After having an incredible time exploring Patagonia – I’d had this un-moveable urge to get myself over to the Norwegian Fjords for some hiking & camping. I decided to book some extremely impromptu return flights from London to Bergen. I didn’t have any sort of clue what to expect, had done very little research, but heard nothing but good things.
With just a few days to cover some serious ground, not to mention squeeze in a couple of moderately challenging hikes to boot; here’s my (hopefully useful) guide on how to cover off as much as you need to over the course of a long weekend.
A picturesque city in the Northwest of the country, but more importantly the gateway to the mesmerising Fjords. This high status means it is almost always busy here, especially so during May – September.
Take a short walk around the Harbourside to Bryggen – a Unesco World Heritage site no less – and you are transported to a world of quaint multi-coloured buildings that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale picture-book. Hang around outside the Bryggen Museum long enough, and you might just find yourself on a Guided Walking tour; where you can learn about the area’s colourful history – pun intended.
Just aimlessly wandering around this beautiful city is an activity in itself, so give yourself plenty of time to explore. The Fløyen funicular is a popular highlight, but if you venture out to hike the Vidden trail (more of that later) you’ll cover it off anyway.
If you’re not content with just soaking in the atmosphere and craving some slightly off the wall culture, head to the intriguing Leprosy Museum – a former hospital for lepers founded in the 15th century.
Eating & Drinking in Bergen:
Hungry for some seafood? Well, seeing as Bergen is the busiest seaport in the country you’re in the right place. The famous ‘Fisketorget’ (or Fish Market) is a main sight-seeing & eating spot located on the edges of the main harbour. Either wander around the many tempting stalls (May – Sept) outside, or head inside to the Mathallen (indoor market) and grab a seat whilst you devour some fresh local produce from one of over 20 vendors & restaurants.
After exploring you can stop off for dinner at Pingvinen restaurant for a relatively affordable, traditional Norwegian dinner of ‘Plukkfisk’ (Cod & Potatoes) and a pint of craft beer. I use the phrase ‘relatively affordable’ very loosely, as nothing here is particularly cheap. There are plenty of options locally for a good feed and a pint, highlights include Munken Bistro (not too expensive), Bryggeloftet & Stuene (local food) and the ultra high-end Colonialen Restaurant. Head to the lively Bergenhus Bryggeri brewery bar to wash it all down with a delicious, in-house craft beer; but be warned, expect to pay around £9 for a half!
Train & Boat trip into the Fjords:
Fancy a bite-size taste of Fjord country? Hop on one of the Fjord Cruises which depart from the harbour near the fish market deep into Osterfjord or Hardangerfjord depending on your route. These options either take you on a round trip, or can drop you off to continue your journey into the Norwegian countryside.
Fjordcruise Bergen is one of the more popular companies you can travel with. The Hardangerfjord Express is a no nonsense, 2-hour boat trip to Rosendal. There aren’t any stops or sightseeing as such, but it’s a great journey from A-B, which takes you into the heart of Hardangerfjord. Spend a few hours in Rosendal seeing it’s famous Barionet Mano house, or head to the interactive exhibitions of the Folgefonn Centre. From here you can grab a local bus towards Odda, if you’re looking to tackle the mighty Trolltunga during your visit.
Fancy something with a little bit more sightseeing involved which takes you back to Bergen? The Fjordcruise at the Hardangerfjord will do just that. Get picked up by bus from the main Bergen bus station early in the morning, for a whistle stop tour of stunning scenery that will have you back at your accommodation by tea-time.
Another solid option is the one stop shop Hardangerfjord in a Nutshell trip, an ideal way to cover off plenty of ground in a short space of time. Get the scenic train from Bergen to Voss to kick off with, followed by a series of boats and buses. Majestic waterfalls, beautiful scenery and of course the awe-inspiring Fjords await you.
Hiking: Bergen’s 7 Mountains & Beyond:
Being Norway, the great outdoors is never too far away. The local area surrounding Bergen unsurprisingly offers a plethora of different hiking options that can be conquered in a mere few hours, such as the cities famous ‘7 Mountains’ – which consist (in no particular order) of Mt Ulriken, Mt Fløyen, Lyderhorn, Damsgarårdsfjellet, Løvstakken, Rundemanen & Sandviksfjellet.
Vidden is arguably the most popular hike locally, and presents a mild challenge during the 3-5 hour walk; which kicks off with the cable car up to Mt Ulriken and finishes with an optional funicular ride into Bergen city centre. For something a little different, head to Vikinghytten Mountain Lodge – close to Mount Rundemanen – for a coffee or soup with a view, but be sure to take a map, or some decent GPS on your phone.
If you have a little more time, then you’d be mad to miss an adventure out to the staggering Trolltunga. Most people tacking this 10-12 hour, 22km hike opt to stay in the nearby village of Odda, which is deep into Hardangerfjord. You can read my full guide to hiking Trolltunga here.
Anything I’ve missed? Or any tips for my next visit? Please pop me an email to >>> firstname.lastname@example.org