The best reasons to visit Bergen in February include fewer crowds, delicious seafood, cosy all-weather attractions and local vibes. We’ll explore them all in this blog post!
The gateway to Norway’s fjords, home to some of Europe’s best seafood, dramatic mountain and ocean scenery and delightful architecture, it’s no surprise that Bergen constantly enjoys prestige as one of the country’s top destinations to visit.
But this is Norway, and the winters are long; so is it even worth visiting Bergen and its fjords in the winter season?
I recently went on a trip to Bergen, as part of a wider winter trip around Norway and I’m here to say YES, Bergen is well worth visiting in February.
Here are the reasons why!
Reasons to visit Bergen in February
The best February is a great time to visit Bergen for the Bergen International Film Festival, skiing but milder weather in the city, fresh seafood, longer days, getting a sense of local life, cheaper hotel and restaurant rates and cosy bars to relax in after a day exploring.
1. It’s the best time of year for seafood
Fish is at its freshest in the winter season; making eating one of the best things to do in this season!
Bergen is a UNESCO creative city of gastronomy, largely thanks to the fresh seafood that you’ll find in the waters both in the fjords and further out in the open sea.
If you don’t eat fish, don’t worry! Bergen has a rich array of gastronomical options, and there’s plenty for meat-eaters and vegetarians too.
I’m vegetarian, and loved the creative way that they cook and season their vegetables with inspiring food items like falafel cake, sauteed leek, crispy arancini and rich soup.
Dishes, like falafel, arancini and sushi, took inspiration from other worldwide cuisines but were fused with Scandinavian ingredients. Plus, every single food was prepared like a work of art.
Meat-eaters can enjoy authentic Norwegian meat like reindeer and lamb.
We dined at and enjoyed these restaurants:
- Fish Me: Fish was primarily on the menu here, but there are options for those who don’t like seafood (I had some veggie sushi for starters and a plant-based burger for mains).
- Allumen: This eatery uses local and seasonal products to create an inspired menu; it was here where I had the gorgeous falafel cake and the fried-to-perfection veggies and arancini! Meat-eaters had a reindeer tartare and all non-vegetarians were served oysters for mains.
- Skyskraperen restaurant: Sitting on the top of Mount Ulriken, this restaruant served us an inspired five course menu with wine pairings.
2. Bergen’s not usually that cold!
Conjure an image of Norway in winter in mind, and I bet that you immediately envisage snow-covered landscapes dotted by the occasional reindeer.
While this may be accurate for Tromsø further north (there’s reindeer in abundance here!) Bergen isn’t anywhere as cold as most people think.
This could make it one of the worst or best places to visit in Norway in winter, depending on your preference – but if you can’t stand freezing conditions when picking your winter city break, Bergen could be ideal for you!
When we were in Bergen, the weather hovered at around 5°C, with some rain and cloudy conditions – but this didn’t stop the city from looking beautiful; in fact, the mizzle made it even more atmospheric.
3. But there are plenty of all-weather attractions
If there’s a bit too much mizzle while you’re in Bergen, then you’ll be glad to know that the city boasts a plethora of excellent museums and art galleries.
The Bryggens Museum offers a look at the city’s history, including its foundings and prosperity due to the seafood industry and why it burned down so many times. You’ll even see some of the historic wooden foundations!
If you’re interested in boats and seafaring history, you could also check out the Bergen Maritime Museum. This looks at all aspects of Bergen’s connection with the sea, including historic boats and a thought-provoking exhibition about sexuality at sea.
Bergen’s an arty city – it’s home of the world’s third largest Edvard Munch collection – and there are also a variety of art galleries run by KODE.
While you might not want to take the funicular to Mount Floyen in rainy and cloudy weather, you can certainly enjoy guided tours around the city centre!
Did you come to Bergen for the fjords, and the fjords only? Don’t worry – you can still do a variety of fjord cruises in the city in February; their beauty spans seasons!
4. Days aren’t too short
While Northern Europe in winter is synonymous with chilly days, it’s also important to be aware of the hours of darkness.
However, the days aren’t too short in Bergen in February for two reasons.
One is that it’s not that far north – the city sits at about the same latitude as the Orkney Islands, or just above the North coast of Scotland.
