Citizens and non-citizens alike agree that Bergen and its citizens are "something else". They combine warmth and charm with patriotism and pride. More and more visitors are discovering its special atmosphere.
This 900-year-old Hanseatic city situated between 7 mountains, grew up around the sea and has long been Norway's most important city for trade, shipping and industry. Ships came from the north with fish and from the south with grain, and it all traded in Bergen. During the Middle Ages, Bergen was virtually (though not officially) the capital of Norway. For a period it was also the largest city in the Nordic countries. Bergen's trade and shipping also made it one of the significant cities of Europe. The citizens of Bergen have never forgotten this. The home of composer Edvard Grieg still shows pride in its past. