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Car sitting in the Bergamo airport car rental lot.

Bergamo Airport Car Rental – Guide & Tips for Orio al Serio Airport

Are you planning on renting a car at the Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport (BGY)? 

Bergamo’s Orio al Serio International Airport is one of Italy’s (and Europe’s) busiest airports for low-cost carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair, as well as ITA Airways (formerly Alitalia).  You may end up flying into Orio al Serio airport if you’re looking for an inexpensive flight from within Italy, from Europe, or even further away like the Middle East or North Africa.

Bergamo’s airport is a busy place for car rentals in Italy, but that doesn’t mean the car rental system is overrun and chaotic. Car rental at the Bergamo Orio al Serio airport is organized and simple.  This allows travelers to fly in and head straight out on Italian road trips. 

Read on to learn about the Bergamo Orio al Serio car rental process so you know what to expect when arrive.  Plus, I’ll give you a few tips to help ensure your reservation, pick up and drop off are all smooth. 

I was recently at the Bergamo airport and I found it to be one of the easier locations to rent a car in Italy.

Good To Know:  The Bergamo airport goes by many names, including: Milan Bergamo Airport, Milan Orio al Serio Airport, Orio al Serio Airport, and Il Caravaggio International Airport.

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Driving in Italy

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IMPORTANT in 2023:  There are some large road construction projects going on around the airport.  Follow signs closely to enter and leave the airport with your rental car.  Also, Bergamo is the Italian Capital of Culture in 2023, so expect to see more visitors to the city, which may make lines slightly longer at the car rental desks.

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Bergamo?

Small cobblestone street in Bergamo, Italy.  Shops on either side, you can see a few people walking.  Blue sky.
Small streets of Bergamo’s Città Alta – no need for a car

Before you rent your car for Bergamo, make sure you really need it.

You DO NOT need a rental car in Bergamo if:

  • You’re planning on visiting Bergamo.  You don’t need to have a car in Bergamo.  You can visit everything on foot or with public transport (funiculars, buses, taxis).  Check out our guide to One Day in Bergamo.
  • You’re planning on visiting cities in Italy that are connected to Bergamo by train.  While Bergamo isn’t on a high-speed train line, you can visit many places in Italy by train from Bergamo.  For example, you can take the train from Bergamo to Milan and then down to Florence. 
  • You want to use the rental car to get to your next destination and stop along the way.  For example, if you’re in Bergamo and need to get down to the Rome airport, you could rent a car in Bergamo, drive to Rome, and stop at places along the way like Modena or Orvieto.

You DO need a Bergamo car rental if:

  • You’re planning on leaving Bergamo to explore places like Piedmont wine country, Lake Garda, or other areas of Italy best visited by car.
  • You’re traveling with a lot of luggage, a large group, or you just want more flexibility.  Even if you’re visiting a place easily accessed by train from Bergamo, you may want to rent a vehicle in any of these situations.

Good To Know:  You can also rent a car in the Bergamo city center.  There are a few companies with offices scattered throughout the city.  These are good options if you’ll be visiting Bergamo before you head out to explore in your rental car.  Note that rates may be higher in Bergamo than at the airport (meaning it could be worth it to take a quick bus or taxi to the Bergamo airport car rental locations).

Good To Know:  Want the flexibility of a car but don’t want to drive?  In Italy, you can hire an NCC – noleggio con conducente – a private car with driver.  This is a more expensive option, but you don’t need to worry about driving or navigating.

Documents Needed for Renting a Car at the Bergamo Airport

Main entrance to Bergamo Orio al Serio airport.  You can see a van and car out front with people unloadting luggage.

If you’re planning on picking up a rental car in Bergamo, make sure you have with you:

  • Driver’s license from your home country. 
  • International Driving Permit if you are not a resident of the European Union. It’s required by law. The rental car company may or may not ask, but you can be stopped by the police and asked for it. 
  • International ID (passport)
  • Credit Card (yours – you can’t use someone else’s)
  • Car rental voucher (printed or digital, depends on the car rental agency)

Helpful Tip: Most rental car companies in Italy require you to have had your driver’s license for at least one year. If you’ve renewed your license within one year from picking up your rental car, bring your old license – just in case.

You may want to read
Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License?
International Driving Permit for Italy – How and Why to Get One

I like to use a search consolidator like DiscoverCars.com or AutoEurope.com.
I recommend checking both DiscoverCars.com or AutoEurope.com and the individual car rental companies for the best prices and vehicle availability. I rent from DiscoverCars.com.

Renting a Car from the Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport

Picking Up Your Rental Car at the Bergamo Airport

Agent talking to customers at a car rental desk inside the Bergamo Orio al Serio airport arrivals hall.  Two other people wait in line.
Car rental desks inside the Bergamo airport arrivals hall

If you’re flying into Bergamo to begin your trip, it’s easiest to rent your car at the airport (vs traveling to the Bergamo city center car rental locations). 

When you exit into the arrivals hall, turn left and you’ll see the car rental desks in a spacious area. 

Once you find your car rental desk, you’ll sign your contract, get your key, and shuttle to the car rental parking lot.

Helpful Tip:  Use the toilet in the airport arrivals hall (turn right as you exit into the arrivals hall, vs left for the car rental desks). 

The car rental shuttle is for all rental companies, and it runs every ten minutes and takes 3 minutes to reach the parking lot. 

