Bergen boasts a colourful wharf that is one of the most photographed spots in Scandinavia. This is the second largest city in Norway but it has the vibe of a small town packed with both charm and trendy character.
Two of Bergen’s nickname are the “Heart of the fjords” and “the city between the seven mountains”. Bergen is a perfect starting point for fjord excursions as it is located between the 2 biggest fjords in Norway – the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord. See our road trip itinerary of the Norvegian fjords in a dedicated post.
We read that it is usually wise to pack an umbrella due to Bergen’s temperate climate. Few cities in the world are prouder of having 200 days of rain per year than Bergen. But of course the weather is not always too bad. We were really lucky because it was sunny during all our stay in Bergen.
We love walking to explore a city. It was perfect as the city centre of Bergen is pretty small and is super easy to navigate by foot. In this post, we described in a nutshell what are our favourite spots in this cosy city.
Mount Fløyen – A spectacular view of the city
Finding a lookout is one of my favourite thing to do when I discover a new city. Climbing the Mount Fløyen was one of our top things to do in Bergen. What a memorable view at the top! This panoramic view of the city center rewarded us from the hike to the top :).
How to get there?
There are 2 ways to get up to the Mount Fløyen. Hence, if climbing is not for you, no worries as you can take the Fløibanen funicular up to the top and you will be there in less than 6 minutes.
However, if you are not in a hurry, we suggest that you don’t pay for the funicular. This hike to the top of Mount Fløyen starts in the city center close to the Fish Market and the world famous Bryggen. The walk is only about 1 hour or even less if you are fit – it took us 45 minutes. There are people all around the trail so it is very easy to find your way up. The top of Mount Fløyen is 320 meters above sea level (1050 ft), so the hike elevation is around 300 meters. As a reward we just enjoyed the view with an ice-cream :).
It is also a starting point for many hikes
The Mount Fløyen is also the perfect starting point for hiking around. As we spent only 24 hours in Bergen we didn’t have time to try them. There are both short and longer hikes to for everyone. On our climb up to the Mount we crossed trailers, young and elderly people, bikers but also wheelchairs or parents pushing baby carriages. The roads and hiking trails are suitable for everyone and this is why it is so attractive.
You can go back either by the funicular or you can walk down.
Bryggen – the old heart of Bergen
The most famous picture from Bergen is Bryggen (“the dock”) – a row of very colourful painted shopfronts facing the wharf.
This is the oldest part of Bergen, which was built almost 1000 years ago (i.e. 1070). That’s why it is on the list for World Cultural Heritage sites. You can’t miss this area which is one of the most beautiful area of the city.
In total, it is a line of 62 colourful pubs and boutiques shops selling craft and handmade souvenirs. It goes without saying it was the perfect spot for us to relax and refresh with a cider after the walk up to the Mount Fløyen :). There are a couple of local restaurants in this area too.
Fish Market – a vibrant outdoor market
This picturesque fish market is one of Norway’s most visited outdoor market. It is located right in the harbour in the centre of Bergen. True it is crowded with tourists, but the abundance of fish and seafood is impressive to see.
We read both positive and negative comments on this market – some said this market is just a tourist trap. However, it would be a pity to miss it out. As it is one of the key attraction in Bergen, we suggest to explore and see it by yourself. This market dates back to the 13th century and opened from beginning of May until the end of the summer.
Although the prices are a little high, we had our lunch there to enjoy the nice view on the waterfront. If it is lunch time when you visit the market, it will be very hard to resist. It was the first time we had whale!
You can try to eat almost all the kind of raw seafood possible. We also bought some reindeer sausage.
Walks to the Nordnes peninsula
For our last morning in Bergen, we decided to explore Nordnes, which sticks out from the harbour on the opposite side to Bryggen. If you like strolling around the city, you can easily walk from the centre of town up to the Nordnes park. We spent some time there just enjoying the view across the water to Bergen’s south-western areas.
A few meters from the park, there is an outdoor swimming pool and possibility to swim with a spectacular view. It is also one of the oldest parts of town and it is home to the Bergen Aquarium (Akvariet) where you can meet a multitude of marine creatures. We didn’t have time to spend a few hours discovering the aquarium or the pool but both looked great.
On our way back we stopped at the University. It may sound a surprising spot for a tourist. But we spent a really nice moment just to relax and enjoy the garden which was trimmed with beautiful flowers and waterlilies.
The last landmark we passed across in this area was the gothic St John’s church (Johanneskirken), which is the largest church in Bergen.
Enjoy a mix of tasty pastries at Godt Brød Marken
We are a French foodie couple so when we find great bakeries – it is delightful :). We enjoyed a great breakfast at Godt Brød Marken, where we definitely recommend to try the cinnamon buns.
There are several of those bakeries in Bergen. The bread was so tasty that we stopped to another shop to buy our sandwiches before heading to the airport.
In addition, if you plan a visit between the end of November and December, you can also go to Pepperkakebyen – it is the world’s largest ginger bread house exhibition. The pictures look so cool even if you don’t have a sweet tooth! Unfortunately it is only a seasonal attraction. If you are visiting Bergen in winter, you have to go and to leave us a comment to tell us about it ;)!
Last but not least, Bergen is a UNESCO city of gastronomy. There are so many options for restaurants to try, the only downside is the price as usual in Norway.
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