Enjoy an Alternative City Break in Bergen

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

Bergen is a colourful waterfront city on the west coast of Norway. Between the 1100s and 1500s, it was one of the main Hanseatic League trading posts. Merchants would travel all over Europe to trade fur, fish and timber products in exchange for metal, clothing and spices. Subtle nods to these traditions can still be seen today in Bryggen – a vibrant space in Bergen with wooden shopfronts, lively produce markets and museums. In addition to its rich history, Bergen also has the breathtaking Norwegian fjords on its doorstep! With a host of outdoor activities on offer from hiking to rafting, cycling and kayaking, this is a great time to enjoy a city break in Bergen.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen

Home to narrow timber houses painted in ochres, terracotta and shades of vermillion, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen boasts a picture postcard setting. The harbour front buildings were once used as warehouses to store fish, furs and cereals during the Hanseatic era, however, following a fire which swept through the area in 1702, the entire quarter had to be rebuilt.

Fortunately, even after this, Bryggen still retains an old-world charm, but instead of warehouses dotting the quayside, you now see fine dining restaurants, quirky craft studios and art galleries. Whilst in Bryggen, take time to browse the outdoor fish market and sample fresh seafood delicacies from the food stands.

Alternatively, delve into Bergen’s rich maritime and trading heritage at the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene. The museum documents 400 years of history ranging from the mid-1300s to the 1750s and still displays original interiors.

If you get the opportunity, walk to the assembly halls and see where members of the Hanseatic League would meet to discuss the latest trade opportunities back in the day.

Bryggen, Norway.

Gain the Best Views from Mount Fløyen

For the best views and photo opportunities, head for Mount Fløyen. Standing proudly at the edge of Bergen, there are many ways to reach these verdant peaks. You can hike along woodland trails to the summit in around 45 minutes, or make the journey on the Fløibanen funicular railway. The tram station is close to Bryggen wharf and it takes just 5-8 minutes to reach the top. The scenery is spectacular from 320 metres above sea level and offers panoramic views across the bay, city of Bergen and surrounding landscapes.

If you wish to make the most of your visit to Mount Fløyen, take a mountain bike tour or contribute to the environment by planting a tree on route to offset your carbon footprint!

City of Bergen from Mt. Floyen, Norway

Sample Delicacies at Bergen Fish Market

When the Hanseatic League arrived in Bergen during the 1300s, Bryggen’s quayside was abundant with merchants from Germany and the fish market quickly became a key site for trade. Today, ancient traditions still prevail, with local fishermen bringing in their daily catch and farmers proffering fresh fruit and vegetables to passersby. Even though tall ships no longer arrive from foreign lands to trade metals and spices, intermittent cruise ships dock in port with throngs of tourists eager to explore Bryggen.

As you browse the market you can sample mouthwatering fresh shrimp, king crab and more from surrounding food stands. If you arrive in the city during the winter months, don’t worry. A new indoor fish market opened in 2012 so you can experience its vibrant atmosphere year-round.

Bergen Fish Market

Partake in Outdoor Adventure Activities

Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, and these peaks are home to a variety of outdoor activities. Whether you wish to hike from Mount Fløyen to Mount Ulriken, cycle to ancient wooden stave churches or partake in water sport adventures on a nearby fjord, there’s plenty to occupy avid adventurers.

Utilising Bergen as your base, you can easily access river rafting and kayaking, abseiling, glacier walks, fishing and even golf! During peak summer months you can canoe for free at Skomakerdiket on Mount Fløyen or enjoy breathtaking Norwegian scenery on a fun-packed fjord tour which includes mountain biking, whitewater rafting and a trip on the scenic Flåm railway!

City Bikes Station, Bergen, Norway

See Munch and more at KODE Art Museum

If you appreciate creative works you should make a stop at the KODE Art Museums in Bergen. Spread around pretty Lille Lungegardsvannet in the city centre, there are four different museums housing famous artworks, gold and silver objects and even Bergen’s largest art bookstore! You can stroll around each one at your own pace, admiring captivating works by Edvard Munch, J.C. Dahl and Harriet Backer, then break for a platter of delicious Nordic seafood and drinks in Lysverket restaurant in KODE 4.

Kode Art Museum and Musikkpaviljongen, Bergen

Indulge in a Mini Fjord Cruise

If you’re visiting Bergen on a city break, indulge in a mini fjord cruise. With lush, green mountain landscapes, deep blue waters, glaciers and gushing cascades the magnificent fjords offer photo opportunities galore!

There are several tours you can enjoy from Bergen in a day and a mini cruise along Sognefjord is one of the most popular. Sognefjord is known as ‘The King of the Fjords’ and at over 200 kilometres in length, it’s one of the longest on the planet. Enjoy cruising along the water, marvelling at the scenery with the breeze in your hair and get ready to snap Norway’s dramatic natural beauty.

Hardangervidda near Bergen, Norway

Enjoy Craft Beer and Conversation

When you’re exhausted from daily adventures, head back to Bergen for dinner and drinks. Enhjørningen, otherwise known as The Unicorn Restaurant, is a favourite with locals for seafood. It's Bergen’s oldest fish restaurant located at the water’s edge of Bryggen. Set in an authentic old-world atmosphere, you can sample delicious Norwegian scallops, salmon or halibut coupled with incredible views of the harbour.

After dinner, if the weather is warm, head along the harbour to Strandsiden and Magic Ice Bergen to cool down. This creative ice bar bedecked with cool blue LED lights contains an indoor ice sculpture gallery inspired by Norwegian composers and artists such as Grieg and Munch.

Alternatively, make the most of the light evenings and sit by the harbour with a refreshing craft beer discussing travel escapades with new friends.

Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen

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