The city center of Bergen lies pretty on a fjord called Byfjorden on the west coast of Norway northwest of Oslo. It's considered the gateway to the scenic fjords of Norway's west coast. Bergen is Norway's second largest city with about a quarter million people in the municipality, about ten percent of which are students. Cruise ships bring nearly half a million tourists to Bergen through Norway's busiest port. The city is thought to have been founded in 1070. It was the capital of Norway in the 1300s. It is extraordinarily beautiful, as you can see in the picture at the bottom of the page.
Why Go to Bergen?
Bergen is a UNESCO World Heritage City and was European City of Culture in 2000. Seekers of beauty with an eye toward culture will enjoy Bergen.
Bergen temperatures are moderate, but is wet. Called the "Seattle" of Norway, Bergen gets almost 90 inches of rain a year, much of it late in the year. Temperatures are moderated by the sea, so it doesn't get bitterly cold in the winter nor stifling hot in the summer. See some charts and graphs before you plan your Bergen Vacation: Historic Weather Data for Bergen.
Bergen Public Transportation:
The Tide transportation company runs buses, car ferries and boats out of Bergen, covering the nearby western coastal region of Hordaland. The Fløibanen, one of Norway's most visited attractions, is a funicular that takes you up the mountain of Fløyen. Bergen's train station is in central Bergen, next to the bus station. The trip on the Bergen railway between Bergen and Oslo, considered by many "The World's Finest railway journey" takes around 6.5 hours. Some cars have panoramic windows. Reserve a seat in summer.
Bergen Airport, Flesland is 19 km from the center of Bergen. The airport serves some international routes, notably Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London and Riga, as well as local plane and helicopter routes.
The summer Bergen International Festival is Bergen's best known celebration of the arts. Founded in 1953, The Bergen International Festival presents prominent international and Norwegian artists in the fields of music, ballet, opera, theatre, dance and the performing arts. Website with dates and program: Bergen International Festival.
The Bergen Card
If you really spend time intensively exploring Bergen, then the Bergen card may save you money on transportation and entrance fees, and provides discounts on tours and car rentals. The card comes in one and two day denominations, and can be purchased Online: The Bergen Card.
Where to Stay
Like many places in Scandinavia, Bergen hotels tend to be quite expensive. Top-rated is the Klosterhagen Hotel on the Michael Monastery grounds in a very desirable location in Bergen. Another tourist-pleaser is the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. The budget option is the well-located Bergen Budget Hostel.
If you're a country person, you may wish to rent a vacation home or cottage amongst the Norwegian Fjords.
Top Bergen Attractions
Bergen is a walk-around city. Bryggen is an area along the waterfront characterized by its parallel rows of buildings with a history of construction dating back 900 years to the time of the German Hanseatic League who established a trade center on Bergen's waterfront. You can visit the Hanseatic Museum, opened in 1872, which preserves the original flavor of the interiors of the period.
The city's old public swimming pool no longer stinks of chlorine, having been transformed into a gingerbread city called "Pepperkakebyen" in 1991 that is still expanding. It is said to be the largest in the world--a position that been challenged by New York.
Frighteningly odd? Perhaps a visit to the Leprosy Museum is in order.
The fish market in the historic center is a popular attraction. 12th-century St Mary’s Church is just to the north. Around 1,000 years younger is Bergenhus fortress at the entrance to the harbor is one of Norway’s oldest and best-preserved forts. Further north is Gamle Bergen, a reconstructed wooden village museum featuring houses from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Since the water is what Bergen is all about, you'll want to visit Bergen's famous Aquarium.
For great views of Bergen and surroundings, you'll want to hop on the Floybanen Funicular to the top of Mount Floyen and have a look around. At over 1000 feet above the fjords, you'll have a great view of the islands and the town of Bergen. Check out the website; you can see a web cam picture of the view.
If your travel plans include the scenic train trip to or from Oslo, be sure to stop off in Myrdal along the way and transfer to the Flaam Railway for a trip on the steepest rail line in the world down to Flåm. Get the details and a video of the trip.