View of Bergen from the city mountain on a clear summer day, with the Norwegian flag in the wind under blue skies

A Native Advice: Is Bergen Norway Worth Visiting? (2024)

Bergen is a charming gem in Norway’s crown, nestled somewhere between fjords and mountains on the wild west coast of the country. This picturesque town is surrounded by natural beauty and has a rich history and a unique culture. So, Is Bergen Norway worth visiting?

Yes, it is! And I am not just saying that. I have visited Bergen repeatedly and even stayed there for long periods of time – and I really like Bergen. There is just this one thing.

Be prepared that Bergen is the city in Norway that holds the record for the number of annual rainy days – every year!

Still, people from Bergen will tell you: “I’m not from Norway; I am from Bergen!” And there is a reason for that; Bergen is pretty – even in the rain.

As the gateway to Norway’s majestic fjords, Bergen’s stunning landscapes and welcoming atmosphere make it a must-visit destination.

Quick Facts Norway

📍 Quick facts about Norway:

  • Population 5 million
  • Capital city: Oslo
  • Bergen: West Coast Town
  • Language: Norwegian (most people speak English)
  • Currency: Norwegian Krone (currency calculator)
  • Coastline: 62000 miles
  • Has territory in the Arctic region
  • Midnight Sun in summer and Northern Lights in winter

Why Should You Visit Bergen?

Is Bergen Norway worth visiting? Bergen Brygge in bright sunlight on a sunny day, with fishing boats and sail boats docked in front of the iconic buildings of the wharf under the hillsides with classical residential houses.
The famous Bergen Brygge – or Bergen Wharf

Bergen’s charm lies in its mix of old and new. The historic Bryggen Wharf, with its colorful wooden and brick buildings, tells tales of a bygone era, while modern attractions like the Bergen Aquarium showcase the city’s dynamic spirit.

Bergen’s culinary scene, highlighted by its famous fish market, offers fresh seafood that tantalizes the taste buds.

With an array of activities and sights to explore, Bergen promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit. I have carved out nine reasons why Bergen is a worthwhile destination when you visit Norway!

1. Stunning Scenic Views from Mount Fløyen or Ulriken

Hiking the Vidden over Bergen Norway, man standing enjoying the view from the green wide hilly Vidden, looking down at the blank fjord and the city far below
Hiking the Vidden over Bergen Norway

A visit to Bergen is not complete without experiencing the breathtaking views from the surrounding mountains, either from Mount Fløyen or Mount Ulriken.

These popular destinations have unparalleled panoramic views of the city, fjords, and surrounding mountains. The journey to the top is an adventure in itself, with the Fløyen funicular or Ulriken Gondola providing a scenic ride that climbs 320 meters above sea level.

Once at the summit, you will enjoy not just the view but beautiful hiking in the mountain plains that the locals call “Vidden”. The area is crisscrossed with hiking trails suitable for all levels, offering a chance to explore a part of Norway’s stunning natural landscapes.

You can take the gondola up Ulriken or the funicular up Fløyen and head out for a 5-hour hike across Vidden between Ulriken and Fløyen in either direction.

Or take on a more challenging hike starting all the way from the sea level both places and walk the ascent while the views are spectacular every step of the way.

📍 TravelToNorway Tip: Take the local bus to Ulriken and take the gondola up. Then hike the 5-hour trip to Ulriken, where you have incredible views of the city. From there, you can walk downhill to Bergen or take the funicular down – and you will arrive in the middle of the city center!

If you just want to relax and enjoy the view, there are plenty of spots to sit and soak in the scenery on the top. The Fløyen mountaintop also has a charming café where you can enjoy a hot drink or a light meal while taking in the vistas.

2. Exploring the Historic Bryggen Wharf

Bergen Wharf on a calm day with blank waters, boats lying calmly at the docks and the sky is pale blue
Bergen Wharf on a calm day

Bryggen Wharf is a vibrant testament to Bergen’s rich history. This UNESCO World Heritage site, with its colorful wooden buildings lining the waterfront, dates back to the Hanseatic League’s trading days.

