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Travel Guide Europe Norway Bergen

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Introduction

Bergen

Bergen

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Bergen is located along the west coast of Norway and is the second largest city in the country with about 280,000 inhabitants. The municipality covers 465 square kilometres (180 sq mi) and is on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. The city centre and northern neighbourhoods are on Byfjorden, "the city fjord", and the city is surrounded by mountains; Bergen is known as the city of seven mountains. Many of the extra-municipal suburbs are on islands. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland and consists of eight boroughs: Arna, Bergenhus, Fana, Fyllingsdalen, Laksevåg, Ytrebygda, Årstad and Åsane.

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Neighbourhoods

The traditional neighbourhoods of Bergen include Bryggen, Eidemarken, Engen, Fjellet, Kalfaret, Ladegården, Løvstakksiden, Marken, Minde, Møhlenpris, Nordnes, Nygård, Nøstet, Sandviken, Sentrum, Skansen, Skuteviken, Strandsiden, Stølen, Sydnes, Verftet, Vågsbunnen, Wergeland, and Ytre Sandviken.

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Sights and Activities

There's a number of attractions in Bergen and the surrounding areas. Surveys do, however, show that most tourists in Bergen find the atmosphere, cultural landscape and architecture more compelling than the typical sights, so pick a few things to see and spend the rest of your time in Bergen sitting down in a park or café, strolling around the city, enjoying a concert or hiking the mountains. On sunny summer days, stay downtown until late to enjoy the sunset in the north.

  • Bryggen - on the Unesco World Heritage List.
  • Fantoft Stave Church - A church built in the 12th century was taken to Bergen but it was burned down in the 1990s. It was rebuilt to exactly the same pattern.
  • Mount Floyen - reachable by funicular near to the harbour and Bryggen.
  • Gamle Bergen - museum of Old Bergen houses - which would simply have been demolished if not preserved here. Tours in English show the interiors.

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Events and Festivals

Main article: Events and Festivals in Bergen

  • UKEN (The Week Student Festival) is arranged every two years. This second largest cultural festival in the Western Norway is organised by around 1,000 students from all over Bergen.
  • Grunnlovsdag (Norwegian Constitution Day) and Nasjonaldagen (The National Day) coincide with each other and are held every year on May 17 all around Norway. They are the main official national holidays.
  • Festspillene i Bergen (The Bergen International Festival) takes place every year at the end of May. The festival is the principal event of its kind in the Nordic countries. During its period (for about 15 days) there occur a large number of musical, dance, opera, theatre, literature, folklore and visial art events.
  • Grieg in Bergen Festival takes place every year from the start of June to the end of September, Korskirken and Troldhaugen. It is Bergen’s largest classical music event with a large number of concerts.
  • Kystsogevekene (Coastal Saga Weeks) happens annually from mid-August to late September in Bergen, Oslo, Gulen and in more than 20 municipalities in Western Norway. Kystsogevekene presents a variety of coastal cultural and sporting events in such fields as crafts, handmade, water sports, art and so on.
  • Bergen Matfestival (Bergen Food Festival) is held annually in early September, Bryggen. More than 90 farmers from the counties of Hordaland and Sogn&Fjordane offer to taste and buy their eco products.
  • BIFF – Bergen International Film Festival is held yearly in mid-September-October. BIFF is one of the largest and significants film festivals in Norway. Its programme usually contains for about 150 films from all over the world.
  • Pepperkakebyen (Gingerbread Town) is the world’s largest gingerbread town – Bergen’s miniature version. It is exhibited annually from the middle to the end of December. Pepperkakebyen is one of Norwegian Christmas traditons.

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Weather

Well, is there anything nice to say about the weather? Ok, there are dry days, but Bergen is known to have over 300 days with some rain (or snow) every year! Average highs are between 4 °C in winter and around 17 °C in summer, nights averaging around zero and 11 °C respectively. September to December is the wettest time, while April to June is relatively dry, but still about 17 days of rain, totalling over 100 mm a month (against almost 300 mm in September).

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max3.6 °C4 °C5.9 °C9.1 °C14 °C16.8 °C17.6 °C17.4 °C14.2 °C11.2 °C6.9 °C4.7 °C
Avg Min-0.4 °C-0.5 °C0.9 °C3 °C7.2 °C10.2 °C11.5 °C11.6 °C9.1 °C6.6 °C2.8 °C0.6 °C
Rainfall190 mm152 mm170 mm114 mm106 mm132 mm148 mm190 mm283 mm271 mm259 mm235 mm
Rain Days211719171716181923242222

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Getting There

By Plane

The Bergen Flesland Airport is located 12 kilometres from the city and receives mostly domestic and European flights. About 20 airlines serve the city, with most of them offered by Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scandinavian Airlines. Some of the main destinations include Oslo, Riga, Helsinki, Stockholm, Torshavn, Aberdeen, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Rome, Warsaw, Edinburgh and Nice.

