A vibrant contrast to the serene Nordic fjords, the charming personality of Bergen will have you spell bound and swaying to it’s tunes in no time. Believe me when I say it took us just a day to soak in all the history, panorama and fresh seafood this city has to offer. Again, right here in the second largest city of Norway, “more is always better”.
After driving in the Norwegian fjords for 6 days straight, we were finally in Bergen and ready to give up our rental car, explore the city on foot, hike for panorama, eat crazy, douse in the night life and wake up to no alarms the next day. I understand, it all sounds impossible to conquer within 24 hours, however, it’s a treat when days are longer during summer here; all bright and festive. An international city with an old-town charm, Bergen will leave you cheery by just walking it’s streets and gobbling on delicious fish cakes.
THINGS TO DO IN BERGEN
TRY A SKØLEBROD
First things first, get your morning plate of sweet roll filled with creamy custard and icing dipped in coconut with a side of fresh brew. Skølebrod or “School Bun” is one delicious and not so little dessert that can be easily found in almost all local bakeries in Norway. In Bergen try them at Godt Brød Marken or Baker Brun and Det Lille Kaffe for the best coffee in town.
GET LOST IN VIBRANT BRYGGEN
The main attraction in Norway are these old harbour buildings from UNESCO’s world heritage list. What used to be a popular stop for merchants and traders hundreds of years ago, the same sounds and sights can still be experienced today in Bryggen by the Hanseatic wharf with fishermen with their boats and catch. This stretch of colourful wooden houses by the Vågen harbour today is a tourist attraction with charming souvenir shops, bars and cafes that used to be commercial buildings back in the day. Explore the alleyways behind the wooden houses for a riot of colours with museum showcasing Bryggen history, shops for products made by local craftsmen, quaint cafes and a ton of photo ops.
EXPLORE COLOURFUL NORDNES
Nordnes is a much older part of the town and a peninsula which sicks out of the harbour. This place houses the Bergen aquarium and one of the oldest house in the city that dates back to the 12th century. With colourful wooden houses and the Nordnes park makes this little part of the city a must visit.
VISIT OPEN-AIR OLD BERGEN MUSEUM
This is one of my favourite things to do in Bergen. Here, one can enter the charming reconstructed houses here dating back to the 18th, 19th and the 20th century. Open doors, peek through the windows and the informative actors/role players in these houses make for a wonderful open air museum experience that is interactive and fun. Lined with really old vintage stores and 55 old, colourful wooden houses on very steep, cobbled stoned street is a breath of nostalgia from when Bergen was known as the wooden city of Europe.
TRY FRESH CATCH AT THE FISH MARKET
Now, food must always be included in my list and there’s nothing better than sampling a ton of fresh sea food here at the heart of the city between 7 mountains. Here you will find a make shift or outdoor fish market that is open from the 1st of May till throughout summer and a permanent or indoor fish market at the Hanseatic wharf that is open throughout the year. Take a seat at one of the stands or just get a take away of fresh nordic salmon, fish cakes and a lot more.
HIKE IN SANDVIKEN NEIGHBOURHOOD
The traditional neighbourhood of the open air museum and the 50 restored houses is a must visit if you are in Bergen. Another pretty part of the city located northeast of the city centre and just above Bryggen is quite a hike and gets even better once you keep going further up to experience a spectacular view of the other colourful neighbourhoods, city centre and the wharf from above. It’s a fun walk through the cobble streets in the alleyways and a great way get up close to the houses locals live in and discover other little gems around the corner.
SUNSET FROM MOUNT FLØYEN
One of the most unique feature of this city is that it is surrounded by seven mountains and the common ones frequented by tourists and Bergeners alike are Mount Fløyen and Mount Ulriken. Keeping the 24 hour time constraint in mind the closest and the most convenient was visiting the peak of Mount Fløyen. One of the best way to explore this mountain is to take the 100 year old Følibanen funicular up to the mountain to an unbelievable bird’s eye view of the entire city and it’s fjord and walk your way back down from the peak. It is one of the best “roof top view” of a city we have ever seen during our travels and highly recommend doing it around sunset.
DOWN THE DAY AT A LOCAL PUB IN THE CITY CENTRE.
Now, once you have seen and done it all, let loose on the streets and view the city all lit up in after dark and chill at one of the many pubs and clubs by the wharf in Bryggen or Ole Bulls pass. Also, don’t forget to look out for other cultural events, art festivals and live shows during the summer months.
A SUMMERY OF THE 24 HOUR IN BERGEN ITINERARY
Coffee and SKOLEBROD in Baker Brun.
BRYGGEN shops and alleyways.
Head to NORDNES.
Lunch at FISH MARKET.
Visit OPEN AIR MUSEUM and SCANDVIKEN neighbourhood.
Watch the sunset from MOUNT FLØYEN
Explore pubs and restaurants in the CITY CENTRE after dark.