a boat is docked next to a body of water: Bryggen in Bergen

© Bergen Tourist Board / Lars Korvald
Bryggen in Bergen

Welcome to Bergen

There’s a lot to love about Norway’s former capital, from its spectacular natural setting (surrounded by seven fjords and seven hills) to its rich cultural heritage. Come along as we take a closer look at what makes Bergen such an appealing destination.

a harbor filled with lots of small boats in a body of water: Bryggen

© Bergen Tourist Board / Girish Chouhan

Colorful Bryggen

Bergen is almost immediately recognizable by its colorful UNESCO World Heritage-listed wharf. The area, known as Bryggen, was rebuilt after the great fire of 1702 that reduced much of the city to embers. However, this collection of Hanseatic buildings hasn’t changed much from the Middle Ages and ranks among the city’s most popular attractions.

a large body of water with a mountain in the background: Ulriken Cable Car

© Bergen Tourist Board / Espen Haagensen
Ulriken Cable Car

Top of the world

Of the seven peaks surrounding Bergen, Mount Ulriken is the tallest at 2,110 feet. A cable car takes visitors to the top for stellar views and access to excellent hiking. One of the area’s most popular hikes is the trek between this peak and Mount Fløyen along the Vidden Plateau.

a sunset over a body of water with a mountain in the background: Camping on Mount Ulriken

© Bergen Tourist Board / Espen Haagensen
Camping on Mount Ulriken

Sleep beneath the stars

During the warmer months, camping offers a budget-friendly accommodation option in Bergen. Campers will find a variety of sites within a few miles of the city center, including some spectacular sites looking down on the city from the surrounding mountains.

a group of people on a beach near a body of water: Kyrkjetangen Beach

© Bergen Tourist Board / Robin Strand
Kyrkjetangen Beach

A day at the beach

You might not think of the beach when you think of Norway, but Bergen has its own sandy swimming spot that’s not far from the city center. Locals flock to Kyrkjetangen in the summer to take a bracing dip in the water, which typically hovers around 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

a small boat in a body of water with Nærøyfjord in the background

© Bergen Tourist Board / Girish Chouhan

Land of fjords

Bergen is known as the Gateway to the Fjords, and no trip would be complete without experiencing these natural wonders. Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, ranks among the world’s narrowest fjord (only 820 feet wide in some places), surrounded by peaks up to 5,600 feet tall.

a canyon with a mountain in the background: View from Bakkanosi near Gudvangen

© Visit Bergen – Jannicke Andersen – visitBergen.com
View from Bakkanosi near Gudvangen

View from the top

Norway is not a country for those with a fear of heights. Some of the best views of Nærøyfjord come from the perch atop Bakkanosi, over 4,000 feet above sea level. The out-and-back hike takes around eight hours, but the views certainly reward experienced hikers.

a train driving down the street: Fløibanen funicular

© Bergen Tourist Board / Nordlandblog.com – visitBergen.com
Fløibanen funicular

An historic ascent

Mount Fløyen, another of Bergen’s famous peaks, can be accessed via the Fløibanen funicular. Two traditional carriages have been ferrying visitors to the top of this mountain for more than a century. The journey to the top takes about six minutes, and the peak is home to a bakery and cafe, playground and hiking trails through the troll forest.

a large building: Row of wooden houses

© Bergen Tourist Board – visitBergen.com
Row of wooden houses

Gallery: These are some of the best national parks for stargazing (USA TODAY)

Wooden houses of Bergen

Bergen has suffered from numerous fires over the years, yet the city still has one of the largest collections of wooden houses in Europe (some dating back more than 300 years). See some of the most charming examples with a stroll along Strangebakken or Strangeplassen in the Nordnes neighborhood.

a piano in a living room filled with furniture and a fire place: Troldhaugen - Home of composer Edvard Grieg

© Bergen Tourist Board / Dag Fosse — visitBergen.com
Troldhaugen – Home of composer Edvard Grieg

Troldhaugen, home of composer Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg, one of the Romantic era’s top composers, was born in Bergen in 1843. Troldhaugen, his former home where he lived for 22 years with his wife Nina, is now a museum and concert hall dedicated to his memory. Visitors can tour the villa or sit in the garden where Grieg composed some of his best-known works.

