Are you planning to visit Bergamo, Italy and wondering what to see in Bergamo? Check out our top things to see and do in Bergamo.
Bergamo is located near Milan in Lombardy. Thanks to Milan, Bergamo is overlooked by many tourists. And although it has been growing in popularity in recent years, it is still an authentic city that will literally delight you with its friendly and warm atmosphere.
We visited Bergamo together with Milan and Lago di Como. We were blown away by the beautiful sights, the labyrinth of medieval streets in Città Alta and the lively atmosphere in Città Bassa. If you have the time, I recommend to walk through it during the day and at night, when it is beautifully lit.
Today we will show you the most beautiful places and sights to see in Bergamo.
- Bergamo, Italy
- Things to do in Bergamo: Must-see places
- Città Alta
- La Rocca
- Via Gombito / Via Bartolomeo Colleoni
- Antico Lavatoio
- Piazza Vecchio
- Colleoni Chapel
- Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
- Duomo di Bergamo
- Venetian walls
- Piazza della Cittadella
- La Marianna
- Rocca di San Vigilio cable car
- Castello di San Vigilio
- Città Bassa
- Porta Nuova
- Via XX Settembre
- Accademia Carrara Museum
- Where to stay in Bergamo
- Things to see in Bergamo, Italy – Map
- How to get from the airport to the centre of Bergamo
- Transportation in Bergamo (buses, cable car)
- Useful tips to enjoy Bergamo
- More information about Lombardy
- Summary: What to see in Bergamo
Bergamo is located in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy. Just 40 km from Milan. With more than 120,000 inhabitants, it is one of the largest cities in Lombardy.
Bergamo is known for its medieval atmosphere and its cultural and artistic richness.
Once you arrive in Bergamo, you will notice that it is divided into two parts. Città Bassa consists of the so-called. Lower Town. It is flat and easily accessible. If you walk from the station along the main avenue into town, you will pass Città Bassa. And although it is called the new part of Bergamo, it is still a historic area from the 19th century.
After a few minutes’ walk along the main avenue, the views of the Città Alta on the hill start to open up. The Città Alta (Upper Town) is the oldest part of Bergamo and attracts visitors.
The most beautiful sights in Bergamo are hidden right here. And we’ll show you all of them in a little while so you can get an idea of what you’re in for.
Things to do in Bergamo: Must-see places
In this list we will show you the places to see in Bergamo. From Città Alta to the magnificent views and world-class museums of Città Bassa.
We’ll start where most of us are probably headed. At Città Alta, the old town, which is situated on the hill above Città Bassa.
Here you’ll find the most beautiful sights to visit in Bergamo – from Piazza Vecchio to the Duomo di Bergamo, the Colleoni Chapel to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
You can imagine Città Alta as a labyrinth of medieval streets that are a joy to explore.
How to get to Città Alta
The Città Alta can be reached by bus, on foot or by cable car.
If you’re going to Città Alta straight from the airport, you’ll take bus 1A at the airport. It passes the station and the city centre. You can get off at the Stazione Inferiore Funicolare (about 20 minutes from the airport), which is right at the bottom station of the funicular to Città Alta (Funicolare citta’ bassa).
The cable car dates back to the 19th century and the journey is another experience in Bergamo. It’s just that the queues can be really long in high season.
We took the cable car up and walked down through the Venetian walls, which we will talk about later.
For the cable car, use the same ticket you bought at the airport. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes, so you can catch the bus from the airport and the cable car to Città Alta. Any other city ticket is also valid. A cable car takes you to the small triangular Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe in 5 minutes.
If you don’t want to take the funicular up, there are stairs to the left of the funicular that will take you up to Città Alta in 10 minutes.
The third option is to take a bus up to Città Alta.
The following places are located in Città Alta:
La Rocca is the first place we headed to after getting off the cable car. It is just a short walk from Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. There are signs to direct you.
La Rocca is reached by a short uphill turn down the narrow cobbled Via Alla Rocca.
And what awaits you here? La Rocca is a military fortress with canyons and monuments, but above all it offers a great view of the Città Alta along the walls. Entry is free.
Via Gombito / Via Bartolomeo Colleoni
A main avenue runs all the way through the old town from Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe to the other end at Piazza dell Cittadella. It is formed by Via Gimbito and is joined by Via Bartolomeo Colleoni behind Piazza Vecchio.
The narrow cobbled street is lined with shops, restaurants and can be quite busy in high season.
The next place is a bit unusual, but for many years in Bergamo very significant for the locals.
It is a marble washhouse with a cast-iron roof that functioned as a laundry until the 1950s. It was built by the municipality because of the lack of running water in the surrounding houses, which the locals had faced in the past.
