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Founded by a Viking king, Bergen became capital of Norway in the 13th century. Although no longer a capital today, Bergen is Norway’s second largest city and one of the country’s largest ports. Bergen is considered to be the gateway to the fjords and is in a magnificent setting, surrounded by seven mountains, the sea and fjords. Its narrow, cobbled streets are lined with historic wooden houses and are easily explored on foot.
As Scandinavia’s westernmost city, the Gulf Stream influence creates a mild year-round climate, with no snow, but also means that Bergen is famous for being the wettest Norwegian city.
Bergen’s waterfront is lined with the colourful splash of its landmark medieval warehouses of Bryggen wharf, which grew in prominence when Bergen was a trading post for German merchants, in the middle ages. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the narrow alleyways off the harbour lead to the Hanseatic Museum and the Bryggens Museum, where you can discover more about the area’s long and interesting history.Read more
For superb panoramic views of Bergen, the sea, fjords and mountains, take a ride on the modern Floibanen Funicular railway up to Floien summit, 320 metres above sea level and one of Bergen’s seven mountains. Once at the summit, you can follow one of the many walking trails marked from the top.
Near the Floibanen station is Bergen’s famous 700-year-old Fish Market, where a bewildering array of fresh fish is set out. Or sample some of the mouth-watering cooked fish on offer at one of the numerous food stalls.
Just outside Bergen is the Victorian summer villa, Troldhaugen, on the shores of Lake Nordas of Norway’s foremost composer, Edvard Grieg. His house is now a museum and you can also see the hut where he composed his music and the tomb where he and his wife, Nina, are buried. Concerts are held regularly in summer and autumn at Troldhaugen’s concert hall. Grieg composed music for Peer Gynt, written by Bergen’s other famous citizen, dramatist Henrik Ibsen.
Also out of the centre, 4 kilometres away, is Old Bergen. This open air museum comprises a collection of well-preserved historic wooden houses, which give a flavour of 18th and 19th century Bergen, when it was Europe’s largest city.
Set on the Nordnes peninsula a 20-minute walk from the centre is Bergen Aquarium, with sea lions, penguins and seals in tanks and a tropical section with monkeys and reptiles.