Imagine a buzzing lively city, set perfectly at the foot on 7 hills, 7 fjords, a wonderful fish market at the end of a beautiful port, and rows upon rows of wonderfully preserved buildings in 12th century style. You will find yourself in Bergen.
While it is hard to pick just one place in Norway to visit, if you had to, Bergen could very well serve as a mini representative of all the best Norway has to offer in one place.
Welcome to Bergen
It is the second largest city in Norway, serving as the country’s capital from 1200 till 1299, and is the most popular starting point into the fjords of Western Norway. Even if you are in Norway just for the fjords, it is ideal to use this city as a base before setting off through Norway in a Nutshell, fjord cruises, or just venturing out by yourself with a car or bike. In this way you’ll get to experience city life in one of the best cities in Norway before experiencing one top rated “sights” in all of the world.
Bergen boasts the best fish market in Norway at the end of the port where you can sample unique Norwegian food staples. Vendors sell everything from fresh fruit, jams, fish soup, whale, and even reindeer jerky last I was there.
One popular excursions is to ride the funicular to the top of one of the seven hills for amazing vistas if the surrounding hills and city below. From here there are amble walking and hiking trails to be explore, or a nice restaurant to enjoy the view with some wine or food.
Once the sun sets, you are sufficiently full from the fine food the city offers, and pleased with the spectacular views, day turns into night and Bergen can’t wait to finish the evening with outstanding music venues and nightlife. The city is famous for it’s music scene, having fostered many of Norway’s greatest bands and artist and there are no shortage of venues to lure you in from indie to rock and everything in-between.
Spotlight on Bryggen
Bryggen, translating into wharf, is the oldest and most enchanting quarter of the city, a UNSESCO sight, and a great opportunity for you to step back in time to see what life was like for the tradesmen and fishermen of Norway.
Currently there are 58 buildings, of 12th century style construction, you are free to wander about through old alleys and narrow passages right on the edge of the port and get a feel for life here in the middle ages.
Unfortunately these are not the original buildings as there have been two tragic fires, in 1705 and 1995 that wiped out two thirds of the city and damaged the majority of the buildings. Incredibly all the buildings are still in use; wandering around aimlessly in this quarter is great fun and a nice relief from the sun on those warm days or shelter from the rain the city is famous for.
Highlights in and around Bergen
- Vågen harbor- Epicenter of the city. Markets, stalls, food, people watching
- Fish market (fisketorget)- Outdoor fish market and great fun to see and taste local products
- Mt. Floyen-A fun 26 degree funicular ride up where the views and forest trails at the top are spectacular. In summer you can ride to the top and see the midnight sun here at midnight!
- Bergen Cathedral- The same stonemasons that built the Westminster Abbey in London
- Bergen Aquarium- Fun for the kids or anyone who likes sea creatures. Penguins, shark tunnels, seals and more
- Music and nightlife
Where it is located
- City holidays
- Stunning scenery
- Fjord cruises
- Fjord exploration
- Music lovers- Bergen is the music hub of Norway with many festivals throughout the year
Combine the visit with
- Fantoft Stave Church– One of the 28 remaining middle age structures in the world can be found 6 km south of the city.
- Norway in a Nutshell- Many of their excursions can start in Bergen. Combination train, boat, and bus trips encompass the magnificent fjord area around you. Cities can include Hardangerfjord, Eidfjord, Flam, Myrdal, Gudvangen, Voss, and more.
- Voss- East of Bergen, this beautiful city is known as the extreme sports location in Norway. From paragliding, rafting, hiking, and skiing, this is a beautiful place to explore and get your heartbeat racing. 1.15 hours away by train.
- Stavanger– A few hours south of Bergen, is the oil capital of Norway. A little more quiet, a bit more artistic. Sophisticated, amazing food, and the one of the best places for iconic hikes.
- Preikestolen ( Pulpit Rock) and Kjerbolten– The most iconic hikes and views in Norway outside the fjords.
Fjords. Food. Nature. Music. City life. UNESCO sights. Easily assessable. Outstanding atmosphere. It never really was a secret what a gem Bergen is. Come see it for yourself!
(Opening Photo: Andrés Nieto Porras)
What adventures would you have in Bergen? Let us know below!