal
Overall Rating is based on a weighted average of factors (learn more).

Parma is a culinary gem in northern Italy, renowned for producing Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma. Here, I review my day trip experience with a coherent rating system before sharing firsthand tips.

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๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating

5.9
A Parma day trip is a decent option โ€“ do it to pass time.

My overall rating is based on a weighted average of four factors travelers consider important when assessing an experience. I break down the factors in my review below.

Verdict

Parma is a great place to visit to experience a more tranquil side of Italy, eat Parmigiano, or dine at exceptional restaurants, but it’s otherwise a decent option and not a must-do on your first trip.

The day trip is moderately priced, assuming you will eat at a well-rated restaurant or visit one of its main attractions.

Minimal preparation is required, as you mainly need to figure out transportation and make restaurant reservations in advance.

A board covered with cured meat, bread, cheese and jam.
Parma tasting board (photo by my friend, Vivian Huang)

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Italy.

๐Ÿ† Where Does It Rank?

A day trip to Parma ranks as my #14 thing to do in Italy. Here’s how it compares to other experiences on my trip:

#ExperienceLocationOverall Rating
1โ›ฐ๏ธ Cinque Terre HikeLiguria8.0
2๐Ÿฅ– Cicchetti by CanalsVenice7.6
3๐Ÿ’ง Lake Como Day TripLombardy7.3
4๐ŸŽจ Sistine Chapel / Vatican CityRome7.3
5๐Ÿท Tuscany Wine TourFlorence7.1
6๐ŸŒŠ Trevi FountainRome6.8
7๐Ÿšฃโ€โ™‚๏ธ Gondola RideVenice6.6
8๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ Uffizi GalleryFlorence6.5
9๐ŸŸ๏ธ ColosseumRome6.4
10๐Ÿฐ Brunelleschiโ€™s DomeFlorence6.4
11โ˜€๏ธ Michelangelo PlazaFlorence6.3
12๐Ÿฐ St. Mark’s SquareVenice6.3
13๐ŸŒน Rose GardenFlorence6.1
14๐Ÿง€ Parma Day TripEmilia-Romagna5.9
15๐Ÿ Pasta Making ClassFlorence5.7
16๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ Spanish StepsRome5.5
17๐ŸŒ‰ Rialto BridgeVenice5.1
18๐ŸŒณ Boboli GardensFlorence4.9
Overall Rating is calculated using Lukiihโ€™s rating system.

See myย Italy itineraryย featuring the experiences above.

โœˆ๏ธ About My Trip

For context on my review, here’s what to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ€ย Self-fundedย โ€“ I finance my trips and don’t receive sponsorship, so this review reflects my honest opinions.
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2022 โ€“ This post has updated 2024 information, but I visited Parma in 2022.
  • โ˜€๏ธ Low season โ€“ My Italy trip was in May when it was less crowded and expensive.

๐Ÿฆ„ Uniqueness: Low

The Uniqueness Score is based on how rare and memorable an experience is.

Rarity: Uncommon

A day trip to Parma is an uncommon experience, as less than 50 cities worldwide are known to have originated a famous cheese.

๐Ÿ’Ž What Makes It Rare?

  • Parma is located in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, the country’s food capital, and is known for producing some of the best restaurants in the world.
  • It’s the origin city of Parmigiano Reggiano, the regulated version of Parmesan cheese, and Prosciutto di Parma, one of the best types of prosciutto.

๐ŸŒ What Makes It Less Rare?

  • Although a notable city serving exceptional food, Parma is not the most famous culinary place in the Emilia-Romagna region (Bologna and Modena are).
  • Several places worldwide are renowned for cheese production, including Switzerland’s Gruyรจres, Spain’s Manchego, and England’s Cheddar.

Memorability: Low

Visiting Parma is great for your palate, but it’s not the most memorable experience in Italy.

๐Ÿ“ธ What Makes It Memorable?

  • I traveled to the city to eat Parmigiano Reggiano and was not disappointed when Cocchi, a restaurant featured in the Michelin guide, presented an entire block of fresh parmesan as an appetizer.
Thin cured ham sitting on a plate.
Cocchi lunch

๐Ÿ’ค What Makes It Forgettable?

  • Although the city has a rich cultural heritage, its cathedral, museums, bridges, and other attractions pale in comparison to much grander ones throughout Italy.

Read on for the best way to spend time in this city.

๐Ÿ˜Š Enjoyment: Moderate

The Enjoyment Score is based on how much happiness and reward an experience provides.

Happiness: Moderate

I found visiting Parma decently fun and delightful.

๐Ÿ˜ƒ What Makes It Enjoyable?

  • The cheese and cured ham are, of course, outstanding.
  • It’s a great Italian city to escape the touristy places and have a more tranquil time without being completely bored (there are enough things to see and do).
  • One of the best things I discovered in Italy isย Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region. Itโ€™s not specifically a Parma wine, but itโ€™s difficult to find elsewhere.

See below for great attractions and things to do.

๐Ÿ˜ฅ What Makes It Less Enjoyable?

  • It’s a slow city where smaller businesses are sometimes closed on Mondays, Sundays, and certain holidays, so it can be quieter than expected.

Reward: Low

Visiting Parma is not a particularly rewarding experience.

๐ŸŒŸ What Makes It Rewarding?

  • It’s interesting to take a Parmigiano factory tour to better understand the cheese-making process. These tours are consistently the most well-rated experience in the city.
A room full stack of round barrels of cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano factory tour (photo by my friend, Vivian Huang)

๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ What Makes It Less Rewarding?

