Fløyen offers great views of Bergen from a height of 320 meters. The Floibanen is a funicular that takes you from Bergen up the mountain in about 8 minutes for a round trip ticket price of 85 NOK ($14 USD). The child price is 43 NOK ($7 USD) and a family ticket for 2 adults + 2 children is available for 215 NOK ($35). This is considered one of the top 3 things to do in Bergen as ranked by TripAdvisor.
Feeling in need of a good hike, I decided to walk up Floyen in Bergen, Norway on a sunny day with the temperature in the mid- to upper-60s (20 C). After a few hundred stairs and steep inclines, I started thinking $14 is a pretty good deal. I did not have a map and I simply picked stairways and routes going uphill from the Bergen leprosy museum. This is one steep hike and all I kept asking myself, “How do these people get home to their houses on these hills in winter snow and ice?”
I figured it would not be too difficult to find my way up the hillside. And it was not difficult to find my way. I only made one wrong turn which took me up some stairs to a private residence.
San Francisco is a city of hills, but Bergen has San Francisco beat for the steepness of the paths and roads going uphill. Seven mountains surrounding Bergen means traveling around town by foot will involve some uphill hiking.
There was a TripAdvisor reviewer who made a statement I agree with regarding Bergen hikes, “You use muscles you forgot you had.”
I saw someone riding their bicycle up this road that made my legs ache painfully. There were a couple of other people walking and they all passed me by. I could not walk like a Norwegian up Mount Fløyen.
To maintain some semblance of self-respect for my poor physical conditioning, I stopped frequently to take photos. I was still in the housing zone of the Bergen hillside.
View of the Vågen old harbor of Bergen and island of Askoy linked by bridge to the mainland of Bergen since 1992.
Oops! Wrong turn as I walked up these stairs to find myself at private residences. The route up Mount Fløyen is via the road to the right.
Great view from the houses at the top of the stairs.
Back down at the bottom of the stairs there was a young woman unloading groceries from her car and ready to embark up the stairs. She pointed me back on track to the correct Fløyen route.
The idea for a transport route up to the top of Fløyen was championed in 1895 by John Lund, a Bergen region member of the Norwegian Parliament. The Bergen municipality awarded a license for an electric cable car form of transportation and leased a 4-meter wide route up Fløyen. Unable to secure capital for the project, the plans were shelved for a decade until revived in 1907. Work on Fløibanen started in the autumn of 1914. Fløibanen opened on 15 January 1918 and has been in continuous operation ever since.
The original cable cars were designed in Esslingen, Germany. Fløibanen was built following the pattern of similar railways in South Germany, Switzerland and North Italy. Second generation cable cars were installed in 1954. A third generation of cable cars were installed in 1974 and operated until 2002. The current Fløibanen cable cars are fourth generation.
Two carriages, one red and one blue, transport up to 100 passengers at a time. The cable car moves 4.0 m/s along the 844 meter track with a gradient of 15 to 26 degrees. The history of Fløibanen.
Back to the hike up Fløyen
Just as I thought I was probably near the top, I got this view of the top of the Fløibanen.
I had only reached the top of the hillside houses and the forest path for the continued journey up Fløyen. Two runners ran by me. I stopped to photograph flowers.
There are a couple of Fløibanen stations between Bergen and the top of Fløyen. Skansemyren is where the paths continued through the forest.
At this point of the uphill journey I learned that I simply can’t walk like a Norwegian. Everyone from 5 years old to 75 years old was passing me by on the uphill trek. Most were not even breaking a sweat while wearing long pants and coats. I had on shorts and t-shirt.
The trail up Floyen is steep in parts. Many hikers and runners choose to go up even steeper shortcuts like this mom and boy about to cut 100 meters off the trail by taking a steeper path.
I stopped to photograph moss in the forest.
There are benches along the way for settling down to enjoy the view, picnic or simply rest.
I have read before that the longest living people tend to be from hilly towns. One trend I have noticed in Norway is the tendency for parents with infants to take the kid along for outdoor activity.
Walk like a Norwegian. I feel 98% confident these mommies did not take the Fløibanen uphill.
I was puzzled by the witch signs posted along the top of the trail. There were several cute sculptures and wood carvings and a couple of playgrounds for children. Apparently, there is a whimsical side to Norwegians from Bergen.
Reaching the top was quite a feeling of accomplishment. The view on a sunny day is worth the effort.
If so inclined after a quick Fløibanen ride or a one-hour-plus hike up Mount Fløyen, there is Fløien Folkerestaurant, an historic restaurant opened in 1925 for a meal and drinks.
There are hiking trails from Fløyen to mountain lakes and other mountains in the region. I hiked back to Bergen on a different route and by lucky chance emerged on the exact street of my Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret by Bryggen.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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