Bergen is a small, densely built town surrounded by a large, widespread populated area. Its location in the meeting between the sea and mountains has created islands, fjords and mountains that take time to navigate. However, the landscape is enormously varied within this small radius, from the archipelago in the west to the high mountains inland.

    Scattered around the city are small communities with the occasional cultural or historical attraction. The biggest attractions have been created by nature itself, and these can be found everywhere you look.

    1

    Speed boat to Sognefjorden from Bergen

    Photo safari in the Fjords

    As the crow flies, Sognefjord is more than an hour's boat ride from Bergen, but a speed boat will get you there much faster, and the boat trip is an experience in itself. From Strandkaien, close to Bergen's famous fish market, the trip goes between the islands and peninsulas in what is called the strip country, and further on through narrow canals where you can almost touch the rocks.

    Here you can admire western coastal nature with seabirds floating above you, and sea mammals lurking below the water's surface. The humpback whale likes to appear in large flocks, and if you're really lucky, you might even get to see the killer whales. Get off at Vardetangen to visit Norway's westernmost mainland point.

    Location: Strandgaten 15, 5013 Bergen, Norway

    Open: (Norled customer centre) Monday-Friday: 11.00-16.00. Saturday: closed. Sunday: 10.00-18.00

    Phone: +47 51 86 87 00

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    2

    Fantoft Stave Church

    Old church - new design

    Fantoft Stave Church was built in Sogn in the 12th century, was then moved to Fantoft in Bergen in 1883 and rebuilt after a fire in 1997. Only the cross on the altar and the wish stone on the wall outside the mortuary originate from the original church. But the original shape remains and the ancient timber from Sogn has been used as a building material.

    The church is not usually used for services, but it is consecrated, and weddings occasionally take place here. Although there may not be a great historical buzz around Fantoft Stave Church, there is something peaceful and solemn about this little architectural curiosity in a wood south of Bergen city centre.

    Location: Fantoftvegen 38, 5072 Bergen, Norway

    Open: From 15 May to 15 September. Daily: 11.00-16.00

    Phone: +47 55 28 07 10

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    3

    Askøy

    Bergen's nearest island

    From a cultural perspective, Askøy may suffer a bit from its proximity to the lively centre of Bergen, but is, by contrast, a very peaceful place to spend the day. A drive along the country road around the southern part of the island leads you to a number of towns that sit like pearls on a string. One of these is the small village of Ask, which gave the island its name and is mentioned in the sagas from the Middle Ages.

    The village is famous for its strawberries, the so-called ash berries, and if you come at the right time, you can buy local baked goods from a small house by the road. The area also offers popular hiking trails, such as to the small peak known as Dronningen. The recreational area of Kollevågen and the small neighbouring island of Herdla are the most famous outdoor areas.

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    4

    Herdla

    Flat and beautiful landscape in the archipelago in the west

    Western Norway is best known for its dramatic mountains that rise steeply from the fjords. The small island of Herdla differs drastically from the typical western terrain with its large areas of pancake-flat landscape. Good soil and flat terrain made this an important farming area in the Middle Ages, and the location by the trail into Bergen was later used for trade.

    On the sandbank at the far end is a now closed airport. There was a lot of activity during World War II, and solid concrete structures from this time still stand, although most have now been removed. There are good fishing opportunities and conditions for windsurfing here by the sea. And during the migration periods, geese and waders flock here - with plenty of birdwatchers in tow.

    Location: Herdla Fort, 5315 Herdla, Norway

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    5

    Spend the day at Helleneset

    Swimming, climbing and views across the city fjord

    With a short distance from the city and good bus connections, Helleneset is a very accessible outdoor area. This is a popular place with all age groups thanks to its excellent swimming opportunities and great views of the city fjord, and so it's easy to see why it often gets busy here on sunny days in the summer.

    On hot days, little ones enjoy playing on the small sandy beach and swimming in the shallow swimming pool filled with water from the fjord. Like most Norwegians, people from Bergen love a barbecue and a separate barbecue hut has been set up here for that purpose. There are also toilet facilities, benches and tables. Many paddle boarders use the area to set off from, and rock climbers of all levels enjoy the challenges available in the climbing area by the sea.

    Location: Hellebakken 45, 5039 Bergen, Norway

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    6

    Ulriken

    View from Bergen's highest peak

    Bergen's own national anthem, "Nystemten", is about enjoying the view from the top of Ulriken - the highest of the seven mountains that surround the city. With its 643 metres, it rises high in the coastal landscape, the perfect position from where to enjoy the view of the islands in the west, the city at the foot of the mountain and the snow-capped mountains in the east. A cable car facilitates access, but many also arrive on foot, which has become significantly easier after the stone steps, also called Oppstemten, were opened in 2018.

    The cable car station has a restaurant, toilets and a terrace with barbecue right next to it for those who want to stop and look around. Otherwise, there are hiking trails in all directions, including the popular trail across the plateau to Fløyen.

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    7

    Voss

    Western Norway's capital for skiing and extreme sports

    A stop for the Bergen line and a gondola lift high up in the mountains has made Voss a popular winter sports venue for many years now. The place was expanded with the aim of improving its winter range of activities, and Voss has since become known as a centre for extreme sports and outdoor life at an international level, especially through the festival Ekstremsportveko.

    Many have experienced their first parachute jump or paraglide in the air over Voss. Several rivers in the area are also used for kayaking and rafting, but there are also facilities for quieter outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing, fishing and cycling. The wealth of accommodation options helps make Voss an attractive place to visit.

    Location: Voss, Norway

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    8

    Vestrevatnet

    Peaceful outdoor area on Norther Europe's biggest inland island

    Osterøy is a relatively large island with fjords on all sides. In the middle of the island is Vestrevatnet with the adapted outdoor area Selviki. Here there is parking, toilets, tables and benches, and the water itself is well suited for swimming with both boulders and gravel beaches. If you have the opportunity to bring your own canoe or kayak, this is the perfect place for a paddle.

    You can also try your luck at fishing, without needing a fishing license - words has it there are plenty of trout. Several places along the water have campsites with excellent conditions for camping. This means you have everything in place for a fun experience out in the wilderness, but without having to travel too far from the city.

    Location: Fylkesveg 368, 5430 Fotlandsvåg, Norway

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    9

    Sotra

    Right by the North Sea

    Sotra is the largest of the islands in the archipelago west of Bergen. The east side offers sheltered coves and areas that are great to explore by small boat or kayak. The summit Liatårnet is easily accessed with a paved road all the way to the top, and an amazing view in all directions. Vestsiden is fairly barren, shaped by the harsh weather coming in from the North Sea.

    The weather-beaten headland towards the sea gap is a beautiful place to explore with the rushing waves and the sea eagles floating in the sky above. The settlements here are known for their tranquility and friendliness, but there are places where you can rent equipment for kayaking and fishing.

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    10

    Skjelanger fort

    View of the shipping lane

    Skjelanger fort itself is a military facility just north of Holsnøy north of Bergen, which mostly consists of German-built facilities from World War II. Until recently, it was used as a firing and training range by the army, and naturally the military area is closed to the public. However, the immediate surroundings have become a popular outdoor area with its fine sandy beaches and a marina.

    And the surrounding terrain is also great for exploring. The reason a fort was built here was because of its proximity to the shipping lane. And when you get a little further up in the terrain, the view is quite incredible, with a full view of the ship traffic on the fjord.

    Location: Skjelanger fort, 5917 Rossland, Norway

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    Phone: +47 81 57 04 00

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    photo by Øystein H. Brekke (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

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