Bergen – the picture postcard was shot here

Norway offers almost incomparable joy. It’s such an overwhelming experience, that it’s hard to determine the source of the magic. Is it the sense of undiluted escapism, the enchanting natural light, the sumptuous food, the world-beating Nordic design, the staggering fjords, or the truly delightful people?

Bryggen - the image of Norway

One of the most recognisable (and colourful) rows of buildings in Europe, Bryggen, is for many, the face of Norway. The historic UNESCO waterfront is pure eye-candy, framed by the waters of Bergen harbour and the city mountains. The truth though, is that this most-Instagramable cultural site is simply the glossy doorway to a remarkable city – as marvellous as the historic buildings are. Beyond the waterfront are peaks which arc around the city, cradling it in a snowy blanket, offering both a stunning city backdrop and wonderful vantage points for views over the city, ocean, and islands. These peaks are the outdoor playground for the Bergen locals with mountain biking, hiking, and skiing all hugely popular. Two of the peaks can be accessed by lift. Beyond the harbour, heading out across the ocean, the Fjords await - Bergen is considered the gateway to the Norwegian Fjords and they need no introduction!

Fish landed metres from the pan

The buildings might be UNESCO, but so is the food. Locally caught or farmed, Bergen cuisine is not only splendid, but also a blueprint to rescue a world that is free-falling into the monotony of an international menu. Unique dishes tied to the nutritional needs of the people and harvested from the flora and fauna – that is what is commonly served in Bergen. Catches are cooked metres from the harbour, the root-crops are hearty & authentic, and the meats exotic. Don’t expect any prior knowledge of the dishes, just dive headlong into them, and expect a culinary awakening.

An all-electric society vision

Locally sourced, culturally rich foods are just one pillar of the sustainability credentials that Bergen boasts. Nationally recognised, Bergen adds sustainable transport to its environmental portfolio, with a mainline (electrified train) running to the heart of the city from Oslo. The airport is certified for its carbon neutrality, the city is run almost entirely on renewable power, whilst electric buses, light rail, coaches and boats ply the streets and waters around Bergen – humming, not spluttering. In fact, Norway is powered by over 98% renewable electricity, and has a target to be the first renewable and all-electric society in the world. Bergen doesn’t do blah, blah, blah – it simply delivers.

Extreme Voss

And for those looking for something to get the pulse racing, there is serious action just east of Bergen - naturally connected by electric train. Voss has become one of the adrenalin capitals of the world, with sky diving (indoor and outdoor), climbing, skiing, white water rafting, base jumping …. This mountain sports resort is set amongst the interior mountains, hosts the biggest ski area in western Norway and offers the adrenalin junky (as well as those with a survival instinct) the whole spectrum of action sports.

It's the people (and everything else)

So, back to who or what to credit for the overwhelming alure of this place? If I had to define the one, dominant Bergen trait that generates the magic, it would have to be the people. You can view the majestic scenery, taste the superb cuisine, and shudder from the extreme sports. But it’s the people you can really feel - the time that they have for you, their interest in your story and that Nordic glint in their eye that warms & engages you like few other people can.

Bergen city seen from mountain at night.
Person indoor skydiving in Voss, Norway.
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