Bergamo (mountain home) is a small and charming city in Northern Italy. It is often overlooked for the more famous neighboring cities like Milan and one of the most popular destinations in Italy, Lake Como. But this little town sitting on top of a mountain has a lot to offer visitors.
From museums, churches, and historical buildings, to a distinct upper city (Città Alta) and lower city (Città Bassa), Bergamo will have you in awe from the moment you set your foot on it. Moreover, the Venetian walls surrounding the city are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Before 50BC, Bergamo was home to the Celts, but it was later invaded by the Romans and Atila the Hun. While the ancient and diverse architecture is the highlight, Bergamo boasts wonderful landscapes set in the southern foothills of the Alps.
A day trip to Bergamo from Milan is a must, but if you have 3 days on your agenda to explore Bergamo, even better. There are tons of things to do and see here, so make the most out of your stay. This 3-days-in-Bergamo itinerary covers almost everything worth visiting in Bergamo. Keep it handy when you arrive!
But first things first, make sure to find a Bergamo luggage storage location where you can store all the bags you can't carry with you when out and about in the city.
Bergamo itinerary - Day 1
Morning: Tour around Città Alta
The most visited area in Bergamo is Citta Alta (Upper Town). It is the first thing to visit when you arrive in Bergamo. Sitting on top of the hill, Città Alta boasts a medieval atmosphere and numerous plazas, historical buildings, fountains, and churches that will take you an entire morning to explore (more if you take your time).
Getting to Città Alta from the Bergamo centre can be done in a few ways. The bus from Bergamo Station to Citta Alta costs about $8 and takes just 6 minutes. But the best way is to get the funicular from the city centre for around $1.30 and enjoy spectacular views of the Po plain and the Apennines.
Piazza Vecchia is the central square of the upper town. In the middle sits the Palazzo della Ragione, a municipal building dating back to the 12th century. Nearby is the marble Fontana Contarini (Contarini Fountain), built in 1780.
Palazzo Nuovo is to the north of the square and is home to the Angelo Mai Library. The construction started in the early 17th century, and it was completed in 1958 with the final ornamental elements on the facade.
Nearby is the Palazzo del Podestà, the residence of the Suardi family built in the 12th century. Today, the palace is home to the city’s town hall and the Museo del Cinquecento (Museum of the Sixteenth Century).
Being the favorite meeting place of the locals, the upper city offers a plethora of restaurants and cafes. Before you continue your tour around Citta Alta, make a stop at Bugan Cofee Lab for a cup of Italian specialty coffee and freshly bakes pastries. It is open every day from 8 am except for Sundays when it's closed.
Afternoon: Climb on the Torre Civica
Continuing your walk, you will come across Torre Civica (Civic Tower), the tallest tower in the centre of Piazza Vecchia. The medieval bell tower is often referred to as the Campanone Tower. Built for the Suardi family, the tower is today part of the Museo delle Storie di Bergamo (Bergamo History Museum).
A climb up the 174 feet tower may be too much for some, but once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with the most amazing views of Bergamo. There are 230 steps to climb to the top, but for those who can't or don't feel like climbing, there is a lift. The tower houses the largest bell in the entire Lombardy region and is rung a hundred times every night at 10 pm. You don't want to be anywhere near it at that time.
Near Torre Civica there are other points of interest like the Cattedrale di Sant' Alessandro Martire or Duomo di Bergamo (Bergamo cathedral) on Piazza Duomo. The landmark is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of the city which is a must-visit while in Citta Alta. A few other historical landmarks in the surrounding area include the State High School Paolo Sarpi, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Santa Maria), an 1137 church with a gilded baroque interior, the fortress Piatta Forma di Sant' Andrea, and many more along with numerous museums which you will get the chance to explore on your second day.
Night: Fun in escape rooms
When the sun goes down, Bergamo offers tons of fun things to do. Whether you are traveling with family, friends, or solo, the escape rooms in Bergamo are an excellent way to start your evening, especially if you are a thrill seeker. There are a few escape rooms in Bergamo and all have different themes.
Some of the best are Cronos Escape rooms, Try To Escape, and SF Academy. Most are open until past midnight and the IN TIME Escape Room Bergamo is open 24 hours. From Harry Potter magical mysteries and James Bond action hunt to tons of tests and puzzles, a few hours in an escape room will be great fun for everyone.
Bergamo itinerary - Day 2
Morning: Museum hopping in Città Alta
Bergamo is known for its rich culture and art, and its museums are an inevitable part of any visit. Most museums are located in the high city, surrounded by stone walls and narrow streets so it's best to start your museum hopping here. The first one to visit is the Cittadella Viscontea, a defensive structure built by the Visconti family in the 14th century.
In the same square, Piazza della Cittadella, you will find the Museo di Scienze Naturali (Civic Museum of Natural Sciences) on Piazza della Cittadella, a museum of fossils and other animal exhibits. Before you continue your way down to Donizetti Museum, stop by Pasticceria Caffetteria Cavour for some freshly baked pastries and desserts and a large cup of espresso.
