A Mini-Guide to Bergen
When I was planning my trip to Norway, Bergen was the city that kept coming up over and over again. I saw nothing but beautiful pictures and read so many article dubbing a "fairytale city". I was sold, and after a little research I decided to book a train ticket from Oslo to Bergen.
The train ride was hands down the most gorgeous train journey I've ever experienced. Even though it was 8 hours, it actually went pretty quickly because everything I saw out the window was absolutely picturesque. Like most trains in Europe, they advertise wi-fi but it's definitely not dependable - so make sure to bring a book and music!
Bergen is known for being rainy for about 70% of the year. I had read about this and arrived prepared. It was drizzling a little bit when I arrived in the evening, but it wasn't bad enough to deter me from walking to my Airbnb. It was only about a 10 minute walk from the station, and I was glad to find my host waiting for me when I arrived. The apartment was less than a 5 minute walk from the city center and was just the right size for a single traveler like me.
Anyway - Bergen became one of my favorite cities in the world pretty quickly. Here are a few of my favorite things I did while there.
Views of Bryggen are probably the most popular image of Bergen. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is amazing to wander around. These wooden buildings have been around since the 14th and 15th centuries, but it's had to be rebuild a few times because of fires.
When you wander in and out of the wooden buildings, you can see why one little spark would ruin everything. The buildings are so close to each other, and all connected by stairs and rooftops. The shops are full of restaurants, gift shops, and local shops selling beautiful Norwegian goods. It's really neat to explore and also see the history in these buildings that have basically been the same for centuries.
You can probably tell from the amount of pictures that this was one of my favorite places. I had to visit it twice in order to see everything. It also offers one of the better views in the city. I'm a HUGE history nerd and loved reading about and exploring this ancient fortress. It's one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway, so that alone makes it worth the visit.
There are a few different buildings you can go into. Rosenkrantz Tower is the oldest, and was used as part of the royal castle in the 1270s. It basically is just a big tower with very narrow stairways that lead up to the top and offer a great view. There are a series of rooms off the stairways to explore, and each has a rich history. I loved getting lost and finding my way around the haphazard planning and being rewarded with the great view at the top.
One of the other buildings that is a part of the Bergenhus Fortress. It also dates back to the 13th century, and was essentially just a great hall. It is still occasionally used by the King of Norway today to hold royal banquets. It reminds me a lot of the great hall in the Chateau du Pierrefonds in France, but definitely has a more Scandinavian flair.
Notice that the head table has three head chairs instead of the normal two. According to the little tour I listened in to, this is because the King hated his wife (and women in general) and wanted his two sons sitting next to him instead. Sounds like a great guy.
Bergen is called the City of the Seven Moutains, and the most popular of the seven is Floyen. If you really want the best view of the city, I say go here. You can hike or take the tram (which I did), and since it's the one attraction open later than 6pm, watching the sunset from the top is an amazing experience.
I met up with some friends for a few days while here, and we spent the evening up here eating ice cream and just admiring the beauty of this wonderful city.
There are some really, really amazing things to see and do while in Bergen. It's also known as the Gateway to the Fjords, and if you have the time you can take a day trip to see the longest and one of the most famous fjords in Norway. I was also really excited to visit Edvard Grieg's home just outside the city - because I'm a giant nerd and love stuff like that.
If you're just there for a day or two though, there's so much to see just from walking around. The Fish Market is famous for it's array of seafood, and there is a wonderful art gallery to visit as well. I wish I could go on and on about every little thing, but then this guide would need to be at least three posts longer.
Bergen is definitely one of my favorite cities now. It was just such an unexpected gem for me, and I would love to go again.
Here's the Airbnb I stayed at, if you're interested! It's perfect for one or two people, and is right in the middle of the main part of the city. The whole city is basically built on hills, so it is a bit of a climb up to the apartment, but totally worth it if you ask me!
Check out some of my other mini guides and travel posts!