A week in Bergen! What could be more exciting than an international trip to Norway (our first non-essential international trip in 18 months). We discovered a wealth of unique things to do in Bergen and made the most of a 72 hour Bergen Card before embarking on a broader Western Norway road trip. Read on to find out about all the best places to see in Bergen including where and what to eat on your Norwegian trip.
Getting to Bergen
Bergen is Norway's second largest city and is nestled at the edge of the Osterfjorden in West Norway. You can fly to Bergen on a non-stop flight from major cities in Europe like London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and (of course) Oslo. We flew from Dublin via Frankfurt where we were able to taste and pick up some smoky duty-free Scottish whisky to take with us to Bergen. Alcohol is expensive in Norway so stock up when you can! Norway is not a member of the EU, so avail of duty-free prices on your layover.
Definitely opt for a window seat on the flight into Bergen! The sea is dotted with islands. Keep an eye out for fishing boats and curvy roads leading to bridges connecting the islands, all interspersed with clouds of course!
Upon arrival at sleek and modern Bergen Airport, collect your bags and take Bergen light rail into the city. Public transport from the airport takes a while (25 stops in 45 minutes). Download the Skyss app to buy tickets rather than queuing at the station.
Getting Around Bergen
Things to do in Bergen at a Glance
- Take a Bergen photo walk
- Seek out Bergen's sculptures
- Wander Fish Me food hall
- Watch a beautiful Bergen sunset
- Visit Bergen's Leprosy Museum
- Explore Bryggen
- Ride the Floibanen funicular
- Take a hike near Floibanen Bergstation
- Walk from Bergen Town to Floibanen Bergstation
- Shop Bergen
- Take a day trip to Salhus and the Textile Industry Museum
- Stop by the Bergen Maritime Museum
- Cruise Osterfjorden
- Tour the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene
- Explore the Norwegian Fisheries Museum
- Visit King Håkon's Hall
- Check out the exhibits at the Bryggen Museum
- Drive to Fjell Fortress
Things to do in Bergen in Detail
1. Take a Photo Walk
Bergen Street Art
Keep an eye out for all kinds of awesome and irreverent street art in Bergen. We even found some street art and a little shrine to Brandy the cat.
Take a Golden Hour Photo Walk
OMG! The light in Norway during Golden Hour is simply irresistible. Don't miss Golden Hour in Bergen. In early September Golden Hour seems to be between about 5-7 pm. It's the perfect time for a photo walk!
I noticed on my photo walk that the great evening light shone to the north and east in Bergen. I deduced that the south and west should be brilliant in the morning light. I followed the sunshine uphill (no map required) and found fab views overlooking Bergen city in a small park near Skansens Bataljon & Skanseguttenes Forening.
Meet the Cats of Bergen
Bergen is full of bright white buildings on the residential streets up the hill and just behind Bryggen. Keep an eye out for curious cats lounging on a stoop or strolling across Bergen's cobbled streets.
Seek out the Doors of Bergen
2. Seek Out Bergen's Sculptures
Another fun thing to do in Bergen is to look for some of the cool sculptures that dot the city. The best places to look are in the area surrounding Bergen Harbour and Torgallmenningen, the main square in Bergen.
3. Wander Fish Me
There is a fun food hall with a fish focus along the water's edge in Bergen. It's called Fish Me Fishmarket. Stop for a drink or something to eat or just walk through and soak in the ambiance. We met some pretty impressive crabs at Fish Me.
4. Watch the Sunset
Definitely make time to relax and watch the sunset in Bergen. They say Bergen is super rainy (especially in September) so I think we got really lucky with our pursuit of an amazing Bergen sunset. We watched the sunset in the park near Skansens Bataljon & Skanseguttenes Forening which commands sweeping views over the city and Bergen havn.
