Gay Bergen – a charming, harbor-side city in Norway is quickly becoming the next ‘it’ destination on the tip of everyone tongue.
With mystical fjords, kaleidoscopic houses, copious museums, and creative gastronomy all served up alongside a heavy dose of Nordic design Bergen might just have it all…except for being the rainiest city in Europe that is.
Sure, Gay Bergen might be challenging to decern as queer folk here don’t feel the sequester themselves in ‘safe gay spaces,’ but LGBT travelers are instead rewarded with one of the most forward-looking and liberal cities in Scandinavia. And Gay Olso is also filled with beautiful Viking men (and women) who refreshingly, don’t really care about what you – or anyone else – does in the bedroom! What’s not to love?
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Norway since 2009 – while PreP is available free of charge – and in this peaceful and open-minded Nordic harbor town, queer travelers will find small rainbow flags on almost every store, club and restaurant window. Inclusivity is often just a buzz-word, but we found in Gay Bergen sexuality was (generally speaking) a non-issue.
However, in this almost ‘post-gay’ society since everyone mingled together freely, it did make it hard to pinpoint defined queer spaces beyond the obvious gay bar – though we have a similar problem in Gay Oslo.
Norwegians are famously shy and withdrawn, loving to brag about how withdrawn they are – but we have to disagree and found Norwegians in Bergen open, sincere and warm… despite their challenging weather. While in the long, beautiful summer days it is easy to meet gay locals in parks, outdoor cafes and just around town, in the bitterly cold winters you might want to turn to hookups to meet a friendly local.
Honestly, there is much specifically ‘gay’ about Bergen – and we loved it anyway! A refreshing destination with vibrant nightlife, intriguing architecture and a whole lot of nature at your doorstep!
Gay Bergen Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Bergen Norway
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Bergen during the day!
Bergen is a very safe, tolerant and progressive city and gay travelers in Norway do not need to take any extra precautions in terms of public displays of affection. Rest assured you will have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city – and even the essential list of things do with keep visitors entertained for at least a couple of days!
Fløibanen Funicular– On a clear day head up to the top of Mt Fløyen for breath-taking views over the city. Time your visit for sunset for maximum effect or if your feeling extra fit you can hike up yourself on the free trial or even head out on your Norwegian Hike as two loop tracks cover Mt Fløyen (one is 1.6 km, the other 5 km) passing past picturesque lakes and through silent forests.
Guided Kayak Tour – Walking is so over-rated so if your visiting Bergen during a rare dry spell why not get out and explore the Sognefjord and its breath-taking landscapes! Take in local history, get a workout and enjoy those long Norwegian summer days.
Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf – Probably the most famous attraction of Bergen, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed legacy of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire is hard to miss. Though it has been burned to the ground multiple times, the current wooden structures and pathways today are charming and mystical by night and filled with bustling boutique shops, souvenirs, and cafes by day.
Worlds biggest Gingerbread City – If you are willing to brave the cold of Bergen in winter you will find Pepperkakebyen, an utterly unique local gingerbread construction made annually by the cities school children. The room smells just heavenly, and you have to stop yourself sneaking a bite, but we think adults probably enjoy it more than children – and that before even counting the nostalgia factor.
Bergen Street Art – For urban art lovers, the Bergen Art scene has been booming over the last decade, and now there are plenty of cheeky little-hidden pieces around the city. Head to Sentralbadet to see one of Bergen’s only legal street art walls or explore around the University of Bergen / Skostredet neighborhood to spot more creative pieces of art (or for exact locations click through to the Bergen Street Art blog).
Oslo Day Trip from Bergen on the Flåm Railway– When you’re finished in Bergen, head to Oslo in the most spectacular way possible. Cruise by ferry across the UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjorden, Ride the Flam Railway over the Aurlandsfjord while enjoying the stunning mountains and then make your way by train to finish in Gay Oslo.
Fjord Cruise to Mostraumen – A year-round and extremely popular 3-hour cruise through Osterfjord to the photogenic Mostraumen strait and Modalen town. Take an extra SD card for your camera as the colorful villages, soaring mountains and waterfalls will keep your camera shutter busy!
Bergen Fish Market – An modern icon befitting of Bergen’s rebirth. This ultra-modern fish market with over 30 specialty shops and eateries takes pride of place by the cities harbor. Enjoy a meal of the freshest seafood you have ever tasted, or visit during the summer when a huge outdoor fish market covers the adjacent square.
Old Bergen Museum – Head back in this with this quirky collection of 18th – 20th-century wooden buildings which have been saved and moved here. Bergen was once was Europe’s largest wooden city, but today this and Bryggen is largely all that is left. There are also beautiful views back to the city and surrounding mountains from here.
The Norwegian Fisheries Museum – Normally a fishing museum wouldn’t make the top of our list, but this newly renovated space offers a glimpse into the honestly fascinating past of Norway. Bergen’s history is deeply linked with fishing, as is most of Norway, and these museums explore’s its past importance, the shift that occurred after oil was found here and how Norway plans to lead the world in sustainable fishing in the future.
Zip-lining from Mt. Ulriken– However you decide to get to the top of Mt Ulriken, there’s only way down. Race across twin peaks on this zip lining experience in the Bergen mountains! Try out Norway’s fastest zip line from Mt Ulriken (643m) to Mt Fløyen on this epic 300m experience – suspended from the top of the Bergen mountains. Offering amazing panoramic views across the fractured fjord landscape and out towards the North Sea, summiting Bergen’s mountain to the town of Fløyfjellet is almost half the fun – walking up ancient shepherd trails or taking the modern Ulriken cable car – and wow, what a way to reach the bottom…
Bergen Pass – We won’t lie, Norway is expensive, but if you smart this card offers free or discounted admission to most of Bergan’s top attractions as well as including public transport which can save you *a lot* of money if used correctly.
As you would expect in such a progressive country, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Bergen can be considered gay-friendly – after all being a gay-friendly it not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms! Having said that, everyone likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such there a few well-known hotels that are known hot spots for gay travelers to stay. There are currently no exclusively gay hotels in Bergen. The best location in Bergen for gay travelers is in the compact city center which is close to all the top tourist sites and attractions of the Bergen gay scene – by day or by night.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Bergen are only the most popular with gay travelers, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Bergen if you don’t find quite what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap room to crash after a night of partying or a designer boutique option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Bergen as something for everyone!
Luxury Accommodation in Bergen
Hotel Oleana ☆☆☆☆☆ – Our absolute favorite gay stay in Bergen. In the heart of Bergen, this hotel is hip and cool yet perfectly in touch with its historic past, creating an unforgettable stay for all of its guests. Colorful suites, funky designer details, warm hospitality and one of the best hotel breakfasts in the world (which we needed after the nightlife in Gay Bergen). Each of the hotel’s 97 rooms is uniquely designed with invigorating splashes of color and luxurious open rainfall showers. Some rooms even feature a sexy, tempting open showers offering a slightly erotic experience for gay travelers on a romantic escape to Bergen, or if you’re on your own try for a room with a deep free-standing tub to indulge in while Bergen inevitably rains cats and dogs. Sure, there are no gay hotels in Bergen but when you get sexy bare-ass musicians standing guard outside your room what more could you possibly want?
Hotel No13 ☆☆☆☆ – Another funky designer hotel in the heart of Bergen. With hip, modern and unforgettable rooms including a fabulous skylight penthouse, every stay here is guaranteed to be unique. It’s high class with a touch of burlesque. Other stand out features where the Art Nouveau stained glass ceiling in the lobby originally made for a castle in England, the extensive breakfast buffet and casual burger restaurants onsite with innovative monthly creations.
Opus XVI ☆☆☆☆☆ – Recently opened landmark heritage hotel in Bergen. Beautiful suites and an interesting take on Scandinavian chic meet old-world charm. It’s too early to tell if the hype lives up to expectations – but we expect big things.
Hotel Norge by Scandic ☆☆☆☆☆ – Tourism really is booming, and this is another hotel about to re-open so we thought we would include what we have seen so far is fabulous. Modern, chic almost Great Gatsby elegance (but somehow down-to-earth as this is still Norway). The Scandic is a well-known chain in Scandinavia and has received awards for not only accepting but actively promoting diversity and inclusion in its hotels and wider society.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A luxury hotel set within the famous colored wooden buildings of Bryggen. Thoroughly modernized inside with a fun mix of heritage and modern architecture, guests can enjoy facilities such as sauna, gym and a steam bath – but we thought the rooms would be more upscale, to be honest.
Basic and Budget Accommodation in Bergen
Klosterhagen Hotel ☆☆☆ – The cheapest standard hotel in Bergen whose reviews don’t want to make you run for the hills. Walkable distance to all the main attractions in Bergen, with helpful staff and cozy rooms. We recommend paying a bit more to get something really nice, but this is still a trendy option for our readers.
Citybox Bergen ☆☆☆ – A new hotel concept that provides the cheapest private rooms in Bergen close to the main train station. Simple, stylish hotel with everything you need: a simple bathroom, comfortable bed, desk + chair, a desk and a bit of space to hang your clothes. Nice lobby hang-out space and a cool check-in terminal to get in and out in a breeze.
Bergen Apartments ☆☆ – For gay travelers who are willing to forgo the amenities and services provided by hotels you might want to consider a professionally run apartment. Managed normally by a company you can enjoy bigger rooms, kitchenettes, and local neighborhood locations at a lower price than your standard hotel. You also have more privacy here if you plan to have guests over.
Bratland Camping ☆☆ – If your thinking about exploring more of Norway by hiring a car, then this camping ground with cheap little units and lake views could be a fun option. Its a 20 min drive to the center of Bergen but you get the feeling of an authentic Scandinavian stay with wood detailing, BBQ and plenty of nature.
