WHAT TO DO IN BERGAMO – THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY
- 1 WHAT TO DO IN BERGAMO – THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY
- 2 Bergamo Travel Tips
- 3 PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO in BERGAMO
Planning your 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 in cute Bergamo.
I had never planned on visiting Bergamo in the first place – just because I had not known how lovely this city is. If you are like me, this post will hopefully help you find out why you should add it to your bucket list and what you should do in Bergamo.
It is a beautiful city that has more 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 city’s uphill old town, the lovely views, nice scenery, cobblestone streets, small little shops and stores, and more are all great reasons for visiting Bergamo.
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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 airport, which many use 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 a 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 Bergamo
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 and classy. I think the proximity to Milan (fashion capital) is another reason why all people looked beautiful and well-dressed.
However, while Italians might 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).
PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS 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: Some buses 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.
The Contarini Fountain right in the middle 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 worldwide, 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.
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 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 are 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 relaxing.
It seems to be a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset, so if you stay overnight, 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 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, we decided to walk down and passed one of the four gates on the way back. 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 aimlessly walk around, enjoy the pretty buildings everywhere, and soak in the views.
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. It would be a quite busy day in Bergamo, but wine lovers probably will manage to squeeze in that activity.
However, even without the wine tasting, it will be a day full of fun in 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.