25 of the Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter

Bergen in Winter – No Better Time to Go!

Snow on the streets of the prettiest row of buildings. Bergen in winter is beautiful!

Whether you only have 3 days in Bergen or less, you will undoubtedly pass by this gorgeous set of wooden buildings over and over again. Who would get sick of this view anyway?

Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, doesn’t feel like a city at all. It has the homey feeling of a small town, where everyone waves or says “hi” to you each time they see you. A UNESCO World Heritage city, Bergen is a town of Hanseatic League fame, and it still retains that fisherman flavor. I know it’s a little crazy to go north for a city break in winter, but when you live in Germany Jim and I figured why not? We wanted to experience this cruise port town off-season and find the best things to do in Bergen. Yes, some things are closed down, but we spent three full days there using the Bergen City Card thanks to VisitBergen.com who provided it to us. Do I think the card is worth it, even in winter? The short answer is yes.  Below we’ve come up with 25 things for a couple or family to do during the winter, and almost all of them that have a cost associated with it were either free or discounted thanks to the card.

What are the 25 Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter?

1. Take a walk around the UNESCO inscribed port area (pictured above). The old wooden houses dating back to the 1900s are a warren of artisan workshops and boutiques that will have you shopping and gawking at handmade treasures for hours.

Exterior of the Hanseatic Museum, Bergen, Norway

Going to Bergen in winter, you definitely need to spend much of your time indoors to stay warm. We absolutely loved exploring the Hanseatic Museum, one of the best museums in Bergen.

2.* Bergen’s history is very colorful, just like its buildings, so you will want to go to our favorite museum and learn more about Bryggen and the Hanseatic League, as well as plenty of information on cod at the Hanseatic Museum.

Little green and orange boat dwarfed by a tall ship in Bergen harbor.

Taking local transportation across Bergen harbor gives you a few minutes of warmth. Bergen winters can be quite cold. The boat was empty and the pilot let Jim drive…bonus!

3.* Take public transportation. Not only does it get you to some of the farther flung sights, but it will warm up your cold feet after pounding the pavement for awhile. Bergen has an excellent public transport system of buses and trams that are easy to use, clean, and comfortable. You can also use the Beffin boat which ferries folks across the harbor. It’s been running since 1896, and the skipper even let Jim drive for a few minutes.

Penguins at the Bergen Aquarium

Bergen winter doesn’t stop these frisky birds. Even with just 3 days in Bergen, it’s well worth the trip to see the penguins frolic at the aquarium, especially if you are big kids like us!

4.* And since your taking the Beffin boat, walk up the hill and visit the aquarium where you can laugh at penguins and marvel at how smart sea lions are as well as learn about fish from the area and around the world.

Tasty homemade Norwegian sausages for sale.

If you have 3 days in Bergen, like we did, that gives you three different sausages to try! That hot chili polse will definitely keep you warm!

5. When you have worked up an appetite, you’ll want to try out some local fare. This sausage stand, the Trekroneren, was recommended to us by a local so you know we were heading straight there. Johannes told us to try the Voss sausage, but I couldn’t find it on the menu. It’s so local that they don’t list it, and then tourists never order it. We tried that and the reindeer sausage and loved them both.

Bergen statue of a fisherman.

You don’t often see such gorgeousness in a statue, but the ice spots give this an especially jeweled appearance…fish on! Bergen attractions definitely include all the statues sprinkled around the city.

6. Go on a scavenger hunt looking at all of the interesting sculptures in the city. I loved this one, because like any hardy fisherman, he was working long and hard even in the winter!

Back of the fjord cruise boat.

Take one of those 3 days in Bergen, and don’t miss the fjord cruise. They go out much of the winter, even in mid-January, like when we were there. Life does not stop during a Bergen winter. It just gets better!

7.* Take a fjord boat tour. Even in winter the boats go out every day, wending through the islets and fjords to bring you to some stunning views. We took the Rodne Fjord Tour in the afternoon, which took us out on the water through sunset. It was amazingly beautiful.

Bergen Art Museum with snow on the steps. Bergen winter is real!

On your list of Bergen attractions, you can easily get your art on and keep warm as you marvel at some amazing paintings in Bergen’s art museums. If you do one or two buildings a day, you can certainly see plenty of art on your 3 days in Bergen.