Strolling through Bryggen feels like stepping back in time, with narrow alleyways and preserved architecture telling stories of Bergen’s mercantile past.

The area is home to several museums, shops, and restaurants that celebrate Bergen’s cultural heritage. The Hanseatic Museum, located in one of the original trading buildings, offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the German merchants who once lived and worked here.

It’s an immersive experience that highlights the city’s historic significance.

Bryggen is also a hub for local artisans and boutiques. Visitors can browse a variety of unique shops selling handcrafted goods, Norwegian sweaters, and local artwork.

Dining at one of the waterfront restaurants is a treat, with fresh seafood and traditional Norwegian dishes on offer. Bryggen Wharf is not just a historical site; it’s a lively part of Bergen’s everyday life, blending past and present seamlessly.

Also read: 22 Best Things To Do In Bergen From A Native

3. Delighting in Fresh Seafood at the Fish Market

A variety of Fresh seafood on ice at the Bergen Fish Market
Fresh seafood at Bergen Fish Market

The Bergen Fish Market is a feast for the senses and a must-visit for traveling foodies. Located in the heart of the city, this bustling market has been a central part of Bergen’s culinary scene for centuries.

Here, you’ll find an impressive array of fresh seafood, from king crab and lobster to salmon and shrimp, all sourced from the nearby waters.

Visiting the market is an opportunity to sample some of the best seafood Norway has to offer. Many stalls offer ready-to-eat dishes, allowing you to savor delicacies like smoked salmon, fish soup, and even sushi made from the freshest ingredients.

The vibrant atmosphere, with vendors calling out their wares and the scent of the ocean in the air, makes for an unforgettable experience.

Beyond the seafood, the market also features stalls selling local produce, cheeses, and baked goods. It’s a great place to pick up picnic supplies or unique souvenirs.

Whether you’re enjoying a quick snack or a full meal, the Bergen Fish Market is a delightful dive into the local food culture, showcasing the city’s rich maritime heritage.

4. Immersing in Marine Life at the Bergen Aquarium

For a family-friendly adventure, the Bergen Aquarium offers a captivating glimpse into the underwater world. As one of Norway’s largest and most modern aquariums, it houses a diverse range of marine life, from the icy waters of the Arctic to the tropical seas.

The exhibits are designed to educate and entertain, making it a hit with visitors of all ages.

The aquarium’s star attractions include playful seals, majestic sharks, and colorful tropical fish. Interactive displays and feeding shows provide engaging ways to learn about marine ecosystems and the importance of conservation.

The penguin exhibit is particularly popular for young and old, offering a close-up view of these charming creatures as they waddle and swim.

The Bergen Aquarium also emphasizes education, with programs and activities aimed at raising awareness about marine conservation. Kids will love the touch pools, where they can interact with starfish and other sea creatures.

With its combination of fun and learning, the aquarium is a highlight for anyone visiting Bergen, providing a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the sea.

5. Experiencing Local History at the Hanseatic Museum

details from the city of Bergen in summer, a cozy corner with a white ornate decorative chair, greenery and colorful flowers, and a bike with a basket in front of a yellow house
A charming corner in the city of Bergen where the nights never gets dark in summer

The Hanseatic Museum offers a fascinating window into Bergen’s past. Located in one of the preserved wooden buildings of Bryggen, the museum chronicles the life and work of the Hanseatic merchants who dominated trade in Bergen for centuries.

The museum’s exhibits recreate the daily life of these merchants, showcasing their old living quarters, offices, and trading goods.

The meticulously preserved interiors, with their original wooden beams and period furnishings, will give you an authentic glimpse into the 18th century Bergen. It’s an immersive experience that brings history to life.

In addition to the main exhibits, the museum offers guided tours that dive deeper into the Hanseatic League’s impact on Bergen and Northern Europe.

