For one of Bergen's most iconic views, take the funicular railway up to the top of Mount Fløyen. Here's everything you need to know about Fløibanen, one of Bergen's biggest tourist attractions.
It's hard to read any article about Bergen without seeing an accompanying shot of the city from above. Many of these are taken from the top of Mount Fløyen. It has become such an iconic view of the city and is quite the sight, day or night, rain or shine.
To reach the top of Mount Fløyen, you can walk up steep roads or trails, which are well signposted. But most tourists prefer to take the funicular railway, known as Fløibanen. It's also popular with locals heading into the mountains. Mount Fløyen is the starting point of many walks, including one of the best hikes in Bergen.
Since it opened in 1918, Fløibanen has carried more than 50 million people to and from Mount Fløyen. So, whether you're planning a trip or simply doing some sofa-tourism, let's take a closer look.
It's not hard to find the funicular. The distinctive white station building is just a few steps away from Bergen's fish market and the famous Bryggen neighbourhood. Trains run frequently through the day, and are usually full with visiting British, American and German tourists.
How to take the funicular
When I'm in town, I prefer to take the train no later than mid-morning for the quietest experience. At the height of summer, expect a line all day. At these times, you should expect to wait for the next departure, or maybe even the one after that. If you have limited time in Bergen, bear this in mind!
Read more: The Weather in Bergen
The funicular trains hold around 60 people and run every 15 minutes for most of the day. Early in the morning and late in the evening the frequency is reduced to every half-hour. But, there are extra services put on at peak times.
Buying tickets and boarding the train
At the time of writing, tickets cost 50 kroner for a single or 100 kroner for a return. They can be bought from the desk that's just inside the white building you can see in the picture above. Cash or cards are accepted and the clerk will of course speak English if you have any questions.
If you prefer, you can buy a ticket online for a small discount. This means you don't have to queue at the ticket office, but you still have to wait for a train.
Once you have your ticket, you can proceed to the waiting area. There are a few seats here, but if it's busy you're better off proceeding straight through the ticket gates. This will guarantee your place on the next departure.
To board the train, scan your ticket at the automated gates, pictured above. As I understand it, the system will not let any more people through the gates than the maximum capacity of each train.
Read more: Things To Do In Bergen When It Rains
In case you're worried about a group being split up, the current number of free spaces is displayed on a screen. You can just about to see that on the picture above! There is a wider gate for those in a wheelchair or with strollers etc.
On the train
The journey itself takes just five minutes and includes a few stops along the way. These intermittent stations let people (typically locals) on and off the train. There's also a stop without a station. This can be a little concerning if you're not expecting it, but it's simply a waiting point as much of the journey takes place on a single track.
Each train consists of a single carriage but is split into four sections, each with their own door. Inside the carriages you will find a few seats, but the carriages have mostly been designed for passengers to stand. This means that if you want a seat, you may not get the best view when it's busy.
Read more: Top Sights in Bergen
If you want the best views—generally in the front section of the train—you'll need to board as early as possible. This has never bothered me that much as the views from the top are much better than what you'll see from within the train, even if snag a position at the front!
What to do at the top
At the top of the mountain, there's a fantastic stepped viewing area including a few sections that overhang the mountain. There is plenty of space for people to take photos, which is a good thing given the popularity of Mount Fløyen.
Aside from the viewing platform, there's a cafe, shop, restaurant and playground to keep you and your family occupied when you get bored of the views—if you get bored of the views! There are restrooms too.
Opening hours for the various facilities vary by season. My most recent trip was at 11am on a January weekday. Only the shop was open, but I was able to buy a coffee and a snack. If the signs were accurate, the cafe would open at midday.
Many hiking trials begin from the top station. You don't necessarily need to have prepared in advance if you fancy a hike. As long as the weather is fine, buy a bottle of water from the shop and follow the signposts. All the trails are well signposted. If you do happen to get confused, just ask a local.
However, planning is absolutely required for the most popular hike! The trek to Mount Ulriken, where you can take a cable car back down, takes about five hours. On a clear day you can enjoy the view all the way over to the Folgefonna glacier. To get back down to the city from Mount Fløyen, you can walk or take a return journey on the funicular.
More about the funicular
The Fløibanen funicular opened for passengers on 15th January, 1918. The current Swiss-built carriages have been in use since 2002, and are the fourth generation. They are 12 metres long and weigh 13 tons without any passengers.
During normal operation, the trains drive along the rail at a leisurely 4 metres per second. If needed, the speed can increase to 6 metres per second. While the funicular has always been popular with locals, it's only in recent years that tourism traffic has skyrocketed. In 2018, a new annual record of 2,023,786 journeys were made.
I hope you enjoyed this article, video and photos all about Fløibanen! If you did, why not share it on Pinterest so others can find it too? Here's a pin for that: