Norway has been a go-to place for travelers from all over the world who come to see the breathtaking scenery throughout the country. No matter if you’re in a large city like Oslo or a smaller region like Alta where the igloo hotels are located, Norway is full of memorable surprises that will last you a lifetime. Another destination in Norway that we can’t get enough of is Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city and unlike Oslo, Bergen is surrounded by fjords and mountains—a nature-lovers paradise.
Established in 1070 CE by King Olav Kyrre, Bergen was a Viking village but grew into Norway’s capital by the first part of the 13th century. (Oslo became the new capital at the turn of the 14th century.) For several hundred years, the City was a large trading center in Europe but was hit by the Plague several times, killing off thousands of residents. In the 18th century, the town was almost completely obliterated because of accidental fires, which occurred several times throughout its history and continued well into the 20th century. Nonetheless, Bergen recovered, growing into a popular tourist destination with many gems to explore. So for those of you who plan on heading to Norway’s “city of the seven mountains”, here are some things we recommend you check out on your upcoming trip.
The Cultural History Museum
Are you a fan of the Viking era and its history? Then The Cultural History Museum is the ideal museum for you to see. The museum features items from the Stone Age and from Vikings, stave churches, clothing, art, costumes, and even mummies from Egypt. Adjacent from the museum is a botanical garden that you can wander through after you tour the inside.
There is a street in Bergen called Skostredet that’s lined with delightful shops and mom-and-pop restaurants and cafes. This street is mostly known to locals, making it the perfect place to escape from the busier parts of the city. There’s a fantastic Italian restaurant here called Villani as well as a shop called Second Love. At Second Love, you can find “beautiful, handpicked pieces from high-end brands and designers”, which make great gifts for loved ones back home.
Gamle Bergen Museum
Bergen is known for having fantastic museums, and there are many there to explore. And although you may not get to each one, we also recommend checking out the Gamle Bergen Museum, which isn’t a museum per se rather a collection of homes that range from 100 to 300 years old. They have been moved to one location in the northern part of Bergen to Elsero, where the homes are given a new lease on life via productions and workshops.
Fantoft Stave Church
As mentioned earlier, Bergen was stricken by disastrous fires over the centuries, and one fire (albeit this one is said to not have been an accident) destroyed the original Church that was built in the early part of the 12th century. In 1997, the Church was reconstructed to its original state before the fire and can be visited today, and the only original piece that survived the fire was the crucifix. One thing you’ll notice is Fantoft Stave Church is completely made out of wood both inside and out.
Magic Ice Bar
Don’t let the cold scare you off. Bergen’s Magic Ice Bar is a unique place to grab a drink. The inside features a bar made from ice with interior walls covered in art carved from ice. There are also other smaller pieces of artwork sitting on top of tables and ones standing freely. All drinks are served in a cup or shot glass also made entirely of ice. The Magic Ice Bar is open until 11pm on most days except Friday and Saturday when it stays open until 12am. It’s a great place to end the night if you’re looking for something low key, or maybe it’s a starting point to an eventful evening around the city.
Bergen is one of Norway’s most fascinating cities to visit—it’s beautiful with a long history and rich culture. From historic places and hidden streets full of charming restaurants, cafes and shops, Bergen is a must for those who are planning a trip to Norway. If you find yourself itching to go there, we hope this guide will help you discover some gems to explore.
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