Our Bergen Norway ADVENTURE

Posted by Karin on August 23, 2022
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Travel to Bergen, Norway, with me! Find out where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do along with family-friendly travel tips and more for an adventure of a lifetime

I’ve done my best to include all the most commonly asked questions. Please be sure to check my Instagram highlight, as I documented the trip daily and included other information and videos you may find helpful!

A Little Bit About Bergen

One of the oldest cities in Europefounded in 1070 by King Olaf III Haraldsson, Bergen has a vibrant history dating back centuries. History still lines the streets with churches, old buildings, and famous artists and musicians. Currently, the Brittanica describes Bergen as: Bergen is now the second largest city in Norway. It has developed a diversified economy based primarily on fishing, shipbuilding, and associated industries (repairing and equipment), machinery and metal products, and food processing. Tourism has also grown in importance. 

As for the culture, AFC-USA said it best: Norway is a country of breathtaking glaciers, fjords, and avid winter sports enthusiasts. The terrain is glaciated with primarily high plateaus, and rugged mountains are broken by fertile valleys, scattered plains, a coastline deeply indented by fjords, and arctic tundra in the north. During the warmer months, Norwegians of all ages love to be outside and hike, fish, and barbecue. In the colder months, some travelers are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the spectacular Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights). Norwegians tend to have a strong sense of history and civic engagement; on special occasions, many Norwegians wear traditional clothing or bunads. In Norwegian culture, some essential values are tolerance, respect, and equality.

Why Norway?

Returning to Norway felt, in many ways, like I was coming home. The sights, sounds, smells, and nearness of family brought me back to all the fantastic childhood memories, and sharing them with my boys and husband was one of the best experiences of my life so far.

In case you missed it, I was born in Norway! My parents met in Wisconsin while at school (my mom was from Chicago). They married and moved to Bergen. However, when my mom started to have kids, she wanted to be closer to her family (back in Chicago). So, I moved back shortly after I was born. My father’s side of the family is still in Norway, primarily Bergen. We have visited regularly since I was a child and had family stay with us in the States. Both of my brothers lived there for an extended period, as well. It’s always been vital for me that my boys have core memories and connections to Norway. I have a Norwegian passport and citizenship, and my boys are eligible because I was born there. Due to the pandemic, this was our youngest’s first trip. It was extra special to have him meet my grandparents – his great grandparents. We were also lucky enough to spend time with my cousins and extended family.

Travel Details

Depart: We flew United from Chicago to Newark to Bergen – about 8 hours

Arrive: We flew Luftansa from Bergen to Frankfurt, then United to Chicago – about 9 hours

Where we Stayed

We stayed at this Airbnb. It was a great central location. The home we were staying in was on a very steep hill and required us to park at the bus station, about a 15-minute walk. Bergen has stringent parking rules, and we wanted to avoid any issues. Full disclosure, the hill’s steepness made for a journey after carrying groceries or an exhausted toddler. But the view made it 1000% worth it! The house was clean and functional and gave us a great space to unwind after a long day of adventuring.

The Food

Open-faced sandwiches, fresh seafood, extra creamy ice cream, and the best strawberries of your life. These are just a few of my favorite things.

What we Loved

  • All the time outdoors
  • The mentality that there’s no bad weather, just wrong clothes
  • Exploring and adventuring in ample outdoor spaces
  • Trying new foods
  • Spending time with family
  • Hiking 

What we’d Change

  • I would have loved to extend the trip (work, schmerk).
  • It’s not something we’d change, but the next time (when the kids are older), we plan to extend some of the fjord tours from Oslo to Bergen.
  • We’d love to road trip and explore some of the islands. I did this when I was younger, and it was beyond magical.

Tips

  • Don’t skip the rain gear.
  • Most restaurants have QR codes, making it easy to order in English.
  • The Land of the Endless Sun- Norway is known for its never setting summer sun. If your children are sensitive sleepers, be sure the windows where you stay have good window light coverage.

Traveling with Kids

  • Well-rested kids make better travel companions.
  • Take later evening flights, so you can sleep, making the time change more manageable.

Must have packing list

  • Rain gear. This goes beyond just a raincoat. Bergen has been called the rainiest city in Europe, and with good reason! Of the ten days we were there, we had one and half days of sunshine. See below for our favorite family rain gear.
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes are necessary (think waterproof hiking shoes). See below for our family’s favorite hiking shoes (all waterproof).

Itinerary

Day One:

We arrived in Bergen, Norway! Welcomed by my grandmother and uncle. We rented a car using the local Avis rental car office, then let my uncle lead the way to our Airbnb. If you are comfortable taking roundabouts, you will have no problem driving around Bergen. After settling into our space, we went to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner to avoid going to bed too early. On our walk back, we stopped at the bus station, where there were a few groceries stores. It’s almost like a mall with plenty of shopping, grocery stores, restaurants, and cafés. We stocked up on a few basics, so we always had food for breakfast, a light lunch, and snacks.

