If you are visiting Norway, and more specifically Bergen, you are probably aware that the city is known as the “city in between the 7 mountains”. The 7 mountains surrounding Bergen are all popular hiking destinations, and one of the most popular (perhaps after Fløyen) is Mount Ulriken. The Ulriken mountain is the highest of the 7 mountains in Bergen, and offers spectacular views of the city and area around. If you are considering a great hike when you are visiting Bergen, I strongly recommend you add Mount Ulriken to your list! Or, as lokals call it, just Ulriken.
I live in Bergen, and am lucky enough to have Mount Ulriken and other popular city hikes at my door step. To do the Ulriken hike (or even to reach the Ulriken cable car, which I’ll tell you more about later), I simply have to leave my apartment and start walking. However, in this post, I’ll include instructions as to how to get to the start of the hike from the city center of Bergen. Consider this your one-stop guide to hiking the Ulriken mountain!
Read this too: How to get from Bergen airport to the city center.
Mount Ulriken: First things first
Read this post in Norwegian here: Fottur til Ulriken
Before we go over what the Ulriken hike is like, and cover the trails you get to choose from, there are a few facts you should know. As mentioned, Ulriken is the highest mountain of the Bergen “city mountains”, and the top is at 643 metres above sea level. Since Bergen city is at sea level, that’s quite a climb ahead!
The hike starts from just behind the Haukeland hospital. This is the biggest hospital in Bergen. From this spot, at the start of the hike, you still have about 440 height metres to climb. So, if you are heading to the hospital by bus or car (there is a parking lot at the base of the Ulriken hike), you’ll be glad to hear that you have skipped the first few hundred height metres. If you, like I did, start the hike from the center of Bergen, you’ll have to climb all 643 metres (albeit the first 200 along roads).
Near Haukeland is also where you will find the base station of the Ulriken Cable Car. Note that with the Bergen Card you get 20% off the Ulriken Cable Car tickets, so if you want to hike up the mountain and enjoy the cable car back down (or vice versa), I recommend you get the Bergen Card before you go. The card also gives you free transportation in the city, and discounts to lots of other attractions. Get yours in advance here.
I’ll cover more details about the Ulriken Cable Car below.
Facts about Mount Ulriken, Bergen and the Ulriken hike:
- Height above sea level: 643 metres
- Length of hike: 1,8-3,3 km (depending on which route you take)
- Sherpa steps: 1500 steps (approximately 0,8km)
- Hike Time: 1-2 hours one way
How to get to the start of the Ulriken hike
The hike starts by Haukeland hospital, as mentioned. The area is called Montana, and this is where you can catch the bus to from the center of Bergen. Simply take bus number 12 from the center of Bergen (Byparken) to Montana. There, head towards Montana Hostel (“Vandrerhjem”), walking up Johan Blytts Vei past both the Hostel and a power station of sorts. At the end of this road, you’ll find signs to Ulriken (and other hikes in the area) and a parking lot.
It is also possible to drive up here and park at the parking lot (the parking is free, but first come first serve).
Once you get to the end of Johan Blytts Vei, where the trail head starts, you have covered the first 200 height meters! However, this is also when the proper hike begins.
Mount Ulriken Hike
As mentioned above, there are several routes to get to the top of Ulriken mountain. The Sherpa stairs are probably the most popular, and it is one of the routes I’ll be covering in this guide. Another option, that takes you along the side of the mountain and back down, is longer and less steep. I’ll also cover that one, and have highlighted both options in the map below.
The red X is the start (the above mentioned Johan Blytts Vei), where you get to choose if you want to take the trail to the right or left. The left is pretty steep, and goes straight up the mountain (below the Ulriken Cable Car). In order to take the routes I recommend, you’ll take a right here.
The red line in the map below takes you up the Sherpa stairs. We opted to take the stairs to the top, and the longer way back down, which was a great choice. The blue line shows the longer way around. Where the roads meet is a place called Steinen (a meeting point/resting spot). From here, the Sherpa steps is 0,8 kilometres to the top, whilst the longer trail is 2,4 kilometres.
