Founded in 1070, Bergen was for many years the largest city in Norway. As one of the main offices of the Hanseatic League, it became one of the most important and prosperous shipping and trading centre in Northern Europe, retaining that position until the 19th century.
Today, Bergen is the second largest city, after Oslo, and the gateway to the fjords of Norway, which are included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Bergen is also a popular cruise destination with the busiest port in the country.
Although cosmopolitan, Bergen retains the charm of a small town. We highlight seven of the best attractions in the city surrounded by seven mountains.
1. Western Fjords
Norway in a Nutshell is a classic round-trip that takes you up to the mountains and down to the fjords, crossing some of the most beautiful stretches on bus, train and boat. The tour takes about nine hours. It includes the train journey from Bergen to Voss, then a bus to Gudvangen and a boat trip to Flåm, passing through the narrow Nærøyfjord. The steep 20km (12mi) train ride on the Flåm line to Myrdal crosses some of Norway’s most spectacular mountain sceneries, including the huge Kjosfossen waterfall.
If you prefer to visit as an independent traveller, here’s your travel guide to the Norwegian fjords:
Bryggen is one of Bergen’s main attractions. Walking distance from the port of Vagen, this Hanseatic Wharf is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The wooden houses create a unique medieval atmosphere. To experience it, stroll the narrow walkways, and buy some local crafts in the small shops and galleries. Don’t miss the “skillingsboller” (cinnamon bun), a local specialty to sample at the traditional Baker Brun bakery.
3. Hanseatic Museum
Located in one of the oldest wooden houses in Bryggen, the Hanseatic Museum depicts the life and work of the German merchants from the Hanseatic League during the 18th century.
4. Fish Market (Fisketorget)
Opposite the Hanseatic Museum, you will find the Fish Market selling seafood and other local delicacies. Nothing beats a fish soup and fresh shrimps prawns bought on food stalls open during the summer season. Norwegian strawberries and raspberries are also one of the best-kept secrets of this Scandinavian country. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste them while in Bergen.
5. Bergen Aquarium
Known as Akvariet , the Bergen Aquarium is one of most popular attractions. In addition to species that live on the Norwegian coast such as cod, the aquarium has crocodiles, penguins, seals, and a shark tunnel.
6. Kode – Art Museums of Bergen
The Art Museums of Bergen, Kode , fill four buildings in the city centre. They include the permanent exhibition of major works by Edvard Munch, the Norwegian painter best known for “The Scream”.
7. Seven Mountains
Bergen is surrounded by mountains, and Fløyen and Ulriken are two of the most popular.
The Fløibanen funicular takes you from the city centre to the mountain top (320 meters / 1,050 feet) offering panoramic views over Bergen and the region. There are walking and hiking trails on the site.
Also popular is Ulriken , the highest of the seven mountains. To get there, take the bus in the city centre (next to Bergen’s Tourist Office) to the cable car station. In addition to stunning views, the Sky: skraperen restaurant offers a fish menu on the mountain.
Tickets for both the funicular and the cable car can be bought at the Tourist Office.
If you’re planning to visit Bergen’s museums, you may be interested in buying the Bergen Card, which includes free admissions to museums and attractions, free rides on buses in the city and on the Bergen Light Rail to and from the airport, as well as discounts on sightseeing tours and restaurants.
Check Bergen’s Official Tourism website for further information.