A Weekend in Bergen, Norway: Mountains, Fjords & the Funicular Railway
Known for its stunning fjords, vibrant mountains and cute houses, Bergen is the perfect place for a sneaky Scandinavian weekend getaway. Bergen sits on the west coast of Norway, a town that acts as a gateway to the thousands of small islands off the coast; connected through winding roads, sparkling waterways and endless hikes.
Bergen’s most well known attraction is Trolltunga (troll’s tongue), a massive 12 hour hike that takes you through the fjords and to the gorgeous viewpoint that is the troll’s tongue rock formation. The rock itself juts out about 700m over lake Ringedalsvatnet; a perfect photo op and a view that will take your breath away. Doing the hike is a whole day event; and a tough day at that. The hike can be done with a guide, as it is possible to lose your way amongst the trails, and isn’t recommended for the faint-hearted.
Trolltunga isn’t in Bergen itself, and is most easily reached by car. Many people who travel to Bergen do so with a car, which is the easiest way to experience everything the Hordalanad region has to offer. The Atlantic road is a must-see for travellers with a car, a small stretch of road that runs through islands and rocks to make you feel like you’re basically driving through the water itself!
SaturdayBergen has so much natural beauty that is accessible to everybody. The city centre sits nestled in a harbour, surrounded by mountains, forests and fjords, so much so you could spend months exploring it and still never fully see it all. Click To Tweet
Don’t despair though if you’re not in the budget to hire cars or pay for expensive transport or hiking guides. Bergen has so much natural beauty that is accessible to everybody, and only just outside the town centre. The city centre sits nestled in a harbour, surrounded by mountains, forests and fjords, so much so you could spend months exploring it and still never fully see it all. The town itself is vibrant and bursting with flowers and plants, that complement the cobblestone streets and cute pastel houses.
Wandering around the town centre can make you lose track of time, with many boutique shops to visit. Bergen’s fish market boasts some brilliant seafood and local delicacies, with the area around the docs full of eateries and funky bars to visit, such as Vinyl or No Stress. Yes, beers will cost you more than double the UK’s prices, but for a weekend getaway, there’s always room in the budget for a pint.
Just outside the city centre is Ulriken, a mountain that can be accessed by cable car, or of course, hiked up. A massive stairway paves the way up to the 640m peak that offers panoramic views of Bergen and the surrounding islands. From here there is a zip-line, many hikes and even a nice restaurant. The hike across the top of Ulriken takes about 5 hours and ends at Mount Fløyen, where the famous funicular railway awaits to take you back into town. This hike is a brilliant day trip, pack a picnic and lots of water and get yourself ready for some killer views of the fjords while you walk. The best time of year to do this is summer, unless you’re packing a set of skis!
During summer, the sun sets as late as midnight, so there’s absolutely no rush to get the walk finished before dark. The late sunset can be seen from the peak, and lights up Bergen with brilliant shades of orange and pink. Check the weather before you go though, as the clouds can hang heavy on the mountain, and you may well be walking through mist the whole time. If you’re wanting to make a more lengthy go of it, camping is allowed for up to two nights on any of the mountains in Bergen, and you can swim freely in their crystal blue lakes.
Bergen has many boats rides and ferries that allow visitors to see the striking fjords, valleys and mountains up close, or make visits to smaller islands or villages in many locations – all departing from the bustling main harbour. A three hour boat ride into the fjords was well worth the £60 (one of the more affordable activities on offer at the tourist centre) takes you along the dazzling waterways towards Modalen, a tiny village nestled in between the valleys and waterfalls of the fjords.
Getting around in Bergen is simple; it’s a cheap trip directly on the Light Rail from the airport directly into the centre of town, with parks and water features and good shopping as well. The buses in town can take you anywhere you need to go – just have cash or pre-purchase your ticket! As you wander around town be sure to check out the university precinct, with gorgeous gardens and rows of townhouses; the whole town could be a postcard.
A lovely spacious park sprawls out from here as well, leading to another waterway, featuring a tin harbour beach if you want to catch some sun. BKB is a great local cafe and coffee roaster, with stacks of al fresco dining space and countless treats to enjoy with their amazing coffees – including homemade chocolate; completely made from scratch – we’re talking from the cocoa beans themselves!
On a brilliant blue day the serenity and grandeur of the Bergen landscape can’t be beaten. The water look so inviting – despite at times being over 500m deep – and the green forests of the mountain are bursting with life and colour.