No trip to Norway and its western coast is complete without spending at least 2 to 3 days in Bergen. This Bergen itinerary aims to blend some of the country’s natural highlights with its fantastic historic sites and museums to cater to every kind of traveller during their visit to the city.
Home to mountains, lakes, fjords, waterfalls, museums, great restaurants, and so much more, Bergen has an incredible amount to offer visitors. So, if you’re planning on visiting Bergen in the near future, then read on to find out what you simply must see and do during your stay.
How Many Days in Bergen?
Are you wondering how many days to spend in Bergen? While the city is on the smaller side, particularly when compared to Oslo, there’s still plenty to do and see here.
Not only is Bergen one of the most historically significant settlements in Norway, but it’s home to a fascinating blend of different cultures and dialects, great restaurants, jaw-dropping mountain scenery, and incredible museums.
While 2 days in Bergen are sufficient to see the city’s main tourist attractions, you should ideally try to spend a minimum of 3 days in Bergen to be able to settle in here and really get a feel for the place.
The weather on the western coast of Norway is often fairly rainy, and Bergen in particular is known for the distinctive fog that regularly shrouds the mountains surrounding the city.
As such, spending at least 3 days in Bergen is ideal, because doing so will give you some wiggle room in terms of activities if the weather ends up being especially wet or dreary for part of your stay.
Getting To & Around Bergen
Bergen is served by Flesland Airport, which offers a number of both domestic and international flight connections. Note that local public transit links to and from the Bergen airport provide a reliable, low-cost way to transfer to Bergen city.
Domestic ‘Vy’ rail services are a popular, cheaper alternative to flying into Bergen, with the Bergen line to Oslo (Bergensbanen) being one of the best-known, most scenic train routes in the world.
It’s also possible to reach Bergen from other parts of Norway (such as Stavanger, Trondheim or even the village of Flåm) using the country’s system of bus links, but this generally costs around the same as taking the train, as well as being considerably more time-consuming.
So, if you’ll be seeing Bergen in 2 days or less, you’ll likely want to take the train to Bergen or consider flying in to save time.
The city of Bergen itself is compact and very navigable by public transport, made up of its Skyss network of trams and buses, or on foot. Parking is also scarce in some areas and, as such, rental cars are likely to be more of a hindrance than anything else if you’re planning on primarily exploring the metropolitan part of the city.
However, if you’ll be spending more than 3 days in Bergen and you’d like to venture out into the surrounding countryside, then you may want to consider hiring a car for this portion of your trip. You can browse car rental options here.
2 to 3 Days in Bergen Itinerary
This Bergen itinerary covers several of the city’s highlights in its first day. Then, on the second and third days, it branches out into a number of other attractions and covers some options for hiking just outside the city centre.
Day 1 – Bergen Sentrum and Bryggen
The first of your 2 or 3 days in Bergen will be spent exploring Bergen’s city centre (Sentrum), including the iconic Bryggen and wharf district, its medieval Bergenshus Fortress, and the University. If you want to learn more about the history of the city, you can take a guided walking tour.
The medieval fortress of Bergenhus is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Bergen. Parts of the fortress date all the way back to the 1240s and the imposing stone Haakon’s Hall (Håkonshallen) is especially impressive and worth checking out.
Concerts are held at Bergenshus Festning fairly regularly throughout the summer, too, so if you’re here in the warmer months, you might have the opportunity to catch some live music at the fortress.
Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene
For hundreds of years, the city of Bergen was of vital administrative importance for the Hanseatic League, a predominantly German organisation of merchant guilds.
Located in the historic Finnegården building, as well as Schøtstuene, where food for the League was cooked, the Hanseatic Museum is dedicated to one of the most significant times in the history of the city of Bergen and illustrates how the Hanseatic merchants lived and worked during their stays there.
Note: the Hanseatic Museum is currently closed due to renovation works. However, the Schøtstuene Museum is open and offering tours.
