With its epic surroundings of hills and fjords, and painters-palette traditional wooden houses, Bergen is almost impossibly photogenic. It’s far from just a pretty face, however. Stay awhile on a boutique city break to discover a small centre with a big character, packed with art, music and history.
A bright, bold gem of a city brimming with creative energy
Things to do
Long before Oslo rose to become Norway’s biggest city, Bergen was the capital. During the middle ages, this thriving fishing port was a centre of trade, learning and religion – and a regular home to the royal family. The city became a member of the Hanseatic League trading network, with merchants building the striking Bryggen waterfront. Today, the brightly coloured wooden houses are for many people the quintessential image of Bergen, and the wharf is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Bergen has long had a creative side. Troldhaugen, the summer house of 19th-century-composer Edvard Grieg, is among the city’s top sights, and now home to a museum and concert hall. For somewhere slightly more off beat, head to Lysøen. This house, designed by Grieg’s friend, violinist Ole Bull, is inspired by Islamic architecture. From music, to art: as you stroll the streets, look out for countless statues, sculptures and fountains. Or drop into one of the KODE art galleries for more creative inspiration.
This colourful coastal city is the gateway to the Norwegian fjords. Many classic itineraries out to Hardangerfjord, with its sheer mountains and clear waters, start here. But you don’t have to go far to get back to nature. Bergen is surrounded by seven hills and countless waterways. Take the funicular railways up to Mount Fløyen or Ulriken for hiking trails and sweeping views.
Norway is caffeine crazy. So if Bergen’s unpredictable weather turns, settle in at a café with a proper filter coffee.
Top tip from SLH