And, by the time February rolls around, the days start getting substantially longer in Northern Europe (even in destinations like Tromsø and Reykjavik).
This is a reason why you might want to visit Bergen in winter, but outside of November, December and January.
So you should have ample time to enjoy all of Bergen’s best attractions in the daylight; and when night time falls, you can enjoy the restaurants and bars of the city.
The funicular and cable car are also open in the dark, so if you have a clear night you can catch a wonderful view of the city from here!
For us, the days didn’t feel substantially shorter than London in February.
5. Along with cosy bars to while away a few hours in
Norway’s answer to Denmark’s hygge is koseling, and it basically means cosy vibes interspersed throughout the city centre.
Find warming bars and cafes where you can enjoy local beer, sip on delectable coffee and try fresh cakes.
For bars, visit Frescohallen, which has beautiful murals depicting Norway’s history and Magic Ice Bar, where you’ll don a thick poncho, sip cocktails from an ice glass while sitting on an ice bench!
6. It’s a lot less crowded than in the summer months
As Bergen’s a gateway to the fjords, it can be quite busy in the summer months, particularly when cruise ships stop here.
But in the winter, you’ll find few other tourists, meaning that you won’t need to queue for the Mount Floyen cable car, reservations aren’t usually mandatory at restaurants (make them to ensure you get a space though!) and the streets are gloriously quiet, perfect for photo-taking.
7. You’ll get a flavour of local life
Bergen certainly has far fewer tourists in February than in the other winter months. But the locals remain, and the quiet winter months give you plenty of chances to chat with locals about the city.
Whether you want to enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee in a local cafe or take a dip in the local favourite spot Nordnes Baths (a heated swimming pool where you can also dip in the chilly sea waters – usually a frigid 7C or so in the winter season!
Norwegian people are very friendly and nearly everyone speaks excellent English; strike up a conversation with a local and see what you can learn about the country and its way of life!
8. And prices are much lower
The frosty climate of February means that tourist numbers are smaller and hotels are quieter; which generally means cheaper rates!
We stayed at Scandic Torget which had comfy beds, minimalist rooms, spacious bathrooms with warm showers and an extensive breakfast buffet. See my full review here.
Prices of flights can also be substantially cheaper; we flew with Wideroe which has direct flights to Bergen from Heathrow and Aberdeen (and can connect to other cities like Tromso and Sogndal).
9. There are a few festivals
Although February is typically a quiet month when it comes to tourism in Bergen, there are a few local festivals. Typically, these festivals aren’t as busy as the summertime events!
In February, there are several festivals that are worth experiencing.
Another festival worth experiencing is the Bergen International Festival of Literature and Translation. This festival celebrates literature from around the world and features readings, workshops, and discussions with writers and translators. It also provides a platform for emerging writers to showcase their work.
The Bergen Seafood Festival is a popular event held every February, where locals and tourists alike can enjoy a variety of fresh seafood dishes from local vendors, as well as live music and cultural activities.
The festival showcases the rich seafood culture of Bergen and is a must-visit for foodies and seafood lovers.
10. You can ski in the surrounding mountains
While Bergen itself doesn’t have particularly extreme winter weather, you don’t have to travel far before you can encounter dramatic winter landscapes that are covered in brilliant white snow!
From Bergen, you can take the train to Voss, a popular ski and mountain destination. Voss is a paradise for ski enthusiasts, with its breathtaking landscapes and world-class ski resorts. Skiers of all levels can enjoy the slopes, from beginner runs to challenging black diamond trails.
The Voss Resort and Myrkdalen Ski Resort are two of the most popular ski areas in the region, offering a range of amenities and activities, including ski schools, rental equipment, and off-piste skiing.
Are you ready to visit Bergen in February?
Bergen in February offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the city’s vibrant cultural scene, enjoy fresh seafood, hit the slopes in nearby Voss, and take in the beauty of the city’s winter landscape.
With a range of festivals and events, longer days, and cosy bars to relax in after a day of exploring, Bergen is a destination that promises to provide a memorable winter getaway.
Whether you’re a foodie, culture enthusiast, or outdoor adventurer, Bergen in February has something to offer everyone.
So pack your warm clothes and prepare to immerse yourself in the warmth and hospitality of this charming Norwegian city!