With its 278.000 inhabitants, Bergen (map) is the second-largest city in Norway. It is one of the most rainy cities on Earth, but definitely worth a visit. As we stayed at a place an hour north of Bergen, we only planned a couple of day trips to the city and parked our car at the Bergen Storsenter (shopping centre), which is pretty central and costs about 2,70€ (24 NOK) an hour. There might be some cheaper parking possibilities outside the inner city centre, but the location of this car park and the prices were perfect for us. From the Bergen Storsecenter we headed towards the old harbour and passed the KODE museum on our way (museum of art). This is the most famous museum of Bergen and it consists of four different buildings with different themes. Starting from old Norwegian painters, to classics like Picasso and more modern art – The KODE museum offers a wide range of amazing paintings and photography. The entry fee is about 10€ (90 NOK) per person. Even though Bergen has a lot of rain – you are not allowed to bring your umbrella in the museum. But there are lockers provided.
When we reached the old harbour with its daily fish market, pubs and beautiful old boats it was already quite crowded with tourists and cruise ship passengers. At times it can become too much. Sometimes three or more cruise ships line up in the harbour of Bergen and unload their guests. At those times, you feel like you are lucky if you actually meet someone who lives in Bergen. So always have a look at the number of cruise ships in the harbour of Bergen 😉
It is amazing to walk across the fish market and have a look at all the specialities like lobsters, king crabs, monk fish, crabs and so on. But it is quite expensive to eat at the market. Even simple dishes seemed to be totally overprieced, even for Norwegian standards. The north-eastern part of the harbour is the historical part of Bergen and is called Bryggen. It is world famous and beautiful to look at. The old, colourful, wooden houses create their own little, historic quarter and represent the former trading area. There are many small shops and even one or two restaurants and cafés. We made a quick stop at the KAF Kafe which is very cosy and is famous for its soups. The cappuccino was alright, but not the best in Bergen.
A bit further east of Bryggen you will find the Floibahn which will take you up the hill where you can walk around and have a great view. We didn’t take the train though, because the queue was too long. This cable car seems to be on the list of all cruise ship passengers. But there are other peaks and mountains with amazing views and less tourists [ just read on 🙂 ].
The western area of the harbour is less touristic, very hilly and full of beautiful streets and houses. In this part of the inner city, you are able to explore the authentic way of living of the citizens of Bergen. You will find less tourist groups and just the normal, everyday lives of the inhabitants. If you come here, you have to visit the Klosteret café which you will find in the street ‘Klostergaten’. Sit down inside or outside and have a cappuccino and try the amazing apple cake! This café offers one of the best cappuccinos we have ever tried. Café Blom is close to the Klosteret café and is another place you should try. It has a unique interior design and seems to attract a look of young and creative people.Bergen offers great cafés, but as everything in Norway, it comes at a price. Most cappuccinos are around 5€ (45 NOK) and most dishes were just too pricey for our budget. We mostly cooked our own Norwegian dishes – sometimes even with self caught Norwegian fish 🙂
From the Klosteret café, we walked a bit further to have a look at the Frederiksberg castle. The ruins of this castle aren’t that impressive, but you will have a great view over the harbour (Fjordline terminal).
Going for a hike
Bergen is surrounded by mountains and is therefore also famous for its hikes. We chose to go on a hike to Mount Ulriken. It is 643 m high and one of the most famous mountains of Bergen. For hikers all around the world, 643 meters do not sound that impressive, but you have to remember that you are starting just a couple of meters above sea level. There is also a cable car going up the mountain and that is exactly where we started our hike. Right from the car park on you will find signs that will guide your way. It is a diverse path that is surrounded by trees, little rivers and lakes. You can even try wild blueberries 🙂 If you choose to include some of the mountain lakes, it will take about 3 hours to the top of Mount Ulriken. It is not too hard, but it still feels like a workout and you will be rewarded with an amazing view over Bergen. If you feel exhausted after your hike, you can take the cable car, to get back to your car or the city. It costs about 12€ (110 NOK). Going for a hike around Bergen is definitely worth it. It is the best way to experience Bergen’s great nature.
Øygarden – just north of Bergen
During our trip to Norway, we stayed in a house close to Tjeldsto in the Øygarden area. It is just 50 minutes north of Bergen and seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Øygarden is a province with 66,74 km², but has only 4.704 inhabitants. We booked our accomondation via airbnb and were overwhelmed by this place (Rorbu/ boathouse in Øygarden). The ocean is right in front of you and most of the time you will only hear the sound of nature. This was the perfect basis for fishing trips, hikes and trips to Bergen. If you are stressed out and you are searching for a quite get-away – this is the place to be.
Bergen and its surroundings are one of the most famous sights of Norway and there is a reason to that. Bergen represents a modern, open city that is still strongly rooted and connected to its history. And Øygarden represents the typical, remote Norwegian lifestyle that is dominated by the strenghts of nature. Visiting both Bergen and Øygarden gave us a slight inside into the lives of the people that shape this area. The city and the region offer a colourful diversity of history and modernism, of pure nature and vibrant city life and one day we will come back to this place.