Bergen, Norway

Bergen, fjord-Norway´s capital surrounded by seven mountains, boasts nearly 1000 years´ experience in welcoming people from abroad. And Bergen is worth a visit: the Gateway to the Fjords, has always something to offer no matter what time of year. There´s always a party or a celebration going on in Bergen, and if there isn´t one, we´ll find an excuse! Bergen is an international town full of historie and tradition; a big town with small-town charm and atmosphere.

Bergen municipality has approximately 265.000 inhabitants and covers a area of 465,4 km2. The city is a spectacular amphitheatre clambering up the mountainsides, looking over the sea, embracing you. Wander along the Fish Market and mingle with the masses as they go about their daily life. Stroll leisurely to the Aquarium to see the fish, the penguins and the seals. Walk the length of Bryggen to the old fortress of Bergenhus. Håkon Håkonsson once ruled all Norway from here, making Bergen the country´s first capital city. In 1261 he built the mighty “Håkons Hall” for his son Magnus Lagabøter’s wedding and coronation.


The very first buildings in Bergen Norway were alongside the harbour called Bryggen. The World Heritage Site of Bryggen is all that remains of an ancient wharf on the east side of Bergen´s central harbour, Vågen. Bryggen has been the nervecentre of the city for hundreds of years and the silhouette of it´s ancient gables is perhaps the most familiar image in all of Norway. In 1360 the Hansas, a German guild of merchants, set up one of their import/ export offices on Bryggen and dominated trade for the next 400 years.

To meander through Bryggen’s narrow alleyways made even darker and more mysterious by overhanging balconies, is to step back into a time hardly touched by the passage of centuries. Althoug 61 of Bryggen´s buildings are preserved and protected they are not a museum. Bryggen´s spectacular wooden architecture shelters a living community of shops and offices; artists’ studios; crafts-people’s workshops, and restaurants.

Many times Bryggen has been devastated by fire, and the Great Fire of 1702 reduced the whole city to ashes. But Bryggen was quickly re-built on top of foundations that had been here since the 11th century. Bryggen is now on UNESCO´s World Heritage List and the city of Bergen is a designated World Heritage City.

The Hanseatic wharf Bryggen, the Fish Market composer Edvard Grieg´s home at Troldhaugen, Rasmus Meyer´s art collection, the Aquarium, Old Bergen and the Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten), one of the most famous tourist attractions in Norway, just to mention a few.

Bryggen in Bergen was inscribed on UNESCO´s World Heritage List in 1979. Harald Hårfagres royal farm, Alrekstad, and the farm of Bjørgvin had their boat houses at Vågen before Olav Kyrre gave Bergen “city status” ca 1070 AD. The tradition of long narrow buildings that face the sea, separated by passages, comes from the city´s earliest history.
For more than 500 years the Hansa trading system was followed in Bryggen. It was first challenged by the growth of new cities, the introduction of the steam ship and a growing fishing industry. The remnants of the Hansa period´s city structure inspired both by European and Norwegian building traditions are inscribed on UNESCO´s World Heritage List.

Tradition, initiative and drive has made Bergen one of Norway´s most vigorous cultural towns. It isn´t merely by chance that Norway´s biggest cultural event, the Bergen International Festival, is held here each year. The Fjord Capital has a, vide variety of activities ranging from “high” culture to lively football matches at the Brann Stadium. We have a professional ballet company, an exciting jazz and blues milieu, repertory theatres and imaginative revues. Norway´s very first theatre, Den Nationale Scene, and the Bergen International Theatre offer a broad spectrum of performances, while one of the world´s oldest symphony orchestras, Harmonien, holds Thursday concerts in the town´s splendid Grieg Hall.

First Traders

The first German traders came to Bryggen in the 1230´s. After many years with restrictions, the Germans were granted special privileges in 1278 which gave them permission to spend the winter in Bergen, salvage rights, and permission to buy property. The export of dried fish and import of grains were the most important trade goods.


