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Norway’s second city puts on a show

Visit Norway’s city of seven mountains

Bergen’s Bryggen is a row of commercial buildings built by the Hanseatic League – a historic confederation of merchant guilds
PHOTOGRAPHS: JUSTIN FOULKES, ANDREW RAY/ALAMY

Bergen may be Norway’s second city, but when it comes to plain good looks, it can give anywhere in Europe a run for its money. Cradled within seven hills that slope down to seven fjords, it’s a picturesque tumble of wooden houses huddled around a medieval wharf known as the Bryggen. Take a spring trip to the city to explore it in the sunshine, beginning in this Unesco-listed quarter. With its uniquely wellpreserved complex of rickety buildings and narrow passages, it’s a timewarp that today houses the shops and studios of local craftspeople and artists. Elsewhere, Bergen has a wealth of museums and galleries to explore, from the contemporary art of KODE to the reconstructed house of a merchant sailor at the Hanseatic Museum, and a buzzing food and drink scene that’s an excellent respite after a day treading the cobbles. A highlight of any trip is the funicular, which chugs to a lookout point high above the city, with views for miles over the hills and fjords. Come May, there are two more spectacles to behold – Norway’s national day, when locals celebrate in the streets in bunader, the colourful national dress; and the Bergen International Festival, a globe-spanning showcase of music, art and theatre talent.

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