Bryggen is easily Bergen’s most iconic attraction, as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which it has been since the 1970s). In fact, the first buildings ever built in Bergen were constructed on the same site as where Bryggen stands today, serving as a testament to the longstanding significance of the area for the city.
This short stretch of distinctive, colourful shops was constructed in the early 1700s, after a massive fire burned most of the city of Bergen to the ground.
The area is deeply atmospheric and is home to an eclectic range of boutiques and other businesses, including a tattoo parlour, art gallery and dealership, knitwear shops, and one of the local bakery chain Baker Brun’s locations.
Baker Brun also happens to be a great place to pick up a skillingsbolle, a typical, local variation on the classic Norwegian cinnamon bun.
After exploring the Bryggen area, make sure to wander over to the Bergen Fish market, which is only a few minutes from this historic port area. Here you can take in some local specialities and get an insight into the local cuisine.
The University of Bergen
Located just outside Bergen Sentrum, the University of Bergen is one of Norway’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of education.
The city’s academic precinct is also home to some charming gardens, and a number of the University buildings feature beautifully refined architecture and design, making it a lovely place for a walk, especially in the warmer weather.
Dinner at Hoggorm
You might not associate pizza with Norway (fair enough!) but Hoggorm in Bergen Sentrum is easily one of the city’s coolest places to grab a bite to eat.
The restaurant serves oysters and other starters, as well as a range of delicious pizzas and lush wines, with a vegan option on the menu for those looking to eat plant-based.
Day 2 – Bergen’s Museums and Churches
The second day on this Bergen itinerary will allow you to explore Bergen and to take in some of the city’s most historic, significant churches, as well as two of its most interesting museums.
One of the oldest buildings in Bergen, St. Mary’s Church (Mariakirke) was constructed in the 12th century and is still in use today. Built in the Romanesque style, St. Mary’s Church, while somewhat small, is home to a stunning, atmospheric interior and is definitely worth checking out.
Located right in the centre of Bergen is the KODE 4 collection of art galleries, which feature a range of artworks across four separate buildings. Spanning the 15-20th century, KODE 4’s collection is varied and dynamic, and the museums frequently feature temporary exhibits from other institutions.
Note that Lysverket, one of the KODE 4 museums, is currently closed due to it being renovated and, as such, none of its collection is on display for the time being.
Fantoft Stavkirke is perhaps Norway’s most notorious stave church, though the reasons for this have more to do with its history than anything else.
Getting to the church via public transit is straightforward; with regular bus and tram departures to the neighbourhood of Fantoft from Bergen Sentrum, you can simply disembark at one of several stops near the church and walk the rest of the distance.
The stave church that stands in Fantoft today is actually a replica; the original building, which was constructed all the way back in 1150, was moved from the village of Fortun in West Norway to Fantoft to save it from being demolished.
In 1992, the original stave church was tragically destroyed by an arsonist assumed to be connected to the Norwegian black metal scene at the time.
Multiple church burnings were carried by members of this scene in the early ‘90s, though a culprit was never found for the arson of Fantoft Stavkirke itself. While niche, black metal has become something of a cultural export for Norway, and Bergen is regarded by many as having the most influential and significant scene for black metal music in the country.
In any case, Fantoft Stavkirke is a beautiful, faithful replica of the original church and, naturally, is a fantastic example of this traditional, Norwegian style of church building. Entry into the church is sometimes permitted, though for a fee.
Edvard Grieg Museum (Troldhaugen)
From Fantoft Stavkirke, the Edvard Grieg Museum is just a short journey away and is easily accessed via public transport. Located in Troldhaugen, Grieg’s former residence, the Edvard Grieg Museum is a fantastic place to learn more about the life and work of one of Norway’s greatest musical talents.
In addition to Grieg’s home, Troldhaugen is also home to a museum dedicated to Grieg, as well as generous grounds including gardens and a stunning lake.
