Norway Travel Itinerary: An Ultimate Guide to Bergen Sights, Hikes, and Fjords
Oct. 14, 2021
Oct. 14, 2021
Are you looking for the perfect vacation spot to relax and enjoy nature yet have some exciting adventures?
Bergen is your ideal location!
It is the second-largest city of Norway and is surrounded by seven mountains and two of the longest fjords in the world, making it a gateway to some of the best hiking trails in Norway, magnificent fjords, and nature.
Join us on a journey to this charming historical city with captivating nature and get answers to all your questions about:
Hope you enjoy it!
The city's history goes back to 1000s AD before it was founded by the king of Norway (Olav Kyrre) and named Bjørgvin, the green meadow among the mountains.
Among its numerous historical buildings and museums, narrating many tales about Bergen’s notable history, there are many natural sights to see in Bergen that we will go through later.
For now, let’s figure out how to get to the city and explore it.
(Photo by Anna Gru on Unsplash)
Getting to Bergen’s city center from the airport is quite easy. Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft are not available in bergen. Nonetheless, if you're not comfortable taking a taxi, Light rail and airport buses are the more budget-friendly and convenient public transport options to make the 18 km trip from the airport to downtown.
We will explain each transportation alternative later, but first, we need to know a little about Skyss.
Skyss is a public authority that offers public transport throughout Bergen and its nearby regions. You can plan your trip and view departure times, and regular routes for all the public buses and light rail (similar to street cars) in Bergen using Skyss Travel mobile app, and purchase your ticket by Skyss Billett app. After purchasing, your ticket activates automatically in a few minutes, valid for 90 minutes. During that time, you can use any Skyss bus or light rail.
Skyss offers several kinds of passes, from daily to monthly passes. If you don’t have a Norwegian number, you might face some problems purchasing tickets from the app for the first time. In this case, contact their customer service or buy your tickets or passes from ticket machines, kiosks and shops, and on buses with cash from the driver.
Keep in mind to check Skyss zones if you want to travel outside of the city using your Skyss pass! The fees are different based on how many zones you want to travel to.
The Light rail is the most budget-friendly way to get to the city center. This tram ride takes about 50 minutes from the Bergen airport station (Bergen lufthavn Flesland) to its final station at the city center (Byparken). They operate every 5 to 20 minutes depending on the time and the day of your travel. You can get your tickets on Skyss billett or ticket machines at the airport, and board on the tram at its station right across the new terminal 3.
The ticket fees (in 2021) are :
Also, you can travel on light rail and Skyss buses for free if you have a Bergen card.
Airport buses are faster but a bit more expensive than light rail. The bus ride operates every 20 minutes and takes about 20 to 30 minutes from its first station outside the main terminal in Bergen airport to Festplassen station, near Byparken, or Dreggsallmenningen station, in the city center. Tickets can be purchased on their website, or by cash on the bus (a little more expensive than online).
The prices for one way trip tickets currently start at:
Also, Your tickets will be valid for any departure on your selected date.
Users of the Bergen Card get 20% off of their Flybussen ticket. You might get asked to show your Bergen card when getting on board. In this case, each person should have a valid Bergen Card. If you have a return ticket but your card expired before your return trip, don’t worry, your ticket is still valid but you must have the expired Bergen Card with you.
Taxi in Bergen is quite expensive, although if you are a family or a group of friends, with a lot of baggage, it might be the most convenient option. They can be the fastest way to downtown as well. It only takes about 20 minutes to reach your destination in the city center, and it usually costs around 400 to 500 NOK (around 45 to $60) depending on the time and passengers.
Even though there are many tours and attractions in the nearby regions, you don’t need to leave Bergen’s city center to get a taste of Norway’s nature, culture, or history! The first stop in your journey to Bergen should be this charming part of the city, where you can have a glimpse of its people’s lives during centuries by visiting some iconic attractions and have access to the famous fjord and hiking trails.
One of Norway's most beautiful and picturesque urban spots is this old wharf located in downtown Bergen. However, beauty is not the only thing Bryggen offers. Its colorful wooden houses and narrow passages tell many stories about Bergen's history and culture.