Bergen YMCA Hostel ☆☆ – A cheap and fun hostel right in the center of Bergen. Sure, its nothing glamorous but it has a lovely rooftop terrace, low prices, and plenty of other young budget travelers to meet up with. If you don’t mind sharing a dorm and want to save from NOK, then this is your best bet. And who knows what cute guys or girls you might end up partying the night away with…
Gay-Friendly / Gay Bars in Bergen
While there is no doubt Bergen is a gay-friendly destination, the Bergen gay scene is hard to find since most gay people no longer feel the need to segregate themselves in gay bars. If you want to experience the gay nightlife, you can head to the only gay club in Bergen which is always busy. Otherwise, lesbians and gay men mix freely with straight people in bars and clubs across the city. Being such a tolerant society, you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public in Norway and will be welcomed in most clubs and bars.
As a rather small city, there are no defined nightlife areas in Bergen – but the most popular place to go is Bryggen and Ole Bulls class. Casual is usually the dress code here, but those Viking’s are so effortlessly chic this might require a bit more effort from us foreigners. Alcohol is not cheap here, and you must be 20 or over to consume spirits, so house parties are very popular in Bergen. If you get the opportunity to ask around on the gay apps for happening events and if you find a new queer event happening, please contact us. For now, there are our favorite gay-popular / gay bars in Bergen!
Fincken – The place to go for queer nightlife in Bergen. Fincken first opened its doors 25 years ago and is the oldest (and currently only) gay bar in Bergen. Open Wednesday to Saturday with the best dance floor in Bergen and a fabulous line up of events. We are talking tiki parties, glow-in-the-dark, 90’s themed nights and Ru Paul Drag Race viewing parties (be sure to wear all your Drag Race Merch!) Basically, you can expect unpretentious vibes with your queer family, a sizzling club atmosphere, dance realness and enough Eurovision pop to full a lifetime.
Kava – A upscale nightclub in the center of Bergen. On the weekdays expect wonderful cocktails and a view, but on the weekends it seems like something straight out of Las Vegas with champagne bottle service with sparklers, international DJs and a crowded dance-floor packed with young glamourpuss’s.
Henrik Øl og Vinstove – The place to go if your a beer enthusiast at heart and would like nothing more than to enjoy a cold craft beer in a quiet surrounding. Probably the best pub in Bergen they have 150 bottled beers and 54 Norwegian and Scandinavian beers on tap. We enjoyed the company and conversation, just not the hangover.
Apollon Platebar – We couldn’t go past this entirely hipster concept. A vinyl record and music store which seamlessly integrated a selection of beer which you can enjoy as you browse. While we though Spotify had killed music store, it seems these guys have found a way to survive – in fact, business is thriving, and they are open until midnight most days.
Magic Ice Bar – If you haven’t had enough of the cold then this Ice Bar is a fun way to start a night. You get ponchos and groves and can spend as long as you want to enjoy an entire bar made of ice complete with carved versions of famous art. It’s gimmicky sure, but we still love it – Especially on a Friday or Saturday night when it gets crowded!
Dyvekes Vinkjeller – What could be better than sipping world-class wine in a cozy medieval wine caller. With plenty of different wine labels and prices, there is something for everyone and helpful staff to help you choose. We loved sitting listening to live music and sipping Spanish wine dreaming of sultry Salamanca.
Zachariasbryggen Pianobar – A fun and cute Piano bar in Bergen with live music Wednesday to Sunday including karaoke, piano, performances and other live music. They have delicious food, but we came to enjoy drinks with locals and to admire the view out of the harbor-facing windows or from the outdoor terrace. It can be a little pricey, even for Norway, and get more nightclub-ish in the late evening.
No Stress – The best cocktail bar in Bergen, if not all of Norway. Cozy in winter with outdoor seating in summer, this laidback bar focusses on crafting innovative yet delicious cocktails. Their No Way Jose (a smokey citrus Margarita) had us reminiscing of Guadalajara, and the Heyerdahl Hooch (a Spiced Tropical Tiki concoction) transported us out of rainy Bergen to a tropical beach in Hawaii.
Gay Sauna in Bergen
Sadly for those looking for a quick and dirty Viking fix, there is currently no gay sauna in Bergen. After our visit we also don’t think any Bergen gay saunas will be opening up soon, there just isn’t the demand.
Everyone in Gay Bergen seems content to meet gay men via hook up apps or in the gay bars – but if you’re desperate, the only gay sauna in Norway is found in Oslo. We visited the Bergen Hammam, which 100% is not a gay sauna, and is more like those we encountered in Istanbul, with steam baths, massage services, and a nice mixed social environment. Sure, you might meet someone here, but we wouldn’t recommend it for cruising in Bergen.
If hook-up apps or bars are not your styles, you can also meet gay Bergen locals by attending the weekly queer events organized by FRI.luft to enjoy the summer and exercise outdoors together. Normally meeting at the bottom of the Bergen funicular every Tuesday at 18.30 but times may change and it only during the summer to join the Facebook page and ask ahead of time. Don’t worry – these Vikings are very welcoming, and almost everyone will speak English!
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!