To/from the airport
Flybussen runs between Bergen city center and Bergen Airport Flesland. A minibus service connects the airport to the Flesland quay west of the airport. From here boats bring passengers southwards to Stord, Austevoll, Haugesund, and Stavanger. Car rental agencies and taxi services are both readily available at the airport and there are over 3,000 long-term and short-term parking places.

By Train

Bergen station is located east of the city centre at Strømgaten 4, close to the bus station and the Bygarasjen garage.

Bergen is served by a railway line which runs from Oslo through Hønefoss. Bergen is the last station and there is only one station in the city (in addition one station in Arna suburb). The railway line is operated by NSB. The journey takes about seven hours and gives you beautiful views, especially for the last three hours across the plateau and down towards Voss and Bergen. When passing Geilo, you will cross over a high mountain plateau and then travel downwards through some of the best scenery in Norway. If you buy your ticket online well in advance, fares may be as low as kr 199 for a one-way ticket. For an additional fee of kr 90, you may upgrade your ticket to NSB Komfort, the equivalent of first class, with slightly better seats and free coffee and tea. If you want to make more out of your journey, get a window seat on one of the most recent upgraded trains (they're quite stylish and have power outlets by every seat) on the left hand side (this will give you the best view).

The Oslo-Bergen line is famous for its scenery and is often used to reach Voss or Myrdal for the Norway in a nutshell tour. More about this at the Norway#Sights and Activities section.

By Car

If arriving in Bergen by car, you will be better off not taking your car into the city center unless you know exactly where you're going, as most streets are one-way or do not allow cars at all (only buses and taxis), read more in the Get around section. Parking is generally forbidden (unless explicitly permitted) downtown inside zone 1, and restricted outside zone 1.

Generally, you will find that many roads in rural areas, even the highways between the cities, are partly narrow and slow. There are no motorways except a few kilometers around the city, most main roads (E16, road 7) are two lane undivided and limited to 80 km/h (50 mph). Even if some people drive very fast, you should mind the speed limits (usually 80 km/h) and drive according to the conditions. In the mountains, help can be hours away. Furthermore, you will find traffic controls and police in unmarked cars nearly everywhere. Fines are very high. To avoid dangerous situations, it's a very good idea stop and let faster going traffic pass you. Except in and around Bergen, traffic is generally very light, although there may be some traffic on road 7 during summer vacation and around weekends.

Road E16 from Oslo and Voss makes a circle from Arna through Aasane where it joins E39 on a motorway to the centre (northern approach). At Sandviken the wide road continues through a long tunnel towards the southern city in order to avoid the centre, while those heading for the centre can either exit at Sandviken or just after the tunnel. The southern approach (E39) comes from the Halhjem ferry dock at Os and arrives downtown just before the long tunnel. Find a good parking, and use legs or public transport inside the centre.

The trip from Oslo to Bergen takes between seven and nine hours, depending on the route, the driving conditions and whether you choose to make any stops on the way. Be prepared to add some hours driving time in the winter - and remember that the daylight will be scarce for many months. All routes Oslo to Bergen run through mountain passes. It might be a good idea to use two days on the tour in the winter if you're not accustomed to these conditions. A 12- or even 14-hour drive on icy, dark roads in bad weather is not very nice. Keep in mind that many roads in Norway are often of narrow and slow due to relatively low traffic and difficult weather conditions.

If you plan to cross the mountains (for instance by driving from Oslo to Bergen) in the winter season, it is imperative that you are prepared for the journey. The conditions are harsh. Always keep a full tank of fuel, and keep warm clothes, food and drink in the car. Make sure your tires are good enough and suited for winter conditions (studded or non-studded winter tires; "all-year" tires are not good enough), and that you have sufficient skills for driving in snowy and cold conditions. Roads are often closed on short notice due to weather conditions. For advice on conditions and closed roads, call 175 in Norway or check the online road reports (in Norwegian only) from the Norwegian State road authorities. Remember that not all parts of the country have cellular phone coverage.

By Bus

Via the network of NOR-WAY Bussekspress, Bergen is accessible by direct links from all of South Norway. Bus is usually the cheapest way to travel, but can take some time. The national buses are very comfortable, but not suitable for people using wheelchairs. Schedules and fares are available online, and it is also possible to pre-book. Booking may be required on some routes. The bus station is conveniently located just a few minutes walk from the city centre. The terminal for long distance buses is situated on the rear side of the station.

