NORWAY  |  Bergen, Norway Travel Guide
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Sightseeing in Bergen

Sightseeing in Bergen

Bergen's City Center

Bergen has a compact city center set up well for pedestrians and it’s best explored on foot. From the train station you have about a 10-minute walk to the city center where you will find Torgalmenningen Square. It leads down to Torget and the fish market, where the tourist office is located. Between the city center and the train station is a big park, where the Bergen Art Museum is located. The Grieg Hall, which is mostly used as a congress center, is right next to it and on the other side of the park is the city hall with the cathedral a few blocks farther down. For shopping in Bergen, you should visit the other side of Torgalmenningen (toward the harbor) where Strandgaten is one of the best streets, with lots of good shops.

Sandviken and Gamle Bergen

Sandviken is one of the best areas in the city and is just a few minutes walk from the harbor. Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen) is an open-air museum a couple of km north of Sandviken, with reconstructed houses (all but one is original) to make it look as Bergen did in the 18th and 19th centuries. You should definitely try to take a guided tour of this area to learn more about the history of the city. A good idea is to take one of the guided bus tours that includes Gamle Bergen, since it’s a little out of walking range from the city center.

Bergen has plenty of other good museums. Besides the two at Bryggen there’s the Norwegian Museum of Fisheries, which is a 10-minute walk past Bryggen if you keep going along the harbor. The Norwegian west coast is well known for its fishing industry and you’ll learn everything you need to know and more at this place.

The Bergen Harbor

The harbor in Bergen is quite large and has always been of great importance to the city and the country at large. The inner part, known as Vågen, ends where the fish market is located. The harbor has brought a lot of business to the city over the years but it also brought diseases such as the plague, killing 70% of the population in the Middle Ages. Afew generations ago, there were so many boats in the harbor that you could walk across it from one end to the other. Today, the boats are mainly going to and from Sognefjorden and Stavanger, but there are quite a few cruise liners as well. An estimated 230 cruise ships visit Bergen every year.

Bryggen

One of the best walks in the city is the one at Bryggen, with the old wooden houses at the wharf lined up looking over the harbor. These houses, originally built during the Hanseatic era, are not quite as old as they look. A fire in 1702 destroyed all of them, but they were rebuilt soon after. The oldest house on Bryggen is the Hanseatic Museum, which is well worth a visit. There are also guided tours of Bryggen several times a day that start at Meeting Point Bryggen, which is in the same building as another museum, the Bryggen Museum. This is the best starting point for a tour of the old Hanseatic district and its attractions, whether you take the guided tour or choose to explore on your own.

The Bergen Fish Market

Bergen has the largest open-air fish market in Norway and it’s at the end of the harbor, which is also where the tourist office is located. The market is open every day of the year except Sundays from September to May and, in addition to fish, offers fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts and souvenirs. The fish market is always buzzing with people and is a great place to stop and get a bite to eat as well.

Bergen from Above

You should definitely not miss the opportunity to see Bergen from above and there are plenty of opportunities, with seven surrounding mountains. The most popular way is to take the Fløybanen funicular, which runs every day from early morning until late night year-round. It’s downtown just a five-minute walk from the fish market and it takes only seven minutes to get to the top of Mount Fløyen, where you will have a fantastic view of the entire Bergen area. Fløybanen is the most visited attraction in Bergen.

Another option is the cableway to the top of Mount Ulriken, the highest mountain in Bergen. This trip is best accessed in combination with the Bergen in a Nutshell tour, which includes a guided bus tour in the city.

Troldhaugen

Troldhaugen was the home of world-famous composer Edvard Grieg who lived in Bergen most of his life. The house is today one of the biggest attractions in Bergen, although it wasn’t even in Bergen at the beginning; the house hasn’t moved but, in Grieg’s days, Bergen was just a small town and Troldhaugen’s location in southern Bergen was considered the countryside. Grieg was born in 1843 and built Troldhaugen in 1885, where he lived for the next 22 years before passing away at age 64. His home is interesting Bergen to visit but even more impressive is the concert hall, Troldsalen, a beautiful building just around the corner. Built in 1985, Troldsalen hosts concerts three times per week and every day during festival weeks.

The Aquarium

The Bergen Aquarium is one of the biggest in Europe and definitely the best to visit in Scandinavia. At the tip of the peninsula on the south side of the inner harbor, it opened in 1960 and over 200,000 people visit every year to watch the seals, penguins, snakes and numerous kinds of fish. There are three outdoor pools along with 70 indoor tanks; enough to keep you busy for a whole day.

Last updated November 18, 2010
Posted in   Norway  |  Bergen
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