Founded in 1070, Bergen was once the capital of a region that extended as far as Iceland and parts of Scotland.

Today, this busy port city is used mainly as a convenient, starting point for tourists visiting the fjords of western Norway.

However, Bergen’s natural beauty – the city is nestled between seven hills and close to fjords and islands - and its historical attractions make it a worthwhile destination in its own right.

Bergen was named European City of Culture in 2000. Compact and easy to navigate, the city offers impressive museums, excellent restaurants and a thriving nightlife, all served up in a relaxed atmosphere.


Bryggen, the wharf area, is the main area of interest in the city centre. This area flourished during medieval times when Bergen was a major, fish-trading port. Little evidence of medieval Bergen remains, but there is a small row of attractive timber, merchant houses with pointed gables dating from the eighteenth century. Bryggen is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Hanseatic Museum, housed in one of the best-preserved, merchant buildings, gives you a good idea of how the traders lived and worked. There are storerooms, rooms for drying fish and offices, as well as living quarters, all decorated in period detail.

The Bryggens Museum is the site of one of the biggest archaelogical excavations in Europe. Exhibits dating back 800 years give a glimpse into the life of medieval Bergen.

Bergen’s oldest building is the Mariakirken, a stone church with twin towers dating from the 12th century, built in the Romanesque-Gothic style.

Torget, at the bottom of the central harbour, is home to an open-air, fish market, where you can sample various different varieties of fish and seafood.

For an amazing view of this picturesque city, take the funicular from Øvregaten to the top of Mt. Fløyen, one of Bergen’s seven hills. Another breathtaking view can be enjoyed from Mt. Ulriken, also accessible by cable car.

If you are looking for a cultural experience, take in a performance at Den Nationale Scene, Bergen’s main theatre, listen to the impressive Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra perform at Grieghallen or visit the Bergen Art Museum by lake Lille Lungegardsvann, which has a large collection of work by celebrated, Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

If you are interested in learning more about the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, take a trip to Troldhaugen, in the suburbs, where you can visit his home and a museum dedicated to his life and work.

Other attractions include the Rosenkrantz Tower, opposite the harbour, built in the 1560s as a residence and fortified tower by the governor, and the Maritime Museum, which chronicles Norway’s shipping history and has several Viking ship displays.

Nearby are the University of Bergen’s Museum of Natural History and Museum of Cultural History. The former has displays of stuffed animals, minerals and a botanic garden. The latter holds exhibits on the urban and rural history of western Norway, including Viking displays.


There are several good shopping streets in the main tourist areas near the harbour, including Bryggen, Øvregaten and Torget. Kløverhuset in Strandgaten and Galleriet in Torgallmenningen are large shopping centres.

For traditional handicrafts and clothing, including Scandinavian costumes and hand-knitted sweaters, visit Husfliden in Vågsallmenningen.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Being a port city, the best restaurants in Bergen tend to specialize in fish and seafood. Excellent (and expensive) restaurants can be found in Bryggen. For more reasonably-priced food, try one of the informal café-bars, where you can combine drinking with a light meal. Several trendy café-bars can be found around Ole Bulls Plass, a few blocks away from the harbour.

Try Bergen’s own Hansa beer at one of the many traditional pubs or trendy bars in the main tourist areas near the habourfront and Ole Bulls Plass. Many café-bars offer live music or have DJs perform at weekends.

Bergen’s nightclubs offer everything from trendy, new wave, through R&B, to eighties pop music. Students nights are held in venues near the university. The lesbian and gay community party at Fincken, a café in Nygårdsgaten.

Tourist Information

The tourist information office can be found at: Vågsallmenningen 1, NO-5014 BergenTel.: (+47) 55 55 20 00, Fax: (+47) 55 55 20


Bergen’s airport, Flesland, lies 19 km south-west of the city centre. A bus service connects the airport to central Bergen in 45 minutes. Many airlines, including budget ones, fly direct to Bergen from several cities in Norway and other parts of Europe, including London.

Bergen is also accessible by sea. Ferries run direct from England, Iceland, Denmark, the Faeroe Islands and Shetland.

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