Why Visit Bergen: a Travel Diary

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Should you visit Bergen on your next Euro trip? You can read all about my experience below!
Bergen

It should come as no surprise to you all that when I’m not busy stuffing my face with food or frolicking through the streets, much of my time is devoted to daydreaming of beautiful, faraway places.

… amd no country has featured more heavily in my starry-eyed reverie than the epic country of Norway. For some reason, everything about Norway always seemed so grand. When it came to this country, steep, rocky cliffs, bright blue fjords and tall, Viking-esque men were always the stars of my over-active imagination. While the endless stream of beautiful photos called me from afar, the high prices and distance always made Scandinavia seem like a distant dream. When the time came to map out my destinations for last month’s trip though, I knew seeing the beauty of Norway for myself was an opportunity I couldn’t af-fjord to lose. (Ugh, I know… I’m sorry I did that. I hate me too.) 

With a limited amount of time, I chose to skip the Norwegian capital of Oslo and head straight west to visit Bergen, known to many as the Gateway to the Fjords. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, but with its irresistible small town feel, you’d never think it. Charming pastel houses dot the city’s little streets, while timbered Hanseatic buildings colour the historic wharf in shades of brown, red and yellow. I spent a few days here absorbing the quaint maritime ambiance of Norway’s rainiest city, and am hoping that my photos will convince you to do the same!

Bergen, Norway
Adorable timber houses on a Bergen side street
Bergen, Norway by Christina Guan
Bryggen, the city’s wharf

As expected, the March weather was rather dreary, with swirls of fog obscuring the skies and an ever-present drizzle to uphold Bergen’s reputation as the “Rainy City”. Still, to be breathing in the crisp mountain air, and to be walking along the brilliant seaside, I felt very much at home.

Bergen, Norway
Wowzers

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Happy to Wander Bergen-0581

With a city centre nestled between seven mountains, Bergen is a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Given the city’s notoriously rainy weather, come any sunny day, the streets are flooded with excited Norweigans in neon active wear. Due to time constraints and poor weather conditions, I wasn’t able to do my dream Norweigan hikes of Trolltunga and Preikestolen, but the hikes within Bergen were a worthy consolation prize. We did two during our time in Bergen: Fløyen (one of the most popular due to its funicular service) and Løvstakken.

Christina Guan Bergen
All smiles for the view heading up Fløyen

Now, neither of these went without their challenges. Bergen’s dense fog completely covered the view from the top of Fløyen, a real disappointment to say the least for the site’s many visitors, and our descent from Løvstakken was marked by several wrong turns, which almost led us to miss our flight to Copenhagen. Still, we worked our way around both situations. We hiked down Fløyen until we passed the fog and got the dreamy picturesque view we were promised, and then hustled and ran to make sure our flight wasn’t missed on the morning we hiked Løvstakken. I am happy to report that both hikes were successful, and I escaped with only minimal traumatic memories!

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The unreal view at Løvstakken – worth the stress!

Bergen prides itself on being an ideal combination of culture and nature. While my trip no doubt focused more on the nature side, the city does have its fair share of museums and attractions as well. My travel partners were more keen on exploring the city by foot, going on hikes and taking in all the sights rather than museum hopping, but Bergen’s former status as Norway’s capital and center of trade means it has an eventful and varied history. The cultural heritage of the city is part of the city’s unique appeal, and a walk along the harbour can feel a bit like stepping back in time…

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Wooden buildings in Bryggen

… but isn’t Bergen super unaffordable?!

A lot of people don’t visit Bergen (or Norway in general) because of cost-related fears… and okay, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Norway is expensive, especially so for someone who is travelling. Eating out, having drinks and visiting attractions are a sure recipe for an emptied wallet. In fact, during my time there, I had dinner with some students studying in Bergen, who recounted their epic tales of storming IKEA’s breakfast buffet with tupperware containers in hand, sneakily cheating the city’s high food prices. The struggle, clearly, is real… buuuut (and there is a but)…..

Bergen, Norway

That said, I’ve never believed that any destination should be written off due to one’s budget. Bergen, like many other pricey cities, can be reasonable if you’re smart about how you spend your money. One of my biggest savings came from cooking for myself rather than eating out. Groceries are noticeably more expensive than elsewhere in Europe, but cost-wise, cooking will always beat dining out. Luckily, the Marken Gjesthus had a big kitchen where I could prepare meals with my friends, and it was a social place to meet fellow travellers as well. On that note, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to stay in Bergen, Marken is an awesome option. Not only is it extremely central, the staff are also very friendly and the rooms are both clean and comfortable. A very sweet alternative indeed to a pricey hotel.

Marken Gjesthus, Bergen
The cozy digs at Marken Gjesthus
Melkesjokolade
A sweet surprise from the hostel staff!

Last but not least, it’s worth stressing that many of Bergen’s best activities are completely free! For me, visiting Bergen wasn’t about museum hopping or hunting for culinary treasures… I was more interested in enjoying the natural beauty, and sauntering through the city’s charming little streets. These activities cost nothing and were way more valuable to me than dining out or partying.

So, should you visit Bergen? My answer is 100% yes. Without a doubt, those who brave the city’s high prices and moody weather are sure to reap the rewards…

Lovstakken view, Bergen
I mean… look at it.

