Your Guide to Discovering Bergen
The charming city of Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway, yet it retains a small-town quirkiness full of captivating character. Known as “the Capital of Fjord Norway” among its many nicknames, it is a vibrant city full of activities that typify Norway’s unique culture.
Here, we’ll look into Bergen’s many attractions and how you can enjoy all there is to see in this fabulous city.
What is Bergen Norway known for?
Bergen is a city steeped in history, having been established in 1070 just after the end of the Viking Age. With a strong link to its past, Bergen showcases its historical culture in many ways. The iconic wharf of Bryggen, which was built in the 14th century, is bright and colourful and has become a well-known landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picturesque wooden buildings house restaurants, cafes and shops making it a wonderful spot for visitors to enjoy.
Bergen is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy with a wide choice of appealing restaurants. Being next to the North Sea, the food culture is geared towards fish. Fishcakes, fish soup, and traditional steamed cod, known as persetorsk, are all popular dishes. You should also visit the Fish Market, which has been a cultural hub for centuries. Sample some of the ocean’s tasty treasures as you explore the market, which also sells fruit, vegetables, and souvenirs.
The city is also known as the birthplace and home of 19th century composer Edvard Grieg.
What is there to do in Bergen?
Bergen is full of activities and sights so you are unlikely to ever be at a loss for something to do during your trip. Lovers of architecture should visit the stave churches across the city. Fantoft Stave Church, in particular, is a stunning representation of Norway’s unique building style. Similarly, Bergenhus Fortress is a beautifully-preserved medieval building that encompasses a number of other sites, including Haakon’s Hall and Rosenkrantz Tower.
The distinctive Floibanen funicular offers a short ride up to the summit of Mount Floyen from the city centre. Rising 320 metres above sea level enjoy sweeping views over the city.
There is a strong student culture in Bergen which translates into a vibrant nightlife. From live music to comedy, cosy evenings in warm pubs make for a uniquely Norwegian night out. Another thing that speaks to the urban atmosphere is the city’s love of graffiti and street art. You can explore the art as well as the shops on Skostredet, one of Bergen’s prettiest and best-known shopping streets.
Other attractions in the city include the aquarium, which houses over 50 separate tanks full of marine life, and the Ulriken cable car which takes you to the top of the 643m mountain of Ulriken.
What should you not miss in Bergen Norway?
You can’t visit a city nicknamed “the meadow among the mountains” without experiencing the mountains themselves. Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, each offering outstanding views of the city and its neighbouring fjords. Lovers of hiking will be able to get their fix and more from Bergen’s mountains, the simplest of which to climb is probably Fløyen which offers incredible views of the Bergen peninsula.
Bergen is also the perfect starting point for exploring one of Norway’s most breathtaking natural features – the fjords. Now part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Norwegian fjords are strikingly beautiful.
Can you see fjords from Bergen?
Known as the “gateway to the fjords”, Bergen is located between two fjords, Sognefjord towards the north and Hardangerfjord in the south. You can enjoy many fjord excursions from the city so it’s a great spot to start your Norwegian adventure.
When should I go to Bergen?
Bergen is lovely all year round, but if you are looking to see it at its most vibrant we recommend you visit during the spring and summer months from May to September. If you are planning to visit in spring, you can see the cherry trees at Lille Lungegårdsvann, a five-acre octagonal lake in the city. Or, if you opt for an autumn trip, you can see the changing colour of the leaves.
It rains in Bergen for around 240 days of the year, which gives it yet another nickname as “the rainiest city on earth”. However, this should not dissuade visitors who only need to pack accordingly to carry on enjoying the wonders of the city.
How expensive is Bergen Norway?
Bergen can be expensive, so your budget should be dictated by the experiences you wish to have rather than how much you want to spend. Many of our holidays to the Bergen area are inclusive of flights and accommodation, so you can budget elsewhere.
Food and drink can be relatively costly in Bergen, but a standard meal works out at around 270kr (£22) per person on average. However, if you move away from the busier streets of Bergen, you will be able to find reasonably priced restaurants and bars.
If you intend on visiting Bergen’s popular attractions, you can buy a Bergen Card which gives you free or discounted entry to many places, as well as free public transport. Bergen’s proximity to nature means there are many activities that are free or relatively inexpensive to enjoy, like hiking the mountains around the city.
Is Bergen Norway safe?
Bergen is a safe city with very little crime, much like the rest of Norway. Visitors to Bergen can feel safe wandering the streets. Many people in Bergen speak a bit of English so you will be able to ask for help if you need it. Having said that, it’s always good to have an app available to translate if necessary.
How many days do you need in Bergen?
You can get a feel for Bergen in just a couple of days, but we recommend at least four days in order to see everything the city and the surrounding area has to offer. We have a range of holidays from between four and 12 days, encompassing a variety of different activities and excursions.
How far is Bergen from Flam?
Bergen is around two hour and forty minutes from Flam by car. However, one of the most popular ways to travel from Bergen to Flam is on the train, which is a three and a half hour journey. The train trip is known as one of the most scenic in the world, giving travellers a fantastic view of Norway’s breathtaking landscape.