Solo Travel in Bergen
Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Arty & Museum GatG, Cultural GatG, Festival GatG
Two weeks ago, I travelled to Bergen to explore this Norwegian city for a week. Even though it was cold (it was November), it was still a pleasure to visit. For a solo traveller I give Bergen 5 out of 5 stars for safety, ease of getting around and things to see and do. If you're planning a trip to Bergen, this Bergen guide will help.
- Is Bergen Safe?
- About Bergen
- Bergen Sightseeing
- Activities in Bergen
- Bergen Tours
- Where To Stay in Bergen
- What To Do in Bergen At Night
- Restaurants in Bergen
- Bars in Bergen
- Getting Around Bergen
Is Bergen Safe?
Bergen is a very safe city, and being a university city means that you’ll find lots of students here. People are really friendly and helpful from hotel and museum staff to locals in the street who are proud of their cultural city and will help in any way that they can. They also speak English, making it easier to communicate.
Did you know? The centre of Bergen was rebuilt in the early 20th century after a severe fire.
Stay for – 2 or 3 nights.
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city and is one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. It’s the gateway to the fjords and surrounded by seven mountains.
Although it’s a city, it’s a huge contrast from Oslo and has the charm of a small town. A percentage of the population here are students giving the city a fresh vibe and a cultural feel. Bergen is home to the Bergen International Festival and you’ll find regular concerts held at Koengen and Plenen.
Known as a European City of Culture, Bergen was once an important trade centre between Norway and the rest of Europe. It was founded over 900 years ago and has roots back to the Viking age.
Bryggen, the Hanseatic Wharf is a colourful reminder of its past. Nowadays you can explore this World Heritage City that has been transformed into art galleries, museums and cosy cafes.
But Bergen isn’t just home to one of Europe’s prettiest waterfronts. The city itself is full of Nordic beauty and the best way to see it is from the Fløibanen Funicular that takes you to the top of Mount Fløyen. Hike even higher to reach Mount Ulriken, the highest surrounding mountain that offers a different view of the city.
As well as Bryggen, people come here to visit the famous fish market and the Bergenhus Fortress which is one of the best preserved fortresses in the country and was rebuilt after being damaged in World War II.
But the main reason to visit is to explore some of Norway’s wildest and most picturesque fjords. Historic and cultural with a Norwegian beauty, Bergen should be at the top of your Norway itinerary.
Local's Tip – “If you come on a Sunday you may not find everything open.”
Solo's Tip – “Take a Redne Cruise down the fjords.”
1. See Bryggen Norway
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see and one of Bergen’s most popular areas. Bergen was once an important part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire, and these brightly painted wooden buildings are reminders of that era from the 14th to the 16th century. Today the colourful picturesque buildings are galleries, shops and cafes that make up one of the most iconic areas of the city. Don’t forget to explore the little alleyways inside too. (TIME – 1 hour +).
2. Go To The Top of Mount Fløyen
If you’re feeling active you can walk to the top which takes approx 45 minutes and passes through several neighbourhoods with different lookouts. Taking a trip on the Fløibanen funicular is definitely worth it though and there is a restaurant and souvenir shop here. The funicular lasts approx 8 minutes and takes you to the summit, which is 320 metres above sea level.
From here you can hike one of the many well-marked routes through the countryside or just choose to take the funicular back down. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a mountain bike to explore the mountain or fly through the air at the ziplinepark. Fløibanen is open every day. (TIME – 1/2 day – whole day).
* Check dates, prices and availability: Mt Floyen Funicular & Fjord Cruise Tour
3. Take a Fjord Cruise From Bergen
The best way to see the fjords is sailing through this beautiful landscape on a fjord cruise Bergen. This colourful city is the perfect place to jump on a cruise and even if you’re short on time you can still see the stunning scenery on a 3 hour cruise from Bergen to Osterfjord. Get up close to waterfalls and experience the fjord narrowing between steep mountains on this 27km long fjord. (TIME – 3 hours to a whole day).
* Check prices, dates and availability: Fjord cruise
Things To Do in Bergen
Escape the crowds at Mount Ulriken
Take the Fløibanen to the top of Mount Fløyen, grab a map and avoid the crowds by wandering through the woods. If you go further up you can explore Mount Ulriken where you can enjoy an even better view. Take a picnic and stop at one of the picnic benches to make the most of your time here.
In Nordnes. Located on the peninsula, Nordnes is really picturesque and has cute colourful houses, a park, and cobblestone alleyways to lose yourself in.
Get a great view
It’s one of the must-sees in Bergen because it has the best view. Hop on the Fløibanen funicular for sweeping views of the city then walk back down the mountain after enjoying a hot drink at the top.
