If you are not a specialist of everything about Scandinavia, then it is very likely from all Norwegian cities, you will recognize just Oslo. But how about the prominent and beautiful Bergen? Even if it is the first time you hear this name, after this article, you will know a lot more! I will throw in a few tips on what to do in Bergen Norway, some places to eat in Bergen county, and places to stay in Bergen Norway too! It would be madness to jump right into selling why Bergen is better than Oslo right away, therefore a super short intro to make sure we are on the same page! But before starting to get into the details, make sure you check out Norway visa requirements for your nationality.
Where is Bergen?
It is located in the West of Norway, right on the Atlantic coast. Just about a 2-hour flight away from Germany, UK, and France, it is surrounded by beautiful fjords and mountains. Its convenient location has made it an important national and international hub for centuries. Nowadays, it is the second biggest Norwegian city, but it used to be the capital and one of the Hanseatic cities too! And why should you skip Oslo and go to Bergen instead when you travel to Norway?
1. The travel from Oslo to Bergen itself
Even if the city itself is not something you are dying to see, you should definitely consider the travel from Oslo westwards (where is Bergen located) as a part of a picturesque package deal. Norway is just such a beautiful country, and making your way from the capital to this coastal gem will be unforgettable, I totally promise. Not only will you be able to see the less likely places, but also the unparalleled range of the Norwegian beauty of nature. FYI - what are the best ways to travel from Oslo to Bergen? There are ways to incorporate Bergen on your trip, even if you have already booked your travel to Norway and booked a flight to Oslo. The quickest option will be to take a flight to Bergen, but as I mentioned already - travel from Oslo to Bergen is definitely worth doing by train or car. A breathtaking 7-hour ride with Bergensbanen and the most beautiful views guaranteed!
2. The Atlantic Ocean
You will say that Oslo is also on the coast, but I will say - it is no ocean! Head to Bergen right away to experience that powerful force of nature and take in that beauty with your own eyes. If you are thinking about including some more extreme things in your list of what to do in Bergen Norway, then try jumping in that ice-cold water off-season!
3. Travel to the Middle Ages in Bryggen
This especially charming and historic part of Bergen is a UNESCO Heritage Site, but for you, it will be an amazing place to wander and see the ways people used to live in the past. Cosy alleys, beautiful wooden houses, and some of the most typical postcard views from the waterfront...A ton of custom boutique shops, cafeterias, and a secret World War II museum you can discover roaming those streets on your own!
4. Most spectacular Norwegian fjords are ridiculously close
Where is Bergen? Yes, right in the middle of all those jaw-dropping natural masterpieces called fjords. And the best thing is - you can use Bergen as the home base and get a half-day or full-day cruise to visit numerous of them. Bergen is just a few hours away from Osterfjorden, Nærøyfjorden, and Sognefjorden – the longest open fjord in the world! And sorry, but none of the fjords around Oslo can beat that.
5. The home of the best-known Norway’s artists
When you travel to Bergen, not only you won’t be able to resist the beauty of nature yourself, but you will also see the motifs of the surroundings in the spectacular artworks of past inhabitants of this city. Just visit the home of late Edvard Grieg and imagine the trolls dancing around along his famous melody of “Hall of the Mountain King” to see what I am talking about! And when you consider what to do in Bergen Norway, definitely plan a visit to the amazing KODE art museums to see Edvard Munch paintings among all the other great artists.
6. Best Norway’s skiing resorts are near Bergen
Within a couple of hours from Bergen, you will be able to have an amazing ski holiday in one of two of Norway’s best ski resorts - Geilo and Voss. Additionally, seven mountains are surrounding Bergen and can be amazing skiing destinations on their own. If you are into winter sports, then this is definitely a great location for you!
7. The VilVite Science Museum for familiesCopyright: @vilvite
It is an exciting science centre where both children and their parents alike will find amazement in the fascinating aspects of science and technology. All visitors are welcome to explore, play, and enjoy the simple awe of surprise and natural forces surrounding us in our daily lives. Additionally to their permanent exhibition, they currently have two super exciting temporary ones - Illusions and VR, as well as Brain and Guts. If you travel to Norway with your kids, then this sounds like a great and worthwhile idea for a family activity!
8. A more unique experience
Oslo has quite a cosmopolitan vibe, and it is obvious why. But if you are looking forward to getting a more unique or even exotic experience, then don’t think twice and just go to Bergen. First of all, the city itself has a more cosy feel, but it has also preserved more of that historical aspect in the streets and the architecture. Strolling the streets, it will be much easier just popping by in some local and cute cafe or restaurant rather than in one of the overly abundant international chain establishments you would get anywhere else in the world. Additionally, you will tell your friends and family you went to Bergen and get way less pre-assumptions before you get to tell your amazing stories from there.
9. The world's biggest gingerbread city, the Pepperkakebyen
If you are a total sucker for Christmas like I am, then Pepperkakebyen is something you will feel sorry to miss. Each year from mid-November until the end of December, schools and businesses around Bergen create this city that consists of thousands of gingerbread constructions. It is really a winter wonderland and will make you feel especially warm in your heart...it is Christmastime after all!
10. The ice bar!
You can transport yourself into this magical world created all from several tons of ice in the bar called Magic Ice. It is located right in the downtown of Bergen and entering there, you will feel like you are suddenly someplace over the Arctic Circle - ice bar, ice figures, and everything else iced too! You will be handed a poncho and gloves to feel cosier, but this is definitely something to feel on your skin at least once in your life. Almost sold? Just to make your life and travel planning slightly easier, I will give you also a few tips on food and accommodation in Bergen!
What are the best places to eat in Bergen county?
If you travel to discover new foods or are just interested in treating yourself while there, then consider a few main things before you set your mind for a particular place. While in Bergen you should try everything with fish because it is very likely it is the freshest fish you will get right from the Atlantic Ocean. There are actually some restaurants where they will catch a fish in front of your eyes and prepare on order. Actually, one of the oldest and best places to eat in Bergen county is considered restaurant Cornelius on A BOAT! Could it be any better? To see the variety of their seafood at more accessible prices, head directly to the fish market and eat smoked salmon or fish soup at Fjellskal Fisk & Skalldyr. Another local staple is everything with reindeer meat. To get that and also a local take on street food, eat reindeer sausage topped with brown mustard and crispy onions at Tre Kroner. And if you are rather a sweets person, then join locals for a traditional Fika coffee & dessert at Sweet Rain.
What are the best places to stay in Bergen Norway?
It is a big city and therefore, options are plentiful. Just check any of the popular hotel booking sites and check what’s in there for your particular liking and wallet capacity. But to save a moment of your day, I have found a few amazing options to choose from. If you are in for a treat and are looking for some luxury, then my say is - stay at Det Hanseatiske Hotel. A great location, a super authentic Bergen vibe, and the best level of service. If you are looking for one of those most classic places to stay in Bergen Norway, with seaside views, then opt for the Solstrand Hotel. But if you are not there to splurge, but are looking just for a place to lay your head in the evening, then Bergen Budget Hotel will not disappoint. Or just get your own place in AirBnB!