The Antico Lavatoio is reached by a short detour from Via Gambito (left on Via Mario Lupo).
Piazza Vecchio is the heart of Città Alta. You can get here in a few minutes from the cable car and from all other places in the old town.
The lively square is lined with impressive architecture, cafes, restaurants. It used to be the political centre of the town.
If you walk from the cable car, you will see Palazzo Nuovo on the right side of the square. The white neoclassical building houses one of the oldest libraries in Italy.
You can step inside and walk through the elegant interior with statues, busts and portraits. In one of the rooms you will see 2 globes. Fifty illustrated leaves were used for each of these globes, which are 3.5 metres in circumference.
The Colleoni Chapel (Cappella Colleoni) is located behind the Piazza Vecchio. Pass under the arches of the Palazzo della Ragione (or Palazzo Vecchio) to enter the small Piazza Duomo. A small but precious square, because it is here that the most important and beautiful places in Bergamo are located.
I remember the first time we came here in the evening. There was a local who enthusiastically told everyone who came here about the square and the various buildings. Maybe you’ll run into him too :).
Many people confuse the Colleoni Chapel with the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Just like I did when I visited Bergamo. And no wonder – both buildings look as if they were one and the same.
The Colleoni Chapel is beautifully decorated inside and out. The facade is made of white and pink marble columns and depicts biblical stories. According to many, it is a masterpiece of the Renaissance, not so typical of Lombardy.
The interior is perhaps even more ornate – ornate details, carved benches, sarcophagi and lots of artwork and statues, including an equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a prominent soldier from Bergamo.
The chapel is dedicated to Saints Bartholomew, Mark and John the Baptist. You can see their stories in the frescoes of the chapel. To the right of the chapel is an octagonal baptistery, which is not normally open to the public.
Admission and opening hours of the Colleoni Chapel
Admission to the Colleoni Chapel is free. Opening hours vary by season:
- March-November 9:30-12:30 and 14:00-18:00
- November-February 9:30-12:30 and 14:00-16:30
- closed every Monday
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
The Colleoni Chapel is joined on the left by the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. For the locals, the most important religious building in the city.
In the 11th century, the plague appeared in Bergamo. The locals prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect them from the plague. In gratitude, they promised to build a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Just a few decades later, they kept their promise.
The basilica has an austere, Romanesque exterior that contrasts with the ornate interior. An amazing spectacle – frescoes, tapestries, stuccoes and wooden marquetry designed by Lorenzo Lotto.
Inside is the tomb of Italian composer Donizetti, one of the 5 greatest opera composers in the world.
The entrance to the basilica is relatively inconspicuous – it is located between 2 marble lions to the left of the Colleoni Chapel. There are several entrances and the interesting thing is that the basilica has no central entrance.
Admission and opening hours of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Admission to the Basilica is €3 and a reduced admission fee of €1 for children and young people aged 14-25 and seniors over 70.
The Basilica is open Monday to Friday 10:30-12:30 and 14:30-18:00, Saturday 10:30-18:00 and Sunday 13:30-18:00.
Duomo di Bergamo
The Duomo di Bergamo (Cattedrale di Sant’Alessandro) is the third important building in Piazza Duomo. It is located on the far left and is connected to the Palazzo della Ragione on one side. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Alexander, who is the patron saint of the town.
The Duomo was built in 15th century. Despite being beautifully decorated inside, it is nothing compared to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Colleoni Chapel. But it is definitely worth seeing, I just recommend to start your visit here and walk through the basilica to the chapel. So the experience will gradually increase :).
Inside there is also the tiara of Pope John XXIII, who came from Bergamo.
Admission and opening hours Duomo di Bergamo
Entrance to the Duomo di Bergamo is free. The Cathedral is open Monday to Friday 7:30-12:30 and 15:00-18:30 and on Saturdays and public holidays 7:00-19:00.
The Campanone, or Citizen’s Tower, rises 53 metres right on the Piazza Vecchio.
It comes from 12th century and inside is the largest bell in Lombardy. Every day at 10 p.m. the bells start ringing in the bell tower. Nowadays it is only a tradition, but in the days of the Venetian Republic this ringing symbolized the closing of the city gates.
If you climb the 230 steps (or take the elevator up), you can admire the whole of Bergamo from the observation deck.
The price of admission to the Campanone is €5, €1 for children aged 11-17 and €3 for students under 26.
It is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00-18:00 and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00-19:00.
The Venetian Walls (Mura Veneziane) can be seen from the Città Bassa. They surround the entire old town and are 6 km long. They come from 16th century, when Bergamo was under Venetian rule. Under the walls were originally Roman walls.
Bergamo has never been under siege, so the walls have been kept in excellent condition.
