Visiting Bergen, Norway: What to Do + Expect in One of Norway's Most Beautiful Cities
WOW! Norway is one beautiful (and very clean) country. Back in June we visited Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. It’s a quaint and charming city on the West coast surrounded by the harbor and mountains. While there for 4 days, we learned a few things that will hopefully help you better plan your visit to this picturesque country :)
WHAT To expect when dining out + purchasing Alcohol
As beautiful as Bergen is, it is extremely expensive. We knew Norway in general was going to be pricey…but, I think we underestimated just how much more expensive it was than our usual European travels. For example, a burger + fries is roughly 30ish Euro plus whatever beverage you’re feeling. It’s safe to say we did A LOT of meal sharing ;) Since dining out is really expensive I would suggest staying in an airBNB, that way you can cut cost by cooking in a few times. We did this for our breakfast which made the mornings more relaxing by leisurely taking our time before exploring the city. I can highly recommend the airbnb we rented. It’s located in the center city and the host welcomed us by the bus stop then gave us a brief tour of the apartment which was extremely clean and had amazing balcony views of the harbor!
The weather was quite cool when we were in Bergen which had me craving some red wine. Since we didn’t want to spend more money on drinks when eating out, we planned to just buy a few bottles of wine and have a nice glass on the balcony. So, we went to the grocery to pick up a bottle or two…and there was no wine to be found…which is when we learned wine is not available in grocery stores, only in wine + liquor stores (which close at 6pm on weekdays and 3pm on Saturdays!). Ok. No wine? No worries. We’ll just grab some beer instead, right? NOPE. In Norway, you can only purchase beer before 8pm in the grocery stores (and we were there at 8:30pm!). We were bummed. But, we did end up drinking a few beers while enjoying our harbor view…just the next day ;)
WHAT TO EXPECT TO SEE ON MENUS + WHILE SHOPPING
When you do dine out, expect to see a lot of fish soup and seafood on the menu and don’t be surprised to see whale on there either. Yes, whale! I was shocked to see this as it’s obviously not a common item you see anywhere else. But, I learned Norway is one of three countries allowed to hunt whale - Iceland and Japan are the other two. We didn’t order whale but we were offered a little sample. I hesitantly tried it and can say I’m not a fan - to me, it tasted like beef jerky. It’s also crazy to think you are eating whale…just doesn’t seem right to me.
While popping into the shops, you will notice the Norwegians are huge fans of trolls. From life-size trolls to mini trolls, they are everywhere! These story-tale creatures are old legends and rooted from Norse Mythology. They are so ugly, they are kinda cute, no? ;)
Animal fur is also common to see in many shops for coats, hats and rugs from a variety of animals, including mink and reindeer. However, this is a very controversial and brutal industry against animals. Norway is making strides to end “fur farms” and implementing new laws to ban them by 2025. Learn more about how you can support to end animal cruelty and fur trade.
WHAT TO DO IN + AROUND BERGEN: Fløyen
From fjord tours and train rides through the mountains to hiking, there are tons of nature filled activities to explore from Bergen.
Within the city you can visit Fløyen, a viewing over Bergen. You take a carriage to the top (which is a fun experience in itself!) where you have a beautiful overview of the city. You can easily spend an entire day here as there are walking and bike trails, picnic areas, a zipline area and a few shops + cafes to pop into.
Norway in a Nutshell
There are tons of excursions to choose from when in Bergen. The one we chose was Norway in a Nutshell where you take about an hour long train ride to your next destination. You then hop on a bus and drive through the most scenic (and curvy!) roads. Make sure to get a window seat as you’ll see insane mountain views and waterfalls along the way to your next transportation, the fjord boat cruise.
EXCURSION TIP: This excursion is a full 8-10 hour day, so prepare accordingly. Although you stop in small towns and have the opportunity to grab food, I would suggest packing snacks and a water bottle to keep your energy up throughout the day :)
The cruise experience through the fjords is probably the most memorable excursion we have done. The views are absolutely breathtaking. You feel sooo tiny when cruising through these majestic mountains with waterfalls flowing out from a variety of mountain tops. It was quite windy and chilly when we were on the boat - so dress warmly!
Lastly, once the fjord cruise is over you stop in a small town to catch another train to ride the Flam railway - and it does not disappoint! Near the end of the train ride you stop (literally for 5 minutes!) at Kjosfossen, a beautiful waterfall where a “fairy” pops out and dances to whimsical music. Be quick to have your camera out to capture the show :)