Looking for the best things to do in Bergen, Norway?
Having never previously heard of the city we travelled here on a budget flight back from the US to Europe and decided to spend a couple of days exploring the city.
It’s one of the best decisions we made.
Helen and I both fell in love with this city. Despite the wind, cold, rain and even the occasional sleet and snow, the city had a lot to offer and was the pinnacle of Scandinavian charm.
While Bergen may not be the cheapest places to visit, this list of things to do in the city encompasses both luxury and budget activities set to ensure you have an incredible trip.
Table of Contents
- 1. King Håkon’s Hall
- 2. Floibanen Funicular
- 3. Leprosy Museum
- 4. Take The Train To Oslo
- 5. Fantoft Stave Church
- 6. KODE Art Museum
- 7. Tour Of The City With A Local
- 8. The Norwegian Fjords
- 9. Attend The Bergen International Festival
- 10. Bryggen
- 11. Fish Market
- 12. Byparken
- 13. Sightseeing Bus
- 14. Bergenhus Fortress
- 15. Bergen Aquarium
- 16. Old Bergen Museum
- 17. Mount Ulriken
- 18. Rosenkrantz Tower
- 19. Damsgård Manor
- 20. VilVite Science Centre
- 21. Edvard Grieg Museum
1. King Håkon’s Hall
Built between 1247 and 1261 Hakon’s Hall was named after it’s creator Håkon Håkonsson. During the 13th century, Bergen was the political centre of Norway.
At this time King Håkon’s Hall became the site of major national events, such as the drawing up of Norway’s first complete set of laws.
Political events may have moved to the capital of Oslo, Norway. However, King Håkon’s Hall is still used for royal dinners and special occasions.
Entrance to Hakonshallen is 100NOK for adults and 50NOK for students with under 18’s being free. However, for an additional 30NOK per person, you can go on a guided tour of the hall between 22nd June and 18th August (Tours in English depart at both 10am and 2pm)
2. Floibanen Funicular
While our flight across the Atlantic into Bergen was delayed. We didn’t let this stop us exploring what little of the day we had left in the city.
As our visit was in the winter months, the museums had already closed. However, the Floibanen Funicular was still running so we decided to journey to the top to get a (somewhat) panoramic view of the city.
The journey on the Floibanen Funicular takes you 320m above sea level in around 5 to 8 minutes. Each cart has 60 seats and leaves every 15 minutes.
In the summer months, this is one of the most popular things to do in Bergen with both tourists and locals visiting the cafés, playgrounds and hiking in the adjoining mountains.
3. Leprosy Museum
Learning about leprosy isn’t something I planned to do on a trip to Bergen. However, the disease played an important part in Bergen history with the city having the largest concentration of patients for the decease in Europe during its peak.
Hosted inside the wonderfully preserved 18th century St George’s Hospital one of Scandinavia’s oldest hospital institutions. The museum demonstrates how Norway contributed to the research against Leprosy worldwide.
4. Take The Train To Oslo
The seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo is one of the most beautiful in the world and was our favourite thing to do in Bergen and in fact Norway as a whole.
Tickets can be booked online in advance for the journey, however like most things in Norway they don’t come cheap. We decided to make this journey to catch a flight back from Oslo to the UK with budget airline Ryanair.
All seats on the train are allocated and come with amazing leg room, complimentary fast Wi-Fi and plug sockets.
5. Fantoft Stave Church
Situated 8km inland from Bergen town is Fantoft Stave Church. Originally built in Sogn back in 1150, it was moved in pieces by its new owner Fredrik Georg Gade to Fantoft in 1883.
While the church burnt down on 6 June 1992. Fantoft Stave Church has been rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire and reopened in 1997. Entrance to the Fantoft Stave Church is currently 60 NOK for adults, 30 NOK for children and 45 NOK for students.
6. KODE Art Museum
KODE is currently one of the largest art museums in any Scandinavian country. Set across four characteristic buildings in the centre of Bergen. It’s a must, for the art or museum enthusiast.
The museum has a number of long-term and short term exhibitions throughout its four buildings. At the very core of the exhibitions, you’re going to learn about Bergen throughout the years.
This really helped us to further appreciate the beauty of our surroundings during our time in Bergen and learn more about what the city has been through since it was founded in 1070.
The cost of entrance is 130NOK for adults, 60NOK for students and 90NOK for those with a Bergen card. Entrance is free for children under the age of 18. As the opening times vary from summer to winter we suggest checking the KODE website before you travel.
