Bergen hiking: The ultimate guide for the Seven Hills city

Summer Bergen hiking near Ulriken
Summer Bergen hiking near Ulriken

This Bergen hiking guide aims to be a reference with all you need to know for a great experience around Bergen. Although not the only city based around 7 hills, as you can see here, this is a very special place. A charming city, due to it’s long history, mainly related to trading and fishing. Nowadays, it’s one of the most touristic places in Norway. It’s a starting point for people who come to visit the fjords. Concretely, the 3rd longest fjord on earth, Sognefjord, is a few kilometers North from there, and is 204km long.

However, we are not going to talk about fjords this time, but about the hills of Bergen. The city was settled in a valley, surrounded by seven hills, and hiking is because of that a very common activity in the area. Probably because Norwegians are really into nature activities too.

The Seven Hills of Bergen

Although Bergen is commonly named “the city among the seven mountains”, though a bit wrongly. There are actually 9 mountains over there, which are named:

  • Ulriken (643m)
  • Fløyen (425m)
  • Løvstakken (477m)
  • Damsgårdsfjellet (284m)
  • Lyderhorn (396m)
  • Sandviksfjellet (392m)
  • Blåmanen (554m)
  • Rundemanen (568m)
  • Askøyfjellet or Kolbeinsvarden (231m)

Information on how to get to the starting points of each Bergen hiking

Getting to most of the starting points of each of the mountains is normally an easy thing. Although there are some that require a bit more of planification (or you’d have to walk extra to fet there).

Ulriken

Winter Bergen hiking - Ulriken December 2011
Winter Bergen hiking – Ulriken December 2011

Getting to Ulriken is normally an easy thing. Except in the winter, where it can be almost impossible some days, specially if there’s a blizzard. If you take the Bybanen (tram), you need to get to Kronstad. Then you must walk to the bottom of Ulriken, near the lift (which can come in handy if you get an injury at the top).

It’s the most steepy of the hikes around Bergen, and it will take you an approximate of 4h to go to the top, and come back. I included a different way to go down, since I really loved to do it that way. On the way down, there’s a bit of water, but you should be fine with normal trekking shoes.

Fløyen

Fløyen viewpoint on the way up
Fløyen viewpoint on the way up

Arriving into Fløyen is probably the easier of all of the hikes in the area. There’s literally a way to get there with a funicular, the Fløibanen. However, if you want to do a real hike, as I guess you are looking for, then the way up is quite pleasant. And the different viewpoints you’d pass are a fantastic way of seeing Bergen. Once you leave the residential area behind, you’d be walking through a forest. Refreshing in summer, for sure.

Løvstakken

The Royal Residence (Gamlehaugen) and the fjord near it from Løvstakken
The Royal Residence (Gamlehaugen) and the fjord near it from Løvstakken

Løvstakken was actually my favourite of all of them. Perhaps is because I lived close to it, or maybe is because the views from the top reach the island of Sotra and the Atlantic Ocean.

The time you need to accomplish the peak and coming back is in the average, as is it’s altitude. It’s not on the highest ones, nor in the lower ones. But it’s totally worthy. You’d go through a forest that is mossy at some points. You’d see little streams going downhill. And the view up there is simply the best, in my humble opinion.

Getting to the starting point if you go by Bybanen (the tram), requires you to stop in Fantoft or in Sletten. Then you have to go on foot for about 30-40 minutes. The total length for the hike is 8.5km and a bit less than 4h.

Damsgårdsfjellet

To do the Damsgårdsfjellet hike, you’d need to either walk to the bottom, go by car, or take a bus. The buses number 16 or 17, will take you there. You’d need to leave the bus at “Damsgård hovedgård” stop.

It’s an easy hike, not too long and definitely not a very high one, but still nice to do.

Lyderhorn

Coming here requires a bit more planification than most of the other options. You’d need to get a bus, or to come with your own vehicle. You’re welcome to come by bycicle or by foot, just bare in mind that there are a few kilometers from town. It’s 6km from the city center (Blue Stone or the Fish Market).

Frozen lake at Lyderhorn in winter
Frozen lake at Lyderhorn in winter

If you decide to come by bus, the number 17 is the one. Basically, there’s one coming every half an hour from Monday to Friday. And one each hour on the weekends. The bus stop where to pick it up is “Festplassen”. The destination is “Gravdal”.