Now, your turn! Have you ever been to visit Bergen or Norway? If not, is it on your list?

Happy to Wander Bergen-0650

During this trip, I was graciously hosted by Marken Gjestehus and was provided with a Bergen Card by Visit Bergen, but as always, opinions are my own!


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37 thoughts on “Why Visit Bergen: a Travel Diary”

    • Thanks for reading, Linn!! Bergen is lovely. I’d love to come back in the summer when the weather’s a bit better haha 🙂 Hopefully I get the chance to soon.

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  1. Nice post. I’ve been there. Bergen is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in Norway.
    Even though it rains a lot there. Awesome pictures by the way:D

    If you are still in Norway, You might wanna visit Tromsø as well;)

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    • Thank you, Lance!! Sadly I’m not in Norway anymore, but I definitely plan to come back to do some hikes when the weather is better. If not this summer, then at some point in the future 🙂

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  2. Hey Christina! Love this post. Bergen has been on my list for quite some time. Have you been to Reykjavik? Your pictures of Bergen remind me a lot of that lovely little Icelandic city!

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    • Yes I was in Reykjavik a couple of weeks ago! You’re right – they look quite similar but I’d say Reykjavik is a lot ‘cooler’ and quirkier haha. Both are lovely though!

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  3. Thank you for posting this lovely review. I was in Oslo 2 years ago with my sister and now we’re going to Bergen in the middle of May. I can’t wait and your review made that feeling even stronger. 🙂

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    • Yay!! Bergen is so pretty… I hope you have an awesome time there. Be sure to do some hikes while you’re in the area. Norway’s natural beauty is unbeatable 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading, Vivi! I hope you have an awesome time in Norway. Hopefully the weather is better in June. Be sure to do the train ride between Oslo and Bergen if you get a chance… it’s beautiful!

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  4. This city is absolutely beautiful. I had always wanted to visit Norway but I had no clue it had cities as enchanting as this. I’m definitely going now! Solid post.

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  5. I’ll be honest and say that Norway wasn’t on my bucket list…but Bergen looks like such a place of desolate beauty that I might just have to add it to the ever-growing pile. I can see what you mean about the ‘small town’ feel, and what beautiful architecture too!

    Your photographs are amazing, great job 🙂

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  6. Haven’t been to Norway but hopefully soon! I should think it can be expensive, this trip will need saving up for then! Great review and I love your photos xx

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  7. Definitely on my list! Marken Gjesthus looks like a lovely place to stay. I have heard of course of the high prices, but eating in doesn’t sound like an unpleasant option. Bergen looks wonderful enough to wander around without having to spend on attractions!

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    • haha yeahh I figured I wasn’t necessarily there for Norweigan food or anything, so cooking was fine for me!! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Mar!

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  8. Hah I LOVED the fjord pun, well played. I’ve always wanted to head to Norway and your photos make it look like such a calm and idyllic little city! It’s so picturesque, I will definitely try and schedule some time to fly over!

    Ace writing.

    Akid

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    • When the sun’s out in Bergen, everyone is out enjoying the weather haha. Such an outdoorsy culture there 🙂 Thanks for reading, Sreeram!

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    • Yeah I got a brief taste of sunshine on my last day and wow it was stunning! There were so many people out hiking haha. It IS the rainiest city in Norway though so it’s no surprise that everyone flocks outdoors when the sun comes out.

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  9. I visited Bergen last month and absolutely loved it. It can definitely be done on a budget as we found that apart from the funicular, many of the activities were free – but it’s the food and drink that will cost you and I think we’d go self catered if we were going to return.

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    • 100% agree! Eating out was killer for our budget, especially any alcohol haha. I guess some sacrifices need to be made though in order to see one of the most beautiful countries in the world 😉

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  10. Hey,

    we just came back from Bergen and really enjoyed this amazing city. Even if it seems to be raining all the time – the citizens of Bergen try to fight the weather with their colourful houses 😀
    We really liked that you included the weather conditions (especially in march) and the prices. I have to say that this was a rather negative point of Bergen. Usually we love to try our Cafés and Restaurants -but in Bergen it is impossible. Or maybe you need to save some extra money nefore getting there 😀
    Maybe you would like to read about our experiences aswell 🙂
    https://weareleavingtraces.com/2017/08/15/bergen-and-its-surroundings-norway/

    CU

    Reply
  11. Hi Christina,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Bergen. My wife and I plan to visit Norway in a July 2019 for our 10 Year Anniversary. Like you, we plan to skip Oslo and hopefully can fly straight into Bergen spend a couple nights there, then head to the Fjord region before heading north to the Lofoten Islands. I have been reading up, saving up, and planning this trip for a while now. We plan to rent a car in Bergen and Lofoten.

    As a travel blogger, I would happily accept any recommendations you personally may have or being introduced to others in your network who may know a bit about this beautiful country.

    Thanks again, and happy travels!!

    Brandon

    Reply
  12. Christina, I really liked your post. Bergen is a beautiful place. There are colourful wooden houses, fjords, parks, markets, art galleries, museums and restaurants that enhances the grace of the city. Now, Bergen allows visitors to take Segway tours in the city so that they can visit all the splendid sights of the city and explore the city closely.

    Reply

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