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Question about day trip to Bergamo from Milan

I have two full days (i.e. 3 nights) in Milan before joining a Rick Steves tour group at Varenna. The first full day will be May 1st which is an Italian holiday. For now my plan is to spend the first day visiting the Duomo di Milan (both the rooftop and cathedral are open), Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and Sforza Castle. I won't be able to see The Last Supper as both May 1st & 2nd are blocked out.

For the 2nd day I'm leaning toward taking a day trip to Bergamo. Visiting the old town (Città Alta), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and may be taking the funicolare to St. Vigilio for s scenic view from the hill top. Does anyone think I am better off spending the 2nd day in Milan? And if so what activities would you recommend?

For the train to Bergamo and the local bus in Bergamo, can I just buy the round trip ticket at the train station and from the bus conductor? Or it's something I can buy ahead of time just so I don't have to worry about it on the day of traveling? Also any recommendation between 1st and 2nd class train fare?

All responses/suggestions are very much appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by
3812 posts

All train tickets up to June 9 can be purchased on www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en.

Since local trains (called Regionale) have no reserved seats they can't sell out and there is no need to buy the tickets in advance online. It's just easier, so why not? Queues at Centrale can be very long, even if there are dozens and dozens of English speaking automatic machines.

Regionale tickets locally purchased can be used on any train going on the picked day to the destination of your choice. In railways language they are "open", but you MUST time stamp them before getting on the train.

Bus tickets: https://www.atb.bergamo.it/en/atb-network/tickets/ticket-sales

May 1 isn't just "an Italian holyday", it's the Labour Day all over the world. There may be crowds in Duomo Square.

Posted by
267 posts

I would definitely go to Bergamo. We did this via train and walked up to the old town. If you are used to walking, this won't be a problem for you. We enjoyed it. Also, consider training to Verenna/Bellagio,for your day trip. The views are amazing.

Posted by
41 posts

@Dario:
I might just buy the train tickets using the Trenord App,
(Edit 1: just realized to use the Trenord App one has to register which is very tedious for a foreign traveler. So I will just buy it online and check out as a guest)
Edit 2: May be the Trenord App or Trenitalia App will work just fine, just realized if I clicked 'Continue without Login' I could just bypass the registration and still able to buy ticket. This is also true on their online website.

Yes I kind of expect it will be crowded on Labor Day. I bought the ticket for Duomo so hopefully it will help to relieve the time spend in queue. Thanks for your response!

@Christy:
Judging on Google Map estimation the walking is about 30 minutes, so I might do just that. Thanks for your suggestion!

@Threadwear:
I reviewed the itinerary for this tour and it's not what I have in mind. I will see The Last Supper the next time I visit Milan. Thanks for your suggestion!

Posted by
295 posts

This year the Last Supper will be open on May 1st, and it will be free both the 1st and the 2nd, tickets will be sold at the ticket office, so if I were you, I would show up early on May 1st, you might be able to find a ticket!!!

Posted by
41 posts

@MR:
Wow you just make my evening! I stayed up to 1:30am on the very day tickets for the month of May were released for sale; but much to my dismay both May 1st & 2nd were blocked out. Now I know why :)
I've already booked my Duomo ticket for May 1st 10am-noon; but will try my luck for the free ticket early in the morning (many people probably are planning to do the same). Cenacolo Vinciano and Duomo di Milano are close by, so that should help.
Thank you so much for the tip! Grazie!!!

Edit:
@MR:
By the way how did you find out about these free ocassions, is it posted/mentioned on some website? A pointer?

Posted by
413 posts

I did Bergamo as a day trip last summer from Milan, and really enjoyed it. You can buy your tickets in advance, or buy them the day before in Milan and just stamp them on the day of your travel to Bergamo. That's what I did last summer for all my day trips, that way I had the tickets in my bag when I got to the train station and I didn't have to worry about whether there were long lines at the ticket machines. I walked to the funicular in Bergamo, but I'm sure the buses are easy to use. The only lines I encountered were to buy tickets for the funicular, but they weren't bad.

Posted by
41 posts

Once I realized the Trenord App allowed one to purchase ticket as a guest without registration, I was able to buy ticket for the train ride to Varenna. Like you I also like to buy ticket in advance online to avoid the hassle of buying them on the day of travel. Since the regional train ticket purchased online is valid for a few hours after the picked time spot, it really provides enough cushion and flexibility to make it a good viable option. I plan to do the same for my Milan-Bergamo & MXP-Milano Centrale trains.
For now I've allocated about 5 hours to roam around the old town, St. Vigilio and may be lunch somewhere at Piazza Vecchia.

Thank everyone for sharing your ideas and suggestions!