Bergen is a picturesque destination that’s worth visiting any time of year, but especially during the winter months when it transforms into a winter wonderland. The city’s famous Bergen Christmas Market is the most popular winter event.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to make the most of your visit, including dates for 2023, opening times, locations and what to expect when you’re there.
In Bergen, you’ll find a wonderful Norwegian Christmas celebration. The city streets are decorated with Christmas lights, and you’ll often arrive to see snow-covered buildings.
Bergen Christmas Market 2023
As you explore the Christmas market in Bergen, you’ll be greeted with rows of Christmas chalets and tents. You could start by indulging in some traditional Norwegian cuisine, such as rakfisk (fermented fish) and lutefisk (dried whitefish), or sweet treats like krumkake (waffle-like cookies) and julekake (Christmas bread).
Browse the market stalls for handmade gifts, including classic Norwegian woollen knitwear, wooden toys and traditional delicate Christmas decorations.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride on the Ferris wheel for breathtaking views of the snow-covered city.
Dates and Location
Bergen Christmas Market dates: 24th November to 22nd December 2023.
Location: Festplassen, Bergen Sentrum (City Centre).
Opening times: Weekdays: 12pm to 9pm. Weekends: 10am to 9pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 24th November.
Ice skating: Yes, at the Vestkanten Ice skating rink.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Not recommended.
Reason to visit: Handmade crafts, Norwegian Christmas jumpers and socks, beautiful nearby nature.
Recommended tour: Take a cruise around the fjords.
Specialities: Mutton ribs (called Pinnekjøtt), fish, or pork ribs; Persetorsk is a traditional Norwegian fish dish originating from Bergen.
Where to stay: Opus 16 is a cosy hotel that is 4 minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Bergen Christmas Market
Sentrum is the name of Bergen’s city centre. Although Bergen has many beautiful neighbourhoods, I suggest staying in Sentrum if you want to be near Bergen Christmas Market and many of the city’s attractions.
I suggest staying at Opus 16 as it’s in a great location in Sentrum and a 4-minute walk to the Christmas market.
Alternatively, you might like to stay in the Bryggen area, which is the famous wharf district. It’s very beautiful and hugely popular. Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz is an excellent hotel in this area.
Location of Bergen Christmas Market
City and Fjord Tours
A city tour of Bergen is an excellent introduction to the city’s rich history and culture. Bergen offers something for everyone with its historic wharf district, colourful architecture and stunning waterfront.
I recommend starting your visit with this walking tour of Bergen, as it allows you to discover all the city’s top attractions.
You’ll probably also want to take a cruise to see Norway’s stunning fjords. This one is particularly popular, and it goes for 3.5 hours.
During the city tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions, such as the historic Bryggen Wharf, the Fish Market and the impressive Bergenhus Fortress.
What to Expect
If you want to experience Bergen’s festive holiday spirit before you, watch this video tour of the Christmas market.
Christmas Specialties in Bergen
Here are some traditional Christmas foods in Bergen and Norway. You might find some at the Christmas market or in Bergen’s restaurants, while others are typically prepared for family Christmas celebrations.
Pinnekjøtt: Pinnekjøtt is a dish you’ll likely encounter for a truly traditional Norwegian Christmas meal. It’s essentially ribs of lamb or mutton that have been salted and dried, then rehydrated and steamed. The dish, rich in flavour, originates from the western parts of Norway, which includes Bergen.
Lutefisk: If you’re adventurous with your food choices, you might try Lutefisk. It’s made from dried whitefish, commonly cod, which is then treated with lye in preservation. After a careful rinsing process, the fish is boiled or baked and served with butter, salt and pepper.
Riskrem: After a hearty main course, you could delve into some Riskrem. This sweet rice pudding is often served with a tart red berry sauce called ‘rød saus’. It’s a classic Norwegian Christmas dessert. It’s also customary to hide one whole almond in the pudding, and the person who finds it in their serving wins a small prize.
Vegetarian Fårikål: The national dish of Norway gets a vegetarian twist. Fårikål, traditionally a mutton stew with cabbage and whole black pepper, is reimagined with robust root vegetables replacing the meat. The result is a warming, hearty stew perfect for a cold Bergen Christmas.
Multekrem: This is a dessert often enjoyed during the festive period. Multekrem is a simple, sweet dish made with cloudberries, a fruit native to Norway, and whipped cream. This indulgent dessert is typically enjoyed after the main Christmas meal.
Pepperkaker: You’ll be drawn to the sweet smell of pepperkaker, Norwegian gingerbread cookies. These thin, crisp cookies are a holiday staple in Norwegian homes and can be found across Bergen during Christmas. Some like to decorate their pepperkaker with icing, turning baking into a fun, creative activity.
Krumkaker: For another sweet treat, try Krumkaker. These are thin, delicate waffle cookies rolled into a cone shape, often filled with whipped cream or other sweet fillings. The intricate patterns on the cookies, created by special irons, add a touch of elegance to your Christmas spread.
Food at the Christmas Market
Pølse i Lompe: Walking around the Bergen Christmas market, you’ll undoubtedly encounter the humble Pølse i Lompe. It’s a popular Norwegian snack of hot dogs wrapped in potato flatbread, often served with a variety of condiments. While not exclusively a Christmas treat, it’s a staple street food and a quick, delicious bite to eat.