If you can get outside of the city, be prepared for a different view. The Mount Ulriken cable car is just outside of Bergen and will take you 20 minutes to get there. It is higher than the funicular as it takes you to the highest of the city’s seven mountains and gives you a different viewpoint. You can buy tickets for the bus and cable car at the Tourist Information Office.
Interact with the locals
Strike up a conversation with a local seller at the fish market or pop into Pygmalion Cafe which attracts a local artsy crowd. Femte i andre bar is a local hang out so you can be guaranteed of company here. If meeting active locals is more your thing, head to the sporting arena of Skansemyren to meet others playing sand volleyball or running along the 400 metre track.
Places to enjoy the sun
At Nordnes seawater pool where you can take a dip in pool, jump off the diving board, and sunbathe on the grassy banks.
Bergen Fish Market is the most famous market here and one of the biggest tourist attractions. You’ll find any type of fish here and can buy some fishy delights from one of the street carts. It’s not just fish that they sell here either as you can pick up fruit too. If you prefer meat head to Kjottbasaren, Bergen’s meat market, which dates back to the late 19th century. Find it at Vetrlidsallmenningen 2.
Skostredet has a little market on the weekends during the summer months.
Activities in Bergen For All Solos
As well as several well-marked walking trails, you can hire a mountain bike from the city centre and cycle in the mountains or along Rallarvegen, a cycle track. For a more strenuous walking trail, hike from Mount Fløyen to Mount Ulriken.
Rent a canoe at lake Skomakerdiket on Mount Fløyen during the summer months at the end of June to the end of August. Find free rentals a few hundred metres from the Fløibanen funicular upper station (with life jackets provided too).
Mount Ulriken is where you’ll find most of the adventure. Here, from April to June you can zip-line your way through the air, or paraglide over Bergen.
From Voss outside of Bergen, you can whitewater raft along a fjord instead of cruising on one.
Arty & Museum GatG
If you ever find yourself here on a rainy day there are plenty of museums to dive into and keep you amused for hours. You can get discounted admission or free entry into some of the museums with a Bergen card. Some of the museums may close at 3pm.
Discover Bergen’s rich maritime history at the Bergen Maritime Museum where you can see a real Viking long boat and Viking anchor.
One of the oldest wooden buildings in Bergen is the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene. Inside the 18th century style museum you’ll discover how German merchants from the Hanseatic League worked and lived. Take a guided tour to get the full history of the Hanseatic merchants. Your ticket also allows you entrance into the Schøtstuene, the former assembly halls.
The Leprosy Museum is an interesting place to visit and learn about leprosy in Norway in the 19th century. This is where the early breakthrough of the treatment of leprosy took place. Visit between May to August to visit the museum and its lovely little courtyard.
If you enjoy classical music and have the time to travel outside of the city, the Troldhaugen Edvard Grieg Museum is a lovely trip to visit the former home of the Norwegian composer. The surroundings are beautiful and you can listen to piano concerts held here at lunchtimes and in the evenings.
If you didn’t see any of Edvard Munch’s work in Oslo, you can see some of it here at the KODE Art Museum. There are four buildings containing interesting collections, including some beautiful landscape paintings and benches to sit and ponder over the art.
With Norway being quite expensive you can still enjoy Bergen for free. Walk around the fish market and the colourful buildings at Bryggen which won’t cost you anything. To enter the Bergenhus Fortress is also free (you do need to pay for the museum though).
The Bergen Card is good if you are planning lots of sightseeing. You can buy a 24 or 48 hour from the Tourist Information Centre.
If you’ve never seen glass blowing before, visit Stine Hoff Kunstglass to watch Stine Hoff herself creating a beautiful piece of glassware. As a recognised glossarist she has had exhibitions all over Norway.
If you’ve ever wondered how a Norwegian sweater was made, you can find out at the Dale of Norway Factory Outlet and Museum which is more of a living museum. Here you can learn about the history and see how sweaters are produced. Just hop on a train to Dale from Bergen.
Just walking along Bryggen is a history lesson in itself. The buildings date back to the 1700s so you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back into time.
Haakon’s Hall in the Bergenhus Fortress dates back to the 13th century. You’ll also find Norway’s first Cistercian monastery, a 12th century ruin, just south of Bergen.
Bergen is surrounded by nature. Hike one of its seven mountains for views of the city and fjord. Mount Fløyen and Mount Ulriken offer the best views and here you’ll find other hikers so you won’t feel so alone.
You’ll find department stores selling everything you need. Browse antique shops, handicrafts and jewellery within the shops in the pedestrian areas such as Torgallmenningen, Gamle Strandgaten and Marken. For souvenirs that are “Made in Bergen”, head to Skostredet, one of the oldest shopping destinations in Bergen.
Here you’ll find a small street with vintage shops, cosy cafes and bars, and some of the city’s best street art. Shops are generally open Monday to Friday, with some closing early on Saturday afternoons. In December you’ll find some shops open on Sunday but otherwise Sunday isn’t really a shopping day.
