After our five days in Copenhagen (which I highly recommend if you are considering international travel with your kids), we flew to Bergen, Norway for the second half of the trip. Unlike the Copenhagen visit, our Bergen trip was not planned by their tourism board. We had to go back to being regular travelers and figure out what to do for ourselves.
As a result, this trip wasn’t quite as action packed as Copenhagen, which could be our doing and could also be because there is not as much to do there. I don’t mean this in bad way; it actually made for a really nice balance, especially when the kids were starting to get antsy about heading back home.
Why did we pick Bergen? When I looked into traveling to Norway online, a lot of people suggested skipping Oslo and going further north to really see the fijords. There is a famous tour called “The Key to Norway” which was easily accessible from Bergen. I also found photos from Ashlund which were stunning, so we debated both, but after some research, we determined that Bergen was easier to get to because it has an airport with a direct flight from Copenhagen.
Easy travel being really crucial with kids.
Like Copenhagen, I was really impressed by how kid-friendly everything was in Bergen. I loved how long the days stretched and the sunsets went on for hours. There were also playgrounds in the most unexpected and stunning places.
Day 1: On top of Mount Fløyen
We arrived in Bergen around 3:30pm which you would think would mean that we’d get situated in our hotel, have dinner and go to bed. But Bergen stays light over the summer until midnight so we had a full day ahead of us. Our hotel was on the waterfront, right next to the most photographed part of Bergen called Bryygen. It’s a whole bunch of colorful houses with bars and restaurants that spill out on the sidewalk right along the water.
The craziest thing about the picture below is that it was taken at 10pm.
We took the afternoon to walk around the city and stumbled on an American style diner called Rock and Roll, which has a bunch of different cars that you can sit in as your table.
There was a lot of outdoor seating for the restaurant across the street that was packed with people and random sculptures and clothing boutiques that made the whole block feel like a fun in-the-know place to be.
We let the kids eat in a NYC taxi while Mike and I ate at a booth by ourselves, which ended up being one of the most relaxing restaurant experiences we’ve had with our kids pretty much ever. The food is hamburgers, chicken fingers, etc. so plenty for the kids.
After our late lunch, we decided to see the view from the top of Mount Fløyen. There is a funicular right in town, walking distance from the hotel and the restaurant, that takes you there. We had heard there was a playground at the top so we figured the kids would have fun and be able to burn off some energy from the travel day. We got a spot right at the front window of the funicular, which moves backward up the mountain and was real treat for the kids.
Once at the top, you can really see the fijords and how the city juts out in all different places. I had thought where we were staying was the main access to water, but there is water coming in from all different directions. It was really quite something.
There are steps at the top where people congregate to see the view, even though sunset wasn’t happening for another 8 hours or so. We saw a bunch of mountain goats enjoying the view as well.
Besides the view, there is a restaurant and a HUGE playground at the top. I don’t have any pictures that show how big the playground is but the girls could have played there for hours. It made me wish that Mike and I had brought a bottle of wine and just relaxed while the kids played.
Even better, if you left the playground and explored a bit, there were lots of other playground equipment just randomly built in the forrest.
The deeper we explored, the more things we found to climb.
Wooden objects, rope bridges, climbing walls and random troll figures all beckoning you to keep on walking further into the woods to find the hidden surprises. Mazzy and Harlow were in heaven.
After we came down, we went for sushi at a really great Asian Fusion restaurant that had been recommended to us called Nama. Mike and I ate some excellent sushi while the girls were happy with white rice and chicken and salmon tataki.
Day 2: Science for a Rainy Day
The second day in Bergen it was raining, so after getting cinnamon rolls at Baker Brun (a very popular spot in Bergen).
Then we headed to the Science Center. I can’t say I was particularly excited to go to the Science Center but it totally surprised us all.
First, it was huge. Secondly, there were so many activities there that were interesting to all different age groups. Stuff for Harlow, stuff for Mazzy and stuff for Mike and me. I thought we would spend an hour or two there but we ended up staying there for a good portion of the day.
The only reason we left was because Harlow didn’t want to eat anything at the cafeteria. There were many viable options but she was just in a mood and we ended up leaving.
Someone on Instagram had recommended the strawberries in Bergen, so we found a vendor at open air fish market by the hotel (which was open every day we were there and late into the night.) The strawberries were indeed the best strawberries any of us had ever had, and my kids eat A LOT of strawberries.
Then we did some shopping in Bryggen, which has a bunch of wonderful shops for home decor and children’s goods.
Scandinavian design is so playful and modern and there were so many great finds to be had. I bought a rainbow trivet, a funky pepper grinder and two decorated egg cups to all sit together in the middle of my dining room table.
It’s fun to wonder behind the stores in Bryggen as well. You’ll find lots of weird alleyways and hidden doors.
