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By Matthias and Kent

What is Bryggen?

The UNESCO site of Bryggen is the oldest quarter in Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city. The area along the Vågen harbour consists of 58 colourful warehouses. 

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Text: Bryggen, Norway.
Images: Top, Coloured wooden houses with peaked roofs, lining the wharf with docked boats. Bottom, close up on three warehouses each three stories tall with shops on the ground floor.

During the 12th and 13th centuries, Bergen was the capital of Norway. Bergen became a member of the Hanseatic League, an international network of market towns and merchants, around 1360 when the first trading offices were established in Bergen. With that, Bryggen was transformed into one of the major headquarters abroad for the Hanseatic League.

Why is Bryggen a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Few places can showcase the heritage of the Hanseatic League in the way Bergen does. The heritage can still be seen in the preserved houses and warehouses. According to UNESCO: “It is a type of northern ‘fondaco’, unequalled in the world, where the structures have remained within the cityscape and perpetuate the memory of one of the oldest large trading ports of Northern Europe.”

Three of the warehouses in Bryggen, now stores. All have 3 floors: a shop on the ground floor and two stories above that with rows of 3-4 windows across. All have a peaked roof, with one smaller window in the center. Left: dark red, with the word Bugaarden at its peak and Kjetil Sorensen above the shop. Middle: mustard yellow with the words Sild -Fisk / Alfred Skulstad / Schjott. Right, red with O.Storheim painted on it.

What can you expect on a visit to Bryggen? 

When visiting Bryggen, you can expect to wander back in time. Have a walk in the alleys and lanes between the buildings. It will give you a glimpse into the history and the architecture of the time. 

The atmosphere is intimate, and today you can find handicraft shops, artists, boutiques and restaurants at Bryggen. You can access Bryggen at all times, and the visit is for free.

A row of houses, each painted a different color,  mostly in shades of yellows, whites and reds. Each is 3 stories with a peaked roof. They line a wharf where boats are docked..

Is Bryggen worth visiting?

One cannot visit Bergen without visiting Bryggen. Make time in your schedule to explore more than the colourful facades. If you visit in the evenings it is less crowded, and the light is better for photos. Bryggen has something to offer every visitor and is an integrated part of daily life in Bergen.

Use the map below to book your accommodations near Bryggen:

Tips for visiting Bergen

Bergen is one of the most beautiful cities in Norway. Despite its modest size, it has all the qualities you can expect of a big city, from world-class art to a great food and coffee scene. Visiting Bryggen is only one of many Things to do in Bergen.

Bergen is surrounded by mountains, and if you are up for a hike, there are numerous options. Also, if you visit Bergen in the summer, you are never far away from a beach.

Avoid the restaurants on the waterfront at Bryggen. They are loud, overcrowded and overpriced.

If you want to learn more about the history of Bryggen and the Hanseatic League, visit the Hanseatic Museum, right in Bryggen itself.

If you’re traveling in Norway, make sure to visit the West Norwegian fjords, also a UNESCO site.

Where is Bryggen?

On the western coast of Norway, Bryggen is located very centrally in Bergen, within walking distance of all major sights. 

You can arrive in Bergen by plane, ship or train from Oslo. From the airport, you can take the tram to the last stop and walk from there to Bryggen. If you arrive in Bergen by train, you can walk from the train station.

For more information about Bryggen, check the website of Visit Bergen.

Text and photos provided by Matthias and Kent from Destination the World, a travel blog focusing on independent travels to near and far. You can follow them on social media on Instagram and Facebook.

Have you been to Bryggen? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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