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Cities and towns throughout Scandinavia unfold like the pages of a storybook, greeting visitors with colorful historic buildings, winding streets, picturesque waterfronts and rolling mountains and fjords flanking the outskirts.
While bustling Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo are similar in their city life personas, the relatively smaller size and more leisurely pace of Bergen, Norway, makes it ideal for families. With plenty of museums, specialty tours and green spaces, all family members will find themselves immersed in Norway’s history, culture and natural wonders.
Below are activities and attractions to suggest to family clients planning a trip to Bergen.
Explore Mount Floyen ParkAfter the thrill of riding the Floibanen Funicular’s approximately 1,050 feet of steep track from the edge of downtown Bergen (near the fish market and Bryggen Wharf, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the entry of Mount Floyen Park, you’ll get the “wow” factor of the panoramic vista of the city and surrounding fjords (a perfect backdrop for a family vacation portrait).
However, there’s more to explore beyond the bird’s-eye views. A few yards away, kids can scale the interactive playground, get to know Norway’s beloved folkloric characters in the Troll Forest and schmooze with the resident cashmere goats that assist with the park’s landscaping in spring and summer.
Daily guided hikes are offered in the warmer months, as are weekend-only kid-friendly zipline tours and bike rentals. Well-marked trails and picnic areas are accessible year-round, enabling visitors to take in the mountain as a fall foliage paradise or a winter wonderland.
Forage and Prep Seafood on a Speedboat TourSeafood and speedboat tours of the fabled fjords are two of Norway’s biggest lures, and Bergen Fjord Adventures brings them together in a most exhilarating way.
Minutes after adventurers gear up in special waterproof jumpsuits and embark from a dock across the street from Bryggen wharf, they will travel between islets and reefs within the fjords. The guide stops occasionally to provide interesting tidbits covering geology, regional wildlife and maritime history.
Eventually, the boat docks on a specially chosen islet whose year-round residents are seabirds and goats. The guide sets up a bonfire and meal prep supplies, and participants forage the shore for periwinkles, shellfish and seaweed to be used in what will become a fish stew. The participants, in turn, learn how to prepare food in the wild and gain a greater appreciation for life within the fjords.
Learn About History and Science at MuseumsAs Bergen is one of Scandinavia’s rainiest cities, museums strive to keep visitors enthralled as well as dry. The Bergen Maritime Museum and The Hanseatic Museum each present a different perspective of Bergen’s maritime heritage and role in overall European history.
The Maritime Museum documents Bergen’s and Norway’s maritime evolution from the prehistoric period and Viking era to the present day through models, paintings and various items related to shipboard life and the people who lived it.
The Hanseatic Museum, housed within one of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in Bergen, and the nearby Schotstuene (also known as the Hanseatic Assembly Rooms), detail the day-to-day lives of the German merchants credited for reviving Bergen and its economy after the plague. The city thrived between 1350 and 1750 due to trading commodities such as stockfish and grains.
VilVite, a science center located less than a mile from downtown, features more than 100 hands-on installations — many with a physics bent — where kids and parents use all of their senses to learn about science and technology phenomena. The most famous is the “G-Force” attraction, which allows visitors to cycle 360 degrees without falling off the bike due to a curved track.
Take a Unique Food TourNorway Insight’s Eco Food Tour and City of Gastronomy Tour go beyond the routine itinerary of street-food kiosks and trendy eateries by taking visitors to traditional neighborhood institutions to discover Southern Norway’s culinary and economic foundations.
The hike through taste and time begins at Bergen Base Camp inside Bryggen, where participants learn how brown cheese, dried stockfish and apples became staples in the Norwegian diet. From there, the group will visit a variety of quirky neighborhood spots with historic underpinnings, as well as the city fish market to sample hearty stews, waffles topped with brown cheese and fish cakes.
View an Extensive Art CollectionKode Art Museums and Composer Homes is a collection of seven art museum buildings as well as composers’ homes. Highlights from Kode’s four adjoining galleries in Bergen’s city center include works from international art giants such as Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee; special galleries dedicated to Norwegian artists Edvard Munch and Nikolai Astrup; key works from other Norwegian artists such as J.C. Dahl, Harriet Backer, Erik Werenskiold and Gerhard Munthe; and Solvskatten (aka The Silver Treasure), a permanent collection of silver and gold objects produced in Bergen.
KunstLab in Kode 4 puts Norwegian and international art into a context even the youngest museum-goers can grasp. The Dream Dust Room, for example, juxtaposes illustrations from contemporary Norwegian picture books with works from Kode’s own collections and other site-adapted art installations.
The DetailsVisit Bergen en.visitbergen.com