Bergamo: The Complete Guide

Bergamo is a small town in Lombardy to the east of Italy’s northern city of Milan and Lake Como. Nestled up against the southern foothills of the Bergamo Alps, the town is laid out into two tiers: the upper, older città alta, and the lower, modern città bassa. Bergamo Bassa, the city centre on the plain, seamlessly combines medieval cobbled quarters with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century town planning. In contrast, Bergamo Alta, perched 100m above, stands as one of northern Italy’s most charming urban centres. With its labyrinthine lanes and a relaxed, lively pace of life, Bergamo Alta exudes a distinct mountainous ambiance despite its proximity to Milan. The upper town is encircled by massive Venetian Wall.

Bergamo is well connected to several cities in Italy, thanks to the motorway A4 stretching on the axis between Milan, Verona, and Venice.

 

 

 

Visiting Bergamo for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Bergamo on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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History of Bergamo

Bergamo’s history traces back to ancient times as an Orobi settlement, later evolving into a Roman municipality in 49 BC. However, with the decline of the Roman Empire, the city endured repeated sackings.

During the medieval period, powerful Lombard families flourished, dividing the urban landscape into two royal districts. Bishop Adalbert initiated significant improvements and renovations from 904 onwards. By 1098, Bergamo transformed into a Free Commune, engaging in wars against Brescia and joining the Lombard League against Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Amidst the Guelphs and Ghibellines conflicts in the 13th century, the city fell under the influence of the Visconti of Milan, who fortified the Citadel.

Transitioning into Venetian Republic dominions, Bergamo underwent reconstruction with the Venetians erecting formidable defensive walls. Venetian rule persisted until the Napoleonic era, which followed the brief existence of the Bergamasque Republic, the Cisalpine Republic, and the Kingdom of Italy. Post-Restoration, Bergamo entered the Austrian sphere of the Lombardy-Venetia Kingdom, sparking industrialization, particularly in textile manufacturing.

The city played a vital role in the fervent Risorgimento movement. Garibaldi, leading the Cacciatori delle Alpi, triumphantly entered Bergamo, marking the end of foreign domination. In 1860, Bergamo notably contributed the highest number of volunteers to Garibaldi’s expedition, earning the moniker “City of the Thousand.” The year 1860 also witnessed Bergamo’s integration into the Kingdom of Italy.

17 Best places to See in Bergamo

This complete guide to Bergamo not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Bergamo and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo

Basilica Of Santa Maria Maggiore, 12th 14th Centuries, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Prof. Mortel

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore or Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is a large church in the upper town of Bergamo, Northern Italy.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo!


Address: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Piazza Duomo, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2.30-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat & Sun Apr-Oct, shorter hours Nov-Mar | Distance: 0.00km

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo

Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ben Bender

The Cappella Colleoni (Italian: "Colleoni Chapel") is a chapel and mausoleum attached to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in the northern Italian city of Bergamo.

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Address: Cappella Colleoni, Piazza Duomo, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2-6.30pm Mar-Oct, 9am-12.30pm & 2-4.30pm Tue-Sun Nov-Feb | Distance: 0.01km

Battistero di Bergamo

Baptistery Of Bergamo
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Prof. Mortel

This Battistero di Bergamo or Bergamo Baptistry is an octagonal baptistry was built in 1340.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Battistero di Bergamo!


Address: Battistero di Bergamo Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani 24129 Bergamo BG Italy | Distance: 0.04km

Torre del Campanone, Bergmao

Torre Del Campanone, Bergmao
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Calips

In the heart of Piazza Vecchia stands the Civic Tower, otherwise known as the Campanone, which with its height of 52.76 metres, offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the old town. The Campanone is part of the network of the Bergamo History Museum, managed by the Bergamo History Foundation.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Torre del Campanone, Bergmao!


Address: Campanone, Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 10am-6pm Tue-Fri, to 8pm Sat & Sun Apr-Oct, reduced hours winter | Price: adult/reduced incl Podestà €5/3 | Distance: 0.05km

Tempietto di Santa Croce

CC BY-SA 3.0 / Geobia

The unassuming yet captivating Tempietto di Santa Croce, an octagonal chapel dating back to the 11th century, stands as a hidden gem in Bergamo, often overlooked despite its prominent location. Nestled in the shadows of the imposing Basilica di Santa Maria and not far from the Cattedrale di Bergamo, this church remains one of the city's best-kept secrets.

Read our full blog post on Visiting Tempietto di Santa Croce!


Address: Tempietto di Santa Croce, Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 0.05km

Palazzo del Podestà, Bergamo

Bergamo, Palazzo Del Podesta
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Steffen Schmitz

In the shadow of the Campanone (Civic Tower), the Palazzo del Podestà  houses the Museo del Cinquecento. On the ground floor, you can explore Roman Bergamo with its archaeological excavations, and on the first floor and see the wonderful frescoes of the Renaissance cavaedium.

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Address: Piazza Vecchia, 5, 24129 Bergamo BG, Italy | Hours: 10am-1pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Fri, 10am-7pm Sat & Sun | Price: adult/reduced incl Torre del Campanone €5/3 | Website | Distance: 0.06km

Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo

Bergamo, Piazza Vecchia
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Steffen Schmitz

Piazza Vecchia (in Bergamo Piassa Ègia ) is the square of Bergamo located on the upper part of the city, seat for many centuries of the political and civil activity of the city formerly called platea magna nova . The square was connected by the portico of the Palazzo della Ragione with the Sancti Vincentii platea , which became the Piazza del Duomo .

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Address: Piazza Vecchia Bergamo Alta, Piazza Vecchia, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 0.09km

Torre di Gombito

Torre del Gombito
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauramagri712

The Torre del Gombito is located in the upper part of the city of Bergamo , at the intersection of the homonymous street, via San Lorenzo and via Mario Lupo, the most central and important crossroads of the ancient city.

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Address: Torre del Gombito, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: Visits must be reserved in advance at the tourist office, which is at the base of the tower, and leave at 10am, 10.45am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.15pm and 4pm on Mondays. | Distance: 0.12km

Porta San Giacomo

Porta San Giacomo Bergamo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Moahim

Porta San Giacomo (in Bergamo dialect Pórta San Giacom ) perhaps the most beautiful of the access gates from the Venetian walls to the upper city of Bergamo , it was built in 1592 , it is the only one in pinkish white marble from the Zandobbio quarry in Val Cavallina . The construction of the Venetian walls began in 1561 , and they had to be the protected outpost to the west of the territories of the Serenissima by the Milanese who after the death of Francesco Sforza II ( 1535 ) and the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis( 1559 ) had become a Spanish province .
The walls have four doors that make the entrance to the upper part of the city accessible: Porta san Lorenzo , Porta sant'Agostino , Porta sant'Alessandro and Porta San Giacomo, and until the mid- twentieth century when the Campanone struck at 10 in the evening. one hundred strokes, were closed.

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Address: Porta San Giacomo, Via Sant'Alessandro, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 0.25km

Rocca Museum

Bergamo Rocca
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Lauramagri712

The Rocca is an imposing 14th-c. stronghold with a tower offering panoramic views which also houses a museum. The nineteenth-century section of the Historical Museum of Bergamo has been set up, since May 7th, 2004, in a building inside the donjon of the Rocca, built under the Venetian Rule to accommodate the artillerymen. The exhibition is organized in sections and starts with the arrival of the French troops in Bergamo (Christmas 1796). It touches upon, until 1870, the most significant issues related to the events that occurred in the Bergamasque province with respect to Lombard or national history Italy. The goal of the project is to offer a view that is as complete as possible of the 1797-1870 period, through diversified languages and accounts. The exhibition includes reconstructions of settings, multimedia stations and movable explanatory sheets as well as material accounts taken from both museum collections and from collections belonging to city and provincial institutions or even to private citizens.

