Bergamo is a pretty town of some 120,000 people nestling in the foothills of the Alps. Widely acclaimed as a city of rare beauty, Bergamo is famous for its wealth of artistic treasures and enchanting medieval atmosphere. It is a real life tale of two cities: “Città Bassa”, the busy and modern lower city, and "Città Alta", the upper city with its rich heritage of art and history.
Bergamo is the location of the Orio al Serio International Airport (IATA: BGY) (Phone number: +39035326323), an airport oriented around low-cost airlines (Discount_airlines_in_Europe). ATB no.1 bus to the city are €2.10 per trip, €5.00 for 24h ticket and €7.00 for a 3 days ticket. There is a ticket machine at the bus stop or you can buy the tickets at Tourist Information Point office . You can find schedules and route maps on the site of ATB  the local mass transit authority.
Cabs will take about 15 min but are quite expensive given the length of the journey - cost around €15 (€21 after 21:00 in the evening).
Note that buses can be both unreliable and not punctual. You'd better take the no.1 city bus 30 or 45 minutes before the time you actually have to be at the airport.
Milan is about 50 minutes away by train. There is no train station at the airport in Bergamo. The 1-airport bus to Bergamo city, taking around 20 minutes, leaves you just in front of the train station. From Bergamo city regular trains to Milan, Lecco and Brescia, on to Verona and Venice. You can check schedules and fares on the website of the Italian Railways . There is no left luggage office at the train station but you can leave your bags just 50 metres outside in the automatic left luggage behind Urban Center (Tourist Information Point) and behind McDonald's . Alternatively, you can leave them in the airport, but it's rather slow and works just in the daytime. If you are at the airport and your destination is Milan or Venice, just take one of the regular coaches. However be warned that the autostrada connecting Bergamo and Milan carries a lot of trucks and gets easily congested - do not therefore rely on the 'stated' journey time especially on weekdays. An alternative is to take the bus into Bergamo (see above) and take the train.
Regular buses to Milan. You can check schedules and fares on the website of Autostradale . The trip takes approximately one hour, depending on traffic conditions. The bus stop in Bergamo is located near the train station and there is a counter where inquiries can be made.
Here you can found a very interesting service: a Mini Electric car and Electric Bicycle rental that permit to visit the upper town without limitation of traffic circulation and pollution rules. Renting a car is possible for just €5 per hour or €39 a day.
The town is not large, and most of the sights can be seen comfortably on foot. To get from the Città Bassa up to the Città Alta can be quite tiring on foot, though, due to the steep and winding streets, but there is a funicolare (or cable railway) linking the two parts of the town. You can see a map of bus routes, schedules and fares on the website of the local mass transit authority  (in Italian). The ticket that you purchase for the funicular is valid for 75 minutes and you can reuse the same ticket for travel on the network, including the funicular to San Vigilio. Walking from the train station to the Città Alta funicular station is pleasant and takes about 20-30 minutes. You can also walk from Città Alta to San Vigilio instead of taking the funicular, which will afford you great views of the surrounding areas, as well as the quaint narrow streets and houses along the way.
Bergamo Card is the first city card in Bergamo. Includes all the travel you need: airport bus, the easiest direct and low-price link between Bergamo and Caravaggio Airport at Orio al Serio that takes just 15 minutes, and unlimited travel on ATB buses, trams and funicular railways, free entry to the leading museums in the city and local area, discounts on entry to events and temporary exhibitions and excellent discounts on food and shopping with members of the scheme. Available in three versions: validity 24h at €10; 48h at €15 and 72h at €20.
