Best Things to Do in Bergamo
Planningy our Bergamo itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Bergamo, Italy? Then read on and find out about what to do and more travel tips.
Actually, I had never planned on visiting Bergamo in the first place – just because I had not known how pretty this city is.
So, if you are like me, then this post will hopefully help you find out why you should add Bergamo to your bucket list and what you should do in Bergamo.
It is a beautiful city that has more to offer than an airport (which most people use to get to Milan cheaply). Located close to Milan, many people skip it and head straight to the fashion capital instead, which is a big mistake as Bergamo is a real gem. The uphill old town of the city, the lovely views, nice scenery, cobblestone streets, small little shops and stores, and more are all great reasons for visiting Bergamo.
Here are my favorite Bergamo activities, the best places to visit, and some travel advice for you.
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Bergamo Travel Tips
Before discussing the top things to do in Bergamo, here are some tips so your trip goes smoothly.
How to Get to Bergamo
By Plane: Bergamo has its own airport, which many use just to get to Milan (I repeat myself when mentioning that this is a mistake). It takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the town center (Lower Bergamo), and buses, taxis, and trains transport you there.
To get to the old town (Upper Bergamo/Citta Alta), you can take a taxi or get there by bus.
By Train: Bergamo has its own train station, and train connections in Italy are pretty good. So, I would advise getting here by train or plane.
By Car: I got to Bergamo by car (after some time in the Dolomites), but driving in Bergamo is not the best way to get around. You cannot drive your car in the old town (Citta Alta), but you can arrive and park your car in the Citta Bassa (Lower Bergamo).
Best Time to Visit: My answer is: September during Green Week. I was not aware of Green Week when I booked my stay, but it was the best coincidental decision I made. There are so many activities, more cafes and spots to sit down and relax, more meadows (some artificial, but still), and the place has a special atmosphere.
So, if you can visit at that time, do so. Otherwise, I suggest visiting in spring or early fall. Though I haven’t been in Bergamo in the summer, I can only assume (as I have been to Milan and Lake Como at that time) that it gets extremely hot and crowded in the summer months.
Where to Stay in Bergamo
Bergamo does not have the same price tag attached that Milano or Lake Como has, so if possible, book a hotel right in the uphill old town (Cita Alta).
We stayed in an apartment (I visited with my parents and my dog) and it seemed to be a good choice for us (because we wanted to have our own kitchen, etc.), but a hotel in the old town would probably have been an even better choice.
If you can, choose Citta Alta (Upper Bergamo) over Citta Bassa (lower Bergamo). It might be more expensive, but you are right in the most interesting district.
Also, keep in mind that there is an extra tax that often isn’t shown when booking a hotel (2€ per person a night).
Find out more about luxury accommodation in Bergamo and get the best rates
What to Wear in Bergamo
Italians are the best-dressed people in the world (according to me and, now, to my parents) and people in Bergamo all looked very stylish, but also classy.
However, while Italians might be able to wear high heels in the city center, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes because of all the walking you will do (yes, there is a lot of walking included in this itinerary) and the cobblestone streets.
How to Get Around
By foot. Walking is the best means of transportation. Though you can use a funicular or public transportation to get from Upper Bergamo to Lower Bergamo, other than that, you will most likely walk.
Take your water bottle to refill on the go. There are plenty of water fountains that provide fresh, cold water for free.
Dogs need a muzzle if they use the funicular/cable car (for all of Italy).
Fun Things to Do in Bergamo
So, after the intro, it is time to answer the question “What to do in Bergamo”.
Visit Citta Alta
Citta Alta is the old town of the city, located on a hill. Thus, you will be able to spot it from far away and it is as charming as it looks from down below.
How to Get There
By funicular: Buy a funicular ticket for the uphill ride (you can buy it directly at the station).
By bus: There are buses that can take you to the old town of the city.