The urban constructions at Bryggen consisted of one, or most often two narrow series of houses, forming double buildings. These were divided in several rooms with a common entrance. These were combined living quarters, offices and warehouses in two or three floors.

Bryggen documents a traditional wooden construction pattern that demonstrates the history of the earliest large trading ports in Northern Europe. The structure of the farms with parallel series of houses at right angles to the docks has existed since the medieval period, despite the city fires.

Perhaps you have an appreciation for old-style painters such as I.C. Dahl or more modern ones like Munch or Picasso, perhaps you´re interested in architecture or history, technical skills or maritime matters. The old parts of town are living history and our museums and galleries keep both art and our ancestral heritage alive.

Shopping in Bergen Norway

In Bergen you´ll find just about everything from good accommodation to tea rooms to speciality fish restaurants, from small bistros to discotheques, bars and nightclubs. Ask a Bergenser where you should go and quite likely you´ll be directed to one of the town´s classic hostelries which has drawn customers for decades. There again, you may just as well be shown the way to a bistro which otherwise you´d never have found – or treat yourself at one of the town´s pastry shops. Bergen has some of the country´s most beautiful restaurant settings and some of the country´s best eating places – all you have to do is choose according to your desire, appetite and wallet!

Bergen has always been a town of traders. For you, this means that they´ll find plenty of tempting shops – from the small and specialised to the large departmental store. Many visitors have remarked that they find more specialist shops here than in other Norwegian towns. Our late opening shopping centres measures up very favourably to most others when it comes to enterprise and plenty to choose from. In addition we have “Super Saturdays” where most shops in the centre of town stay open until 4 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month. Thursday too is a big day for town centre shopping, with shops staying open until 7 p.m. In Bergen you´ll always find a good bargain!

When essential purchases have been done, the shops gazed at and the thrill of local life tasted, the Gateway to the Fjords still has a lot to offer, its seven mountains the town itself with its unexpected nooks and tiny alleyways. Bergen is a town to potter around in. Here is history in its old houses, a sense of well-being in its narrow streets, and monuments dotted around everywhere. Most of this is within easy strolling distance and that´s the advantage of this nucleus of a city between fjord and mountain.


When Edvard Grieg grew up, Bergen was a small and busy European town. All through its past as a Hanseatic city, Bergen had established a net of connections that made it the only continental Norwegian city. The main business was the trade with fish and other products typical for the coast. There was a close contact with the rest of Europe, a fact that is easily retraceable in the origin of the bergener. Most of the families within the city limits had ancestors in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, England, the Netherlands and other European nations. Bergen was also a meltingpot for the population along the Norwegian coast. Edvard Grieg’s family was a typical Bergen-family: His great grandfather Alexander Greig (later changed to Grieg) came to the city from Cairnbulg close to Aberdeen in Scotland in the 1770s. He founded the family business, which was trade with dried fish and lobster across the North sea.

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen 15th of June 1843, in the family’s house in Strandgaten 152. He grew up in a successful merchant family, together with his brother John (born 1840) and his sisters Maren (born 1837), Ingeborg Benedicte (born 1838) and Elisabeth (born 1845). Very early he showed a strong interest in music and for the piano as instrument. He could sit at the piano for hours, exploring all kinds of tunes on his own.

The hero in the young Edvard Grieg’s dreams was the “fairytale-uncle” the famous violin virtuoso Ole Bull. Ole Bull’s brother was married to Edvard’s aunt, but it was first of all through the musical environment in Bergen that Ole Bull and Grieg’s parents got to know each other. The event became, according to Grieg, the most important single event in his life. Edvard Grieg had to play for the world-famous violinist, and after he had heard him playing some of his own small compositions, Ole Bull became very serious and spoke slowly with Grieg’s parents. After that he came over to Edvard and said: “You are going to Leipzig to become an artist!”

Nina and Edvard Grieg´s home is one of the great tourist attractions in Norway. The attractive Swiss style villa was designed by the architect Schack Bull and built in 1884-85. Situated in luxuriant surroundings, Troldhaugen lies on a promontory jutting out into Lake Nordas with an outstanding view over the water. Every summer from 1885 to his death in 1907, Edvard Grieg lived and worked here, touring Europe with his wife, Nina, during the winter months.