Bergen became the most important trading port for dried fish and fish oil in Norway during the middle ages. As the city grew, the Hanseatic League (an influential commercial and defensive confederation in central and north Europe) established one of their four overseas offices in the Bryggen area. Soon the German merchants took power over the area by buying locals' homes and constructing more buildings for their growing trade and workforce. This led to the compact structure of this part of the town. Bryggen was controlled by the Hanseatic league until the mid 17th century, when they got overpowered in trading by Dutch and English merchants and closed their offices one by one.
Since the Bryggens buildings were traditionally made of wood and very close to each other, the area got severely damaged by many fires throughout centuries; each time, it was rebuilt with similar materials and layout.
Today's Bryggen is the result of reconstructions after the 1702 fire and has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979.
Beyond the colorful view of this historical site, you can explore the narrow alleyways leading to many charming cafes, shops, and galleries.
You can also learn more about this significant part of Bergen history by visiting the Bryggen and Bergen Hanseatic museums.
After exploring Bryggen, you can continue your journey through Bergen's history by walking along the harbor to the northwest and finding Bergenhus Fortress. The current area of the fortress was called Holmen in medieval times and was the ruling center of Norway's royal family since the 1200s.
Today only two buildings remain from the medieval age: one is a three-story gothic style royal hall, known as Haakon's Hall, and the other is a defensive tower.
Haakon's hall was used as the royal family's residence and a place for celebrating many grand weddings, events, and even funerals of the royal family.
During governor Erik Rosenkrantzm's time, the tower that initially housed a cathedral, many churches, and residences for bishops, soldiers, and royal servants, went under massive construction that added some new parts to the building. Later the tower was named Rosenkrantz Tower, after the governor.
In the mid-1500s, the fortress was no longer a royal residence and became a military base under Danish rule. The tower was modified for military use, and the hall was converted into a storage facility.
Today Bergenhus is still a military fortress, under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, for training purposes. Meanwhile, it is also a cultural-historical center, open to the general public under the administration of Bergen city museum, and is occasionally used for concerts and formal and official events.
You can explore most of the fortress for free, but if you want to check out King Haakon's hall or go up the Rosenkrantz tower and enjoy the breathtaking view of Bergen, you need to buy an entrance ticket for 120 NOK (~$14) per adult (older than 18). The Bergenhuss can be closed on special occasions and has limited operation times for visiting during some seasons. Check the Bergen City museum website for the latest updates.
We recommend you take a guided tour to Bergenhus and the Hanseatic museum as many significant historical events are hidden behind each wall of this complex.
Fishing is a significant part of Bergen's culture and history. In the 1200s, Bergen's fishermen started trading their catch of the day next to the Bryggen. Soon it became a trading center for merchants, farmers, and fishers. The fish market kept growing as the Hanseatic league came and Germans settled in the area, while the city became one of the most important trading ports, especially for codfish. Hanseatic increasing power over the locals' most significant marketplace led to changing the market's location to the inner part of Vågen Bay, where there were more local merchants.
Today's fish market is in the heart of downtown near Bergen harbor, surrounded by many shops, restaurants, hotels, and attractions. You can find a large variety of fish, whales, and other kinds of meat, vegetables, and fruits, or enjoy some seafood as you stroll around the market.
While exploring this vibrant market is very exciting, the prices are generally higher than regular shops and restaurants in the city, and the outdoor market is closed during winter.
In 2012 an indoor extension to the fish market was established, which is open all year round.
The fish market is only a short walk away from many attractions in the city and is the starting point of many fjord tours. The market's operating time varies based on the date you visit, but generally, it is open from 11am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday.
Bergen has more than twenty museums and historical buildings showcasing different aspects of its culture, art, and eventful past. While visiting Bryggen and Bergenhus, you will notice they each have their museums narrating parts of Bergen's history.
The city's oldest Leprosy hospital includes the original laboratory where Hensen discovered the disease while exhibiting Norway's contributions to Leprosy research and Bergen's history of medicine. These Leprosy archives are a part of UNESCO's Memory of the World program.
