Norway’s second largest city Bergen is a beautiful place and perfect for a weekend city break. It’s compact enough that many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other and it has plenty of quaint streets to explore. Here’s five things you need to do when visiting Bergen.
A view of Bryggen is the cliché Bergen tourist photo and it’s impossible to resist taking your own while exploring this historic part of the city. A World Heritage site, Bryggen features a range of colourful wooden buildings with rambling alleys between them. Many of the buildings are leaning and overhang the pathways between them and it feels like stepping back in time.
It can get very, very busy with tour groups so visit as early as possible if you want it all to yourself.
Take the funicular railway (Fløibanen)
One of the best ways to see Bergen is from the funicular railway which climbs up to a height 320m above sea level in less than ten minutes. It first opened in 1918 and is used by tourists and locals alike. The roof of the train is made of glass so you can really make the most of the views and it’s quite a steep line so it makes for an exciting journey – particularly if you can get the front row on the way back down. An adult return is 90 NOK and it runs all year round.
Vetrlidsallmenningen 21 – floyen.no/en/floibanen/
Explore Fløyen mountain
Bergen is surrounded by mountains (seven of them in fact) and spending some time exploring them is an ideal way to add a bit of the countryside to your city break. Fløyen is the easiest to visit as the funicular railway takes you right up to the top.
There’s a café and a large playground as well as plenty of trails and paths to explore – with signs pointing out landmarks and the way back to the city so you can wandering freely without worrying about getting lost!
There’s also a beautiful lake which is used for canoeing and kayaking not far from the funicular station.
Visit Fantoft Stave Church
Located in the suburbs of Bergen, this picturesque wooden church is a must-see. It’s actually a reproduction as the original was destroyed in the 1990s – suspected to have been deliberately burned down by someone involved in the black metal community during a spate of church burnings.
But, despite the fact that it’s only years old rather than hundreds of years old, it’s a beautiful sight tucked away in woodland. You can only visit the inside during the summer season (May – September) and the church is behind large fences (to stop any copycat attacks, I’d assume) but there’s a viewing platform that allows you to get a good view of it and the ancient cross that stands beside it.
It’s easy to get to by Bergen’s tram system with two stops close by – Fantoft and Paradis. Paradis is probably a slightly shorter and easier route. The church is also about a 30 minute walk from Gamlehaugen – a mansion owned by the Norwegian Royal Family which has some very pretty grounds including a lake.
Visit Bergenhus Festning (the fortress)
Located on the harbour close to Bryggen, Bergen’s Fortress is an imposing historic site with spacious grounds including a significant section of parkland. It’s got some interesting buildings from different eras and also has its own museum.