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Travel Journal #11: Our 4 Days in Bergen, Norway

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I’ll get right to the point here: Bergen was our absolute favorite stop during our big Scandinavia trip this summer. So while yes, we do have a 3 Day Bergen Itinerary you can use if you are planning a trip, I wanted to give you more of a behind the scenes peak of what our 4 days in Bergen actually looked like.

Day One: Arrival and Mount Fløyen

For our first day in Bergen, we flew pretty early in the morning from Copenhagen to Bergen and got to Bergen around lunchtime. Just flying into the city, we knew we were going to love it. The views from the plane were spectacular: snow covered mountains and then bright blue water with little islands all around.

We got to the airport, got our bags, and took the train into Bergen’s city center, which took about 45 minutes. Then it was a bit of a hike to get to our Air BnB, especially dragging our suitcases over some of the cobblestone streets. (Also, why does it always seem to take longer the first time you are finding your way somewhere?)

We had a great Air BnB in Bergen with two bedrooms for us to spread out in, plus a HUGE bathroom with a washer and dryer. (Yes, I definitely made sure we had a place with a working washer and dryer at the halfway point of our trip.)

For the afternoon we decided to head up to Mount Fløyen. We took the funicular up to the top of the mountain and OH MY GOODNESS we loved this place so much. I truly wish we had had more time.

First of all, when you get off the funicular there is a whole complex with all sorts of stuff: a building with a restaurant, a big set of steps everyone can sit on to admire the views, an amazing playground, and an ice cream cart. (Yes, it was 50 degrees outside, and yes we still got ice cream.)

But if you head back into the woods, Mount Fløyen is even more magical. There’s a troll forest! A beautiful playground with a treehouse! A lake you can take a short hike to! We ended up spending a lot of time back in the playground in the woods and chatted with an American mom who was there with her young son. They had been living in Bergen for the past year and absolutely loving it, and she gave us all kinds of suggestions of what to do and where to eat.

Eventually we had to come down from this magical place. But oh man. We loved it.

For dinner we stopped by some of the stands in Bergen’s fish market. I got some fish and chips which were not great. Gerrit and E got some reindeer burgers. I do think we probably could have done better for dinner if we had gone to an actual restaurant, but it had been a long day and we needed to get back and get some rest.

Day 2: Bryggen, Museums, and Ulriken

For our second day in Bergen, we started the morning with pastries at Backstube, which was just down the street from where we were staying. Then we headed to Bryggen to check it out without all the crowds. I am SO glad we did this, because it was so wonderful to walk through this historic area without all the people that would be there later in the day.

After hanging out in Bryggen for a bit, we took the bus to the Gamle Bergen Museum. This is an open air museum with historic buildings aimed at giving you a sense of what Bergen used to be like. It’s a really beautiful place, and it was fun to explore.

Perhaps most memorable of all though was a small play they put on in the town square about a woman who was getting married and had to get her infected teeth removed so her new husband wouldn’t have to pay for it. It was definitely a bit more…dark…than what you would see at a museum like this in America! (But also kind of funny!)

Then it was time to find some lunch and we headed back to Bryggen. Here’s the thing though: Since we had already been traveling for over a week and eating at all kinds of restaurants, all I wanted was the most basic lunch. We went to look for sandwiches at a bakery, but even those were fancier than what I wanted. Thankfully though, the Baker Brun in Bryggen made me the most delicious ham & cheese sandwich ever—evidence that good basic ingredients are all you need. That bread! So good!

After heading back to our Air BnB for a little afternoon rest (and a load of laundry) we headed to Mount Ulriken. We took the bus and then had to walk a bit, but we finally made it to Ulriken643, the cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain.

Even thought Mount Ulriken is completely different from Mount Fløyen, we loved it just as much. The top of Ulriken is scrubby (as opposed to the forest on Fløyen), with lots of hiking trails and amazing views. Not only can you see Bergen, but you can also see the mountains surrounding Bergen. It’s gorgeous.

Once again, we didn’t want to come down from the mountain, but we eventually had to go get some dinner. We went to Vilani (at the recommendation of the American mom we had talked to on Mount Fløyen) and it was lovely. We timed it JUST right though, because I think we were some of the last people to get in with a minimal wait without a reservation.

Day 3: Norway in a Nutshell Fjord Tour

We spent the entirety of our third day on the Norway in a Nutshell Tour seeing Norway’s amazing fjords. (See our full review of Norway in a Nutshell here!)

It’s a long day: train, bus, boat, train, train. But we had an incredible day, helped by incredible weather. Seriously, the sky was so bright and beautiful, so we had the best fjord views imaginable on our boat tour.

And honestly, every part of the journey, even the bus ride, was incredible scenic. Waterfalls cascading down giant cliffs, snow covered mountains in the distance, and then…the fjords: waterways surrounded by cliffs and mountains so high it’s almost hard to comprehend.

A few highlights for me:

  • The train journey from Bergen to Voss. With every mile the scenery just seems to get more incredible, and you know good things are coming.
  • The Nærøyfjord. This is one of the most well-known fjords in Norway for a reason. We were on the boat for two hours, and I seriously never moved from where I stood taking everything in. (Just half the time was in the Nærøyfjord though.)
  • Spending time in Flåm. Even though this little town is entirely touristy, it was still a lovely spot surrounded by so much beauty.

We got back to Bergen pretty late in the evening, and after grabbing some McDonald’s (because #kids), we headed to bed.

Day 4: Kid-Friendly Museums

One of my strategies for family travel is to make sure I’m balancing less kid-friendly activities with things I know my kid will love. I knew that the fjord tour day was probably going to be long for her and maybe not always the most exciting, so I wanted to make sure we filled our last day in Bergen with some activities geared especially toward her. (She was 7 at the time, for the record.)

First we went to VilVite, which is Bergen’s science museum. And goodness is this place a STEM kid paradise! It’s basically a big room full of various science stations and experiments. Everything is interactive and easy to do yourself.

There are activities you can do experimenting with noise, learning about the human body, and playing with physics. There’s a huge water table where you can experiment with the water cycle, a room just for blowing giant bubbles, and a bike you can ride around a loop that goes upside down. The whole thing was so much fun and definitely surpassed our expectations.

After lunch (at Stefano…it was okay) and heading back to the Air BnB to finish up the laundry, we went to the Norway Fisheries Museum in the afternoon. This hadn’t been on our radar at all, but again, the mom on Mount Fløyen raved about it, so we thought we would check it out.

At first we weren’t really sure. We went into the first room and thought…is this all there is? But we kept going and once we really got into we found that there were all kinds of kid-friendly activities. We had lots of fun here, plus I learned a lot about the history of the fishing industry in Norway. This is definitely an underrated museum; I think we were the only people in the museum that afternoon! But I’m so glad we took the time to check it out.

To end our time in Bergen, we headed to the restaurant Bryggen Tracteursted for some traditional Norwegian cuisine. We had a fantastic meal here, with an aquavit flight (the traditional liquor in Norway), some Jerusalem artichoke soup I’m still thinking about, and some mutton with a meat sauce that I loved. It was such a great way to end our time in Bergen.

And now I just want to go back!

Want to read more about our trip?