For the first of my Autumn 2016 trips I decided to visit Bergen, in Norway. Bergen is located on the west coast of Norway, and is the gateway to the famous Norwegian Fjords. Bergen is also famous for its picturesque harbour, with its colourful wooden-cladded buildings lining the water front. I have always wanted to visit the Norwegian Fjords so this was at the top of my to do list on my Bergen City break.
Destination: Bergen, Norway.
Flight Time From London: The published flight time was two hours, however the actual time in the air was one hour and thirty five minutes.
Airline & Airport of Operation: British Airways operate a daily service from Heathrow Terminal 5. Economy returns start at £72pp, and Club Europe returns from £156pp.
Transfer Time to City: The city centre is approximately 10 miles from the airport, which takes approximately 30 minutes by the airport shuttle bus, at a cost of £10 for a single trip, and £17 for a return. A taxi will cost you around £50 one way and takes 20 minutes.
Where to Stay: For my Bergen city break I stayed in the Best Western Plus Hotel Hordaheimen. I booked this as a holiday package directly from British Airways, for an extra 30pp on top of the flight-only cost. The hotel and the rooms were clean and comfortable, however they were rather basic and small. The breakfast offering was quite good, with all the usual cooked and continental options as well as smoked and cooked fish. There are many other good hotels to choose in Bergen such as the Clarion Collection Hotel No13, the Det Hanseatiske Hotel and the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.
Top Three Attractions on a Bergen City Break:
Bryggen: Bryggen, also known as Tyskebryggen, is located on the north-eastern side of the harbour, and is made up of a series of ‘Hanseatic’ commercial buildings. It was designated a UNESCO cultural world heritage site in 1979. The traditional wooden wharf buildings of Bryggen date back to 1702. However, some of the original buildings were destroyed by one of a few fires over time, and others have been demolished. It’s definitely worth spending some time in Bryggen exploring the few existing wharf buildings, many of which are now being used as shops and restaurants.
Fisketorget: Located on the edge of the harbour, the Fisketorget (fish market) is the most visited fish market in Norway and is popular with the locals as well as tourists. Take some time to explore all the outside stalls, selling not only fresh fish, but also fruit and vegetables, and meats such as elk and reindeer. The amazing displays of fresh fish is enough to tantalise anyone’s tastebuds, and with each stall having undercover eating areas which you can sit down at and try the fish too. I sat here for a while and enjoyed a delicious platter of lobster, king crab, mussels and prawns. There is also an indoor market, made up of permanent counters, each also having their own restaurant so you can sit inside and enjoy some of the freshest seafood you will find and enjoy wonderful harbour views.
Fløibanen: Another thing I recommend while on a Bergen city break is to ride the Fløibanen (Mount Floyen Funicular Railway), to the summit of Mount Floyen for some fantastic panoramic views over Bergen. The railway which opened in 1918 will whisk you at 6m/s to the 320 meter summit in just under 8 minutes. A return ticket will set you back around £8pp. Upon arrival you can enjoy a meal or a drink in the restaurant, explore the parkland or just take in the stunning views of Bergen and surrounding areas. It was raining on and off throughout the day when I visited, but when I reached the summit of Mount Floyen the sun came out and the clouds cleared slightly so I could briefly enjoy the beautiful views and get some great photos.
For lunch I highly recommend a trip to the fish market to enjoy a delicious fresh seafood platter. I enjoyed a platter of lobster king crab, mussels, prawns and king prawns. A platter like this would set you back about £55, but it was worth every penny!
For an evening meal I highly recommend Lido Brasserie. Lido Brasserie is located opposite the fish market on the first floor, so you have amazing panoramic views over the market and also over the stunning harbour. The menu was quite small, but all the dishes have been derived from traditional Norwegian cuisine. The quality of the food was amazing. I enjoyed some beautiful lamb cutlets with traditional Norwegian accompaniments. The prices were slightly on the high side compared to a restaurant in the UK, with main courses between £25 and £35, and £40 for a bottle of house red. Norway’s prices are among the highest in Europe and so when you take that into consideration the prices were not that bad.
To round off your evening meal why not visit Altona Wine Bar, located at the Augustin Hotel, for a glass or two of wine from their extensive worldwide selection. Be prepared to pay upwards of £9 a glass.
Local Delicacy: Fish is a big part of the cuisine in Bergen, in particular king crab, ray, dried cod, and even sausage made from whale meat. Reindeer and elk are also very popular with the locals.
Top Tip: The biggest tip I could give anyone would be to book your cruise of the local Fjords in advance online. Unfortunately, I didn’t do this as the cruise was due to leave less than three hours after the arrival time of my flight, and due to concerns about a flight delay, I decided to buy my ticket on arrival. This was a huge mistake! When I arrived to buy my ticket they had sold out, and due to the departure time of my flight the following day I unfortunately couldn’t go the following day either and so I missed out on the cruise.
Currency: The currency of Norway is the Norwegian Krone (NOK), and the current exchange rate is around 11 Krone’s to a Pound.
Weather: Being located in Scandinavia, Bergen can have some very cold winters, and warm summers. However, being quite costal, Bergen also suffers with a lot of rain, a lot more so than the rest of the country.
Best Time To Go: I don’t feel there is a best time for a Bergen city break, I believe this is down to personal preference. Being located so far north, the summers in Bergen have extremely long days, with maybe just a few hours of darkness. The winters are the opposite, very short days with just a few hours of light. The added advantage of the winter is that with being so far north you have a great chance of spotting the northern lights if you venture away from the bright lights of the city during the hours of darkness.
Recommended Duration: I only stayed for one night, however I feel two nights would be better to really make the most of your Bergen city break.
Conclusion: I highly recommend Bergen as a destination for many reasons, such as the wonderful food which I enjoyed here, the beautiful city and also the surrounding scenery. The only point I could find fault with Bergen, is that everything in Norway is a lot more expensive than we are used to in the UK, but this is more of a negative point against Norway in general, not Bergen.
Bergen isn’t a place that I would rush back to for no other reason than the relatively high costs. nevertheless, I do plan to re-visit Bergen at some point so that I can enjoy the Fjord cruise which I missed out on during this trip. Finally, I do feel that a Bergen city break should be on your to-do list, even if you only do it the once, it is definitely somewhere worth visiting.