Bergen, the southwestern city of Norway surrounded by mountains and fjords, is famous for its colourful wooden houses, outdoor activities and proximity to the beautiful Norwegian nature. I visited the city off-season to discover what to do in Bergen in winter when there are fewer tourists. In this guide, you will find how to experience winter in Bergen, what are the best things to do in Bergen in winter, and how to make the most of your stay even if the Bergen weather is not the best.
Bergen Norway winter – the most interesting things to do
I’ve wanted to visit Bergen in Norway for a while. So when I got the opportunity to come back from our Christmas break in Scotland through the west coast, I took it, excited to explore Bergen in winter.
No surprise, that I was keen on experiencing Bergen in the winter. And here is how it looked!
Bergen winter weather
Before you decide to travel to Bergen in winter you need to understand Bergen (and Norway) weather to avoid disappointment.
In Bergen, it rains. Like, a lot. The city can possibly be called the rainiest city on Earth, or at least in Europe. With 240-270 days of rain a year, you would expect to get some sort of fame. The average values for the weather in Bergen in November are 21 days of rain or 260 mm.
Due to the city’s location on the coast and in between the mountains, the rain and strong winds are very common in Bergen. With the lower temperatures, this makes for a wonderful experience in winter if the rain changes into the snow.
And if it doesn’t? Well, then you’d need to work around that. But fear not, there’s still plenty to do in Bergen in winter even in the rain.
Take on the Norwegian mindset – there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes. Get a proper Norway winter clothing and set off to explore what winter in Bergen has to offer.
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Where to stay in Bergen in winter
During my trip to Bergen, I was invited to stay in a cosy hotel – Marken Gjestehus.
With the cold winter aura, we wanted to make sure to stay in a place that provides enough shelter and entertainment for the long evenings.
We also wanted to have a hotel in Bergen in the central location, so we could walk to the points of interest and not spend too much time or money on transportation (which is expensive in Norway).
For the perfect winter Bergen accommodation, we wanted to choose one that is affordable and offers a kitchen to cook your meals in. Every bit helps to lower the costs of staying in this expensive city.
Marken Gjestehus checked all the boxes. I can highly recommend this local guesthouse for your Bergen accommodation. Whether you’re looking for the quietness of the private rooms or the social atmosphere of the hostel, you’d find them there. The hostel offers beds in the shared dormitory rooms with shared bathroom, private rooms with shared bathroom and private rooms with en-suite bathroom.
There is also laundry room and luggage storage area.
There is no breakfast in the hotel (unless you make it yourself in the kitchen), however, there is a coffee machine, where you can buy coffee. The hostel also offers vouchers for buffet breakfast in the nearby hotel. You get access to the open buffet that runs for 4,5hours and has a big variety of hot and cold foods, with some Norwegian staples like smoked salmon, as well as smoothies, fruits, cereals, eggs, sausages, cold meats and cheese, different spreads, juices, coffee, tea and even plant-based milk. I especially liked their healthy food selections, perfect for vegetarians. I can highly recommend it.
The Marken Gjestehus has been repeatedly granted with the best hostel in Norway award. It’s a place that gets very popular with travellers visiting Bergen. When we were in Bergen in winter it was quite busy, so I’d recommend you to book it in advance.
The best things to do in Bergen in winter
Whether the weather is good or not so favourable, there’s plenty of things to do in Bergen in winter.
Winter in Norway is an enchanting season, and if there’s snow in winter in Bergen, the city is full of magic. Wondering what to do in Bergen in winter? You will best suggestions below.
# Take a funicular to Mount Fløyen for spectacular a view of Bergen
My favourite part of visiting the cities is always to see the view of the city from above. Whether it’s from the hill, the restaurant, the hotel, it gives me a feeling of getting to know the place better. And I love admiring all these views!
The panorama from Mount Fløyen opens to the whole Bergen. It’s worth seeing both during the day and at night when the city lights sparkle up the darkness.
To get up the Mount Fløyen, you can take a trip in the Fløibanen funicular, which is an attraction in itself, and one of the most famous ones in Norway (the only of this kind in Scandinavia).
The journey takes around 8 minutes when you will be passing through the tunnels and open spaces allowing you to see a glimpse of the city below.
The entrance to the funicular is located in the Old Town, near the Bryggen and the Fish Market. In wintertime, it’s free with the Bergen Card, and you can go up and down once per day to admire the view in different light conditions.
