What Does Bergamot Smell like? [Hint – It’s Not Lemon or Lime]

Bergamot smells like lemon and bitter orange. Its hybrid scent is often described as ‘a spicy orange’. Bergamot flowers are edible and their taste is often compared to oregano.

One of the ingredients most mentioned in perfumery is bergamot. If you are a bit curious as I am, you might be wondering what it really is. Many people confuse bergamot with lime. But the bergamot fruit is a mix between lemon and orange.

When grown properly, bergamot doesn’t necessarily require too much watering. In the fragrance world, the spiciness of bergamot is taken for granted. But the more you water the plant, the less spicy it becomes, and from here, the difference in how bergamot smells like.

What does Bergamot smell like?

Bergamot smells like citrus and its used in perfumes, cosmetics, aromatherapy, foods, and drinks. Its refreshing citrus summer scent has been largely used in colognes from their beginnings.

Today, we know that bergamot has been used in perfumery since 1714. Giovanni Maria Farina, an Italian living in Germany, first used it in cologne in the German city of Cologne. The perfumer describes bergamot as the smell of Italy early in the morning after the rain with a mix of narcissus and orange blossom.

How does bergamot look like?

To me, bergamot looks like a dry lemon. Yellowish to dark green, bergamot is easy to recognize as it doesn’t have the smooth texture of oranges or lemon.

Today, you can pick bergamot by main roads if you drive around Italy. The bergamot fruit and the bergamot flower can be eaten as they are.

What is the scent of bergamot?

The scent of bergamot is a type of citrus with spiciness fruity and slightly floral nuances. It is the most used note in perfumes as most people like it and it’s not too expensive to source as an essential oil.

Bergamot is a note made from the tree of Citrus Bergamia. Today, you can find this tree around the Italia region of Calabria (the cool season of the region is between November 26 and March 31st and when bergamot blossoms). The fruits are then turned into an essential oil using cold press mechanical extraction.

How is bergamot made?

Bergamot essential oil is made with cold pressing techniques out of the Citrus Bergamia fruit which grows on bergamot trees, normally in Southern Italy. The best way to make bergamot oil is by steam distillation. Find out more about how to make perfume and how you can use distillation to make bergamot essential oil at home.

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What are the benefits of bergamot?

As I previously said on fragrancespotter, citrus is the only truly uplifting note regardless of your personality. You simply cannot see a sad person after eating bergamot or lemon. This effect persists in perfumes where it has a similar uplifting role and often an introductory role for all other notes.

Anxiety benefits

Bergamot reduces anxiety. There’s proof to show it can reduce anxiety, even if by a small margin and this is one of the reasons it’s used in aromatherapy.

It fights bacteria

Flavonoids extracted from bergamot have antimicrobial activity. The essential oil is used on skin infections, but not without dilution.

When not to use bergamot

The bergapten in bergamot is photosensitive. This means you can end up with severe burns if you apply concentrated bergamot oil directly on your skin and then go out in the sun. It’s best to mix it with perfume alcohol to make it tolerable.

What scent mixes well with bergamot?

As seen in many of the perfumes made today, bergamot mixes with nearly all perfume ingredients, to an extent. In the tea industry, it mixes with black tea.

Black tea

Black tea and bergamot are used to make one of the most popular Earl Gray teas. Ceylons are often mixed with bergamot tea when the tea is mixed with milk.


Bergamot and mint offer a refreshing aroma, highly suitable for summer fragrances. You can find the combination at most brands using mint as a fragrance note.


The spicy-fresh nature of ginger complements bergamot. It works both in drinks and in perfumes.

Is bergamot the same as an orange?

Bergamot is not the same as orange, but it certainly resembles the round fruit. Bergamot is a combination of orange, lemon, and possibly grapefruit for its spiciness.

Bergamot chemical structure

Bergamot is made out of different compounds. Among them, you can recognize a-pinene, myrcene, limonene, a-bergaptene, linalool, linalyl acetate, nerol, neryl acetate, and geraniol.

Top perfumes with bergamot

Perfumes with bergamot are the essence of summer and time spent in the sun. If you love bergamot and its fresh spiciness, you’ll feel at home with one of the following perfumes.

  1. Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria – Eau de Toilette

Acqua di Parma is the best-known summer fragrance house. Some consider it a niche house but it certainly has prices closer to designer perfume houses. You can choose any Blue Mediterraneo perfume for the summer heat. However, Bergamotto di Calabria is where the true bergamot lies in.

It might be one of the best true bergamot perfumes to use still in production.

Citron and bergamot are strong and dominating from the opening.

Ginger, flowers, and cedar are its mid notes.

Vetiver, benzoin, and musk are its base notes.

You can expect the perfume to last on your skin anywhere between 4 and 6 hours.

It’s also clearly only made for the summer months, albeit I wear it whenever I need to lift my mood.

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  1. Chanel Chance

The floral Chanel Chance is one of the most popular bergamot perfumes which smells like true bergamot and patchouli.

While made for the summer, it has a sweetness to it from the added vanilla and as a result, it’s a perfume many people love and which gets women plenty of compliments.

Pineapple, iris, patchouli, pink pepper, and hiacynth are the main opening accords here.

You can smell rose, lemon, jasmine, bergamot, and mandarin in the drydown.

Vetiver, vanilla, and musk give it a bit of depth. The perfume has a mild projection and it lasts about 5 hours on the skin.

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  1. Atelier Cologne Bergamot Soleo

If you like the smell of cologne, you can’t go wrong with Soleo.

The perfume has a first strong bergamot impression mixed with blood orange which gives it that zesty citrus feel.

Lavender, jasmine, and cardamom give it a bit of an attractive side in a few minutes.

Oakmoss, amber, and vetiver give it a bit of richness which also allows you to wear it in the evening.

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  1. Orto Parisi Bergamask

Only bergamot and musk are found in this intriguing cologne. If you like how bergamot smells and if you love musk, it’s the type of fragrance you will hold close to your heart. Musk is changing here and there’s certainly an edge to the perfume, highly specific to most Orto Parisi releases.

You can expect longevity to be 10+ hours on this scent and even if it comes in small perfume bottles only, it’s a bergamot perfume that lasts.

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  1. Guerlain Homme L’Eau Boisee

The classic chypre with a modern twist is an essential bottle of perfume you need to own if you love bergamot and when shopping on a budget.

Together with the citrus note, you’ll also smell hints of vetiver, woods, mint, grass, geranium, rum, and musk.

With a woody inclination, the bergamot perfume can still be used for the summer, and men who don’t like sweet scents are going to consider it as a signature scent.

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  1. Mancera Lemon Line

The tart lemon description attributed to the scent resembles bergamot, even if it’s not listed among its notes.

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White flowers, lavender, orange, geranium, musk, and amber are also present in this niche summer perfume. The perfume is only citrusy in the opening as it then turns more towards a lavender uniscent. The lemon in it will challenge most others with its natural appeal. The scent lasts about 5 hours on the skin.

Final considerations

Bergamot smells like lemon and orange but it certainly has its original appeal. Today, it’s widely used in perfumery where you can get accustomed to its intensity and longevity.

You can also use bergamot oil in aromatherapy if you’re fighting stress. Otherwise, the rather inexpensive ingredient should be experienced during the summer when the high heat shows outs its true potential the best.