By foot: You can also hike up there. Since there will be a lot of walking in the city later on, it depends on you, whether you want to hike up, too. I definitely suggest hiking down though; it is worth it.
The old square was built back in the 15th century and is now the market square and heart of Citta Alta.
With the Contarini Fountain right in the middle, it is a perfect little market square for this pretty city.
During Green Week, it is was even busier than usual and the pictures you see here don’t really represent the usual look.
However, this place is absolutely charming with restaurants, shops, and medieval buildings all around, and it’s a popular hotspot all year round. It is also home to one of Italy’s most ancient libraries – Palazzo Nuovo.
The civic tower, Campanone Tower, was built in the 12th century and offers panoramic views of the city.
You can either climb up the 230 steps or take a lift to enjoy the view of the piazza (and also see the biggest bells in the Lombardy) from Campanone Tower’s 52-meter height.
If you stay in the old town, you might hear the tower’s 100 bells ring at 10 pm. The ringing was originally used to show that the gates were closed, and is still done today.
The entry fee is about 5€ for adults.
Rocca di Bergamo
More great views can be enjoyed from this castle in Citta Alta – it is popular amongst tourists and locals alike.
When it was built in the 14th century, it was used as a fortress, and it now serves as a museum. It also gives good views of the park in the front, which is perfect for some relaxing time.
It seems to be a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, so if you stay overnight, then you have your sunset spot.
Just behind Piazza Vecchia is Piazza Duomo. Before Piazza Vecchia, this was the city square. Here, you will find two beautiful buildings – one of them is probably the most beautiful in all of Bergamo.
Colleoni Chapel – Cappella Colleoni
It was built in the 15th century and is now a main church in the city and also a mausoleum – and a popular Bergamo point of interest.
This is probably one of the highlights of any Bergamo trip. The chapel looks pretty from the outside, made of white and red marble in the Italian Renaissance style, but it is even more stunning from the inside.
The ceiling, the frescos – this is pure art and eye-candy.
It is closed on Mondays and free to enter.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
The church was founded in the 12th century, so before the Colleoni Chapel, and is now a major church in Bergamo. Before visiting the chapel, I suggest visiting the basilica first. It is beautiful and can be visited on any day, but the chapel is even more fascinating, which is why I recommend visiting them in this order.
Open every day, free to enter.
Venetian Walls and Gates
Walking at least some parts of the 6km-long Venetian Walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must. There are benches to sit and enjoy the views, so with this in mind, six kilometers isn’t all that much, even after a busy day with a lot of walking already.
Its construction began in the 16th century and to this day, the walls are still intact!
As we had our apartment in Lower Bergamo, on the way back, we decided to walk down and passed one of the four gates. With a lovely view of Citta Bassa, we walked back to the more modern part of the city.
Stroll the Streets
Bergamo’s narrow and winding streets make it perfect for getting lost. If you aren’t in a rush, you should just aimlessly walk around, enjoying the pretty buildings everywhere and soaking in the views.
More Things to See in Bergamo
If you stay in Bergamo for 2 days, I suggest spending the day in the upper town of the city or to do a day trip.
While Citta Alta is pretty, plan in some time to visit the more modern part of Bergamo – though modern, in this case, doesn’t mean it was just created this century. This area was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries and is a bustling part of Bergamo.
Pretty buildings, as well as more famous shops (including chains), welcome you here.
While we spent a few hours here in Citta Bassa, I don’t feel like I can give you many detailed tips, but as usual, we just strolled along aimlessly and stumbled upon some pretty places.
Here are some places and buildings to visit in Citta Bassa in pictures.
Are you a wine lover? Then you can also do a wine tasting tour in Bergamo. I am not into wine, so I cannot vouch for it but it seems that it is a great day activity from Bergamo.
So, if you plan your Northern Italy itinerary, add this gem to your list and enjoy the beauty of Bergamo. I am sure you will not regret it! It might not be as famous as other places in the area but it is full of charm and lovely people all around.