Nestled on Norway's southwestern coast, Bergen is a picturesque city with a rich history, vibrant cultural scene and stunning natural surroundings. Affectionately known as the ‘capital of the fjords’ and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bergen offers a plethora of activities and attractions that cater to a wide range of interests.
Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a history buff or an art lover, Norway’s second-largest city certainly has something special in store for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best things to do in Bergen, so you can make the most of your visit to this enchanting city!
Top 15 Things to Do in Bergen
One of the best places to visit in Norway, Bergen is a treasure trove of fun activities to do and amazing sights to see. In this guide, we’ll explore 15 top things to do in Bergen that will make your visit an unforgettable experience.
1. Explore Bryggen Wharf
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bryggen Wharf is the iconic heart of Bergen. This historic harbor district is famous for its colorful Hanseatic wooden buildings lining the waterfront. Here, you can spend a lovely day wandering through the narrow alleyways, where you'll find quaint shops, cozy cafes and museums.
Once popular across Northern Europe, the old wooden urban structures you can see at Bryggen are the last remaining buildings of the former town. The perfect spot for keen photographers, Bryggen makes for some epic images with its panoramic views of the colorful houses, picturesque harbor and majestic mountains in the background.
2. Ride the Floibanen Funicular
For the best view of Bergen, you can take a ride on the Floibanen Funicular to Mount Floyen. Within a six-minute journey, you’ll be at the top of the mountain, enjoying breathtaking vistas of the city, fjords and surrounding islands – don’t forget your camera!
At the summit, you can stroll along the various hiking trails, play in the beautiful outdoors or enjoy a bite to eat while savoring the incredible views at the mountaintop cafe. Perfect for a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle, taking the Floibanen Funicular is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bergen for good reason!
3. Visit the Fish Market (Fisketorget)
One of the most popular outdoor markets in the whole of Norway, Bergen’s Fish Market has existed since the 1200s! Located at the heart of Bergen, the Fish Market is a bustling hub of seafood vendors, restaurants and fruit and veg stalls.
At Bergen’s Fish Market, you can sample fresh seafood in traditional Norwegian dishes, such as fish soup and fish cakes. The ideal place for seafood lovers to immerse themselves in Bergen's culinary culture, the indoor section of the Fish Market is open all year round, while the outdoor section is open during the summer months.
4. Discover Bergen's Aquarium
Bergen Aquarium offers an exciting opportunity to explore Norway's marine life. As one of the top Bergen attractions and the largest aquarium in Norway, Bergen Aquarium is home to a whole range of exhibits featuring fish, penguins, seals, sea lions, crocodiles and snakes.
When visiting Bergen Aquarium, you can choose whether you prefer to buy your ticket online or at the door, although we recommend purchasing your ticket beforehand during the peak tourist season of summer. With a cinema, venue for birthday parties and dining room with views of the fishes, Bergen Aquarium is a must-visit location during your trip to this fascinating city.
5. Stroll Through Bergen's Parks
Bergen is blessed with beautiful parks and green spaces, which are perfect for taking a leisurely stroll for a bit of relaxation during your busy days of sightseeing. One of the most accessible and peaceful things to do in Bergen, taking a walk in the city’s parks is sure to give you a much-needed nature hit during your time in Bergen.
We recommend taking a short break when you’re in the city center to wander round Bergen's first park, Byparken, and enjoy the views of the picturesque pond, statues and vibrant gardens. The largest park in Bergen, Nygardsparken, is another splendid park to explore. Close to the University of Bergen, this park contains a stunning lake and lush greenery.
6. Tour Troldhaugen Edvard Grieg Museum
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Bergen, Troldhaugen Edvard Grieg Museum offers the chance to visit the former residence of renowned and internationally-acclaimed Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. Here, you can explore the composer's villa, his composing hut by the lake and the museum dedicated to his life and work.
The serene surroundings, including Lake Nordas, add to the charm of this cultural gem. If you’re visiting Norway in summer, one of the best things to do in Bergen is attend one of the daily concerts at Troldhaugen held here during the summer months. This living museum in Bergen is a must-visit for any Greig fans and music lovers.
7. Discover Bergenhus Fortress
Dating back to the 13th century, Bergenhus Fortress is a historic landmark that once housed the royal residence. One of the oldest stone fortifications in Norway, Bergenhus Fortress is an amazing place to visit in Bergen to explore medieval architecture and learn about the city's military history in the attached museum.
You can enter Bergenhus Fortress for free but, if there’s a special event taking place, such as a concert or other cultural event, a paid ticket may be required. Attracting thousands of tourists each year, exploring Bergenhus Fortress is one of the most popular Bergen activities for visitors to this stunning and historic city.
8. Take a Breathtaking Fjord Cruise
As the gateway to some of Norway's most stunning fjords, including Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord, Bergen is the perfect place to take a fjord cruise. Experience the awe-inspiring natural beauty of these deep, glacier-carved valleys from the water itself as you glide along in a boat.
Many fjord cruises also offer stops in charming coastal villages, as well as opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting. If you have a few hours free and you’re wondering what to do in Bergen, we can definitely suggest a fjord cruise as an amazing way to see the city!
9. Hike in the Surrounding Mountains
The mountains surrounding Bergen provide excellent hiking routes for outdoor enthusiasts. Iconic trails like the Vidden Trail, Mount Ulriken and Mount Rundemanen routes offer varying levels of difficulty and breathtaking views of the city, fjords and the North Sea.