Visitors can also pay a visit to the tomb shared by the remains of Grieg and his wife, Nina, which is located near the villa. Dedicating at least a few hours to visiting the Grieg Museum is recommended, as it’s a little way out of Bergen Sentrum and contains a few separate attractions.
Note that parts of the grounds can be fairly icy during the winter; caution is advised if you’re planning on exploring Grieg’s estate around his former residence.
Record Shopping and Drinks at Apollon Platebar
Bergen is known throughout Norway for its rock and metal scenes, and nowhere are its local bands better represented than at Apollon Platebar, a bar with a record shop attached to it. While its selection of records and merch is reasonably varied, Apollon specialises somewhat in releases by local bands, with a particular emphasis on heavy music.
Day 3 – Hiking on Fløyen
If you’ll be spending more than 2 days in Bergen, then you should hopefully have a good weather window at some stage, which means the opportunity to go for a hike!
Bergen is famous in Norway for being surrounded by seven mighty mountains, and Mt. Fløyen is easily the most accessible from the city centre.
You can either take the Fløibanen funicular up to the viewpoint or walk up and, from there, explore the mountains, fields, and plains above the city. The Vidden hike is especially recommended, though this will typically take at least half a day to complete.
Just a short distance from the funicular is the Brushytten, a hut and cafe that serves traditional Norwegian waffles on Sundays.
If you would prefer not to spend a full day hiking, you can save time by taking the funicular up to the viewpoint on Fløyen to take in the panoramic vista of Bergen and the surrounding mountains and fjords before returning with it to Bergen Sentrum.
It’s also possible to use this day for a day trip outside of Bergen. As the city is referred to as the “Gateway to the Fjords,” it can be worth it to go on a fjord tour to experience the incredible natural scenery surrounding Bergen. Some options include this half-day cruise that leaves from Bryggen or this full-day tour that visits some incredible nearby nature.
Vidden Hike to Ulriken
You’ll find the start of the Vidden trail some way away from the viewpoint near the Fløyen funicular; the path leading there is well signposted, so you can’t miss it.
The hike itself takes you across the Vidden plateau and is quite steep in places. It’s also one of the most popular walks in and around Bergen, so the route can get reasonably busy during the summer, especially on weekends.
Along the plateau, you’ll pass lakes, streams, and gorgeous panoramic views of Bergen and the surrounding islands and fjords. If the weather is especially clear, you may also be able to make out the Folgefonna glacier, which is the third-largest in Norway!
Unless you want to hike all the way back to Fløyen once you finish the hike at Ulriken, you’ll need to either walk back down into the city from Ulriken or take the cable car. Be aware that, for much of the route on Vidden, toilet facilities are limited.
It’s also recommended that, unless you have experience hiking in cold weather and icy conditions, you complete the Vidden trail sometime between May and September; winters in Norway are dark and icy, and temperatures on the plateau can get absolutely frigid at this time of year.
Part of the area that the hike covers is also used by farmers, so don’t be surprised if you come across a flock of sheep on the way! If you’re looking to get a bit active, this is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bergen.
Where to Stay in Bergen
Hotel Park Bergen – This quaint 3-star hotel in the centre of Bergen is perfect for mid-range visitors to this Norwegian city. They have a range of bright, cosy and comfortable rooms to choose from along with a great breakfast available each morning. Click here to check availability
Opus 16 – Luxury travellers will love this opulent hotel located in the city centre. They have a range of plush rooms to choose from, a lovely restaurant/bar on site and countless wonderful amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Fosswinckel Apartments – If you’d like your own flat while visiting Bergan, then these fully furnished apartments are a great option. Centrally located for exploring the city and equipped with everything you may need, they have a range of sizes available to suit all kinds of visitors. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bergen hotels!
Whether you’re planning on seeing Bergen in 3 days or will be making a shorter trip to the city, this itinerary has you covered. No matter if you’re into history, culture, or the great outdoors, Bergen has something to offer.
Are you planning a trip to Bergen? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!