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The heart of the fjords

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We have many names for the things we love, and few cities in Norway have more nicknames than Bergen.

“The heart of the fjords” is one of them.

Even though Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway, it offers small town charm alongside a metropolitan character.

Houses clinging to the hillsides …

… narrow cobblestone lanes …

… and world-famous attractions.

You have probably seen it on Instagram, the picturesque wharf with several old, wooden buildings standing tall in different colours.

The UNESCO World Heritage site Bryggen, a Hanseatic wharf, is a glorious remnant from when Bergen was a key centre for trade between Norway and Europe.

Today, the wharf houses a museum, shops, galleries, and restaurants, and is a focal point for both locals and visitors.

Just a stone’s throw away is the lively Fish Market which has been providing the locals with freshly caught treasures from the sea since 1276.

Today, it is one of Norway’s most visited outdoor markets, and also offers fresh fruit, vegetables, handicrafts and souvenirs.

Seafood lovers – or let’s just say food lovers in general – have plenty of reasons to like Bergen, which is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Fresh seafood is at the core of Bergen cuisine. Among local specialities, you’ll find Bergen fish soup, fish cakes and persetorsk, a traditional steamed cod dish from Bergen.

After cod, catch a concert.

Since 10 per cent of the population is made up of students, there is always something happening at the many watering holes and venues throughout the city.

Bergen is in fact known as the home of many of Norway’s most successful artists and bands, like Kygo, Aurora, and Röyksopp.

Few cities in the world are prouder of being rainy (200 days of rain per year!) than Bergen.

Proud, you might wonder?

Lots of rain means A: Lots of super hip rain wear …

… and B: tons of indoor fun.

KODE is one of the largest museums for art, design, and music in the Nordic countries and consists of a unique combination of art museums and composers’ homes.

Troldhaugen was the home of Edvard Grieg (1843–1907), Norway’s most famous composer, for 22 years.

Today, it is a living museum comprising Grieg’s villa, the composer’s cabin, an exhibition centre, and the concert hall Troldsalen.

Another highlight is Bergen Aquarium. Boasting more than 50 aquariums and plenty of entertaining sea and land animals, this is a must for kids of all ages.

The same goes for the open-air Old Bergen Museum, where you can catch a glimpse of the past.

The museum is a reconstructed small town and a reminder that Bergen used to be Europe’s largest wooden city, consisting of around 50 wooden houses dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

You don’t need to visit a museum or gallery to experience great art.

All over the city, you can admire dense collections of spray-painted glory thanks to world-class street artists from near and far. Skostredet, perhaps Bergen’s most charming shopping street, is an ideal starting point for a self-guided street art safari.

Bergen has achieved the certification Sustainable Destination. Although this does not mean that the destination is sustainable, it does mean that it has made a commitment to work systematically to reduce the negative effects of tourism, while strengthening its positive ripple effects.

Bergen is also called “the city between the seven mountains”.

The most easily accessible summit is Fløyen, 320 metres above sea level. A six-minute ride on the Fløibanen funicular takes you to the top, right from the city centre.

Enjoy a panoramic view of the city centre while the little ones let off some steam in Bergen’s number one playground.

Ride the Fløibanen back to the city, enjoy a peaceful stroll down the mountainside, or continue further into the mountains.

The highest of the seven mountains is Ulriken, 643 metres above sea level. You can easily reach this peak too, thanks to the Ulriken cable car.

Standing on the top of Ulriken, overlooking the sea, islands, mountains and fjords, you might understand why Bergen is known as “the capital of the fjords”.

Perfectly situated between the two biggest fjords in Norway, the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord, the city is an ideal starting point for fjord excursions.

If you want a real treat, join the legendary Norway in a Nutshell tour, which takes you through Norway’s UNESCO-protected fjord and mountain scenery.

The round trip also includes a ride on the Bergen Railway – voted one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys – and the Flåm Railway (pictured).

The heart of the fjords. The city between the seven mountains.

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