So you’ve booked your holiday to Bergen in the wintery months, expecting to have a wonderful time exploring the city and all that it has to offer. But you wake up, it’s snowing sideways, and it turns out that most of the museums are closed during the off season. What even is there to do?
Well, plenty! I tend to tell people that the wintery months are some of my favourite in Bergen – the snowy mountains, the short days, and the cosy, hygge, atmosphere that can be found in the city centre. But, of course, it can be difficult to plan a day in a city where most things seem closed or out of reach.
The list I’ve put together of things to do in Bergen on a wintery day comes from my own experience of taking groups through Bergen on days just like the one I explained above. It may take a little creativity, but you can have an excellent day in Bergen regardless of the weather.
Head to the mountains
While it’s not very often that we get snow in the inner city centre in Bergen, taking a short walk or funicular to one of Bergen’s seven mountains will throw yourself into a totally different atmosphere. You’ll feel like you’re in some remote ski resort, despite being 5 minutes from the city centre. At the top of Fløyen, for example, a short walk into the forest will take you to huge amounts of snow, perfect for walking in or just snapping some pictures, kids tobogganing and adults cross country skiing. And it doesn’t get more Norwegian than that.
Any mountain is suited for a wintery walk. Ulriken has its cable car and is guaranteed to have more snow than Fløyen, but be wary of the fact that the cable car closes in bad weather.
Eat some warm, creamy Bergen fish soup
Bergen is famous for its fish soup, and after walking around out in the cold, nothing will warm you up faster than some of this famous soup! Bergen fish soup is a creamy soup made up of various types of fish (often cod and prawns/shrimp), root vegetables, and a little sugar and vinegar. The quality of the fish soup really depends on where you eat it, and the indoor fish market is a safe bet for good soup, though many other restaurants in the city centre offer Bergen fish soup. It generally costs around 100 NOK for a filling bowl of soup and bread.
Listen to the music of Edvard Grieg
One of the few museums that is still open throughout winter is Troldhaugen, the Edvard Grieg Museum. The famous pianist and composer from Bergen was inspired by Norwegian nature and Norwegian folk music, and there is nowhere better to get an authentic feel of this than out at Troldhaugen. On some Sundays throughout winter, they even have special performances in Grieg’s home and with his own piano! Just check the website to see if there’s a performance happening when you’re in town. Otherwise, there is a wonderful film room that plays his music on a 20-minute loop with images of sunny, summer Bergen in the background. Since it’s so quiet at this time of the year, ask if the staff can show you through the house.
To get to Troldhaugen, take the Bybanen to Hop.
Visit the Fantoft Stave Church
If you want to get a sense that you’ve been teleported back to the Viking Age, head out to the Fantoft Stave Church. Yes, the church itself is closed in the winter, but walking to the church involves walking through a snowy forest, and the church appears almost ominous as it stands in heavy contrast to the white snow. It’s one of my favourite places to take people in winter.
Explore Norway’s most famous artists
Another part of Bergen that remains open all year are the KODE galleries. There are four in total, and your ticket includes entry to all over a 48 hour period. Inside, you can view some of Norway’s (and the worlds) most famous artists, including various works from the national romantic era as well as Edvard Munch’s expressionist masterpieces. There’s also a cafe, a shop, and a high-end New Nordic restaurant inside, so if the weather is awful outside you can easily spend a whole day here.
For those with a little more time (and a little more money), Norway in a Nutshell runs all winter long and cruising the fjords and mountains will give you the best of the best when it comes to wintery landscapes. Book your tickets in advance, though, and keep in mind that the total trip can take up to 12 hours.