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Address: Rocca di Bergamo, Piazzale Brigata Legnano, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Sun | Price: museum €3, grounds free | Distance: 0.32km

Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico, Bergamo

Museo Di Scienze Naturali

Located in a 14th-century citadel palace, and next to the Archaeology Museum in Piazza della Cittadella, where it was moved in the same year (1960).

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Address: Museo di Scienze Naturali E. Caffi, Piazza della Cittadella, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9am-12.30pm & 2.30-6pm Tue-Sun | Price: Museo Civico Scienze Naturali €3 | Website | Distance: 0.32km

Venetian Walls, Bergamo

Venetian Walls, Bergamo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon

Venetian Walls of Bergamo or Mura Venete are a spectacular circuit is over six km long: it’s the perfect place to take a romantic walk and enjoy wonderful sunsets, and it has been enclosing the beauties of the Upper Town for more than four centuries.

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Address: Baluardo di San Giovanni, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 0.34km

Bergamo Funicular

Bergamo Funicular
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Geobia

The Lower Funicular has been connecting the centre of Bergamo with the Upper Town (“Città Alta”) for more than 120 years, more precisely with Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe, where many business activities used to be carried out. The square (whose name means “shoes market square”) was used as a shoes market since 1430, while the building overlooking the square used to be the headquarter of the shoemakers’ guild and it currently hosts the funicular station.

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Address: V.le V. Emanuele II, 58, 24121 Bergamo BG, Italy | Distance: 0.36km

Civico Museo Archeologico di Bergamo

Museo Di Scienze Naturali E Archeologico, Bergamo
Public Domain / Giorces

Set in the 14th-century citadel palace, this archaeology museum covers a lot of ground, from prehistoric and Roman times, up through Longabardic rule in the Middle Ages.

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Address: Piazza della Cittadella, 9, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 2-6.30pm Tue-Sun | Price: adult/reduced €5/3 | Website | Distance: 0.39km

Torre Castello San Vigilio

Il Castello Di Berganmo In San Vigilio
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ambrosio2004

The San Vigilio Castle was the last bastion of the city’s defences: if San Vigilio fell, so did Bergamo. Which is why over the centuries a labyrinth of tunnels, secret passages and escape routes were dug out beneath the castle’s walls to be used in the event of a siege.

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Address: Torre Castello San Vigilio, Via al Castello, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Hours: 1st November to 31st March 8am - 5pm1st of April to 31st October 7am - 9pm | Price: Free | Distance: 1.11km

Piazza Matteotti, Bergamo

Bergamo Via Roma
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Dans

Matteotti is located in the centre of the modern new town of lower Bergamo. This large square contains the Torre dei Caduti, the Teatro Gaetano Donizetti and the Chiostro di Santa Maria. In its centre the square contains a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, who became King of a united Italy in 1849. There is also a monument to  Al Partigiano or the Partisan.

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Address: Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 1.13km

Porta Nuova, Bergamo

Bergamo, Porta Nuova
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Van Loon

Porta Nuova (formerly Barriera delle Grazie) is a monumental gate of the city of Bergamo. On 20 August 1837, the old wicket gate nestled in the “Muraine”, the massive XV Century walls that used to surround the hills and go down to the Lower Town and the old districts, was replaced by an iron gate opening a breach in the defensive walls: it is the neoclassical Porta Nuova (“New Gate”). The gateway leads to the commercial area of Bergamo and is the main junction of  the Lower Town.

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Address: Porta Nuova, Largo Porta Nuova, Bergamo, Province of Bergamo, Italy | Distance: 1.20km

Best Time to Visit Bergamo

Summer in Bergamo: June – August

Summer allows for light packing with summer clothing, a hat, sandals, sunscreen, and perhaps a cardigan for cooler evenings. Surprisingly, this season is the most budget-friendly, particularly from August to September. It’s also an opportune time for outdoor cinema and festivals, such as the Summer Dance Festival and Celtic Days in mid-July, culminating in the Festa di Sant’Alessandro on August 26.

