This former Hanseatic trading port situated on Norway’s southwestern coast still resembles a quaint fishing village. Once the largest city in the Nordic countries (today the second-largest), you could easily spend the whole day strolling around Bergen’s cobbled lanes, admiring the brightly-coloured wooden houses and enticing shops selling Norwegian knitwear and souvenirs, with the magnificent fjords serving as the backdrop. Alternatively, you can visit the city’s many historic and cultural sites, including the medieval King Haakon’s Hall, the historic Bryggen wharf (a Unesco World Heritage Site) and the Nordnes Peninsula, with its 19th-century, white-painted wooden houses.
Why cruise Bergen
Bergen is a popular port of call on a bucket-list Norwegian fjords cruise to the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’ in the summer or on a hunt for the northern lights in the winter. Known as the colourful gateway to the fjords, the charming Hanseatic port city founded in 1070 AD is home to a Unesco World Heritage Site, seven mountains and countless historic and cultural landmarks. Cruise lines including Fred Olsen, Viking, Hurtigruten, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean all sail to Bergen as part of their Norwegian fjords cruise itineraries.
What to see and do in Bergen
The Unesco-listed Bryggen wharf, first established in the 14th century, is one of the first (and most iconic) sights to greet cruise ship passengers as they arrive into Bergen. The brightly-coloured Hanseatic merchant buildings that line the harbour – which is now a strong part of Bergen’s cultural identity and heritage – were rebuilt following the great fire in 1702. Today, visitors can stroll around the area, home to various restaurants, cafés and shops selling unique local crafts (including Bergen jumpers made from mountain-reared sheep’s wool). Bryggen is also home to the popular Bergen Fish Market, which has been a meeting place for merchants and fisherman for centuries and is a great place to soak up the local atmosphere (and pick up some fresh fish).
The medieval fortress is one of the oldest and best-preserved fortifications in Norway. Built around 1240, the fort is home to several historical, secular buildings, including the 13th century royal residence, Håkon’s Hall – which is still used to this day for royal dinners and official occasions – and the Rosenkrantz Tower.
One of the city’s seven mountains, Fløyen can be reached via the funicular, Fløibanen, which will transport you to the summit in under eight minutes. The top boasts spectacular views across the city, bay and islands. You can either head back down the same way or brave the picturesque walk down through the park.
Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene
Perfect for a rainy afternoon, the museum details the Hanseatic League period of time in Bergen. The present building was erected following the fire in 1702 and houses original items collected from Bryggen or from various surrounding farms. Another worthwhile museum to visit while in the city (but not so suitable on a rainy day) is the open-air Old Bergen Museum, a reconstructed small town lined with some 50 wooden houses dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
While in Bergen, pay a visit to the home of one of the city’s most famous residents, Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and his wife Nina Grieg. Troldhaugen consists of the Edvard Grieg Museum, Grieg's villa (where you will see Grieg’s own Steinway grand piano), the Composer’s Hut – which overlooks Nordås Lake and is where he created some of his greatest works – and his and his wife's gravesite.
One of the largest museums for art, craft, design and music in the Nordic countries, KODE museum’s collection of artists’ homes include three of Bergen's greatest composers and artists – Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull and Harald Sæverud. KODE’s central buildings, located in the city centre, include works by the likes of works by the likes of Edvard Munch, JC Dahl and Nikolai Astrup.
Need to know when travelling to Bergen
Getting around in Bergen
The main cruise terminal is a 10 minutes’ walk from the main harbour and start of the city centre, where you’ll find many of Bergen’s main attractions. Larger cruise ships tend to dock at Dokken quay, which is roughly 20 minutes’ walk into town or a short shuttle ride. Bergen is a very walkable city with lots of pedestrianised streets, although some cruise lines including Viking offer passengers panoramic bus tours of the city. The bus, railway or taxi will take you to some of the further-out attractions, such as the Troldhaugen museum and Old Bergen Museum.
Bergen uses the Norwegian krone.
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Norway unless you're planning a stay of longer than three months.
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