The Piazza Vecchia - the heart of the old town, displaying a mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Piazza Vecchia is the genuine heart of the city. Its beauty and the balanced proportion of volumes and lines that make it unforgettable are not the result of the genius of some architect, but are due to its shaping by generations of Bergamask people, in a succession of art and history. Your eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful white marble Contarini fountain in the centre, and the alignment of the buildings along the two sides directs your sight towards Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason) at the end of the square. The facade of this twelfth century building is dominated by the symbolic lion of Venice, a reminder of the centuries of historic, cultural and economic relations between the two cities. Standing tall in a corner is the Civic Tower, known also as the “Campanone”, or big bell, a landmark infused with civic meaning, as demonstrated by the 180 times the large bell tolls each evening to mark the ancient curfew. This square was the seat of political and administrative power until the nineteenth century, and is overlooked by Palazzo del Podestà, the residence of Venetian rulers, and the Town Hall, which can be identified by its impressive marble façade and which today houses the Civic Library.
The church of Santa Maria Maggiore With its rich historical and artistic heritage the Basilica is the most important building in the city, and it was once held in such esteem that it was known as the “Chapel of the city”. When it was decided to build the church, partly to fulfil a vow made during an outbreak of the Black Death, the people of Bergamo chose a centrally located and easily accessed position on the site of the small church of Santa Maria. Work began in 1137 according to the project of a little-known “Master Frido”, whose effigy it is thought is represented by the bust of a bearded man which appears above the apse. The church, once used for baptisms, also served as a hall for civic assemblies. Towards the middle of the fourteenth century, Giovanni da Campione was given the task of building a monumental portal on the north side. He designed a porch supported by red marble lions, completed by a three-sided loggia featuring a statue of St. Alexander on horseback, to which a cusped tabernacle was added at the end of the century. The south porch is instead supported by white marble lions. The magnificent Romanesque interior was later transformed by sumptuous Baroque decorations.
The Colleoni Chapel (Cappella Colleoni) - The Colleoni Chapel (as the mausoleum is called today), built between 1471 and 1475, is a real gem which, although erected in rather a cramped location, delights and charms with its refined interplay of polychrome marble and façade decorations. With references to his life and personal features, the visitor is invited to discover the glory of Bartolomeo Colleoni. The interior is dominated by an equestrian statue of the condottiere atop two sarcophagi, one above the other. Bartolomeo Colleoni holds a baton of command, the original of which lies alongside his body in the tomb. The magnificence of Amadeo’s sculptures and the frescoes by Giovan Battista Tiepolo should not distract attention from the very beautiful tomb of his daughter Medea, on the left wall, who accompanies her celebrated father in his eternal sleep.
The Campanone It takes only thirty seconds to admire one of the most unusual views in Bergamo. This is in fact the time that the new lift in the Civic Tower in Piazza Vecchia, in the heart of Upper Bergamo, takes to complete the thirty-metre ride to the top. The lift is made entirely of glass, as are the walls inside which it travels. As you are transported up between the age-old walls, you feel like you are taking a journey through history, a journey that ends with a spectacular view over the roofs and monuments of the old city. The tower, which has an overall height of 53 metres, dates back to the thirteenth century when it was built by the powerful Suardi family. It then passed to the Municipality of Bergamo and became known as the Civic Tower. The Bergamask people prefer to call it the Tower of the Campanone or simply, Campanone, because of its large bell which for centuries has cadenced the city’s history, tolling to call citizens’ meetings, gather the people together when a enemy was near, or to warn of a fire. The Campanone still rings 180 times each night, perpetuating at ancient custom when it tolled a 10 pm curfew, warning people that the gates were closing and giving them the chance to enter before they were locked for the night.
The Baptistery The building has very old origins and was erected in 1340 inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which at the time was a baptismal church. Beautiful fourteenth-century statues depicting the Virtues can be found in narrow niches on the sides of the octagonal building; inside there are exquisite marble basreliefs portraying episodes from the life of Jesus, and the baptismal font. Open only for baptisms.
The Rocca -  a walled stronghold which houses a museum. The nineteenth-century section of the Historical Museum of Bergamo has been set up, since May 7th, 2004, in a building inside the donjon of the Rocca, built under the Venetian Rule to accommodate the artillerymen. The exhibition is organized in sections and starts with the arrival of the French troops in Bergamo (Christmas 1796). It touches upon, until 1870, the most significant issues related to the events that occurred in the Bergamasque province with respect to Lombard or national history Italy. The goal of the project is to offer a view that is as complete as possible of the 1797-1870 period, through diversified languages and accounts. The exhibition includes reconstructions of settings, multimedia stations and movable explanatory sheets as well as material accounts taken from both museum collections and from collections belonging to city and provincial institutions or even to private citizens.
