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Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city (Oslo is the largest) with a population approaching 270,000 in the municipality and nearly 400,000 in Greater Bergen. Known as “The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway”, Bergen’s city center actually faces a fjord – Byfjorden. Bergen Port, hugely popular with cruise ships, is the busiest port in Norway.
WAVE Journey embraced Bergen for a full day in June 2012. This was our first stop on a two-month adventure and with two nights accommodation at the Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Hotel, we were able to overcome the daunting jet lag and properly engage for a day of exploring in this historic city loaded with charm and unique architecture. It proved to be the perfect beginning to our adventure.
Tip: Buy the Bergen Card – to get more and save money. For starters, you ride for free on the buses with this card. You receive free or discounted prices on attractions and some entrance fees. Well worth it. Buy it online, at the Tourist Information in Bergen, or at some hotels, etc.
The Bryggen, Bergen’s much visited historic quayside, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was from here dry cod was exported, eventually moving Bergen into the spotlight as Norway’s leading center of trade. The Bryggens Museum provides the opportunity for tourists to get a better historical perspective on this ages-old wharf.
A definite highlight for us was, without question, the Fish Market. Located right in the heart of Bergen, this bustling market, open daily in the summer from 7am to 9pm, delights with local flavor, delicacies and photo opportunities. We happily enjoyed being spoiled by Catherine who owns FISH ME. She made certain we had an ample array of wonderful dishes which define this seaport.
For sightseeing which provides an overview of Bergen, The Bergen Express is the right choice to tour from the old Hanseatic wharf on up to Kalfaret Hill. This little train tour takes approximately 50 minutes, winds through picturesque narrow streets passing many of the highlights of Bergen.
To capture the view from the water, our day wasn’t complete without a harbor tour on the M/S White Lady with Bergen Fjord Sightseeing. From this perspective, we could better see the famous Seven Mountains surrounding Bergen. (It is because of the mountainous terrain that Bergen is so named; Berg is old Norse for mountain.) Roughly 300 cruises sail into Bergen Harbor in the course of a year.
One popular attraction not to be missed is the Floibanen Funicular. It is Scandinavia’s only cable railway and the base is located just 150 meters from the Fish Market. The seven-minute ride is sensational, summiting at the viewing platform on Mount Floyen. Take in the wondrous views from here, have a bite to eat, wander the trails or pick up a souvenir.
So when you prepare to book your fjord adventure in breathtaking Norway, plan at least a full day in Bergen. The atmosphere, the history, the market and the people you meet in this charming city with a small-town ambiance will make for a fine introduction to that which is Norway.
If You Go:
Follow more of WAVEJourney’s June 2012 travels in Norway: