The final stop of Norway in a Nutshell tour was Bergen – one of the oldest port cities in Europe. With only 24 hours to spare, including an overnight stay, we wanted to see as much as we could of the city. Luckily, with Bergen being a small city, we were able to cover its main attractions on foot.
We arrived at Bergen train station at 6pm and of course, it was completely chucking it down. Bergen is known for its rain and is considered the rainiest city in the world. It rains 240 days per year!
We dropped our bags off at our hotel which was just a mere 2 minutes’ walk from the main train station and made our way in search of dinner. We stayed in Grand Hotel Terminus, a beautiful 131-room classic, yet modern hotel located in the centre of Bergen. It opened in 1928 and is one of the most traditional yet elegant hotels I’ve stayed in. Only a 5 minutes way from Torgalmenningen Square and 10 minutes’ walk from the UNESCO-listed Bryggen Wharf, this hotel is conveniently located in a place where you can easily explore many of the city’s main attractions.
Evening of Day 1: Dinner at Kafe Special, Fisketorget Fish Market
Hidden in-between the houses, we found a cosy little café, Kaf Special. I would definitely recommend this place for some delicious freshly made pizza (with what seems to be an infinite selection of toppings) and pasta, at a very affordable price. The atmosphere was super chilled and the service is amazing! We seemed to be the only tourists there and was very popular with the locals.
Fisketorget Fish Market
We wanted to go for a walk to digest the food and so we made our way to this fish market located right by the Bryggen. It’s a great place to window-shop or grab a bite to eat. Its been an ongoing market since the 1200s and is part of the port, fishermen and trading locations history. We went to the indoor section of the market which is open year-round – the outdoor market opens on May 1st for the summer.
Day 2: Funicular up Mt. Floyen, Bryggen
Funicular up Mt. Floyen
One of the most popular things to do in Bergen is to ride the Floibanen funicular up Mt. Floyen. At around 400m, Floyen is one of Bergen’s (small) city mountains and offer the most amazing panoramic views over Bergen and out to sea. The journey only takes about 5-6 minutes but you should try and get there early as there is often a queue. We only stayed at the top for half an hour before making our way down to the next stop. There was a Godt Bodt bakery a few houses down which we stopped for some great coffee. I wanted to try their cardamom bum but we just had a huge breakfast buffet at the hotel so was pretty full.
We then made our way to the place I was looking forward to seeing the most – Bryggen. This is an old wharf and is home to over 60 narrow, brightly coloured wooden boathouses. Today, these buildings are used by various restaurants, tourist offices and hotels. It actually reminded me more of the houses we would use to play monopoly – all stacked up nicely next to each other.
Since 1979, Bryggen has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage site. This old wharf is a standing reminder of Bergen’s importance as part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16thcentury. The Hanseatic League is an organization founded by northern German towns and merchant communities to protect their mutual trading interest. It established a total of 4 overseas Hanseatic Offices and Bryggen is the only one preserved today. Though fires have ruined a lot of the original buildings (the last being in 1955), Bryggen rebuilds itself, closely following old property structure and redesigning the artistic designs and wood architecture. The area is such a beautiful place to wander around. I just loved the wooden houses that looked like it came straight out of a Harry Potter movie.
Get lost in Bergen!
We spent the majority of the day getting pulled left and right by the most adorable streets of Bergen. It was nice not having a set plan or route. As we kept walking, every small street was calling our name for us to explore it. Wandering Bergen just made my heart swell with happiness as I instantly fell in love with the beauty, design and architecture of Nordic countries.
For lunch, we highly recommended trying the traditional Scandinavian hotdogs serving reindeer sausage at Trekoneren! This hotdog stand translates to “three crowns” and is a popular tourist destination in itself. Even though this might be a bit of a queue, I would recommend eating here. My mouth is watering whilst thinking about the classic crispy onion toppings!
Explore the Modern Bergen City Centre
As it was starting to get dark, we just had one more stop before taking the bus to the airport. Even though Bergen’s historic areas are undeniably the city main attraction, we wanted to check out the modern downtown area. It definitely has its own charm to offer with street performers in every corner and locals buzzing about their days. It has all the mainstream shops and some souvenir shops.
We didn’t get a chance to do any shopping but we did go to Sostrene Hagelin so that we could try some local food at this café. We had some fish cake and fish soup which were very fresh. We wanted to try more things from there but we were still quite full from the hotdog. We highly recommend trying this restaurant if you are visiting Bergen!
We then made our way to the bus stop outside Bergen train station to catch the direct bus to the airport ready for the next stop – Tromso!