Last year I knew I needed a to get away for a few days over winter break, so ended up booking a last-minute ticket to Bergen, Norway. Why Bergen?? Well, mostly it was last-minute, flying out of Louisville, and Bergen was one of the less-obscenely-expensive options. *sigh* I miss Atlanta. But I loved exploring Bergen, and really tried to sample lots of the Bergen restaurant, coffee shop, and bar options.
The time I spent in Bergen was between Christmas and New Year’s, including actual New Year’s Eve and Day, and so it was challenging to find places that were open. The post below shows where to eat in Bergen as well as where to have a great drink, AND provides you with ideas of where might be open if you happen to be visiting over the holidays yourself.
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Where to stay in Bergen: In my opinion you definitely want to stay right in Bryggen. I stayed in Thon Hotel Orion, which was really nice (and basically waterfront). I’d looked at the Radisson Blu as well, which got great reviews and is right on the water. They’re like a 3-minute walk from each other.
I’ve written a lot more about my time in Bergen, including detailed tips on planning you trip—and the fact that LITERALLY nothing is open around New Year’s, since lot of Norwegians leave the city and go out into the country to visit family. This made it a little more difficult to try some of the places I wanted to visit, which informs the list below somewhat.
We’ll start with where to eat in Bergen, and then there are some great bar recommendations toward the bottom of the post. At the very end I’ll also provide a list of a few other places I really wanted to try, but wasn’t able to.
Coffee & pastries
Scandinavian pastries are an entire food category unto themselves. And you know I’m ALWAYS in search of the best coffee around. Bergen has a great little café scene, and I explored as much as I could…the bummer here was that many places on my “must visit” list weren’t open due to the holidays. Here are a few that I was able to try out and loved though!
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I practically lived at Godt Brød (literaly “good bread”) while I was in Bergen, since it was fairly consistently open. There are five or six locations throughout the city (as well as many more throughout Norway), so it was convenient to various activities throughout my visit. There’s one right across the street from the Fløyen funicular up the mountain, as well as one in the cute little old neighborhood near the train station.
The coffee was solid (if not earthshattering) and there’s always a good selection of pastries. I had some traditional pastries (flavored with cardamom, sprinkled with sugar, and filled with custard)…I will say that Scandinavian pastries are good but maybe not my favorite? They tend to be pretty bread-y and not super sweet, but are good in their own right.
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I only got to stop by here once, but Kaffemisjonen has a cool vibe and good coffee. I don’t remember there being much in the way of pastries, but I enjoyed watching the locals meet with their friends and hang out.
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Cafe on top of the mountain
Riding up the Fløibanen and looking out at Bergen and the beautiful water is a MUST on your visit, and while you’re up there you definitely should check out the little café. While the coffee and pastries are okay, it’s mostly a nice place to get out of the wind and warm up. The little shop has beautiful locally-made crafts as well, which would make a great souvenir.
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Lunch & dinner
Now let’s really get into where to eat in Bergen! Food in Norway is simple and delicious, full of fresh fish, reindeer, hearty stews, and more. Here are a few of the great meals I had.
Bryggeloftet & Stuene
Shortly after I arrived in Bergen, I set out in the rain and wind to find some sustenance since I’d been traveling for like a billion hours and was starting. Just a couple blocks from my hotel I happened upon Bryggelofet & Stuene.
With a (quite good) glass of the house red in hand, I devoured creamy gravalax, tender reindeer, and marshmallow-y pavlova topped with tart cloud berries. I’d recommend reservations, from what the staff there says (though as a single person over the holiday I was able to sneak a table as long as I ate quickly).
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The fish market is supposedly a must-see attraction in Bergen for tourists, though in the winter there isn’t a ton to see (my understanding is that in the summer there’s a big outdoor portion too). However, there *is* amazing fresh seafood of all types, and I had an INCREDIBLE fish soup with a local stout beer from Svalbard. I’m not positive of the name of the restaurant, but I sat at the tables in the middle of the (inside) fish market.
The fish soup was creamy and smoky from the white fish, and really hit the spot after all the cold wind. It’s so rare to find a fish chowder without shellfish, and I love that usually in Scandinavian countries I can. The stout was amazing, and I’ll talk about that more later….