5. Visit Bergen's Leprosy Museum
Bergen is home to one of the most unique museums in the world: The Leprosy Museum at St. Jørgen's Hospital. Bergen's Leprosy Museum is open everyday in the summer but only for a few hours once a week on Saturday in the off-season. We learned about the inhabitants of this institution which was home to lepers for 500 years until 1946. Did you know that leprosy is one of the least infectious infectious diseases? The historic church is not always open, but we got lucky and were able to join a guide taking folks in for 10-15 min. Lepers and locals sat side by side for centuries until the science advanced and leprosy was recognized as infectious rather than hereditary
. Then those afflicted were shunned. Today, leprosy is inherently treatable. The Leprosy Museum cost 120 NOK (about 12 EUR or 14 USD) per adult to visit at the time of writing.
6. Explore Bryggen
Bryggen (dock) is a series of colorful and historic Hanseatic commercial buildings situated on Bergen Harbour. The Hanseatic League established an office in Bergen way back in 1350. Today you can wander among the shops in the narrow alleys of UNESCO World Heritage designated Bryggen. Find some nice local artist shops in addition to clothing and more mass market souvenirs.
7. Ride the Fløibanen Funicular
All aboard the Fløibanen funicular in Bergen! We were supposed to get a 50% discount with roundtrip purchase with our Bergen Card but the ticket office was not open and the automated machine doesn't have a way to declare you have a Bergen Card so we ended up paying full price for a one way ticket.
It's less than a 10 minute ride on the funicular from the base to the top Floibanen station. We were delighted that we caught the first run of the day because it was nice and quiet with only one other tourist and a few staff members onboard. We had the Floibanen Bergstation viewing platform all to ourselves when we arrived at the top. Such stunning views!
8. Take a Hike Near Floibanen Bergstation
Once you arrive in Floibanen Bergstation, there are many hikes with trailheads nearby rated by degree of difficulty. We set our sights on Fløyvarden cairn which was rated "easy"; a loop trail that should take 90 minutes. Download a PDF with route and map for your chosen hike. The Fløyvarden Cairn Trail was well signposted at first. We found Regnhytten (the wooden rain shelter) highlighted on our map.
From here, the PDF said to look for a signpost and a path up to the right about 200 m away from Regnhytten. We walked a little too far and circled back. We debated whether a scramble up some rocks was the path we were looking for. A nice lady on the trail stopped to help. Yes, apparently this was it!
It turns out that this trail was "easy" by Norwegian standards. I consider scrambling up rocks to be a bit more difficult. We ultimately found the staircase referenced on our trail map and climbed this set of stairs and then another before scrambling over more rocks to access a fab viewpoint.
We found another clearing with views atop rocks and a stone pillar. Maybe this was actually the cairn? We were never entirely sure. Regardless, the climb was worth it for the nice views.
We followed the trail as best we could to a final viewing spot over the entrance to Bergen Harbour and were on lookout for red logs with arrows leading 90 degrees to the right. We followed a few promising leads, but ended up aborting and returning the way we came. We feared that we'd hike into the forest never to return if we continued on.
Speaking of forests, check out the troll forest near Floibanen on your return from this hike.
9. Walk Down to Bergen Town from Floibanen Bergstation
Climbing from Bergen city to Floibanen Bergstation on foot would have been a real test of endurance. Walking downhill on the other hand was a no-brainer. The walk down from Fløibanen Bergstation takes ~45 min on a well-marked trail that zigzags through a shady forest. The trail is popular with lots of people and dogs climbing for exercise. We discovered plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the view. We were glad we did Fløibanen early. Lots of cruise ships in port that day translated into crowds both at the top of the mountain and on the way down.
10. Shop Bergen
Time for a walk and some shopping in Bergen! I found myself a fabulous purple puffy coat (aka a Norwegian light down jacket) in Bryggen. You'll find a variety of shopping centers around Bergen. We discovered some artisanal Norwegian chocolates with special Norwegian fruit flavors at Konfektgalleriet. Setting aside time to seek out that perfect souvenir definitely makes my list of top things to do in Bergen.
