Last Autumn a friend came over to Europe from LA, and we decided to visit Bergen, because Norway is amazing, and tickets were shockingly cheap–an occurrence I’m finding less shocking the more often I look up flights out of London (lucky me!).
Getting there was an adventure, because when does travel ever go smoothly?? An evening that began with Megan getting on an express train to the wrong destination and nearly missing the flight, ended with us huddled in the pouring rain at midnight, desperately trying to get one of our phones to turn on in the freezing air, 50 metres from our airbnb and completely lost. The plus side is getting to/from the airport is incredibly easy, regardless of when you arrive. Top tip: Buy a round trip ticket from the machine right next to the bus stop at the airport–it’s cheaper than buying on the bus (which is possible if you’re in a rush/would rather deal with a human).
The place we rented was the definition of hygge, to steal a Danish word. It was tiny, but so cosy and well decorated I honestly considered becoming a furniture thief/smuggler. After my flight out on Sunday, Megan was able to meet with the woman who lived there. She is studying for her Master of Philosophy at the University of Bergen, and I’m mildly obsessed with her life (and decorative skills). I’d highly recommend her flat, available here (unfortunately no longer available to rent).
We only had around 36 hours there, as we had to leave after work on Friday, and my flight back was at noon on Sunday. While more time would have been nice, and I do want to return to experience everything in nicer weather, Bergen is a small, a gorgeous city surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Everything we wanted to see was within a 5 minute walking radius, and it was easy to fit everything in.
Start with breakfast at Godt Brød, where you need to try the traditional cinnamon rolls and delicious tea/coffee. Everything there is delicious and perfectly placed for a trip to Mount Floyen after.
We stopped for what was meant to be a quick lunch at Kaf Kafe Bryggen. This place is super cute and is a lovely way to spend the afternoon – which we basically did, as our (delicious) soup took over 45 minutes to come! We ended up having to eat the soup in under a minute because our Fjord tour due to begin. Definitely not a place to go when you have a strict schedule, but an incredible cosy place to warm up and relax!
To start, this isn’t a budget option. But, oh my god, if you find yourself in Bergen you have to go. It’s so lovely – set up with the cosy blankets and heaters G and I saw everywhere in Copenhagen last year and just so atmospheric. We had wine, and a meat and cheese platter (HIGHLY recommended, though consider asking them to not include whale), and salmon and mashed potatoes. It was a lot of food, all delicious, and an all-around great way to end the trip.
Things to do:
As the Fløibanen funicular is right outside the cafe, as is the walking path (which I believe takes about 30 minutes if you choose to hike), I’d go right after breakfast. The funicular is about 8 pounds round trip, and as a big funicular fan who was short on time, I opted for a round trip service. Mount Fløyen offers some incredible views of the city and harbour. It’s a great welcome to Bergen, as you can see everything from the top. We were luckily enough to get some blue skies while up there, and after taking in the views, we walked through the woods for a bit, which were well marked and felt quite magical. Try to find the “warning” signs hidden around the forest!
After the nature walk, take some time to explore the shops in Bryggen, which are filled with some incredible clothes and furniture and decor. I could have easily spent hundreds, thousands of pounds there, and it got to the point where I just had to stop going in, because the window shopping was hurting my heart.
Though all the stores were incredible, my Christmas loving heart has to give a special shout out to Julehuset. We happened upon this Christmas themed heaven by mistake, and it was probably my second favourite part of the trip! Anyone who knows me knows that the holiday season is my absolute favourite time of the year. Thanksgiving, pumpkins, snow, Christmas music and movies. I am that obnoxious person who can’t get enough. Julehuset did not disappoint. It’s huge, four floors, filled with every Christmas decoration you can imagine. I almost bought a wooden truck that had little drawers that made it an advent calendar, and still regret not doing it on a near daily basis. Instead I settled for a few ornaments, and a pull string wooden toy that reminded me of one my grandparents used to have. If you are as obsessed with Christmas as I am, do not miss Julehuset!
Also do not miss a Fjord Tour! It was the highlight of our trip. We booked one that lasted for 3 hours and it lived up to our high expectations, even in the pouring rain. In fact, I’d say the rain made it feel even more epic, like more of an adventure. We would alternate between going outside until we were soaked and freezing, going back inside to dry off/try to coax our phones/cameras into turning back on, and then doing it all over again. The little villages we traveled through were incredible, and it felt a bit like we had gone back in time–the slightly eerie, foggy weather didn’t hurt either.
Eventually we came to the end, went right up to a waterfall where they stuck out a bucket and we were all able to drink some waterfall water. I’m a bit neurotic about drinking water, but had decided as soon as I’d heard about this part of the tour that I’d try it, and it was super delicious. Sometimes water just tastes good, and this was some good water.
Norway was unexpectedly wonderful. Having now been to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland, I can confidently say I am a huge fan of Scandinavia. I want to go back to Bergen, but also go farther north – I’d love to get to Tromso and have a shot at seeing the Northern lights! But until then, my weekend in Bergen was a wonderful introduction to the country.