The Ultimate Magic of Coastal Bergen in Norway

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As part of celebrating my 99th country, I ended up in NORWAY, visiting Gudvangen, Flam,Voss, Bergen, Myrdal and Oslo.

Photo credit: Fjord Tours

Of course I had to end up in the country’s capital and here I met up with Gunnar Garfors, the Norwegian who has visited every country in the world.  In Oslo, I had a great time touring and taking in a couple of hotel properties, including the Olympiatoppen and the Clarion Collection Oslo. While Oslo has a ton to offer, I really fell in love with Bergen, which is located on Norway’s west coast, houses 280,000 people and is Norway’s second biggest city.

Above, by night, below by day. (credit: Reddit)

Backpacking in Norway: Top 8 Sights in Bergen

Here are a few great sites worth taking in.

Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site: Bryggen in Bergen is basically the waterfront old quarter of the city which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beauty is that it’s free and you can wander around at your leisure and the striking coloured triangularly topped buildings are a standout.

If you want to see this place without tourists – head early morning in the Winter and you will have the place to yourself! There are two museums in the Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage area – Hanseatisk Museum and the Bryggens Museum.

Bryggen World Heritage site in Bergen

Bryggen World Heritage site in Bergen

Bryggen World Heritage site in Bergen

Mount Floyen: For a perfect stereotypical postcard view over the city of Bergen, head up to Mount Floyen. You can walk it or get the “Floybanen” up there – it’s a funicular train up the mountain and costs 43 NOK for a trip up there.

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View from the Floybanen

I took the Floybanen up and walked back down. It was icy and slippy all the way down as I was there in February, but I love the cold weather – the walk back down was extremely scenic and I walked leisurely so it took me around 35-40 minutes. The views are magnificent from the top. Truly sensational – you can stare down at the pure beauty of Bergen. Extra tip: do a few of the walking trails as you might just fun into a few fake trolls.

“It’s all too beautiful” – The Small Faces — by M.People

 Lille Lungegardsvatnet (Frozen Pond): This pond which I cannot pronounce sits in the middle of a leafy park in the city centre, completely frozen when I was there in the winter.

Lille Lungegardsvatnet (Frozen Pond)

Lille Lungegardsvatnet (Frozen Pond). The actual park that it sits in is worth a walk around too.

Lille Lungegardsvatnet (Frozen Pond)

Pingvinen Restaurant and Bar: For a textbook Norwegian Fish Feast and a good old beer, head to “the Penguin” Pingvinen Bar — Splash out and treat yourself here. They change their menu daily but the impressive range of beers (local and foreign) remains constant.

My fish stew and Beer in Pingvinen, Bergen, Norway.

My fish stew and Beer in Pingvinen, Bergen, Norway.

Bergenhus Fortress: You can get your sample of history and battle when you visit Bergenhus Fortress, which is a few minutes walk along the harbour past Bryggen. The fortress is massive but now seems surrounded by ships on the harbour side and housing on the city side.

Bergenhus Fortress, Bergen, Norway

Bergenhus Fortress, Bergen, Norway

It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built more recently as World War II. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (which means “the islet”) and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral, several churches, the bishop’s residence, and a Dominican monastery. The highlight for me though was Rosenkrantz Tower, part of the Royal Castle.

Rosenkrantz Tower, Bergenhus Fortress

Rosenkrantz Tower, Bergenhus Fortress

Vagen Harbour: Bryggen UNESCO world heritage site over shadows the equally pretty harbour it sits facing. Boats come and go here all the time since there are routes to England and Scotland. It’s known as Vagen Harbour.

Vagen Harbour, Bergen, Norway

Vagen Harbour, Bergen, Norway

Torget Fish market is worth a walk through, predictably it does reek of fish! At the end of the pier in the centre there is a statue of Shetlands Leif Larsen. A famous Norwegian sailor and army member who helped prevent a German Siege in the Second World War.

Vagen Harbour, Bergen, Norway

Larsen statue in Vagen Harbour, Bergen, Norway

St. Mary’s Church: When you’re traveling in Norway, it’s important to remember the religion in this part of the world. It’s mostly Lutheran — my favorite was St. Mary’s Church but the most touristic one is Bergen Cathedral which has a massive green dome. Below is a photo of St. Mary’s Church which is really close to Bryggen. Notably Bergen has a high population of Polish and Iraqi immigrants.

Local Neighbourhoods: I enjoyed the local neighbourhood housing in a few parts of the city. The hilly streets ohave fantastic views and are typical of Norwegian street life.

Local neighbourhood housing.

Local neighbourhood housing.

Local neighbourhood housing.

Also on the way back down from Mount Floyen, I dandered round the poky back streets and loved the colour of the buildings, the design and the art.

Local neighbourhood housing in Bergen

Local neighbourhood housing in Bergen

Local neighbourhood housing in Bergen

Bergen is one of the prettiest cities I’ve been in for awhile — it’s also the gateway to the Fjords. I headed to Voss and then to Gudvangen and sailed through the fjords to Flam. I’d recommend it in Winter – a gorgeous city.

Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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