Whether you walk, hike, bike or ride up, there’s no question Mount Fløyen is one of the crown jewels of Bergen, Norway. Soaring nearly 400 metres above sea level, the mountain—one of the seven peaks surrounding the city—rewards those who make the trip all the way to the top with memorable views of Bergen sprawled out below. From the boat-filled harbour and historic Bryggen through the busy city centre and out to the North Sea which winds through the fjords, there’s no better place to soak in the scenery. As a bonus, there are even trolls—but we’ll get to that later.
Those who are tight for time or not in the mood to climb will want to take the funicular up Mount Fløyen. Starting from the Vetrlidsallmenningen station in the city centre near the Fish Market and Bryggen, the Fløibanen takes just eight minutes to climb 320 metres to the top (which is called Fløyfjellet) and offers different vantage points of the city along the way. There are also three stations along the route for those who don’t mind hiking part of the trail—called Promsgate, Fjellveien and Skansemyren—but don’t be surprised if there’s a long queue. Since opening in 1918, the Fløibanen has carried nearly 50 million passengers up to Fløyfjellet, making it one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions.
While the Fløibanen is a novel way to get up the mountain, nothing beats a good old fashioned hike up. The entire pathway winding from the city up to the top takes one hour to climb and only about 30 minutes on the way down, making it a manageable excursion even for those who are only in Bergen for the day (read: cruise ship passengers). Best of all, there are fantastic lookout points all the way up, allowing for plenty of photo stops and opportunities to catch your breath.
One of the first viewpoints is about five minutes in, in front of the old fire hall. Since the first leg of the hike twists through a neighbourhood, you’ll get a glimpse of how Bergen’s residents live, while admiring their perfectly-kept houses, million-dollar views and some rather unique landscaping. The pathway may be steep, but it’s so well-marked and maintained that even families pushing tots in strollers can easily manage. Chances are you’ll also spot some incredibly fit Norwegians running all the way up, which is no easy feat!
The jiggly legs you’ll inevitably get from all that climbing are well worth it when you finally round the last corner and find yourself at the top, greeted with completely unobstructed views of the entire city below. Stick to the pathway to enjoy the scene in relative serenity, or put on a brave face and head over to the funicular station where hoards of crowds vie for space around the lookout platform.
Fortunately it’s not too hard to escape the throngs of tourists, as there is plenty more worth exploring at the top of Mount Fløyen. Outdoor enthusiasts may want to rent a bike and tackle one the trails which wind past lakes and into the surrounding hillside, and there are also a number of pathways for hikers to explore the Våkendalen valley, Trappefjellet peak or the ridge around Tindevann Lake. Lake Skomakendiket is also just a 10 minute stroll away, which is a great place to enjoy a picnic or rent a canoe.
Families will definitely want to check out the playgrounds at the top of Mount Fløyen, particularly Trollskogen—yes, that’s where you’ll find the trolls! The park is full of them—and this writer is particularly fond of the Pinocchio-like creature whose beady eyes, bald head and nearly-toothless grin serve to either greet or terrify the children who approach.
He’s not the only one though. In fact, there is an entire Troll Forest, complete with a cast of troll characters, the Three Billy Goats Gruff bridge, and even witches—at least according to this sign:
The Troll Forest conveniently leads to an alternate trail back down the mountain which links Fløyen to the area near the harbour. In a huge contrast to how busy the areas around the funicular can be, the quiet pathway offers great respite from the hectic pace of the city, offering a sense of stillness you won’t find anywhere else in Bergen. The trail is like walking through an enchanted forest, where towering trees jut out from rocky cliffsides, their vibrant green leaves occasionally parting just enough to offer a glimpse of the city getting closer and closer.
Eventually you’ll find yourself deposited back on Bergen’s cobblestone streets, and one can’t help but think that a quote carved into a tree at the top of the mountain sums up the experience perfectly:
“Dagen i dag er morgendagen du drømte om i grr”
-Today is the tomorrow you dreamed about yesterday
IF YOU GO:
When to go: The Fløibanen runs year round, but the best time of year to tackle the trail is March through December.
Cost: Walking up Mount Fløyen is free, while the funicular costs NOK 90 for a return ticket.
Where to eat: Many people like to bring their own picnic to enjoy during the hike, and there is also a restaurant and cafe at the top.
Top tips: Try to get a seat at the back of the Fløibanen for the best city views. Weather can change rapidly in Bergen—particularly when you’re as high up as Mount Fløyen—so be sure to have appropriate clothing on hand including rain gear.
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