The Cittadella The Cittadella is what remains of a fortification built by the Visconti family when they imposed the rule on Bergamo.
Donizetti Theatre this theatre was named after the great composer on the occasion of celebrations commemorating the centenary of his birth in 1897. A romantic monument to Donizetti, surrounded by a pond and small garden, can be found alongside the theatre. The Donizetti Theatre hosts prestigious events such as the Bergamo Jazz Festival, the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival of Bergamo and the Gaetano Donizetti Music Festival of Bergamo.
Teatro Sociale (Theatre of Society)  in the spring of 2009, two centuries after its inauguration in 1808, the Teatro Sociale reopened to the public with a rich calendar of shows and performances by great artists after exemplary restoration work was carried out.
The Donizetti Museum (Museo Donizettiano),  Via Arena 9. Devoted to one of Bergamo's most famous sons, the composer Gaetano Donizetti. As a result of the opening of a new section of the museum devoted to musical instruments, the Museo Donizettiano now occupies two rooms of the fourteenth to sixteenth century building, property of the Misericordia Maggiore, known as “Palazzo della Misericordia”. The interior of the main reception room, dedicated to the life and work of Donizetti, is ornately decorated with neoclassical frescoes that date from 1802 which are the work of the painter Bonomini and his assistants. Paolo Vincenzo Bonomini (1756-1839), also known by the name of Borromini, is best known for the series of paintings entitled Danza Macabra in the church of S.Grata in Borgo Canale. The collection is still conserved in the apse of the church and is well worth a visit.
The Accademia Carrara, one of Northern Italy's most important collections of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque paintings.
GAMeC, the city's gallery of modern and contemporary art, which usually hosts several interesting exhibitions. GAMeC's Permanent Collection is made up of three main sections: the Spajani Collection, comprising about forty masterpieces of modern art (including works by Balla, Boccioni, de Chirico, Kandiskij and Morandi); the Manzù Collection, that the sculptor donated to the city of Bergamo - that includes sculptures, paintings, drawings and engravings - and the Stucchi Collection, made up of about twenty paintings that summon up the status of European art between the fifties and the sixties, with particular reference to the masters of Art Informel (including Burri, Faurtier and Hartung). In addition, the Museum holds paintings by master of the Thirties like Sironi and works by contemporary artists such as Alviani, Basilico, Beecroft, Catellan, Cucchi, Fabre, Man, Vitorne and Xhafa.
Museo Storico dell'Età Veneta - Il '500 interattivo offers a fascinating journey along the 16th Century between Bergamo and Venice. The testimonies of the past - paintings, manuscripts, maps and documents - they come to life and become multimedia sensory experience, in order to create a new way of telling history: a combination between knowledge, game, intellect and emotions.
Museo Bernareggi and Museo e tesoro della Cattedrale
Orto botanico Lorenzo Rota The Botanical Garden is a municipal organisation founded in 1972. The original setting presented innovative ideas as it endeavoured to reconstruct the natural habitat of the local flora, underlining its original name ‘Giardino Botanico Bergomense' and its reference to Lorenzo Rota (1855-1918), the first chronicler of the flora of the Province of Bergamo. Alpine species were particularly favoured, both chalk and acid types and for several years the Botanical Gardens were considered almost exclusively an alpine botanical gardens.
Ride the funicolare from the Città Bassa up to the Città Alta. Easier than walking, and the views on the way up are spectacular. At a time when there were no cars, travellers to Bergamo would be pleasantly surprised at the ease with which they could visit the city. On arriving by train, they would find a tram in the square outside the railway station to take them up the beautiful long avenue (Viale Vittorio Emanuele) to upper Bergamo. The tram would stop at the funicular station where a funicular car would be waiting to take them to the old city on the hill. Here, after visiting the main monuments and walking around the town, they could then take another funicular to the hill of San Vigilio and enjoy the breathtaking view across the infinite Po plain on one side, and the Orobie chain, in front of alpine peaks, on the other.
