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Blick auf die Altstadt von Bergen, Bild: Marius Dobilas / shutterstock

Bergen – the Queen of the Fjords

In Bergen, a dreamlike city of culture awaits you as the centre of a diverse holiday region. Norway’s second-largest city enchants with its picturesque location in the great triad of water, greenery and stone. Scattered over a labyrinth of wooded hills, fjord shores and islands, the old Hanseatic city immediately appeals to every visitor. Like an amphitheater, the city stretches up the slopes of the wooded heights. Bergen, more than any other city in Scandinavia, is the prototype of a metropolis of seafaring and trade.

Bergen, the gateway to the fjords – colourful, charming and exciting

Ulriksbanen Bergen
Enjoy the view with the Ulriksbanen cable car at the top of the mountain, Image: Samot / shutterstock

Nowhere else in the country does such a cosmopolitan, cosmopolitan spirit prevail. Probably the most beautiful metropolis in Norway attracts with an extraordinary flair and sights that are among the most important in the kingdom. It has the largest port on the west Norwegian coast with important shipyards and is the seat of a bishop, a university and a business school.

Yes, it’s true: Believe it or not, the city on the Norwegian west coast is said to have 27 different types of rain. Around 250 days a year, they splash, drizzle and patter down on the city. This makes Bergen one of the rainiest cities in the world. A biting saying says that in the past, even the horses shied away if they met someone without an umbrella. But when the sun breaks through the clouds, all the chairs in the street restaurants at the harbor are occupied in no time. When the sun is shining, the old Hanseatic city unfolds an almost Mediterranean flair.

By the way: The residents celebrate the humid climate of their city with a rain festival, sometimes fairy-like, sometimes mystical and sometimes dramatic.

Leafing through the history book

As in Viking times, Bergen maintains trade relations all over the world and for centuries the city has been the cultural center of western Norway. Seafaring and the fish trade have always been the basis of Bergen’s wealth.
Founded in 1070 by Olaf Kyrre and today with almost 220,000 inhabitants, Bergen is the second largest city in Norway – as late as the 17th century, it was far superior to Copenhagen as a trading centre. Germans also lived in Bergen from 1236 – it was not until 1746 that the last German merchants left the city. Until the end of the 19th century, it was the largest Norwegian city, but today it is in second place and is still considered by some to be the “secret capital”. As a royal residence, port and Hanseatic city, Bergen looks back on a glorious past.

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Curtain up for Bergen: On a discovery tour at the “Queen of the Fjords”

Where the visitor is drawn may be left to personal interest – everything is worthwhile. Everything worth seeing is easily manageable and can be reached within short distances. Bergen is a city straight out of a picture book: charming, colourful, liveable and modern. If you want to get more than just a superficial impression, you need to stay at least two to three days.

The cityscape is characterized by its location “between the seven mountains” – framed by seven mountain ranges and connected by seven island-studded fjords: the center of the city is the market square.

A walk along the north side of the harbour to Bryggen brings the past to life. Without a doubt, a visit to the Bryggen harbour district is like travelling back in time. Known? The “Tyskebryggen” (German Bridge) was the quarter of the German Hanseatic League. Perhaps the most famous district of Norway was in the hands of Lübeck’s merchants for 400 years.

In the northwestern continuation of the Bryggen lies the Bergenhus Fortress with the medieval Håkon Hall, which once dominated the harbour entrance. The adjacent, massive rosary tower was completed in 1568 as a residence and defensive structure.

Bergen in Norway
Fantastic sight in Bergen, Image: S-F / shutterstock

Also worth seeing is the nearby St. Mary’s Church from the 12th century, one of the oldest stone churches in Norway.

Akvariet – welcome to the largest aquarium in Western Norway! At nearby Dokkeveien, Bergen’s Maritime Museum documents the development of Norwegian seafaring. In addition to spectacular finds from the Viking and Hanseatic periods, native sea creatures and exotic sea creatures can also be seen.

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Meanwhile, the art museum on the city lake Lille Lungegårdsvann attracts visitors with primarily Norwegian works of art from the Renaissance to the present day.

In summer, the fish market/Fisketorget is very crowded. A visit is worthwhile: The goods are consistently of good quality, the prices a little higher than elsewhere.

Tip: All roads lead to Fisketorget at the harbour and Torgallmenning Square. You should leave your car in a parking garage beforehand. Most visitors coming from the south park near the Bybanen tram stop and take it to the terminus Stadtmitte.

The perfect route and most beautiful forays at a glance

  • Path 1 leads around Vågen: On the north side, Bergenhus Fortress rises gloomy and massive. Other visitor destinations are St. Mary’s Church, Bryggen, the Hanseatic Museum, the cathedral, Torget and the aquarium.
  • Trail 2 goes around Lille Lungegårdsvann. Worth seeing here are the Permanenten, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Rasmus Meyer Collections.
  • Path 3 leads around the university, which rises on a hill at the southern end of Christiesgate above Bergen city centre. Several museums provide interesting insights into religious and secular art from the Viking Age, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. On the way back, a visit to Café Opera is worthwhile. The small café restaurant spoils its guests with great dishes, music and art.

Discover Bergen with all your senses

Browse, shop, be amazed: Bergen inspires with chic restaurants, pretty cafés and individual accommodation options. Linger in the charm of the old days, with a great view, rustic and elegant at the same time – everyone will find the perfect domicile in Bergen.

Tip: From Fløyen, visitors have the whole of Bergen at their feet. The funicular takes you up to Floyfjell at an altitude of 320 meters. It goes even higher: If you like, you can take the cable car to the panoramic mountain Ulriken (642 meters), and from there you can enjoy a beautiful view of Bergen and the fjord landscape. Both mountains are excellent for hiking.

If you stay in Bergen, you stay between fells, fjords and coast: A worthwhile detour leads from Bergen through a labyrinth of fjords that have been bridged several times to the islands of Store and Sotra. In just a few kilometres, the lush green landscape transforms into the frighteningly rugged primeval scenery of the rocky archipelago coast.