Bergen is a small town on the western coast of Norway that attracts visitors with its immense beauty and proximity to incredible outdoor adventures. A visit to Bergen always includes mountain hikes, boat rides through the fjords, and walks through the city center.
All along the old wharf are the historic colorful wooden houses that are part of the landscape of this delightful city. You’ve likely seen the images that entice visitors just because it’s so captivating.
If you’re planning a trip to Norway, be sure to include a stop in Bergen. With the dozens of things to do there, it will be the best decision you make for your trip.
If you’re visiting other places in Norway, you might also want to check out our guide on how to plan your own Norway in a Nutshell trip.
Some Information About Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with 300,000 people situated on the west side of the country, on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen, near a picturesque Byfjorden and surrounded by seven mountains. Bergen was founded in 1070, so it is an old town with long history and traditions. It is a former busy trading port.
The country has a greater area than Germany, while the population is 16(!) times smaller. It is impossible to live on 90% of the territory of Norway, because of the mountains and glaciers. Most of the cities, like Bergen, are situated on the southwest of the country, while all the major natural attractions of Norway take the rest of it.
Bergen is one of the most popular places to visit in Norway. People love the charming beauty of its streets and wooden houses, plus having a great choice of things to do in Bergen. Here are some of the top ideas for what to do in Bergen.
1. Visit the Market Square and Try Fresh Seafood
One of the main attractions in Bergen is the old market square, where mainly fish is sold. It is a great place to enjoy the atmosphere of the old town of Bergen, feeling like you’re in the times of active trade with colorful wooden houses surrounding you, and traders trying to prove that their goods are the best.
The market is not only good for enjoying the local culture and pleasant atmosphere, you can also buy delicious seafood there. A mandatory thing to do in Bergen is to try fresh seafood from the fish market.
The fish market is called Torget, it used to be the center of fish trade in the region. The market is situated in the city center near the port, so it’s in a super convenient spot to have lunch or dinner in one of the tents set up along the market.
2. Walk Along the Old Wooden Houses
Close to the market square, you will see multiple wooden houses standing in a row. This place is called Bryggen and it used to be a Hansa dock, as well as a trading and processing area between 1350 and 1750.
The place is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, despite the fact that the buildings are not original. They burned down and were rebuilt in 1702, preserving their original style. It is probably the most popular place to visit in Bergen.
Here, you can find traditional restaurants, several museums, and souvenir shops with wooden products. It’ll take an hour or so to go through all the shops. You can also sit outside during the summer in front of the houses to enjoy a beer or wine.
⇒ Click here to book your Bergen city walking tour.
3. Spend Time in a Medieval Fortress
The next attraction of Bergen is also situated close to the previous ones. It is the Bergenhus stone fortress that used to serve as the king’s residence. Even today, royal galas and other big events are carried out here.
The building was built about 750 years ago. As it is not made of wood, like the houses from the previous attraction, it didn’t suffer from fires, but the roof was reconstructed after a blast during World War II.
You can attend guided tours that are regularly conducted here, or just relax on the fortress territory, which is a city park.
4. Drink Local Wine
Being a Nordic country, the climate in Bergen changes a lot during the year. In summer, you can enjoy the sun and relax on a beach in the warm weather, while in winter you can experience very low temperatures, too cold even to go skiing.
Such a climate makes it difficult to produce wine, but Norway does. The most northern vineyard in the world, Eventyrvin Lerkekasa, is situated in Norway. Its wine cannot be compared to the world’s best wines, but it has its own special taste.
You can try local food and wine, or any of the world’s wines, in local wine bars, most of which are situated in the city center, close to the main tourist attractions. Some of the places worth visiting are:
- Dyvekes Vinkjeller, Hollendergaten 7
- Altona Vinbar & Kjøkken, Strandgaten 81
- Pergola mat & Vinbar, Nedre Korskirkeallmenningen 9B
- To-glass, Vetrlidsallmenningen 19
- Beyer’en Bar & Restaurant, Rosenkrantzgaten 8
There are many more places to drink wine in Bergen. But, more popular drinks among locals are beer and vodka.
5. Visit One of the Museums in Bergen
As any other touristic city, Bergen has a lot of museums of all kinds. If you are a museum lover, you can spend a whole weekend trying to visit all of them.
Museums in Bergen include Bryggens museum on Dreggsalmenningen 3, which is a museum located in and featuring the wooden houses mentioned above. It tells you about its architecture and history, also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions.
Another interesting museum in Bergen is the Theta museum, situated on Bredsgården 1 D. It was the headquarters of the Theta group that contacted London, reporting about German fleet movements near Norway during World War II.
