Located at the base of the beautiful Italian Alps is a city called Bergamo. This town is not well known, especially compared to its more popular neighbors like Lake Garda, Venice and Milan, but if you take the chance and visit Bergamo you will realize that it is quite a spectacular place. This small and charming city deserves much more recognition than it gets. It is home to some beautiful medieval streets filled with history and personality, and you will find many tourist attractions and historic monuments that make it worth a trip.
If you get the opportunity to see Bergamo, even if it is just for a few days, you are sure to have an unforgettable trip. A bonus of visiting this city is that you don't have to spend a lot to have a good time. In fact, there are many things that you can do that won't cost you any money at all. It will be worth it to find a suitcase storage locker in Bergamo to keep your bags safe while you are out exploring the city. For little expense, you'll know your belongings are in good hands wherever you venture.
Admire the Capella Colleoni Chapel
One of the gems of Bergamo is the Colleoni Chapel. It is the perfect example of Renaissance architecture, so if you are a fan of that time period you will love to stop by and admire the beauty of the structure. Near Bergamo Train Station, the chapel received its name from Bartolomeo Colleoni of Amadeo since its original purpose was to be a funeral chapel for him.
Bartolomeo Colleoni was actually a great captain of Bergamo and this chapel was built in dedication to him. The building houses a monument, tomb and a golden sarcophagus and the interior of the church is quite the masterpiece.
Go to the Castello di San Vigilio
One of the best free things to do in Bergamo is to explore the park of Castello di San Vigilio where you can begin your day with nice views of the surrounding landscape and countryside. On top of the hill, you will find the remains of an old castle which displays the rich history of Bergamo.
The fortress was strategically built up high to serve as a lookout and defense against enemies long ago. Some evidence claims that the building could have been constructed as early as the 6th century although it has been rebuilt several times over the years. Come by and see the castle anytime since it is open to the public for free.
Visit the Museo di Scienza Naturali
The Museo di Scienza Naturali, or Natural Science Museum, is an old establishment but still a fantastic place to stop by while visiting Bergamo. You will usually have to buy a pass from the ticket office but if you are here during Science Week then entrance to the museum is absolutely free. Visitors under the age of 18 can get in at no charge all of the time.
The exhibits and displays are full of information and it is an interesting place for the whole family to visit. You can learn a lot about the different animal species and creatures found around Northern Italy and it is also in the same building as the Civic Archeological Museum. This is a great activity for a rainy day when you don't want to be outside.
See the Amazing Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Bergamo, Italy is home to many beautiful monuments and architectural wonders, and one of the best is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. It is located in the Piazza del Duomo which is one of the main squares in the city and is also worth checking out on its own. The cathedral was built at the end of the 12th century following a Romanesque style.
The outside view from Piazza Duomo is decorated with a beautiful Greek cross and three naves but the inside is even more impressive. The interior was rebuilt sometime in the 17th century and now has parts with a baroque style. A unique thing about this old church is that there is no central entrance; instead, there is one on each side. The domed interior houses some beautiful artworks by artists like Giovanni da Campione.
Walk Around the Piazza Matteotti
Piazza Matteotti is another nice square located in the city centre of Bergamo. It has a nice courtyard with outdoor seating and a pristine greenspace that you can walk around. This beautiful park is a great place to take a stroll and just enjoy the atmosphere.
We recommend buying some traditional dishes or street food from a nearby restaurant or cafe and bringing them here to eat. You can have a fantastic meal in the picturesque park before heading out to do more sightseeing.
Catch Stunning Views Atop the Torre del Gombito
The Torre del Gombito, or Gombito Tower, is where you will find some of the best views in the entire city. The steps to the top are narrow so make sure to watch your footing, but if you manage to climb to the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the area below you.
The tower is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is an important part of the old city. Make sure to bring your camera since you will want to capture some shots of the Lombardy region below you.
Find the Chiesa di San Michele al Pozzo Bianco
This is one of the city's smaller churches that you might miss if you don't know that it is there, but if you take the time to stop by you will feel as though you are transported back into the Middle Ages. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes and paintings by Lorenzo Lotto and some of the pieces found here include "Scenes of Mary's Life" as well as "Annunciation".
While you are here you should take time to journey into the crypt. It is the oldest crypt in all of Bergamo and one of the city's many historic structures. The Chiesa di San Michele al Pozzo Bianco is located in the central area of the old town and admission is free.
