Are you planning a trip to Italy and wondering is Bergamo worth visiting? In this guide we go through absolutely everything you need to know before you go. We also answer all the important questions like is Bergamo safe, is Bergamo expensive, and is there anything to do in Bergamo.
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- Some Background
- Is Bergamo expensive?
- Do I need cash in Bergamo?
- What language do they speak in Bergamo?
- Is Bergamo easy to get to?
- How long should I spend in Bergamo?
- Is Bergamo safe?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting compared to other Italian cities?
- Can I use public transport in Bergamo?
- What is there to do in Bergamo
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for solo travellers?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for couples?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for families?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for foodies?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for the nightlife?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for nature lovers?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for history buffs?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting for culture lovers?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting in the summer?
- Is Bergamo worth visiting in the winter?
- What to pack when visiting Bergamo?
- What should I know before visiting Bergamo?
- So Is Bergamo worth visiting?
Before we answer the question is Bergamo worth visiting, here is a bit of background.
Located in the Lombardy region of Italy, Bergamo is a city just north east of Milan. It’s also located in the foothills of the Italian Alps making it an incredibly scenic part of the country. It has a beautiful old town referred to as Città Alta, with cobbled streets, venetian walls, and some incredible views. It’s often used as a stopover when getting to Milan, Lake Como, or the Italian alps.
Is Bergamo expensive?
If you are wondering is Bergamo expensive then the good news is that it isn’t. In fact we found it relatively cheap. I mean maybe it’s not quite at Eastern Europe levels of cheap, but it’s certainly somewhere you can visit on a budget.
A lot of the city tourist attractions are either free or cheap to visit. For example, getting into the Campanone or the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore will cost you around €5 for entry into each.
Food isn’t too bad either. For instance we ordered pastries, sandwiches and coffees in Bergamo and this cost us around €17 for two. A dinner with two main courses, one starter and some wine set us back around €45. You can also do things a lot cheaper by avoiding restaurants and going for street food or supermarket food.
One thing to keep in mind if you are on a budget, some of the more touristy restaurants in Bergamo will charge you a ‘cover charge’ to eat there. This ranges in price, but I think one of the places we ate charged us just under €5 each, and that’s before you even order any food. If you are concerned about it, you can always ask your server before you order if this will apply to you.
Accommodation was slightly expensive. For a night in a 4 star hotel smack bang in the centre of Città Alta this cost €180. This was on a Saturday night and book a couple of months in advance. You can get much cheaper accommodation though, especially if you visit during off season and during the week.
Do I need cash in Bergamo?
Most places in Bergamo will allow you to pay by debit or credit card. We didn’t end up using cash at all on our trip even though we did have some with us.
What language do they speak in Bergamo?
Bergamo is part of Italy and therefore they speak Italian. Every shop and tourist place that we visited had people that spoke English so there were no issues with us not speaking Italian.
Is Bergamo easy to get to?
Part of the reason we booked our trip to Bergamo is that it is so easy to get to. Well that and an excellent deal with Ryanair. Milan Bergamo Airport isn’t too far from the city, and you can easily hop on a bus that will take you into Città Alta in around 30 minutes. It mostly seems to be Ryanair that fly into Milan Bergamo and maybe a few Wizz Air Flights too.
The bus runs every 20 minutes and is part of the public transport network in Bergamo. We purchased a ticket at the tourist information desk and just had to validate it upon boarding the bus.
Bergamo is also incredibly close to Milan, so a lot of people visit it as a day trip from the city. It takes just over an hour on the train from Milan, and around 1 hour and 15 minutes if you are driving.
How long should I spend in Bergamo?
You don’t really need a long time to explore Bergamo. It’s a popular day trip from Milan, and you can see a good chunk of the city in a day.
Most of the attractions are in the upper town or Città Alta. And they are all pretty walkable too. If you only have a day, you probably won’t get a chance to explore the newer part of Bergamo, although there aren’t a ton of tourist spots here anyway. It is however good for shopping and nightlife.
Ideally we would recommend at least 2 days in Bergamo to properly get to grips with the city. It also means you aren’t rushing around and can take in that beautiful scenery.
Is Bergamo safe?
Something we were curious about before visiting Bergamo was the question is Bergamo safe? Honesty we felt incredibly safe in Bergamo, even at night. That being said, we did spend most of our time in Città Alta which is the more touristy part of Bergamo. From what we have read though, the crime rate in Bergamo is relatively low. It’s safe for travellers as long as you exercise general common sense.
One of the key things in Bergamo, is making sure you keep an eye on your belongings. European cities are notorious for pickpockets, particularly in the super touristy parts.
