I've cruised the Fjords many times, so here are my top places to visit on your next cruise to Norway's second largest city, Bergen which is now a wonderful mix of traditional Norway and international sophistication with a vibrant culture.
Bergen is the gateway to the Fjords and the highlight of any Norwegian Fjords cruise. Sailing into the city is through breathtakingingly beautiful scenery. Upon docking in the heart of the city, a good way to get an overview of the city is by taking one of their hop-on/hop-off busses at a cost of 200 Norwegian Kroner. If you prefer, a swift walk along the city’s harbour-side will take you straight to the best places.
Your first stop must be the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen where you’ll witness a beautiful row of pretty, colourful and wooden buildings which are built on foundations which are over 12 centuries old – the original Hanseatic Wharf. While the buildings have been ravaged by fire over the centuries, they still stand tall and proudly show the cultural history and heritage of the area.
Guided tours run throughout the day from the modern Bryggen Visitor Centre but I love to just wander around the narrow alleyways that now house craft and souvenir shops, selling beautiful Norwegian knitwear, embroidery, jewellery and art. One of the landmark’s oldest wooden buildings has been transformed into the Hanseatic Museum where you can now see the old interiors recreated.
You should definitely consider seeing this glorious city from above by venturing to the top of Mount Floyen. Take the eight minute panoramic funicular railway ride up the mountain to 320 metres above sea level. Try to get there early before the crowds but don't be too put off if there is a queue as it carries large numbers at a time.
If the weather is clear you will be treated to magnificent views of the surrounding fjords and the city below. The area at the top of the funicular is lovely for walking and hiking but as there is so much more to see, maybe just enjoy a drink in the cafe and come back down on the funicular.
It's just a short walk back to the harbour and you will find the famous fish market. The market takes place every morning and sells fruit, vegetables and every sort of fish and seafood. Once the marketplace for the fishing boats, it is now more popular with tourists but still a spectacle not to be missed and a great place for a fish lunch. While expensive (as most of Norway is), is but you can try whale meat and spectacular king crabs.
Still on a fish theme, the aquarium in the centre of Bergen is well worth a visit. It hosts every kind of creature which can be found at the depths of the fjord’s waters as well as sea-lion shows and penguins.
Nearby in the heart of the city is the Lille Lungegardsvenn Lake, an area full of gardens, bandstand and fountains, surrounded by cafes, ideal to sit outside for a drink on a sunny day. This area is home to the Art Museums with major collections of amongst others, Munch and Picasso.
If you have time on your visit, 8 kilometres out of town is the Grieg Museum in Troldhaugen. It's a pretty property, which was Edvard Grieg's home for 22 years. The picturesque gardens and the hut where he composed his music overlook the fjords. Lunchtime piano recitals are held daily, these can be booked on line.
Back along the harbour front to your waiting ship. Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains, so sailing away along the coast and through the islands is quite spectacular.
If Margaret's guide has left you longing to see Bergen, take a look at all our cruises to the Norwegian Fjords