Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a Perfect Bergen Fjord Cruise. Oslo has many claims to fame when it comes to Norwegian cities. After all, it is both the biggest city in Norway and the nation’s capital. But if you ask many people what Norway’s most attractive city is, they will tell you it’s Bergen.
Bergen’s picturesque wooden homes and glorious location on the water make it popular with travelers from all over the world. Spend 24 hours in Bergen with me and we’ll take a Bergen fjord cruise to Baroniet Rosendal, learn all about Bergen’s history, and dine on the finest rhubarb in Norway. Fjord we go!
Bergen Fjord Cruise
What to Pack and Where to Stay
Norway can be on the rainy side. So the two most important things you’ll need to bring are an umbrella and some rain boots. My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to the sometimes-quite-strong winds of Sweden.
For rain boots, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. Plus they’re cute enough that I can wear them out and about without feeling like some gauche American with gross feet.
Finally, if you’re not from Europe, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with either American or British plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
And if you are looking for great deals on over 200 hotels in Bergen, just click here.
24 Hours: Bergen Fjord Cruise
Morning: Fjordcruise to Baroniet Rosendal
The Bergen fjord cruise to Baroniet Rosendal is a perfect way to experience the fjords while you are in Bergen. The tour includes a two course lunch and a guided tour of a historic home. The Bergen fjord cruise leaves promptly from the docks of Bergen at 8:50 in the morning on weekdays, which will leave you plenty of time to explore Bergen in the afternoon. But first, the fjords!
approximately top 5: baroniet rosendal edition
1) Fjord Cruise
The first part of the tour is a two hour Bergen fjord cruise to the Hardanger fjord. According to the Baroniet Rosendal website, this is the queen of fjords. I think this is because the Hardanger fjord is the second largest fjord in Norway. Pretty sure it’s not because the Hardanger fjord goes around with a handkerchief on top of its head saying, “We are not amused.”
Before visiting the Hardanger fjord, I was expecting all the fjords to be ice blue. But in fact this area is green and mountainous. As you can see from my photos, I didn’t luck out with the weather. Most of the day was gray and rainy. But even through the fog, you could see how sublime the setting was. I half expected to hear “In the Hall of the Mountain King” chime out from every rock.
2) Rosendal Town
Once you get off the Bergen fjord cruise, you’ll have a little over an hour before the house tour of the historic mansion begins. That will give you some time to explore the itty-bitty town of Rosendal. There’s no guide to take you from the boat to the mansion, but you won’t need one. There are signs everywhere. As I always say, “If I didn’t get lost, you can’t get lost.” (I have the worst sense of direction the world has ever known.)
The only can’t miss attraction in Rosendal is this statue of a horse. It is dedicated to the legendary fjord stallion Rosendalsborken. I feel like they’re messing with me because I watched The Muppet Show and I know “Bork” is a Swedish word, not a Norwegian word. Apparently Rosendalsborken won lots of prizes and renown. Don’t think you’ll be able to meet the horsie himself though. He was winning awards in the 19th century, so he’s very dead now.
If you’re like me, not an early riser, you probably didn’t have a real breakfast befjore the Bergen fjord cruise. So stop in at a cafe along the road to Baroniet Rosendal and buy some school bread. (I couldn’t find the name written anywhere, but there’s a sign outside the cafe shaped like a pretzel.)
School bread is a Norwegian childhood treat, hence the name. It is a fluffy bun filled with custard and dusted with coconut. I don’t know how long coconut has really been available in Norway, so not sure how far this dish goes back. But who cares about authenticity when the pastry tastes this good?
3) Baroniet Rosendal Gardens
Once you make your way to the Baroniet Rosendal manor house, you’ll still have at least 30 minutes to kill before the house tour begins. I think this is the tour’s way of forcing you to stop and smell the roses, literally. If you are lucky enough to be there in the summer, like I was, you can see the Renaissance-style rose garden in full bloom. Even on a cloudy day, the blooms shine bright.
Nothing in the Baroniet Rosendal garden gets wasted. The roses are used to make rose tea, and the produce is used to make the food for the guests at the restaurant and the bed and breakfast. We’ll be able to sample some of the fresh rhubarb later for lunch!
4) Baroniet Rosendal House Tour
At 12 PM, your house tour will begin. Picture taking is strictly forbidden inside the house, but I can give you some fun facts to whet your appetite. Baroniet Rosendal was built in 1665. A noble Dane named Ludvig Rosencrantz built it for his wealthy Norwegian wife, Karen Mowat. The most spectacular room in the house is the library, which is the only preserved 17th century room left in Norway.
My favorite fun fact is that the house was supposed to go to the University of Copenhagen when the Rosencrantz family died out. (Remember that Norway used to be part of Denmark.) However, by the time this actually happened, Norway was an independent country, and the home ended up being left to the University of Oslo. Suck on that, Copenhagen! That will teach you to give the world fun things like amusement parks and mermaids!
After the house tour, you’ll get your two-course lunch in the shimmering greenhouse. The first course was salmon two ways, both smoked and fresh. This was accompanied by a medley of fresh veggies from the garden. I really wasn’t expecting anything so nice as the included lunch! I mean, you’re stuck there, so they could just give you moldy lutefisk and you’d have to take it.