a tree next to a body of water: Lille Lungegårdsvann

© Gjertrud Coutinho / Bergen Tourist Board
Lille Lungegårdsvann

The green lung of Bergen

Lille Lungegårdsvann, a lake in the center of Bergen, offers a peaceful, contemplative setting. The park is at its most beautiful in springtime, when the trees around the shores of the lake are in full bloom. In winter, the lake attracts a variety of ducks and gulls, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching.

a view of water and a mountain in the background: Trolltunga in Odda, Hardanger

© Sveinung Klyve / www.fjordnorway.com
Trolltunga in Odda, Hardanger

The Troll’s Tongue

Trolltunga, or the Troll’s Tongue, makes a good case for being the most spectacular rock formation in all of Norway. This rocky outcrop juts out 2,297 feet above Ringedalsvatnet Lake. While the trail to the top is demanding, it’s well worth the effort for one of the country’s top views.

a couple of sheep standing on top of a lush green field: Wild sheep

© Anita Elèn Langøy / Lygra Villsaulag
Wild sheep

Norwegian wool

When hiking around Bergen, you’re more than likely to encounter one (or more) of Norway’s free-range sheep. Some two million of them graze in the fields of Norway, where they have free access to go where they’d like. To learn more about the importance of sheep and wool to Bergen, visit some of the attractions on the Wool Heritage Route.

a group of people on a boat in a large body of water: Tall Ships' Races fireworks

© Bergen Tourist Board / Eivind Senneset
Tall Ships’ Races fireworks

Tall Ships’ Races

Each year, tall ships from around Europe gather for the Tall Ships’ Races, an event designed to encourage the art of sailing in young people. Bergen has hosted the event five times in its history, including in 2019. Between events, visitors can typically see the three-masted Statsraad Lehmkuhl at her home in Bergen.

a close up of a person holding a fish: Fish Market in Bergen

© Terje Rakke / Nordic Life AS / www.fjordnorway.com
Fish Market in Bergen

The bounty of the sea

Bergen has hosted a fish market on its waterfront since the 1200s. Today, it’s one of the most-visited outdoor markets in all of Norway. Shoppers will find an abundance of fresh seafood, as well as fruit, vegetables and flowers. As you might expect, restaurants surrounding the market specialize in seafood.

a group of people riding skis on top of a snow covered slope: Winter at Mount Fløyen in Bergen

© Bergen Tourist Board / Robin Strand – visitBergen.com
Winter at Mount Fløyen in Bergen

Winter in Bergen

Summer is the busy season in Bergen, but there’s plenty to experience in the wintertime as well. Bergen’s location on the west coast of Norway means the city enjoys a milder climate than other areas of the country.

a bridge over water with a colorful umbrella: Bergen Christmas Market

© Visit Bergen / Robin Strand – visitBergen.com
Bergen Christmas Market

Holidays in Bergen

Each December, Bergen’s Festplassen Square transforms into an enchanting Christmas market. Some 80 stalls sell gifts and handmade holiday treats, while a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round keep younger visitors entertained.

a group of people on a stage: Gingerbread Town (Pepperkakebyen)

© Visit Bergen / Robin Strand – visitBergen.com
Gingerbread Town (Pepperkakebyen)

World’s largest gingerbread town

Gingerbread is a must each holiday season in Norway. Each year, thousands of volunteers in Bergen construct local landmarks, houses, trains, cars and boats out of the sweet treat. The gingerbread town (Pepperkakebyen in Norwegian) is among the largest in the world.

a tree covered in snow: Fløyen

© Sverre Hjørnevik / www.fjordnorway.com

Skiing in a winter wonderland

Bergen’s mountainous topography and reliable heavy snowfall in winter make it an excellent spot for skiing. Downhill skiers can hit the slopes at Voss, while cross-country skiers will find trails atop Mount Fløyen.

a group of people in a dark sky: Northern Lights

© iStock / Jim Daniels
Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis

Another great reason to visit Bergen in the winter? The chance to see the northern lights. Mother Nature’s light show is most visible between December and March, though they’re not as strong as in more northerly destinations.

10Best is a part of the USA TODAY Network, providing an authentically local point of view on destinations around the world, in addition to travel and lifestyle advice.

Continue Reading