Rooftops of Bryggen Wharf

12 reasons why you should visit Bergen

Surrounded by seven mountains and with a harbor of world heritage class, Bergen is perfect if you love mountain hikes, city walks, water activities and culture. 

Located in the heart of Western Norway, the city is also the gateway to some of the most famous fjords in the world. 

Below are some great reasons to visit what once was the capital of Norway. Ready to explore it? 

It’s surrounded by seven mountains offering magnificent views

Bergen is surrounded by seven high-points, each with great hiking opportunities and great city view perspectives.

Mount Fløyen is perhaps the most famous and accessible of these mountains. The mountain is accessible by foot or a railway from the heart of the city centre. The tallest of the 7 is Mount Ulriken at 643 m (ft. 2110). The other mountains included in the count are Mount Løvstakken, Damsgårdsfjellet, Blåmanen, Lyderhorn, Sandviksfjellet.

Hot tip: If you have some time to spare, are used to nature and love longer more challenging hikes, the local favorite ‘Vidden’ can be worth checking out. The hike goes between Fløyen and Ulriken across a mountain plateau. However, this hike can take up to 6 hours and requires proper hiking gear and food.

Sunset and views of Bergen from mount Ulriken

It’s the gateway to the fjords

Within a few hours’ reach from Bergen, you can explore both the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord, the latter being the longest fjord in Norway.

Day trips depart daily from the harbor in the city centre to explore the spectacular fjords of Western Norway – including smaller fjords such as the Osterfjord .

On your way to your destination you get to behold the scenic fjord landscape characterized by mountains, small villages, bird life and farms among others.

Fjord boat from Norled departing from Bergen

It’s home to Bryggen Wharf

Bryggen stands out as a famous landmark and is among the most photographed areas of Bergen. The picturesque line of colorful houses facing the Vågen (harbor)  is listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. 

The area played an important role in the Hanseatic League’s trading empire that dominated trade in Europe for 400 years.

The colorful wooden houses mainly accommodate restaurants, bars, cafes and souvenir shops. Make sure to step into the narrow alleyways between the houses to discover small shops selling jewelry and local crafts. 

Drone view of Bryggen Wharf in Bergen

It’s famous for boasting colorful wooden architecture

Beyond Bryggen Wharf there is an abundance of other picturesque areas with beautiful wooden architecture. Colorful houses cling on to the mountainsides and appear in clusters around the city. 

Walking the cobbled stone streets of Nordnes and Sandviken offers an abundance of beautiful narrow streets, historical wooden houses, most of which are private homes. 

There are also some local cafes and coffee shops offering a break to recharge your own battery as well as your camera’s.

Old wooden houses at Old Bergen Museum in Sandviken

It’s famous for its great nightlife

As opposed to other major cities in Europe, Bergen does not have one main bar street. Instead, the nightlife is scattered across different parts of the city center. The city is however, famous for its nightlife and has a wide and diverse selection of pubs, bars and clubs. The most popular days to go out are Fridays and Saturdays. 

If you’re looking for trendy bars and restaurants, Skostredet is an area that has thrived in recent years.  

If you just fancy a beer, the areas around Bryggen offer sports bars, beer gardens and traditional pubs sometimes with live music. Being a student city, Bergen also has a lot of places where the beer is cheaper and the music is loud.

a man walking through Skostredet bar street

It’s a lively student city

Bergen is home to more than 30,000 students from over 110 countries. The largest University, the University of Bergen (UiB) is located on a secluded height just above the city center. 

In the area, next to the Museum of Natural History, is a botanical garden with approximately 3,000 different plant species. Many of the plants are collected as seeds from wild growing species in Norway and elsewhere in the world.

Lush park next to University Museum in Bergen

It’s rainy (and famous for it)

Compared to other major cities in Norway (and the world), Bergen has a record high amount of rain. In fact, Bergen has an average of 239 rainy days a year, which is almost 50 % more then what Oslo has. 

The iconic mountains surrounding Bergen as well as its proximity to the North Sea, play a big role in explaining why so much rain washes over the city. The locals are luckily well adapted to the wet climate, and most of them are equipped with fashionable raincoats and rubber boots.

Rainy weather at Bryggen in Bergen

It’s artsy and home to some of Norway’s best-known cultural figures

Bergen is known for its artistic strength. Among others the city has been the home of  famous composers such as the classical composers Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull. In modern times Bergen is proud to be the birth town of the musical giants, Alan Walker and Kygo.

Fun fact: Edvard Grieg spent his adult life composing music from his home at Troldhaugen (now a popular museum). Kygo grew up in the same neighborhood. Although a hundred years apart, both have been inspired by the view of the idyllic Nordåsvannet Lake when creating music.

Kygo arm wrestling Edvard Grieg
The music battle – KYGO vs. Edvard Grieg

It’s a boater’s paradise

The coastline around Bergen is the perfect playground for anyone who loves spending time on the ocean. The abundance of islands and islets creates lots of places to anchor up and enjoy life at sea. 

The small communities on the islands near Bergen, make most of their living from aquaculture and the oil industry. Former trading posts like Skjerjehamn and Brandasund are now hotspots for anyone who loves art, culture and local seafood.

Skjerjehamn harbor on the west coast of Norway

It’s built on strong traditions

The sound of the Buekorps marching to the beat of a drum is closely linked to Bergen’s identity. The tradition of Buekorps dates back to the 1850s. Although historically not unique to Bergen, this is the only place the tradition has survived. The members, mainly boys, range in age from 7 to 20. 

The battalions carry wooden crossbows and wear uniforms with links to military traditions. During the season between April and August you often will hear them in the city streets. If you are ever in Bergen on May 17, you will surely come across them.

statue of a member of the Buekorps youth organization in Bergen

It’s green

Bergen has lots of parks and green lungs across the city. In May, the beautiful cherry trees around Lille Lungegårdsvann blossom in gorgeous pink colors. 

The green painted city bikes can also be found all over town. With a day pass you can cruise around town with an unlimited amount of 45 minutes trips. The bikes can be parked at one of the 97 stations across town. 

The Bergen Light rail is not painted green, but its emissions are. It is one of the newest ways of public transport in Bergen, and will take you all the way from the airport to the city centre. Each of the 27 stops has a unique jingle with links to Norwegian musicians that play when the trams arrive at the station.

City bikes parked in a street in Bergen

It’s decorated with impressive street art and murals

In most parts of downtown a mural is usually within sight. The motives often have a pop-cultural reference with either a humoristic or critical twist. Dolk was one of the first acclaimed street artists from Bergen. Some of his first pieces are still around, one of them located close to the downtown movie theatre (Bergen Kino).

Today the street art community is more international, and work done by artists from all over the world can be found on walls and street corners in Bergen.