The Maritime Museum is about Norwegian seafaring and its evolution during history. The museum is full of models and archaeological findings illustrating Norwegian life at sea.
Each year Bergen hosts more than 500,000 tourists from around the world, mainly to explore its scenic nature through some of the most beautiful hiking trails and fjords in Norway.
There is an extraordinary hiking route suitable to you in Bergen, no matter how much hiking knowledge you have or your fitness level. The famous seven mountains have some easy trails most people can take, along with many challenging ones for more advanced hikers. However, regardless of your previous hiking experience, you should be cautious if you want to hike in winter or rainy weather and keep few things in mind:
You can get more information regarding trails and safety from the Tourist Information Center located a few minutes away from the fish market and Bryggen in the city center.
Now let's introduce you to some of the best hikes in bergen with various levels of difficulty.
Mount Fløyen, with 400m height above sea level, offers many spectacular trails, especially a relatively easy one that starts from Fløibanen funicular, near Bryggen.
This one-hour route will take you through charming neighborhoods and picturesque trails to the top of the mountain. If you get tired along the way, there are some benches. Also, there is a restaurant, a playground, and other amenities at the top.
The funicular 5-minute ride with its exceptional view is quite enjoyable as well. You can take the funicular up to the mountain and hike downwards, or vice versa. Unfortunately, the Fløibanen is out of service until the 1st of April 2022 due to maintenance.
After exploring Floyen, you can hike down using the same trail or continue your journey through the forest using the following paths:
There are many other hiking routes from Floyen. To find the most suitable options for you, consult your lokafyer guide!
One of the best and most popular hikes in Bergen is hiking up the highest mountain in the city, with a height of 643 meters above sea level. There are several routes to the top of Ulriken, where you will witness the best view of Bergen and its surroundings, even Though they are a little more complicated than Floyen's routes for regular people.
Ulriken Cable Car(Ulriken643)
Another memorable way to experience Bergen's spectacular nature is by riding Ulriken's new gondolas up to the mountain. You can also save some time and energy by taking the cable car and then continue your journey through the Vidden.
The cable car station is in Montana near the sherpa steps, and you can find more information about its tickets and operation hours on the Ulriken643 website.
(Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash)
Million years ago, as glaciers paved the way for the oceans and cut through bedrocks, deep narrow inlets started to form between cliffs and mountains. Today, these long beautiful U-shape valleys are called fjords and are one the most popular natural attractions in the world.
If you want to visit fjords, Norway, and more specifically Bergen, is your perfect destination!
More than 90% of Norway's coastline is made of fjords, and its second largest city, Bergen, is named the "heart of the fjords" as it is surrounded by two of the most significant fjords(Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord) in not only Norway but the world.
Let's get to know these fjords better, and find out the best way to visit them from Bergen!
Known as "The King of the Fjords," Sognefjord is Norway's largest and deepest fjord. This Fjords starts from north of Bergen, in Vestland county (in Western Norway) and continues for more than 200 km with a maximum depth of 1300 meters. Sognefjord's innermost branch ends near the village Skjolden, where You can access Jotunheimen (Home of the Giants) National Park, one of Norway's best hiking and fishing spots. One of Sognefjord's most significant branches is a narrow 18 km long valley called Nærøyfjord. In 2005 UNESCO listed Nærøyfjord as one of the World Heritage Sites along with Geirangerfjord(a branch off the Storfjorden or the Great Fjord), which is also one of the most visited sites in the country and hosts some famous waterfalls such as Seven Sisters, Suitor, and Bridal veil.
(Photo by Wes Grant on Unsplash)
About 80 km south of Bergen, the second-longest fjord in Norway and the fifth one in the world starts from the Atlantic ocean. It stretches about 180 km and ends at the historical town of Odda at the southern tip of Sørfjorden (Hardangerfjord's longest branch). The area around the fjord is very fertile and is nicknamed the "Fruit orchard" of Norway because of its many picturesque fruit farms. Spring brings a different beauty to the fjord, as it gets surrounded by fully blossomed apple trees. Hardangerfjord is also one of the world's major fish farming regions, producing Salmon and Rainbow trout.
