The harbor town of Bergen saw the likes of Viking King Olav Haraldsson III more than 900 years ago. Now, you and other explorers on Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Cruises can visit this ancient city and retrace the steps of the Viking King.
Surrounded by seven mountains on the west coast of Norway, Bergen is the second-largest city in the country. It was founded in 1070 and boasts plenty of vista-filled attractions, delicious markets and fascinating museums. To make the most of your time in Bergen, here's the checklist about what spots to prioritize:
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bryggen is one of the most popular places to visit in Bergen. This ancient merchant quarter makes up the oldest part of Bergen and the only preserved business district from the Hanseatic period (Hansas were a German guild of merchants). Built of wood, the series of commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the fjord entering Bergen have been ravaged by fires time and again, the last being in 1955.
Today you will find restaurants, craftsmen's workshops, artist's studios and boutiques in the neighborhood. Check out the Hanseatic Museum, which is housed in one of the old Hasana building on the waterfront, and Bryggen Guiding.
Mount Floyen and the Funicular
Enjoy breathtaking views over the city at Mount Floyen, perched 1,050 feet above sea level. The funicular, a cable railway, will take you up the cliff, where a 10-minute walk rewards visitors with the 360-degree experience. Gaze across the sea to colorful ships in the harbor and mountains beyond. There is a cafe, restaurant and playground for children here.
Feeling active? There is also also a number of walking trails that make their way from city center up to the mountain top.
If Mount Floyen isn't tall enough for you, check out Mount Ulriken, the highest of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. Like its smaller counterpart, the top of Ulriken can be reached by a gondola grants supreme views. It is roughly 820 feet taller than Floyen and far more rugged. To save time, many visitors take on one or the other, but if you're voracious for vistas, two in one day never hurt anyone.
After you work up an appetite conquering mountains, swing by the Bergen Fish Market. The market is one of the most visited outdoor markets in Norway. Located in the heart of the city, it sells everything from flowers to fruits to whale meat. Although it's rather expensive, most visitors find the experience worthwhile.
Troldhaugen Edvard Grieg Museum
The Troldhaugen Edvard Grieg Museum offers land-destined visitors on fjord cruises a glimpse at the life of Edvard Grieg, the world-famous Norwegian pianist who's widely considered one of the leading Romantic-era composers. Troldhaugen, which means "troll house" in Norweigan, consists of the Grieg museum, Grieg's villa where he wrote his music, and his and his wife's grave site. You can even listen to a recital of the composer's tunes by a live a pianist.
Mariakirken (St. Mary's Church)
Nestled close to the water, the Mariakirken holds artifacts of remarkable beauty in its sanctuary. It has recently undergone an extensive restoration process. It is the oldest building in the city of Bergen, which itself has burnt down and been rebuilt several times. Mariakirken is from the 12th century and a great example of the Romanesque church architectural style. It has a number of historic pieces inside, from a delicately carved altar cabinet to statues of each of the apostles standing in his own niche. If you have any interest in church history, architecture or the decorative arts, Mariakirken is a necessary stop in Bergen.
By stopping by all of these sites, visitors might garner a well-rounded impression of this ancient Viking town.