Sunshine In The City Of Rain – Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, fondly referred to as “The Gateway To The Fjords,” is a quaint  and popular travel destination which, with it’s population just under 270k, feels more like a large town than a big city. Established as a major center of trade in the 12th century, much of Bergen’s history is represented in Bryggen, the old wharf at the eastern side of the fjord. Bryggen’s characteristic row of Hanseatic wooden buildings is now a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List and despite being victim to multiple fires over the years, the original foundations to many of the buildings still remain. The architecture of the houses perched on the quaint hills of Bergen is delightful and very distinct to its region.

Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, fondly referred to as “The Gateway To The Fjords”

Our family had never been to Bergen before (except for Nana, who’s been mostly everywhere) and as soon as we got there, we all loved it. This was actually Ryan’s first trip to Scandinavia altogether and given his Nordic ancestry along with the beautiful scenery and quality of life, I figured he would be impressed.

As we pulled up to our hotel, the evidently charming cobblestone street lined with brightly colored flowers was all I needed to see to know that I was going to like this place.

Hotel Oleana

Where We Stayed

Hotel Oleana
Address: Øvre Ole Bulls plass 5, 5012 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 21 58 70
Web: https://www.nordicchoicehotels.no/clarion/clarion-collection-hotel-oleana/

We stayed at the funky and chic musical-themed Hotel Oleana which was conveniently located right by the National Theater and the attractive park-like grounds that surround it. This hotel with it’s ideal location, friendly staff and new, clean rooms with views of some of Bergen’s most sought-after attractions (such as the aforementioned theater and the famous Mt. Floyen and Floibanen) was perfect for us. They offer a full breakfast as well as dinner, with a make-your-own waffle station mid-day to hold guests over in between meals. Make sure to take a ride in the Oleana’s elevator as it changes colors as it climbs from one floor to the next…flashy!

The Best Thing We Ate
The Open Air Fish Market
Location: Bergen City Center, Torget, 5013 Bergen, Norway
Web: http://en.visitbergen.com/things-to-do/fish-market-in-bergen-p822253

One of the things Bergen is most known for is it’s picturesque Open Air Fish Market. The market is held outdoors daily in the summer and on Saturdays during the wintertime. It’s ironic that the most delicious food I found in Bergen happened to be at a fish market, and I don’t eat fish (or any seafood, for that matter), but I was blown away by the most garlic-y roasted potatoes I had ever tried. It wasn’t until the third day that we’d walked through the fish market (and stopped for Ryan to try something new and fishy each time), that I’d decided to finally sample the food that I had been sniffing out since we got there. Boy, am I glad that I did.

Though I’m sure they were intended to be served as a vegetable to compliment one’s seafood, I enjoyed my potatoes by themselves and they alone were all that I needed that day for lunch. I’m always impressed when I’m served a dish that doesn’t require the adding of even the slightest pinch of salt and pepper and these definitely did not.

The kids loved them too but not as much as the fresh-fruit smoothies they got from the organic fruit and vegetable stand on the corner of the market. There they also served various vegetable soups and juices. I regret not having gotten something from here as well but definitely will the next time we’re in town.

Ryan’s favorite treat was the smoked salmon and while it’s not fish, he picked up some reindeer sausage for the road… The Fish Market in Bergen is one of the only places in the world where you can buy whale steaks (or whale salami) although none of us did. Ryan did, however, take home some Norwegian caviar which he’s been enjoying with the vodka that we bought in Iceland- a true Nordic delight!

There’s also usually a street musician or two somewhere nearby playing songs from their musical genre of choice. We heard everything from James Taylor to Spanish Flamenco. Believe it or not, we actually ran into a guitarist-friend, Sebastian de la Estacion, whom we had met performing in a piazza in Venice just a few months before! It really is a small world, after all.

Fun For The Kids

The opportunities for kids to have fun in Bergen are endless and it is definitely one of our top-rated destinations for families that we’ve been to so far. The massive presence of trolls alone was a huge hit with our kids- and me too— I loved those little guys! Trolls are everywhere in Norway as they are the focus of much Scandinavian folklore and we enjoyed seeing statues and/or toy versions of them in every gift shop, out on the street, in the woods of Mt. Floyen and even in the Fish Market. We picked up a couple of children’s books about these mythical creatures to take back to the United States with us- one in English and one in Italian.

Mt. Floyen itself was a great place to explore with little ones, as the thrilling (slash terrifying?) Floibanen “ride” up (it’s actually a small train that takes you to the top of the mountain but the track is very steep) is something out of an amusement park. Once we reached the mountaintop, after taking in the incredible view of Bergen and beyond, it didn’t take long for our children to notice the troll-themed playground full of happy kids playing. We spent a good chunk of time there before grabbing some tasty Norwegian ice cream and discovering the family of goats living on the side of the mountain. Mt. Floyen also has a series of walking/hiking/running trails and after taking one that led us to the very cool wooded area filled with more wooden statues of mystical, magical trolls, we took a path that eventually landed us at the bottom, back in town.

The walk down, roughly 2 miles, was peaceful and our daughter impressively walked the whole thing. Reaching the bottom, as we got closer to the city’s center, we got a taste for some more residential areas of Bergen, which we loved. We saw some of the cutest homes with colorful wooden panels and slate roofing and many had beautiful, perfectly manicured gardens around them. Though we didn’t go in, we walked over by the Bergen Aquarium which we heard excellent things about.

Next to it, there’s a little park that we moseyed through where Norwegians come to sunbathe, picnic and we noticed a tiny (concrete) “beach” where there were groups of teenagers swimming in the water, while the Queen Mary 2 sailed by.

We capped off our walk with a fresh-out-of-the-oven Norwegian Cinnamon Roll from the cutest little cafe nearby, (Klosteret Kaffebar), which I loved just as much as the kids did, and we came across yet another playground that we of course had to stop at.

If you have kids, make sure to check out Market Square in the afternoon as there are soap bubble-makers who entertain children for hours a day as they create some of the largest bubbles we had ever seen.

Our time in Bergen was well spent with no shortage of activities for the entire family. Norway, in  general, puts a lot of focus on nature and the outdoors and though it is affectionately referred to as “The City of Rain,” Bergen, for us, proved to be a sunny and cheerful place with something to do for everyone.

A traveler since childhood, Juliana Fraioli Wilson has always had a love for exploring. She is a published writer and an accomplished business owner with a background in music and art. Join Juliana, her husband Ryan, and their two kids in Wanderland! Follow along as they share tips, tricks, recipes and reviews from some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.

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Wilsons in Wanderland

A traveler since childhood, Juliana Fraioli Wilson has always had a love for exploring. She is a published writer and an accomplished business owner with a background in music and art. Join Juliana, her husband Ryan, and their two kids in Wanderland! Follow along as they share tips, tricks, recipes and reviews, from some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.