My Town: Bergen

Bryggen in Bergen. Colorful houses along the waterfront with mountains in the background.

Welcome to Bergen, Norway’s second city and strikingly set on a convergence of fjords, backed by steeped, forested slopes. Fascinating and picturesque quarters wait to be explored – not only Bryggen, the famous old timber wharf with UNESCO World Heritage Site status, but also residential neighbourhoods with photogenic, white-painted wooden houses lining quiet cobbled streets.  Whether exploring historic landmarks, enjoying local cuisine, or discovering hidden treasures, Bergen promises an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Dive into Norwegian culture

Beyond the many bustling tourist attractions, Bergen’s soul lies in its vibrant cultural scene. Locals immerse themselves in events like the Bergen International Festival, where global talents converge to showcase the city’s role as a cultural hub. Wander through lesser-explored neighbourhoods like Nordnes and Sandviken, where historic streets and quaint cafes foster a sense of community and authenticity.  

And if it’s raining – and given that Bergen is statistically one of the wettest cities in Europe there’s a strong chance it will be – there are plenty of good museums and art galleries deserving of your time. Kode, Bergen’s most impressive cultural institution, offers a dose of culture with its collection of four galleries and three composers’ homes spread across the city. Spend time browsing the largest collection of Edvard Munch paintings outside of Bergen at Kode 3, along with an impressive sketch of his iconic “The Scream.”

Experience the past in Bergen

Bryggen in Bergen. Colorful houses along the waterfront with mountains in the background.

Bergen’s history is woven into its cobblestone streets and historic landmarks. It’s clear to see that Bergen’s existence is inseparable from its seafaring past and present. Today, visitors flock to see the medieval harbourfront and UNESCO World Heritage site, Bryggen, which sprung up in response to a flourishing codfish industry — one that saw Bergen become Scandinavia’s largest city in the 1600s. This historic area stands as a testament to Bergen’s Hanseatic past, while Bergenhus Fortress offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval history. The iconic fjords, pouring out to the edge of every peninsula, are another major draw. Tourist boats dart in and out, taking curious passengers to see the cragged waterways that Norway is so well-known for. 

Taste your way around the city

Bergen’s culinary scene is a fusion of flavours, drawing inspiration from the sea and the surrounding mountains. While tourists may flock to well-known eateries, locals know the best spots for authentic fare. Enhjørningen tempts with fresh seafood delicacies, while Bryggeloftet & Stuene offers traditional Norwegian dishes in a historic setting.

Fuel up with lunch at the city’s 300-year-old fish market. Whether you pick up a crab baguette at the outdoor stalls lining the harbour (open May to June) or take a seat in the indoor area (where fresh seafood is prepared at sleek counters), you’ll be sure to get a taste of the rich culture of seafood ingrained here. For a taste of Bergen’s burgeoning craft beer scene, Henrik Øl & Vinstove is a must-visit, serving up locally brewed brews alongside hearty pub fare.

Shopping with a difference

Bergen’s narrow alleyways are a unique shopping experience, with boutiques and galleries offering anything but average souvenirs at every turn. From handcrafted treasures to contemporary Nordic designs, there’s something for every taste and budget. Explore the shops along Hanseatic Wharf for traditional Norwegian crafts, or wander through the Bergen Storsenter for a modern shopping experience. Make a beeline for Bryggen, the city’s historic harbour district, to glimpse how Bergen operated in the Middle Ages. Explore the warren of shops, restaurants, and artist studios housed in 62 historic buildings. If a pastry pit stop is required, try Baker Brun on the harbourfront for kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) as big as your face.

Things to do

There’s so much to explore in Bergen, the hardest thing is knowing where to begin. For a relaxing start to your day, stroll through Nordnes Park, where lush gardens and panoramic views of the harbour await. Explore the vibrant street art scene in neighbourhoods like Møhlenpris and Nygårdshøyden, where colourful murals adorn historic buildings and alleyways. To taste Bergen’s natural beauty, hike along one of the city’s many scenic trails, where fjords, waterfalls, and mountain vistas await. For outdoor lovers, Songenfjord, the country’s longest and deepest fjord, offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities like sailing. Take a day on a sailboat cruise through the vast waters of Norway, floating through the beauty of Songenfjord off the coast of Bergen.

Or experience a truly spectacular panoramic view from one of the highest points in the area by taking the Ulriken cable car up to Mt. Ulriken, standing at 643 meters above sea level. The ride provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and taking pictures, offering a smooth journey up to the peak of Mt. Ulriken.

Don’t miss.. the sounds of Bergen

Bergen boasts a rich musical heritage, exemplified by the Bergen Philharmonic, one of the world’s oldest orchestras, established in 1765. The city has played a pivotal role in modern music, especially during the 1990s with the emergence of ‘the Bergen Wave,’ where local musicians dominated the airwaves. This musical legacy continues today, evident in the diverse music venues scattered across Bergen. It’s worth visiting some notable composer residences nearby including Troldhaugen, once home to composer Edvard Grieg; and Siljustøl, a remarkable mountain farmhouse and former residence of 20th-century composer Harald Sæverud. 

Where to stay

Hotel Park in Bergen is located on either side of what was then one of Bergen’s most fashionable streets. This part of town has recently experienced a renaissance… and even more conveniently, we’re within easy walking distance of the city centre, railway station and bus station, as well as sights like Grieg Hall.


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