The Best Things to do in Bergen, Norway

The 15 Best Things to do in Bergen, Norway

If you’re looking for somewhere that boasts unparalleled beauty wherever you turn, plan a vacation to Bergen. Norway’s second-largest city and one of Scandinavia’s most popular cruise ship ports, this coastal paradise is a physical representation of the image that comes to mind when you picture a rustic Norwegian town.

Whatever type of vacation you’re seeking, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Bergen. From summer music festivals, intriguing art galleries, and fascinating museums to remarkable hiking trails, quaint historic villages, and delicious food you won’t be able to get enough of, there’s something for everyone here.

With so many exciting things to do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Bergen. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Bergen bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time exploring one of Norway’s most stunning cities! 

The Top 15 Things to do in Bergen

1. Feel Like Royalty at the Gamlehaugen

Unique Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Gamlehaugen

The city’s Royal Castle is where you’ll find some of the best sights in Bergen. Known as the Gamlehaugen in Norwegian, this stunning piece of architecture is the residence of the Norwegian Royal Family. It features a stunning Renaissance design and has been extended over and over as a display of power and to improve its use as a strong fortification. 

If you’ve only got a short time here, head straight to the rooftop. From up here, you’ll be rewarded with spellbinding views that sweep across the city for miles. But if you do have time to spare, it’s worth signing up for one of the guided tours. These take you to secret parts of the building you can’t access any other way, including the creepy dungeon.

The outside of the castle is even more gorgeous than the inside. The grounds are designed in a classic English garden style, with rolling green lawns, towering trees, and winding pathways, all laid out before a sparkling river. 

2. Admire the Colorful Houses at Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf

Must do things in Bergen, Norway: Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf

Before you start working your way through your list of things to do in Bergen, you should take a walk around Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf. This part of the city is so beautiful and picture-perfect that it’s difficult to believe it really exists. Known as Tyskebryggen in Norwegian, this area is brimming with tempting bistros, eye-catching studios, fascinating workshops, and boutique stores where you can pick up all sorts of unique gifts.

The entire neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of narrow alleyways, a charming promenade, and colorful wooden houses that are just begging you to stop and take a photo. 

We suggest you simply wander around and explore the area on your own. But if you’d prefer someone else to take the lead, you can sign up for a guided tour. A boat tour allows you to admire the area in all its glory from the water. Your guide will be happy to answer all your questions and will fill you in on all the most interesting things to see and do here.

3. Explore Four Museums in One at the University Museum of Bergen

What to do in Bergen, Norway: University Museum of Bergen

Bergen is well known for its top-tier university, and the university is well-known for its incredible collection of museums. Definitely one of the top things to do in Bergen, a day spent at the University Museum of Bergen (also known as Universitetsmuseet i Bergen) is one you’ll remember for years to come.

The four museums that make up the collection include the Seafaring Museum, the Cultural History Collection, the Natural History Collection, and the Botanic Garden, so whatever subject you’re interested in, you’ll find it here.

Throughout the museum, you’ll come across pieces spanning from the age of antiquity to the middle ages and all the way up to the present day. A lot of the collections focus on the western part of Norway, with handwoven textiles, fascinating archaeological finds, and a comprehensive ethnographic collection. 

The Botanical Garden is a great place to end your visit. Here you can take a gentle stroll among nature and admire exotic plants from all over the world. There’s so much to see here that you could easily stretch your visit over two days.

4. Hike Up to Mount Fløyen 

Best Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Mount Floyen

If you’re feeling energetic, grab your hiking gear and make a plan to hike to the top of Mount Fløyen. Also known as Fløyfjell, this intimidating mountain is where you’ll find some of the very best Bergen sightseeing opportunities. 

This towering natural landmark is located in the northeast of the city and rises a staggering 1,047 feet onto the air. It’s certainly a challenge to get to the top. But the time and effort it takes are always worth it for the chance to soak up the unbeatable panoramas of the city and surrounding area from the peak.

If you don’t feel like a hike, there’s another option. You can take a gentle ride on the Fløibanen to the top. This funicular railway takes you on a 2,770-foot journey to the summit and rewards you with breathtaking views along the way.

The best time to go is first thing in the morning or around sunset. There’s nothing like standing at what feels like the top of the world as you watch the sun rise or set before your eyes.

5. Have a Break with a Skillingsboller

Unique Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Skillingsboller

When you need a break from all the exciting Bergen attractions, find a traditional local cafe and order yourself a skillingsboller. This traditional sweet snack is similar to a cinnamon roll but without all the icing on top.

One of Bergen’s many gems, this circular pastry is made by combining flour, milk, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, and cardamom. The dough is rolled out into a long cylinder, curled up into a snail shape, and baked until it’s beautifully golden brown and smells amazing. For an added crunch, chopped almonds are sometimes mixed into the dough or sprinkled on top. 

