Bergamo is a little town in the Lombardy region in northern Italy, located east of Milan and sitting at the foothills of the Bergamo Alps. The town, which dates back to 49 BC, was once the center of the Orobi Tribe and has since been ruled by different families and republics before eventually becoming an official part of the Italian kingdom in 1959.
While Bergamo is often passed up for European destinations nearby, particularly Milan and Lake Como, this hidden treasure has a rich history and culture that are definitely worth discovering. Its cobbled streets, medieval atmosphere, and ancient architecture are just some of the many reasons why you should add Bergamo to your list of places to visit while in northern Italy.
Luckily, visiting Bergamo is quite easy to do; the city has its own international airport – the Orio al Serio International Airport (also known as the Milan Bergamo Airport) – which is the third busiest airport in Italy and one of the primary gateways to the country’s northern region. Additionally, the Bergamo railway station is linked to major hubs around the region, including Milan, Cremona, Lecco and Treviglio. (Pro tip: If you’re only staying for a short while, you can store your bags at a Bergamo luggage locker located near the train station).
Bergamo is divided into two main sections, namely the older città alta (upper town) and the modern città bassa (lower town); the former is home to some of the city’s most notable landmarks while the latter is more contemporary and hosts residential and commercial buildings. Although it may seem like a chore to explore from one section to another, it is actually quite easy to move around this Italian city, thanks to Bergamo's efficient public transportation system. From trains and buses to taxis and car rentals, there’s no shortage of options for getting around Bergamo.
How to get around Bergamo by bus
One of the easiest and most efficient public transport options in the city is the public bus. Individuals who are looking to visit Bergamo from nearby cities (such as Milan or Turin) often take the bus, with the majority of bus lines offering routes to Bergamo. Within the city, the public transportation system, including the city buses, is operated by the Azienda Trasporti Bergamo (ATB). Be sure to make your way to the bus station for an easy way to get around Bergamo!
During the daytime, practically all major lines have buses running throughout the city every 10 minutes, which is extremely convenient for those on the go, shopping, dining on fabulous street food, or museum hopping. For tourists and visitors, the most important bus to remember is Line 1 A, which runs from the Bergamo Train Station and passes through the main street of the Città Bassa.
For visitors coming to the city via plane, Bergamo has an airport bus that operates every 20 minutes and travels to and from the Orio al Serio Airport to Città Alta, with a stop at the Bergamo bus station in between trips (although a few buses make their last stop at the station).
Bergamo bus tickets can easily be bought from various ticket offices and automated vending machines found all over the city. You can also buy tickets and check timetables online through the ATB website or the ATB mobile app.
How to get around Bergamo by train
Bergamo has its own railway station, which is located in Piazza Marconi in the Città Bassa and is connected to other train stations in cities like Milan, Brescia and Lecco. In fact, the Milan to Bergamo journey takes just about one hour while Lecco to Bergamo takes approximately 40 minutes. The city also has a light rail line, known as tram delle Valli or T1 Line, that connects Bergamo to the nearby town of Albino.
As far as traveling within the city goes, Bergamo does not have a subway or metro system unlike other big Italian cities. Instead, the city makes use of an ancient railway transportation system known as the funicular. One of the most unique characteristics of Bergamo, the funicular system has been in operation for over 120 years and is a major part of the city’s culture.
Just like the public bus, the city’s funicular network is managed by ATB and has two lines – the first line connects the Città Bassa (Lower Town) to the Città Alta (Upper Town) while the second one links the Città Alta with the Colle de San Vigilio. There are three coaches running through these two lines and are often seen moving all over the city and up and down the hills. The journey times between destinations take no more than 5 minutes, making it the most popular option for both locals and tourists.
The route passes by some key locations and prominent landmarks in Bergamo, including the historic Venetian Walls and the vibrant Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe. Not is only the funicular the most convenient transportation option, it is also somewhat of a rite of passage and one of the best ways to get panoramic views of Bergamo and the surrounding areas.
Funicular tickets range from single use to multiple day tickets and can be bought at the Lower Town station, at an onboard ticket machine and at the ATB Point. Another option is to buy the train tickets online from the ATB website or through the ATB mobile app.
How to get around Bergamo by taxi
Whether you plan to visit the upper city for the day, or the lower city is your final destination for accommodation, getting there will be a breeze. to Even though coaches and the funicular remain to be the most used mode of transportation in Bergamo, visitors also have the option to take a taxi when moving around the city. While it is naturally the more expensive choice, riding a taxi is an ideal option for travelers who are looking for more convenience and privacy or for those that need to get to their destination without making any stops.