Reindeer Sausages: As you delve deeper into the market, look out for stalls grilling reindeer sausages. A unique find, these succulent sausages provide a distinct, gamey flavour, often complemented by lingonberry sauce, giving you a real taste of Nordic cuisine.
Rakfisk: To taste a traditional Norwegian delicacy, consider trying rakfisk. It’s fermented trout, which is typically served with flatbread, onions and sour cream. While it may not be for everyone due to its strong flavour and aroma, it’s a distinctive part of Norwegian culinary tradition.
Kjøttkaker: Much like meatballs, Kjøttkaker is a beloved Norwegian comfort food. Made from ground meat with breadcrumbs, onions and spices, they’re often served with potatoes and peas – a satisfying snack for a chilly Bergen day.
Akevitt: Warm yourself with a shot of akevitt, a traditional Norwegian spirit. Distilled from potatoes and often spiced with caraway, anise and fennel, akevitt is a potent, warming drink that’s particularly popular over Christmas.
Glühwein: Of course, a Christmas market isn’t complete without glühwein. This spiced, mulled wine from Germany has found a home in Christmas markets worldwide. It’s a comforting, warming drink, perfect for sipping as you browse the market stalls.
Churros: For a treat hailing from further afield, grab some churros. These deep-fried dough pastries, often dusted with sugar and served with a chocolate dip, are a popular snack originating from Spain. They’ve found their way into international Christmas markets, including Bergen’s.
Roasted Almonds: The scent of roasted almonds is a classic of Christmas markets across Europe. The nuts are toasted with a sweet glaze, making them a crunchy, sweet treat that’s perfect for nibbling on as you explore the festive stalls.
What to Buy
Norwegian Knitwear: While wandering through the Bergen Christmas Market, you’ll come across beautifully crafted Norwegian knitwear. Traditional designs such as the Marius pattern, instantly recognisable by its distinctive geometric motif, make for a cosy and stylish gift.
Handmade Christmas Decorations: You might stumble upon unique handmade Christmas decorations, often crafted with Norwegian traditions in mind. From beautifully carved wooden ornaments to intricately painted baubles, these decorations can bring a touch of Norwegian Christmas to your home.
Viking Jewellery: In tribute to Norway’s rich history, you can find Viking-inspired jewellery at the market. Crafted by local artisans, these pieces, featuring traditional Norse designs and symbols, make for a unique memento of your visit to Bergen.
Cloudberry Jam: Sweet tooths might want to pick up a jar of cloudberry jam. Cloudberries, a Nordic fruit, are made into a delicious jam that’s perfect on toast or as an accompaniment to cheese – a tasty souvenir of your Norwegian Christmas market experience.
Norwegian Flatbread (Lefse): Lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread, can often be found pre-packaged in beautiful gift-ready presentations. This soft, potato-based bread is a great gift for foodies who want to sample Norwegian cuisine at home.
Ceramics and Pottery: Take note of the various ceramics and pottery items available, often featuring distinct Norwegian designs. These handmade items combine functionality with aesthetic appeal, from beautifully patterned mugs to delicate vases.
Norsk Folkemuseum Merchandise: Look out for merchandise from the Norsk Folkemuseum, one of Norway’s largest cultural history museums. Replicas of historical artefacts, books about Norwegian culture, and traditional costumes (bunads) are among the unique items you can purchase.
Bergen-themed Souvenirs: Lastly, you’ll find plenty of Bergen-themed souvenirs, ranging from postcards featuring iconic city views to miniatures of the famous Bryggen wooden houses. These mementos can serve as a lasting reminder of your Christmas visit to Bergen.
If you’re looking to experience more of Norway this winter, my guide to the best Christmas markets in Norway can help you plan your itinerary.
If you are planning a trip to Bergen, Visit Bergen is a useful resource, providing you with a wealth of information on attractions, accommodations, events and transportation. Visit Norway also has more information about the Christmas Town Bergen.
Sustainable Christmas in Bergen
Here are some specific ways you can be more sustainable this Christmas in Bergen:
Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodation: As you plan your stay, you might consider selecting a hotel that uses renewable energy. In Bergen, some hotels and guesthouses are committed to green practices, incorporating energy-saving measures and renewable power sources.
Support Local, Ethical Businesses: While you’re exploring the Christmas market, remember to buy from local artisans and producers. This supports Bergen’s economy and reduces the environmental impact of transporting goods long distances.
Reduce Food Waste: Mindful eating goes a long way. Norway is serious about reducing food waste, and many Bergen restaurants and market stalls are happy to provide smaller portions upon request. Eat everything you order, and remember to take any leftovers with you.
Sustainable Dining: Indulge in traditional Norwegian food at the Christmas market. You’re promoting a more sustainable food chain by choosing dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. The Norwegian love for seafood is well-known, so try the day’s fresh catch or limit your emissions by choosing a plant-based option.
Use Green Transport Options: To reduce your carbon footprint, consider taking advantage of Bergen’s excellent public transportation system. The city’s light rail system, Bybanen, and local buses run on electricity or biofuel, providing a greener way to get around.
Bergen Christmas Market starts on 24th November and ends on 22nd December 2023.
The Christmas markets in Bergen are held at Festplassen, Bergen.
The Christmas markets are open on Weekdays: 12pm to 9pm. Weekends: 10am to 9pm.
If you want to leave a Bergen Xmas Market review, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Bergen, Norway. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.