Bergen, Norway with Kids
Bergen is topping the list as one of the favorite places we have had a chance to visit since moving abroad. This city is completely approachable and packed with charm. Perhaps this is why Disney chose it as a model for Frozen’s Arendelle. We were glad that the bulk of our Norway days were spent here as opposed to Oslo. Bergen is just more our style.
We flew into the Bergen Airport with SAS Airline. We had a bit of trouble at the get go, as our flights were canceled and rescheduled twice. Our final itinerary put us flying through Copenhagen to Bergen and arriving several hours later than expected. SAS did end up compensating us for our stopover costs in Copenhagen. The rest of our flight experience with SAS was excellent.
Once in Bergen we took the SAS Flybus into the city center. It’s not a far ride but traffic at 4pm in Bergen was pretty bad. We got off the bus at the closest stop to our Airbnb and walked the rest of the way.
The house was centrally located in Bergen on the top of the hill that runs the length of the peninsula. We could literally walk everywhere we needed to go in a few minutes and easily found grocery stores, a playground and restaurants nearby. The home has three bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, bathroom and shower. It was the perfect space for a few days in Bergen.
Our first night we grabbed dinner at a restaurant just a few blocks from the house. Klosteret Kaffebar drew us in with their cozy outdoor seating. The menu is limited but delicious. Every time we walked by the place it was packed!
Our first full day in Bergen started with an early wake up by everyone. In late May the sun is up at 4:22 and the kids followed not too far behind that. We had picked up some groceries so we could have breakfast at the house but by 7:30 we were ready to get out of the house and explore.
Our first stop was Kaffemisjonen for a cup of Bergen’s best coffee. The coffee was in fact delicious and the barista was happy to answer all our questions about coffee carafes and other fun gadgets we saw on the store shelves. We took our coffee, and a few pastries, to go and continued our walk.
Exploring the back streets of Bergen we found cemeteries and old churches and loads of beautiful homes headed up the mountainside.
We popped into Godt Brod to have sandwiches made for our day trip. (We were so pleased with our food here we headed back to this same location before our train trip on the Bergen Railway.)
Godt Brod is also where I discovered the Skillingboller, the Norwegian cinnamon roll. I can’t really put my finger on why I love them so much, but I spent the rest of the time in Bergen searching for them, ordering them and eating them. When we left Bergen and there were none (of this particular style) to be found in Oslo, I exclaimed that my largest regret of the trip was not eating more of these sugary pastries while in Bergen!
We continued our walk into Bergen’s main square. The adorable gazebo basically sums up Bergen!
There were also plenty of monuments and fountains for the boys to explore.
The boys enjoyed looking at all the sailors and pirates on the Sailors Monument. We also popped into the 7-Eleven to grab some chips and supplemental snacks for our lunch before heading to the docks.
We boarded the 3.5 hour fjord cruise run by Rodne just before 10am. Reservations are recommended but we did see people buying tickets at the window. The boat is smaller than the longer cruises that go out, but it is speedy. We figured the 3.5 hour cruise was about all the boys could handle and this cruise fit the bill. We were able to see the beautiful fjords in a time frame that fit the kids.
We chose seats inside near the large picture windows. There are a few tables available and we grabbed one of those. Everyone else headed upstairs to the open decks, but an hour into the cruise headed downstairs to look for indoor seating. We were able to go outside when we wanted, but otherwise enjoyed the view without the wind.
The boat stops a few times and opens the bow to visitors, so we darted out there when it was available. The boat even makes a stop to collect water from a mountain waterfall, which guests are then able to drink.
O slept for over half of the cruise in his stroller parked next to our table. H enjoyed looking out the window. He thought many of the houses were in “miniature” as we passed by in the boat. The Captain also came down and invited H and Jeff to come drive the boat for a bit. He (H) was thrilled.
The food choices on the boat are abysmal. The cruise sails over lunch and the most substantial offering is a packaged muffin. We saw most people purchasing these at the little store. We however, were happy with our packed lunch.
When the cruise returned to the dock we headed right to the Floyen Funicular Railway. We arrived around 4:30 and a cruise ship tour bus was just unloading as we picked up tickets so the line looked a bit daunting. Luckily, with the stroller, we were skipped into the handicapped, buggy line and boarded right away.
A ride on the funicular provides stunning views of bergen matched only by those views from the viewing platform on the top of the mountain.
There is a large troll-themed playground at the top that the kids very much enjoyed.
We also walked through the woods a bunch, including on a troll-themed path with more play equipment and small houses. H could not stop talking about the rock trolls from Frozen.
We also grabbed an ice cream treat while we were up there. When we were ready to head back down everything had cleared out. We had the viewing platform and the train back down basically to ourselves.
