10 Must-See Attractions in Bergen

Time yet again to dole out mad props (or is it prøps) to another superb city in Scandinavia. Bergen, the exquisite European Capital of Culture in 2000 (one of nine that year) and venerable “Second City” of Norway suffers, like many other Nordic destinations, from a lack of mainstream attention. This is my humble opinion. To be blunt, most of my friends and family want to go to Spain, France, Australia, and the Caribbean. I hear very few concrete plans made in favor of Sweden, Finland, and Norway for example.

Oh, I know. When given the opportunity, everyone lauds Nordic Europe’s gorgeous scenery, progressive spirit, civic pride, and culture. But do they take it a step beyond and head to this pre-eminent part of the continent, outside of perhaps Copenhagen and Stockholm? The simple fact is that Spain alone, with some 60 million international arrivals every year, lures way more tourists than Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland put together. Is climate a factor? Of course. But Scandinavia can do better. Right now, the majority of tourists to the region either come from nations within Scandinavia or from nearby Germany.

So here’s to Bergen. Gateway to the fjords and a spectacular city with these ten must-see attractions.

10. Grieg Hall

Edvard Grieg is the most famous person to ever come out of Bergen (sincere apology to ornithologist Leonhard Hess Stejneger). The composer/musician and genius behind In the Hall of the Mountain King was at the helm of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra from 1880 to 1882. The orchestra’s superb home is Grieg Hall.

9. Bergen Kunstmuseum

The Bergen Art Museum is simply one of the best fine arts museums in Nordic Europe. The permanent collection includes some great works by landscape master Johan Christian Claussen Dahl and Edvard Munch.

8. Fløibanen

Bergen’s famous funicular, the Fløibanen, is by far the most popular attraction in Norway. More than one million people take the 8 minute ride up Fløyen mountain every year. The subsequent views of the city are remarkable and the summit is the perfect place for a winter or summer afternoon stroll.

7. Brann Stadion

Since 1919, Brann Stadion has been home to SK Brann, Bergen’s top football club. Ardent supporters are known as Bataljonen (The Battalion) and fill the 17,824 seat stadium to capacity for each Norwegian Premier League home contest. The opportunity to catch a game here is a real, authentic Bergen experience.

6. Troldhaugen

Troldhaugen is the beautiful former home of composer Edvard Grieg. Built by his cousin, the eminent architect Schak Bull, the house and sanctuary are now a superlative museum.

5. Bergenhus Fortress

With portions that date back to the early 13th century, Bergenhus Fortress is one of the most vital medieval landmarks in all of Norway. The immense complex is accessible via Bergen harbor.

4. Strandgaten

This busy central commercial thoroughfare is home to some of Bergen’s best architectural landmarks, shops, hotels, and restaurants.

3. Gamlehaugen

Gamlehaugen is a noble Scottish Baronial style estate built at the turn of the last century. Since 1927, the beautiful mansion has been the official residence of the Norwegian royal family in Bergen.

2. Torgallmenningen

Bergen’s principal square is a handsome, open pedestrian area with wonderful views of the contiguous countryside. A superb civic nerve center in the terrific city.

1. Bryggen

One of the foremost UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Norway, Bryggen is a network of incredible Hanseatic wharf landmarks that date back as far back as the 15th century. Many important archaeological finds from the area are now on display in the Bryggens Museum nearby, while the area itself is full of attractive pubs, shops, and restaurants.

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