Donizetti Museum is dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti, an Italian composer born in Bergamo, who lived and composed over 70 operas in the 19th century. Right next to Bergamo Cathedral on Piazza Duomo is the Museo del Tesoro della Cattedrale, displaying excavated remains and religious artifacts of an ancient cathedral.
Continue your walk to the east of the old city and you will find the Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni or the Art Museum housed in a 17th-century palace boasting stunning Baroque-style architecture. To the north is Rocca di Bergamo a local history museum and a medieval fortress from which you can enjoy amazing panoramic views. Finish your museum hopping with the Convento di San Francesco which is home to the Museum of 20th-century photography (Museo della fotografia Sestini).
Check with the opening times prior to getting to a museum. The entrance to some of the Bergamo museums is free and others are no more than $5 per entry ticket.
Afternoon: Climb to the Castello di San Vigilio
On top of San Vigilio hill is the Castello di San Vigilio (San Vigilio Castle), an important strategic place in the Lombardy region. Sitting at over 1,600 feet above sea level, the San Vigilio castle dates back to the sixth century and was home to many rulers.
The hard-to-invade stronghold still has structures that stand tall today, including the four towers, the battlements, and the walkways. The castle was opened to the public in 1962, with a funicular being restored in 1991. Explore the park on your own or book a guided tour that will take you through the secret passage that connects the San Marco fort with the castle.
At the top of the hill, you get to enjoy gorgeous landscapes and amazing views of Bergamo and the region. When you have worked up an appetite, stop by the Baretto Restaurant for tasty local dishes and wines where you can sit on a terrace overlooking the city.
Night: Beer tour
The evening is reserved for chilling and there is no better way to do that than a beer, food or wine tour. Though famous for its wines, Bergamo, Italy has some of the top craft beer breweries in Italy and the best rated beers. You will find many independent breweries and restaurants brewing their own unique recipes.
There are even two beer festivals in Bergamo, Italy: The Orobie Beer Festival and BeerGhem which take place in June, so make sure to show up if you are there at that time. You can enjoy craft beer, great food and live music at most pubs, breweries and restaurants like Beer Garage, Elav Kitchen & Beer, Beerghem pub & bistro and DeGusto among many others.
You can either book a guided tour or discover these places on a leisurely walk around Bergamo. The guided walking tours take about 3 to 4 hours and you get to see historical places and sample beer, wine, and local delicacies at many eateries.
Bergamo itinerary - Day 3
Morning: Visiting churches
The last day of your trip to Bergamo, Italy doesn't have to be stressful. If you didn't have the time to see the beautiful churches of the city, now is the best time. Early morning the crowds are not large so you will be able to explore at your own pace.
Start your morning with pizza, quiche, croissant, or tiramisu and a cup of cappuccino at the Molino bakery bar & cucina. The place opens at 7 am every morning, and is only within a 2-minute walk from Basilica of Santa Maria, which is the first church on your list. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria maggiore is one of the most important churches in Bergamo, with an impressive Gothic interior from the 17th century.
Right next to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is Colleoni Chapel (Cappella Colleoni), a much smaller church but one of the most beautiful buildings in Bergamo, Italy. The Colleoni chapel was built in the 15th century as the personal shrine for Bartolomeo Colleoni, an Italian Condottiero who later became captain-general of the Republic of Venice. Inside the chapel is the tomb of Bartolomeo Colleoni and his beloved daughter Medea. Boasting Italian Renaissance architecture with beautiful black, white and red marble on the facade, this impressive artwork of a chapel is worth making a stop and taking a few photos of.
Another church within the fortified walls of the old city is Duomo di Bergamo. Located on Piazza Duomo in the heart of the old town, the Cathedral is a popular attraction boasting a neoclassical facade and impressive artworks on the inside such as frescoes, crypts, altars, and stunning domes.
Afternoon: Trip to Milan
Bergamo is located only 31.6 miles from Milan, the most fashionable Italian city, and makes for an excellent day trip. Whether you want to go shopping or do some sightseeing, you will have plenty of time since it's only a short train ride away from Bergamo Train Station. You can also take the bus, but the train will take you right into the city centre of Milan.
Take your time to see the famous Duomo di Milano or watch the world go by at Camparino Galleria housed in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Do your shopping in the Galleria while you are there, or spend your money at the CityLife Shopping District.
Night: Relaxing in San Pellegrino thermal baths
Your trip is over, so you can either stay in a bar and chill with some wine or do something completely different, like relaxing in a thermal bath. Italy is known for its natural hot springs, and the nearest to Bergamo (in just a thirty minutes drive) is the San Pelegrino thermal baths.
Once the hotspot for the rich and famous before World War I, San Pelegrino baths today are not as popular but still make for a wonderful spa evening where you can relax, get a massage, and make plans for your next adventure. The doors close at 11 pm, so there is plenty of time to revitalize.
3 days in Bergamo
There are many reasons why you should visit Bergamo, Italy today. From the fortified city walls surrounding the old town, Citta Alta, Piazza Vecchia, and its historical landmarks, to the more modern part of the city Città Bassa and a trip to nearby Milan, the stunning city of Bergamo will definitely make you come back for more.
Still planning your visit to Bergamo? Check out these guides for more ideas!