Beautiful Bergen is a stunning city on Norway’s southwestern coast. It’s surrounded by epic scenery of mountains and fjords, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. Its main attractions include Bryggen – the colourful wooden houses on the old wharf, once a center of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire and Fløyen Mountain which gives panoramic views out over the mountains, and is home to numerous beautiful hiking trails.
Getting to Bergen from the UK is really easy – it’s a quick 2 hour flight so makes for the perfect weekend getaway destination. Though because of that it is incredibly touristy, and if you want the fjords without the crowds, then places such as Norheimsund, Stavanger or Balestrand may be more suited to you. If you choose to visit Bergen though, here are 10 fun things to do in the city – all manageable in a long weekend visit.
Bryggen is a series of Hanseatic heritage commercial buildings lining up the eastern side of the Bergen harbour, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
In around 1350, an office of the Hanseatic League was set up in Bryggen, and the wharfs developed as the merchants moved in to the area – initially the warehouses were used to store fish and cereal. Because the buildings are wood, they are susceptible to fire damage and in 1702, the buildings belonging to the Hanseatic League were damaged by fire. They were rebuilt, and some of these were later demolished, and some were again destroyed by fire, before being transferred to Norweigan citizens in 1754. As of today around 25% of the buildings pre-date the fire of 1702, but most are from the later era.
2. Fløyen Mountain
The most accessible mountain surrounding Bergen is Fløyen, which is close to the city centre. It’s connected to the town by a funicular, Fløibanen, that will take you to the top in less than eight minutes. Once at the top, you are free to enjoy spectacular views of Bergen and the surrounding landscape. You can then either hike further up in to the mountains, or take a leisurely walk back down again.
3. Fjord Cruise
As Bergen is very much connected to the fjords surrounding it, there are several cruise companies stationed in the city, eager to show you the wonders of the famous Norwegian landscape. One of the most spectacular is a visit to Hardangerfjord.
The round trip from Bergen starts by taking the scenic Bergen Railway to Voss. From Voss you continue by bus to the charming village of Ulvik, and pass the Steinsdalsfossen waterfall. From Ulvik you embark on a beautiful boat trip on the Hardangerfjord to Eidfjord. Once in Eidfjord, you can visit the incredible Voringsfossen, as well as visit the Norwegian Nature Centre in Hardanger. You then head back to Bergen.
Norheimsund and Steinsdalsfossen
This is a full day tour, so if you don’t want to dedicate a full day to the fjords, you could get on a smaller half day fjord boat ride that leaves from Bergen harbour.
4. Bergen Fish Market
As the busiest port in the country, it is only natural that Bergen is the place to go for seafood. Take a trip to the outdoor Fish Market, one of Norway’s most-visited outdoor attractions, which offers an abundance of fish, shellfish, fruit, vegetables and hand-made crafts for you to buy…and eat!
5. Fantoft Stave Church
One of the unique expressions of the Norwegian national heritage can be seen in the careful ornamentation of the beautiful stave churches. Fantoft Stave Church was built in 1150 but was completely destroyed in a fire in 1992 – the suspected work of notorious murderer Varg Vikernes. The church, as it exists today, is a reconstruction but is still very much a spectacular example of early Norwegian design and heritage.
6. St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Chirch is in the Bryggen area, near to the Rosenkrantz tower complex in the oldest part of the town. It is the oldest existing building in Bergen dating from 1130-1170 and interestingly is an Anglican church, belonging to the Church of England (!). The Anglican Chaplaincy serves English-speaking communities in four major cities across Norway as well as the village of Balestrand.
Built in 1885, the Troldhaugen was the home of Norway’s most famous composer, Edvard Grieg. Troldhaugen today serves as a museum, aiming to document Grieg’s life through exhibitions in the house, and in his Composer’s Hut where he created some of his greatest works. You can see his piano, visit his grave or listen to his music in the concert hall.
8. Sailors Monument
Norway has a long seafaring tradition and this monument honours those people who have crossed the seas from Norway, from the Vikings to today. There are sailors along the base and the ships they sailed on the upper plaque.
9. St John’s Church
St John’s Church is a parish church of the church of Norway, and was built between 1891-1894 in the cruciform design. It seats about 1,250 people which makes it the largest church in Bergen. It’s a nice place to pop in to as it’s lovely inside as well.
10. Hanseatic Museum
This museum is in one of the conserved wooden buildings within Bryggen. The museum covers the Hanseatic League era in Bergen, from the period in which the German guild of merchants created an overseas office at Bryggen in 1360.
The present building was re-constructed after the fire in 1702, and the museum was started in a building owned by the merchant Johan Wilhelm Olsen in 1872. There is an authentic trading room in the museum including a merchant’s office, sleeping places for the boys and a guestroom.
Thank you for reading. I hope this post has been interesting, or helpful if you’re planning to visit Bergen one day. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!