On the beginning of the 1870’s Edvard Grieg co-operated extensively with the Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, which led to Grieg composing music to Bjørnson’s poems. Grieg and Bjørnson’s most ambitious project was a national opera based on the history of the Norwegian king Olav Trygvason. In the beginning the work went forward quickly, but after a while they both lost some of the inspiration and a conflict raised between the two. The conflict concerned what had to be done first; the music or the libretto. In September 1907 he and Nina planned to participate on the music-festival in Leeds, England. They had left Troldhaugen for the season and lodged at Hotel Norge in Bergen, waiting for the boat that should take them to England via the continent. Grieg became seriously ill and was hospitalised in Bergen, where he died on September 4th 1907 of chronic exhaustion.


Wander along the Fisketorget and mingle with the masses as they go about their daily life. Bergen’s well known and picturesque Fish Market also sells fruit, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts and souvenirs.


Fløibanen (Funicular) takes you from the city centre to fresh air and fantastic scenery in 8 minutes – 320 m.a.s.l. (1050 ft.). From there you can enjoy a magnificent view over Bergen and surburbs. Numerous paths offer easy walks through beautiful woodland terrain with lakes and mountains. Playground for children. During summer the restaurant Fløien on top of mountain is open daily. The kiosk and souvenir shop is open all year. More information


Ulriken cable car offers activities, food and adventures. Everything on top of the highest of the seven famous mountains in Bergen. Try the new Zipline at Mt. Ulriken, the highest of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. The Zipline offers a scenic view and great excitement. Enjoy Bergen´s best view of the city, fjords, islands and coast. Mount Ulriken’s cable car and the unique double-decker sightseeing bus take you from the Fish Market to the roof of Bergen. This “Bergen in a nutshell” sightseeing tour takes you along the harbour and Bryggen, through the historic town centre, up to an overwhelming experience on Mount Ulriken and back, the highest of Bergen’s 7 mountains.


One of the finest and most extensive collections of marine fauna in Europe. There are many large and smaller tanks and outdoor pools with seals, penguins and carp. The Aquarium extension contains a realistic nesting cliff, open plan aquariums, new exhibition and video.


Nordnes is a peninsular area and lies between the Vågen, Byfjorden, and Puddefjorden. Akvariet i Bergen (Bergen Aquarium) is located at the tip of the peninsula. Havforskningsinstituttet, (Norwegian Institute of Marine Research), Fiskeridirektoratet, some parts of Høgskolen i Bergen (Bergen University College), Nordnes skole (Nordnes School) , Tollboden in Baroque style. In Nordnesparken is Nordnes Sea Baths. Nordnes is also home to buekorpset (brigade) Nordnæs Bataillon. In the seaside facing the Vågen is the preserved old boathouses (Nordnes Booths).


This is an open air museum of some 40 wooden houses placed on squares, streets and narrow alleys, like it used to be in the times of our great-great grandfathers. The interiours show town-life as it was in the 18th and 19th century, for instance a bakery, dentinst, photographer, jeweller, shopkeeper, official, sailor and more.


Bergen has numerous museums: the Hanseatic Museum, the Bryggen Museum, the “Buekorps” Museum, the Norwegian Fisheries Museum, Bergen’s Maritime Museum, the West Norwegian Museum of Applied Arts, the Horda Museum, Lepra Museum, and many more. Each one reflects in its own way the history of Bergen and its inhabitants.


In a beautiful modern building, houses the extensive medieval finds excavated nearby, and the Hanseatic Museum is in one of the old Hansa buildings and illustrates the life of a 18th century merchant. Putting all of these aspects together, you have an unmissable chance to experience life on Bryggen streching from time immemorial to the present today.


Bergen has many churches to offer. Every Sunday at 11 am High Mass in Norwegian is offered in all the city churches.


