WHAT TO DO IN BERGAMO IN ONE DAY
Are you planning your Bergamo itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Bergamo in one day? 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 help you find out why you should add it to your Italy bucket list and what to do in Bergamo.
Located close to Milan, many people skip Bergamo – even if they arrive at that popular airport there – and head straight to the fashion capital instead. This is a big mistake – Bergamo is a real gem.
It is one of Italy´s amazing hidden gems. The city’s uphill old town with its cobblestone streets, small little shops and stores, lovely views, nice scenery, and more are all great reasons for visiting Bergamo.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
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
- 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.
- TRAIN: Bergamo has a train station, and train connections in Italy are pretty good. So, I would advise getting here by train or plane.
- 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). I accidentally drove into the old town and got a ticket several months later. But that is the only negative memory I have from Bergamo.
Best Time to Visit Bergamo
- My answer is in the shoulder season between September to October or April to early June. The weather should be pleasant, crowds are gone, and accommodation prices drop compared to summer.
- I visited during Green Week and I loved it. It is an event taking place over almost a week and addresses issues related to Green Economy. The time of Green Week changes – at the time of my visit it was in September. In 2021 it is in July according to my research. My Italian is very bad, so I hope, I figured it out correctly. Everything is busier and green – more flower posts, more events. However, I am not a big fan of Italy in summer.
- Though I haven’t been to 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. Accommodation prices rise in the summer months.
Where to Stay in Bergamo
Bergamo does not have the same price tag attached that Milano or Lake Como has.
We stayed in an apartment in Lower Bergamo (I visited with my parents and my dog). It seemed to be a good choice for us because we were looking for an apartment with our own kitchen. If you are looking for a regular hotel room, then I recommend staying in the old town though.
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 with more attractions and better views.
Also, keep in mind that there is an extra city tax that often isn’t shown when booking a hotel (about 2€ per person a night).
- Find out more about luxury accommodation in Bergamo and get the best rates.
- Click here to find the best mid-range hotels for your trip to Bergamo
- Here are some great budget hotels and hostels in Bergamo
What to Wear in Bergamo
Italians are the best-dressed people in the world (according to me and, now, to my parents). And the people in Bergamo all looked very stylish and classy. I think the proximity to Milan (the 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 Bergamo in One Day
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).
- For more general travel tips, check out my post on travel tips for Italy.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN BERGAMO
With one day in Bergamo, we will focus on Citta Alta which 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 to the Upper Town of Bergamo
- By funicular: Buy a 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, Piazza Vecchia, was built back in the 15th century and is now the market square and heart of Citta Alta.
During Green Week (an event that takes place for a week once a year where the focus is on sustainability), it 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.
- INFO: The flower posts are normally not there. I visited during Green Week.
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 offers 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. Let´s talk about this pretty building.
Colleoni Chapel – Cappella Colleoni
Colleoni Chapel, located on Piazza Duomo, was built in the 15th century and is now a main church in the city and a mausoleum. 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 Monday
- Free to enter.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was founded in the 12th century, so it is older than the Colleoni Chapel and is now a major church in Bergamo. Before visiting the Colleoni Chapel, I suggest visiting the basilica first. The basilica is beautiful and can be visited on any day. However, 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 on 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 quite a 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.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BERGAMO ACTIVITIES
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.