Good planning required to see Bergen - in the sun
The 7-hour car drive from Oslo was a great, but rather long start into the weekend in late Februrary. The landscape was totally frozen, with temperatures at -28 degrees Celsius at one spot, with lots of steam raising from the few rivers that were not completely covered in ice and snow.
But that was not our first trip to Bergen and the fjords "på Vestlandet". In July 2011, our first summer holiday after moving to Norway, it felt just natural to make this trip to one of our first in our new country. But we had just rain, rain, rain all the time. Of course, it did not stop us from doing what we planned to do as you can expect that kind of weather from the rain capital of Norway (see box) - but we also liked to see the city once in sunshine.
So for the second time we patiently waited for the "right" weekend for a visit. It happened that a friend stayed with us when the forecast for Bergen promised two days of clear sky and sunshine, even though it was expected to be bitterly cold. So we put him into the car and drove over to Bergen.
The next day we stayed downtown, to be safe, and walked around the various parts of Bergen. We loved in particular the part behind (north of) the Håkonshallen. There you find a quarter with a lot of lovely small wooden houses, very close to each other and with narrow cobberstone ways in-between them.
We came from the seaside and walked uphill, continuing alongside the mountain until we reached again the end of trail from our yesterday's failure, but still inside the residential area. Lots of small houses here as well, nice little cafes, occasional great views to city center, just gorgeous!
We also visited the Håkonshallen, a 750-year old building, once a royal residence, now a museum with an impressive large main hall and a nice view over the harbor from the tower.
And as we love good food, we had a nice dinner at the Enhjørning restaurant right inside the Bryggen. The interior is very traditional, rather historic and together with the excellent kitchen clearly worth a visit.
When the weather is really bad, but not only then, Bergen has a lot of interesting museums, like e.g. Bergen kunsthall or KODE kunstmuseene i Bergen.
Skidding down from Fløien in summer shoes over snow and ice
Arriving in Bergen and after having checked-in our hotel right at the Bryggen, the famous old part of Bergen at the harbour, we decided to go up to Fløyen by the cable car early next morning. We did so and the weather was still Bergen-untypically fantastic: blue sky, hardly any clouds, no wind. The view from the top is stunning; so was the amount of tourists on that Saturday ...
After taking too many pictures of the city, the various bays and islands a bit further out, we bravely decided to walk down instead of taking the cable car. It is just an hour and many people did so, so how hard could it be?
Turned out very hard indeed, at least when somebody wears shoes with slippery soles. As said, it was pretty cold that weekend, so in every corner of the little hike water had run over the way and frozen up.
So we were facing a really really slippery way, even hard with proper shoes. Our friend, not the sportiest person on earth, was not enthusiastic about it at all, but also too proud (or too stubborn) to return to the cable car. What was planned to be a nice walk down to the city center ended up as a 2 hours balancing exercise with a lot of hand-holding. Not a nice experience when retired people with proper shoes and spikes just walk by as there was no ice, with a smile on their faces ...
Absolutely recommended - Bergen's surrounding
Besides the city itself, you might want to reserve a bit of time to discover its surroundings. The 7 mountains around Bergen offer a lot of hiking possibilities and stunning views towards the city. You can go fishing, Hurtigruten starts its trips from here and you can of course book the famous "Norway in a nutshell" trip with boat and train - just to mention a few.
Back to Oslo
On the way back to Oslo we took the wrong turn somewhere which gave us 1-2 hours additonal driving, but also a road up to and through a mountain scenery which was splendid! Where that was? No idea :-)
Despite often rainy weather, we just love this lively city with lots of history: Everything is in walking distance, the different neighbourhoods are really cute, there are lots of museums (including one about the pest, which you will learn to appreciate because it is dry inside), a beautiful lake in the centre and a good starting point for trips to the fjords in western Norway.
The weather in Bergen
Bergen is known as the rainy capital of Norway, meaning that it nearly rains every day, statistically 231 days out of 365 a year. The longest period with rain was recorded from October 29, 2006, until January 21, 2007, with 85 consecutive days...
The best month regarding least rain would be May with "only" 10 days with rain on average.
But when the weather is good and the sun comes out, and that happens also on days with rain, Bergen is surely one of the nicest cities in Norway. And even with clouds and rain, it has a lot of charme.
One of the most scenic train rides in Europe: With the "Bergensbanen" from Oslo to Bergen
Friends from Berlin came over for a week, real sport fanatics, so their main motivation for the visit was actually to join the crowds at Holmenkollen to see the biathlon world cup 2016 live. And yes, they were looking forward to meeting us as well, they said.
After the world cup, we could convince them to explore a bit of Norway, so we bought tickets for the Bergensbanen to Bergen. We took the first train in the morning and consequently slept through the 1st hour until we come to the city of Drammen. That did not matter as the scenic parts start right after. With still a lot of snow in the mountains and pretty nice weather with occasional blue sky and sunshine, we were (again) fascinated by the landscape gliding by, first alongside rivers and through woods and small villages, then climbing up mountains, crossing it where no streets are built and descending through numerous tunnels to the west coast of Norway – actually arriving in Bergen, believe it or not, in sunshine!
Have a look at the pictures below, it´s really worth to take the train, in winter and in summer, and totally relaxing!
Distance from Oslo
460 km / 7 hours by car or Bergensbanen, the direct train from Oslo
By plane it´s just 45 min from Oslo
Bryggen, UNECSO listed site
View from Ulriken or Fløien
Lunch at the fishmarket opposite of Bryggen
The quarter "Bergenhus" with nice cobble streets behind the "castle"
Various museums such as Bergen Kunsthall, the leprosy musem (no joke), Kunstindustrimuseum etc.
Overnight stay we can recommend
Hotel Park Pension, a bit more basic but nice hotel from the "De historiske" network
The Hurtigruten trips start from and end at Bergen as well.
Find out where nice restaurants and cafes might be before you come in case you need to warm up or dry a bit
Info related to Bergensbanen
Click on the map for opening the right clipping in google maps in a new window