The entire fortification is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it got there in an unusual way – with the help of two Guinness World Records, which were meant to draw attention to the Venetian walls. When the first record was set, 5,730 couples embraced on the walls. For the second record, locals formed a relay of 11,507 people who hugged each other in turn, creating the longest hugging relay in the world.
Walking the Venetian Walls is one of the best things to do in Bergamo. From here you will have Città Bassa in the palm of your hand. There are fantastic views during the day and at night.
The Venetian walls also include 4 entrance gates and 14 bastions. Some gates are more ornate or pedestrian-only. I recommend you go through the Porta San Giacomo gate. The white marble gate overlooks the main avenue of Città Bassa. It can be reached on foot from Città Bassa or by one of the alleys from Città Alta.
Piazza della Cittadella
Piazza della Cittadella is another beautiful square in the old town, which used to be the military centre of Bergamo (today it is home to the Carabinieri). Its dominant feature is the clock tower.
In addition, there are several restaurants, cafés and a popular natural history museum (especially for families with children).
You can get here directly along the main street, so you can’t miss it.
Summer or winter, you must try the ice cream at the local patisserie La Marianna (just behind Piazza della Citadella). It’s luxurious here. This is where the Stracciatella flavour originated, so if you want to know what Stracciatella is really supposed to taste like, head here.
In addition, they also have lots of other sweets, outdoor seating with greenery, and are open until late.
Rocca di San Vigilio cable car
We had a cable car from Città Bassa to Città Alta. But there is one more cable car in Città Alta, and it leads to the slopes of the Rocca di San Vigilio (Funicolare S. Vigilio).
It is located from the first cable car on the very other side of the Città Alta (just behind the Piazza della Cittadella – go right after the city gate) and in a few minutes it covers an altitude of 630 metres (you can also walk for 15-20 minutes). Again, the normal ticket for transport in Bergamo applies.
There are 2 restaurants at the top station of the cable car and the walls overlook the old town.
Castello di San Vigilio
Even higher above the top station of the Rocca di San Vigilio cable car is the Castello di San Vigilio. These are the remains of an ancient council from 6th century. There’s not much left of the castle (you can climb the tower for a small fee), but the fantastic views from the tower or the surrounding park (free) are worth it. You will have views of the Città Alta and the surrounding mountains.
You will see the signpost to the castle from the cable car. A few minutes and you’re there.
Città Bassa, or Lower Town, is a lively and modern part of Bergamo. The most interesting part is between the station and Città Alta.
In Città Bassa, don’t miss these places:
From the station, head along the main avenue, Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, and in a few minutes you’ll reach the Porta Nuova, two neoclassical buildings with columns. They form an imaginary gateway to the old town from the beginning of the 19th century. The oldest part of Bergamo – Città Alta – is overlooked.
If you look to the right, you will see a three-metre high statue of the angel Anima Mundi in front of Porta Nuova (before the crossroads). It was created in 2011 by local artist Ugo Rivy and dedicated in 2020 to the victims of Covid-19 (at the time Bergamo was one of the most affected areas of Covid-19 in Italy).
Walk through the old part of Città Bassa past Porta Nuova and turn left into the lively Piazza Giacomo Matteotti.
Via XX Settembre
The pedestrianised Via XX Settembre is connected to Piazza Giacomo Matteotti. The street is lined with houses with colourful shutters, shops, restaurants and cafes. There are more similar streets in Città Bassa. They are charming and again quite different from the medieval streets of Città Alta.
Accademia Carrara Museum
Do you love art? Then you shouldn’t miss the Accademia Carrara, which is not as famous as other art museums, but paradoxically one of the most beautiful.
The museum includes the collection of Count Giacomo Carrara by artists from the Venetian, Tuscan and Lombard schools – Botticelli, Tiziano, Pinturicchio, Bernini sculptures and others.
The museum is located in Piazza Giacomo Carraro, opposite the GAMeC Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. It lies a little off the beaten track, but in a beautiful part of the historic Città Bassa.
Where to stay in Bergamo
Hotel Città Dei Mille ★8.2: Beautiful hotel decorated in traditional style, offering cosy rooms with private bathrooms. Rich breakfast, 24/7 reception, family rooms, good price and great location in the centre (10-15 minutes to the station or the other way to Città Alta).
B&B Hotel Bergamo ★8: A modern and clean hotel with spacious rooms (including en suite bathrooms and private parking), within walking distance of the old town and the train station, with quick access to the airport.
Hotel Il Sole ★8.6: Cosy hotel in the heart of Città Alta. Rooms are modernly furnished, including a private bathroom. There is also a restaurant with regional cuisine.
