Surrounded on all sides by seven dramatic mountains and seven breathtaking fjords, Bergen is a city truly in touch with nature. Often called the ‘Gateway to the Fjords’, Bergen is a popular stop for cruise ships, and a great starting point for those looking to get up-close-and-personal with the dramatic Norwegian landscape.
Bergen is one of those rare cities that I have visited and thought, I could live here. If the Big Mac meal didn’t cost ten pounds ($17) and the weather wasn’t eerily similar to rainy England, it would have been almost perfect. I was lucky enough to be shown around by one of my oldest friends who now calls Bergen home, giving it the real local touch.
(Translation: Me dragging her around to a bunch of sites she had never visited in all the time she lived there, but in return bringing me to great cafes and shops I would have never found otherwise. )
Each of these five places to visit and things to do illustrates one piece of Bergen, Norway I fell in love with. Whether it was the magical history of Hakon’s Hall or the hike around Mount Fløyen on the lookout for trolls, each was an experience that I would highly recommend if you are planning a visit to this charming city.
Located on the end of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bryggen Wharf, the Hanseatic Museum gives visitors a rare look at a typical wooden building of the Hanseatic period (1350 to 1750). Most have been lost to fire through the years, which you can learn further about at the other museum site of Schøtstuene, a dining hall where locals would eat together in winter to avoid house fires. An interesting look at trading and the daily life of Bergensers in the 18th-19th centuries.
Mt. Fløyen is the most visited mountain in the Bergen vicinity. The views from the top are spectacular, both at night and during the day. Thanks to the funicular ride, the Fløibanen, anyone can enjoy the view regardless of any physical limitations. There are plenty of trails once you get up to the top for exploring, as well as a restaurant and playground for the kids. If you can only do one thing in Bergen, this should be it!
Norwegians have a strange connection with trolls. In fact, the trolls in our fairytales that we have come to know all over the world comes from Norse mythology. The amount of trolls I saw in Norway is a post in itself, but for now do add troll hunting to your list. In the forests atop Mount Fløyen there are trolls hidden everywhere. Creepy masks chained to tree trunks, tree trunks carved into trolls, and even troll sculptures peaking at you over hills along the pathways. Creepy? Yes. But a hell of a good time.
4. Visit Haakon’s Hall
The Bergenhus Fortress looms over the entrance to Bergen’s harbor. The fortress itself dates back to the 1240s, with Haakon’s hall as it’s gem. Haakon’s Hall was the royal dining hall, a place where Kings of Norway entertained their guests up until the 19th century. Walking the room you can just imagine the parties that went on, the smells of the Norsk men, and the stories that began at it’s table.
5. Have Lunch at Torget Fish Market
Torget Fish Market is located on the opposite side of the harbor as the Bryggen Wharf. Here you can find everything from salmon to hot pink ‘Princess’ caviar, with both fresh and prepared options available. Ethics aside for a minute, if you had a chance to try whale would you? Go down to Torget Fish Market, where you can buy a chunk for a hefty sum or taste a free sample. Honestly, it tasted like beefy bacon, and I may dream about it until the day it is in my mouth again.
Next week you can read further about these five amazing places in Bergen, Norway. If you haven’t subscribed to the mailing list, now would be a great time to do so!