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On my last night there, I had dinner at Enhjørningen (“unicorn”), and enjoyed a simple baked cod filet with carrots and onions in cream sauce, as well as a smoked salmon appetizer and a blackberry dessert (like all things with fruit, exorbitantly priced).
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My research had turned up a great street food option, the sausage cart Trekroneren (or I saw it sometimes called 3-Kroneren). It’s so rare to find non-pork options, and scarfed down a reindeer sausage with lingonberry sauce, mustard, and fried onions. SOOOOO good! (And the first non-pastry thing I’d eaten all day…at like 3:00pm.)
The is the only street food I have on the list, sadly, but should 100% be on your list of where to eat in Bergen.
Where to drink in Bergen
Now that we’ve covered where to eat in Bergen, it’s time to talk about DRANKS! I am not a nightlife person at all, but I do love a good cocktail or beer, so I tried to force myself to get out and try out some of the bars in Bergen’s small but vibrant nightlife. Typically Bergen’s bars close around 2am while nightclubs close around 3am, though I didn’t test that out myself 🙂
YAS. Ginial was hands-down my favorite find, and I was super bummed that it wasn’t open the rest of my trip. As a gin lover, finding a bar almost entirely dedicated to gin was my nirvana. I had a couple of delicious gin and tonics with carefully paired tonic waters and garnishes.
The bartenders were super friendly (which was not the norm for me in Bergen), and they have an extensive gin list from all over the world. I highly recommend trying one of the local Bareksten varieties! If you get to pick one place for where to drink in Bergen, this is my choice.
No Stress had a cool vibe and was really quiet one night that I went (a little busier the second time I went). They don’t put the actual liquor or specific flavors on the menu, which made it a little tough for me to pick something out.
I ended up going with a Bramble at first, something I know I like. It was good, and strong…they were definitely generous with the booze. There were only a few people there, and I settled into one of the cozy chairs to read my Kindle and enjoy my drink. It felt like a bar where small groups of friends would come to chat, very chill.
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When I went to Last Monkey (early in the evening) it was deserted, but I had a nice chat with the bartender…who was from Mexico. Go figure! She steered me away from a few drinks to begin with—something I always appreciate—and then I had a drink called the Eclipse. It had bourbon, raspberries, and mint, and was very fresh and non-wintery.
The Fish Market
Because so few places were open, I ended up at the bar in the fish market a few different times over the course of my trip. I never figured out if it has an official name, but it’s down at one end of the market. I ended up spending a LOT of time at this bar because it was the only thing open sometimes, and I loved sipping on the delicious Spitsbergen stout beer (from Svalbard) that I fell in love with. It was rich, bitter, and sweet at the same time, and I totally need it in my life at all times.
One night I was there, and these old Norwegian guys (who were pretty drunk) started chatting with me and after a while, the guy named Old (seriously) asked if I was Native American “because I wasn’t pink like most Americans”…I was dying laughing.
On my last night, I was struggling to find places that were open, but happened upon Sjøboden on my way back to the hotel. And this place was great! From my research, the bar has quite a bit of history, and now has live music a lot, a great selection of beer, and very knowledgeable bartenders.
The bartender (who is also the bouncer and manager?) was actually a “friend of Jack” as we say in my line of work…had been to the Jack Daniel’s distillery here in the U.S. and loved the brand. We ended up chatting for a few hours, and I tried some delish local porters, a Christmas ale, some local digestifs, and also aquavit (a Scandinavian spirit with a cumin-like taste).
Apollon had come up in my research as a really cool place to try local craft beers. It’s an old record store that’s also a bar, so I stopped by to have a drink. I think if you came here with friends it would have a really great vibe, but for me alone (and on a quiet night) it didn’t really do as much for me and I didn’t love their beers as much.
So I think I covered quite a lot of ground for only a few days in Bergen! I loved the very fresh and simply-prepared food in Bergen, and thought that the bar scene was pretty great. I can definitely see a return trip to Bergen in the future, so I’d love to know what’s on your list of where to eat in Bergen as well as your favorite bars—hit me up in the comments!
Other places I wanted to try:
- Baker Brun
- Zupperia Torget
- Klosteret at Spisekroken
- Altona Wine Bar (a 400-year-old wine bar in the Augustin Hotel
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- Devouring the Food of Istanbul’s Asian Side
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