These tours provide valuable context and enrich your understanding of the historical significance of Bryggen. The Hanseatic Museum is a testament to Bergen’s rich cultural heritage, offering a detailed and engaging exploration of its trading past.

6. Discovering Art and Culture at KODE Art Museums

Bergen is a city that celebrates art and culture, and the KODE Art Museums are at the heart of this vibrant scene.

Comprising four buildings, KODE offers an extensive collection of artworks and artifacts, ranging from classical to contemporary. It’s one of Scandinavia’s largest art museums, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

The museums house works by renowned Norwegian and international artists. Highlights include pieces by Edvard Munch, famous for “The Scream,” and collections of fine silver, furniture, and Chinese art. Each building has its own focus, allowing you to explore different aspects of art and culture.

KODE also hosts temporary exhibitions, concerts, and events, ensuring there’s always something new to see.

The museums’ dedication to both historical and modern art provides a comprehensive cultural experience. Whether you’re an avid art lover or a casual visitor, KODE’s diverse offerings will leave you inspired and enlightened.

7. Enjoying the Vibrant Bergen Nightlife

Overview photo of Bergen Norway by night, with the city lit by thousands of lights around the narrow harbor
Bergen by night from above in the hills

Bergen’s nightlife is as vibrant and diverse as the city itself. As the sun sets, the city comes alive with a variety of entertainment options, from cozy pubs and trendy bars to lively nightclubs and music venues.

One of the city’s highlights is its live music scene. Bergen is known for producing some of Norway’s most famous musical talents, and its local venues reflect this creative energy.

Popular spots like Garage and USF Verftet host live performances ranging from rock and jazz to electronic music, providing a platform for both emerging and established artists.

For a more relaxed evening, Bergen’s pubs and bars offer a welcoming atmosphere. Places like the Pingvinen bar serve up local brews and traditional Norwegian dishes, making them perfect for a laid-back night out.

Whether you’re mingling with locals or enjoying the vibrant cultural scene, Bergen’s nightlife adds a dynamic and exciting dimension to your visit.

8. Swim in Nordnes: Bergens Central Sea Bath

Nordnes Sea Bath is situated in Nordnes Park, not far from the Bergen Aquarium, within walking distance to the city center.

This is an outdoor, heated 25-meter saline water pool that stays a comfortable 30 degrees Celsius. You can also jump into the sea whenever you like. The pool is situated on the edge of the western side of the park, right next to the sea.

There is a diving point from shore from where you can jump into the sea, and there are also wardrobes and a hot sauna. The season for Nordnes Sea Bath is from late May through September, but opening hours can vary dependent on the weather and elements.

In Bergen, there are a variety of places to go swimming in the fjords, all providing you with a fresh experience in the Norwegian waters.

9. Stay at the Historic Det Hanseatiske Hotel

For a taste of history with a touch of luxury, Det Hanseatiske Hotel offers a unique lodging experience.

Located in a historic building dating back to the 16th century, this hotel provides an intimate connection to Bergen’s past while offering an array of modern comforts and a stunning interior. Its central location in the heart of Bryggen makes it an ideal base for exploring the city.

The hotel’s rooms are elegantly furnished, blending period details with contemporary amenities. Each room is unique, featuring antique wooden beams and rich fabrics that create a cozy, historical ambiance.

Staying here feels like stepping back in time, yet with all the conveniences of the present day.

Det Hanseatiske Hotel also boasts two exceptional dining options. The Finnegaarden Restaurant serves gourmet Nordic cuisine, while the intimate Hanseaten offers traditional dishes in a historic setting.

The hotel’s charm and character, combined with its prime location, make it a truly memorable place to stay, adding an extra layer of history to your Bergen visit.