If you want to be pampered and also feel good about your money helping social projects at the same time, go to Bergen Hamman. This Turkish bath was the first hamman built in Norway and is a not-for-profit association. You can use the steam room or book a body scrub or massage to help those tired legs after hiking.
Enjoy a glass of wine and find some company at the Augustin Hotel, home to the 400 year old Altona Wine Bar and a romantic wine cellar.
Have a tourist moment – Enjoy some adventure in the city and join a segway tour to discover the best parts of Bergen (at night!) * Check dates and availability for Segway tour.
Don’t have much time?
You don’t need that much time in Bergen to see the main sites. You can easily wander along the historic wharf at Bryggen then take the Fløibanen Funicular for views of the city, and be back by dinner time.
Where to wear your heels – At a classical concert at the theatre Den Nationale Scene, or listening to the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at Grieghallen.
Where to Meet Others
If you are there during the cruise ship season (July to September) you’ll meet lots of tourists in the main tourist areas such as Bryggen and the fish market. Take the funicular where you’ll meet other travellers and may even meet others to walk with on the mountain.
If you need any tours, tickets or help with transport, pop into the Bergen Tourist office (near the fish market) for guides, maps and any information you need. Find at Strandkaien 3.
Norway in a Nutshell offers exactly what it says. If you’re short on time you can experience Norway’s fjords, the Flam Railway, and the best of the country’s scenery. Tours are independent rather than guided and last from one to three days. They also offer the Northern Lights.
If you prefer to hike Mount Fløyen with company, join a 2 hour guided hiking tour with an English-speaking guide.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and tours in worldwide destinations including Bergen. Choose from a 2-hour private tour with a local, a Bergen walking tour or a Mostraumen fjord cruise. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are several to book as a solo and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. * Check all Get Your Guide day tours and prices here
Where To Stay in Bergen
Nowhere is very far in Bergen but to see the main attractions such as the fish market and Bryggen, look for somewhere near the historic wharf, the best place to stay in Bergen.
Budget City Bergen is just a short walk into town. There is a kitchen and grocery shops nearby so you can cook your own meals. You don’t get your own private bathroom here but you do get a private room that is clean and comfortable.
- Prices from €80 for a single room with a shared bathroom.
- Check dates, prices and availability: Bergen Budget Hotel
Once a former print shop, this hotel has wooden floors and oak furniture and is in a perfect location just a few steps from Bryggen. Choose from a choice of different views including harbour and city views from the penthouse room. Breakfast is included.
- Prices from €133 for a twin room with a private bathroom.
- Check dates, availability and prices: First Hotel Marin
Ranked the best hostel in Norway over several years, we love this stylish affordable accommodation. When you're not exploring the city (but it is practically on your doorstep), you can relax on a sofa and watch TV in the living room. Use the kitchen to make your own coffee or treat yourself to a cappuccino from the coffee machine. Plus there is a washer and dryer to get your clothes clean and fresh before moving on.
If you choose a private room, you'll get your own wardrobe to hang your clothes, a mirror, and a reading light and a desk for planning your time in this charming city. Marken Guesthouse is a great and safe place to stay and located in a very quiet and safe area. It’s in one of the nice pedestrian areas in Bergen, near the railway station and Bergen Storsente.
- Prices start from £31/€35 for a bed in a 10 bed dorm.
- Check prices, dates and availability: Marken Guesthouse
What To Do in Bergen At Night
Pay a visit to the theatre. The Den Nationale Scene is Norway's oldest permanent theatre and is in a beautiful Art Nouveau building. There are 3 theatres where you can watch musicals and plays.
Take a segway tour at night and enjoy Bergen at twilight. Not only is it a fab experience but a great opportunity to meet others in the evening.
If it’s not cold enough outside for you, try an evening at Magic Ice, a magical blue Winterland with snow and ice art, where you can order a drink from the crystal clear ice bar and drink out of an ice-cold glass (made from ice of course!)
There isn’t a nightlife district here as such so it’s not the place to come if you really want to party. For Bergen nightlife, head to one of the recommended bars or find a music venue to spend your wild evenings.
Cafe Opera is a good music venue that hosts national and international DJs as well as bands most weekends. With two floors, it also doubles up as a restaurant so you can enjoy dinner here before partying. Find at Engen 18.
Where to Eat & Drink
Restaurants in Bergen
You can find all types of cuisine here from Asian to Italian food. The fish market is an obvious choice for fish lovers where you can try fresh Norwegian crabs, but if you prefer to dine indoors try one of these recommended restaurants.
£ – Zen Cafe Bar. If you don’t feel like dining out, grab a takeaway at Zen Cafe Bar. You can pick up a boxed noodle dish if you’re in a hurry or and dine in. Find at Stroemgaten 26.