11. Take a Day Trip to Salhus and the Textile Industry Museum
Salhus is a fascinating day trip from Bergen if you have a car. It takes about 30 minutes by car to get to Salhus and the Norwegian Textile Industry Museum (100 NOK or about 10 EUR per adult at the time of writing). The museum is housed in the Salhus Tricotagefabrik knitwear factory and is designated a national industrial heritage site. We watched a film about the heyday of the factory that made Krone-Maco long underwear and then took a guided tour to see the historic machines. The factory where the museum is housed operated from the mid-19th century to 1989. Apparently one of the workers featured in the documentary about the factory is still alive and living in Salhus. She's 100 years old!
Make the Most of a 72 Hour Bergen Card
We've found city cards (e.g., Luxembourg Card, Salzburg Card, Innsbruck Card) to be a great value way to explore cities in Europe. The Bergen Card is less about getting great value and more about convenience. Purchase a Bergen Card at the Visit Bergen Tourist Information Center or select hotels in Bergen. When we arrived at the tourist office to buy our 72 hour Bergen Cards, there were only 2 people working and a queue more than 10 groups long. This was definitely a bummer since museums are open such limited hours in September. Some museums are only open for 3 hours a day (i.e., from 11:00 - 14:00). Apparently the reason museums have such limited hours during the off-season in Bergen is to maximize visitors and revenue per hour. That's logical, it just makes it harder to get your money's worth from the Bergen Card. The 72 hour Bergen Card cost 430 NOK pp (~50 USD) at the time of writing. Activate the Bergen Card at your first stop. Note: when you write the date and time on the card, make sure to write the expiration time and not the current time or you will invalidate your Bergen Card before you even start.
What attractions did we visit using our Bergen Card?
12. Bergen Maritime Museum
We activated our Bergen Card at the Bergen Maritime Museum near the University of Bergen. The Maritime Museum normally costs 100 NOK per person but is free with a Bergen Card. We enjoyed seeing mastheads from historic ships. The Bergen Maritime Museum also features lots of model ships and some remains of historic ships.
13. Cruise the Osterfjorden
During the summer season, there are lots of great fjord cruises that run from Bergen (e.g., Bergen to Sognafjord). We took a fjord cruise from Bergen to Mostraumen along Osterfjorden. The round trip from Bergen to Mostraumen takes 3 hours. We saved 20% off the price of the fjord cruise with our Bergen Card. Protip: bring a few layers, waterproof jacket and a warm hat and gloves. It gets cold when the boat moves fast.
We waited with great anticipation to board our Rødne Fjordcruise. Once we were allowed onboard, we scrambled to the top deck to stake out a prime spot. There were some fixed benches and extra chairs you can pick up and move around. Strategic seating is key. Stake out a place on the blue bench which is sheltered by the ship's bridge.
Our Osterfjorden cruise featured fantastic views cruising out of Bergen Harbor. We passed cruise ships and colorful ice breakers. I loved the colorful towns that we cruised past on either side of Osterfjorden. Our cruise took us under Nordhorda land bridge which was only built in 1994.
I spotted some cool eider ducks, seagulls, and (drumroll!) an eagle on our Osterfjorden cruise. I had a 60x zoom lens on my camera but forgot how hard it is to hold the camera steady when you're on a boat!
As we got further into Osterfjorden, our high speed ferry slowed down. The reflections on the flat-as-glass water were spectacular. Progressing further into Osterfjorden, we encountered historic towns. First up? Vikanes with its idyllic 19th century church. It's a tight squeeze at Mostraumen, the narrowest point on our Osterfjorden cruise. We spied contented sheep as we passed the old schoolhouse against a backdrop of a few yellow and red buildings.
Our Osterfjorden cruise turned around at Modalen, the second smallest municipality in Norway (under 400 residents). The colorful buildings reflected in the water were made even more charming by the picturesque waterfall behind the village.
Most people went inside when the boat turned around. We stayed outside and had the run of the deck. Go downstairs (but not inside) to get water level pictures. The weather deteriorated (chop and wind) on the way back. I was so impressed by the lady who faced into the wind at the front the entire trip!
