How to spend your time at Bergen´s Bryggen Wharf

Bergen's Bryggen in winter

Bryggen stands at the heart of Bergen and represents a medieval civilization that traded by the sea. The preserved wharf houses still stand today, lined up in a colorful row. Hidden behind the vibrant facades are a maze of alleyways and courtyards where you can find many boutiques and galleries. Discover the cultural side of Bryggen as you learn of Hanseatic life in Bergen.

Situated in the center of Bergen, neighboring the famous fish market and Norway's busiest cruise port, is one of the country's most famous attractions, Bryggen. This word can be literally translated to 'wharf', which is exactly what it is. The houses are an iconic Norwegian symbol seen in tourist brochures across the world. Bryggen is not just the row of warehouses you see at first glance that line the marina area. Delve into the buildings and you will come across labyrinths of fascinating historical architecture, quaint courtyards and local traders who, to this day, sell handmade crafts, woolen clothing, jewelry and art. Dotted around, you will also find plenty of souvenir shops and even a year round Christmas shop.
Bryggen Bergen coloured building facades

UNESCO Status

Bryggen played a huge role in the trading of the Hanseatic League between the 14th and 16th centuries and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, safeguarding it for future generations. Although ravished with fires several times, it has been rebuilt over the years using traditional methods. This unique wooden streets consists of over 60 buildings, representing times that once were and the city's rich heritage.

Bryggen wharf in Bergen Norway UNESCO signage

Make Bryggen Museum your starting point

Step outside the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen and Bryggen is on your doorstep. Next to the hotel is Bryggen Museum, the perfect starting point for a lesson in culture and history. Learn how Bergen was an important trading post during the city's medieval times and of the first settlements, which date back to the 12th century. The museum also takes you on a journey through more modern times and the fires that have ravaged it over the years, the last in 1955. You can also find out more about the work that goes into preserving the wooden buildings. One of the highlights is a miniature model of Bryggen, allowing you to see the intricate alleyways and structures from above, giving you an idea of the scale of the wooden village.

Bryggen Wharf narrow alleyways in Bergen

Learn more about trading by sea

If you are inspired to find out more about this unique part of the city, make your next stop the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene. Here you can delve further into the medieval trading that went on between Germany and Northern Norway, via the port of Bergen. One particularly important export was dried and salted fish, which today remains part of the Norwegian diet, known as klippfisk. The exhibition also provides insight to the conditions aboard the ships and the stories of the crew who traveled on them. If you are visiting Bergen in early June, make sure you check out the Hanseatic Days celebrations for a series of entertainment and events.

The Hanseatic Museum Sign Bryggen Bergen

Preserving traditional trades and culture

Many people understand the importance of preserving ancient traditions and at Bryggen you can see this preservation in action. When walking around the narrow lanes of Bryggen, you will come across many creative types, each in their own small studios, who aim to do just this, whether that is jewelry making or spinning traditional woolen garments. Nestled amidst this, you'll find those who delight in putting a more contemporary twist into their creativity and art. Bryggen is filled with charming galleries and shops selling handcrafted goods, and artist impressions, often inspired by the buildings themselves. Many of the businesses are so small that they have no website and rely solely on passing trade, so the best thing to do is go there and browse. You are guaranteed to pick up some unique items, which will serve as a delightful reminder of your visit.

Norwgian rosemaling flower painting

Bryggen really is a unique treat and a must when visiting Bergen. The city is Norway's second largest and is buzzing with culture in its numerous art galleries, shows and events. The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen is your ideal base for a cultural break in Bryggen.

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