City Guide Bergen. The Travel Guide for your trip to Norway.
For anyone who loves being surrounded by beautiful landscapes, Norway is a dream destination. The country is extremely rich in terms of its culture as well as its wildlife. Norway is defined by its truly mesmerizing fjords, and Bergen is the fjord capital of Norway.
This city presents you with the perfect blend of a city’s charm with the calm of the countryside. So, while you’re in Norway, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Bergen. With its alluring mountain ranges and narrow cobblestone alleys, Bergen is a sight to behold.
Both the natural landscapes as well as the modern city bits will leave you awe-struck. It’s located on the west coast of Norway and is surrounded by several majestic mountain peaks.
Read on as we take you through every aspect and charm of Bergen. From its history and the must-visit sites to the perfect shopping destinations in Bergen, we’ve left no stone unturned.
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Location: In the county Vestland, in Western Norway
Established: Before 1070
Population: 285,911 (2021)
Time zone: UTC+01:00 (CET), in the summer UTC+02:00 (CEST)
This fascinating city had the first central system in place, in entire Norway, back in the 13th century. People often say that it was founded in 1070 AD by king Olav Kyrre. Since time immemorial, Bergen has been engaging in trade, which was originally initiated by the German merchants.
Before it became a municipality, it used to be a separate country, and in the 1200s, it became the capital of Norway till 1299. The unfortunate part is that it has had to withstand several fires over the years. The 1916 fire pretty much destroyed the entire central part of this beautiful city.
On the brighter side, Bergen has, over the years, helped artists and bands thrive, and it has become quite a cultural hub. Despite staying true to its natural beauty, it has become the epicenter for sports, education, finance, and technology in Norway.
Bergen is a city full of mesmerizing sites and adventurous activities. However, the good part is it is relatively easy to get around the city. It has a smooth public transport system and numerous conveyance options for you. Following is a list of everything you need to know about the Bergen transport modes.
Exploring a city on foot is downright the best idea. You get to experience the local life most authentically. Most of the city’s attractions are based around the center. So rest assured that you will have no problem reaching them.
This way, you can also stop to explore the small shops and cafes in the city. Additionally, it gives you the brilliant opportunity to get in a short chat with the welcoming locals of Bergen. They would be pleased to tell you all about the beautiful city’s history in detail.
Bergen’s bus system is pretty straightforward and is regulated by Skyss. You can purchase a ticket onboard or buy one from a kiosk in advance or the Bergen bus station. Alternatively, you can get them from the Skyss app. These tickets range from single tickets to those for 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days.
You can use the white or red buses, depending on your destination. The best way to plan your bus trip is by downloading the Skyss app translated to English.
You can also use Bergen’s light rail to access distant places. The best part is you can use the bus tickets/passes for the rails as well. Just be sure that they are valid. The rail offers comfortable travel conditions and stops at several prominent sites, including the Fantoft Stave Church.
It is a convenient option as each stop is announced on the loudspeaker before the arrival. Additionally, it is the best way to go to the airport from the city center and back.
Boats and Ferries
If you want to explore the fjords and islands around Bergen, opting for boats or ferries is the best way. It is not only reasonable but adds thrill to your trip. Moreover, you can conveniently gain information about the ferry system on the Skyss website.
Fløibanen Funicular Railway
Not just a fun activity to try, the Fløibanen is also a useful transport mode to and from Mount Fløyen. However, due to its immense fame, the rail can get too crowded, making you wait for hours. Moreover, it is not a part of the public transport and requires separate tickets.
Similar to all the other cities of Norway, getting a cab is the most expensive option. However, they are also the most comfortable ones. If you are in groups of 4 or have a lot of luggage, hop in a taxi for a comfortable commute.
Bergen has so many sites to explore and admire that you cannot cover in a short trip. Still, here is a list of places you must definitely add to your tour schedule.
Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf
The Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf is a collection of vibrantly-colored buildings that attract thousands of tourists from around the globe. The 14th-century wooden houses are aesthetically-pleasing and well-preserved, that the place has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though the beautiful structures fell prey to the drastic fire incident in 1702, they were re-built with similar designs and materials. The buildings stand tall at the eastern side of the Vagen harbor, consisting of multiple shops, museums, cafes, boutiques, and more.
The Bryggen is an ideal place to take a stroll along the harbor and capture perfect pictures. Also, you can have a quick bite at the lovely cafes and enjoy the view.
If you are ready for a royal historical tour, the Bergenhus Fortress is waiting for you at the shores. The beautiful structure has been adding flair to the Vagen harbor since the 16th century. Giving antiquity vibes under the sunlight, the building lights up at night, looking nothing less than a treasure.
It holds multiple exciting sites, including the medieval-era Haakon’s Hall, Rosenkrantz Tower, and the Bergenhus Fortress Museum. The structures were built in the 15th century, reflecting much of the city’s traditional architecture. You can enjoy the historical exhibits and also walk up to another nearby fortress—Sverresborg.
If you want to spot a colorful site among the predominantly white buildings of the city, get to the market square. It is the heart of Bergen city, bustling with people, shops, restaurants, and fresh catch of the day.
The place is not only a treat for your eyes but also your tastebuds. You can walk around the square to adore its bright-colored buildings, check out shops and stalls, and watch Bergen’s busy life.
VilVite Bergen Science Center
A science center may sound boring, but you go to believe it is completely the opposite in this case. The VilVite Bergen Science Center is an exhibition of fun, innovative, and downright surprising structures and equipment.
The place has plenty of participation activities for kids and adults alike. You can experiment with water, robots and go on virtual underwater expeditions. Overall, you can engage with everything at the center and not only learn and witness but also experience for yourself!
