Bergen – Norway in a Nutshell
Bergen itself is an attraction. After all, it is the largest wooden city in Europe. Its name comes from the word ‘berg’ what means ‘mountain, lawn’. It is also one of the ‘small, big’ cities in the world (with the population of a little more than 250 thousand people the town stretches for almost 50 km in length), the planes come here from all European capitals. In addition, many tours in Norway go through Bergen. It is enough to attract tourists; however, in fact, there are much more interesting things to do in Bergen.
The best sightseeing in Bergen
Bergen is not only one of the largest but also one of the most picturesque cities in Norway. There are a lot of attractions that worth your attention, so the list of interesting places at which tourists (especially those who come to Bergen for the first time) should pay attention first, will be at handy.
1. Bryggen Waterfront
Hanseatic Bryggen Waterfront is the landmark of Bergen. This is the only quarter of the Hanseatic era preserved to date and being under UNESCO protection.
The whole Hanseatic wharf is full of three-storey multicolored houses. In the quarter Bryggen there are 58 houses, and if you go into the passages between them, you will open a unique mini-city with winding streets, wooden flooring underfoot and interesting architecture. The facades of many houses are decorated with wooden heads of animals or human figures representing various crafts.
Bryggen is the busiest place in Bergen and its main attraction. At the daytime, Bryggen is full of tourists strolling, and in the evening, local youth arranges a bike show here. All best Bergen restaurants are located here, at Bryggen. Norwegian souvenirs and other goods which deserve your attention Bergen can be bought here, at small shops.
2. Fish Market
Every day, lots of the natives and tourists come to the famous fish market on the waterfront (Fisketorget) to buy fresh seafood delicacies or just admire the variety of sea creatures. You can not only buy fish specialties for a family dinner but also try them right on the market. Salmon kebab or any fried fish can be cooked in your presence. You can also try sandwiches with different marine reptiles.
From the observation deck Floyen (its height is 320 m above sea level) the magnificent panorama opens. You can get there by Floibanen funicular from the center of Bergen for a few minutes. The funicular stop is located just 150 meters from the Fish Market. The funicular goes approximately every 15 minutes. The cost per adult is 70 NOK, for children – 40 NOK.
3. The Royal Residence
Externally the residence resembles a Scottish castle. When the king arrives in Bergen he stays there. And then over the main tower, the national flag is raised. The castle was built by King Haakon Haakonsson in 1261. The Residence and Reception Hall are located near the Rosenkrantz Tower which was built in 1270. The building is partially open to tourists.
4. Grieg Museum Troldhaugen
Troldhaugen is the house-museum of Edward Grieg, a national Norwegian composer. Troldhaugen translates as the ‘hill of trolls’. The museum includes a summer villa of the composer with its furniture, paintings and a grand piano, a concert hall with 200 seats and a grotto where the graves of the composer and his wife are located.
Edward Grieg’s piano is the pride of the museum. It is a gift from Bergen musicians for the Griegs’ silver wedding. When musicians come here only the most famous and worthy are allowed to play the piano.
Museum is located a 20-minutes ride from Bergen, near the beautiful lake. Working hours: May-September, from 9:00 to 18:00; October to April, from 10:00 to 16:00. Cost: adult – 60 NOK, children under 16 years – free.
In more than 60 aquariums of different size, weird and wonderful inhabitants of the deep sea from around the world await you. In addition to the Norwegian cod, there are other creatures as well: crocodiles, snakes, lizards and monkeys. Before the building entrance, there is a large outdoor aquarium for penguins with their houses, pool and podiums where they lie in the sun and warm their thick bodies.
6. Ulriken Funicular
Ulriken 643 includes two enclosed cabins in which vacationers ride. On the mountain (the highest one around Bergen), where the cabin will take you up, there is a viewing point with a beautiful view of the city, the sea, fjords, and islands; in addition, there is a restaurant to eat and get warm. On the mountain, a strong wind always blows, so going on a trip put on warm jackets with hoods.
You can go down the mountain not only by cable car – there are extreme lovers who decide to go down by narrow, rocky trails on foot and even by bicycles. Funicular cabin can take in up to 25 people. The departures are every 7 minutes. You can get to the funicular by bus leaving from the bus stop just 30 meters from the fish market, at the corner of LIDO. The departures are every 30-60 minutes.
