A Short Guide to Bergen: Walking & Dining

One of the first things you’ll notice on a walking tour of Bergen – one of northern Europe’s oldest port cities – is the vibrant mixture of an inescapable small-town friendliness combined with a bustling city atmosphere. A guided walking tour of Bergen’s city center is one of the most eye-opening experiences travelers can take: it exposes you to the diversity of Nordic culture in all its forms, from architecture and history right down to the various staples of Nordic food. And at the heart of Bergen’s city center: the famous Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf (Bryggen Harbor).

Bryggen Harbor: a 12th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site

A hub of activity between the 14th and 16th centuries for the German Hanseatic League, the Bryggen Harbor area remains a thriving active cultural heritage. The Hanseatic League was a vast trade organization which spread through countries all over northern Europe for over 400 years—areas that are now the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Poland, the Baltic region, Sweden, Finland, and Russia—and strong remnants of its influence can be found in Bergen in particular, though the city never officially became a member city of the Hanseatic League. The gabled packhouses at Bryggen Harbor were home to the longest-running and sole-surviving Hanseatic Kontor (overseas ‘office’), which traded internationally in imports of grain, flour, malt, beer, fishing equipment, and exports of stockfish, fish oil, and hides.

In total, 62 buildings remain of the Bryggen Harbor quayside—a wooden time capsule routinely decimated by fires and rebuilt over the past 900 years. The current structures date from the early 1700s, when a fire reduced the entire city to ashes, and can be found alongside the main Bergen Harbor, still very much in use: from clothing shops to combination high-end restaurants and microbreweries, Christmas shops, bakeries, historic hotels, and night clubs.

Exploring Bergen on a City Walking Tour

From May to September you can explore both Bryggen and the larger Bergen area on foot with a local guide as an optional component of any independent tour including our Norway Highlights series, gaining access to some of the more intimate aspects of the city’s history and charm. For three hours you’ll have the opportunity to walk over cobblestone streets and peer inside ancient buildings still in use, listen to stories of the city’s past, and meet local Norwegians going about their day.

Dining in Bergen

Fløien Folkerestaurant and the Bergen Fløibanen

A quick stroll from Bryggen Harbor brings you to one of Bergen’s most scenic and popular attractions: the Fløibanen, a mountainside funicular railway with a spectacular overarching view of the city as well as a lovely restaurant that can be found at the very top: Fløien Folkerestaurant.

A classic 1920s style—complete with bright colors, wall sconces, cut-glass entryways encased in deep rich wood, and roaring fireplaces—compliments the views from the main dining hall and adds to the tasty menu here, which serves up traditional Nordic food. Creamy mussel soup with root vegetables, steamed halibut with fresh asparagus and seasonal vegetables/steamed potatoes and hollandaise, baked tusk, steamed salmon, and chocolate mousse cake with blackberry sauce are all on the set dinner menu; the restaurant also offers a wide-variety a la carte option.

If you decide not to dine at the Folkerestaurant, you can still take the funicular (we can prearrange a reservation for the funicular as part of your tour) to the summit of Mount Fløien to enjoy the atmosphere. The view from the top is majestic, even when it’s stormy!

More Bergen dining recommendations

Lysverket: Just a short 5-minute walk from the Lille Lungegårdsvannet, a small man-made lake in the heart of the city, Lysverket occupies a space in KODE 4 (which also houses an art museum with a famous collection of work by Edvard Munch)—right in front of the Edvard Grieg Hall (Grieghallen). The modern setting serves up new Nordic cuisine based on seasonal produce and fresh seafood.

Potetkjelleren Restaurant

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Bergen, with a wide list of options (including vegetarian). The food is upscale and the restaurant modern, ranking high overall on quality and atmosphere. The cozy cellar is perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner, the service is friendly and efficient, and the food is fantastic.

1877 Restaurant

A luxurious atmosphere with a warm tone, this restaurant serves meat, fish, and vegetarian meals. Lonely Planet describes the historic harbor-side building as “…hushed and elegant but far from stuffy, with a young, passionate staff who are knowledgeable but warmly informal. Decide on either three or five courses and then choose from a divinely simple list: shellfish, fish, meat, cheese, and dessert…Hyperlocal dishes {that} change daily.”

Bryggeloftet & Stuene Restaurant

A beautiful, high-quality restaurant whose origins began when its building, Bryggen 11, was built in 1910. Views of the harbor grace this time-honored tradition of Bergen residents, located right on the Bryggen wharf with an extensive menu of fish and game based on Norwegian tradition.