How was the hike? (Ulriken Hike Youtube Video)
All in all, the Ulriken hike was great! I’ll admit I wanted to turn around a couple of times while climbing the steps, but when I made it to the top I couldn’t have been happier. Several of the hills leading up to Steinen (where the trail splits and you can opt for the stairs or the longer route) were quite steep, but luckily the hike up to that point isn’t too long. So, the Ulriken hike is perfect for most people, as you can choose the path of least resistance for you and your travel buddies!
In the video below you’ll see the Sherpa steps on the way up, and the longer trail back down. We hiked to Ulriken on a beautiful day in September – and there were quite a few people around (but not too many for it to be enjoyable).
The trail itself was quite rocky, and the hike as such is great for your ankles and balance. You have to pay attention as you walk (especially back down), as there are several big rocks you walk across, some more loose than others. This is especially on the longer route (the 2,4km trail from Steinen). The Sherpa steps are, naturally, steps/stairs, and easy to walk on.
Please subscribe to my Youtube channel for more videos like this one!
Ulriken Cable Car
The Ulriken Cable Car is a great way to visit Mount Ulriken for anyone who doesn’t quite feel like hiking, and for anyone who wants an exciting adventure. The Cable Car starts at the bottom of the mountain, very close to where the trail itself starts, and takes you up to the top of the mountain in less than 10 minutes (7, to be exact).
My recommendation is to hike one way and take the Cable Car the other! That way you get a perfect mix of hiking and relaxation, and you still get to enjoy the incredible views from the top. There is a restaurant at the top station where you can grab a drink or a snack, so even if you don’t want to hike it is worth the trip with just the cable car.
Please note that the Cable Car is currently closed for refurbishment until the Summer of 2021. For updates on this, visit their website here.
As mentioned above, the Bergen Card will not only get you free transportation to the start of the Ulriken Hike and the Ulriken Cable Car, but also discounted tickets on the Cable Car. So I strongly recommend you head this way and get it before your visit (the free transportation is also valid from the airport, so get it before you go).
Ulriken Mountain FAQ
I won’t lie, it was pretty hard. But the Sherpa steps route takes a lot less time than around, so if you prefer ripping the bandaid off and just getting to the top, go for it. And when you get to the top of the mountain and see the view, you’ll forget all about the burning in your thighs!
Sherpa steps are big stairs made out of rocks, by specially trained Sherpas from Nepal. The Sherpas who built the steps at Ulriken (“Oppstemten”) came in 2016 and spent 2-3 years on the steps. I believe there were just 4 of them, according to this news article (in Norwegian).
Oppstemten is the name given to the Sherpa stairs along the Ulriken Hike. So if you opt for the stairs when hiking Mount Ulriken, Bergen, you are technically also hiking Oppstemten!
Yes! There is a restaurant at the top, called Skyskraperen (the sky scraper), serving “local and traditional food with a modern twist”. Read more and make reservations here.
Yes, with the Bergen Card!
The hike to the top takes anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. There are people that run up the steps in just 40 minutes, and families who take their time and set aside 2 hours to get to Ulriken. I would plan for 3-4 hours in total, depending on which way you take back down (the longer way back down takes almost as long as hiking the steps up).
The trail is 3,3 kilometres, which is about 2 miles.
Mount Ulriken Final Advice
There you have my guide to hiking Mount Ulriken, Bergen! I hope you have enjoyed it, and that you liked the video! My final advice for anyone visiting Norway and wanting to do this hike is to dress for a proper hike (especially if you are hiking both ways and not taking the cable car), and to bring a change of clothes for the top. Changing into a dry sweater or t-shirt after a sweaty hike is the best, and I always do this so I don’t have to walk back down in a wet top. It also keeps you from getting cold, as it can be quite windy at the top.
Another tip is to download the compass app for your phone (or similar). As you can see in the video above, I use it to check how far I have climbed (and how far I have left). Getting an idea of how high above sea level you are can help with motivation when the stairs are killing you, haha! Also; never hike without these blister cushions!