If you are going to spend a lot of time for sightseeing then you’d better get a Bergen Card which offers a free bus ride through the city, allows you to visit almost all museums and attractions, and provides discounts at various cultural sites and for events. The card also entitles preferential parking.
Activities and excursions
Norwegians say that you have not seen real Norway if you have not experienced 5 ‘F’, and these are:
- FJELL (mountains), great and severe, attractive by their privacy and tranquility.
- FJORD (fjords), the ancient Vikings’ routes, secluded and spacious, charming with their grandeur and beauty.
- FOSS (waterfalls), the sources of freshness filling everyone with vivacity and awakening of life hassles.
- FONN (glaciers), amazing storages of eternal purity and coolness, the shelter from hot summers and everyday hassle.
- FISK (fish), one of Norway's wealth; fishing is a relaxing holiday at sea.
Bergen is a unique place where you will be able to turn each item from the above list into reality.
Fishing and other water activities
Bergen is the perfect place for fishing in the high seas. Moreover, you can choose both deep-sea fishing and fishing in calm waters surrounding the archipelago. In any case, the catch is guaranteed! In Marsteinen and Fedje, the bite is particularly good.
Sea kayaking in Møvik, just 25 minutes drive from Bergen to the west. This area is perfect for kayaking: there are many islands and bays around, and at the same time it is close to the harsh waves of the open sea. The season is from March to November. In Voss which is only an hour's drive from Bergen, you will be offered a variety of sports entertainment: rafting, including family and sports rafting, abseiling from the waterfall, and much more. Season starts in late April and lasts until late October.
Cycling and hiking
Bergen with the surrounding area is a great place for cyclists, for both those who prefer a slow cycling and admiring the surrounding views and those who love adrenaline. Bicycle route going between Voss and Bergen and passing through the picturesque valley Eksingedalen is known as the National Cycle Route 4. From May to September, the old road connecting Voss and Dale and passing through the valley Bergsdalen is open.
In the mountains around Bergen there are many routes over the rocky and wooded terrain. In Bergen there is a popular route ‘7 mountains’. During the hiking tour, you will see the mountains around the city and enjoy the sights of the city opening from their tops.
Tour of the fjords
Bergen city port is the starting point for many excursions and cruises. No wonder Bergen is called the gateway to the fjords of the kingdom. A half-day tour of the fjords starts from the harbor from May to September daily at 10.00; the cost: adults – 430 NOK, children – 220 NOK. There are also longer tours, from 1 to 12 days.
Among the huge variety of routes and excursions on the fjords, the most popular is probably the route Norway in a Nutshell. The tour includes a ride on the Flam railway and visit to the Naeroyfjord. Bergen serves as a transit point on the way to the Geirangerfjord, Trolltunga, Preikestolen and other Norway natural attractions. Bergen is located between the longest Sognafjordto the north of Bergen and the beautiful Hardangerfjord in the south.
Cheap holiday in Bergen
Do not want to spend lots of money being in Bergen, but want to explore the city better? It's possible.
First of all, you can go to the already mentioned Bryggen and the Fish Market. It is better to explore any city walking on foot, and for adventurous hiking, Bergen offers several options.
- Go to the open-air museum Old Bergen. There are about 50 restored buildings built in 18-20 centuries, to enter which you have to pay but you can wander through the streets completely free, and outside the building look no less picturesque. On the other hand, it is a park with picturesque alleys that recreate the atmosphere of the old town. You can go by exotic means of transport as a coach pulled or mini-tram.
- Climb the hill Skansen going from the street Fjellveien and you will enjoy narrow cobblestone and charming wooden streets, and then go up the hill to the funicular station to see the whole city. Having enough time, that you want to spend not far from the city, you can walk from the mountain Floyen to the mountain Ulriken and enjoy picturesque views.
In addition to walking, you can take your time in Bergen, without spending a lot of money visiting one of the free festivals. Throughout the year, there are free music festivals, especially a lot of during the Bergen International Festival. And in November, Bergen holds a variety of Christmas events, also free. For example, every year in late November - early December on Lake Lille Lungegardsvann there is the Festival of Lights with music, games and fireworks.
Bergen residents love their city, are proud of its history and carefully guard historical monuments. It is full of history and the spirit of the past. Leaving Bergen, tourists want to return again and again in this small, cozy and friendly town around the picturesque bay.