One dark February afternoon, whilst sat at my desk at work, I decided I should book a trip to Norway.
I’ve wanted to go for a long time, inspired by incredible photos of beautiful Fjords, huge forests and healthy looking people climbing mountains. Most importantly, however, it was as a rainy Wednesday afternoon at work aka: ‘the danger zone’. Other trips booked on a Wednesday afternoon include Budapest, Washington and Skye, so you get the idea.
After reading about a few places in Norway, I decided to try Bergen. Bergen probably isn’t the most popular place in Norway to visit, with the cultural city Oslo and the magical northern-light filled Tromso, topping the charts. However, with BA opening up a new route there from London and my guide book describing it as ‘one of the world’s most beautiful cities’, I thought it would be worth a trip.
A few weeks later and I was free from the office and flying into Norway. The flight to Norway itself is worth a trip. As you near Bergen airport, below you are hundreds of small islands and waterways, sparkling away in the sunshine. It was one of the most beautiful landings I’ve ever had (and as a nervous flyer, landings for me tend to be fairly traumatic).
Once we arrived in the immaculate Bergen airport, we quickly found an equally immaculate bus and set off on the immaculate roads towards town. If there is one thing that Norwegians do well: it’s fantastic infrastructure!
As soon as we were dropped off in Bergen, I knew we had made the right choice. It was a beautifully sunny Saturday and Bergen marathon was in full swing. Whilst blonde, athletic types jogged past, I had my first sight of the infamous ‘Bryggen’. Set on Bergen’s wide waterfront, with mountains in the background, this Unesco World Heritage-listed waterfront district is also known as ‘the Wharf’. Made up of lopsided, colourful, wooden buildings, these now 58 restaurants and boutiques date back to 1702 (after a fire burnt down the original buildings) and originally housed the fishermen that had worked and lived here since the 12th century. The buildings are truly beautiful and you could easily pass a day here, sitting in the sunshine and enjoying a drink or bite to eat on the waterfront.
We then checked in at our hotel: Det Haseatiske Hotel. This special little hotel is near the waterfront and is the only hotel in Bergen to be housed inside the old timber buildings of the Bryggen. It’s creaky, uneven, and brilliant! If you’re visiting this area, definitely try and stay a night here.
One of the first things to do in Bergen is to take the Flobanen Furnicular to the top of a nearby mountain, for views across Bergen – once the capital of Norway. The views are breathtaking, allowing you to see Bergen’s unique location, surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords. The walks around here are also worthwhile and we found a crystal-clear lake and great forest trail, back down into Bergen. En-route you’ll pass lots of colourful, timber-clad houses and cobble-stone lanes, which just add to the whole feel of the place.
Another thing to do in Bergen is most definitely a Fjord tour. Bergen is known as a ‘gateway’ to the Fjords and tours are easy to come by. We booked onto the popular ‘Norway in a Nutshell Tour’, which included a train journey and Fjord journey. We set off bright and early on a breath-taking train ride from Bergen to Voss, past crystal clear lakes and tiny villages. We then got on a (predictably, immaculate) bus to Gudvagen, where we began our boat tour up the spectacular fjords to Flam. It’s difficult to describe just how beautiful the fjords are. It’s almost surreal. The water is icy-blue and reflects perfectly the enormous mountains and hills surrounding you. It’s so peaceful (aside from the greedy squawky seagulls!) and fresh, that I could happily have spent a few days on that boat. Anyone who goes to Norway must make sure they do a boat tour! At the other end, we got off at Flam and began a famous railway journey through snowy hilltops and past ice-cold waterfalls. The whole day was perfect.
As we were only there for a few days, we didn’t have a huge amount of time to fit much else in. But I would definitely recommend visiting the Bergen museum and Leprosy museum (why not?!), along with as many walks around the hills that surround Bergen as possible. A word or warning, Bergen, as with the whole of Norway, is expensive. I enjoyed a lovely £18 glass of wine! But it is most definitely worth it. Norway, I love you!