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Norway: A Day in the Charming City of Bergen

Updated: Mar 30

Summary: The City of Bergen, Norway, is one of those places that charms you into wanting to return. It has a lovely feel to it even though many tourists stop here on their way to visit Norway's famous fjords. In looking back at this trip, this was the one spot we definitely agreed would be worth a second visit. With quant shops, cobblestone streets, great restaurants, and beautiful mountains surrounding this small City, there's a little bit of everything in one place. On our only full day in central Bergen, we took two tours, one walking tour through the City, and one boat tour through the neighboring fjord. This "best of" Bergen experience definitely left us wanting more.

[This blog is part of a 3-days in Bergen, Norway, series, which is part of our 15-days in Northern Europe trip].

About Bergen. Norway's population lives primarily in small villages. To give you an idea of just how rural Norway is, the City of Bergen is the second largest city but has a population of less than 300,000. One guide told us that this way of life contributed to their "keep to themselves," Norwegian personalities that can feel rude especially to Americans. We heard about this generalization before but at least as a tourist, we didn't run across this. For example, when we dropped into a CrossFit class in central Bergen, the members were very welcoming. The City itself is an old trading hub. Dating at least back to the 11th century, the City's ideal location continues to contribute to its success, with over 300 cruise ships using Bergen as a port of call. Don't let that stop you, though, as the City is large enough to handle the influx of visitors.

Walking Tour. Our day in the City of Bergen started with a free walking tour, covering Bergen's main attractions, including Musskipaviljongen City Park, the Bergen Fish Market

St Mary’s Church, Bergenhus Fortress, Hanseatic Museum, and Schøtstuene

Ole Bull Statue. Don't forget that these tour guides work on tips, so bring cash to show your appreciation of your time with them.

Beginning at Musskipaviljongen City Park, we first walked through some of central Bergen's lovely neighborhoods. In this part of the tour, we learned about Norway's "Nordic Model," which provides a strong social structure that include their well-known significant public benefit programs for job loss, elderly, education and others. This part of the tour was our favorite. We loved the quiet neighborhoods with their balcony plants and cobblestone streets.

Seafarers. Norway's long history of seafarers, which date before their infamous Viking days, is evident throughout this picturesque City.

Fish Market. The Bergen fish market dates back to the 1300s. Today, it is largely a tourist attraction with plenty of over-the-counter meals to buy right next to the fresh fish options. Of note, is the controversial sale of whale meat (third photo down). Only 4% of Norwegians reportedly eat whale often, however, efforts to ban the practice have been unsuccessful.

Bryggen. This UNESCO World Heritage site is Bergen's old harbor site that dates back to the 12th Century. As it has suffered from fires over the years, the buildings in this district are not all originals. Today, 62 buildings are designated as part of the old district, all of which contain the similar design left by German merchants that lived in Bergen in the 18th Century. Some house restaurants, while others contain little shops for you to purchase Norwegian Knick Knacks.

Boat Tour. After the walking tour and gift shopping, we took a tour of the area's Fjord on a tourist boat. This 3-hour tour starts with a cruise past the City of Bergen and the neighboring towns that dot the mountains that surround the town.

Mostraumen Channel. Passing through this Channel brings you to Bergsåa waterfalls and tiny port town of Mobryggja.

At the town of Mobryggja, the boat turned around and made its way back to Bergen. From there, we disembarked and headed out to dinner before returning to our AirBnB for the night.


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