The big question about Norway fjords is how we can visit them or what is the best way?!
As we said, fjords are like rivers; you can drive by them and enjoy nature from the side, do a hike and take in their view hundreds of meters above them, or take a boat ride and explore the fjords more deeply.
The best way of visiting them is by a combination of traveling by car, train, and boat or ferry, and even hiking, and our lokafyers can help you plan the route more precisely, based on your interests and budget. The most popular fjord tour in the country, Norway in a nutshell, has a similar approach. "Norway In a Nutshell" is a non-guided tour, mainly using public transport and only schedules your trip and tickets. Here, we will tell you how to plan a similar tour on your own while saving money and having more flexibility.
We tried to include the best ways for visiting all the "must-see" spots of fjords near Bergen. Moreover, you can extend your journey by staying at small villages for the night or continue your trip to other regions (especially Stavanger or Oslo) and enjoy more of Norway fjords.
you will start your trip at Strandkaiterminalen near the fish market in Bergen by boarding on a ferry or express boat to Flam, a small village in Aurland. Then continued the 5 hours ride through magnificent views of mountains and small mountain farms along Norway's longest fjord and its 29 km long branch Aurlandsfjord. At the inner end of Aurlandsfjord, you'll reach Flam. As these services are only available in summer, there will be high traffic of ferries in the area, and Flam could be very crowded!
The Bergen-Flam ferry is only available between June 21st and August 15th (days vary each year and can be affected by holidays and covid-19 restrictions.) You can check the schedule on the NORLED website.
Cost: a one-way ticket is 950 NOK (~$110) for adults,478 NOK (~$56)for children older than 4, seniors (67+), and some students. Also, Family discounts start from 25% based on the number of passengers and their ages. You can book your tickets online or in-person at Strandkaiterminal.
In Flam, stroll around the village a little and enjoy the fantastic breweries and bakeries. We suggest taking a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) tour in Aurlandsfjord and the world heritage site, Nærøyfjord. You can stay the night in Flam or continue your journey to another city like Oslo.
Flam to Bergen
your next stop will be Flam railway, where you take one of the most beautiful steepest train rides in the world and head back toward Bergen. Flåmsbana ride will start at sea level, pass several waterfalls and tunnels, and reach Myrdal station high in the mountains after about an hour.
From Myrdal, we switch to Bergen railway and head back to Bergen. After an hour, the train will stop at Voss, a small town with lots of hiking trails and thrilling activities like rafting or riverboarding. You can plan your trip from Flam to Voss, stay there for a day to explore the town and its hikes and activities, and then get back to Bergen by train or bus, which is also an hour from Voss to Bergen.
You can get all your tickets for Flam to Bergen from the VY website; just make sure the flam-Myrdal part is by Flåmsbana!
Remember that the first part of this route (the fjord cruise ) is only available in summer!
(Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash)
In this route, we will travel to Voss by train, take an hour-long bus ride to Gudvangen, and from there, we hop on a boat to explore one of the most beautiful branches of Sognefjord, which is worth visiting in any season. We sail through this wild and very narrow valley and take in the beauty of one of Norway's most dramatic fjord trips.
The rest of the trip is pretty similar to Route 1. You can take shuttle buses between Flam and Gudvagangen and take the train/bus back to Bergen, or like Route 1, take the magnificent flam railway to Myrdal, and from there the Bergen train.
Like Sognefjord, Hardanger has many branches and popular spots like Vøringsfossen or Steinsdalsfossen waterfall, or Trolltunga cliff. To fully explore the Hardangerfjord, we highly recommend staying in Odda for a couple of days and enjoy the numerous mesmerizing hiking trails near the fjords.
The 150 km ride from Bergen to Odda takes you on a journey through Hardanger and its beautiful orchards, alongside the Hardangerfjord and the Sørfjord. You can also check Skyss to find suitable public transit.
(Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash)
While searching for Norway fjords, you probably encounter many photos of people standing on a tongue-shaped rock 700 meters above Ringedalsvatnet lake.Trolltunga(the troll’s tongue) is a 10-12 hours spectacular hike offering fantastic views of the wild dramatic nature of Norway and one of its longest fjords.
This hike is mentally and physically demanding and is about 14 km each way. You need to be prepared for this hike by wearing proper hiking gear, bringing enough snacks and water, and checking the weather in advance. Like most of the other challenging hikes near Bergen, it is usually possible to do this hike between June and September, depending on the weather situation.
To get to the Trolltunga starting point, you can take a shuttle bus from Odda or drive towards Skjeggedal and park your car at Mågelitopp, where there is parking with a very limited capacity.
A less crowded hike with a better view of Hardanger and its fjords is Mount Osken. In this challenging yet rewarding hike, you will pass the Vindhovden summer farm and go through some very steep areas. As you reach the top, you will see some of Hardangerfjord’s beautiful branches like Sørfjorden, Eidfjord, Samlafjorden, and Granvin fjord and mountains surrounding Voss and Hardanger. To get there, you need to drive to Tjoflat or book a shuttle bus.
Annually, over 60 festivals and concerts take place in Bergen, highlighting Norwegian culture, art, music, and food.
In this part, we will discuss some of the most internationally important festivals in Bergen.
On May 17th of 1814, Norway's constitutional government triumphed, and the country declared independence. Since then, this day has been named Norway's National day and is celebrated from morning to midnight. During this day, most streets are closed to accommodate many large parades, and It's better to dress nicely as most Norwegians dress in suits, dresses, or bunad, which is traditional Norwegian clothing. Since the whole day is filled with music and different celebrations that most locals participate in, many attractions are closed, and restaurants need prior reservations.
This fourteen days celebration of Norway's music, culture, and art in all forms is the largest festival of its kind in nordic countries. Every year From the end of May to early June, the Bergen International festival takes place at numerous locations like Haakon's Hall and Edvard Grieg's Troldhaugen. During this event, you can enjoy Norwegian culture in many ways, like music, dance, theater, or art exhibitions.
In 2000, since Bergen was appointed as the European Capital of Culture by the EU, Bergen Cinema decided to arrange an International film festival. The Bergen International Festival was one of the most successful events of that year and since then developed as the biggest film festival in Norway. The event is usually held in October at Magnus Barefoot Cinema Centre, with additional screenings at the local art film theatre Cinemateket at Georgernes Verft and the student cinema at Kvarteret.
(Photo bySmtunli on Wikipedia)
Within a 30 minutes car ride from Bergen, you will reach Fana, a borough of Bergen. Bergen divides into 8 boroughs, and Fana is the largest one.
Now let’s discuss some of the best landmarks near Bergen that are housed in this region.
This museum was the home of famous Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg for 22 years. Greig refers to Troldhaugen as "My best composition hitherto" and lived there with his wife since they finished the building in 1885 until his death. Now the exhibition in the area is dedicated to Greig's life and music. There is a restaurant, a shop, and a concert hall, which hosts concerts during summer.
Another mansion worth visiting is the Gamlehaugen, one of the royal family residences. The park surrounding the main building is almost always open to the public; on the contrary, the building itself is only open a few days in summer.
A short drive away from Gamlehaugen, you can visit Fantoft stave church. This medieval wooden church was initially built in 1150 at Fortun in Sogn, more than 250 km away from its current location. The church was moved in pieces to Fana in 1883 to be saved from demolition. However, In 1992 it was burned by members of the early Norwegian black metal scene and was reconstructed later on.
About 20 km south of the church, you can get on the Ole Bull shuttle boat to Lysøen or "The Island of Light." This small island was bought by the influential musician Ole Bull, who used it as his summer residence until his death. Bull's extraordinary villa, with its 13 km of pathways through Lysøen's calming scenery, was designed and constructed under the influence of many architectural styles, including Swiss Chalet and Moorish, and hosted many significant guests.
