Visiting Bergen
June 4, 2008 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Bergen. What to do? What are the must sees?

I'm going to be in Bergen for a few days in less than two weeks. I've read tourist guides online, but I'd like an insider view. I'm not going as a tourist, I'm working on a project there, but as I understand it I have mornings free (how very civilized!) So, what to see, what to do and, perhaps, what not to do?
posted by ob to Travel & Transportation around Bergen, Norway (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was there several years ago, and it lists as my favourite place in the world (I tell my friends that if I ever disappear from my life, I've moved to Bergen). While you may not have the time to spend a full day, the hike on Ulriken (sic?) was one of the most spectacular days I've spent hiking. It's very easy (take a bus to a funicular, hike for several hours and take a funicular down right in the city centre), but the snow plus the natural water plus the feeling that you are all alone in the world is so very special. I've hiked glaciers and cloud forests in Argentina, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the Isle of Skye in Ireland, native forests in Hong Kong, and Bassari Country in Senegal, and nothing holds a candle to the memory I have of Ulriken.

Other than that very strong recommendation (hopefully not too strong), Bergen is a great city to just wander - go along the waterside, work your way up into the city. The people are extraordinarily friendly and will give you good advice if you ask. Unfortunately it has been around 7 years since I have been there, so I can't offer recommendations as to restaurants or specific sites to visit (other than the trainride from Oslo to Bergen was pretty, but not an essential trip - no need to do that package tour of the train and other things all the guides recommend, but you won't regret it if you do). I felt there was enough to keep a traveller busy for a few days, and with the way your schedule sounds it will probably be able to fill up a good portion of your mornings.

Anyway, sorry this isn't all that helpful - I just saw the name Bergen and got so very, very excited for you and had to share. Enjoy yourself!
posted by evadery at 8:18 AM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can entertain yourself quite fitfully just walking around the city. There's some tangled narrow streets on Nordnes that are quite charming. The trip up Mt Floyen and the view from there is great. I caught the funicular up and walked down. There are also many walks alomg tyhe top of the mountain. Also worth a visit is the Bryggen, the remains of the trading area from the time of the Hanseatic League when Bergen was the center of the world.

Food and alcohol is the Scandinavian norm, i.e. expensive but good quality.
posted by outlier at 9:21 AM on June 4, 2008

Best answer: Ulriksbanen which evadery refers to is actually closed until 2009 for maintenance, but you can still take the funicular up and down Fløien which affords a lovely view of the city. The aquarium is so-so, unless you like penguins and cold water fish. Haakonshallen and Bergenshus are worth a look, and of course Bryggen. The whole city is pretty picturesque, so just walking around should offer plenty to see.

Resturants are vary in both price and quality, so it's hard to give recommendations without knowing which cuisine you are interested in. The easiest (and possibly most expensive) way of sampling traditional Norwegian cuisine is probably as Bryggeloftet but I haven't actually eaten there myself for way too long so I don't know what the quality is like.

If you have any other questions just MEmail me and I'll be happy to answer them if I can (assuming of course that you are actually visiting the Bergen I live in, i.e. the Norwegian one ;) )
posted by esilenna at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2008

Response by poster: Great answers so far. As far as food is concerned, I'm happy to eat anything, although I'd really love to try anything Norwegian. What about booze, is there anything typically Norwegian? I feel really bad not knowing anything about Norway, so I'd love to be somewhat informed before I go.
posted by ob at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2008

I'm going to Bergen in just under two weeks too. You're not going to a radioecology conference are you?

One place I am definately going is Fjærland. A town of 300 people with 250,000 used books. It's Norway's Booktown. Apparently on June 21 it is their Solstice bookfair 2008. Looks picturesque too.
posted by pseudonick at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2008

I've only spent a day wandering around Bergen with my Norwegian friend/host from Oslo who insisted we spend the day there even though I desperately wanted to take the day train right back to Oslo to again experience the really fantastic train ride through the mountains. The scenery between Oslo and Bergen is easily the most spectacular, breath-taking, awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen anywhere in the world, and I'm usually pretty blase about such things. If you get a chance, take the train at least to Finse, where they filmed Hoth, the Ice Planet.
posted by thomas144 at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2008

As for food, expect to eat all kinds of fish, especially pickled. I don't even like fish but I developed a taste for things like pickled herring, mackerel, and anchovies for breakfast. In particular try to find FiskePudding which is essentially fish jello. Absolutely delicious.
posted by thomas144 at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2008

Response by poster: I'm going to Bergen in just under two weeks too. You're not going to a radioecology conference are you?

No, nothing like that. I'm a composer and I'm working with an ensemble there.

As for food, expect to eat all kinds of fish, especially pickled.

As far as pickled herring and mackerel is concerned that sounds great. I lived in Holland for a few years so I'm used to such delicacies. Anchovies for breakfast sounds like a dare, but one that I'm willing to take!
posted by ob at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2008

If you are into fish I suggest visiting Madam Bergen, they have a shop in the middle of town and sell all kinds of fishy goods, like fiskekaker (fish balls ala the fiskepudding mentioned above, but in a more manageable size), or just wander through Fisketorget. They have more fish than you can shake a stick at ;)
posted by esilenna at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2008

Best answer: Try the homemade fiskekaker from Søstrene Hagelin. Their shop/cafe has been in Bergen since 1929. King Olav was one of their regular customers, according to their website.

Drop by any bakery or cafe for coffee and skillingsboller, the local cinnamon bun. Or try a slice of Hvit Dame ("White Lady"), a cream cake with strawberry filling and marzipan.

You should also try the local beer, Hansa.

If you want to visit a traditional restaurant, I recommend Enhjørningen.

For a quick calzone or a scoop of Italian ice cream, Deli de Luca has several convenience stores in central Bergen.

23 km outside Bergen is Arboretet: "The Arboretum and Botanical Garden are situated in idyllic surroundings at Milde next to the Fanafjord, south of Bergen."

And finally: don't forget your umbrella: "Famous for its lousy weather, Bergen gets an average of 80 inches of rain annually (compared to 30 in Oslo, the capital). A good year in Bergen has 60 days of sunshine. But Bergen takes its soggy weather in stride, holding a Rain Festival each October (Oct. 1 in 2008), complete with a Raincoat and Umbrella Parade."
posted by iviken at 2:11 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some other places worth visiting that I forgot before (and which may be apt since you say you are a composer) are Troldhaugen, Siljustøl, Gamlehaugen, Lysøen and Fantoft stavkirke (i.e. Stave Church). Both the stavkirke and Troldhaugen are visited on one of the sightseeing tours listed here, as are other interesting tours.

I also forgot Statsraaden which hopefully will be in town when you are. And if you like museums, you should definitely visit the Hanseatisk museum close to Bryggen.
posted by esilenna at 11:14 PM on June 4, 2008

Response by poster: Folks, thanks for all the answers here. I'm really looking forward to going, and I now I think I have the lowdown.
posted by ob at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2008

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