Day Two:

We visited the Bergen Aquarium. It was a smaller aquarium, but such a hit! The kids love being able to stretch their legs in a kid-friendly spot, and it was an excellent way to kick off our first official day. There is a small café, as well as a gift shop. We walked back through the city center and met some of our great friends with whom we spent a few days in Bergen. We had dinner at Fish Me. I CAN NOT explain how fresh and delicious Norway’s seafood is- it’s genuinely excellent and unique. Luckily, the boys eat salmon and shrimp, so we were in good shape for the kids’ meals. They did have a kid’s menu, but it mainly included seafood. Nuggets were listed but were out of stock on that particular day. Most menus also list allergies and provide kid-friendly options, but as always, be sure to check ahead of time.

Bergen Aquarium – While a relatively small aquarium, it’s still a great way to spend the afternoon with the kids. 

Day Three:

We started the day at Good Bread- our central spot for this trip. We started almost all mornings here, grabbing a delicious pastry and tasty iced vanilla latte. It’s located just next to Floyen, one of Bergen’s smaller mountains. However, it can be climbed or descended on foot or with their funicular. We decided to ease ourselves into the trip and take the funicular this day. There is a beautiful restaurant, ice cream shop, and AMAZING playgrounds. It’s the perfect family-friendly spot. From toddlers to the big kids, there’s something for everyone. You can wander around and spot any number of wooden troll carvings, the stunning views, or even take a picnic and breathe fresh air. This is a MUST SEE- We did it twice! Oh, and while you’re up there, get the open-faced shrimp sandwich. You can thank me later. After taking a little break back at our Airbnb and refueling with snacks, we met our friends again and went to Bryggen. This is another MUST SEE! Bryggen, meaning the dock, is a historic trading post from the 12th century. Roger jokingly calls this Diagon Alley because of its winding narrow streets, crooked old stairs, and small unique shops. This is a perfect spot to grab souvenirs and even local artwork.

Floyen – The Fløibanen funicular in Bergen is one of Norway’s best-known and most visited attractions. The journey to Fløyen (320 m above sea level) takes about 5–8 minutes.  You can also purchase tickets one way, in favor of hiking up or down on your own.

Bryggen was built after the great fire in 1702 and is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Bryggen is a historic harbor district in Bergen, one of North Europe’s oldest port cities on Norway’s west coast, which was established as a center for trade by the 12th century.

Day Four:

This was another start the morning at the bakery kind of day! We met my cousin, his wife, and their new baby at Fountain Nygardsparken. We walked there from our Airbnb. A beautiful park with lovely views, fun playgrounds, and an EPIC tree fort made for big kids (or husbands)! We then spent the evening visiting my aunt and uncle’s home with family. It was a pretty special day. 

Nygårdsparken – This is a public park located in the city center of Bergen in Vestland county, Norway. It is situated between the neighborhoods of Nygård and Møhlenpris.

Day Five:

Norway’s most extensive fjord tour is Norway in a Nutshell. However, this is an all-day (like 12 hours all day) trip, and I didn’t think the kids would fair that well with such a big trip after the long flights just a few days before. So, we booked through Fjord Tours- THE TOUR WAS INCREDIBLE! If you’re not up for the whole day tour (if you are, please DO IT), this still gives you a unique and adventurous fjord experience. You take a ferry for about an hour before reaching Mostraumen, then the captain gets up close to the waterfalls, and you feel this great mist and swear you can spy trolls! We ended the day at Byggeriet -the salmon tartar was out of this world! They also had a full kid’s menu, and I think they got pizza this time. We ended our adventurous day with an extra creamy softis (soft serve ice cream). Please note: this is THE CREAMIEST ice cream ever. While extra creamy, it’s not overly sugary, making it quite perfect, in my opinion!

Fjord Tours – On this round trip from Bergen, you travel with a modern and comfortable catamaran to Mostraumen. The vessel is spacious, has a great viewing deck, and is universally designed so the whole family. Even strollers can come along! After a fantastic fjord cruise, you can enjoy a delicious shellfish platter in maritime surroundings by the Fish Market in Bergen.

Day Six:

We decided to summit Ulrike Ulriken! This is the highest mountain in Bergen. You can either go on foot or take the cable car. You can either purchase tickets online or in person. Once the cable car reaches the top, you can walk the rest to the tiptop!  Or you can take in the views at their restaurant, which boasts a great patio. My parents surprised us and were at the top waiting for us! We also met my aunt and uncle and hiked the rest of the distance to get to the top. This mountain was claimed as a favorite by my oldest. And for real, the views are OUT OF THIS WORLD! We then returned to my aunt and uncle’s house for coffee and dessert. 