Visit San Vigilio - a small hilltop village that can be reached on foot or by a second funicolare from Città Alta. It offers walks with spectacular views, and a ruined castle. Entry into the castle is free, and is part of a public park. Climb all the way to the top of the castle for more views. «The blue distance»: this is how Hermann Hesse, Nobel Prize winner for literature and author of the unforgettable «The glass bead game», described the view that opened before him from the hill of San Vigilio. When he visited Bergamo in 1913, the great German writer followed the same itinerary as we describe here. Today, almost a century later, the route has changed very little. There are now only cars on the streets of the new city centre, which began developing a few years after his visit, but the two funicular railways are still running, although with more modern cars, and the ride up still has the same charm of discovery.
Walk down the quiet narrow streets of the old town.
Walk along the city walls for views across Lombardy. The scalette (flights of steps) are the remains of a dense network of medieval connections between the plain and the hill and the routes into the once numerous fields and vegetable plots. Among the most accessible are those that descend from Borgo Canale. There are dozens of stairways and alleyways that are carved into the sides of Bergamo hill and along the nearby hills, revealing a world that is both close to the city but remote at the same time.
Visit one of the several churches and art galleries.
Stroll in one of the pedestrian streets and enjoy shops and cafes.
Walk along Via XX Settembre that connects the Sentierone with Borgo San Leonardo, which many years ago was the heart of commerce and trade in the town and surrounding area. Today Via XX Settembre, together with Via Sant'Alessandro and Via Sant'Orsola, are pedestrianised and at the heart of the city's shopping area.
Ride a mountain bike  in the beautiful "Parco dei Colli"  just behind the old town. You will feel as you are riding in the mountains.
For snacks, a drink or simply the great view, Cafe Funicolare in the city Alta Funicolare station. For lunch or an evening meal try Da Franco Ristorante Pizzeria (Via Colleoni 8 Bergamo Alta, Tel: 035238565 - closed Mondays) or Da Mimmo - closed Tuesdays - both more than just a pizzeria.
Also worth a look is Il Sole, on the corner of Piazza Vecchia and Via Colleoni.
La Bruschetta, in the Citta Bassa, just off Porta Nuova is a good value restaurant/pizzeria in the cellar of a building and worth a mention.
Also in the Citta Bassa area La Ciotola is a good restaurant/pizzeria near the Mercure hotel.
For great ice cream try La Siesta on Via Sant'Alessandro.
Giopi e Margi, Via Borgo Palazzo (in the residential area just a short walk from city center), . Traditional restaurant serving lomabrdy cuisine is worth a visit if you fancy having an Italian meal not just pizza and pasta. Family run business is a well kept secret between locals.
Il Circolino, (right around the back of the Biblioteca Angelo Maj). Locals here play bocce and drink lanterna (a huge drink made of white wine and campari rosso).
Bobino, piazza della Liberta. 7.00am - 02.00am daily, except Sundays. is a cool bar/restaurant with a long wine & cocktail list (including Champagne).
Ristoranti dei Mille... saporti, . A selection of restaurants by the local Chamber of commerce offering a typical menu. Refer to the site to know dishes and prices.
Città Alta (Old Town)
Bergamo Charme B&B's, . A selection of B&B's in historical homes in Bergamo and its province. The quality mark is awarded by the Bergamo Chamber of commerce.
Città Bassa (New Town)
There are a number of good hotels in Citta Bassa - many on Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII (The main street from the station to the funicolare).
B&B Romeo and Juliet, Via Zambonate 47 (in the centre of town), ☎ 00393343841994, . checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Bed & Breakfast and residence with confortable double rooms or apartments for 2-4 people.
B&B Fragolino, Via Bartolomeo Bono 25 (near town center and main station), ☎ 0039-3349038874, . checkin: flexible. B&B/Hostel with great atmosphere, modern and comfortable rooms, courtyard, WiFi, flat screen and Playstation.
Mercure Palazzo Dolci.
Best Western Capello d'Oro.
Mercure Palazzo Dolci.
Excelsior San Marco Hotel. Great location offering a beautiful view of the Citta Alta from the breakfast terrace. Not exactly new, yet tons of character. Comfortable rooms, very clean, Wifi, flatscreen and a wide range of services. Great for business travel.
Hotel Jolly, Via G. Paleocapa.
Hotel Donizetti, Aldo Moro 28, Lallio. Donizetti Hotel is located near Bergamo, and access to the motorway linking Milan and surroundings
NH Bergamo, Via Paleocapa 1/G, ☎ +39 035 2271811, . Located in the modern area of the city, this hotel prides itself on its top quality services. The rooms are very modern yet comfortable with wifi and family rooms also available.From 90€.
Stezzano is a commune 8 km south of Bergamo. It is very easily reached both by train and by bus. The train takes approximately five minutes and Milan is also easily reachable.
Art e Hotel, Via Santuario 43, Stezzano (opposite the train station of Stezzano), ☎ 00390354379300, . checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Beautiful four star hotel at a price much lower than in the city centre. Modern rooms, television, mini-bar, leisure centre, spacious bathrooms
Grand Hotel del Parco, Via Galeno 8, Stezzano (close to Piazza Liberta' in Stezzano), ☎ 0039035591710, . checkin: noon; checkout: 11AM. Another quality four star hotel with prices lower than city accommodation. Good decor, well equipped rooms.
Other places of interest around Bergamo
The Bergamo area is in the foothills of the Alps, and has a handful of Ski resorts within a one-hour drive. Notable is the Brembana Valley which contains the resorts of Foppolo, Carona and San Simone.
Lake Iseo, one of the smallest and less touristy among the Northern Italian lakes. Go by bus from the Bergamo bus station (opposite the train station) to Tavernola . Then take a ferry to Montisola .
Sotto il Monte Papa Giovanni XXIII Another destination for pilgrims is Sotto il Monte, the birthplace of the great Pope John XXIII, who announced the Second Vatican Council and was known as the Good Pope. The main destinations in the town are: the farmstead of Angelo Roncalli’s modest family where he was born and grew up, the museum in Ca’ Maitino, where the future Pope liked to stay and where he returned for the last time on the eve of the Conclave that elected him Pope, as well as other places he would visit as a child. Most followers visit the nearby Abbey of Sant’Egidio, which is surrounded by countryside and was particularly dear to Pope John XXIII.
Stezzano At only 6 km from Bergamo, it is perfect for those who may want to visit Bergamo but stay in a more rural and peaceful setting. The town is well-equipped with nice cafes, two pizzerie, shops, two gelaterie and a bank.
San Pellegrino Terme The most important spa resort in the area, made famous by the sublime quality of its waters, is San Pellegrino Terme. Situated only 25 kilometres from Bergamo, in the midst of mountain scenery in the Brembana Valley, San Pellegrino became a fashionable and very popular resort during the unrepeatable Belle Époque period. Already by the early twentieth century, San Pellegrino Terme was equipped with buildings and services that amazed visitors and helped to spread its fame. The Casino complex dates back to 1904, and has a spectacular entrance, a monumental staircase and very beautiful rooms, including a ballroom. The Spa building alongside, surrounded by gardens, had rooms and porticos in which the abundance of marble, mosaics and splendid windows was accompanied by state-of-the-art spa facilities and services. The colossal Grand Hotel, built in 1905 and with a façade of some 128 metres, overlooks the River Brembo. The art nouveau style was associated with the taste and joy of living of a cosmopolitan society.Stories of luxury, queens and princes.A holiday destination for high society at the beginning of the twentieth century, San Pellegrino offered the best in comfort and luxury. Artists, politicians, entrepreneurs as well as princes and descendents of the various ruling houses came here from all over Europe. The visitors’ book of the Grand Hotel included some of the most grandiose names of the time, including Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was a guest at the beginning of the twentieth century, and later Queen Elena together with Prince Umberto and Princess Maria. The pretext for visiting was the health cures, but the main attraction was the good life, the entertainment and the gaming tables of the Casino. Amid parties, theatre performances, concerts, country walks, coffee and patisseries, the days of elegance and good living passed in a carefree manner. The Casino remained open until 1917, but was then closed, although it continued to be used for shows and performances. Excellent for combating kidney stones, liver and digestive conditions, the waters from the springs of San Pellegrino have been known since the Middle ages, but it was only in the eighteenth century that their therapeutic properties were recognised and exploited. Towards the end of the same century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, the town became a first-class thermal centre. The Great War marked a decline in the baths, but the excellent springs were developed further, and today Sanpellegrino bottled water can be found on tables throughout the world.
