Bergen was our last stop when we went to Scandinavia earlier this year, so it’s about time I got round to talking a bit more about it. Charming and colourful despite being renowned for its rainfall, Norway’s second-largest city is a fantastic place to base yourself if you want to see the Fjords, and lovely in its own right too. I’ve written a post about 10 things to do there, but this post is going to be a bit more of a general one about our experience of Bergen plus some personal observations and things to bear in mind if you’re planning a trip there.
We arrived in Bergen via the Bergen railway from Oslo, which is a beautiful (and long) train journey that I would definitely recommend. I will be dedicating a post to it, but basically if you can travel overland to or from Bergen you’ll see so much gorgeous scenery just on the journey. Obviously that isn’t always possible, but flights can be super affordable which is great because the other elements of a trip there are unlikely to be cheap – we flew back to Gatwick with Norwegian and it was less than £40 each.
Where we stayed
Should probably stop going on about Airbnb now, but yet again, we rented somewhere to use as a base. We chose this studio apartment downtown and the interior was so brilliantly Scandi, it was wonderful. The place was entirely painted white and there were the most excellent quirky and rustic details like crates for shelves and an old locker as storage – I wish I had taken some good photos of it but there are loads on the Airbnb listing. I loved having our own little place to come back to and it’s always good to have a kitchen to make peanut butter sandwiches in isn’t it?
What we did
Day one: We arrived in the evening on the first day, and surprise surprise, it was raining (it rains over two thirds of the year in Bergen so bring appropriate outerwear and footwear!). We only knew how to get to the apartment by walking though, so we just went ahead and did it anyway, arriving sodden but cheerful and then heading out for dinner as it was my birthday.
Day two: I’ve done two whole posts on our second day, so I won’t go on about it any more, but in a nutshell (lolz); we did the Norway in a Nutshell trip, there were beautiful views, the landscape in that part of the world is insane, we had a wonderful time.
Day three: On day three, we decided to hike the 15km Vidden trail from Mount Ulriken to Mount Floyen. We hopped on the Ulriken Express bus from the stop near the tourist office to the Ulriken cable car and took that to the top. This is the point we realised that our hike probably wasn’t going to be how it looks on the leaflets (posing on picturesque peaks for smiling photos with hair gently tousled in the breeze, breathtaking scenery and a toy town in the background), because all we could see from the cable car was swirling white mist.
When we reached the top it was more of the same but for some reason (I know the reason and his name is Rob) we decided to go ahead with the walk anyway. It soon became apparent that this was not a good day for such a thing. It’s not an especially difficult hike, but the footing is tricky at times and even more so when it’s wet and muddy as it was when we were there.
The trail is marked by cairns – these are relatively close together, so on a clear or semi-clear day it would be considered a well marked route. However, this was not either of those types of day, this was an under 10 metres visibility type of day, so we were basically scrambling over slippery rocks without being able to see anything for a lot of it. Don’t worry though – we could hear rushing water so at least we could be assured that the possibility of making one wrong step and falling down a waterfall was very real. This is probably the reason that the reviews of this activity on TripAdvisor are a bizarre mix of ‘THIS IS TERRIBLE AND DANGEROUS, I GOT LOST AND NEARLY DIED’ and ‘Lovely hike, had a picnic, incredible views!’. We saw no views whatsoever and it’s something of a miracle that we even made it to Floyen. Here is a photo from the point in the hike that we had the best visibility:
Breathtaking, right? Still, not to worry, despite what I’ve just said and the fact that at one point I was wondering who would break the news of my death to my mum, I actually also loved it because I’m the type of terrible dickhead who sort of thrives on this kind of stuff. If you are too then fill your boots, get on that trail and don’t blame me if you slip over and break your leg but if you prefer to be able to see where you are placing your feet then probably check weather and visibility before setting off. And send me photos because I have no idea what any of it looks like.
Day four: On our final day we wandered through the city taking in some of the sights that we hadn’t had time to appreciate yet, having been out and about so much. We admired the charming little streets, walked around Bergenhus Fortress, visited Bryggen, stumbled upon some beautiful gardens and generally just explored at a relaxed pace before it was time to leave. I also made a cat pal – I spied him from a few metres away, bent down to stroke him (obviously), and he promptly jumped on me and made himself at home. It pained me to dislodge him but we had a flight to catch…
What we ate
Supermarket snacks (gotta take a picnic for those excursions/potentially dangerous fog hikes haven’t you?) and a McDonalds. In all honesty, eating in Bergen as a vegan was a struggle. You should get on okay with a bit of preparation if you are veggie, but I would advise anyone vegan visiting Bergen to either do a LOT of research and make reservations before arriving or expect mealtimes to be frustrating.
If you do eat meat and fish, as most people do I suppose, you will likely find it a great culinary experience. I would recommend booking a table for dinner if possible – lots of places we tried to go were fully booked, and although it was a weekend and we were underprepared, I’ve rarely been to a city and spent so long trying to find somewhere to eat before.
One place I can wholeheartedly recommend to eat in Bergen is The Horn of Africa. As in, you 100% have to go there, no matter what your dietary requirements are (they are super flexible). It’s an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant run by the most lovely couple where we had a delicious sharing selection of four vegetarian (they do a meat version too) dishes with injera, a type of pancake. After we’d finished the meal the owner played Happy Birthday and brought out a slice of cake with a sparkler along with an apologetic ‘Sorry, it’s not vegan but I heard it was your birthday, hopefully you can eat this instead’ – the ‘this’ being a bowl of popcorn. Told you they were lovely. Rob ate the cake and I ate the popcorn and it was a great evening. The food is wonderful and the service is next level good, so don’t leave the city without paying them a visit!
So that’s it for my little Bergen trip round up – I really enjoyed this last part of our Scandinavia travels, it was a great note to end on and one day I hope to return (if only so I can do that bloody hike on a clearer day!). Have you ever been to Bergen – or would you consider visiting?