Visitors can explore both the upper and lower parts of Bergamo, indulge in day trips to Milan and Venice, and enjoy the city’s parks. Summer presents an array of activities and cultural events, making it the best time to experience Bergamo’s vibrant ambiance.

Autumn (Fall) in Bergamo: September – November

Autumn temperatures vary, requiring a mix of clothing. The season provides an excellent time for history tours in Citta Alta, exploring museums, and indulging in beer, wine, and food tours. Festivals like the Beer Festival and the Feast of the Madonna del Rosario in October add cultural richness.

Christmas markets in November and December, along with festivals like Mercatanti and BergamoScienza, enhance the fall experience. Travelers may find good deals on accommodations and flights during this less touristy period.

Winter in Bergamo: December – February

Beyond winter sports, Bergamo’s historical landmarks, churches, and museums are worth exploring. Christmas markets, the Feast of Saint Lucy, and the Chocolate Festival in late January add festive charm. The Carnival in late February livens up the city with a grand parade.

Winter, although cold, presents a unique charm, allowing tourists to explore Bergamo’s attractions with fewer crowds. Wellness centres and thermal spas offer relaxation, making winter an appealing time for various preferences.

Spring in Bergamo: March – May

Spring, starting from May, sees an influx of tourists, making it the busiest month for tourism in Bergamo. Despite higher prices, the pleasant weather attracts visitors for sightseeing tours, day trips, and exploration of Citta Alta’s landmarks.

Notable festivals during spring include the Spring Festival and the Bergamo Jazz Festival in mid-March. Although the wettest season, spring offers opportunities to enjoy Bergamo’s attractions amidst the blooming scenery. Advance bookings are advisable due to increased tourist arrivals.

Average Temperatures in Bergamo

  • January 9°C 6
  • February 12°C 10
  • March 16°C 9
  • April 19°C 14
  • May 24°C 17
  • June 29°C 14
  • July 33°C 15
  • August 30°C 15
  • September 25°C 14
  • October 21°C 14
  • November 14°C 17
  • December 9°C 9

How to get to Bergamo

By Plane: The International Airport of Orio al Serio is just 5 km from Bergamo and 45 km from Milan, well-connected to various Italian and European destinations, especially low-cost airlines. The Airport Bus service operates daily, departing every 30 minutes, with a journey time of approximately 20 minutes. For additional details, visit www.atb.bergamo.it. Reach Bergamo Airport at Via Aeroporto, 13, Orio al Serio (Ph. +39 035 326323), or explore www.orioaeroporto.it.

By Car: You can access the town via the motorway (A4) or by train. The center of Bergamo features various restricted traffic zones, some permanently active and inaccessible, while others operate at specific times. To understand their layout and entry points, refer to the following resources: LTZ List and LTZ Map.

By Bus: Traveling from Milan Lampugnano, Cadorna, and Piazza Castello to Bergamo Bus Station with Trasporti NET Nord Est takes approximately one hour under smooth traffic conditions. The connection from Milan Cadorna, Central Station, and Lampugnano to Orio al Serio Bergamo airport is operated by Autostradale, with a journey time of about one hour in flowing traffic. Buses from both companies typically depart every 30 minutes, but due to occasional heavy traffic, it’s advisable to anticipate a travel time of around 2 hours. Other public transport companies operate routes between Bergamo and neighboring towns, with the bus station and ticket office situated in Piazzale Marconi, adjacent to the train station.

By Train: Bergamo railway station has direct connections to Milan, Lecco, and Brescia (with links to Lake Garda, Verona, and Venice). The Milan-Bergamo and Brescia-Bergamo journeys take approximately one hour, while the trip from Lecco to Bergamo is around 40 minutes. Trains run almost every hour. The station, located in Lower Bergamo, is linked to Città Alta (Upper Bergamo) by a bus departing approximately every 10 minutes. For more information, contact Bergamo Railway Station at Piazzale Guglielmo Marconi (ph. +39 035 247950) or visit Trenitalia’s website: www.trenitalia.com.

Tours and Activities from Bergamo