Ulriken – The highest of the seven mountains in Bergen can be summited by cable car or hiking. There’s a lovely restaurant and café at the top, too! 

Day Seven:

We met with my parents, their friend, godfather, cousin, and grandmother and took a lower-impact hike. This is a fun spot with little wooden open cabin-like shelters that the kids loved exploring, picnic spots with great views, and lifesized wooden animal carvings the kids loved searching for. We even managed to get the same photos we had a few years back- making it a super cool time-lapse!

Day Eight:

We decided to take a pretty easy day and grab some of the souvenirs we had scouted out in Bryggen. It was an excellent way to slow down, enjoy our favorite bakery, and grab some gifts for friends back home. I also went to my grandmother’s house for a special dinner of shrimp sandwiches, and she gifted me some of her art and her favorite ring. It was a pretty special day.

Day Nine:

We decided to trek back up Floyen. The playground was spectacular, and I thought it would be a great way to expend some energy that builds up with three traveling kids! We also walked down, and it was pretty amazing. The misty views and lush greenery were stunning. We had dinner at Fish Me (again), and their seafood platters are INCREDIBLE! We finished the day with coffee and dessert at my aunt and uncle’s house so we could say a proper goodbye. Always bittersweet. But don’t worry, I am already planning our next trip!

Day Ten:

Our final day in Bergen was spent with my father and grandmother at the Old Bergen Museum. This was such an unexpected spot of fun! It’s an open-air museum. This place was a surprise of design inspiration. The kids loved some old-fashioned toys and saw the candy shop, toy store, and old schoolhouse. 

Old Bergen – At the old Bergen open-air museum, you can experience a fantastic atmosphere, with houses from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Actors make history come alive. This was an unexpected and enjoyable surprise and a fun adventure for everyone.

Day Eleven:

Early morning flight home by way of Frankfurt. 

This trip was insanely memorable and magical. We could spend time with people we hadn’t seen in what seemed like forever. We were able to create a host of new memories and adventures with some of our dearest friends and ensure the boys have some core connections with Norway.

questions asked via Instagram

What’s the Weather Like?

Bergen is called the rainiest city in Europe, and with good reason. Seven mountains surround Bergen, so the clouds from the Ocean encourage the rainfall. Average summer temperatures are 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit, with the warmest month being July. The rain happens all year long. 

Tips about language barriers and navigating foundational needs of children- eat, sleep, etc.?

The majority of the country speaks English very well. They are taught English starting in grade one. It’s also important to remember that so many shows, music, and even entertainment are in English. In my experience (other than in France), most people speaking a different language are happy if you try your best. My advice is to learn how to say hello. Can you speak English? Please, thank you, etc. If you start with Hei, kan du snake Engelsk (hello, can you speak English)? Many apps are capable of translation if you are ever in a pinch.

As I’ve shared before, any time you travel with kids, it’s highly recommended that you come prepared with plenty of snacks (tiny lollipops are my secret weapon) and plenty of patience! All the stimulation of a new adventure can make for tired and even grumpy kids (and grown-ups). We tried to carve out time each afternoon to return to the Airbnb for some quiet time. I found this incredibly helpful for both kids and grown-ups. I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe that well-rested kids make for flexible travelers before a trip. We also left plenty of room to ebb and flow as moods, energy levels, and general attitudes prevail! Most mornings, we kept things slower and ensured we had similar breakfasts to what we had at home (yogurt, berries, toast, eggs, etc.). This helps set the tone for the day.

As for sleep, we made sure to have a crib for our youngest, as this is what he’s familiar with at home. Our youngest is also in the phase where afternoon naps are touch and go, making for more flexibility. Because this trip requires Much walking, we opted to take a hiking carrier, so we could give him the option to rest if needed. We try to keep things routine while we’re traveling; we also encourage flexibility in everyone and remind everyone that traveling as a family can be much fun but also require extra patience by everyone. And THE BIGGEST piece of advice, adjust expectations! There will be days when you envision something unique, and it just doesn’t pan out that way- overtired, overstimulated, and too much family time (especially for the introverts of the bunch) can give way to less than ideal experiences. I like to mentally budget those in knowing their coming, preventing the whole experience from being squashed.

So, there you have it. My complete 11 day trip to Norway. If you have any quetions or there's anything I missed, please leave a comment below! Or, shoot me a message on Instagram! I'm always happy to chat and help in any way I can. Happy traveling, friends! 
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Karin with her first 2 boys

I’m Karin (Ka-Rin), a cooking, photography and interior design enthusiast sharing my love of delicious food, humor, pretty things and capturing beauty in everyday moments.

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