So you’re headed to Bergen! Spending 2 days in Bergen is the perfect amount of time to see this lovely city, especially in the winter when most thing are closed. Read on for my top tips on what to do in Bergen, Norway and where to eat to keep the costs down (hint: impossible!).
A few years ago, my boyfriend and I had to go on a short trip for visa purposes right around Christmas. Because we’re cheap, the name of the game was “let’s see where we can get the least expensive flights to.” After a few days of searching and panicking that flight prices were going up every time we refreshed the page, we settled on a city neither of us had heard of: Bergen, Norway.
Of course, what we didn’t know was that Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so the price you pay to actually explore makes up for those cheap seats in about one trip to the Norwegian supermarket, but lesson learned.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, which made us feel cultured and insufferably superior to all of those other tourists who go to the first largest city in Norway. SUCH COMMONERS.
However, when we were doing our research, we found that many museums and attractions were closed for the winter. I was originally worried that we wouldn’t find enough to do, but the things to do in Bergen that we did find far surpassed any expectation I had for the trip.
Things to Do in 2 Days in Bergen
Because we went around the holiday season, the mountains were snow-covered and straight out of a Christmas special. There were a few perfect moments where the sun seemed to melt out of the clouds and onto the peak and I have never taken so many pictures in my life.
We went up Mount Fløyen using a funicular, which is not usually my choice of transportation (hello, scared of heights), but it provided beautiful views over the city.
The main reason for heading up to Floyen was to see a Christmas carol service. While we didn’t quite know what we were saying, we picked up the tunes easily and did our best to copy the locals next to us. This is honestly one of my most memorable and beautiful travel memories. Everything seemed to melt into place and I was hit by how lucky I was to be experiencing a Norwegian tradition on the side of a mountain with someone I loved.
Mount Floyen in general is full of charm, from the trolls that protect the mountain playground to the friendly locals who helped us make the most of our stay and looked at me in pity as the Florida girl attempted to survive a day in a Norwegian winter.
We also found a giant gingerbread exhibit, the world’s largest, showcasing gingerbread houses from around the world. I did
not attempt to eat some of it and do not think I am now on a Norwegian watch list.
Another fantastic option is the Bergenhus Fortress. As one of the oldest fortresses in Norway, this structure has acted as a royal residence and has a rich medieval history. In the summer, guided tours take place throughout the week. In the winter, this is reduced to just Sundays. See the ruins of a medieval cathedral, hang out in the city park surrounding the fortress, or enjoy a snack in its cafeteria.
One of Bergen’s most iconic landmarks, best seen both during the night and day, is that of Bryggen. This is like a postcard come to life. It used to be a dock and processing area for shipments, but today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and filled with colorful buildings and charming alleyways. The houses in Bryggen were built after 1700 due to a major fire in Bergen that wreaked havoc on the wooden buildings in the area.
On the second day in Bergen, we had time to check out two of the museums, Bryggens Museum and the Hanseatic Museum.
The Hanseatic Museum is all about Bergen’s seafaring days, and there are artifacts from its history including tools, toys, and cultural mementos.
Also I clearly had too much fun there.
Bryggens Museum, on the other hand, is all about Bryggen’s architectural history and contains a large collection of inscriptions and wooden items.
If you have a penchant for fish (I don’t, but it was recommend to us that we go), check out Bergen’s fish market, Fisketorget.
I truly don’t understand why I’m posing with anything and everything in these Bergen pictures, but oh well, here I am with some fish.
This fish market is the historical center of fish trade in the area, and while the fish aren’t actually freshly delivered here anymore, there is still a vibe here worth seeing. Also free samples much of the time, so win win!
One day, we’ll return to Bergen in the summer as we’re curious as to what the city is like in the daylight (of which we experienced about 12 hours of total during our three days there), but honestly I think it’s more likely we’ll return in the winter again.
Where to Eat in Bergen
So, in case I didn’t make it clear up above, Norway is expensive. Bergen is no different, and we still have a great story about our first meal in Bergen which was a bowl of soup and a piece of bread each, which ended up costing us 20 pounds. For a bowl of soup.
The prices in chains like McDonald’s aren’t much different (not that you should eat McDonald’s while in Bergen, but we did consider it as an option once we saw the food prices).
If you’re on a budget, what I would do instead of eating at a restaurant is actually buying food at a supermarket to take with you throughout the day, and then stopping in a little cafe off of a side street somewhere.
If you are looking for lunch or dinner out, try the Zen Cafe Bar, Bocca Restaurant, or Munkestuen.
We went on a whim, hoping for a fun few days away and a couple of good pictures from the mountainside, and we came home with lasting Christmas memories of the time we participated in a traditional Norwegian holiday dance, watched the sun rise and set from the mountainside, and met some nice trolls in the forest.
Bergen will always be one of my favorite trips and a reminder that there’s always beauty where you least expect it (cliche, I know, but, seriously, don’t make me show you my other 78,342 pictures of the mountain because I totally will)