The higher I climb Mount Ulriken, on this steep trail lined with massive Sitka spruces and Scots pines, the more I feel connected to Bergen, a city where people choose optimism, make nature their church and cherish brown cheese. With each brutal step, I feel the sacrosanct expanse of the Seven Mountains of Bergen, the fjords, the ocean, and the idyllic wooden houses with red roofs rising above the row of trees behind me. Here, life takes place in the open air, not in an office; it’s a vibrant lifestyle that has its roots in the Viking Age (or maybe it’s just strong Kokekaffe).
After more than an hour of walking and two kilometers of elevation on the Ulrikseggen trail, I arrive at a breathtaking view and the zip line of Mount Ulriken, 700 meters above sea level. Opened in July 2017 and operated by local outfitter Norway Insight, this little-known attraction offers great thrills without ever being overcrowded. Flying 300 meters above Bergen, you will fly over the spectacular landscape of this “Gateway to the Fjords”.
While you’re there, consider hiking the famous 19-kilometre Vidden Trail between Mounts Fløyen and Ulriken, or take a short walk to Sky:Skraperen, where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a beer with the most beautiful view of the city. Under the new management of talented local chef Anders Rødseth Isager, this eco-friendly restaurant has become a popular destination, as much for its unparalleled panorama as for its mountain-inspired dishes, such as the Fjellburger on a purple ancient wheat bread, accompanied by an Ulriken Double IPA from the 7 Fjell brewery in Bergen. The Ulriken cable car, which departs every seven minutes from May to October, will gently bring you back to town.
Paddling in Norway’s largest fjord
To see Norway’s largest and deepest fjord up close, you have to take a beautiful and famous three-hour train journey northeast from Bergen to Flåm, don a wetsuit and life jacket and resign oneself to an imminent rain. The Sognefjord, one of the most beautiful landscapes of the country, extends over 127 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean to the small village of Skjolden, and can be discovered at the rhythm of a sea kayak. Discover the “king of the fjords during a three-hour excursion with Njord, who introduced the Leave No Trace philosophy to western Norway in the early 2000s, with the help of Ervin Mejía, a Californian from origin and responsible for expeditions, who is precisely my guide on this drizzly spring Sunday.
Except for a few passing ferries, the Sognefjord is eerily calm as we plunge our oars into the cold, salty water. With cruises and boat tours being the most popular way to sightsee, kayakers often find themselves one-on-one with this alluring channel, made of endless waterfalls, towering cliffs and Viking graveyards coastal. While sharing his rich knowledge of Norwegian culture and history, Mr. Mejía points to these sacred rock mounds, where aspens naturally grew, as if the land honors the legacy of ancient Norwegian sailors.
Although it might be tempting to constantly open the dry bag and grab your camera, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap photos of the fjords during the five-hour Norled cruise back to Bergen. If there was ever a time in Norway to disconnect from technology and be in the present moment, this is it. Before boarding, stop by the Ægir BrewPub in Flåm to taste a “viking board” consisting of five craft beers.
Explore Norway’s hinterland
Ortnevik is a small village nestled on the southern shore of the Sognefjord, two and a half hours north of Bergen. This is where I find myself next to a huge tank full of halibut, at Sogn Aqua, the world’s first sustainable land-based aquatic farm, chatting with André, one of the 35 inhabitants. “You can see the changes in the village due to the farm. People come back, build houses, start a new life,” says André, who built the wooden fence around the fish farm and remembers when the town was bustling with 150 residents decades ago. that. “I am proud that this farm has established itself in Ortnevik. We want to help Sogn Aqua be a success. The village will disappear if this is not the case. »
Beyond the vast hills, dotted with grazing horses, red barns and white houses, lie snow-capped mountains – and not much else. For Norwegians, nature can sometimes be all that matters. Still, I’m tempted to ask what the locals do for fun. When he’s not building churches or aqua-farm fences, carving chainsaws or playing the organ, André, a former cattle rancher, hikes the reserve. nature of Stølsheimen. “Ut på tur aldri sur,” this beefy 75-year-old tells me with a big smile. “Going out for a hike never hurts. Then André tells me about the allemannsretten, or decree on the “right to circulate”, and I have the impression of having received a sacred key of which few tourists know the existence.
According to the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957, anyone can access, explore and camp for free on uncultivated public land in Norway. Turns out I landed in one of the most spectacular remote hiking areas, grabbing the true allemannsretten privilege. If you’d rather not pack a tent, consider the Norwegian Trekking Association (or DNT), which runs 550 cabins, as well as over 19,000 kilometers of marked hiking trails and 6,500 kilometers of ski runs. One of them, the Solrenningen, which has 30 rooms perched on a waterfall, is located an eight-hour walk from Ortnevik.
If you’re planning cabin-to-cabin trips, it’s worth paying the $86 DNT dues to get a discount on rentals. In Solrenningen, for example, members pay $32 and non-members $46 per night. Jan Arne Brekke, co-founder of Sogn Aqua, recommends resting and soaking in the hot tub at Chalet Brekke in Ortnevik before heading out into the Norwegian hinterland.
Hidden Island Bike Tour near Bergen
Norway’s mountainous landscapes are everything a keen cyclist could dream of, but it’s only been in recent years that a warming climate as well as exciting cycling initiatives (such as a new network of billion-dollar bike highways) have sparked a real cycling movement.
Starting from Bergen or Oslo, one of the most popular hikes is the Rallarvegen route. It follows the historic Bergensbanen railway lines for almost 80 km, passing through fjords, glaciers and flowery valleys. Looking for some solitude, I opted for a cycling paradise 30 minutes from Bergen. While riding a hybrid bike on Norway Insight’s new “Into the Fjords” night tour, I don’t have to share my path with anyone but goats. The route starts just past the Osterøy Bridge, which immediately feels like a gateway to a timeless place. I go down and up a main road for 14 miles, in total harmony with the landscape of the fjords. There are no cars, cruise ships, planes, or intrusions of the modern world. After a flood of rustic charm, verdant highlands, and forest-scented air, I realize my face hurts from smiling.
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