A Guide to: Bergen, Norway

If you follow me on Instagram then you will know I went for a weekend away to Bergen in Norway at the end of May for a girls trip with a couple of friends from University, Jade and Tilly. We flew with BA on the Friday so we were very lucky not to get caught up in the chaos of their IT meltdown over the bank holiday weekend!

I’d never been to Norway, or even Scandinavia before so I was very excited and also slightly apprehensive about visiting somewhere new but as soon as we stepped off the shuttle bus from the airport I knew it was a place I was going to love.

After only a few wrong turns, we found our Airbnb located just outside the city in Danmarksplass. Our apartment was at the top of a four storey building in a friendly, quiet residential area. There were a lot of stairs to climb but it was worth it for the views of the surrounding mountains. Clean and bright with simple Scandi interiors I could quite happily have lived there!

Norway is an expensive country so we decided to stay somewhere self-catered to minimise our spending on food. Having arrived at lunch time (Norway is an hour ahead of the UK) we popped by a local supermarket to stock up on supplies for the next few days and had a bite to eat before heading into the city centre. There is a bus and tram that go into the centre but we opted to walk with it only taking 15 minutes from our apartment.

On our way to Vågen, the harbour, we stopped by a cute little cafe called Godt Brød for a cinnamon bun – you can’t go to Norway without having one! Bergen was historically a thriving fishing town and by the harbourside is Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ensemble of colourful timber eighteenth and nineteenth century merchant’s trading houses. We explored the back streets of Bryggen and enjoyed a glass of wine in the sunshine by the harbour. A glass of rosé cost the equivalent of about £12 so be warned, it’s a very pricey place!

That evening we cooked at our apartment and had a chilled evening reading our books and gossiping. It doesn’t get completely dark in Norway with the sun only setting until gone 11pm and rising again at around 4am at this time of year, but I quite liked the long light evenings even if it was slightly confusing!

Set amid seven hills, Bergen is fantastic for hiking, which is exactly what we set off to do on Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast. We decided to take the cable car up to the highest mountain, Ulriken and walk along the Vidden Trail to Mount Fløyen. It turns out this is a popular thing to do on a Saturday morning amongst both locals and tourists so we had to queue for nearly two hours before getting on the cable car. If you’re thinking of going, it’s a good idea to get there early in the morning before it gets too busy.

The view from the top of Ulriken is simply stunning and there’s a restaurant there if you’d prefer not to hike. A beautifully sunny afternoon, we followed the signs to Fløyen. The trail is 13 Km long and quite rocky with steep descents and climbs so it’s not for the faint-hearted but worth it for the beautiful scenery of deep blue fjords and snow-capped mountains.

Taking around 6 hours overall I found it quite challenging as I haven’t done much hiking but it was really satisfying when we reached the end and the views were sensational. Norwegians are very active and healthy, which isn’t surprising with such amazing mountains on their doorstep. For that reason, don’t be alarmed if, like us, you get overtaken frequently, especially by small children, dogs and crazy people running it! When we reached the end, feeling sunburnt, sweaty and splattered in mud we took the funicular down from Fløyen for a well-deserved gin and tonic before hobbling back to our apartment!

On Sunday we had a lazy morning, still aching from our epic hike the day before! Unsure of what the weather was going to do we didn’t have any plans but as it was looking to be a dry day we decided to go on a boat tour of the fjords. However, we only arrived at the jetty 10 minutes or so before it was due to set off and it was sadly full. I’d recommend booking at least the day before if you want to go on fjord cruise!

We were disappointed we couldn’t go and visited the tourist information centre by the harbour to see if there were any more tours but it was already quite late in the day. Instead we wandered around the fish market and after finding another little charming cafe for a drink decided to spend the money we would’ve spent on the fjord cruise on dinner out that evening.

I had a quick Google and found a restaurant in the city centre called Bare Vestland which had really great reviews. That evening we enjoyed a fantastic meal there. Serving traditional Norwegian food with a modern twist, we shared tapas style plates of local delicacies including herring, fish tar-tar and even whale! I’d really recommended going there for a rustic, cosy restaurant with an open kitchen, tasty authentic food and very-friendly English speaking waiters. It couldn’t have been a better finish to a wonderful weekend with great company.

Bergen is one of the few cities I’ve visited abroad and could really imagine myself living there. A laid-back, easy-going place in a spectacular setting, it’s perfect if you’re looking for a chilled city break with walking too. We were incredibly lucky with the weather as it rains an average of 260 days a year in Bergen, even in the summer, so if you’re planning on visiting I’d pack a raincoat!

I really want to go back as there’s so much more to explore! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to Bergen, I’d love to hear what you got up to.

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