Bergen, one of Norway’s most beautiful and cultural cities, is located on the west coast of Norway and is surrounded by stunning ocean views and towering mountains. One visit to this Norwegian city will leave you inspired and longing for more Norwegian adventures. If you are interested in visiting Norway then Bergen is a MUST-SEE destination.
Here is a list of things to see and do in Bergen, Norway.
In the heart of the city lies Bryggen, the historical and iconic area of Bergen. It is here that German merchants from the Hanseatic League lived and worked, turning Bergen into an international trading hub. Today the Hanseatic League is no longer in existence, but instead Bryggen is now bustling with tourists and travellers alike, and as of 1979 has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites. Admire the iconic colourful buildings that line the harbour while walking through the old wooden alleyways, exploring the local shops, pubs and restaurants along the way.
2.) Hanseatic Museum
The Hanseatic Museum is located in Bryggen and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bergen. The museum is one of the oldest wooden buildings still standing in Bergen, dating back to the 18th century, and it gives a glimpse of what life was like for the German traders who lived and worked here. Learn more about the Hanseatic League and how Stockfish played a significant role in Norway’s economy for hundreds of years.
3.) Fish Market
Visit the Fish Market to taste the local cuisine from around Bergen. This market is a seafood lover’s dream, with all kinds of food options from salmon, cod, crab, shrimp and, believe it or not, even whale. Sit down and grab a meal or just walk through the market admiring the atmosphere of this famous market.
Bergen is surrounded by mountains with one of the most popular mountains being Fløyen, located right in the heart of the city. Take the Fløibanen to the top of the mountain and admire the stunning views along the way, or if you prefer you can walk up the mountain as well. Either way the view from the top is worth the visit and you will also find a restaurant and gift shop which are worth visiting.
Another famous, but much higher mountain is Ulriken. Standing at 2,110 ft high, Ulriken offers an impressive view of Bergen, including views of the previously mentioned Floyen. The fastest option for reaching the top is to take the cable car, but if your are interested in a scenic hike, there are trails that also lead to the top. Norwegians love to hike, so expect to see locals hiking up and around this area, especially when the sun comes out (which is rare for Bergen!).
6.) Bergenhus Fortress
The Bergenhus Fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. Here you will find the Haakon’s Hall, dating back to 1260 and the Rosenkratz Tower, dating back to 1560. Exploring the castle is like going back in time and worth the visit if your are interested in learning about the history of Bergen.
7.) Old Bergen Museum (Gamle Bergen Museum)
The Old Bergen Museum ( also known as Gamle Bergen) is an open air museum representing what Bergen used to look like in the 18th and 19th centuries. Go back in time as you walk through the cobble stone streets admiring the little wooden houses and the peaceful surrounding park.
8.) Fjord Tour
The west coast of Norway is surrounded by fjords and stunning landscapes. Take a tour from Bergen to the surrounding fjords and get a glimpse of what makes Norway one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. The fjord tours leave from the Bergen harbour and last around 3 hours.
9.) Nordnes Neighbourhood
What makes Bergen such a charming city, is the picturesque wooden buildings scattered throughout the city. Anywhere within the centre you will find these charming houses, but if you want to get out of the main tourist areas, take a brief walk around the Nordnes Neighbourhood, where you will find small cafes, restaurants and nice scenic walks looking out across the sea.
Norway is expensive, and Bergen is no exception. To make the most of your money while visiting Bergen, look into buying the Bergen card. This card offers you discounts and free admission to many of the popular attractions, including transportation for up to 72 hours. Definitely worth checking out!
Where to Eat
Traditional Norwegian cuisine is made up primarily of different kinds of meat, fish and berries. Bergen offers a variety of restaurants to choose from with options for tasting traditional Norwegian cuisine (although keep in mind that the more traditional restaurants are not cheap).
A popular Norwegian dish is Fish soup, a creamy soup consisting of seafood (usually Norwegian cod) and vegetables with a tangy but creamy flavour. Wherever you go in the city you will find fish soup on the menu with every restaurant having their own style of making it.
Looking for a cheap , but yummy option? Try a Norwegian hot dog! In the centre you will find different hot dog stands that offer all kinds of hot dogs- reindeer and all. The most famous hot dog stand is Trekroneren, located a block away from the main harbour. The convenience stores (Narvesen, 7/11 etc) also sell cheap hot dogs which are popular as well.
When visiting Norway, you must try brown cheese. Brown cheese is a traditional Norwegian food that has a mildly sweet but tangy flavour, and goes well on bread, crackers and even pancakes. We were advised to try brown cheese with raspberry jam, and boy were we glad we did- so delicious!
You can buy brown cheese at any grocery store (either in slices or in a block) and make sure to pair it with some bread or crackers.
*Bonus – Brown Cheese Ice Cream
Believe it or not, the creative minds at the Enhjorningen restaurant created a brown cheese ice cream, which honestly is one of the most delicious creations we have ever tried. The restaurant is located in the heart of Bryggen so you won’t have to go out of your way to find it.
Cheaper dining options:
Sostrene Hagelin (Norwegian) *Fish soup, fish cakes and sandwiches
Da Stefano– (Italian)
Siam Ratree– (Thai) * Lunch Meals under 10 Euros
Guangdong House– (Chinese) Lunch Menu options under 10 Euros
Narvesen– cheap hot dogs
Depending on where you are flying from, there are a few different airlines to choose from. If you are flying from North America, then a good option is to fly to London first and then with Norwegian air fly to Bergen. The flight is 2 hours and there is free wi-fi on board! Norwegian air also offers flights to and from continental Europe via Copenhagen.
Recently Swiss Air has announced that they are offering flights from Zürich to Bergen.
*Check out our interview with Swiss air about living in Bergen here.
If you are travelling from Central Europe you can check out Wizz Air for flights to and from Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
For flying within Norway, the best option is to use Wideroe. This airline offers flights to all parts of the country and depending on when you book you can find yourself some decent deals. In the summer months they also offer an Explore Norway ticket that allows you fly anywhere within Norway for an unlimited amount of times for one set price.
If you are travelling by a car from continental Europe, then travelling by ferry is the most efficient option. You can catch a ferry direct to Bergen from northern Denmark (Hirtshals) with Fjord Lines.
The Hurtigruten is a Norwegian cruise and ferry line that travels along the Norwegian coast. Whether you are driving or walking on, the Hurtigruten is a great option for exploring Norway by sea and travels to and from Bergen.
The vast and rugged land of Norway makes it not the most ideal option for bus travel, but there are still some good options available for travelling.
The Nor-way bus line offers routes throughout southern Norway. If you are looking to travel north, then the highest destination you can access by this bus is Namsos ( 3 hours north from Trondheim).
Nettbuss is the largest bus company in Norway and they offer various routes to and from Bergen.
Although train travel is not as common in Norway as it is in the rest of Europe, it is still a popular way of travelling ( and the most scenic!).
The train journey from Oslo to Bergen is known for being one of Europe’s top scenic journeys. For train travel check out the NSB website for prices and deals. Depending on when you book your ticket you can find train tickets as low as 24 euros.
Norway in a Nutshell
If you are visiting Bergen but want to discover some of Norway’s most beautiful fjord scenery, then check out Norway in a Nutshell which offers a great deal on transportation from Bergen to the surrounding areas.
Bergen, tucked away in between the fjords and towering mountains, truly is a gem of a city. Get swept away in the history, culture and beauty of this Norwegian city and leave feeling inspired and refreshed. If you haven’t been to Norway yet, then keep Bergen in mind for your first visit- it is worth the trip.