This City in Norway Is Nicknamed the 'Heart of the Fjords’ and Is Surrounded by 7 Mountains

Here's what you need to know about visiting Bergen, Norway.

Colorful houses and boats at the wharf in Bergen, Norway

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Most towns have one or two main attractions — a beautiful mountain setting, interesting architecture, or a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And then there are places like Bergen, Norway, which seem to have more than their fair share of natural beauty and charm.

The town is situated on the southwestern coast of Norway between two of the country’s biggest fjords, the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord. It’s surrounded by seven mountains, two of which are accessible by cable car, and entire neighborhoods cling to the steep hillsides. Down near the water is Bryggen, a picturesque wharf lined with colorful wooden buildings that you’ve likely seen on Instagram. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is not far from where the scenic Bergen Railway sets out from the city.

Meanwhile, foodies can check out the lively fish market, which has been serving up fresh-caught seafood since 1276 and remains one of Norway’s most-visited outdoor markets.

In short, there’s a lot to do. To help guide your travels to Bergen, we’ve outlined some of the best things to do, as well as offered our recommendations on where to stay, what to eat, and when to visit. 

A view into land of the wooden coloured houses in Bergen from the water

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Best Things to Do in Bergen, Norway

If you’ve made the journey to Bergen, chances are you’re here to see the fjords. The city lives up to its nickname “the heart of the fjords” by acting as a basecamp for some of the country’s most iconic fjord excursions. The legendary Norway in a Nutshell tour is a full-day, 11-hour tour that includes a fjord cruise, a journey on the famous Flåm and Bergen Railways, and a visit to the Kjosfossen waterfall. There are also several fjord-specific tours based out of Bergen.

If you’re not the tour type, make sure to plan a trip on the Bergen Railway, the highest-altitude railway in Northern Europe, and the Flåm Railway, which is one of the steepest normal gauge railways in the world. Both journeys offer panoramic views of Norway’s wild mountain ranges. 

Beautiful scenery of Geirangerfjord in Bergen, Norway

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If you enjoy hiking, you can conquer one (or two) of the seven surrounding summits quite easily. The most accessible summit, Mount Fløyen, is just around an hour's hike from town, while the highest of the seven mountains, Mount Ulriken, takes a similar amount of time, but is noticeably steeper. The most popular route for hiking Ulriken is to walk the 1,333 Sherpa Steps to the top. Both peaks can also be reached by cable car — so you can hike up and ride down. 

To get a sense of Bergen’s history, swing by the Old Bergen Museum, a reconstructed town of around 50 historic houses. The open-air museum shows what Bergen, which was Europe’s biggest wooden city in the 1800s, looked like in the past.

A view into land of the wooden coloured houses in Bergen from the water

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What to Eat and Drink

Bergen is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, so most people arrive with sky-high expectations and leave with happy bellies full of fish. With seafood at the core of Bergen cuisine, you’ll find menus packed with dishes like fish soup, fish cakes, and persetorsk, a dish made of cod cured with sugar and salt that’s native to the city of Bergen.

For a good array of seafood restaurants, swing by the historic fish market near Bryggen. In addition to stands of fresh-caught seafood and local fruits and veggies, you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, including Fjellskål Seafood Restaurant, which has been recognized for its outstanding seafood.

If you’re interested in a totally unique dining experience, check out Cornelius Sjømatrestaurant, a raw seafood restaurant perched on its own island off the coast of Bergen. To get there, you have to hop aboard a boat at the historic Bryggen Wharf for a 25-minute, view-filled journey.

Scenic mountaintop aerial view of the beautiful city of Bergen, Norway.

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Where to Stay in Bergen, Norway

Not far from the historic Bryggen Wharf is Opus XVI, a modern boutique hotel with just 65 uniquely designed and decorated rooms. There’s an on-site French-inspired brasserie and daily afternoon tea.

Nearby is the Bergen Børs Hotel, a larger, 127-room property with modern Scandinavian touches. Their suites are over the top, especially the harbor-view suite with big windows overlooking the water and a spacious living room area. 

When to Visit Bergen, Norway

Thanks to warm waters from the Gulf Stream, the fjords surrounding Bergen are open year-round. That said, most people tend to visit Bergen in the summer, between May and September, when the days are long and the weather warms. In general, May and July are thought to be the best months to visit, with the former showcasing cherry blossom blooms and the latter boasting warm weather. 

No matter when you visit, you’ll want to pack a raincoat — Bergen gets around 200 days of rain a year. 

Small island in Hardangerfjorden nr Bergen, Western Fjords, Norway

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How to Get There

As quaint as it is, Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city, so getting there is easier than you’d think. Most travelers fly into Bergen Airport (BGO), an airport that’s just large enough to have a decent selection of direct flights. Other travelers fly into Oslo or Flåm and take the train.

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