Bergen Museum is part of the University of Bergen. It includes natural and cultural history collections on Muséplass 3.
As Bergen is a seaport and was one of the major cities in Hansa trade, it is worth visiting the Bergen Maritime Museum on Haakon Sheteligsplass 15.
A very unusual museum in Bergen that I recommend visiting is the Leprosy Museum on Kong Oscarsgate 59. It is devoted to the leprosy disease and the people who suffered with it.
These were the 5 most interesting museums in Bergen, but there are many more. You can find the most suitable for you on TripAdvisor.
6. Go Kayaking in a Fjord
The main reason people visit Norway is its beautiful nature. If you are not going to stay in Bergen for your entire vacation, I highly recommend you rent a car and make a road trip through Norwegian fjords and mountains. If you prefer cities, you can take a cruise through Scandinavian countries to cover more of it.
Fjords are one of the best Norwegian features, something that every tourist has to visit. The favored thing to do in the fjords is kayaking. Being between huge majestic mountains in the bay with the transparent green or blue water, you feel quite insignificant compared to the power of nature.
The longest fjord in the world is situated in Norway, close to Bergen. It is called Sognefjord. This fjord is located about 150km away from Bergen, near the Gudvangen village, which has a tourist base with a cozy restaurant, souvenir shop and a kayak rental. Rent one for an hour or two, or book a kayaking tour for a whole day. It’s an amazing experience that you will remember forever.
7. Visit a Very Unusual Church
In Bergen, you can visit a very unusual church, which is called the Fantoft Stave Church. The original building was built about 1150 in Fortun, a small village located 250 km from Bergen. In the hard times in Norway, the church started falling apart, and the villagers took the wooden planks for their farms.
We would not see the church today if a businessman from Bergen didn’t pay for its repair in the 19th century. Thanks to this man, you can enjoy the unusual look of this wooden church.
8. Attend the Bergen International Film Festival
If you visit Bergen in October, another great thing to do would be going to the one week long Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF), which is held at Bergen kino. Thousands of people attend it every year. You can also join them for 65 KR ($1=9KR).
9. Take a Funicular to the Best City Panorama
If you like seeing the entire city from above, you should take a funicular called Fløibanen up to the top of Mount Fløyen. The journey up to Fløyen (320 meters above sea level) takes about 5–8 minutes.
It’s a quick walk from the downtown center to the funicular. You can take the funicular all day, even during sunset or in the late evening to see the city at night, as the funicular operates from early morning to 11pm. The single ticket costs 63 NOK (~$7). Buy online in advance to get a small discount and avoid the lines at the station.
Once you’re at the top, you can have a look around, enjoy a coffee and pastry from the cafe, go on a hike or guided tour, or even ride mountain bikes through the many trails.
10. Find All the Great Street Art
If you like street art, you should definitely try to find all the best pieces in Bergen. Here it is a real art, not just some amateur graffiti. Many city walls are covered with it. Street art in Bergen surprisingly goes well with the architecture of old cozy wooden houses.
You’ll find art by some of the cities best street artists. In fact, some of Norway’s best street artists are from Bergen.
Further Information About Bergen Norway
If you’re looking for fun activities and tours to do in Bergen, you can book these Viator tours in advance and make your planning easy!
The best time to visit Bergen is summer. In summer, one of the best things to do in the city is to go to the beach and even swim in the fjord, which is warm enough thanks to the Gulfstream and the peninsula protecting Bergen from cold North Sea streams.
You can also go hiking if you like this activity. Proximity of the mountains gives you a great chance for that. One of the best places to go hiking here is the place called Husedalen Valley, or Waterfalls Valley, as the tourists named it. It offers you the best views of the mountains and waterfalls from an almost 2 km height.
Bergen is a great place to relax, enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the old port town. Just walk through the tiny streets and try local food and drinks in the cozy cafes near the harbor.
If you have enough time, you can also go to the nearby towns of Haugesund, Flam, Odda or Stavanger, each of which has its own interesting things to do.
Some of the best places to stay in Bergen include:
- Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz: Read review on Trip Advisor or book a stay
- Opus XVI: Read reviews on Tripadvisor or book a stay.
Now you know the top 10 things to do in Bergen, Norway. I hope this article has piqued your interest in visiting this exciting and beautiful town. If you have been to Bergen, or if you go after reading this article, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us what you love about Bergen, Norway, in the comments.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roman is the creator of RomanRoams.com, a travel blog about adventurous trips and traveling on a budget, as well as creator of Visit-Belarus.com, a website with a bunch of interesting and useful information about Belarus.
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