Bergen is a small town on the west shore of Norway, surrounded by steep mountains, next to the longest and the deepest fjord of the world.
While only 220,000 people are home, this small town has an impressive range of things to see and do. You can spend days wandering around its natural landscape, relaxing on a fjord boat, eating fresh seafood, and learning about its long history here. I stayed during my visit for about three days and wished I could stay a little longer. It is stunning, historic, and full of much good food.
Bergen is a very large tourist destination in Norway and you can unfortunately not have this town for yourself. Here are my top 10 things to see and do in Bergen to help you make the most of your journey.
1. Take a walking tour for free
Whenever I come to a new place, the first thing I do is make a free walk. They are the perfect way of reaching the layman, seeing the key places of interest, and finding the local expert I can put all my questions.
2. See the market for fish
The Fish Market of Bergen dates from the 13th century. It was a hub for fresh fish and seafood from the local fishermen for decades. The indoor segment started in 2012 and is accessible throughout the year (the outdoor market opens on May 1 for the summer).
There are also plenty of restaurants and food stalls if you want to try any local dishes. Be sure to make your own budget, since the price varies from NOK 130 ($14 USD) for a meal to NOK 290 ($30 USD) for one main meal.
3. Seaway Museum Visit
Since its emergence in the 11th century, Bergen has largely relied on maritime trade. You will appreciate the history of the town one afternoon at this museum. The exposure includes ships, drawings, movies, things, maps, and some 18th-century cannons.
The highlight is the Kvalsund sail, an ancient Viking longship from the 8th century. In 1920, it was dug. There is also an original Halsnøy boat dated from 390 to 535 CE.
4. Bryggen Hiking
Bryggen is the old wharf that comprises over 60 small wooden boathouses with bright colors. From the 14th to the 16th centuries, Bryggen acted as the central and northern European trade guild for the Hanseatic League. Fun fact: her office is the only remaining original structure, the majority of which have been restored in the same style.
Numerous restaurants, tourism agencies, and hotels use these buildings today. Although many of the original buildings have been destroyed by fire, the area remains a lovely place to hike. With Bryggen Walking Tour you can take a guided tour of 90 minutes, to learn about the history of the dock.
5. Visit the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of Bergen was established in 1996 and spans 17 acres. This is a lovely place to enjoy the cool and relax with a book. Norway's largest rose collection and its largest rhododendron collection in Scandinavia contains over 5,000 plant species. There are also many areas, such as the Sunny Meadow, a traditional Japanese greenhouse, the Alpine Garden, and all sorts of alpine plants from around the world.
6. Ulriken Hike Mount
Mount Ulriken stands at a height of 643 meters and is the highest of seven mountains close to Bergen. You can take the cable car, which takes eight minutes and cost NOK 285 ($30) round trip if you don't have a feeling to walk up to the top of the hill. Up on top, you will have a spectacular view of the sea and Bergen. There are also several shorter walks up there (2-3 hours long).
7. Find out about Pepperkakebyen
Pepperkakebyen in Bergen, Norway houses and villages
The Gingerbread City is the largest annual gingerbread festival in the world, open in November and December. It began in 1991 and now encompasses more than 2,000 volunteers, bakers, companies, and schools. It consists of hundreds of households of gingerbread and looked like a snowy winter in Bergen at night. Don't skip it if you're here in the summer season!
8. Check out KODE.
The KODE Museum has one of the biggest music, contemporary art, furnishings, films, artifacts, and craft in Scandinavia. It displays a huge number of over 40,000 artifacts from the 1800s. The museum is housed in the four buildings of Edvard Grieg, Harald Sæverud, and Ole Bull, and tourists may also meet three prominent Norwegian composers.
9. See the fortress of Bergenhus
A tour of the historic fortress Bergenhus in Bergen, Norway
The impressive stone castle, the Bergenhus Fortress, is next to the Bergen Harbour. It is one of the oldest fortresses in Norway, dating from the 1260s. It includes the tower of Rosenkrantz, a fortified 16th-century tower, and Haakon's Hall, a former 13th-century royal residence.
Unfortunately, Haakon Hall was destroyed by fire and all the decorations in the interior in 1944, so it's decorated with tapestries and used now for concerts and banquets. Eirik Magnusson, the last king to stand court in Bergen, was located in the Rosenkrantz Tower.
10. Visit the Museum of Leprosy
Between 1850 and 1900, leprosy was rampant in Europe. The city had the highest concentration in Europe with three leprosy hospitals. In St. George's, this eye-opening museum is situated. The Memory of the World Program of UNESCO has its archives. You will follow a training tour to learn about the history of leprosy, its symptoms, and treatment, as well as the conditions during the epidemic in hospitals.
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