7. Tour Of The City With A Local
Experiencing any city with a local enhances the experience and Bergen is no different. This private tour of the city with a local is available for between two and six hours.
Designed to fit around your visit to Bergen the tour will take you to a number of different hidden gems within the city alongside the major tourist attractions.
8. The Norwegian Fjords
Bergen is the gateway to the Norwegian Fjords, so what better place to set out on the journey of a lifetime to experience them.
There are a number of different tours which offer various stops along the Fjords. Our personal favourite is this private tour which collects you from your hotel in the city and takes you out on an electric boat with stops at Sognefjord, Gudvangen, and Flåm.
9. Attend The Bergen International Festival
Established back in 1953 the Bergen International Festival is the oldest and most important festival of the arts in Norway. Running for 15 days every year, the festival has played host to a number of world premieres and performances and is a ‘must-do’ for those with a passion for the arts.
Tickets to each item from the programme will need to be purchased in advance online from the Bergen International Festival website.
On the front of every guide book of Bergen, you’ll find a photo of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bryggen. While visiting this street is completely free, consider paying 200NOK to enhance the experience with a guided tour.
Alternatively, consider visiting the newly refurbished Bryggen Museum, where for 100NOK you can learn about the historical importance of this area within the city.
11. Fish Market
Located by the harbour is the famous Fish Market. The market has been in existence since the early 1200s and is one of the most important places for trade between fishermen, farmers and those living in the city.
The Fish Market is the perfect place to take some incredible photos of food art or try the likes of raw oysters and boiled shrimp.
Byparken lake is located just a ten minute walk from the Fish Market and is one of the best free things to do in Bergen.
The path around the lake is filled with flowers and home to a number of statues of famous historical influences.
13. Sightseeing Bus
Tour around Bergen in style on this sightseeing bus. Each ticket is valid for a 24 hour period and covers 13 stops around the city.
At each stop, you can get off the bus to explore or board the bus to your next location. While multilingual commentary will provide you with information about each of the streets and buildings you pass.
14. Bergenhus Fortress
If you’re looking for free things to do in Bergen, then be sure to put a trip to Bergenhus Fortress on your list. Built-in 1240, the museum is set over three floors with interchanging exhibits throughout the year.
Having been destroyed in WWII the building has recently been restored to its former glory. Inside you’ll also find a cafe serving affordable drinks and snacks.
15. Bergen Aquarium
A visit to the Bergen Aquarium is one of my top things to do in Bergen with kids. The museum may seem small, however, the majority of the exhibits are underground – which in my opinion only makes this aquarium even more awesome!
Marine life at the aquarium includes; penguins, sea lions and a number of exotic fish. There are a number of shows and demonstrations that run throughout the day providing additional information and interaction opportunities with the animals.
16. Old Bergen Museum
Situated 4km north of the city centre is Old Bergen Museum. This open-air museum is a reconstructed town of more than 50 houses which date between the 18th and 20th century.
Entry into the museum is 120NOK for adults, with discounts available for students, children and seniors.
17. Mount Ulriken
The highest of the seven mountains that surround Bergen, Mount Ulriken is 643 metres above sea level and provides incredible views of the city and beyond.
Getting to the top of the mountain can be achieved via the aerial tramway. The journey takes 10 minutes and costs 120NOK each way.
18. Rosenkrantz Tower
Built in the 1560’s by the governor of Bergen Castle, Erik Rosenkrantz. The tower was designed to be both a residential home and fortified tower.
Considered one of the most important renaissance monuments in Norway. The tower has been extended a number of times and is now open to the public with guided tours taking place multiple times a day at the cost of 30 NOK per person.
19. Damsgård Manor
At the end of the 18th century, Bergen was large, busy and rich. At this time building, luxurious countryside homes became popular with the upper-class, with more than 70 surrounding the city. The finest of them all was Damsgaard.
Damsgaard is the only manor of its kind to remain and is perhaps one of Europe’s best-preserved wooden Rococo building with the original interior.
20. VilVite Science Centre
If you’re looking for things to do in Bergen with kids then a trip to the VilVite Science Centre should definitely be on your list.
This modern glass-fronted science centre is filled with interactive exhibits, workshops and 3D films designed to peak the curiosity of the young mind.
21. Edvard Grieg Museum
Housed in Troldhaugen, the former home of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and his wife Nina Grieg is a museum dedicated to their lives.
Grieg lived here for 22 years and composed many of his best-known works including Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King in the small hut in the garden.