We really loved Bergen. November was wet, with gorgeous colors and occasional bursts of sunshine. The food is spectacular – I’d visit for the restaurants alone.

Activities in Bergen:

  • Mount Floyen and the Funicular (Floibanen): for great views. It was foggy on the day we went up (often is), but still a pretty spot.
  • Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf: The postcard image of the city is of Bryggen, a row of gabled wooden buildings along the harbor that was the epicenter of Bergen’s fishing and trade industry in the 14th to 18th centuries. For a different perspective of the historic area, stroll through the labyrinth of creaky houses, today occupied mostly by souvenir shops, to Bryggen’s hidden backyard park along Ovregaten. Then continue to the Hanseatic Museum to see what Bryggen life was like for the German merchants who worked here for the Hanseatic League (admission, 160 kroner). In a drafty 18th-century wood tenement, the museum has preserved the haunting furnishings, including the migrant workers’ eerily small bunk beds.
  • St Jørgen’s Hospital: (Closed in the winter, didn’t visit.) Most people have probably never visited a leprosy museum before. Bergen happens to have an excellent one: the former St Jørgen’s Hospital that dates back to the 15th century, making it one of the oldest hospitals in Scandinavia and one of Europe’s best-preserved lepers’ hospitals. The current buildings date back to the 18th century, but the last two patients passed away in 1946. Norwegian scientists have made great contributions to studies of leprosy including Gerhard Armauer Hansen who discovered the leprosy bacterium in 1873. During his time, Bergen had no less than three leprosy hospitals and the largest concentration of lepers in Europe. The museum tells the story of medicinal discoveries, but also of the social impact of leprosy and the way that these buildings became its own little society within Bergen. Leprosy Museum St. Jørgen’s Hospital, Kong Oscars gate 59, 5017 Bergen, Norway, +47 481 62 678
  • Gamle Bergen MuseumElsero, Nyhavnsveien 4, 5042 Bergen, Norway, +47 55 30 80 30 (“Old Bergen Museum” – didnt do) is a blast from the past. Explore Bergen as it was 100, 200, and 300 years ago in this open-air museum. In 1800, Bergen was the largest city built of wooden houses in Europe, and 55 of those have been rescued and moved from central Bergen to Elsero since 1945. The houses have been brought back to life with redecorated interiors, some inhabitants, and theatrical performances. Elsero is just north of Bergen, but easily reachable by bus, and the museum includes a nice little restaurant which is open in the summer.



  • Pingvinen in Vaskerelven is exactly the place to go to wait out the rain. Enjoy authentic Norwegian food like kjøttkaker (meatballs with potatoes and jam) and homemade lammepølse (lamb sausage in stew) in this cosy pub. (We liked this – casual and hip, more of a bar than a restaurant, but nice people and excellent food.)
  • Theatro: excellent handmade Italian food in an elegant, expensively done setting.
  • Villa Blanca: Italian, rather fancy, very nice setting that appears to have been recently redone. Very good.
  • Cornelius Sjømat Restaurant: No article about Bergen’s best restaurants would ever be complete without mentioning Cornelius Sjømat Restaurant. To be fair, it’s more than just a restaurant: it’s an institution, and a destination in itself. Situated on Holmen Island, just outside Bergen, with spectacular views of the fjord and mountains, Cornelius is accessible via a 25-minute boat ride that departs from Bryggen wharf at 6pm. Once there, you can enjoy the famous Meteorological Menu of seafood and trimmings, inspired by the weather of the day – either sitting outside, or by the cosy hearth in the winter.
  • After a healthy dose of art, enjoy a dinner to remember at Bergen’s most revered restaurant, Lysverket (it’s actually located inside KODE 4). Owner and head chef Christopher Haatuft, whom Jamie Oliver calls ‘the punk rock chef’, won’t hesitate to chat with diners about the dishes that are prepared here and fjord-aged (foraged from the fjord areas) locally. Opt for one of the tasting menus to be able to taste seasonal flavors like chanterelle mushrooms and succulent reindeer dishes. Lysverket, Rasmus Meyers allé 9, Bergen, Norway, +47 55 60 31 00
  • Norwegian tapas sounds like a joke — “like small plates?” — but the conceit works at Bare Vestland, a two-year-old restaurant specializing in appetizer-size portions of creative Nordic cuisine. The cozy space, down a half-flight of stairs, has a cabin-in-the-woods atmosphere with low beamed ceilings and rustic furnishings. A recent meal began with torn hunks of sourdough smeared with bright-green lovage butter, and progressed to a deliciously funky plate of cured whitefish with curls of carrot, pickled turnips and spicy mustard seeds. But the highlight was pork rib so tender that it could be eaten with a spoon, paired with sweet pea purée and brown butter. Dinner for two, about 1,000 kroner. (this was delicious, in a semi-underground space that was dim and romantic. Very expensive.)
  • Bors Bar: A favorite spot for cocktails is hidden within a 19th-century brick building that once housed the stock exchange and is now the elegant Bors Hotel, which opened in 2017. “They’ve got this really old-school interior,” T-Michael said of the mirror-walled bar. “It’s a beautiful spot to sit and have a drink, but not a lot of people know about it. Sit there, soak in the atmosphere, have a negroni and just chill.” Vagsallmenningen 1;

Farther Afield:


post a comment