Apart from that have your wits about you and stay alert, but overall you shouldn’t have any issues in the city.
Is Bergamo worth visiting compared to other Italian cities?
Bergamo is a real hidden gem that to be honest we hadn’t really heard much about before we visited. That genuinely surprises me because this is one of the most beautiful Italian cities we have visited. Not only does it have incredible architecture, but it’s located at the foot of the Italian Alps and the views are quite honestly sensational.
If you are visiting Milan, we highly recommend taking a quick trip to Bergamo. Or if you are looking for a cheapish weekend break/ mid week city break, you should definitely consider Bergamo.
And if you are thinking of visiting any other Italian cities here are some helpful guides:
Can I use public transport in Bergamo?
You absolutely can use public transport in Bergamo. What we recommend is purchasing a ‘tourist ticket’ that is either 24 hours or 72 hours on public transport. It cost us €8.50 each for a 24 hour ticket, and the 72 hour tickets are €14.50. These tickets will cover your bus fare from the airport to the city, and the use of the funiculars as well.
ATB is the transport system in Bergamo and you can have a look at their website for more information. We purchased our tickets from the tourist desk at the airport. From here we had to validate the ticket when we got on the bus, and after that you are pretty much good to go.
What is there to do in Bergamo
There is a lot to see and do in Bergamo. Most of the attractions are centre around the Città Alta which is the upper or old town. Here are some of the best things to do when visiting.
Piazza Vecchia is the main square in the Città Alta or upper town of Bergamo. It’s surrounded by some fine architecture, as well as several restaurants and bars. It’s probably one of the best places to start exploring in Bergamo. You will also find several little alleyways and cobbled streets that will take you to other parts of the upper town.
Let’s be fair it wouldn’t be a trip to Italy, without visiting at least one church. The Colleoni Chapel is located just next to the Santa Maria Maggiore. It is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture, and is in our opinion one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
There is some stunning artwork inside, but this collection is private so no photos are allowed. On the plus side though it is free to enter.
Campanone is a 56 metre tower that stands in the Piazza Vecchia. If you pay the €5 entry fee you can make your way to the top of the tower for some of the most incredible views of Bergamo and it’s surroundings. You can either climb the 230 steps, or take the lift to the top. We think it is well worth it, because honestly the views from the top are just breathtaking.
Walk the Venetian Walls
Bergamo has some pretty impressive city walls. They were built in the 16th Century by the Republic of Venice, hence the title – Venetian Walls. They were actually constructed to protect the city from the Republic of Milan, and France during this time. Walking along the walls is a must for any trip to Bergamo so make sure that you add this to your itinerary.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
One of the must see attractions in Bergamo is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It became a basilica in the 12th century, and from the outside the building is very similar to how it was in Roman times. The inside of the Basilica is the real highlight though with ornate features and stunning artworks.
Torre Castello San Vigilio
For the most incredible views of Bergamo you should visit Torre Castello San Vigilio. It’s essentially a castle that is built on the San Vigilio hill. The best thing about it apart from the views, is that it is free to visit. You just need to get the funicular from the Upper Town, all the way to San Vigilio. The cost of this is included in your standard public transport ticket.
Honestly just walking around Città Alta is an experience in itself. There are so many beautiful alleyways, cobbled side streets, and just these incredible buildings that you can admire. Honestly Bergamo is worth visiting just for this.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for solo travellers?
If you are planning on travelling alone, you might be wondering is Bergamo worth visiting for solo travellers? In our opinion yes it is. I would have no reservations about coming here by myself. It’s incredibly beautiful and there is a lot to do. On top of that the locals are friendly, it’s easy to get around, and particularly in the upper town it feels quite safe.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for couples?
Bergamo is an excellent place to visit for a couples break. The city itself is like walking around in a fairy tale. It is the perfect backdrop for a romantic weekend away. There are also lots of lovely restaurants and bars that you can explore which are perfect for date nights too.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for families?
Considering how safe Bergamo is, and how easy it is to get around, we would recommend it for a family trip. There are lots of museums, parks, and attractions that kids will find interesting. Upper Bergamo also has a lot pedestrian streets so you shouldn’t have any issue pushing a stroller around. Although there may be times where the cobbled streets can be a bit of a nightmare.
If you are visiting Bergamo with kids, here is a handy guide on things to do.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for foodies?
If you are wondering is Bergamo worth visiting for foodies, then we will tell you now the answer is YES! Bergamo is a city full of gastronomic delights. Of course you have your traditional Italian style dishes like pizza and pasta readily available, but its the local food that you really should try.