San Giovanni Bianco The feast day celebrated in San Giovanni Bianco in the Brembana Valley, on Passion Sunday, two weeks before Easter, is part of a very old religious tradition. The parish church houses the relic of the Sacred Thorn worn in 1495 by the knight Vistallo Pignoni in San Giovanni Bianco after the battle of Fornivo sul Taro, in which he took part. Each year a large crowd attends the festival, during which the relic is carried in a procession through the town. Bonfires are lit on the evening before the festival, a firework display is held, and thousand of candles are lit outside the houses.
Sant'Omobono Imagna The thermal resort of Sant’Omobono Imagna, the largest town in the Imagna Valley, is situated in the heart of the Orobie mountains. The properties of its thermal waters were cited for the first time in a monography dated 1772. They are sulphurous waters, which in the last century were considered among the best known at the time. The thermal centre and springs were relaunched when an elegant late nineteenth-century residence, located nearby, was restored. Today this spa with its wellness centre attracts guests in search of relaxation and better health. The area is characterised by interesting Karst phenomena that have given rise to caves of extraordinary beauty, such as the Tomba dei Polacchi (Grave of the Polish) which reveals traces of occupation dating back to the Bronze Age.
Rotonda di San Tomè A few kilometres away – a gentle walk of less than an hour, and again near the River Brembo – lies one of the most important records of the Romanesque period, not only in the Bergamo area but in the whole of Lombardy. This is the Rotonda of San Tomè. Called a Rotonda because of its circular shape, it was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (this was the time of the first Crusades). The capitals and columns reveal that it was made with materials from a far older building. Excavations carried out near the foundations have brought to light a Roman tomb, and it is said that a pagan church once stood on the site. A small monastery stood alongside San Tomè, which was later transformed into a farmstead. It has now been careful restored and today its old walls play host to a study centre – the “Antenna Europea del Romanico” – which holds conventions, exhibitions and other events.
Trescore Balneario The origins of another very well-known thermal centre are even older. The springs of Trescore Balneario, situated in Val Cavallina and an important connection between Bergamo and Lake Iseo, were probably discovered by the Romans, who exploited the therapeutic properties of the sulphurous waters that emerged in the heart of the valley. These springs continued to be used even after the fall of Rome. One of the most illustrious visitors to the hot springs was Bartolomeo Colleoni, the famous condottiero, who reconstructed the thermal baths in the medieval monastery on the old Roman road that linked the Po plain to the lake and the Camonica Valley. In the nineteenth-century it was used by increasing numbers of guests, and this was due in part to the fame it acquired due to the presence of the several well-known personalities, including Giuseppe Garibaldi. The thermal complex, situated in the centre of a vast park, is today visited by people wishing to receive treatment for respiratory system conditions and diseases of the circulatory system and skin. A visit to nearby Chapel of Villa Suardi, frescoed by Lorenzo Lotto, is an absolute must.
Como (one of the main cities at the shores of beautiful Lake Como is also accessible by train, but requires almost travelling back to Milan (you change at Monza). It is worth visiting from Bergamo and vice versa. The journey takes between one and a half and two hours.