One of the best Bergen activities for nature lovers, taking a hike in Bergen’s surrounding mountains is the perfect thing to do on a sunny morning or afternoon. You might like to combine your hike with one of Bergen’s famous fjord cruises for a brilliant balance of quiet relaxation and active movement during your vacation.
10. Experience Bergen International Festival
If you're wondering what to see in Bergen at different times of the year, Bergen International Festival should definitely be on your list for spring! Norway's premier cultural event, Bergen International Festival features an array of world-class performances, including music, dance, theater and visual arts.
Hundreds of events are held at various venues throughout the city each May/June for Bergen International Festival. Dating back to the 1950s, Bergen International Festival is the longest-running music and theater festival in Norway and the largest of its kind across all the Nordic countries.
11. Learn at VilVite Bergen Science Centre
Perfect for families and curious minds, VilVite Bergen Science Centre is a hands-on science museum with interactive exhibits, fun workshops and amazing science shows to enjoy. Covering a wide range of topics, from physics and chemistry to robotics and the natural world, VilVite makes for a fun and educational stop for visitors of all ages.
Here, you can go on a virtual expedition underwater, witness some fiery experiments and code your very own computer game – sounds cool, right?! One of the best things to do in Bergen for all the family, VilVite also has a cafe and shop to explore.
12. Walk Through Trollskogen Troll Forest
Trollskogen, or the ‘Troll Forest’, is a mystical woodland located on Mount Floyen. Exploring the enchanting trails of the Troll Forest adorned with sculptures of trolls and mythical creatures is one of the most magical things to do in Bergen for both children and adults alike.
Home to beautiful scenery and a bit of fairytale magic, the Troll Forest is definitely a unique walking trail to take. Here, you can witness the importance of trolls in Scandinavian folklore as powerful woodland beings thought to dwell in caves and mountains among the trees.
13. Explore KODE Art Museum
KODE Art Museum is actually a group of four museums showcasing an impressive collection of Norwegian and international art. You can explore contemporary, classical and design art at these institutions, which are spread throughout Bergen.
These museums often host temporary exhibitions, making each visit a unique experience. With exhibitions including works by Edvard Munch and live concerts in Norwegian, visiting KODE is one of the most interesting things to do in Bergen to experience a slice of authentic Norwegian culture.
14. Visit Fantoft Stave Church
When considering what to see in Bergen, we recommend visiting the stunning and historic Fantoft Stave Church for a glimpse into the traditional architecture of Norway. Originally built in 1170, the Fantoft Stave Church you can see today has been totally rebuilt since it was set alight in 1992.
This reconstruction project proved to be challenging due to the long time that passed since the last stave church was built in Norway, meaning there wasn’t much existing knowledge about how to construct this kind of church. However, Fantoft Stave Church was eventually completed and contains a wish stone in the wall from the original church.
15. Indulge in Bergen’s Local Cuisine
No visit to Bergen is complete without savoring the local Norwegian dishes. In Bergen, you’re in the perfect place to sample some traditional Norwegian food, as this former UNESCO City of Gastronomy is home to many world-class restaurants and talented chefs.
Some Bergen specialties to try include raspeballer (potato dumplings), klippfisk (dried and salted cod) and farikal (mutton stew). Pair your meal with aquavit or a local craft beer for an authentic culinary experience.
All About Bergen: Norway’s Capital of the Fjords
Its unique blend of historic charm, breathtaking nature and buzzing urban atmosphere makes Bergen a fascinating city to both learn about and visit. Let’s get started by learning more about what makes Bergen a unique Norwegian city, before exploring all about what to do in Bergen.
- Founded in 1070 by King Olaf III Harldsson, Bergen was originally named Bjorgvin and was Norway’s capital during the 12th and 13th centuries.
- As a member of the Hanseatic League (a medieval trading alliance), Bergen was an important trading center for Hanseatic merchants. If you’d like to learn more about Bergen's importance in European trade during this period, you can check out the brilliant Hanseatic Museum located in Bryggen.
- Bergen serves as a gateway to some of Norway's most beautiful fjords, including the famous Næroyfjord, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be visited by taking a boat tour or scenic train ride.
- This Norwegian city is home to the University of Bergen, one of Norway's largest and most prestigious universities.
- Bergen has a vibrant cultural scene, hosting numerous music festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The prominent Greighallen is one of Bergen’s most popular venues for classical music performances.
- Bordering the North Sea in West Norway, Bergen is one of the rainiest cities in Europe! The mild coastal climate of Bergen means that the city doesn’t experience extreme temperatures, making it a relatively comfortable place to visit year-round – just remember to bring your raincoat!
Discover Bergen For Yourself!
Who wants to explore Bergen’s historical sites, scenic fjords and artistic treasures? We definitely do! Let’s get started with planning the perfect Bergen trip by exploring transport and accommodation options, then it’s time to plan your own list of things to do in Bergen, using this guide to our favorite Bergen activities as inspiration.
Have you considered renting a motorhome in Bergen for your Norway road trip? A camper, SUV or motorhome will give you the ultimate freedom and flexibility to explore Bergen and the rest of Fjord Norway’s stunning landscapes in your own time. You can check out our range of affordable and reliable campervan rentals in Norway today to get ready for your epic Bergen adventure, woohoo!