In October, I had the pleasure of visiting Bergen on a Business Development Trip staying at the Radisson Blu. Flights were kindly provided by Norwegian Airlines, via Chris Klinker at Eton Travel; the flight time was 2 hours. Norwegian Airlines offer fantastic rates and you also get complimentary Wifi whilst flying. Our represented DMC First United organised the fabulous ground programme.
The group was driven to the Radisson Blu in Bergen city centre, which is a 30 minute drive from the airport; on arrival we enjoyed a welcome cocktail. The hotel is modern, with 342 rooms and suites and is ideally located for exploring Bergen. The property is also well equipped for meetings; the largest room can hold 750 cinema-style and can be divided into 5 sections.
In the evening we enjoyed an evening cruise that took us outside the City to a famous seafood restaurant called Cornelius (one of Norway’s culinary gems.) The restaurant is situated right by the sea on a small island with spectacular views of the fjord and mountains. Before dinner we enjoyed a 40 minute speech by shellfish legend Alf Roalds, explaining all about how Cornelius started. It is a story depicting escapades, financial ups-and-downs, innovative use of raw materials and a good deal of Western Norwegian ‘never-say-die’ spirit! Cornelius is open all year round and they base the menu on the catch of the day. Capacity to seat up to 330 guests.
We checked out of the Radisson Blu after our first night in Norway and headed straight to the train station where we caught the train to Myrdal – our first stop on the way to Flaam. The train ride is along the coastline and follows a mountain ridge to the top; during the 2 hour journey you are able to see some of the most breathtaking views of Norway at its finest. When we got to Myrdal for our final part of our journey we were near Finse, where the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier served as the filming location for Hoth in the movie The Empire Strikes Back. We did not have time to visit as we travelled to our final destination taking a 1 hr 20 minute train to Flam. This train is on the steepest train tracks in the world; so steep that it has to take a 360-degree curve that spirals on the way down just to help decrease its speed. For groups you can put logo on the screens in the train carriage on your way to Flaam. Group size upto 120.
Once in Flaam, we went straight to the historical Fretheim Hotel which was originally a farm. The hotel's conference facilities offer seating capacity for up to 170 participants, cinema style. They can offer a total of five assembly rooms and several intimate group rooms. In addition to their restaurant, they offer dedicated function rooms where they can serve meals to smaller groups. Fretheim Hotel offers a total of 122 rooms in various categories, all with beautiful views of the fjord and/or mountains. There are also seventeen historic rooms in the oldest part of the hotel which do not have TVs. These rooms are of different sizes and have various colour themes, although all of them contain beautiful antique furniture and have a unique historic atmosphere. All rooms feature large king-size beds and beautiful bathrooms.
After lunch, we went to the dock in front of the Fretheim Hotel for our fjord safari from Flaam to Gudvangen! The safari is 2 hours 15 minutes through the fjords and after a quick team briefing, its time to get suited up and given flotation devices ready for the tour. Each rib boat can hold 12 people and there are a total of 8 boats that can be used for groups and a local guide will tell you stories about the local history, the small villages, waterfalls and wildlife that you see along the way. For groups you can stop at a private farm for a BBQ catering for 120 pax
The activities are “endless” in this part of Norway. Biking the Navvies road (Rallarvegen), white water rafting, Kayaking, catamaran, helicopters, walks in the Aurland and/or Flaam valley, as well as rides on a RIB boat to see the UNESCO’s world heritage area and narrowest fjord in the world. Fretheim Hotel is also only a 45 minutes drive from Myrkdalen, a modern ski resort.
Our Rib Boat Safari ended in the Viking village Njardarheimr, where we were greeted by a very loud and frightening Scottish Viking! The village is funded by the local town and was built so that visitors could experience an authentic village showing how the Vikings lived 1000 years ago when Gudvangen got its name.
The villagers all live in the authentically built Viking village; they are not in costume but living as the Vikings would have done. They know their history and have unique knowledge about the Viking life and welcome all questions from visitors. The food in the camp is prepared from old recipes with ingredients that were available at that time. Items for sale are handmade and genuine. It truly is an eye-opening place to visit; the level of detail really does hit every corner of the small village. You can arrange dinners for up to 250 people with a traditional Viking meal and entertainment / Viking show. Vikings like to party, so your group can enjoy a BBQ, music and activities, including archery and axe throwing.
En route back to the hotel we visited the white caves in Gudvangen, approximately 10 minutes from the Viking village. The caves themselves are 8 degrees all year round and are lit up with the colours found in the Northern Lights. The caves can be used for banqueting dinners, private meetings or even exclusive product launches. In the past, delegates have been flown to the caves by helicopter for their meeting and flown back into town afterwards. The caves do not have Wifi or signal, and are totally private and safe for security, which is why they are such a uniquely popular venue to use for private or VIP events. You can arrange a meal up for up to 200 people comfortably and the maximum time you can stay here is 1-2 hours (exclusively if you so wish.) Also you can offer your group a chance to float a candle on a little green lake and encourage them to make a wish.
On our second night we stayed at the Børs Hotel a really nice fashionable property with 127 rooms, which opened in 2017, during the summer. Located in Bergen City Centre, this hotel is steps away from Xhibition Mall, Galleriet Shopping Centre and Torgalmenningen Square. For dinner we walked to the 2 Kokker (2 Chefs) it is a cosy restaurant often used for incentive groups. Capacity up to 70 pax
On our last day, we walked to Fløien Funicular station and took a cable car to Fløien Moutains for a panoramic view of Bergen and to enjoy a local lunch. The zip line was unfortunately closed the day we went up, but you can zip line down from the highest point of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen.
In the afternoon I visited Grieghallen Culture & Conference venue which can be used for dinners / parties / product launches etc. Also it can be used for functions for 500 +
Bergen is an amazing destination for incentives; it has so much to offer and the best time to visit is early in the year as a lot of activities close down during the winter from October – December. From November to May you will have snow in the mountains. I can’t wait to go back in to explore more of what Bergen has to offer.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, First United