Bergen at a glance
Although it's Norway’s second largest city, Bergen's natural setting and compact centre gives it a small-town vibe. It also makes for an outstanding base to explore the entire Fjord Norway region.
Bergen's meeting place is Bryggen, the UNESCO-listed wooden wharves home to restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
You probably didn’t know
A Norwegian phrasebook probably won’t get you very far in Bergen. The locals speak with the strong “Bergensk” accent. But relax, you'll get by just fine with English.
1222 by Anne Holt Norway’s queen of crime (2007; English trans. 2010). A thrilling locked-room mystery set in a historic mountain hotel after a train crashes in a blizzard.
- Population: 278,000
- January mean temperature: 3.4°C
- August mean temperature: 15.5°C
Things to do in Bergen
Although locals prefer to indulge in fishcakes, nothing beats fresh shrimps from the fish market washed down with a beer from the 7 Fjell (Seven Mountains) microbrewery.
For a more formal dining experience, head to 1877 in the old market hall. Dishes are small but the focus is on flavour and local ingredients such as rhubarb and seafood. Their popular set menu – featuring shellfish, fish, meat, cheese and desserts – changes seasonally. Book in advance, especially for weekends.
Value-hunters should head for one of the three downtown branches of Zupperia, known for their selection of hearty soups including Tom ka gai, clam chowder and reindeer.
Co-owned by Fredrik Saroea, lead singer of Norwegian electro act Datarock, Lysverket gradually transforms from restaurant to nightclub as the evening progresses and features live acts at weekends. One of the few Bergen nightspots open until 3am on weekends, it’s hosted Nordic music legends Röyksopp and Robyn.
Home to Hanseatic traders as long ago as 1360, Bryggen is still an important centre for commerce today. The colourful wharves are the place to buy handcrafted souvenirs such as the Arctic-inspired Tundra collection at Juhls Silver Gallery. Bryggen Husflid offers Norway’s largest selection of handmade sweaters, from big brands such as Dale of Norway to the exclusive Røros tweed.
Also on Bryggen, Elg is the store for fans of the iconic moose, while the all-year Christmas shop will keep the children occupied.
For everything else, Lagunen Storsenter near the airport is the Bergen's biggest shopping centre.
Surrounded by seven mountains, Bergen’s biggest draw is mother nature. The adventurous can take a cable car to Mount Ulriken for a day-long hike back to the city, while the rest of you can hop on a boat and take a tour of the surrounding fjords.
Kode Bergen Art Museum
On rainy days, check out Kode Bergen Art Museum, set across four buildings around the city lake. Little known outside the country, the work of Nikolai Astrup depicts the wild landscapes and rural lifestyles of western Norway.
Events to look out for:
- Blastfest Metal Music Festival (February)
- Borealis Contemporary Music Festival (March)
- Bergen International Festival (May/June)
- Natt Jazz Festival (May/June)
- Bergen Gay Pride (June)
- Bergenfest (June)
- Raptus Comic Book Festival (September)
- Bergen Food Festival (September)
- International Film Festival (September)
Flying with Norwegian
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