On our walk back to the house we passed through the Bergen Fish Market and picked up a light dinner for the boys. I got the boys settled for bed while mom and Jeff grabbed a proper dinner near the center of town.
Our second full day in Bergen started with a walk through Bryggen, the old wooden houses that line one side of the harbor. Early in the morning hardly anything is open in this area of town.
That left plenty of wooden planked walkways for us to explore. H’s favorite was this fish from driftwood we came upon tucked back into the buildings.
We popped into Baker Brun, which was just opening for the morning, for a cup of coffee to go. (I of course also picked up a Skillingboller!)
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a large sailing ship, is parked just across the street from Bryggen. We were not there while they were sailing but you’re allowed to walk right up to the ship. H was convinced it was Prince Hans’ ship that Anna & Elsa had kept.
The Bergenhus Festning is a large fortress built at the entrance to the Bergen harbor. It is renowned for being one of the best preserved castles in Norway. We arrived before it opened so we spent some time exploring the grounds. There are ramparts and cannons to climb on.
Only the tower was open when we visited as there were events being held in the great hall. The tower is full of things for kids to explore. The dungeon is always a favorite, and dressed in his dragon rain coat H pretended he lived there for a while. There were also swords and other dress up items to enjoy. Typically you can venture out on the roof for views of the harbor, but due to reconstruction it is currently closed. There are lots of stairs at the museum so it is not stroller friendly. We parked ours in the museum lobby and explored with both kids on foot.
The Norwegian Fisheries Museum is best accessed from town via a water ferry which runs about every 20 minutes. You purchase tickets for the ferry and museum on the boat. The boat ride is quite scenic and fun as it is on a historic little boat that seems to chugs along.
When we arrived at the museum I was a bit skeptical it was going to be able to capture our kids’ attention, but boy was I wrong. There were plenty of hands-on exhibits to keep the kids occupied. There was even a scavenger hunt, ask at the front desk, for kids to complete for a small prize.
The highlight was this fishing exhibit they have set up on the top floor. Even the adults enjoyed it. The exhibit explained how trash ends up in the ocean. It also taught the importance of measuring your fish and tossing back those that are too small or those that you are not permitted to catch.
We also ate lunch at the museum cafe which was lovely. The fish was literally coming in by boat as we ordered it. They even put H to work having him help bring all our silverware and other things to the table. He loved being helpful. When O fell asleep we parked him and my mom on a bench in the sun on the restaurant patio and spent a bit longer in the museum until it was time to catch our ferry back to the main harbor.
You can also rent boats from the museum and head out into the harbor. We were a little skeptical about heading out into open water and ended up not needing this extra activity. Perhaps though with older kids this would be a nice way to get some extra activity into the day.
We didn’t really have a plan when we got back to the main harbor so I ran H over to the Starbucks to grab smoothies and frappuccinos for an afternoon pick-me-up while my mom and Jeff did some planning. When I returned, they had hatched a plan to visit a Stave Church just outside the city center.
We walked a few blocks to the Bergen Light Rail stop. Tickets can be purchased at any of the convenience stores in town or at the non-staffed terminal at stations for an increased price. We took a 25 min ride to the Fantoft station followed by a 10 min uphill walk to the Fantoft Stave Church.
The walk is not at all stroller friendly. Jeff carried the stroller up several flights of stairs just before the church, which is situated in a beautiful woods. The Fantoft Stave Church is actually a reconstruction as the original one, built in 1150, burned down in 1992. We loved exploring the church and the woods around it
When we returned by light rail to the city we wanted a quick dinner and had passed several taco places. We haven’t found real tacos in the Netherlands so we decided Norwegian tacos would do! Los Tacos, a Norway chain, is a small store with limited decor but the burritos hit the spot. H was so excited to have quesadillas, not made with gouda cheese that he ate four of them!
We had a half day in Bergen before we boarded the Bergen Railway to head to Oslo and the goal was to tire the kids out before the seven-hour train ride. Everyone was up super early, thanks again to the early sunrise, so Jeff got the boys to the playground up the hill from the house while mom and I went looking for coffee. On Saturday at 7:30 nothing in Bergen is open, not even the Starbucks. We were able to watch four cruise ships dock in the ports around the city.
At 8am we popped into Deli De Luca, an upscale convenience store for a coffee. We met up with the boys and headed back to Godt Brod to pick up supplies for the train ride before grabbing our bags and walking to the train station. We were quite early for the train. There is not much to do in the Bergen station, so plan to arrive no more than 30 minutes early.
Overall Bergen was my favorite part of our Norway adventure. There was plenty more to see and do in the area, particularly if you’re not traveling with little ones. Make sure you check out the Bergen Guide, a really helpful blog about all things Bergen.
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