On top of Mount Fløyen, there is a cafe and a restaurant, where you can get a traditional Norwegian waffle and coffee to warm up.
# Take a cable car to Mount Ulriken for another panoramic view of winter in Bergen, Norway
For even a more extensive view of the Bergen area, take a trip by cable car Ulriken643 to Mount Ulriken. At 643 meters, it’s the highest of Bergen’s Seven Mountains and offers a panoramic outline of the city and the surrounding fjords and islands.
From the top, you can admire the mountain scenery and go for some hill walks or skiing in winter.
The cable car journey starts a little bit out of the city centre. You can get there by Ulriken bus. If you have a Bergen Card, the ticket to the cable car is 20% cheaper.
Unfortunately, the cable car doesn’t operate when it’s too windy and we were not able to try it this time.
Read more: Planning to visit Oslo in winter, too? Here are fun and unique things to do in Oslo in winter!
# Take a Norway in A Nutshell trip in winter and see the snow-covered fjords
Bergen is the gateway to the fjords, and in just a few hours you can find yourself by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Nærøyfjord.
Visiting fjords in winter is something very special when everything is silent and covered with a snow duvet. From Bergen, you can take Norway in a Nutshell in winter, that will lead you through the most spectacular areas of this part of Norway.
On the way, you can stop to try the variety of things to do in Flam and Aurland, try dog sledding in Geilo and skiing in Hemsedal. If you want, you can finish the trip in the Norwegian’s capital. There’s plenty to do in Oslo in winter, too! The Oslo to Bergen train in winter (or the other way round) is a great way to explore the snowy landscape from the comfort of the heated carriage.
# For a real Norwegian and Bergen winter activity go for a ski or sledge trip
With the right amount of snow, you can go for ski or sledge trips in the Bergen mountains. There are several skiing paths and sledging opportunities from Mount Ulriken and Mount Mount Fløyen.
Not too far from Bergen, you can find excellent skiing options, like in the ski town of Voss, just 1,5h drive away.
# Explore Bergen’s street art
Bergen is full of wonderful street art and it is fun to discover it around the city.
I’m always in awe for colorful additions to the grey city streets, and the same as in the London’s Brick Lane, I loved the big murals, covering the walls of Bergen.
Many of them are very Nordic and Scandinavian- themed with Trolls in a variety of poses. You can find the Bergen street art in the alleys of the old town – just walk around and explore!
# Try some winter Bergen walks
There are plenty of hiking and walking opportunities in Bergen, and all of them are easily accessible with the funicular or a cable car. The most famous are the walks on the Bergen’s Seven Mountains.
One of the most popular hikes in Bergen is the trip connecting Mt. Ulriken to Mount Fløyen. The walk takes around 5 hours and it can be done in reverse. In winter, watch out for skiers as it’s a popular skiing route. As always when hiking in the mountains, and especially in the wintertime, check the weather forecast before embarking on the hike. Be prepared for challenging hiking conditions and bad weather.
# Walk around Bryggen – colourful wooden houses by the harbour
Do you recognize the colourful wooden houses standing by the water in Bergen? This is Bryggen, which means the dock, and is also sometimes called Tyskebryggen (the German dock). Bryggen is the commercial buildings of Hanseatic heritage, standing by the Vågen harbour.
In the XIV century, Bryggen has been the centre of the Hanseatic commercial activities in Norway. It’s also a part of the UNESCO Worl Heritage List since 1979. Today, in Bryggen you will find a lot of shops, restaurants and museums.
#Visit the world’s biggest Gingerbread town
Did you know that the world’s biggest gingerbread town is located in Bergen? I didn’t know either! Since 1991, every year, the town is being built by kids from local schools and kindergartens.
In the Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread town) in Bergen, you can find traditional gingerbread houses, as well as local landmarks, vehicles or international buildings. All made from gingerbread! The sweet town is open to the public from mid-November through December. The entry is ticketed, but the profit goes to the charity organisation helping children in need.
What to do in Bergen in winter when the weather is not so great
Unfortunately, we were not so lucky with the weather during our winter Bergen stay. There were horizontal rain and very, very strong wind (and I have extensive experience with gale winds of Scotland!).
Despite that, we still managed to have a good time. In any case, I wish you better weather to fully experience what Bergen has to offer. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one!
And if not, you still want to make the most of your stay in the city. So, here is what to do in Bergen in the rain and cold.
