Bergen, on the southwestern coast of Norway, is not only surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains and fjords (narrow, deep inlets of the sea between high cliffs), but offers a diversity of entertainment and a large number of bars, clubs, restaurants, and other places to enjoy when the sun goes down. The second biggest city in Norway, Bergen is not known to be the most affordable in terms of nightlife and alcohol prices, but is culturally vibrant and boasts a known underground/indie music scene—many of Norway's most beloved musicians hail from Bergen.
The pedestrian-friendly city has different forms of public transportation that tourists and locals can take advantage of, including taxis and buses. In general, Bergen is very safe, but keep an eye out for pickpockets when out experiencing the city after dark.
Bars and Clubs
Bergen nightlife has something for everyone, and travelers are enticed by some unique choices. Check out the city's record store with a bar, and an art gallery filled with ice sculptures and drinks in glasses made of ice.
- Apollon: Choose from a number of local beers or sip on a coffee while perusing one of Norway's oldest record stores with everything from metal to classic rock to folk and indie compact discs (and other formats of days past). Sometimes you can catch a live musical performance.
- Dyvekes Vinkjeller: For less of a partying atmosphere and more upscale-feeling nightlife in Bergen, visit this popular wine bar (where you can also grab a beer) with a medieval-looking wine cellar year-round. The spot has a nice outdoor terrace that both visitors and locals love in the months with warmer weather in Norway. Away from the tourist crowds, this makes for a wonderfully charming night out, featuring a very cozy and historic basement from the 1300s—don't miss going downstairs.
- Fincken: This is the oldest place for gay nightlife in Bergen, going strong since 1992. If you want to party—no matter what your orientation is—you can't miss this place with its lively atmosphere and friendly staff. Enjoy themed evenings like tropical reggae and diva nights, hip hop gatherings, and more fun. The venue is open Wednesday through Saturday; before heading out, confirm the age limits which vary depending on what day it is.
- Hectors Hybel: A young crowd enjoys affordable drinks and food at this cozy late-night pub and cafe located in the center of Bergen.
- Magic Ice Bar: For a once-in-a-lifetime nightlife experience, check out this ice art gallery featuring sculptures made from ice and snow, music, and LED lights. The staff will provide a winter poncho and gloves to keep warm, and you will receive a special drink served in an ice glass. All ages are welcome.
- No Stress: If you are seeking a somewhat relaxed cocktail bar without the booming music or a grinding club atmosphere, try this cozy place. There is usually a large variety of drinks on offer, including some with chili and other unusual ingredients. The place is a bit on the pricey side, but definitely worth it and located right in the center of Bergen.
- Vaskeriet: To enjoy some dancing to the music spun by DJs and sip on slushes or cocktails, try Vaskeriet in the main nightlife area of Bergen. The bar/nightclub is known for its "Silent Disco" every Wednesday and Thursday night.
- Zachen: One of Norway's best piano bars, Zachen is located at Zachariasbryggen, where various restaurants, bars, and clubs come together by the harbor. Visitors will have wonderful views of a Bergen fjord right outside the harbor-facing windows. At this English-style bar, nightlife fans of all ages come together to party, enjoy various drinks, partake in karaoke, watch sports, and listen to live piano music.
To get something to eat late into the evening in Bergen, herbivores and meat-eaters can head to Bare Restaurant in Borgen Børs Hotel for Scandinavian and European tapas-style meals using produce from local farms and a choice of wines, or Pergola i Skostredet is a cozy wine bar great for lovers of Italian cuisine and thin-crust pizza.
An additional option is the small and charming Munken Bistro which offers Peruvian fusion. Adventurers will appreciate the journey to Restaurant Cornelius, where seafood and vegetarian-friendly food are served up on Holmen, a small seaside island a 25-minute ferry ride from Bergen's historic Bryggen Wharf.
If you enjoy musical performances and cultural outings, Bergen boasts a nice selection of entertainment, including a live music festival on the grounds of a historic fortress, a jazz festival, and even a beer and whiskey festival.
- Bergenfest: A four-day outdoor festival in June with blues, country, Americana, rock, and other musical genres, the gathering takes place in the heart of the city on the site of Bergenhus Fortress, a well-preserved medieval fortress and castle dating back to the Middle Ages.
- Bergen International Festival: This festival bursting with creativity is held at various venues and features hundreds of events—from musicals to art exhibitions to dance performances—over 15 days in late May and early June of each year.
- Bergen International Whisky & Beer Festival: For a few days in late January and early February in Grieghallen concert hall, fans of beer and whiskey will enjoy one of Scandinavia's biggest events of its kind.
- Nattjazz: Each year since 1972, Bergen International Jazz Festival ("Nattjazz") has taken place over several days in late May. The indoor/outdoor gathering is one of the biggest such events in Norway.
Tips for Going Out in Bergen
- Fridays and Saturdays are the main nights for exploring the town, but many students venture out during the week, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays when prices are typically lower. Bars usually close around 2 a.m. and nightclubs about 3 a.m.
- If you are driving in Bergen, plan your route before heading into the city center; the majority of streets are one-way or do not allow cars, other than buses and taxis.
- Walking is an ideal way to get around the heart of the city. If you'd rather use public transportation, grab a taxi, or a bus—most major lines operate daily, including holidays. There are a few night bus lines on the weekends. After about 1 a.m, buses usually stop running. The light rail runs every half an hour every Friday and Saturday night.