Norway, in Northern Europe, is a country of extremes. From weather to landscapes, little about Norway is forgettable. Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, is no exception. Like the rest of the country the winter here is long; October-April is generally cold and snowy, with short days. May-September on the other is warm; (in most parts) snow free, with long days, making summer holidays in Bergen and the rest of Norway a real treat.
Many visitors pass through Bergen, on Norway’s west coast, on their way to the beautiful fjord area of the country. With cruises starting and ending here, and Norway’s second largest airport, for many people Bergen is their first glimpse at the land of the midnight sun.
Thanks to the Scandinavians’ coffee addiction, cafes serving great hot drinks and cakes are found all over Norway. Bergen is no exception! I recommend starting the day in just such a place (Café Aura for instance, close to Sentrum) to get your caffeine fix and a mild sugar-high. Once set for the day, head down to the harbour area, known as Bryggen.
Norway holidays are not complete without time in the great outdoors. The ultimate way to view Bergen and the best way to really get your bearings is to take the Fløibanen Funicular. Departing every 15 minutes from near the fish market in the city centre, the funicular cable car transports people up 320m to the top of the Fløien Mountain in just a few minutes.
Once at the top, the views are breath-taking. You will see how the city below you wiggles with the shape of the land, surrounded by fjords and sea on one side, and by steeply rising hillside on the other. From this point you can follow trails weaving through surrounding pine forest to discover otherwise unseen lakes and new views. Many locals head up here for hiking and mountain biking, plus there’s a restaurant with a children’s play area. The nicest way to enjoy the views, the ancient wooden hillside buildings, and narrow passageways is to walk back down to the city.
The best place to eat lunch in Bergen is at the fish market. Buy whatever takes your fancy from the stalls offering the day’s fresh catch, accompany it with a cold beer from a nearby shop, and sit on the sunny harbour wall to enjoy your surroundings. After a bite to eat, explore the delightful hanseatic wharf area of Bryggen further on foot. Home to Bergen’s first ever buildings, the famously photogenic and colourfully painted wooden buildings along the waterfront have remained a central part of the city and high on anyone’s list of things to do on a trip to Norway. The UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most famous medieval city settlements in Norway. The area has excellent shopping and some fascinating museums too. Learn about trade, crafts and daily life in the Middle Ages in one, and about Norway’s Resistance Movement during occupation in World War II in another.
As Norway’s second largest city, Bergen’s restaurants and chefs are among the best in the country. Local cuisine on offer includes seafood – some of the best salmon and caviar in the world, and cured meats. Beware the cost of alcohol in Norway in general, and especially in restaurants. Nightlife in Bergen is very lively; amongst Norwegians many consider it to be better than Oslo’s scene. Bars and clubs are found throughout the city, and fellow party-goers are sociable and always on the look-out for a good time.