By Boat

Bergen is served by a number of ferry operators to different countries.

United Kingdom

Denmark

  • Faroe Islands

Smyril Line travels further from Bergen to Torshavn on the Faroe Islands.

Domestic

  • Domestic services include Fjordline which offers ferries between Bergen and Egersund.

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Getting Around

By Car

It is an expressed goal of both local and national authorities to reduce car traffic in the city center. Thus, the speed limit downtown is very low, and most streets are one-way streets. If you plan on getting from one part of downtown to another, walking is often faster then driving, even for locals who know their way around. Furthermore, parking in the streets is reserved for the handicapped and for residents with a special permit with only a very few exceptions. If you plan to drive to the city center from outside of it, unless you have any special needs, park your car in a garage, such as Bygarasjen (very large, at the bus station) and Klostergarasjen (at Nøstet, northern downtown), Bygarasjen being the cheaper. There are also several smaller (and more expensive) garages around town. If you take the chance to bring your car further downtown, be sure to read all signs – most streets are one-way streets and some are for buses and taxis only.

To park in a spot reserved for the disabled, you need a standard European "blue badge", a special parking permit (generally, handicapped parking permits from most countries will be accepted). It must be placed on the inside of your car's front window, clearly visible from the outside.

Taxis are generally expensive in Norway. Throughout Bergen, there are a number of taxi stalls where taxis are parked waiting for customers. During the day, taxis will usually not pick up customers nearer than 300 metres from the stalls, except when called to an address. During the night in the weekends, taxi queues can be very long (up to one hour), and all customers are therefore required to go to the stalls. It is possible to order taxis to addresses also at this time of the week, but you shouldn't really expect the taxi to arrive.

The places where the taxis are stationed changes from time to time because of renovation of the city streets, but usually you will find them at the bus station, the railway station, Festplassen, Ole Bulls plass, Torget and in Torggaten and Vetrlidsalmenning. Look for signs saying "Taxi". Some taxi stalls are only open during the night, and vice versa. Information about this is printed on a separate sign below the taxi sign. If no taxis are available at the taxi stall, call 07000 (Bergen Taxi), 08000 (Norgestaxi), +47 55 70 00 00 (Taxi 1) or +47 55 70 80 90 (Bryggen Taxi). Note that there is usually a fee associated with calling a taxi. Taxis may also be ordered in advance by calling one of these numbers, which is recommended if you have the possibility.

Fares are approximately the same regardless of the taxi company. All companies are regarded as reliable and safe. If several taxis are available at a taxi station, you may pick the one you want from the line.

It can be added that taxi drivers rarely expect or receive any tip.

By Public Transport

Bus schedules can be a bit difficult to understand. Ask a local or a bus driver; both will usually be able and happy to assist you. There are information desks at the bus station and off Torgalmenningen providing information on all local bus and train lines free of charge. Calling 177 will also put you in contact with the information center (if you call from a cell phone, be sure to ask for the information center for Hordaland county, as this is a national service).

Schedules and outline maps of the services are available online from the Skyss website together with an online travel planner. There are schedule and travel planner apps available for Android and iOS mobile phones and tablets. Printed schedules can be picked up from any bus, but are only available in Norwegian.

For a few major stops, the bus may have a fixed departure time, and will not leave before schedule. At other stops though, a bus may leave a few minutes ahead of schedule. During periods of high traffic, the bus may be several minutes late. Rush hour traffic is sometimes accounted for in the schedule by greater time allowances, but busy Saturday shopping is often not.

A light rail line runs between the city centre and southwards towards Lagunen before turning west to the airport. This is the primary means of public transportation to southern parts of Bergen. The line passes the railway station, the bus station, Brann soccer stadium and the student homes at Fantoft along the route. The line operates from 6:00am to 1:00am, seven days a week, generally with a 7 to 8-minute frequency (a bit more often during rush hours, 15-minute frequency on Saturday mornings, 30-minute frequency on Sunday mornings). The entire journey takes about 45 minutes. Night lines operate all Friday and Saturday night with departures every 30 minutes.
You need to buy your ticket from the ticket machine at the station before you board. Apart from that, the ticket and fare card system is the same as for buses. It's possible to change from bus to light rail and from light rail to bus within the time of validity of a ticket. Tickets for the night lines must be bought on board. Fare cards can not be used. The price is 60 kr. The light rail is accessible with a wheelchair. All stops are announced and displays also show the name of the next stop.

There is one local commuter train service, between downtown Bergen and the suburb of Arna in the east. If you are going to Arna, the train is by far the fastest option from downtown since the roads run around the mountains while the railway line runs straight through them; it is an eight minute train ride, running every half hour during most of the day. Tickets should be purchased beforehand in the office at the downtown station or in the machines both downtown and in Arna.

By Foot

There is a good and well stocked Tourist Information Office not far from the sea front, where you can get maps and all sorts of brochures and leaflets on tours and trips, including fjord tours/trips.

Within the city centre, walking is the best way to get around. You can walk across the downtown in 20 minutes in any direction. The most central streets of the city are relatively flat and generally have a good accessibility for the disabled, sidewalks have rounded corners to allow access by wheelchair. The characteristic alleys and narrow streets (often with stairs rather than ordinary streets) on the slopes are however not available by wheelchair and may be difficult to walk for the disabled. The most important pedestrian crossings have sound signals and are indicated by tactile paving. They are also accessible with a wheelchair. Although cobble stone is a popular material in the streets, it is rarely used in pedestrian areas.

By Bike

Getting around by bike can be difficult in Bergen. Many central streets are paved with cobblestone, and there are only a few roads with designated cycling lanes. Cycling in such lanes can even be dangerous, as car and bus traffic may cross the lane. It is however legal to cycle on the sidewalks as long as you do not disturb pedestrians. Front and rear lights are mandatory after dark. Bicycle theft and vandalism is common, so be careful where you leave your bike and always use a lock.

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Eat

There is a great variety of restaurants and cafes in Bergen, but you should expect to spend some time looking for the best places. In the most central parts of the city, many of the restaurants are all the same. Move a block away from the most central parts of downtown to find lower prices and better food. Kitchens usually close at 11:00pm at the latest.

Waiters and other restaurant staff have good wages. You are not required to leave any money to cover the service, but many people choose to tip the waiter if he or she has been helpful and nice, and if the food was good. If you choose to leave a tip, rounding up or adding about five to ten percent will be appreciated. A rule of thumb would be that the more expensive the food is, the more are you expected to leave a tip.

Finding local food might take some effort, but there are some options. There aren't that many local dishes available at restaurants. "Norwegian" food is the food of the husmann (cottager) – nutritious and cheap, not what you usually find in a restaurant. The Bergen fish soup might be the most important, as well as raspeballer and cooked cod. If you want to get that Norwegian taste and have a gourmet meal at the same time, look for dishes that use "local" ingredients (such as reindeer, stockfish and cod) with a twist, such as Bryggen Tracteursted's filet of reindeer farced with goat cheese.

Many cafe's and restaurants serve "raspeballer" on Thursdays. Raspeballer are local potato dumplings, in Bergen usually served with bacon, sausages, salted meat from sheep, melted butter and mashed rutabaga. You can get takeaway raspeballer at Kjøttbasaren (kr. 50), cheap ones at Lido, excellent ones at Pingvinen and Bjellands Kjøkken. You can get reasonable take-away fish soup, fish-balls, "plukkfisk" and fish-gratin at Madam Bergen.

In November, December and January, traditional Christmas food is served in many restaurants. Look for "pinnekjøtt" (cured, dried and sometimes smoked meat of lamb or mutton), "lutefisk" (lit. "lye fish", dried cod prepared with lye) and "ribbe" (oven-baked pork ribs). For a very special experience, try smalahove (sheep's head). It is a traditional dish from Voss not far from Bergen.

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Drink

There is a great variety of bars, night clubs, concert venues etc. in Bergen. Night clubs are usually open from 11PM, but life never starts before 1AM. Bars opens at different hours, some can be open all day. No places are allowed to serve alcohol after 3AM, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages must cease at 3:30AM at the latest. Many places are required to close earlier. The establishments are only allowed to let people bring their drinks outside if they have been granted a special permit. A requirement to get this permit is that they have a confined space outdoors for their guests. All drinks must be indoors by 1AM. People go out all week, but Fridays and Saturdays are the best nights, Saturdays being the clear winner (most places will be a bit too crowded on Saturdays). Some clubs have a 2 for 1 policy on Wednesdays, and Sunday is usually the night for people in the industry.

Most places require that you are 20 years of age (look in the list for details) and that you can provide a valid ID, even if you are much older. Valid IDs are Norwegian bank cards, European standard driver's licenses and ID cards and passports. Drinking in public is illegal. Emptying a can in front of a police officer on a Saturday night will earn you a kr. 2500 fine. If you stroll through a park a bit outside the city center on a sunny day you will still see a lot of people having a beer or a glass of wine with the picnic. The police usually won't mind as long as everything passes in an orderly fashion.

Prices vary great from place to place, ask at the door if you need to know. In the weekends, there is usually a cover charge from kr. 50 to kr. 100 at night clubs.

Almost all night clubs and some bars have a dress code. The required attire varies; look in the list for more information (when the listing indicates "no dress code" normal, nice clothes are accepted). Supporter gear is generally not accepted even in sports pubs.

Remember that smoking in all indoor areas where people work is strictly prohibited by law in Norway. Most restaurants, bars, night clubs etc. will require you to leave if you try to smoke indoors.

Nightlife is largely concentrated in the central downtown (streets Vaskerelven, Engen, Torgallmenningen, Ole Bulls plass, Nygaardsgaten) and Bryggen area (streets Bryggen, Rosenkrantz gt, Vetrlidsallmenningen, kong Oscar gate).

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Sleep

Outside the summer season, getting a hotel room is usually not a problem, although it can be quite expensive unless you have a reservation. In the summer season (from May to Sept) a reservation well in advance is required. Breakfast is normally included in the price except at hostels and camping sites.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Bergen YMCA HostelNedre Korskirkealmenning 4HOSTEL85
Intermission HostelKalfarveien 8Hostel69
Jacobs Apartments ASKong Oscarsgt. 44 5017Hostel-
Marken GjestehusKong Oscarsgt. 45 5017Hostel87
Montana Youth and Family HostelJohan Blyttsvei 30Hostel86
Dorm.no BergenMarken 26 5017HOSTEL-
Basic Hotel BergenHakonsgaten 27HOTEL-
Basic Hotel VictoriaKong Oscars Gate 29HOTEL-
Basic Hotel MarkenKong Oscarsgt. 45HOTEL-

Mid-Range

Steens Hotel - although this is not far from the station, there is a steep hill so a taxi may be worth it.

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Learn

Institutions of higher education in Bergen include the University of Bergen, The Norwegian School of Business and Economics, Bergen National Academy of the Arts and Bergen University College. The university is Norway's second largest and covers most areas of education, though the educations in law and in medicine are probably considered the best. The Norwegian School of Business and Economics is considered the best education within these fields in the country. All the aforementioned institutions are members of the Nordplus and Erasmus exchange programmes and offer courses in English.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Most Norwegian households are connected to the Internet in some way (often broadband), making cybercafés hard to find outside major cities, due to a relatively small market. Most public libraries have free public access to the internet, but a limited number of computers and limited opening hours.

However, if you bring a laptop with a wireless connection you will find wireless internet zones just about everywhere (gas stations, city centres, cafés, shopping centres, hotels etc.), sometimes free, but be prepared to pay for it though. It is not unusual for hotels to have a terminal for guest use. Well over half of the camp grounds have wifi internet, but if it's crucial for you, best to ask before paying for your camping space.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Norway is 47. Emergency numbers include Police at 112, Fire at 110 and Emergency Medical Services at 113.
If you are unsure which number to call, 112 is the central for all rescue services and will put you in contact with the correct department. For non-emergencies, the police is to be called on 02800.

Cell phone Coverage generally is very good, except maybe some of the valleys, fjords and mountains. The company with the best coverage is Telenor. The other main operator is Netcom. These two deliver coverage to a multitude of other companies (Tele2 and Network Norway are two smaller companies that deliver coverage in the main cities, but utilize the othe two's net when outside).Prepaid sim card are available in all shops that sell phones and also petrol stations and kiosks. Prepaid has been in a slump in Norway after forced registration was effected, so prices are a bit higher for these than for subscriptions.

If you plan to do quite a bit of websurfing on the phone then Telenor's Prepaid (or "Kontant" in Norwegian) might be the ticket. You can surf as much as you wish, but the card doesn't get charges for more than 10 NOK per day (worth it if you use more than 2MB per day on the days you surf - though after 500MB the speed get's axed to 100kb/s).

Post

Red mailboxes are found easily and post offices are plentiful, with opening hours on most being 9:00am to 5:00pm, with usually shorter hours on Saturday. Stamps can usually only be found at post offices although some popular tourist venues might carry them. Norway's postal system, "Posten", has a good website with a lot of English information including up to date prices and also details about the opening hours of the nearest post office. The most commonly sent format for travellers are letters and cards up to 20 grams, check their website for current prices. If you want to send packages, you might also use international courier companies lik DHL, UPS or TNT.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 60.3880719
  • Longitude: 5.3318512

Accommodation in Bergen

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This is version 30. Last edited at 10:56 on May 16, 17 by Utrecht. 31 articles link to this page.

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