Just like nearly everywhere else in Italy, there are plenty of radio controlled cabs that serve Bergamo and the surrounding areas. Passengers will find a range of well-marked taxi stands strategically placed in crowded areas, including the airport and near the station at Piazza Marconi.
Alternatively, there are numerous cab companies in the city that you can call if you are in need of a taxi or you can get your hotel to book one for you. There is a fixed starting rate which increases based on mileage and payments can be made either through cash or credit card.
How to get around Bergamo by car
Because Bergamo has impressive public transport system, driving a car during your stay is pretty much unnecessary, especially if you plan to stay for only a short while. However, you may want to consider renting your own car if you have plans to venture out of the city to explore the lovely countryside for excursions like hiking. Well-known destinations such as Lake Como and Valle Seriana are not too far from the city and are all within driving range from Bergamo.
You have the option to either hire a car upon arrival at the airport or from one of the many locations in the city center. Some of the most reputable car rental companies that operate in Bergamo include Europcar, Alamo, National and Hertz. You do not have to book in advance, although this is highly recommended to ensure that you get the best prices. Most companies accept both cash and credit card payments for the rental.
If you do plan to drive around the city, you need to be aware of the Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) within Bergamo. These appointed areas prohibit vehicle traffic during certain days of the week at certain times. For instance, vehicles are forbidden from operating within some sections of the Upper Town during the weekends. You can check out the ATB Mobile App to find out which sections of the city fall under ZTL during your stay.
You'll find a number of parking spaces in Bergamo, which are situated along the city’s main access routes. Use of the carpark is absolutely free, although it is unattended so there is some risk to leaving your rental car for an extended period of time.
How to get around Bergamo by bicycle
Bicycles are one of the most fun and eco-friendly ways to explore any place and Bergamo is no exception. The city is made for cycling; in fact, it is actually the preferred option by locals and is highly encouraged for tourists who plan to move around the city. Additionally, going around on a bicycle allows you to bypass traffic and enables you to pass by the restricted ZTL areas.
The Municipality of Bergamo offers its own bike sharing service, known as La BiGi, that allows for easy and hassle-free bike rental all over the city. The service has recently undergone a major upgrade in its services and offers due to its partnership with Nextbike, Europe’s leading bike sharing service provider.
From 23 active bike stations across Bergamo, there are now 60 stations painted in yellow where users can pick up or drop off their rented bikes. Just like the stations, the bicycles themselves are instantly recognizable because of their bright yellow color. Each bike is equipped with GPS technology, gears and innovative locking systems that enable users to leave their bikes in virtually any station.
Using the La BiGi service is pretty straightforward. All the users have to do is head to the nearest bike station, download the Nextbike mobile app and scan the QR code or enter the number found on the bike. After the bike has been registered on the app, the wheel will be unlocked and is now available for use. Once you are done using the bike, you simply head over to any station, pay your rental fee and deposit your bicycle there.
The rates depend on the length of use and can be as short as 30 minutes or up to monthly and yearly subscriptions. For tourists and short-term visitors, it is recommended to avail of the basic rate, which is charged per hour of use. If you cannot find a station near where you are, you can contact La BiGi and they can deliver the bike to your location free of charge.
Can I get around Bergamo by foot?
While the public transportation in Bergamo is efficient, the town is compact enough that it can be comfortably explored by foot. As a matter of fact, this is highly recommended because of the presence of the Limited Traffic Zones, where only cyclists and pedestrians can access.
Exploring the Upper Town on foot is the best way to take in all the historical buildings and notable attractions in the area, including the Piazza Vecchia, the Santa Maria Maggiore, the Duomo di Bergamo (Bergamo’s Cathedral), the Torre Civica and the Accademia Carrara. To get an in-depth knowledge of the area's history, you may opt to join a walking tour of the Citta Alta.
Note, however, that the walk from Citta Alta to Citta Bassa can be challenging and tiring because of the steep and winding streets in between. In this case, you can simply walk to the funicular station and make your way to the other side of town via railway.
How accessible is public transport in Bergamo?
Persons with disabilities and travelers with accessibility needs will be glad to know that public transportation in Bergamo has plenty of accessible features. All of the public vehicles featured lowered floors and a platform that can be lowered and raised for wheelchair users. All city stops also have accessibility features such as sidewalk platforms and wheelchair ramps.
Two funiculars are also outfitted with a platform stair lift technology, which allows wheelchair users access to the cabins. The funicular stations also feature tactile-plantar paths as well as braille maps for those with visual impairments. For travelers with support animals, guide dogs and rescue dogs are allowed to travel with their owners for free, regardless of their size.