Hotel Excelsior San Marco ★8.5: Four-star hotel in Città Bassa with views of Città Alta, fine cuisine and comfortable en suite rooms.
Things to see in Bergamo, Italy – Map
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Bergamo with tips on sights to visit. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in my guide to Bergamo, Italy. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.
How to get from the airport to the centre of Bergamo
The centre of Bergamo is easily accessible. At the exit of the terminal you will see information or a ticket machine. Buy your 1A Airport bus ticket here. This will take you to Bergamo Train Station.
Or you can go further and get off in the centre of Città Bassa, at the bottom station of the cable car to Città Alta or right on the hill in the old town.
A ticket from the airport costs €2.60 and is valid for 90 minutes (allows transfers).
Bus 1A runs from the airport to Bergamo from 5:17 to 0:32. In the other direction, buses run from Bergamo to the airport from 4:57 (from Porta Nuova; the first bus from Città Alta leaves at 6:41) until 23:55. Buses run regularly every 20 minutes – timetables here.
Transportation in Bergamo (buses, cable car)
The Bergamo area and surrounding villages are served by buses, 2 cable cars and 1 tram (the tram goes from the station to Albino). Connections are frequent, regular and reliable. You can download a map of public transport in Bergamo here.
Bergamo and its surroundings are divided into zones. Ticket prices vary accordingly. The town itself belongs to Zone 1. But the airport is already in zone 3. You need to think about this when you buy your tickets.
The same tickets apply for all modes of transport (buses, cable cars, trams). Below you will find the types of tickets you will use the most as a visitor:
- Single ticket for €1.50 – valid for 75 minutes in Zone 1 only (transfers possible)
- Single ticket for €2.60 – valid for 90 minutes in zones 1-3 (transfers possible); you can use this ticket to travel from the airport to the city centre
- 24 h ticket for 4 € – unlimited travel within zone 1
- 24 h ticket for 7 € – unlimited travel within all zones 1-5
- 72 h ticket for 12 € – unlimited travel within all zones 1-5
Tickets can be bought at the tourist information or at the ticket machine at the exit of the terminal, at the station or at the ATB point in Porta Nuova in the centre of Città Bassa (building on the right; closed on Sundays, open until 14:30 on Saturdays only). Another option is the ATB Mobile app. Tickets can also be purchased from the driver.
A car is the ideal way to explore the whole of Lombardy and the surrounding area of Bergamo.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Lombardy, the best experience we have is with Rentalcars.com, which has the widest range at good prices. Insurance and free cancellation is a matter of course.
Are you driving your own car? Please refer to the Lombardy guide for the necessary information and fees.
Useful tips to enjoy Bergamo
Try the local cuisine. Italy is famous for the fact that each city or region has its own specific food. In the case of Bergamo, it is Casoncelli alla Bergamasca (ravioli stuffed with beef with melted butter and sage). Polenta dishes are also typical of Bergamo cuisine and are used at various times in the cuisine, from starters, main courses and desserts.
There are plenty of drinking water fountains in the city.
Enjoy the view of the Città Alta. With towers rising above the medieval houses, it’s worth it. Some of the best places are San Vigilio Castle or La Rocca Fortress.
Would you like to go shopping? Besides the pedestrianised Via XX Settembre, you can visit the OC Oriocenter with its huge selection of Italian shops. It is just a 10-minute walk from Orio Al Serio Airport.
Take a trip around Bergamo. Bergamo is an ideal base for visiting Lombardy – in 40 minutes you’re in Milan, on Lake Como or in the Bergamo Alps, which are full of wildlife and not as crowded as the Dolomites.
If you have a question about tips on what to see in Bergamo, let us know in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More information about Lombardy
LOMBARDY: Milan is the capital of Lombardy, famous for its magnificent cathedral. For more tips and practical information on where to stay in Milan, read our guide to accommodation in Milan (budget accommodation, airport and sightseeing connections, map).
Just a short drive from Milan is Lago di Como, a beautiful alpine lake where you can explore pretty towns, go swimming or hiking.
ITALY: Get inspired by the most beautiful places in Italy.
Summary: What to see in Bergamo
Get lost in the medieval streets of Città Alta, which are a joy to discover. Visit the lively Piazza Vecchio and Piazza Duomo, which surround Bergamo’s most beautiful buildings – the Colleoni Chapel, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Duomo di Bergamo. Città Bassa is the newer part of Bergamo and will charm you with its streets of colourful houses, restaurants and cafés.
The Venetian walls surround the old town and offer fantastic views of Città Bassa. Alternatively, visit the public park at La Rocca Fortress, where you can see Città Alta in the palm of your hand. From San Vigilio Castle you get the best view of the whole of Bergamo and the surrounding mountains.