8.* Gawk at art at the Kode. The Kode has four buildings of art from the beginnings of Bergen to present. We enjoyed the Munch exhibits, as well as some of the temporary exhibits.

Coffee and map of Bergen, Norway to continually plan and re-plan our 3 days in Bergen.

Keeping warm and planning how to get the most out of a Bergen winter. We found that buying the Bergen Card was well worth the price, allowing us free admission into plenty Bergen attractions, museums, and activities.

9. Warm up your hands and insides with a good cup of coffee as you plan all the things you can do in this gorgeous city. It was cold while we were there, hovering a little under freezing all weekend, so we spent our fair share of time warming up with a good cup of coffee or for Jim, green tea.

Leave those Bergen attractions behind for the day and go sledding, like this happy family.

Sledding! There’s nothing better than an afternoon sledding during a sunny Bergen winter day. Finish it with a coffee or hot chocolate in one of the many cafés, and the whole family will be smiling!

10. Go sledding! Everywhere we looked the stores were selling sleds and people were pulling their kids on them or had a “rump-slider” hooked to their backpacks while walking around town.

A great view of winter-y view of Bergen harbor.

A great view of Bergen harbor with snow on the rooftops and along the streets. Cities are so much prettier in winter, don’t you think?

11.* Get high and take some amazing photos of the harbor. The best place to do this is the Rosenkrantz Tower* or the St. Mary’s Church* tower, and if you are lucky you can even listen to an organ concert while you are there.

People getting on one of the best of Bergen attractions, the funicular! They are going sledding.

More sledding, the number one thing to do on a perfect Bergen winter day. Take the funicular up and slide down…such fun!

12.* Take the Floibanen funicular for a great view of the city and some wonderful hiking trails. The trail is lit at night so you can even hike, sled, or ski in the evening.

Bergen winter city view at sunset.

Probably the best Bergen attraction is the view from the top of the funicular. Grab a hot cocoa or a beer and watch the sunset from a great vantage point.

13.* We went up the funicular and watched the sunset from Mount Floyen. They do have a small shop that has a hot chocolate and coffee machine which we desperately needed as we wanted photos throughout the time of the sun setting, going through a multitude of colors over about one and a half hours.

The back side of the fishing museum of Bergen.

The fishing museum of Bergen is one of many museums you can visit in Bergen, and entry with the Bergen Card is free for many of them.

14.* Learn all about fishing in Bergen at the Fisheries Museum. This museum is perfect for families with kids as the exhibits are fun and interactive. There was even a huge crab to climb on, but you’ll be happy to know that I restrained myself.

Iced lake on a mid-winter's afternoon in Bergen, Norway.

The reflections on the iced over lake make romantic views in late afternoon. Bergen winter, a warm sunset, coffee warming up your hands, there is nothing better for relaxing!

15. Take a walk in Byparken. This park, complete with pond and chilly ducks, is right in the center of town. I enjoyed playing the built in xylophone and Jim took the opportunity to search for a geo-cache.

16. Try some local tipple, akvavit (or aquavit), a Scandinavian drink that has a strong taste of cumin. Let me tell you, if you get chilled, this will immediately warm up your insides.

A restaurant at the Bergen Fish Market lit up at night.

The Fish Market in downtown Bergen where you can visit the Tourist Information Center to get a map of all of the Bergen attractions or grab some fresh fish for dinner…or both!

17. Eat fish! It’s the main food and product of Bergen so you can’t go home without trying some freshly caught fish. The Fish Market in the downtown area is the perfect place to try all kinds of local fish, and they provide heat lamps and blankets to keep you nice and cozy whether you are there for lunch or dinner.

The top of Ulriken in Bergen, Norway.

Ulriken is the place to see a great view, or hike and sled your way down to Bergen. This outdoor café is closed during the winter months, but the view is still stunning.

18. Take the Ulriken cable car up to the highest mountain in Bergen. Enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee in the winter or a nice cold beer in the spring, summer, and fall.

Winter adventurers in Bergen include skiing, snow-hiking, and sledding.

Winter adventurers in Bergen.

19. Snowshoe, cross-country ski, or just hike. From Ulriken there are plenty of trail heads. One of the most popular is the 13 km. trail to Mount Floyen.