What makes this snack so great is that it’s brushed with extra butter on the top and bottom while it’s still hot. This is to provide a sticky surface for extra sugar and cinnamon to cling to. It tastes even better than it sounds! 

We suggest grabbing a skillingsboller from Baker Brun. This place serves them fresh from the oven when they’re toasty warm and the butter is still dripping.

6. Explore the Imposing Bergenhus Fortress

What to do in Bergen, Norway: Bergenhus Fortress

One of the oldest and best-preserved fortifications in Norway, the Bergenhus Fortress has stood proudly at the entrance to the city’s harbor since the late 16th century. Despite being hundreds of years old, it’s one of the most impressive structures in Scandinavia, and spending a few hours there is definitely one of the must-do things in Bergen. 

There are many highlights to discover inside the fortress, such as Haakon’s Hall (Håkonshallen). This medieval-style banqueting hall was first built in 1261 and later restored in 1950 after centuries of wear and tear. Today the hall is just as remarkable as it was in its heyday and is one of the biggest surviving structures from the medieval period in Norway. 

Another part of the fortress worth checking out is the Rosenkrantz Tower. It was built in the 1500s to replace another building previously constructed in the same spot in the 1270s. Centuries ago, it was a combined residence and fortified tower. It’s a fascinating place to explore and imagine what it was like to live there all that time ago.

7. Party for Five Days at Bergenfest

Best Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Bergenfest

Attending Bergenfest is one of the coolest things to do in Bergen if you’re planning on visiting the city in the summer. This open-air festival takes place over five days when the center of the historic city comes to life with all kinds of intense blues and Americana music. 

Performances take place at various venues throughout the city center, so check the website for the exact dates, times, and locations. While blues and Americana take center stage, a handful of other genres make an appearance, including pop, rock, country, and electronic dance.

The festival always attracts an impressive lineup. Past editions have featured ZZ Top, Robert Plant, Imagine Dragons, Biffy Clyro, and Lana Del Rey, among many more popular international artists. 

As well as multiple stages, the festival has a number of food and drinks stalls selling all kinds of delicious local and international snacks. You’ll also find plenty of fun things to do in between the performances, including a hall of mirrors and merchandise stands.

8. Broaden Your Cultural Horizons at the KODE Museums

Unique Things to do in Bergen, Norway: KODE Museums

You’ll find some of the top Bergen activities hidden away inside the KODE Museums. These four incredible museums are scattered throughout central Bergen, along Lille Lungegård, and offer up a one-of-a-kind combination of parklands, concerts, historical artifacts, contemporary artwork, composers’ homes, and galleries. 

KODE1 is where you’ll find the museum’s various permanent collections, such as the Silver Treasure, which guards stunning pieces that were made out of gold and silver in Bergen. KODE1 also boasts the Singer Collection, made up of antiques and works by the Old Masters.

Head for KODE2, and you’ll be treated to a collection of frequently changing installations and exhibits, plus a huge art book store. The most interesting part of KODE3 is its spellbinding works of art created by Edvard Munch. If you visit in June, you’ll have the chance to sign up for a guided tour of this museum, so you can learn everything there is to know about the famous artist. 

KODE4 is dedicated to modernist art and is also home to the Kunstlab, a fun-packed interactive art gallery for kids. This part of the museum is free for visitors aged 16 and under. 

9. Bring Science to Life at the VilVite Bergen Science Center

Best Things to do in Bergen, Norway: VilVite Bergen Science Center
Images courtesy of VisitBergen

Even if you absolutely hated science in school, spending the day at the VilVite Bergen Science Center is one of the most fun things to do in Bergen. This one-of-a-kind museum invites you to get hands-on and really delve into the world of science and technology while discovering all sorts of cool new things at the same time.

As you work your way around the exhibits, you’ll have the chance to forecast the weather on-screen, play with hydropower, and even stand inside a bubble. You can also have a go at oil drilling through an exciting VR experience and see how good you are at navigating an oil tanker. 

Gift shops can sometimes be a hit or miss, but the one at VilVite Bergen Science Center is definitely worth checking out. Here you’ll find loads of smaller versions of the exhibits you find within the museum, so you can continue experimenting at home. 

10. Try a Reindeer Hot Dog

When you’re feeling hungry, have a go at one of the most unique things to do in Bergen – order yourself a reindeer hot dog! No, this isn’t a fun name for a regular hot dog with fancy toppings. Throughout Norway, it’s perfectly normal to eat reindeer, and hot dogs made out of this specialty meat are hugely popular throughout Bergen.

A reindeer hot dog looks like any other hot dog. It’s served in a bun and topped with mustard, lingonberry jam, and crispy fried onions. But it tastes so much different. Reindeer sausages are huge and have a thin casing on the outside that gives a satisfying snap when you bite into it. The flavor is a unique combination of sweet and savory, with a hint of spice and a subtle gamey sense.

