Most people don’t know that the first time I set foot in Scandinavia was about 10 years ago. With the exception of Iceland (which is located in the middle of the ocean), I finally got to return to this part of the world. Norway is one of the last countries I have yet to visit in this region and I am glad to finally be able to come back and visit. With only a limited time we have, we decided to skip Oslo and decided to go straight to Bergen, the second biggest city in Norway. Although it has that title, Bergen is actually more compact, and very easy to explore. Most of the places to visit are just few minutes away by foot, which makes it a good weekend destination.
Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, and is located in Norway’s southwestern coast, making it the Gateway to the Fjords. This is why we made Bergen as our trip home base, because there are many things to do in the city, as well as various excursions to the fjords. It is also very accessible, with domestic and international connections by plane, boats, and trains.
We did Norway in a Nutshell on the first day after we arrived, then went off exploring. Bergen is said to be the rainiest city in the country, averaging about 270 rainy days a year, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this place. True enough, we already anticipated rain, also a given since we visited in late January/early February, but we also experience nice sunny periods and lovely light snow falls. It reminded me of Seattle, which was still beautiful even when it rains
We started out our exploring from probably the most famous area of Bergen, which is Bryggen. It is where Hanseatic wooden houses, now commercial buildings, are lined up in bright colors making it postcard-ready. These historic buildings have been rebuilt after a big fire in 1702, and used the foundations that were there since the 12th century. Now it is on the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage sites since 1979. We had a great time weaving around different shops and enjoyed a local fresh skillingsboller from the bakeshop/cafe in this area.
Just across the water, a few minutes walk from Bryggen is the Fistorget, also known as the Fish Market. This has been the center of fish trade in Bergen, where locals have been buying their seafood in years. Is it said to be the most visited outdoor market in Norway, however, since it was wintertime, there weren’t a lot of outdoor stores but there was an indoor area where you can pick and choose what to get and then have it cooked for you.
Lille Lungegårdsvannet is a small-octagonal lake in the heart of the city. It is located next to Bergen’s City Park, and has the view of Mount Ulriken, one of the seven mountains that surround Bergen. Around this area are also Museums including Kode Art Museums and Bergen Kunstall, which entries are either discounted or free with the Bergen Card.
Probably the most unforgettable time we had in Bergen was when we went up to Mount Fløyen. It is also one of the mountains that surround the city, with an elevation of 400 meters (1300 feet) above sea level. Locals usually hike up the mountain, while most tourists prefer the easier way: ride the Fløibanen, the funicular that takes you from the center of Bergen to the summit of Mount Fløyen in just 5-8 minutes. Thanks to Visit Bergen, our roundtrip ride was free and included in the Bergen Card. We decided to go up just in time to see the sunset, and it was beyond beautiful. There was a large viewing platform from where you can see a panoramic view of the city. We were cold and a little tired but wanted to see the view after the sunset and we were glad that there were a cafe, a souvenir shop and a restaurant that kept us busy and warm.
Someone told me Bergen has a cool university vibe, and that’s exactly how it felt like. It wasn’t packed with tourists, unlike big cities, and it was lovely not having to wait longer for lines to get inside touristy areas. It was also nice to go in a nice restaurant, not having to worry about making reservations and not having to wait for an hour. It’s a perfect city to explore in a weekend and chill. (Pun not intended)
Special thanks to Visit Bergen and Fjord Norway for showing us around the city of Bergen by sponsoring our Bergen Cards. As always, all photographs and opinions are my own.Follow Sky Envy: Bloglovin' / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest