Bergen is the perfect base to explore Norway’s picturesque fjords – and you’ll also find a mountain or two to hike.
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city after Oslo and is situated on the west coast of the Scandinavian country.
For the outdoorsy types, your first stop on your arrival into Bergen should be Mt Fløyen. Mt Fløyen can be reached by funicular or you can walk up along a well maintained winding trail. It will take around 45 minutes to an hour to the top.
Mt Fløyen has great views over Bergen and the surrounding mountains and fjords. Try and get up here on a sunny day – although sunny days are rare but aim to time your visit in July or August for the best chance. I was in Bergen for three days – I got one sunny day, and the next two days poured with rain but there were a couple of sunny patches. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope the weather gods are good to you during your visit.
Bergen has another six mountains you can hike. From Mt Fløyen you can hike over to the adjacent Mt Ulriken, Bergen’s highest mountain and you may be able to see the Folgefonna glacier. It takes about four hours to hike up to Mt Ulriken. Mt Ulriken also has a cable car.
Bergen is one of those cities that’s lovely to wander. It’s compact, with all the main sights within walking distance. Check out the parks and lakes in Bergen city – and use the trip to relax a little. Head over to the wooden buildings of historical Bryggen and explore the medieval museums.
Bryggen is also a great place to stop for a bite to eat and a coffee.
You can satisfy your hunger by heading over to the popular Fish Market. The Fish Market has existed in some form in Bergen since the 1200s and is open from May to October. There’s plenty of fresh seafood offerings at the many stalls, but there’s also dishes available without seafood.
Visiting the fjords
From Bergen, you can head out on a cruise to one of the popular fjord tours, do a Norway in a Nutshell tour, or head out to Odda for the challenging Trolltunga hike.
Bergen is located between the Sognefjord – Norway’s longest and deepest fjord - and the Hardangerfjord. Cruises run regularly to both fjords, as well as the Nærøyfjord. Tickets can be bought at the Tourist Office in the centre. The Tourist Office gets very busy and you have to grab a number and wait your turn so try and get there early to avoid some of the crowds.
The Norway in a Nutshell tour is an organised independent tour that can be done at any time of year. You buy a package tour which gives you tickets for all the transport along the way – but it’s your choice on where you stay at the end or you can just do a day trip to and from Bergen or Oslo. You can also tailor your package and add cycling or kayaking on the Nærøyfjord to your tour or even a trip to Stavanger for a cruise on the Lysefjorden and transport to and from the hike to Pulpit Rock during the warmer months.
I did the Norway in a Nutshell tour starting in Oslo but you can also start it from Bergen. From Oslo, you travel on the train for a few hours before hopping on the Flåm Railway, said to be one of the steepest standard gauge railway lines in the world. The Flåm Railway takes you through mountainous landscapes and includes a stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall.
Next stop is a fjord cruise from Gudvangen down the Nærøyfjord.
Then you get on a bus taking you down Stalheimskleiva, one of the steepest roads in Europe, before making your way to Bergen.
The highlight for me during the Norway on a Nutshell tour was the fjord cruise. The landscape is similar to New Zealand – very lush and green with lots of little villages and waterfalls located down the fjord as you sail along. Make sure you have a camera – this place is a photographer’s dream.
How to get there
Bergen can be reached by train, bus or car with a number of efficient public transport options available.
From Oslo, you can take a train or go on the Norway in a Nutshell tour and see Norway’s beautiful landscapes.
From the southern city of Stavanger, you can take a 3.5 hour bus journey which includes a 20 minute fjord crossing.
You can also fly into Bergen from many cities across Europe. Norwegian Air is a reliable budget carrier servicing the region.
Things You Should Know:
- Norway is beautiful – but ridiculously expensive. For the budget traveller, eating out may not be an option. Consider saying in a hostel to cut down costs. Most hostels have kitchen facilities so you can prepare your own food.
- The public transport networks throughout Norway are very efficient and a good way to get around. If you plan to visit a number of tourist attractions during your stay, consider buying a Bergen Card, which offers free travel on light rail and buses in the area. Prices start from $A38 for a 24 hour card.
- While on the expensive side, a cruise is a good way to see the fjords that Norway is famous for. It’s something you have to do at least once in your life. Fjords are easily accessible from Bergen.
- It’s a given that it will rain at some stage during your time in Norway – even in summer. It’s also usually windy when it rains so umbrellas are pretty useless. Make sure you pack a raincoat of some sort and a raincover may be a good idea for backpacks. Something I learnt in Norway is you can never have too many spare pairs of socks or plastic ziplock bags to put electronic equipment such as cameras and phones in when it rains.
- Most people in the tourist areas of Norway speak English so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting around.
Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.