14. Tour the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene
Explore Medieval merchant history at the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene in Bryggen. Enjoy 20% off admission with the Bergen Card (26 NOK pp savings). Some buildings are original while some were recreated with different levels of authenticity. 90% of Bergen burned in 1702 so there was not a lot of original material to work with. The Hanseatic League was a network of merchants in cities across Europe and into Russia that traded a variety of goods. Bergen specialized in Lofoten stockfish (fish dried in the open air without salt). A schøtstuene was a Hanseatic community meeting place.
15. Norwegian Fisheries Museum
The Norwegian Fisheries Museum is simply fascinating and is free with a Bergen Card (normally 100 NOK pp). The museum has better hours than many of the museums in Bergen and was open until 5 pm daily. We discovered fun interactive exhibits: take a self-fish (digital selfie in a fish costume), watch videos about Norway's fishing industry and play games to raise fish to bring to market all in 3 historic warehouses. The Norwegian Fisheries Museum is located on the outskirts of Bergen. Take the bus back to town for free with your Bergen Card.
16. King Håkon's Hall
In an attempt to make the most of our Bergen Card, we rushed to King Håkon's Hall which is open only 3 hrs a day (11:00-14:00) about 30 minutes before closing. King Håkon's Hall is located on the grounds of the Bergenhus Fortress and dates back to the 14th century and is free with a Bergen Card (normally 120 NOK). We visited the sumptuous banquet hall. The roof was blown off during WWII when a German ship exploded nearby. King Håkon's Hall is full of interesting history but expensive if you don't have a Bergen Card since it really only takes 20 min max to see everything.
17. Bryggen Museum
The Bryggen Museum is free with a Bergen Card (or 65 NOK otherwise) and is open from 11:00-15:00 in September. We marveled at fascinating Medieval artifacts downstairs. A photography exhibit upstairs included old and sometimes awkward wedding portraits. The staff offered us a free coffee since they were closing when we left which we drank with a couple of squares from a bar of artisanal bean to bar chocolate that we bought in the Bryggen Museum gift shop. The Bryggen Museum was one of the better value for money museums that we visited in Bergen (or all of Norway for that matter).
18. Fjell Fortress
Bergen Card Value for Money
- Fjell Fortress: 120 NOK
- Bryggen Museum: 65 NOK
- King Håkon's Hall: 120 NOK
- Norwegian Fisheries Museum: 100 NOK
- Hanseatic Museum: 26 NOK
- Osterfjorden Cruise: 136 NOK
- Bergen Maritime Museum: 100 NOK
- Grand Total: 667 NOK per person (not including a couple of free rides on public transportation).
- Cost: 430 NOK
- Total Savings: 237 NOK (about 23 EUR or 27 USD)
What to Eat and Where to Eat in Bergen
Enjoy an al fresco lunch on a sunny day at Kaigaten Cafe and Wine Bar. Soaking in the sun while enjoying views of Lille Lungegårdsvannet and some of Bergen's top rated art museums softened the shock of a 36 EUR tab for 2 cappuccinos and 2 sandwiches. Admittedly, they were fantastic sandwiches with fabulous crusty bread but still so, so pricy.
Statsraaden Bar and Reception
We stopped for a Nøgne Ø craft beer at Statsraaden Bar and Reception. The bar was nice and quiet with outdoor seating and lovely Bergen harbour views yet just steps away from Bryggen.
Villani Italian Restaurant
We dined al fresco for dinner at Villani Italian Restaurant in Bergen. Comforting pizza and a rack of lamb hit the spot. We also indulged in a teeny tiny glass of Italian wine. All in, this no fuss meal cost us 100 EUR. We are definitely still getting over the sticker shock of eating out in Norway.
We went on a pilgrimage to buy great coffee in Bergen taking the light rail from Bergen Sentrum to Florida and then a 7 minute walk to Bergen Kaffebrenneri. We discovered comfy outdoor seating shielded from the rain and coffee roasted on the premises. The staff was super friendly and helpful.
If you are starting in Bergen Sentrum and don't feel like taking the tram to get your coffee, walk to Kaffemisjonen for a coffee and salty scone instead.
