I don’t miss the rains down in Bergen
According to Wikipedia and other, less legitimate sources like the actual website for the city, Bergen, Norway supposedly has more rainy days than any other city in the world. We certainly didn’t see anything to prove this during our visit to Norway’s second largest city which was experiencing a warm and sunny summer day without a cloud in the sky. Making the most of a sunny day like this is as simple as exploring the city’s sights and experiences, and taking some time to enjoy a locally brewed microbrew under the sun along the harbor. Since the sun may not last, it’s best to get started right away!
Start the day with a walk through the city, especially the old harbor area and historic districts. Any visit to Bergen has to take in the old wooden warehouse buildings of the Bryggen area along the harbor. These buildings date back to Norway’s days as part of the Germanic Hanseatic League, the massively powerful union of merchants who controlled trade across the Baltic and Northern Europe. These buildings form a UNESCO heritage site and with their light pastel colorings, make for a beautiful and unique landmark that the city seems to enter around.
From the harbor, head through the fish market where you’ll find massive crabs larger than a dog, fresh from the sea as well as a variety of fresh and smoked fish that Norway is famous for. Past the market is the more modern -relatively – town center build around several fountains and statues, formed by a variety of stores and shops. While Bergen is super family friendly and a great place to visit with kids, be careful inside the subterranean malls as we ended up getting our stroller stuck in an area with no ramp access. It turned out that the mountain that rises over Bergen is actually easier to get up with a stroller than this mall.
Another area definitely worth visiting is the Knøsesmauet, another historical neighborhood with wooden houses, but this one residential and built perching on above narrow cobblestone streets with a Nordic atmosphere you won’t find elsewhere. The tiny streets descend toward the water and the houses seem to lean precariously out above. You wouldn’t be surprised to find a little old man baker leaning out the window of one shouting at you about his bread. Well you might be surprised, only because Norwegians don’t shout. Or talk loudly. Or talk much at all.
Finally, head down past the National Theater along the huge avenue toward the city’s central park, Byparken. At the theater, you might also have flashbacks to high school literature when noticing the statue of Henrik Ibsen. Try not to get super depressed remembering his works, and instead focus on the beautiful sun. At the park, you can either take a moment to socialize with the ducks in the pond basking in the sun, or grab a pint of light lager -sadly not a micro-craft-brew, but perfect in the sun. There’s a large cafe with a nice outdoor space in the center of the square where the sun can make it feel almost like a caribbean beach. Just missing are the sand, waves, and pina coladas.
For the best views in the city, and a little nature a few minutes from downtown, take the funicular up to Floyen, a peak overlooking the city. The funicular ride up is quick and actually comfortable. At the top, a large platform gives incredible views over the large city and makes for perfect selfies. Well I guess a selfie can only be as perfect as the self, so that’s up to you.
From the viewing platform, a short hike on a gravel path will bring you to a small lake, Skomakerdiket, for a pastoral, picturesque vista. On sunny days, the lake is taken over with families out for walks with their children in nature, swimming in the lake, or even paddling in canoes on the tranquil waters. Norwegian families love heading out into nature with the whole family and if the little kiddies can do it, why can’t you?
After you get your fill of sunshine and nature, it’s time to head back down to the harbor for some time soaking in the sun and some tasty micro-brewed craft suds. The Bergen Microbrewery, situated right on the historic harbor has a great selection of beers brewed on-premises and a fantastic outdoor space with couches and tables. Food is available, but the true star is the great beer. The IPAs, while not hitting you over the head with bitterness, are still pleasantly hop forward and have a nice citrus aroma that pairs well with sunshine. Once you find a nice perch on a couch, you won’t want to leave.
If you do decide to leave though, head over to the Bryggen area again for some more beer at the excellent gastropub, Una. Here, you can sample craft brews from around Norway from Flam to Trondheim and back again. The knowledgeable bar tenders know their stuff and can tell you stories about each beer as well as make great suggestions. You’ll find some truly unique brews here. Even better, there is a nice sidewalk setup to sit outside and enjoy the drink in the sunshine. Since the sun doesn’t set in the summer, you can literally sit our here all day. And with great beer like this, you may want to.
All good things must finally come to an end, and the sunshine in Bergen will eventually stop. With flights direct via the very affordable Norwegian Air, you can come back anytime though. Bergen has a ton to offer as Norway’s second largest city, but the friendly locals make it feel more personal and inviting. With so many great ways to explore the city, experience nature, and enjoy the great weather with local craft beer, there’s no reason to ever want to leave. Make sure Bergen is on your list!