Bergen Travel Guide
Introduction to Bergen
Situated at the mouth of one of the world’s longest fjords and at the base of some of Norway’s steepest mountains, the scenery in Bergen is justification enough to plan a visit here. If that wasn’t enough, its trading history and its music scene provide additional reasons to linger in its 900 year old streets.
Just don’t forget your umbrella, as this place is easily one of the wettest cities in Europe, with the peaks to the east helping to dump precipitation on the city 240 days out of the year.
Cultural Experiences in Bergen
A stop at the Bergenhus Fortress is the perfect way to kick off your day of cultural sightseeing in Bergen, as it is one of the best preserved castles in all of Norway.
Built in the mid-13th century, this citadel has guarded this trading city’s harbour effectively in conflicts as recently as the Second World War. While a good portion of the original fortress was lost over time, the watchtower and its meeting hall remains, the latter of which often holds feasts.
Take care along the walls, as while refurbishment works have taken place over the years, loose parts along the ramparts can’t be ruled out.
The previously mentioned fortifications were necessary to provide security for the brisk trade that went through Bergen’s harbour over the centuries. This long association with commerce is detailed at the Hanseatic Museum, which can be found in the waterfront district of Bryggen.
For over 400 years from the 14th to the 18th centuries, German merchants lived here, dealing in fish and grain, as well as an assortment of imported goods like spices, alcohol and tobacco.
Their sleeping quarters are also shown, which was built to keep them warm from the damp, cold Norwegian winters.
Fans of music should make time in their Bergen itinerary for Troldhaugen. Serving as the home of famed Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and his wife, many of his hits were conceived from a humble hut on site.
This den of inspiration, in addition to their home and a museum detailing his life and times are among the attractions you’ll want to see during your time here. Occasionally, there are shows that happen in the concert hall on site, so inquire on whether anything is going on when you are there.
Other Attractions in Bergen
Though many the original shop houses went up in smoke in the 18th century (as well as smaller tracts at varying times through history, the most recent incident being in 1955) Bryggen is still a historically significant place in Bergen and Norway for its importance to the shipping trade.
While this UNESCO World Heritage Site is now home to countless restaurants, cafes, pubs and boutiques, there are a number of museums (like the previously mentioned Hanseatic Museum) that detail its past history in this beautiful coastal city.
St. Mary’s Church is the oldest and tallest of the structures in the area, as it dates back to the mid 12th century, and has survived the conflagrations of the past, only needing to be repaired after the fact.
Surrounded by mountains that rise precipitously from the North Sea coast, there are many places where one can get a great view of Bergen below. Mount Floyen is one of the most popular of these, as it can be accessed by funicular.
If you don’t want to cheat by taking this 850 metre long electric tram up the side of this peak, there are a number of trails that weave their way up its slopes, thus giving active travelers the opportunity for a spot of exercise with their sightseeing.
Bergen is at the head of Hardangerfjord, which is one of the longest fjords in the world, and the second longest in Norway. Due to its proximity to a populated area though means that it is very popular, meaning that visitors can cruise along much of its length.
Boat tour companies will ply its length throughout the day, making stops at communities along the way; you can stay on board and admire the view of the steep mountains and cliffs on either side, or you can get off at up to two communities and get a taste of life in a fjord town.