As good as the main course was, the dessert was even better. It was rhubarb cake made with fresh rhubarb from the garden. I always think of rhubarb as a spring-only thing, so it was exciting to have it fresh in the summertime. Apparently rhubarb is so popular in Norway that children like to eat rhubarb dipped in sugar. That sounds a lot healthier than my beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
24 Hours: Bergen Fjord Cruise
Afternoon: Hanseatic Museum
Now that we’ve seen the fjords, it’s time to learn a little something about Bergen’s history. It’s extremely different from that of Oslo or any other city in Norway, largely due to its role in the Hanseatic trading league. And the best place to learn about this is in the Hanseatic Museum. Now, if you’re thinking a museum dedicated to some boring old trading league sounds as much fun as watching paint dry, you couldn’t be more wrong! Allow me to prove it to you with…
three fun facts: Hanseatic Museum
1) Bringing in the clams
Bergen has long been one of the richest cities in Scandinavia, thanks to its role in the fish trade. Bergen exported its fine kettles o’ fish all over Northern Europe. The Hanseatic Museum illustrates the importance of fish to Bergen’s wealth by…having fish skeletons hanging from the ceiling. I’m not sure why this was necessary. I know what fish look like. Do these fish date back to the 16th century or something? Are they historic fish?
If you’re interested in consuming some ahistorical fish, check out Bergen’s legendary Fish Market, which is right near the museum. You can buy anything from shrimp sandwiches to whale salami. I don’t think they sell flying fish carcasses from the 1500s though. You need to go to the Hanseatic Museum for that.
2) The Justice League
The Hanseatic League was an association of German and German-adjacent merchant cities along the Baltic Sea. It lasted from the 14th to the 17th century and made a lot of people in Northern Europe very rich. Some of the most famous Hanseatic cities include Hamburg, Riga, Bruges and of course, Bergen.
Each member city in the Hanseatic League had its own seal, some of which you can see pictured above. A lot of the seals seem to have angry faces on them. I guess they’re angry at the idea that you’re going to cheat them out of their money? Or maybe they’re angry that Bergen was trying to sell them a lot of old fish skeletons.
3) Old Wood
Sadly the Hanseatic Museum is temporarily in a different location because its original home is being restored. But that home is so special, I’d like to share a bit of its history with you. The Hanseatic Museum is set up in one of the oldest houses in Bergen. It is also the only wooden house in Bergen that kept its original interior. The stunning wooden paintings have been preserved behind glass for guests to look at.
This room contains records of various trades that happened in Bergen during the height of the Hanseatic League. My favorite story was about a man who wanted to make a trade for a large quantity of dried bats, but he refused to explain what he wanted them for. I assume it was because he was a wizard. A wizard always did it.
24 Hours: Bergen Fjord Cruise
Evening: Dinner at Marg and Bein
Marg and Bein, which means “Marrow and Bone”, is a cozy restaurant with a seasonal menu that changes on a regular basis. I think the best value is the four course dinner menu. You’ll get to try two appetizers, a main course, and a scrumptious dessert. Of course, since the menu changes with the seasons, you won’t be able to have exactly what I ordered. But I should be able to give you some idea of what to expect.
24 Hour Treat: Steak Tartare
The first course was a steak tartare with pickled onions and cornichons. Steak tartare is my favorite preparation for a quality piece of beef. There’s nowhere for the meat to hide. If it’s less than perfect, you’ll taste it right away. Apparently steak tartare was spread to Norway during the heyday Hanseatic League, so we’re getting a little history with our meat tonight.
The second appetizer was asparagus served with hazelnuts and goat cheese. Goat cheese is very popular in Norway, though you might be more likely to find it in the form of a sweet, brown cheese. Asparagus is another food, like rhubarb, that I associate with spring time. But maybe the chilly weather in Norway tricks the plants into thinking that summer is spring? That wouldn’t be so bad if it keeps the rhubarb and asparagus coming.
My main course was redfish with cabbage and pickled onions. At first I thought there was some oddball translation on the menu because I have never heard of redfish. But apparently it is a specialty of the waters around Norway. I personally prefer to have my fish cooked like this in some butter at Marg and Bein instead of hanging over my head in a museum with its bones hanging out. Are you listening, Hanseatic Museum?
24 Hour Treat: Chocolate Mousse
As you can clearly see in my photo, the dessert was a murderously good scoop of chocolate mousse served with meringue and raspberry. There’s nothing especially Norwegian about chocolate mousse, but who cares about cultural authenticity when something tastes this good. And everything in Norway doesn’t have to be pickled onions and whale salami. (In fact, that sounds like the worst dessert ever.)
24 Hours: Bergen Fjord Cruise
What would you do on a Bergen fjord cruise? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Bergen? How is it possible to grow rhubarb and asparagus in the summer? And what is that flying fish skeleton doing hanging over your head? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Bergen, with or without a Bergen fjord cruise. If you have another 24 hours in Bergen, try this itinerary.