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Bergen is located on the western Norwegian mainland tucked away within an archipelago on the North Sea. Known as the “Capital of Fjords”, the Songefjord – Norway’s longest and deepest fjord – is located just north of the city.
Bergen is one of the stops for many of the Hurtigruten Cruises – and for good reason. The town is very walkable, with a ton that to see and do in a short amount of time. From watching white swans gracefully swim in the clean Norwegian waters to sampling local cuisine, an afternoon is Bergen unforgettable.
The best way to see Norway is through the The North Cape Express – Full Voyage from Oslo to Bergen. This expedition cruise starts in Bergen, follows the west coast of Norway to the Northern tip of Norway – Honningsvåg – and ends in Oslo.
During my visit to Bergen, I learned a ton about Norwegian culture and was able to really see what day-to-day life was like. If you are planning to do The North Cape Express, I recommend coming early to spend time in Bergen and the surrounding areas. Want some serious adventure? Take the bus to Odda and spend a few nights prior exploring the world class hiking at Trolltunga. You will have great stories to share while on the cruise after a few hikes in the surrounding areas.
First thoughts on Bergen Norway
Between the colorful homes and dramatic mountains surrounding the city, Bergen appeared to me to be the most innovation friendly city in Norway. There were many Startup Labs in Bergen and an abundance of cool new business concepts that visitors can enjoy.
Most notably, the Heit Bergen Sauna (https://www.heitbergensauna.com/). These Saunas are located on docks and allow visitors to go between cold plunges in the water and hot dry saunas.
While I was visiting Bergen I saw locals diving into the water and then warming up in the Sauna after. Along the water-front walkways in Bergen are stairs that lead into the water, inviting those willing to take a dip in the clean Norwegian waters.
Cold Water Plunge in Bergen, Norway
Wanting to get the full Norway experience, I found one of these stairs in front of the Moxy Hotel. Outside temperatures were around 0 degrees celsius and there were patches of snow scattered around still from the last storm. Putting on my boardshorts I walked out the hotel and towards the water. I was cold already before even getting to the stairs and my feet were starting to go numb. At the stairs I looked for the best place to navigate my exit once in the water.
I’ve researched the benefits of cold plunges and knew the risks that came with it. If you are exposed for too long, your motor functions could seize up and lose the use of your arms and legs to stay afloat. Not knowing anyone in the area to take a swim with me at 9am, I decided to stay close to the wall so I could pull myself up quickly after. Starting with my feet in the water for a half minute or so, I got to get a feel for just how cold the water was. Finally, I decided that it was now or never to take the plunge. The wind was starting to pick up and this was making the already cold air temp feel much much colder.
With GoPro in hand to document the experience, I slid into the icy waters. My breathing instantly shot up and I felt as though I was hyperventilating. Instinct said get out now and I turned back towards the steps to pull myself out. Being a total rookie at cold water plunges, I left my towel as close as I could to the water – thinking that this was the smart thing to do so that I could dry off fast. However, once I plunged into the water, the surge went on the step where my towel was and soaked it through and through. Wet towel in hand, I waddled back to the hotel. The feeling turned from extreme cold to extremely hot as I shivered with each step.
Once I was back in the hotel room and warmed up, my body felt cleansed in a way I’ve not experienced before. I have done cryo treatments before but this was different. It was like all my blood and other fluids had been flushed like a car getting an oil change. My body felt that it was clear of any blockages and my mind was as sharp as a tak. There was also a sense of calm that I had as well. Not only did I feel better than I had ever felt before, but my mind was in a zen mode. The best comparison I can make is after a great bikram yoga class where you have sweated for 1.5 hours and found a place of peace. I was amazed at the blend of clarity and calmness for the entire day I had after this.
Nygårdsparken Park, Bergen
Located next to the Vilvite Science Center, Nygårdsparken Park is a great place for a jog or a walk with coffee and friends. Over a hundred years ago Nygårdsparken Park was a small petting zoo and botanical garden. Today, you can explore the roughly 18 acre park easily from the nearby hotels and businesses.
Outdoor Recreation in Bergen
The best part of visiting Bergen on a Hurtigruten cruise is that you have time to explore, and time to relax (back on the ship). As an athlete who prioritizes recovery just as much as training, I love the idea of relaxing in luxury after a fun day exploring and waking up the next day in a new city. The most accessible outdoor recreation activities – aside from running – is kayaking and standup paddle boarding.
Standup paddle board rentals available through Kolula SUP (https://www.kolula.com/nb/bergen/). You can reserve a board directly through the website and go to the locker by the water to pickup your SUP. The Kolula lockers are located just down the way from the Heit Sauna – a perfect 1-2 combo.
The water is very calm in the mornings which is the best time to go. Wind can pick up quickly so be careful and plan your SUP with a friend – or use The Klubb app to find someone to go with.