Bergen may be the second largest city in Norway, but the gateway to the fjords casts a fairy-tale-like spell with its small-town charm. Colourful houses dot the hillsides and the waterfront areas of Bryggen—the city’s harbour district and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The region teems with tourists seeking slices of nature, adventure, culture and history.
Located in the southern part of the west coast of Norway, Bergen was crowned the capital of the country between the 12th and the 13th centuries owing to its prominence as a trading port. Fish and furs were exported, and grain and manufactured goods imported. The local Fisketorget i Bergen, popularly known as the Bergen Fish Market, is a window to the neighbourhood’s commercial soul.
“The market is as old as the town,” informs Audra, a local woman in her 50s, who has been frequenting the zone all her life. “Growing up, my father would bring home fresh fish from the market. We would marinade and cook the salmon and tuna with garlic cloves, oil and lime juice, and pair them with wine during festivals like Midsummer.” Like Audra, many are drawn to the market for its myriad fresh produce ranging from seafood, berries, and vegetables to even plants and flowers. The outdoor arena, lined with a host of restaurants that attract visitors with their lip-smacking fares, is where the action unfolds.
Photo By: Amlan Chakraborty
The food stalls are a treat to the senses. On display are fillets of raw, smoked and grilled fish—of which salmon, tuna and even whale meat are fairly common. Norway remains one of only three countries in the world to publicly allow commercial whaling, along with Iceland and Japan. The marquee ingredients, caught straight from the arctic waters, are then used in preparation of sushi, whale burger, laks teriyaki (salmon teriyaki), and bacalao (dried and salted cod) that are customised upon request.
There is no dearth of crustacean fares at the seafood joints. Succulent lobsters, prawns and shrimps are cooked to make soul-hugging lobster soup and Bergen fish soup that sell like hot cakes.
The market is poignant from an economic standpoint. Majority of the vendors that work the stall are university students seeking employment opportunities for financial support.
Pablo, a server at one of the market’s many stalls, moved to Norway from Spain at the turn of the 21st century to enrol at the University of Bergen. What started out as a part-time culinary stint during his student years gave way to a full-time gig after the completion of his degree, when he decided to settle in the region. Pablo is often seen rustling up a fantastic paella—a classic Spanish dish made with rice, saffron, vegetables, chicken, and seafood cooked in an open fire fuelled by orange branches and pine cone to infuse an aromatic, smoky flavour.
Those in haste often opt for ready-to-eat dishes including prawn and shrimp-based platters (in picture) and the famed rakfisk—a traditional Norwegian recipe made of char or trout that is salted and fermented for up to a year. Most items range between €8/Rs720 and €10/Rs890. Both takeaway and picnic table dine-in facilities (overlooking the sigh-inducing wharfs) are available.
To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.
is a solution architect by profession and travel writer, blogger and photographer by passion. Street food joints and quaint book-corners are his favourite spots to frequent during his travels.
Hey there! Like what you see (or not)? Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.