  • Unless you plan to visit the city’s museums, opera houses, or other historical attractions, a day trip there isn’t particularly enriching.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Value: Moderate

The Value Score is determined by the price divided by the duration of an experience. All prices mentioned here are in USD.

Cost Estimate: $100 PP

A day trip to Parma costs between $50 and $150, depending on whether you eat at a high-end restaurant and book a Parmigiano factory tour. At about $100 per person for a full-day trip, I consider this experience moderately priced.

Lukiih Spent: $47

I spent $47 in Parma, and below is my breakdown. My total cost is lower because I only paid for food and transportation.

Expense CategoryTotal Cost
๐Ÿ Food$34
๐Ÿš‡ Round-trip train$13

Seeย my Italy trip expenses.

๐ŸŽ’ Preparation: Minimal

The Preparation Score is based on the required skills & fitness, transportation, and bookings & packing. The higher the score, the less preparation is needed.

Skills & Fitness: None

You don’t need any skills or fitness to visit Parma. The city is small enough that you can explore the center on foot.

Transportation: Moderate

Parma is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, and getting there is straightforward but takes some time.

  • ๐Ÿš† Method โ€“ The best way to get there is by Italy’s excellent train infrastructure.
  • โฐ Duration โ€“ Itโ€™s about a 30-minute train ride from Modena and a one-hour train ride from Bologna. The closest major cities, Milan and Florence, are about two hours away.

Scroll down for how to get around.

Booking & Packing: Some Effort

To visit Parma, youโ€™ll need to book and pack accordingly:

  • ๐Ÿ“ฑย Reservations โ€“ If you want to eat at one of the restaurants mentioned in the Michelin Guide, make reservations more than a month in advance. As is true in many places in Italy,ย this is the only way to guarantee seating.

You might have to contact the restaurant through email or WhatsApp (I made my reservations through email) and wait more than 24 hours for a confirmation.

  • ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธย Tickets โ€“ Parmigiano factory tours take place in the morning, so they should be booked one to two days ahead.
  • ๐ŸŽ’ Packing โ€“ If you plan to spend more than a half-day there exploring on foot, wear comfortable shoes.

How To Guide & Tips

Interested in visiting Parma after reading my review? Below is a practical how-to guide and firsthand tips.

How To Get Around

Most visitors travel to Modena or Bologna and then take a train to Parma for a day trip. Once youโ€™re there, you can get around in four different ways:

  • ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Walking โ€“ The center is small enough to reach most attractions on foot. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end of the city center to the other without making stops. This is how I primarily got around.
  • ๐Ÿšฒ Rental bike โ€“ Biking is an efficient and cost-effective way to get around. Bike rental places are located next to the train station.
  • ๐ŸšŒ Bus โ€“ The city has a bus system; see the Tep busโ€™s official website for more details.
  • ๐Ÿš• Taxi โ€“ If you need to go further out of the city center, you can call a taxi, but they’re relatively expensive.

Top of guide โ†‘

Attractions

Having collectively spent two days in Parma, I share my and my friendsโ€™ recommendations on the best things to do in the city.

  • ๐Ÿง€ Eat Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma โ€“ No Parma trip is complete without eating both. You can try them at a well-rated restaurant or on a highly-rated walking food tour.
  • ๐Ÿง€ Take a Parmigiano Reggiano factory tour โ€“ The city specializes in producing Parmigiano Reggiano, so this is the best place to learn about the production process.
  • ๐ŸŒ‰ Cross the Ponte Verdi โ€“ This is a historic bridge thatโ€™s pedestrian-friendly and located above Torrente Parma, the river that flows through the city.
A river running through a small town.
View from Ponte Verdi
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Explore the central area โ€“ One way this city is unique from its neighboring cities, Modena and Bologna, is that it has a small-town atmosphere while still offering lively markets and shopping streets. Check out Strada Cavour.
  • ๐ŸŒณ Visit Parco Ducale โ€“ This park is a worthwhile main attraction. Itโ€™s a relatively large park with beautiful gardens, historical landmarks, and plenty of space for relaxation.
A quiet, pedestrian-friendly walkway in a park surrounded by trees.
Parco Ducale

Top of guide โ†‘

Itinerary

This is a great way to spend your day in Parma and is an improved version of what I did. Iโ€™ve included suggested times for each activity based on my firsthand experience.

Morning
๐Ÿš†Train to Parma from Modena or BolognaBefore 8:15 am
๐Ÿง€Take a Parmigiano Reggiano factory tour8:30 amโ€“1 pm
Afternoon
๐Ÿ›๏ธExplore the central area1:30โ€“4 pm
๐Ÿ‘ŸCross Ponte Verdi4โ€“4:15 pm
๐ŸŒณWalk through Parco Ducale4:15โ€“5:15 pm
Evening
๐ŸHave an early dinner or head back to Modena/BolognaAfter 6 pm

Top of guide โ†‘

Italy Trip Planner 2024

To make your travel preparation easier, download the trip planner below. It has destination-specific travel information, itinerary, map, and packing list.

My trip planners are built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning. I genuinely love this tool and creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Italy trip planner.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

๐Ÿง‹ Support Lukiih

Lists by Lukiih is a humble website that I fund with my own savings. If you find my tips helpful, I appreciate you saying thanks with a bubble tea!

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