Casoncelli alla bergamasca is one of the must try dishes in Bergamo. It’s basically pasta stuffed with meat, and served with butter, sage, and pancetta. It’s an excellent bit of comfort food that we highly recommend.
Also a fun fact about Bergamo is that it is where Stracciatella gelato was actually invented back in 1961. Stracciatella, is a milk based ice cream that has these little chocolate shavings mixed in. It’s incredibly creamy and perfect after spending a day exploring the city and walking up those hills.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for the nightlife?
If you are keen on exploring the nightlife in Bergamo then we do recommend staying in the lower part of the city. This is the newer less touristy bit, and is also the area that has a lot of clubs, and bars.
In the upper town there are lots of bars but these tend to be way more touristy. That’s not to say they aren’t worth visiting, because you can still get some pretty good drinks, and drink deals.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for nature lovers?
Bergamo is a great city to visit if you love nature. For starters, there are several parks located in the city that are perfect for exploring. It’s also located at the foot of the Italian alps which means that nature is never too far away.
If you do want to experience nature properly you will need to leave the city. Some of the best spots closest to the city are Lake Endine, which is 20 miles northeast of Bergamo. Here you can fish, swim, and even rent a boat. You also have the Barbellino Lakes, and the Orobic Alps which have lots of valleys, peaks, and trails you can explore.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for history buffs?
Bergamo is a fantastic place to visit if you are a history lover. The city itself is a history lovers dream, particularly in the Città Alta. A quick walk along the narrow streets is enough to make you feel like you have gone back in time.
It’s not just the buildings and old squares that tell tales of life long ago, even the city walls remind visitors of the cities Venetian past. There are also several museums, churches, and attractions that will teach you all about the cities fascinating past.
Is Bergamo worth visiting for culture lovers?
Considering Bergamo is the 2023 (alongside Brescia) Italian capital of culture, it is probably fair to say that Bergamo is a great place to visit for culture lovers. There is a lot to see here. In the lower part of the city you have an Opera House, and several galleries, whilst in the upper part of the city you have churches, museums, and so much more.
Is Bergamo worth visiting in the summer?
If you are planning to visit Italy in summer you might be wondering if Bergamo is worth it. Bergamo kind of feels like once of those places that you can visit year round.
Summer is of course peak tourist season, with temperatures reaching around the 30°C (86°F) mark. It’s a popular time for tourists wanting to embrace the hot weather and outdoor lifestyle.
If you are visiting in the summer months, you pack loose clothing and protection from the sun. Also book accommodation and restaurants in advance.
Is Bergamo worth visiting in the winter?
Winter in Bergamo is much quieter than the summer months. You get a lot less tourists which isn’t a bad thing.
Winter in Bergamo is quite cold. You are looking at temperatures that range between -1°C (30°F) and 9°C (48.2°F). Snow is common although on the plus side rain isn’t.
Bergamo is a great gateway to the Italian alps so if you are wanting to ski you are in luck.
Ultimately if you dress appropriately, and don’t mind the cold winter is a pretty good time to visit Bergamo. You won’t have to line up for ages to get into tourist attractions, accommodation is cheaper, and you have your pick of the restaurants and bars.
What to pack when visiting Bergamo?
What you pack for your trip to Bergamo will largely depend on the season you are visiting. But here. are some must have items.
- Comfortable walking shoes – Bergamo is hilly and has lots of cobbled streets so bring decent shoes.
- A good winter coat for the colder months.
- Layered clothing in the summer months – it can get cool at night.
- Portable phone charger because you will honestly take that many pictures that your phone won’t last the day.
What should I know before visiting Bergamo?
Here are some final tips for visiting Bergamo.
- Take the bus from the airport – it’s cheap and efficient.
- Book any restaurants you desperately want to try in advance.
- If you are doing a short trip have a bit of a plan as to what you want to see so you aren’t backtracking on yourself.
- Bring decent shoes and comfy clothes because you will do a lot of walking.
- If you want to experience the nightlife book accommodation in the lower town.
- But if you want to be close to the sights then go for the upper town.
So Is Bergamo worth visiting?
So you have made it to the end of this article and by now you should have an answer to the question is Bergamo worth visiting. And we hope that answer is a resounding yes. We knew nothing about Bergamo before visiting, but discovered some incredibly cheap flights with Ryanair. Not knowing what to expect we arrived in this magical city, that is just beautiful.
Visiting Bergamo is like being in a fairy tale. And if you are after a relatively cheap break full of culture, nature, and great food, you really should visit Bergamo.
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