Known as the gateway to the fjords of Norway, Bergen was founded in 1070 by King Olav, and the historic city has long been a busy hub of commerce and culture. The UNESCO World Heritage City with its bustling harbor, is surrounded by seven mountains, has a charming downtown that is quite compact, with many attractions easily accessible on foot.
What We Love
Bryggen Historic Harbor Area: Any photo you’ve ever seen of Bergen is probably of the iconic colorful buildings of the harbor area. Wander through the small alleyways of the wooden warehouse district, and don’t miss the Hanseatic Museum to see how German merchants from the Hanseatic League lived and worked in the 18th century.
Fløibanen Funicular: Take a ride up to the top of Mount Fløyen to get a bird’s-eye view of Bergen and the six other mountains surrounding the city. You can have lunch or shop, then the adventurous can hike back down to the port.
Best Known For
Fish Market: This is where locals come to buy that night’s dinner, and also has lots of vendors cooking up their fresh catch for lunch. Order a bowl of the city’s famous fish chowder or some of the best sushi you’ll ever eat.
Edvard Munch: Head the Bergen Art Museum (actually a group of museums) to see the second-largest collection of Edvard Munch paintings in the world (the largest is in Oslo). You’ll be able to see works from all the major paradigms in Munch’s artistic career, which is rare in one place.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: With more than a thousand years of history, there’s plenty to take in, from the historic harbor to the Bryggens Museum, dedicated to archaeological excavations of Bryggen from 1955 on. Exhibits include the foundations of the oldest buildings in Bergen (from the 12th century) as well as artifacts illustrating daily life in the Middle Ages.
Art Lovers: Bergen’s excellent collection of galleries in the heart of the city covers everything, from renowned Norwegian artists to international ones, ranging from classical to contemporary. You can easily spend the day here.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
High Prices: Norway is not cheap, so don’t expect any bargains on anything, from food to souvenirs.
Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based writer for ShermansCruise whose work has also appeared in The Boston Globe.