About 40 minutes drive north of Bergen, after passing through the Osterøy Bridge (Osterøybrua) and reaching the large island of Osterøy, you can explore one of the last and best-preserved traditional Norwegian cluster farms. The history of Havrå (Havråtunet) goes back to the Bronze age and is currently a part of The Museum Center in Hordaland.
You can continue your trip by a 15 minutes drive north to Osterøy museum. This open-air museum illustrates village life in the area by exhibiting the locals' handcrafts, means of living, and techniques through history.
Within another 15 minutes drive, you can enjoy a hike up the 17 hairpin bends at Kossdalsvingane, which is a relatively easy hike suitable for everyone, even families with children. This picturesque 2.5 Km hike starts at Mjøsvågen in Hosanger and takes around an hour and a half.
Bergen traditional cuisine is mainly based on seafood, as the city has been an aquaculture center for centuries. However, through the years, it got more globalized, and now as you stroll around downtown, you will find many different restaurants, pubs, and cafes.
Here is a list of local’s most favorite Eateries for every taste and budget!
Since 2016, Daily pot, serves many healthy and vegan-friendly foods, in their charming historical building, within a seven-minute walk from the Fishmarket. Their focus is on healthy cuisine and using fresh and seasonal ingredients on their weekly changing menu.
Don’t forget to try Daily pot’s famous delicious soups!
If you want a quick bite before hopping on the Fløibanen, Trekroneren is an excellent spot to try Norwegian Pølse (hotdog). They have a wide selection of different sausages, including their famous reindeer hotdog.
Pingvinen is one of the best places to try a traditional seafood dish, with a cozy, laid-back atmosphere and reasonable prices. They also serve a wide variety of other local foods and drinks and are located a few minutes away from Byparken.
Located in the heart of Bergen, Hoggorm serves thin crust, oven-made pizza with some nontraditional toppings. Its menu might be limited, but it will surely surprise you with exciting flavors. Many locals and tourists believe Hoggorm has the best pizza in bergen.
This prestigiously seafood restaurant offers you a unique experience on a beautiful small island near Bergen. They will pick you up at Bryggen, and on the 25-minute boat ride to the island, you can enjoy the spectacular view of the fjord and the city. Cornelius is one of the best seafood restaurants in Bergen, and their Raw bar is quite popular among their guests.
Reservation is needed!
1877, serves Norwegian food inspired by Bergen culture and weather. It is located in a historical building of Kjøttbasaren (meat bazaar), downtown, with a relaxed and friendly vibe. You need to reserve a table in advance to enjoy your 5 or 8 courses exceptional meal.
This modern nordic restaurant is one of 11 Michelin-star restaurants in Norway and the only one in Bergen. Bare offers menus with 5 and 10 courses and is located in Bergen Børs Hotel near the fish market, and you need to make a reservation in advance.
You might be traveling on budget, or prefer to spend your money on some exciting activities rather than an expensive hotel room, but also, look for a clean and quiet place to stay. City box offers best quality for price rooms with excellent location in the heart of bergen.
Klosterhagen Hotel is a cozy 3-star hotel, offering newly decorated rooms and great breakfast. The hotel is in the Klosteret(the Monastery) quiet neighborhood, yet it is within a walking distance from all the attractions of the city center.
Opus XVI is a luxury 4-star hotel offering one of the best stays in Bergen and is located in the city center. The hotel is located in a historical building date back to 1876, yet it has a mixture of classic and modern interior and design. Opus XVI is a Edvard Greig Heritage hotel and runs by his relatives.
We tried to cover the most significant spots and locations of Bergen, and with a bit of search, you probably can find many more places and tours. But the truth is, this city and its surroundings, like all the other places in the world, have so many mesmerizing landscapes, exciting adventures, and stories unknown to foreigners that only a local would know about.
In Lokafy, we connect travelers with locals who are passionate about their cities and love meeting people from around the world.
Our mission is to make travel about people, not just the places. We want you to have a memorable journey by being a part of another culture and live like a local in those few days of your trip.
Book a tour of Bergen or one of the other hundreds of cities we operate in, choose a Lokafyer best suited to your interests, and have an unforgettable trip!
Oct. 14, 2021