££ – Matbørsen. In a unique setting with beautifully painted walls and high ceilings, Matborsen serves delicious Asian food within gorgeous surroundings. Find at Vaagsallmenningen 1.
Restaurants for typical cuisine
£ – Trekroneren. If you like sausages, Trekroneren serves more than 20 different types. If you’ve ever wanted to try reindeer hotdogs, this place has the best hotdogs in the city with friendly staff. Find at Kong Oscars gate 1.
£ – Hav. Fisk & Skalldyr AS. If you’re missing fish and chips, you can’t get any cheaper than this place. You don’t have to have it fried either but make sure you get here during the day as it closes at night. Find at Vetrlidsallmenningen 2 | Kjøttbasaren.
££ – Pygmalion. This small, friendly restaurant has a welcoming atmosphere and tasty food to match. Offering burgers, crepes and salads, you can also order vegetarian burgers here too. It attracts a local artsy crowd so just remember to book a table as it can get busy. Find at Nedre Korskirkeallmenningen 4.
£ – Kafe Spesial. If you love Italian style pizza and pasta you’ll love this charming cafe. They also have gluten-free options and English menus. Find at Christies gate 13.
££ – Zupperia Bergen. You’ll find all kinds of cuisine here from Thai soups to traditional Norwegian and Scandinavian cuisine as well as gluten free options in a welcoming atmosphere. Find at Vaagsallmenningen 1.
Treat yourself at
1877 – It maybe expensive but it will definitely be one of the best meals you will have in Norway. Most of the produce is sourced from Norway with a choice of meat, seafood and also vegetarian options. The service is fantastic. If you can manage it, try the seven course meal. Find at Vetrlidsallmenningen 2.
Enjoy a coffee and a cake
Krok og Krinkel Bokcafe – A lovely, cosy cafe with low lighting, vintage furniture and plenty of books. Try one of the home-made cakes and a warming hot drink. A good place to warm up on a cold day. Find at Lille Oevregaten 14.
Godt Brod – If you’re planning to take the funicular, this cafe is in a great spot to stop for a breakfast or afternoon tea on the way back down. Take advantage of the free coffee refill. Find at Vetrlidsalmenningen 19.
Street food – You’ll find a few Deli’s where you can grab something to take out cheaper than the restaurants. Or grab a fish kebab from one of the street sellers.
Solo girl’s tip – “There is a free bus to Ikea from Bergen. You can go there and get an unlimited breakfast for 59 Kronor (less than £6) which is amazing.”
Bars in Bergen
BarBarista – BarBarista has a wacky and colourful interior. Choose to lounge during the day on a comfy couch or visit in the evening for a fun atmosphere. They also serve food and hot drinks so it’s perfect any time of the day. Find at Øvregaten 12.
Femte i andre bar – This welcoming bar has a great lounge vibe and is the perfect place to enjoy a brandy or a cocktail and has a great selection of other drinks too. It’s also a good hangout for locals so you’ll be sure to find some company here. Find at Strandkaien 3.
Getting Around Bergen
Because Bergen is only a small city, it’s really easy to see most of its attractions on foot. Pick up a free guide from Bergen Tourist office to navigate your way around. Bergen public transport is efficient and easy to navigate.
Buses and trams that take you around the city. It may be worth buying a multi- trip ticket if you’re planning to use the transport a few times. Buy your tickets at the tram stops or at the Tourist Information Office. There is an information desk at Bergen bus station. Plan your trip using the Skyss guide.
Ferries – There is a ferry that operates across Vagen from Dreggekaien to Munkebryggen from Monday to Friday. If you’re staying here for 5 days and plan to take a few boats and ferries consider the FJORDcard for unlimited travel on the express boats.
Budget GatG – The Bergen card allows you free travel on Bergen transport, the buses and Bergen light rail (but not on the NSB trains). You can enter various sights and museums for free and choose from a 24, 48 or 72 hour card.
From Bergen Airport
From Bergen Airport, Flesland – From the international airport, there is an airport bus that runs every 15 minutes. If you like being prepared you can buy your ticket online before you travel.
Travelling Onwards – From Bergen you can take the bus, train or a boat to other destinations in Norway and onward. Check Rome2Rio for your onward journey.
If you’re travelling onto Oslo, it may be worth booking your train from Bergen to Oslo in advance to guarantee a ticket and also to get the best price. Norwegian Railways runs between Bergen and Myrdal and takes 2 hours. From here you can take the Myrdal to Flåm Railway, which is a Norwegian must-see.
From Bergen you can take a Hurtigrutren boat to various other Norwegian ports. You can travel from Bergen to Stavanger and also to Denmark with Fjord Line.
Have you been to Bergen? I'd love to hear your experience in the comments.