Bergen in Winter – No Better Time to Go!
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 weren’t sure where to go. We had to choose between the Lofoten Islands, Svolvaer, Tromso, and we decided on Bergen, where we we wanted to experience this cruise port town off-season and find the best things to do in the city. 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.
Table of Contents
- Bergen in Winter – No Better Time to Go!
- What are the Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter?
- Meander around Bryggen
- 2. Visit the Hanseatic Museum
- 3. Take public transportation
- 4. Enjoy The Aquarium
- 5. Eat a Local Snack
- 6. Take an Art Walk
- 7. Take a Bergen fjords winter boat tour
- 8. Visit the Kode
- 9. Keep Warm at a Coffee Shop
- 10. Go sledding!
- 11. Take in the Views
- 12. Enjoy the Floibanen
- 13. Marvel at the Sunset
- 14. Enjoy the Fisheries Museum
- 15. Take a walk in Byparken
- 16. Order a Local Drink
- 17. Eat fresh fish!
- 18. Get up on the Mountain
- 19. Try a New Sport
- 20. Take a Look Back at History
- 21. Wander among some traditional buildings
- 22. Learn about Runes
- 23. Get lost
- 24. Enjoy the light!
- 25. Try out a new kind of hotel
- Bergen Tourist Map
- When is the Best Time to Visit Bergen?
- Getting to Bergen
- Have you been to Bergen, Norway? What are your favorite things to do?
- Have you been to Bergen? Can you add to our list of things to do?
- Related Posts
What are the Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter?
Meander around Bryggen
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.
2. Visit the Hanseatic Museum
* 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.
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.
4. Enjoy The Aquarium
*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.
5. Eat a Local Snack
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.
6. Take an Art Walk
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!
7. Take a Bergen fjords winter 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.
8. Visit the Kode
*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.
9. Keep Warm at a Coffee Shop
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.
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.
11. Take in the Views
*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.
12. Enjoy the Floibanen
*Ride 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.
13. Marvel at the Sunset
*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.
14. Enjoy the Fisheries Museum
*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.
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. Order a Local Drink
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.
17. Eat fresh 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.
18. Get up on the Mountain
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.
19. Try a New Sport
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.
20. Take a Look Back at History
*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.
21. Wander among some traditional buildings
*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.
22. Learn about Runes
*Gawk at one of the largest collections of rune sticks while learning about the history of Bergen at the Bryggen Museum.
23. Get lost
Get lost in the myriad of steep and curvy alleyways as you meander the neighborhoods and streets of this quaint city.
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.
25. Try out a new kind of hotel
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.
Bergen Tourist Map
When is the Best Time to Visit Bergen?
You guessed it, winter! Winter is the best time because it’s a very wet climate. This means that it rains or snows over 300 days per year. Who wants to trek around in the rain? Snow is much more fun and pretty. All you have to do is bundle up a little more and get into the wintry spirit! I would say, you should definitely visit this gorgeous Norwegian city during December, January, or February.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Power Tip: For making your way around town, most public transportation is free with the Bergen Card. What a bonus!
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.
Have you been to Bergen, Norway? What are your favorite things to do?
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