10. Exploring the Picturesque Surroundings

The spectacular view from Trolltunga Norway, a rock that stretches out from the top of the mountain where you can stand above the majestic fjords surrounded by mountains for breathtaking scenery. A person is standing here on Trolltunga wearing a red jacket, stretching arms in the air, colorful in front of the misty silvery views of the mountains and fjords.
Stunning views of Trolltunga in Norway

Bergen’s natural beauty extends beyond the city limits, offering numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures. The surrounding fjords, mountains, and coastal areas are perfect for day trips and excursions, making Bergen an ideal base for exploring Norway’s stunning landscapes.

A popular day trip is a visit to the nearby fjords, such as the Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. These majestic waterways, with their dramatic cliffs and serene waters, offer some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

Boat tours provide a relaxing way to experience the fjords’ beauty. Options range from short cruises to full-day excursions that include stops at charming villages and waterfalls.

If you prefer land-based activities, the surrounding mountains and trails offer excellent hiking opportunities. One notable hike is the trek up to Trolltunga, a dramatic cliff that juts out over Lake Ringedalsvatnet.

This ascending hike starts from Skjeggedal, a three-hour drive from Bergen. It is challenging but will reward you with spectacular views and a strong sense of accomplishment once on top!

Kayaking is another fantastic way to explore nature in the area. Paddling through the calm waters of the fjords provides a unique perspective on the landscape, with the chance to see wildlife and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

FAQ Bergen Norway

How Many Days In Bergen Is Enough?

If you just want to experience Bergen city, I would say two days in Bergen will give you the highlights of the town.

However, if you want to go a little bit deeper and also travel around in the western region of Norway, I recommend you plan for 5-7 days to get all the experiences you want without any stress.

Why Is Bergen So Popular?

Bergen is a unique destination in Norway, with its own history as a sea trading hub for centuries. It also has the antique Bryggen Wharf, the iconic fish market, and several incredible and well-preserved buildings in town.

Combine this with the location in the stunning western part of Norway with the fjords and majestic mountains close by, and you have your answer!

Is Bergen Nices Than Oslo?

Bergen is different than Oslo. The town is a lot smaller, with characteristic architecture, culture, dialect, history, and nature.

In conclusion, it is almost incomparable to set the two towns up against each other, so whether the one is nicer than the other probably depends on whether you like the capital vibe or the picturesque town vibe.

Why Do People Go To Bergen?

Probably because they have heard about the beauty of nature and the charm of the town! Bergen is one of the oldest port cities in Norway and even in Europe, and the Bryggen Wharf is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And then you have the iconic waterfront, the two ascents to the mountains, the Vidden mountain plains, and the majestic fjords a few hours away, that probably inspire people to visit.

Are People Friendly In Bergen?

People in Bergen, the so-called “bergensers,” have a reputation for being proud and loud, hence the statement, “I am not from Norway; I am from Bergen!”.

That said, bergensers are really friendly, talkative, and welcoming, so don’t worry.

Image from Mount Fløyen in Bergen on a sunny summer day with spectacular views of teh hills and fjords
The colorful houses in Bryggen in Bergen (Bergen Wharf) and the characteristic houses in the hillside ascending behind the wharf on a sunny summer day, with boats docked on the wharf in the sun

Wrap-Up: Is Bergen Worth Visiting?

Bergen will captivate you with its stunning scenery, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the panoramic views of Mount Fløyen and Ulriken to the historic charm of Bryggen Wharf, the museums, and the architecture – every corner of Bergen tells a story.

The city’s attractions, such as the bustling fish market and the educational Bergen Aquarium, offer unique local experiences that appeal to all ages.

Staying at the historic Det Hanseatiske Hotel and exploring the art treasures at KODE Art Museums add depth to your visit, while the museums provides a fascinating insight into Bergen’s past.

As the sun sets, Bergen’s nightlife brings the city to life, offering a dynamic mix of restaurants and cozy pubs.

The surrounding natural beauty, from the majestic fjords to the inviting hiking trails, ensures that outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to explore. Bergen is a journey through history, culture, and nature.

So in my opinion, Bergen is undoubtedly worth visiting, and if you find any of the things I have described here interesting – chances are you will, too!

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