The hike will take you around 3h, from the bus stop.

Sandviksfjellet

The Sandviksfjellet mountain is one off the shortest ones among the Bergen hiking options you have. That doesn’t mean is not worthy, since it’s indeed challenging and the views around the top are very worth the effort of getting there.

You can either walk from the city center to the bottom, or take the bus to reach a closer beginning. There are plenty of buses that go that way, for example 3, 4, 5, 6, 18

Blåmanen and Rundemanen

Reaching these peaks has to be done with a combination of other ones. If you want the faster options, then Fløyen or Sandviksfjellet are your options. The shortest is going through Fløyen. The surroundings would be very quiet and they are amazing, above all in winter.

Askøyfjellet or Kolbeinsvarden

Kolbeinsvarden panorama - Shared by Joerg Moellenkamp under CC BY 2.0
Kolbeinsvarden panorama – Shared by Joerg Moellenkamp under CC BY 2.0

This might be the farthest mountain from the Bergen city center, and that is because is not really in Bergen, but in Askøy. So in order to get to the starting point I suggest you, you have to get either the bus 499, or the 485 and the 496. The later ones, you’d need to take them one after the other. The 499 goes straight to there.

Even if there’s not much elevation gain, the trip is a really good one. Don’t hesitate to go there because of the buses.

Popular combinations for a Bergen hiking

I had the luck (or the bad luck, depending to who you ask, due to the rainy environment) of living in Bergen for a whole year. Actually, it was in the city where I got introduced into hiking, and it’s because of that that I preserve good memories from there. I used to go quite often for a hike after my day in the university, after work or during the weekends. And that is a common activity for many people living in the city. And locals tend to go for a multiple mountains trek, since some of them are quite close to each other.

A few of the most traditional examples that combine the different mountains are:

  • Ulriken – Rundemanen – Blåmanen – Fløyen
  • Lyderhorn – Damsgårdsfjellet – Løvstakken
  • A race to do 4 or 7 of them, organized by the Bergen Hike Society

Map and route for Ulriken – Rundemanen – Blåmanen – Fløyen

Snow trip - Ulriken to Fløyen
Snow trip – Ulriken to Fløyen

This trek, along with the short one to Løvstakken were the ones I loved the most. It’s very challenging, specially in the winter/spring time, when there could be between 50cm and a meter of fresh snow.

If you are doing the long trek that connect Ulriken with Rundemanen and Blåmanen, you might want to bring crosscountry skis, rackets or a very good set that is fully waterproof. Not everyday will require that, only if the snow is very fresh and has snowed a lot recently.

Map and route for Lyderhorn – Damsgårdsfjellet – Løvstakken

The starting point is the same one as if you would do Lyderhorn alone. It’s actually a nice place where to start, because you’d be able to see the coast of Bergen from a different perspective. Besides that, the way up is quite progressive, so you won’t feel dazed at all.

Map and route for the organized race and the 7 mountains

As you can see in the map, and in the post describing the information of the event of May 2017, it’s sort of a combination of the previous routes. Which isn’t really a big surprise, since it’s the shortest possible way to do the 7 mountains Bergen hiking race. It’s a fantastic event, that gathers most of the people interested in hiking, that live in the surroundings of Bergen.

However, is only doable between the end of May and August, when there’s still enough daylight hours. The rest of the year won’t be really achievable because of that. To give you a clue, in the winter time, there’s light between 10AM and 3PM. Only 5 hours.

Practical tips for a Bergen hiking

Doing any of these mountains is usually an easy task during the summer. There isn’t snow nor ice over there, and you have better chances of doing them without rain. Nevertheless, raining is a very common companion in Bergen, since it’s the rainiest city of it’s latitude (about 280 days per year).

If you come to Bergen in winter or spring, be aware that there’s a big chance you’d have to go up with snow and or ice on the way. I have accomplished that before, plenty of times, and many of the people in the area too. But it is important that you are fully conscious of it. Try to bring non slippery trekking shoes, and bring the tall ones.

Special attention to bringing a proper winter jacket with you, and a waterproof one even if is not winter/spring. Weather in Bergen changes quickly, I have seen sun, wind, snow, hailing and clouds during the same day. Sometimes even with a time span of difference of 2-3h (combining all of them). In fact, it is possible that a blizzard would catch you on your way up without you realizing about it.

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