# Visit one of the many Bergen museums
Bergen has a ton of interesting museums. When the weather is not great, it’s a perfect opportunity to learn a bit of Norwegian history or culture.
KODE Art Museums
For art exhibitions, including Edvard Munch, visit the KODE Art Museums. 25% off with Bergen Card.
Bergen Maritime Museum
For marine lovers, and to learn why Bergen is a maritime city, try the Bergen Maritime Museum. You can find out why Norway is a seafaring nation and explore the rich marine history of the country. Free with Bergen Card.
To explore more about the Hanseatic period and get more insights into the merchant’s everyday life and work at Bryggen, the colourful houses by the harbour, visit The Hanseatic Museum.
The Rosenkrantz Tower
Considered to be the most important monument in Norway from the Renaissance era, the Rosenkrantz Tower also offers great views. Free with Bergen Card.
For nice views of the Bergen harbour and a bit of the history, take a walk in the Bergenhus Fortress. The fortress is said to be one of the best-preserved and the oldest stone fortifications in Norway. It is open for free to everyone. Inside, there are museums that can be accessed for a fee or for free with Bergen Card.
Before going to the museums, check their opening times first, as they might vary in winter in comparison to summer.
# Warm up in the cosy cafe
The weather gets bad in Bergen quite often, but, luckily, the city is prepared and stocked up with tons of cute cafes!
A kanelboller (cinnamon roll) and coffee always fix any problem for me. And Bergen has even its own version – Bergen Skillingsboller.
For good coffee, I recommend visiting Det Lille Kaffekompaniet, the oldest and smallest cafe in Bergen, located near Fløibanen. The place is tiny, but they have great coffee and even better cinnamon rolls and cakes.
# Eat good food
The food scene in Bergen is rapidly growing. With its proximity to the sea and Norwegian’s love of the sea products, the seafood is frequently found on the menu. Try traditional Norwegian salmon or cod. For a good warm-up in the winter, go for some of the Norwegian winter staples like kjøttkaker (meat cutlets), Pinnekjøtt ( traditional Christmas food, salted lamb meat), Lammepølse (sausage) or stew.
# Visit the most popular cocktail bar in Bergen
If you want to go out in the evening, you’ll find plenty of bars and pubs to go to in Bergen.
One of the top ones is the No Stress Cocktail bar, located in the city centre. The bar is renowned for its creative cocktails and using only proper ingredients made in house.
# Learn the science the fun way
Go back to school and learn science through fun experiments and activities in the Bergen Science Centre – VilVite. In winter, entrance is free with Bergen Card.
# Explore the local fish market
The Bergen fish market is full of fresh seafood and dried cod hanging from the roof. Walk along the alleys displaying today’s catch or try it fresh in the restaurant on the spot.
# Buy local souvenirs
In the bad weather, the souvenir shops offer a nice and warm shelter. You can do some window shopping from the inside or choose traditional Norwegian souvenirs to take home.
# Go to the concert, theatre or the cinema
Bergen is a European city of culture. If you love music, culture and art, you will find something for yourself.
From the classical music in Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra to the modern tunes, there is a wide selection of concerts in Bergen.
The Bergen Theatre hosts shows from different parts of the world and the cinema is always a good idea to get to know the local (or international) movie scene.
The practical way to visit Bergen
If you plan to visit a lot of museums for a few days and travel around the city, make sure you maximize the value of your stay. For that, you can get the Bergen Card. It grants you free access to some of the museums and gives discounts on many Bergen attractions, services, shopping and restaurants. The city transport is also free, as well as Light Rail that goes to the airport.
You can get the Bergen Card for 24h, 48h or 72h. Prices vary. Find out more about Bergen Card here.
What to wear in Bergen in winter
For the best Norway winter clothing advice head to this post. I explain there what to wear in Norway in winter for specific activities and areas. This includes clothing, accessories and everything you need to enjoy the beauty of Norway in winter. Just don’t forget a rain poncho or umbrella!
Have you been to Bergen in winter? Can you recommend more things to do? Let me know in the comments!
Read more about Norway:
- Norway winter clothing – what to pack for Norway in winter
- Best Norwegian gifts and souvenirs to bring back from your trip
- 16 Reason to visit Norway in the Winter
- 13+ Best things to do in Svalbard
- Svalbard snowmobile tour to the East Coast
- Norway in a Nutshell in winter
- Dog sledding in Norway
- Norway winter itinerary
- The best things to do in Oslo in winter
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