One Day in Bergamo: the BEST Things to Do (2022)

Bergamo is full of history, good food, lovely people, chill vibes and much overlooked when travelling to Italy, so make sure that at least you don’t miss out on this urban gem.

Bergamo - From top of the hill where the old city is

Where to stay: we stayed at the Green Bed Bergamo, which is 5 min. away from the Central station. It is a guest house with the nicest owner you can encounter. He gave us lots of recommendations (that all proved amazing) on where to go for food and what to visit and we can heartily recommend the stay there. For one room with a private bathroom we paid only €50 per night.

How to get around: Subways and walking will work for Bergamo given that you don’t mind hilly walks. Due to the many cobbled streets it’s best to take good sneakers with you.

How to get there: both Bergamo and Milan have an airport. The Malpensa airport in Milan is a 90 min. train journey away from Bergamo. Compare your flight options on Skyscanner.

How long to stay: we decided to stay for 6 days in the Lombardy region in order to visit Lake Como, Milan, Bergamo and Lugano. However, if you only plan to explore Bergamo then 1 day should be enough to cover everything.

Arriving in Bergamo
Call me by your name
Bergamo old city square

Because of its close proximity to Como, it is definitely worth visiting Bergamo. The same applies if you are a fan of the movie “Call me by your name” since parts of it were filmed here. If you want to visit the film locations you should head to Via Gombito 22, which is the place where Elio and Oliver stayed in (today the hotel is no longer operating) and to Piazza Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, where Oliver danced with an Italian woman while Elio, having consumed too much alcohol, threw up.

Lunch at Charlot
Local food at Charlot in Bergamo with girl wearing "The Smiths" shirt

For lunch we headed to Charlot which was just down the street of our hostel. For merely €8 you can choose a main course out of three given options, a side dish and a drink (water, beer or wine). You will see no tourists at Charlot, only Italians grabbing some food in their lunch break, which makes the whole experience very authentic. The staff was amazingly welcoming serving us complementary coffees after our meal! Charlot has won several prizes for making Italy’s best pizzas and tasting their bread sticks (made out of their famous pizza dough), we have no trouble believing it.

Citta Alta
Bergamo Citta Alta

The old town of Bergamo is a 15 min. walk away from the Central station. It is surrounded by the 16th-century Venetian Walls. You will enter Citta Alta through the Porta San Giacomo, a white marble gate and stone viaduct preserved from the ruined city wall. Bergamo feared an attack from Milan and built the wall as a defense. When you walk further ahead along the south side of the Citta Alta, you will get panoramic views of Bergamo and will even be able to see the skyline of Milan. Walk up to the Mura Veneta, another 16th century defense wall, to enter Citta Alta.

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Cappella Colleoni
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and Cappella Colleoni

One of the highlights of Bergamo is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, a Romanesque marble church with the most beautiful interior tapestries and the Cappella Colleoni, a 15th-century funerary chapel. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the chapel and that it is closed in the afternoon.

Gelateria Carmen at Piazza Vecchia
Gelateria Carmen at Piazza Vecchia

The ultimate best gelato in Bergamo you can get at Gelateria Carmen. We can recommend the flavors salted pistachio and yogurt, but the gelateria keeps changing their menu so no matter when you come to Bergamo you will always get to try something new and how amazing is that?! We also recommend you to enjoy your gelato sitting on the steps of Piazza Vecchia, the core of Città Alta and a popular place for Bergamo’s citizens to spend some time with friends. You can admire the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione, the oldest municipal seat in Lombardy, as well as the Torre Civica, the bell tower of Bergamo.

Dinner at PolentOne
Mushroom and Meat Polenta at PolentOne in Bergamo

Polenta is cornflour and the people in Lombardy have a talent in crafting amazing dishes out of it. So as the last part of our trip we headed to PolentOne, a streetfood joint serving polenta topped with different things. It is very popular among students, not only because it’s tasty but also because of the affordable price and generous servings. We tried the porcini mushroom version and a meaty version and can recommend the meaty version over the vegetarian one.

If you are interested in combining your visit with a holiday to Lake Como please check out our 3 to 6-day itinerary to Lake Como Region.