For dinner, we tried an Italian place called Da Stefano that was recommended. It looked like a little hole in the wall but the pizza, pasta and gelato were all homemade on the premises and it was all DELICIOUS.
Day 3: the Key to Norway
On our third day, we woke up early to go on the famous fijord tour called Norway in a Nutshell which involves taking a train to a bus to a boat to a train to another train before you are back where you started. The boat ride begins in Voss which is a popular town for extreme winter sports.
Throughout the entire boat ride, flocks of seagulls swam alongside us which was one of most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life.
From there you boat through the fijords and see a few tiny picturesque towns that appear like magic along the water.
There are also tons of waterfalls, large and small that you see on every leg of the trip. So don’t worry, as I did, if at first you feel like you are on the wrong side of the bus.
There weren’t a lot of options for food on the boat so Mike bought a huge lamb dog with fried onions from the concession stand on the boat. I tried it and it was delicious and ended up buying my own.
After the boat docks, you get out in a small town where there are a few outlet shops for winter gear and street food vendors. We opted for a vendor selling fish soup which was UNREAL. They told us they were famous on YouTube. I’d ask Harlow what it was called but she slept through the whole thing.
Then we boarded an old wooden train which traveled through lush farmland at the base of jagged mountains with some of the most magnificent waterfalls yet. At one point, the train stopped for everyone to get out and experience the largest falls of the trip. We got as close as we could without getting soaked. Then, much to our surprise, dramatic music started playing and a woman in a red dress appeared at the top of the falls.
The woman danced for awhile to the music and then when the song ended, disappeared to wherever she came from. “I was not expecting that!” Mazzy said. “I don’t think anybody was, ” I said. Least of all Harlow, who was still fast asleep.
When we got back to Bergen, we decided to eat dinner in the Fish Market, which cooks up fresh fish any way you wish. Actually, let me backtrack a bit. First we got the kids MacDonald’s and then we went to the Fish Market for Mike and me to eat.
We ordered a huge raw seafood platter with crab, shrimp, oysters, lobster, but it’s important to note one thing. Turns out, Norwegian people have never heard of cocktail sauce and offered us Tabasco sauce instead. I don’t like anything spicy so we ended up dipping everything in lemon and melted butter.
Day 4: Playground with a View
We started the day back at Rock and Roll because we heard they had out of this world pancakes. Also, we knew the kids would be thrilled.
Then we took a double decker bus to the base of Mount Ulriken. Once there, we took a gondola to the top.
Before I continue, I have to tell you a little story about a lost balloon. Before we left on the bus, a woman on the street handed Mazzy and Harlow each a pink balloon.
Harlow let hers go by accident almost as soon as it entered her hand (you can actually see it leave her hand in the pic above) and Mazzy, in a rare moment of extreme big sister kindness, offered Harlow her balloon instead. We tied it to Harlow’s wrist and it remained with her for the rest of the day.
The top of Mount Ulriken was absolutely stunning with another wooden playground that seemed to rise up out of nowhere. The kids were thrilled, obviously.
After playing around, checking out the view and seeing what was available to eat at the modern gourmet restaurant with floor to ceiling windows and the best view of the city, Mazzy convinced us to take a little hike.
We weren’t dressed for it so my advice is, if you go to Bergen— be prepared to hike at all times. The landscape is worth exploring. We climbed down down some rocks and made are way across a trail until Harlow had enough and Mike agreed to take her back.
Mazzy convinced me to press on. There seemed to be something worth looking at in the distance although we couldn’t tell exactly what until we got there.
It was a lake on top of the mountain with yet another view of the city below and it was totally worth the hike.
After we got back down, we ended the night at a popular Italian place called Ruccola. With my kids, you always know you have a win with pasta.
Day 5: The Old Town of Gamel
On our last day, we took advantage of the morning and drove out to Gamel via taxi. Gamel is a town modeled to look exactly like how Bergen looked a long time ago. I’d seen many pictures of the colored houses all in a row online and had no idea the whole street was actually part of a museum.
There were even actors wandering around in period clothes, pretending to man the candy shop and dance in the main square to fiddle music.
We were given a map and got to wander from the tailor’s house to the dollmaker to the old school dentist to the house that put out the local newspaper. Mike and I kept making Little House on the Prairie references that Mazzy and Harlow did not understand.
We ended the excursion on a wooden swing on a large tree that looked out over the water.
It was a perfect moment that we got to recount our favorite things from the trip. We all agreed that the unexpected playgrounds on the mountaintops were the best.
Then we went back to the hotel, packed up and headed to the airport. It was a long ride home.
If you are thinking about going anywhere in Scandinavia, I totally recommend including Bergen on your trip.
Pin it. Save it. Use it in the future.
Check out our Copenhagen itinerary here!