The World´s Most Beautiful Voyage START and END in Bergen. It´s a voyage like no other. Nothing can compare with it. Nothing about this journey will resemble anything you have ever experienced before. A ticket for the Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten) is a ticket to the theatre, an 11-day drama in which new acts constantly unfold all around you.


Fjord Line is a modern and public-minded shipping company focusing on safe and pleasant transportation between Norway and the European continent. The Fjord Line terminals in Norway: Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Langesund and Sandefjord. The Fjord Line terminal in Denmark: Hirtshals. The Fjord Line terminals in Sweden: Strömstad.


The old stave church at Fantoft, originally built in Fortun in Sogn in 1150 and moved to Fantoft in 1883, burnt down in 1992. Fantoft Stave Church has now been rebuilt just as it was before the fire.

The Stave Churches are constructions of high quality, richly decorated with carvings. In virtually all of them the door frames are decorated from top to bottom with carvings. This tradition of rich ornamentation appears to go back to the animal carvings of the Viking age. The dragons are lovingly executed and transformed into long-limbed creatures of fantasy, here and there entwined with tendrils of vine, with winding stems and serrated leaves. The elaborate designs are executed with supreme artistic skill. The stave church doorways are, therefore, among the most distinctive works of art to be found in Norway. However, it is difficult to connect them with the Christian gospel.


The Cathedral is today a blend of architecture from throughout its long and sometimes turbulent history. The oldest parts are the choir and the lower part of the tower, built in 13th century Gothic style.

ST. JOHN´S CHURCH (Johanneskirken)

Built in 1894. Johanneskirken is one of the finest neo-Gothic churches in Norway.

ST. MARY´S CHURCH (Mariakirken)

The oldest building in Bergen from the first half of the 12th century, and one of the most outstanding Romanesque churches in the country. The pulpit is the pride of the church and is considered the richest example of Baroque decorative art in Norway.


Korskirken was first built in the middle of the 12th century, but very little remains from this period. Today it is predominantly a church of Renaissance architecture from the 17th century.


One of the many noteworthy edifices damaged during the war by an explosion in 1944, but now fully restored to its former glory. The church is built in the architectural style of the early 18th century.

ST. GEORG´S CHURCH (St. Jørgens Kirke)

The church forms part of the old leprosy hospital buildings and was originally built in the Middle Ages, but rebuilt after the great fire in 1702.


Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll best known as Kygo is from Fana. He describes his music as quiet, melodic electronic music. Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll turned up as a music producer, and gained a huge fan base online. So far Kygo has primarily produced remixes, electronic versions of other people´s songs. “I find songs I like, and think that I can do something different. I put such a personal melody”, says Gørvell-Dahll. Kygo featuring Parson James performs “Stole The Show” at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.


Among the existing government incentives, all-electric cars are exempt in Norway from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments as well as being able to use bus lanes. Charging points in Bergen at the moment is 427. Charging points can be found on street parking, at taxi stands, in parking lots, at places of employment, hotels, airports, shopping centers, convenience shops, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses etc., as well as in driveways and garages.


The mountains surrounding Bergen offer a wide range of walks in mountainous and wooden country. In the mountains surrounding the city you can walk in unspoiled nature, enjoy clear fresh air and bathe in sparkling mountain lakes. Bergen has many oases of greenry with lovely parks and unspoiled trust land.


There is good fjord and sea fishing in Nordhordland. Not far to the west there are a lot of good fishing spots in the sea, where you can catch large cod, catfish and other types of fish. The open sea, the sounds and the calm waters of the fjords offer many good places to fish both from a boat or from the shore; salmon, trout, mackerel, cod, saithe, ling, pollack, tusk, halibut, flounder, angler fish and catfish. Get hold of a good sea chart with information about depth and the sea bed, and an angling guide with information about where to find the various species of fish together these can provide you with a fine catch!


Bergen Golfclub is a golf course with 18 holes and a variation of difficulties. The course lies at Åstveit in Åsane. Approximately 8 km north of Bergen.

Fana Golfclub You can choose between 9, 12 and 18 holes and a variation of difficulties. The course is an open court.