• 17 September 2019

The city of Bergen is a beautiful, historic city, set on the western shores of Norway. It’s a favourite amongst tourists travelling in the region, thanks to its dreamy Scandinavian atmosphere and picturesque scenery. Bergen is a relatively small city and an ideal destination for exploring on foot.

This Bergen travel guide breaks down what to see in Bergen, Norway in one day, and explores the various activities and attractions that are on offer. If you’re wondering what to do in Bergen, this is the guide for you.

Take the Funicular up Mt. Fløyen

One of the most popular things to do in Bergen is to ride the Fløibanen funicular up Mt. Fløyen. Fløyen is one of Bergen’s city mountains and slopes upward from the northeast of the city.

At around 400m, it’s not a particularly tall mountain, but it certainly offers the most amazing views of Bergen! The sprawling vista extends out over the city, harbour, and beyond.

Sunset is a particularly magical time atop Fløyen, even if the notorious Bergen cloud cover blocks the sunset itself. As the sun sinks, the lights of the city awaken and sparkle, reflecting off the water of the harbour!

The 8-minute funicular ride is part of the magic; it whisks you through tunnels and surrounds you with quintessential Norwegian charm.

The funicular going up Mt Floyen
The funicular going up Mt. Fløyen
Take a Hike

Norway’s breathtaking natural scenery, characterised by swooping, desolate mountain ranges, and glassy fjords, makes it a wonderful country for hiking. Hiking is particularly popular in Bergen, and there are several great walking trails that depart from Fløyen.

Hiking activities in Bergen
Hiking activities in Bergen
Discover Bryggen 

By far Bergen’s most famous attraction, Bryggen is a series of interconnected old buildings that make up the historic centre of Bergen. The UNESCO world heritage site is characterised by the iconic colourful houses set on the banks of the harbour.

While this vibrant front row of buildings is what Bryggen is famed for, it is not all that the area offers. Bryggen is actually a large interconnected wharf, set behind the famous facade. 

A network of narrow alleyways weaves between the buildings and string together a series of courtyards. Take a stroll through them, absorbing the incredible history and admiring the quaint Norwegian charm. There are several small shops and cafés amongst the alleys and courtyards, which offer a great opportunity to sit and enjoy some coffee.

Commercial buildings in Vagen harbour, Bryggen
An aerial view of the colourful buildings of Bryggen, the UNESCO world heritage site
Experience Bergen’s Iconic Fish Market

With roots dating back to the early 13th century, Bergen’s Fish Market is a picturesque outdoor market that offers visitors an archetypal Norweigian experience and delicious, fresh food. The harbourside location is wonderfully scenic and adds to the charming atmosphere.

Historically a fresh fish market, it has been an important point of trade for centuries. For a long time, fishing was the primary source of economic activity in the city, and the bulk of it was sold at the Fish Market. These days it is tailored more toward tourists, so souvenirs are sold as well as the delectable fresh fish.

Bergen fish market
Bergen fish market
Visit the Hanseatic Museum

Set on the original site of the offices and warehouses of the historic Hanseatic League trading network, this living museum offers a window back in time. It provides insights into the lives and trade of the people who worked there centuries ago. 

The museum replicates the living conditions of the time and houses a plethora of relics and artefacts. Learn about the city’s rich history and prolific fish trade.

The historical Hanseatic Museum
The historical Hanseatic Museum
Explore the Modern Bergen City Center

While Bergen’s historic areas are undeniably the city’s main attraction, the modern downtown area has its own charm to offer. The atmosphere is wonderful, with street performers playing their hearts out, and locals buzzing about their days. 

The area is home to numerous cafés, restaurants, and bars, as well as parks where you can kick back and relax on the grass while you soak up the city’s unique vibe. 

Torgallmenningen, the main square of Bergen
Torgallmenningen, the main square of Bergen
Visit KODE Bergen Art Museum

Set around Lungegårdsvannet Lake, KODE is a large art and music museum, spread across a series of four buildings. Between them, the museums house a number of art collections, including pieces from famous artists such as Picasso and Nikolai Astrup. You’ll also find historic relics and artefacts.

The museum also includes the pristinely preserved homes of three of Bergen’s greatest historic composers: Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull, and Harald Sæverud.

Tip – Pick up a 24-hour Bergen card. It gives you free or discounted access to most of the city’s best attractions and museums. It also provides full access to the public transport system, and discounts at some restaurants and stores.

KODE Art Museum and Musikkpaviljongen in Bergen City
KODE Art Museum and Musikkpaviljongen in Bergen City
Find Enchantment at Gingerbread Town

Pepperkakebyen is the world’s largest gingerbread town, and it’s every bit as magical as it sounds! The scale model town is set to a wonderfully wintery theme, with cosy lights and festive frills. It’s a fairytale fantasy and an incredibly unique experience. Walk between the carefully detailed scenes, and soak up the splendid atmosphere.

Pepperkakebyen is only open in the winter months, but if your trip lines up with its opening times, it’s certainly worth a visit.

The annual Gingerbread Town in Bergen
The annual Gingerbread Town in Bergen
Admire Bergen Cathedral

Bergen Cathedral has roots in the 12th century, although the current structure dates back to around the 17th century. Characterised by stunning stonemasonry and intricate carvings, it’s a beautiful old building, with a distinct archaic charm. Stop by the cathedral for a trip back in time and a sense of the city’s far-reaching history.

Bergen (Domkirke) Catherdral
Bergen (Domkirke) Catherdral
Try the Local Cuisine

The city is home to a number of great eateries, but Bare Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Bergen, Norway. It’s a fine diners fantasy and serves up a selection of scrumptious Scandinavian dishes. There really isn’t a better place to try some local food.

Fårikål is considered to be the national dish of Norway. Similar to a stew, this dish consists of pieces of mutton with bone, whole black pepper, cabbage and often a little wheat flour is added to thicken the sauce. The traditional side dish is normally unpeeled boiled potatoes.

After dinner, go grab a drink at Magic Ice Bar Bergen, a frosty winter wonderland built from tons of ice. Sip on a drink in a glass made of ice, and marvel at the intricate ice sculptures. Just don’t forget a warm jacket!

Traditional Fårikål, the national food of Norway
Traditional Fårikål, the national food of Norway

Bergen is an incredible place to spend 24 hours. It’s Norway’s second-biggest city, yet it maintains the quaint charm of a small fishing village. On day 6 of this 12-day Scandanavian Escape tour, you’ll have a free day to explore these wonders of Bergen.

Its idyllic cobbled streets wind their way between the stunning historic buildings and meander throughout the hilly terrain. It is immersed in iconic Norwegian landscapes and famed for its stunning fjords and mountain scenery.

The city is a wonderful addition to any Scandinavian itinerary, for all types of travellers, and we hope this Bergen travel guide has helped you plan your stay.

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