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Bergen, Norway Travel Guide

Bergen Summary


  • Rich history that dates back nearly 1,000 years
  • Several quaint, charming neighborhoods throughout the city
  • Good jumping off point for Norway in a Nutshell, a popular all-day excursion to some of Norway’s best fjords
  • Small enough that it’s easy to walk from sight to sight
  • Bryggen, a fascinating wharf area lined with colorful Hanseatic trade buildings – the original area dating back to 1360
  • Floibanen Funicular, which takes visitors to the top of a mountain for panoramic views of the city
  • Bergen Aquarium, a great attraction for families that is home to penguins, sea lions, sharks, and crocodiles (among others
  • Bergen Museum, split into two museums (natural history and cultural history) with beautifully manicured gardens alongside


  • Many of the historic areas have been lost or rebuilt due to recurring fires, so even historic-looking buildings may actually be reconstructions
  • Expensive, like all of Norway

What It's Like

Bergen is one of Norway's most charming and appealing cities, with several well-preserved historic areas, museums, a wide shopping plaza, and the large, manicured Byparken with a lake, gardens, and a gazebo. It's the country's second largest city, at about 268,000 residents, and dates back to 1070 (though some historians are now pushing that date back to the 1030s or even 1020s).

Tourists flock to Bryggen, a former Hanseatic merchant area with colorful centuries-old wooden buildings (and some newer reconstructions) along the water. The Fish Market on the harbor, comprised of both a modern interior space and outdoor tent stalls, is another popular spot, and is an affordable (relatively speaking) place to grab lunch. Insider tip: The friendly fishmongers will gladly give you a sample of their delights, maybe even a bite of smoked whale meat if you're lucky. Another must-see is the Floibanen Funicular, which shuttles visitors to the top of a peak for panoramic views of the city, its harbors, and the seven surrounding mountains (Bergen is known to be set among seven mountains, though depending on how you define "mountain," many people say there are nine).

Where To Stay

The heart of Bergen is centered around a U-shaped harbor, and it’s near this harbor where most visitors will want to stay. Many of the city’s sights are either along the waterfront or just a few blocks inland: Bryggen and its accompanying museum, the Bergenhus Fortress, and the entrance to the Floibanen Funicular on one side, and the famous Fisketorget Fish Market on the other side.

Luckily Bergen is small enough that it’s hard to find an inconvenient place to stay – most of the city can be toured on foot in just a few hours. About six blocks to the southeast of the harbor is Byparken, Bergen’s main park centered around a lake. The walk from the water to Byparken is dotted with hotels (as well as some of Bergen’s main shopping streets), and staying anywhere along this route would mean still being in the center of the action and just minutes from about any sight on foot.

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