Initially a Church built in 1150 for Norway’s saint—Olav, Bergen Cathedral is a result of multiple renovations and modifications. However, most of its interior was added by Christian Christie in the 1880s.
The cathedral has several monuments, beautiful stained-glass windows, various holy figures, and glass carvings. Additionally, you will find the old Vestry, Chapter House, and a Churchyard with memorials. It is a place worth a visit to learn about the religious history of the city.
Gamlehaugen: The Royal Residence
The Bergenhus Fortress is not the only structure where you can taste royalty. At Bergen, you can also step into the enticing, fairytale-like castle—the Royal Residence. It is a magnificent structure that dates back to the medieval ages.
Earlier held as a private mansion, the Gamlehaugen has been the Bergen residence for the Norwegian Family since 1927. However, its ground floor is open to the public as a museum, and so is the surrounding English garden.
Apart from exploring the building, museum and relaxing in the park, you can also take a dip at the Nordåsvannet. It is a beautiful lake that shares its shores with the Royal Residence.
When you visit Bergen, you must go to the Fløyen Mountain. Located at the height of around 320 meters above sea level, it gives you a stunning city view. Just carry a pair of trekking shoes, a backpack, and water, and you’re good to go.
As you reach the mountain, you will be filled with the fresh aroma of bakery products, ice cream, and more. It is downright the best end to your trekking trip. There is a large playground for kids and a gripping Troll forest to explore. You can also walk to Lake Skomakerdiket here.
Instead of trekking, you may also take the Fløibanen to the Fløyen Mountain mentioned below. Both the ways have their advantages, and it’s up to you to select which one suits and excites you more.
Enjoy The Fløibanen Ride
This is a funicular railway and is somewhat of a specialty in Bergen. Riding in a Fløibanen is worth it since you will be surrounded by real scenic beauty throughout your ride. Furthermore, it will give you a glimpse into the life of the city, followed by breath-taking views from the destination.
It is an 850-m long electric cable car, used for transporting people to the mountains for over 100 years. You can quickly get to the station, located 150 meters from the fish market. This journey starts at the heart of Bergen and takes you to the top in as little as 6 minutes.
One of the best things about the Fløibanen is that it runs throughout the day. You can choose a time according to your convenience—from early morning to late night.
Whether you are a history enthusiast or not, Bergen’s museums are certainly worth visiting. These hold attractive artifacts, stories and guided tours, and more about Bergen’s history.
Grieg Museum (Troldhaugen)
The home of one of the most famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, this museum is over 130 years old. The place portrays the life of Grieg, including his beautiful work. You can also visit his hut by the lake, where he retreated for work. The site also has a 200-seat performance hall used for concerts.
Among the vibrant structures at the Wharf lies the Hanseatic museum, displaying the life of Hanseatic merchants. It is a block of 62 buildings, with each of its corners portraying the daily life of the people in the Hanseatic era.
It is a collection of 4 buildings displaying the beautiful works of artists like Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and more. It also includes the Silver Treasure exhibition along with multiple other handicrafts as old as 500 years.
Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen Museum)
If you want to watch the live reenactment of Bergen’s culture, the Gamle Bergen Museum is for you. It is a collection of 55 wooden houses dating back to 1946, in the old city. You can interact with the costumed characters to learn more about the city’s history.
Bergen has fabulous markets that have only the best to offer you. What else could you expect, it’s a city of traders after all? From the local shops to the world-class shopping malls, here are the best places for shopping in Bergen.
Dale Of Norway
Dale of Norway is a famous local brand that sells premium quality knitwear. Its specialty is sweaters, and you must visit it if you’re in Bergen. It is located in Vaksdal municipality, and their winterwear collection has such unique designs that you can’t help but buy them.
This is a spacious shopping center with a wide variety of stores. You can shop with any budget in the Galleriet, and you won’t return empty-handed. To top it off, the food court has delicious food to cater to all your cravings.
The Bergen Storsenter
Located on Strømgaten, it has over 70 stores to provide you with the best quality goods. It’s also the largest shopping center in Bergen. The range of shops is very versatile, as you get a clothing store and a pharmacy in one place.
Arven Gold and Silver Factory
It’s located in Sandbrogaten and sells some of the finest silverware and jewelry you’ll ever find. The designs are authentic, and you can tell that they carry an essence of the Bergen culture. The best part is, they are all crafted by hand.
Talking about authenticity, Oleana features some of the best knitwear. It’s located in Strankaien 2A and sells great-quality and meaningful souvenirs and other gift items. It also has a few awards to its credit, owing to the beautifully hand-crafted designs and patterns.
The Bergen Fish Market
The Bergen fish market is a lively place with a large variety of fish available. It also offers you a large variety of fruits, vegetables, and hand-crafted goodies. Simply put, it’s a grocery shoppers’ paradise.
Even if you do not want to buy anything, visiting this market will help you connect to the city and its culture. The market is simply beautiful and is always bustling with tourists. It will surely be a fulfilling experience for you.
Gunvor Handmade Illustration
Although small, this shop has excellent customizable artwork. You can get specialized gifts created on-demand, such as decorative mugs, painted t-shirts, and other things. The illustrations are very creative and quirky, and you’ll surely end up buying something.
This shopping center is located in Laguneveien, and it will leave you stunned by how beautiful it is. From branded stores to local, niche boutiques, you’ll have plenty of great options to choose from. It also provides you with the best eateries and food stores, as a bonus.
Located in the heart of Strandgaten, Bergen, the Kløverhuset shopping center prides itself in being the oldest one in Norway. You’ll find a delightful mix of various local and small shops here. To top it off, It’s just 12kms away from the airport, and you can explore some great boutiques and restaurants at this center.