Walk Around the Orto Botanico di Bergamo Lorenzo Rota
These stunning botanical gardens are the perfect place to take a walk around Bergamo. These beautiful gardens are not very big and won't take up much of your afternoon so it is a great activity to do between sightseeing or right before dinner. The way that the gardens are designed allows you to get up close to really admire the plants.
There are several paths for you to follow and if you take your time it can be quite a nice place to go for a romantic date. If you bring some snacks you can make it into a picnic spot since there are a couple of benches and seating areas.
Visit the Cattedrale di Bergamo E Battistero
This cathedral is situated just a short walk away from the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore so if you have enough time to visit both it is highly recommended. The white marble building is pretty but might not look like much from the exterior as it disappears into the other buildings next to it, but once you step through its grand doors you will be amazed.
On the inside, you will find some stunning baroque frescoes and if you have a passion for architecture or art you will absolutely love it here. There are some must-see artworks by Giovanni da Campione which depict the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary and they are amazing to see in person.
Stroll Through La Citta Alta
Bergamo's Citta Alta is the historic old town and a truly wonderful place to visit. This part of the city is filled with historical buildings and charming cobblestone streets that make for a great place to just walk around.
There are some nice cafes and bars where you can grab a drink if you want to, or just explore the area for free. Here you can experience the history of Bergamo, Italy by just strolling around, and it is easy to reach from the upper city using the bus or train station (see our guide to getting around Bergamo). Even if you don't have much time or are in Bergamo for a day trip this is somewhere that you should make time to stop by.
Visit the Beautiful Piazza Vecchia
The Piazza Vecchia is the main square of the Bergamo old town mentioned above and is located right in the heart of the city. It can be the perfect spot for you to take a break and relax while enjoying the historic environment of old Bergamo.
This is an authentic old town square and a great spot for taking pictures or meeting up with friends. In the past, it was the centre of the city's political power and in the middle of the square, you will find the gorgeous Contarini Fountain which was built back in 1780. It is a popular spot to visit so you will find lots of tourists frequenting the area.
See the Incredible Mura Venete
The Mura Venete, also known as the Venetian Walls, is a must-see for anyone who is traveling to Bergamo. This is a fabulous place to enjoy nature and fresh air while learning a bit about the city. The walls are decorated with park benches that you can sit on while admiring the panoramic views of the modern city and surrounding hills below.
The walls and city gates extend for a total of 6 kilometers and were once the main defense of the old upper city of Bergamo, Italy. They are surprisingly well preserved considering that they date way back to 1561 which is when the construction began. The area has some lovely walking paths that take you around the perimeter of the walls and past some nice old buildings in the Citta Alta.
Climb the Torre dei Caduti
The Torre dei Caduti should absolutely make your list of things to do in Bergamo. It is one of the main landmarks and has quite an interesting history. The tower was built hundreds of years ago and the lower part of it was set to be reconstructed back in the late 19th century, although progress was halted during World War I.
It was during this time that the tower earned its purpose as a monument to all of the fallen soldiers during the war as opposed to a purely decorative structure like it was before. The tower is constructed from sandstone and was built by the well known architect named Marcello Piacentini. Inside you will find a museum explaining its history and facts about the war as well as a 360 degree viewpoint and clocktower mechanism.
See the Ancient Porta San Giacomo
If you are already visiting the old city walls then you might pass by the Porta San Giacomo, but it is a spot that you should definitely stop and take the time to admire. It is one of the four city gates that you can go through to reach the Bergamo Alta and is a pretty impressive structure.
This Bergamo city gate offers fantastic views of the countryside and the modern part of the city below you. It is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bergamo.
Go to the Accademia Carrara
The Accademia Carrara is an art gallery in Bergamo that displays all sorts of artistic masterpieces. Exhibits change regularly and often feature some pretty popular artists so if you are an art enthusiast you should definitely stop by.
This art gallery usually has an entrance fee although it is very affordable. However, they do make exceptions and offer free entry to certain people. Anyone who is under the age of 18, is an art teacher, a member of the Amici della Carrara Association, has a Carrara Card, or is a journalist can all enter for free.
Visiting the Stunning City of Bergamo, Italy on a Budget
The fun part about Northern Italy's Bergamo is that it will feel like you are in two cities at once. The lower city is filled with neoclassical and modern buildings whereas the upper town is made of ancient roman roads and monuments. Everyone knows that traveling can get pricey, but you don't always need to spend a lot of money to see the best of a city and you can still have an amazing time in Bergamo while traveling on a budget. Whether you want to spend time exploring during the day or hope to see the sights after dark, there are many wallet-friendly activities!