The Norwegian stave churches are some of the most well-known architectural sights of Norway, and anyone who visits Norway will probably want to take a look at a stave church with their own eyes.
There are plenty of people who visit Bergen that wants to get a look at some of the beautiful stave churches Norway has on display. So, what’s the stave church situation in the area around Bergen like, and what are the stave churches closest to Bergen?
The stave church closest to Bergen is Fantoft stave church, which is a replica stave church just outside of the city center in Bergen. This stave church was burned to the ground in 1992, but has since been reconstructed, and is a popular attraction in Bergen.
There are very few other options to see stave churches near Bergen, but if you got a rental car or the patience for a long bus ride, then you have some options that we will be looking closer at below.
Also read: All about Fantoft stave church.
Option #1: Hopperstad stave church, 3 hours from Bergen
Hopperstad is the stave church closest to Bergen if you don’t count Fantoft due to it being a replica. You can find the beautiful Hopperstad stave church in Vik municipality, a rather small town with a lot of beautiful mountains surrounding it.
The Hopperstad stave church might not be the most beautiful stave church in Norway, but it’s location in the deep fjord regions and beautiful surrounding nature makes it worth a visit.
Getting to Hopperstad stave church can be done by car (about a three hour drive), or by public transport. Take a bus or the train to Voss, then change for a bus heading towards Vangsnes (route 970), then exit the bus at Tryti bus stop.
Option #2: Røldal stave church, 3,5 hours away from Bergen
Røldal stave church is a kind of small stave church that is located in Rødal municipality, and has a long history as being a destination for pilgrimages. It was built between 1200 and 1250, and is surrounding by huge mountains.
You can drive to Røldal stave church yourself, or ride the bus. Nor-way’s Haukeliekspressen (NW180) between Bergen and Oslo stops just a few minutes away from the stave church, so just depart the bus at the bus stop called Bruleitet to get to Røldal stave church.
Read more: Stave churches close to Oslo.
Option #3 and 4: Kaupanger stave church and Urnes stave church, 4 to 5 hours from Bergen
Kaupanger stave church is located near Sogndal city in the heart of the fjord region. The drive from Bergen is about 4 hours, and it’s a bit of a hassle to get there by bus, but it’s possible if you are determined.
The stave church is probably from around the year 1200, but this is highly debated, and no one really knows for sure. It is still in use, and its location close to a pretty decently-sized city makes it a popular tourist attraction.
Urnes stave church is about an hour drive from Kaupanger stave church, and you get to see some amazing fjord landscapes along the drive. Total drive time from Bergen is 5 hours, but it’s well worth the ride if you are interested in stave churches. And if not, you’re guaranteed to see some amazing sights along the drive!
One of the cool things about Urnes stave church is that you can see the blue fjord water in the background, making it for one of the most photogenic stave churches there is. It’s also a lot less popular than many other stave churches, so it’s not as filled with tourists as some of the more popular stave churches are during the summer season.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Urnes stave church has a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
There isn’t a good bus connection to get you to Urnes, so this one is reserved for those of you that rent a car or find some other method of getting there.
A bit of history from Fantoft stave church
If you’re staying in Bergen and want to see a stave church, the chances are that you will end up at Fantoft stave church, because why spend 3 – 5 hours driving to see one when there’s one already inside the city?
The original church was called Fortun stave church, and was built in 1150. However, it was moved to Bergen in 1883 and got renamed to Fantoft stave church due to the fact that it was relocated to the Fantoft area in Bergen. However, the one standing there today is not the original.
This is because the original Fantoft stave church was burned to the ground in 1992. The Norwegian black metal community was believed to be behind the arson, and Varg Vikernes was trialed for the arson, but there was not enough evidence to tie him to the arson.
Rebuilding the stave church turned out to be very difficult, because no one had build a stave church in Norway for several hundred years. However, after a lot of hard work, the replica stave church is standing just outside Bergen city center in all its glory.
You can easily visit Fantoft stave church by riding Bybanen to Fantoft, then follow the signs marked “stavkirke” (Norwegian for stave church). Anyone can look at the stave church, but you have to pay a 70 NOK admission fee if you want to go inside at look at the interior.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.