We booked in for dinner at Bergenhus Bryggeri. We tried a bowl of Bergen fish soup to start with crusty bread followed by stuffed chicken and fresh local fish of the day. Kriek of Telemark (yum!) and a wheat beer (full of clove!) from Nøgne Ø accompanied our meal alongside views of Bergen havn.
We indulged in a Havre Kadavre oatmeal imperial stout for dessert at Bergenhus Bryggeri. I was planning to order the chocolate fondant but opted for this luscious and silky brew instead which turned out to be the perfect digestif!
Try a reindeer hot dog with lingonberry sauce and fried onions at Trekroneren (tastes like kielbasa). Two hot dogs cost less than 14 EUR; what a bargain by Norwegian standards! Trekroneren hot dogs come with a cup of raspberry lemonade included in the price. So good! I think I would eat here every day if I lived in Bergen!
Pancakes at Fjell Festning
We were surprised to find freshly made Norwegian pancakes at Fjell Fortress. We tried pancakes topped with sour cream and strawberry and raspberry sauce washed down with apple cherry juice at the cafe atop Fjell Festning where the big gun used to stand.
Norway is particular about how and when they sell alcohol. You can only buy drinks with 4.7% or less ABV in supermarkets. Head to a Vinmonopolet outlet to stock up on anything stronger. We sought out some Hardanger Cider and a few Norwegian craft beers. We also picked up a 1.5L bag of South African Chenin Blanc which looked like a giant bag of Capri Sun. No glass keeps the price down. We paid ~20 EUR for a magnum of wine at Vinmonopolet.
Cider from Hardanger is some of the most renowned in Norway. During the summer, you can take a cider cruise to Hardanger to taste at the source. Because we visited in early September and didn't have time to drive to Hardanger, we tried Hardanger apple cider sourced at a Vinmonopolet in Bergen. The one we tried was elegant and dry. At 9% ABV, these ciders are lighter than wine but punchier than beer. A bottle of Hardanger Cider is the perfect way to toast the end of a successful week in Bergen.
Eat at Home
Norway is awash in supermarkets: REMA1000, Joker, Kiwi, Extra, and Meny to name just a few. We took advantage of the convenient supermarkets in Bergen to eat more economically. We enjoyed an aperitif at our Airbnb in Bergen featuring chocolates with Norwegian flavors (e.g., cloudberry) and a bracing barrel-aged golden sour from Eik & Tid followed by Norwegian oven-grilled salmon for dinner.
Drink Norwegian Craft Beer
Norwegian craft beers are top notch and as you've already read, we tried many craft beers from Norway while out and about in Bergen. We also picked up a few Norwegian craft beers at the supermarket. Meny seems to have the best selection of craft beers among the Norwegian supermarket chains. Highlights of our selections including Dag Mango from Ægir Bryggeri which really hit the spot. I could definitely taste the mango. Nøisom Bringebær og Chili Stout had a real kick. E.C. Dahl Passion fruit sour went well with a local pastry. Kinn IPA was also very refreshing. Haand and Aegir IPAs were ideal on a hot sunny day!
An aside about buying alcohol in Norway: plan ahead because sale times are limited. You can't buy alcohol after 8 pm during the week. The cut off is 6pm on Saturday with no booze for sale on Sunday so make sure to stock up to cover the weekend.
We picked up a punnet of Norske Plums at the supermarket on a whim. Early September must be peak season because the plums were perfectly ripe and packed with flavor. Don't miss Norwegian plums if you visit Norway at the end of the summer!
We love supermarket shopping when we travel. It's a great opportunity to pick up some local treats. I picked up some jelly licorice boats, a local gummy candy. Where have you been all my life?! Very tasty if you don't mind anise flavors.
Summing up our Trip to Bergen
I hope you've enjoyed this post covering fun things to do in Bergen over the course of a week. Of course, consider picking up a Bergen Card for convenience and potentially to save a little money on your trip. Eating in Norway can be tricky if you're on a budget so choose wisely when you eat out and make sure to avail of the great supermarkets in Bergen to feed yourself a bit more affordably.