Known as the ‘Gateway to the Fjords’, Bergen is Norway’s second largest city. Yet with a population of less than a quarter of a million, it has the feel of a small town. It is beautifully sited against a backdrop of seven mountains and the funicular ride to the summit of Mount Fløien affords wonderful panoramic views of Bergen and Norway’s attractive coastline.
A former ‘European City of Culture’ with a string of fascinating art galleries facing its Lille Lungedgardsvann Lake, Bergen cruise port nestles amongst the magnificent mountains strung along Norway’s western coastline and is a gateway to Fjordland.
If you are around in the morning or evening the Bergan has a stunning sailing in/out. Passing many small islands.
Where you dock depends which ship you are on. The smaller ships can dock in the centre, larger ones further away. If you are further away then there is normally a shuttle bus into the city which drops you right by the central park which is really pretty. If you are berthed close, then town is about 20 mins walk.
Bergen is easily walkable and has a lively fish market and an even better general market along the harbour front as well as many attractive bars and cafes. Bergan is also very good if you have accessability issues, because it is fairly flat. You will find all the normal tourist shops and these display prices in NK, US$, UK£ and Euro. However, if you are upset by animal skins, avoid the market and shops as they are for sale everywhere, including silver fox, wolf and seal pelts.
To start with Bergan is classified as the wettest place in Norway, so be sure to have an umbrella and raincoat packed. That saying on our two visits we have had sun.
This is a very easy DIY place. There are a number of hop-on-hop-off buses that tour the town, excellent for getting your bearings. There is also a little yellow road train that takes you on a trip round the town and up the hill. It leaves from the corner of Bryggen and the fish market.
To enjoy the best views of this picturesque city, take the funicular railway to the top of Mount Fløyen, which overlooks both Bergen and the surrounding region. If you are thinking of doing this most popular attraction, then either do an organised trip, or book on line before going and you will jump pretty much to the front of the queue, or get there very early and queue. The queues to this attraction really build up as the day wears on. The ride is only about 5-6 minutes and there isn’t that much movement on it but the views and beautiful panorama from the top are brilliant. For those with accessability issues I am not sure if the funicular takes chairs so might be worth googling it. The cost is NK90pp return or NK45pp single, 2017, if you are thinking of walking back down. One thing to remember if the weather is bad with low lying cloud you may not see anything!
Another recommendation is doing the Ulriken cable car instead of the funicular, its simple to get tickets from the tourist information shop near the harbour fish market; it takes you to the top of the highest mountain where you can spend hours walking around at the top lots of fantastic views well worth the little extra. It is about £30 each including bus fare returns, the bus stop is just around the corner #2 bus, the woman in tourist information will give you maps etc.
In the main area and at the end of the main pedestrianised shopping street there is a beautiful little park.
Overlooking the harbour the colourful Bryggen wharf is the face of Bergen. The characteristic wooden gabled buildings were once the home and offices of Hanseatic merchants. A visit to this area. Beautiful wooden buildings with some lovely little shops selling unusual crafts and traditional souvenirs (at a price!). There is even an all year Christmas Store where you can purchase a Father and Mother Christmas and lots more.
Walk up past the old houses to a Museum, and further on to a castle both worth a visit both have a nice coffee shop, not expensive and clean loos.
Try the Ice Bar The bar itself is quite small. Everything is ice there, even the glasses, and it has some really good ice sculptures. A bit pricy, entrance works out at about £16 but you get a warm cape and gloves to wear and a free drink. Like most of Norway additional drinks are expensive in comparison with the UK; cocktails (very small) are around £8 and shots are about the same. It is situated close to the Tourist Information office. http://www.magicice.no/
Sometimes a visit to Troldhaugen is available the home of Edvard Grieg, as well as visiting Grieg’s villa, the hut where he composed music and his gravesite. It also includes Troldsalen, a concert hall with seating for 200 visitors, where if you are lucky you can enjoy a concert of Grieg’s music. You can even sit in the peace of Grieg’s garden overlooking Lake Nordås, and perhaps understand where he got the inspiration for his music.
P&O do a trip to visit Old Bergen, a reconstructed town with approx. 50 wooden houses from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. With private homes from various periods, as well as a number of shops and workshops. The trip also included a visit to a reconstructed Stave church which is very beautiful.
By Peter Dagnall
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