The best place for reindeer hot dogs is Bergen’s Trekroneren hot dog stand (at Kong Oscars gate 2). This food kiosk has been around for decades and serves a huge range of hot dogs for very reasonable prices.

11. Surround Yourself with History at the Old Bergen Museum

What to do in Bergen, Norway: Old Bergen Museum
Images courtesy of VisitBergen

For some of the best things to see in Bergen, spend a day at the Old Bergen Museum. This captivating open-air museum invites you on a journey all the way back to the 1800s, so you can experience first-hand what it was like to live in Norway back then.

The popular museum opened in 1946 in an effort to preserve Bergen’s historic buildings, and it has done an excellent job. Today you can explore 55 stunning wooden historic structures which were originally in the center of town. As well as the interesting buildings, you’ll also spot costumed characters going about their day, all eager to share their stories of the past with you.

The Old Bergen Museum hosts historical events throughout the year that reflect how people in the 18th century would have celebrated. Check the website to see if there’s anything fun happening during your visit. If not, you’ll be glad to know that there are performances held several times each day in the town square. 

12. Say “Cheers!” with the Bergen Whiskey & Beer Festival

Unique Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Bergen Whiskey and Beer Festival

When you’re in the mood to relax and let your hair down, check out Bergen’s Whiskey & Beer Festival. The largest festival of its kind in Norway, this event is held in January each year and provides you with an excellent way of keeping warm in the icy Norwegian winters. 

One of the best things to do in Bergen, a day spent at this boozy festival gives you a chance to try a staggering range of beers and whiskeys from Norway and all over the world. It’s incredibly well organized. You buy a card at the beginning that has the value of a set number of drinks. Then simply hand it over to the stall you’re interested in, they’ll stamp your card, and you’ll receive your drink.

Cool Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Bergen Whiskey and Beer Festival

If you’re really interested in beer and whiskey, you can join one of the masterclasses. You’ll get to learn how the drink is made, as well as find out the proper way of tasting it and pairing it with different foods.

13. Take a Trip to Lisøy Island

Fun Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Lisøy Island
Images courtesy of VisitBergen

Lisøy Island is the place to go when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Bergen and chill out for a while. Set within the suburb of Fana, this peaceful island is home to the famous romantic villa once owned by the Norwegian composer and violinist Ole Bull. He used it as a summer residence in the late 1800s, but today it’s open for the public to explore during summer.

If you’re interested in exploring the house, sign up for one of the Lysøen Museum guided tours. It will take you through the most impressive rooms in the villa, as well as on a trip through the well-manicured grounds. 

There’s a whopping 8 miles of stunning trails to discover that take you all over the island. Because it’s almost entirely flat, the trails are very easy and can be enjoyed by all ages. Take a look around, and you’ll come across a number of gazebos perfect for picnics, as well as glistening ponds with fish.

14. Sail Between the Largest Fjords in Norway

Fun Things to do in Bergen, Norway: Largest Fjords in Norway

If you’re looking for things to do in Bergen that you’ll be telling people about for the rest of your life, sign up for a fjord cruise. The coastal city is nicknamed the “Fjord Capital of Norway” for a good reason – it’s tucked in between some of the country’s largest fjords.

Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord are the two largest fjords, and you won’t have any problem finding tours that depart from the city. This is one of our favorites. Not only does it include a cruise to Sognefjord, where you’ll see some of the most dramatic panoramas you’ve ever seen, but it also incorporates a ride on the iconic Flåm Railway, a tour around the village of Flåm, and a scenic bus ride to Gudvangen.

The Sognefjord is the longest and deepest fjord out of the two, measuring more than 125 miles long and almost one mile deep. Make sure you’ve got plenty of spare memory on your phone because you’ll be snapping pictures non-stop!

15. Sample Vossaøl

At the end of a long day of sightseeing, relax with a cool icy glass of Vossaøl. This traditional Norwegian farmhouse ale has been brewed in Bergen for hundreds of years. It’s a specialty of local farmers who use their hops and grains, along with local yeast, to make the golden amber drink.

Although this traditional brewing method slowly died out, it’s coming back into fashion now that craft beers are surging in popularity. But unlike the beers you get from most microbreweries, Vossaøl uses unsmoked malt, so it doesn’t have a smoky flavor.

It’s also usually brewed with kveik (a type of traditional yeast from Bergen) and is mostly flavored with juniper. This makes the drink almost transparent, with a copper or dark amber tint. 

Because Vossaøl is so popular, you’ll find it available in practically every bar and specialty alcohol store. If you’re looking for a unique experience, we suggest ordering a glass of it from No Stress. This award-winning bar has a relaxing atmosphere, complete with a games console for visitors.

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Bergen. What’s your favorite thing to do in Bergen?



  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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