Italy Car Rent company building in the car rental lot at the Bergamo airport.  You can see the parking lot full of cars.
One of the small buildings at the Bergamo airport car rental lot

Once at the lot, check your car for damage.  If you find something, check it over with your company’s agent in the small booth in your section. 

This is also a good time to ask if you have any questions about the vehicle:

Do you know how to get the car into reverse? 
Does the car use diesel (gasolio) or gas (benzina)?
Do you see where the parking brake is? 
Do you understand how to turn on the air-conditioning?
Do you know how to use the GPS?

To leave the airport, exit the parking area to the left and follow directions to your chosen destination.

Good To Know:  The parking lot is uncovered, but there are covered areas where you can wait (for shuttles, for your family to wait while you check the car, etc).

Returning Your Rental Car to the Bergamo Airport

To return your rental car, follow signs for Orio al Serio with the black airplane icon.  Then follow signs for ‘autonoleggi – rent a car,’ and the P3 parking lot.

Italian road sign with red graphic arrow pointing to Orio al Serio and the black airplane icon.
Follow signs for Orio al Serio and the black airplane icon

You’ll bring your rental car back to the same parking lot you picked it up in (P3).  If you need to get gas, the most convenient gas station is the IperStation-Orio (see the location here). It’s just a 2-minute drive from the airport.

Have the agent sign off on the car (no damage, gas tank at the correct level, etc) and take the same shuttle back to the airport terminal. 

Important:  There are a couple of car rental companies that are at the airport, but ‘off-site,’ like Centauro and Felirent.  You take a different shuttle to get to the car rental offices and lots of these companies (your company will give you the shuttle details), and you’ll return your car to the same lot.

Where to Go with Your Bergamo Rental Car

Piazza in Bergamo, Italy.  It's surrounded by pastel-colored buildings.  There are people sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the sunshine.  Two other people walk on the left.

You can go anywhere* with your Bergamo rental car!  Here are some ideas:

  • Bergamo (just 15 minutes from the airport)
  • Brescia
  • Piedmont wine country and small towns like Alba, Bra, Barolo, La Morra
  • Lake Como
  • Lake Garda
  • Lake Iseo
  • Lake Maggiore (especially Stresa and Isola Bella)
  • Lake Orta (especially Orta San Giulio)
  • The Dolomites
  • The Cinque Terre and the Ligurian Coast
  • Emilia-Romagna and cities like ParmaBologna, Ravenna, and Modena
  • Verona
  • Mantua
  • Prosecco region in the Veneto
  • Milan (but park outside the city center and take public transport in)

*Important:  If you’re planning on crossing into another country, make sure it’s cleared with the car rental company and noted in your rental contract.

Tips for Driving in Bergamo

If you decide to visit Bergamo (I definitely recommend it), the main thing to be aware of is the ZTL – limited traffic zone.  You can’t enter these areas without permission.  To avoid the stress, I like to park at the Piazza Libertà Garage and walk or use public transport (like the funicular up to the Città Alta).

I found the driving in Bergamo to be fairly relaxed compare to central and southern Italian driving and big city driving like in Milan.

You may want to read more about
ZTL in Italy
Parking in Italy
Italian Road Signs
Getting Gas in Italy

General Tips for Renting a Car in Bergamo

  • When booking your Bergamo car rental online, choose the right options for you.  I always choose: full to full fuel, full prepayment, automatic transmission, 8.0 rating or higher for the car rental agency.
  • Make sure you have data for Google Maps on your phone or that you’ve rented a GPS system for your car.  I prefer to use Google Maps because it’s what I already know and I’m familiar with the icons, etc.
  • Confirm border crossing if you’re planning on driving into Switzerland.
  • You need to have your credit card with you physically to pay for the security deposit.  You cannot pay with a virtual card (like Apple Pay or Google Pay).
  • Your license must have been issued at least one year before the date of the rental.  This is important if you’ve just renewed your license.  Be sure to bring your old one with you.
  • Some car rental agencies now require that your credit card has a chip.
  • When you get to the Autostrada, remember to avoid the yellow Telepass lane.  Use the cash or credit card lanes.  Read more about the Autostrada in Italy and How to Pay Tolls in Italy
  • Allow a little extra time for returning your rental car to the Orio al Serio Airport in 2023 because of road construction around the airport. 

Bergamo Car Rental FAQ

Should I rent a car in Bergamo or Milan?

It depends on where you’ll be arriving and departing, but in general, I find Bergamo’s car rental process to be much easier and less stressful than Milan’s.

Do I need to reserve my Bergamo rental car way in advance?

It’s always a good idea to make your reservation as soon as you’re sure of your plans.  That way you’ll have a better selection of vehicles and rates.  If you’re planning on renting a van or large vehicle, I recommend renting as early as possible, as those seem to disappear the quickest.

Which car rental companies operate in Bergamo?

You’ll find all major car rental companies in Bergamo (like Hertz, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar), as well as Italian and local companies. 

How do I get from the Bergamo airport back to the Bergamo city center? 

You can take a bus or taxi from the airport to the city center.

Road at the arrivals area of Bergamo Orio al Serio airport.  You can see a red bus with 'Stazione FS Aeroporto.' There are people sitting on benches.
You can take the bus between the Bergamo airport and the city center
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