by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Visit Bergen, Norway on this virtual tour

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There’s a lot to love about Norway’s former capital, from its spectacular natural setting (surrounded by seven fjords and seven hills) to its rich cultural heritage.

Bergen is almost immediately recognizable by its colorful UNESCO World Heritage-listed wharf. The area, known as Bryggen, hasn’t changed much from the Middle Ages.

Of the seven peaks surrounding Bergen, Mount Ulriken is the tallest at 2,110 feet. A cable car takes visitors to the top for stellar views and access to excellent hiking.

Photo courtesy of Bergen Tourist Board / Robin Strand

Locals flock to Kyrkjetangen Beach in the summer to take a bracing dip in the water, which typically hovers around 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bergen is known as the Gateway to the Fjords, and no trip would be complete without experiencing these natural wonders. Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, ranks among the world’s narrowest fjords.

Photo courtesy of Visit Bergen - Jannicke Andersen -

Some of the best views of Nærøyfjord come from the perch atop Bakkanosi, over 4,000 feet above sea level.

Mount Fløyen, another of Bergen’s famous peaks, can be accessed via the Fløibanen funicular. Two traditional carriages have been ferrying visitors to the top of this mountain for more than a century.

Trolltunga, or the Troll’s Tongue, makes a good case for being the most spectacular rock formation in all of Norway. This rocky outcrop juts out 2,297 feet above Ringedalsvatnet Lake.

Each year, tall ships from around Europe gather for the Tall Ships’ Races, an event designed to encourage the art of sailing in young people. Bergen has hosted the event five times.

Bergen has hosted a fish market on its waterfront since the 1200s. Today, it’s one of the most-visited outdoor markets in all of Norway.

Summer is the busy season in Bergen, but there’s plenty to experience in the wintertime as well. Bergen’s location on the west coast gives the city a milder climate than other areas in Norway.

Photo courtesy of Visit Bergen / Robin Strand -

Each winter, thousands of volunteers in Bergen construct one of the world’s largest gingerbread towns (Pepperkakebyen in Norwegian).

Bergen’s mountainous topography and reliable heavy snowfall in winter make it an excellent spot for skiing.

Another great reason to visit Bergen in the winter? The chance to see the northern lights. They’re most visible between December and March, though they’re not as strong as in more northerly areas.

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