Destination Norway: Why Not Choose… Bergen?
Despite its expansion and prosperity, Bergen, Norway's second biggest city, has managed to maintain the atmosphere of a quaint little town.
Featuring on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it is a glorious city surrounded by breathtaking mountains, deep blue fjords and fairytale forests.
Between discovering a vibrant urban centre and marvelling at nature's beauty, you will be spoilt for choice during your stay.
Nature, Culture, Architecture and History: Be Amazed by Bergen
To start, take in a splendid view of the city and its fjords on the Bergen funicular (Fløibanen Bergen), which climbs to 320m in a few minutes. Opened in 1918, this unique attraction in Norway contributes to the city's fame!
When you come back to earth, visit Bryggen (meaning "dock" in Norwegian). Stroll around the famous fish market, giving in to temptation by tasting the samples offered by fishermen, who are delighted to share their passion. This is also a great place to admire the coloured houses along the dock, which charm passers-by with their wooden architecture.
Continue your exploration of Norwegian traditions by visiting the Old Bergen open air museum, with over 40 reconstructed 18thand 19th century wooden houses. A tailor's workshop, a barbershop, or a baker's oven: these period houses offer very realistic illustrations of a past life.
If you're intrigued by the Middle Ages, step a little further back in time and admire the view from the battlements of Rosenkrantz Tower, which contains some of the city's most important vestiges. Built in 1261 to establish Bergen as the capital of the country, it was later chosen by the feudal king Erik Rosenkrantz for his residence in 1560.
The famous Fantoft Stave Church is another must-see. Few of these stavkirke, which are typical of 11th-century Norwegian architecture, are still standing today. Dating back to Viking times, they abound with Pagan and Christian symbols.
Nature lovers should be sure to take a fjord cruise. On a half-day trip, the White Lady takes you to the foot of steep mountains with wild forests, for a true communion with the fjords. And if you don't have much time, the hour-long cruise around the port allows you to see Bryggen from the sea, the entrance to the fjords, and the islands concealed there.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Bryggen: enjoy the many flavours of the fish market, and the colourful, traditional wood houses!
Bergen aquarium: see penguins, seals, and a whole range of animals from the Norwegian fjords in this amazing aquarium.
Rosenkrantz Tower: among the most important mediaeval vestiges in the city, this defensive then residential tower was named after Erik Rosenkrantz, governor of Bergen Castle in around 1560.
The Fine Arts Museum: art lovers can admire Norwegian art collections (Munch, Weidemann), as well as canvases by Flemish masters.
Fantoft Stave Church: one of the few remaining monuments displaying typical 11th-century Norwegian architecture. Built in 1150, it was destroyed in a fire at the end of the 20th century, then faithfully reconstructed.
Old Bergen: discover the everyday lives of citizens in the 18th and 19th centuries through around 40 reconstructed typical wood houses.
Troldhaugen: house of the famous 19th-century Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg. Troldhaugen means "troll hill".
The funicular: get up to an altitude of 320m in a few minutes, for a breathtaking panorama of the city and its fjords.
The fjords: don't leave Bergen without exploring the city by the sea, and trying to understand its mysteries and its attachment to the maritime world.
Sentrum: the liveliest part of the city, unmissable for shopping. After a fire in 1916 , the area was reconstructed in the functionalist and art nouveau style.
Tasty and Healthy Gastronomy
Those with a taste for good food won't be disappointed in Norway, because Norwegian cuisine puts natural produce in the spotlight: berries, mushrooms, game (moose, reindeer, stag), and of course fish in all its forms (smoked, dried, marinated, salted...).
Norwegian lamb is also reputed to be some of the best in the world.
The cold, bracing climate requires very few pesticides: producers and farmers offer cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables of a rare quality.
March: Borealis Festival. The northern city of Alta celebrates the Aurora Borealis with a programme of entertainments: live music concerts, theatre, craft markets, skiing competitions, light and sound shows...
17 May: Norwegian Constitution Day. A national holiday with parades, speeches and concerts, commemorating 17 May 1814, Norwegian Independence Day. Norwegians take to the streets in traditional dress.
- Festspillene. Since 1953, this festival has celebrated art in all its forms, music, literature, theatre, dance, opera and performing arts, showcasing the culture of the Nordic countries... In total, there are over 120 events over two weeks.
- Nattjazz Festival.Started in 1973, this Jazz Festival which is famous in Norway offers almost 100 concerts over 10 nights, attracting the biggest artists in jazz, as well as rock, electro and classical music.
- Viking and Medieval Festival (Bjørgvin Marknad). There are Viking costumes everywhere over this weekend, thanks to naval battle reconstructions, historical scenes and mediaeval markets with their stalls dedicated to times gone by.
- Bergenfest. This music festival embraces all styles: pop, rock, blues, world music, electronic music, hip-hop, folk... There are concerts outdoors, in the mediaeval fortress and at Bergen castle.
July-August: Spillfestival. At this games festival, children and adults of all nationalities play cards, dominoes and chess, while others play Twister, Monopoly or Pictionary.
- Matfestival. The crowds flow in to taste culinary specialities from chefs and producers.
- International Film Festival. Screenings of over 100 films, both fictional and documentary. Parity is maintained between Norwegian and international films.
October: Meteor. Meteor is Norway's largest performing arts and dance festival. It features performances from today's biggest artists.
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