25 of the Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter - the Hanseatic Museum

Part of the Hanseatic Museum, one of the premier Bergen attractions.

20.* Have a seat on a wooden bench in the Schotsteune where back in Hanseatic days it was the only place to have a fire, thus a kitchen. It’s technically part of the Hanseatic Museum, but it’s located nearer to the church and the fortress.

Hakkon's Hall in the Bergenfus Fortress.

Hakkon’s Hall in the Bergenhus Fortress is much larger than it looks, and what a worthwhile walk-through.

21.* And while you are on this side of town, check out Hakkon’s Hall* and the Rosenkratz Tower*, taking in the lives of both the royal and the not so royal.

Wooden rune messages found in Bergen.

Rune messages found in the Bryggen museum, one of the best Bergen attractions.

22.* Gawk at one of the largest collections of rune sticks while learning about the history of Bergen at the Bryggen Museum.

A street scene in Bergen center with lots of white buildings.

Beautiful white, traditional buildings in the center of Bergen.

23. Get lost in the myriad of steep and curvy alleyways as you meander the neighborhoods and streets of this quaint city.

The moon rise over Bergen, Norway.

If you have clear skies on your 3 days in Bergen, hopefully you will see the moon rise over the harbor.

24.  Enjoy the light! Whether you are visiting Bergen in winter or summer there is beautiful light. This is the moon still glowing over the city as the sun rises on a chilly January morning.

Dinner buffet in the Bergen hotel.

Free dinner at our hotel…what a bargain!

25. Save on dinner costs if you stay at the Thon Hotel. We stayed at this wonderful and comfy hotel which was situated right in the center of town. What we loved most was the food here. Not only did they serve one of the best breakfasts, with plenty of hot options, each morning, but they also serve a dinner snack each night…for free! Check out prices and availability of one of the best hotels in Bergen.

*Free or discounted with the Bergen Card.

Practical Information: 

Getting to Bergen: There are many ways to reach Bergen, both in summer and winter. You can arrive by air, car, ferry, or cruise boat.

Air: If you are like us, you just want to fly in for a quick 3 days in Bergen, and experience some true winter weather, complete with sledding; you can take any number of flights from around Europe. The airport is located 15 kilometers outside the city, but there is a bus that runs frequently for all scheduled flights. It is located outside the arrivals hall, and you can buy advanced tickets saving you 20 NOK and having to worry about cash on arrival. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the city center.

Ferry: Bergen is situated right on the coast, and its port is open all year round. There are high-speed ferries as well as cruise boats that dock there year-round. With the beauty of the Norwegian fjords, arriving by boat is just beautiful.  You can book your tickets here at Direct Ferry.

Car: In summer, a road trip through Norway is stunning, and to keep costs down a little you can camp everywhere. However, gas can be expensive and the distance, although breath-takingly beautiful, can be long. It takes about 7.5 hours to drive to Bergen from Oslo.

Costs: Norway is one of the most expensive countries to visit, so we recommend you buy the Bergen Card which will save you money on museum entrances, activities, and even give you a discount on those must-do fjord tours. As we mentioned above VisitBergen gave us cards, and believe me, we used them every day! Find out more about the Bergen Card.

We love traveling in Norway and really have done a fair bit. We loved Stavanger, Lista, Sogndals-Strand, Bygdoy where the Oslo museums are!

Have you been to Bergen, Norway?  What are your favorite things to do?

Pin 3 days in Bergen winter for later!
Winter Travel Planning! Go to Bergen, Norway. We've listed 25 great things to do!Going to Bergen? Here's 25 of the best things to do! Click here to read more.

Winter Travel Planning! Go to Bergen, Norway. We've listed 25 great things to do!

Winter Travel Planning! Go to Bergen, Norway. We've listed 25 great things to do!

Have you been to Bergen? Can you add to our list of things to do?

Pin Bergen for later!

Norway in winter?! Yes, go to Bergen. We've compiled all the best things for you to do; just click here.

12 Comments

  1. Such a great post! This town is so cute. I was in Oslo last year but really want to check out the smaller towns. And a drink that tastes like cumin? Haha, I’d have to try that one…

  2. The city looks stunning, beautiful photos and great guide! Adding this to my bucket list 🙂 Hopefully, I will be able to visit soon.

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