Last Days of Summer in Bergen

Spontaneous vacations isn’t something I normally do but for the first time, I booked a flight 2 weeks prior to my trip to meet up with my brother in Bergen. Luckily, there was google flights which helped me find the best rate with my go to airline: Norwegian Airline.

Turns out, traveling unplanned and without any expectations is an amazing and freeing experience, especially with a city as beautiful and as lively as Bergen. Before coming here, a couple of friends warned me about the city’s predictably wet weather being called “the rainiest city in Europe.” Fortunately for me, it was unusually sunny and hot in Bergen when I came late September. Scandinavia’s sun always seems to greet me warmly whenever I’m in the region!

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So there I was… no plans in hand… just the excitement of what could possibly await me in my first Nordic city!
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    I couldn’t be more excited to call this vibrant city my home for a week.

Founded on an old viking settlement, Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and was once the country’s capital in the 13th century. Nowadays it is known as the “Gateway to the Fjords of Norway.” The fjords pertaining to a geological formation created by centuries of glacial erosion.

What makes this city so breathtakingly unique are the seven mountains that surround it. The two most popular of which are Mount Ulriken and Mount Fløyen.

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Mount Fløyen looks over the city center and provides a spectacular view of the peninsula. The top of the mountain can be reached via  several hiking trails or a funicular system (inclined cable railway) that transports passengers from the city center and is accessible all year round.
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Mount Ulriken is the highest mountain in Bergen and its summit can be reached either by a tramway or by several hiking trails. Of course I took the latter option! There is a network of trails to climb Ulriken but be sure to stay on the trail because it is quite easy to get lost. I ended up following “the locals’ route”  on my way down but ended up in a strenuously steep downhill off trail slope which was pretty slippery… but hey I survived! It was a great story to tell but I don’t recommend it!

Bryggen by day

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Bryggen by night

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Established before 1070, Bryggen (the dock) is a historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of Northern Europe’s oldest port cities and was a center for international trade.

The buildings represent a 900 year old architectural tradition that was closely recreated in the same way during the restoration process after being burned down by a fire.

Located right next to the harbor, Bergenhus Festning (fortress) is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. Among its prominent buildings are Haakon’s Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower.

Undeniably, Bergen is a haven for those who love to hike or just go for scenic walks. Everyday I ended up strolling an average of 10 miles and  never noticed how far I’ve wandered nor did I grew tired of the endless views that surrounded me.

Another fascinating place to see was located just a little bit outside of the city center. The Fantoft Stavkirke (pictured below) is a fine example of a stave church which were once common in Norway. Unfortunately, only a few originals of these wooden Christian churches  survive today.

Tours and activities in and around Bergen

There are several tours and boat cruises available from Bergen that will allow you to witness the beauty of the fjords, hike magnificent glaciers, view the mysterious maelstroms and so much more. I booked an afternoon tour through Norled to the quiet and laid-back trading post of Skjerjehamn and managed to speak with the restaurant/hotel owner’s son. It was a very quiet afternoon that day but I learned that the festival they host in the summer is surely not to be missed in the area. Unfortunately, summer celebrations were over by the time I was there.

The Bergen Line

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For my last day in Norway, I just had to experience the popular Bergen Line which runs from Bergen to Oslo. It is a seven hours long train ride that I would definitely recommend among all the train rides that I’ve been. It is one of the most scenic and also the highest mainline railway in Northern Europe which made me felt like being on top of the world (sort of)! This experience gave me a glimpse into the less explored and quite mystical parts of Norway. The scenery from my window seat constantly changed  from lush greens to snow capped mountains featuring Norway’s majestic forests, postcard perfect countryside, crystal clear rivers and waterfalls, quaint little villages and OF COURSE its unique and mesmerizing fjords.

How to get to the city center from Bergen airport

The Airport Express Coach has multiple stops leading right to the heart of the city. They have varied departure times depending on what day of the week you arrive.

Where to eat in Bergen

The Fish Market is definitely something to try when in Bergen. Aside from affording scenic views of the harbor, it offers varied fresh delectable seafood choices.

There are also a number of restaurants to choose from and none of them disappointed me. Although I must warn first time visitors that the standards of living in Norway are high since the country enjoys one of the highest national average salaries in the world. In my personal experience, prices for alcohol, restaurants and accommodations were the most expensive in all of the European countries I’ve been to (second to Iceland after my most recent trip).  So with that out of the way, Norway is a beautiful country not only to visit but also to live in due to its high quality of life. I can’t wait to explore more Nordic cities next time!

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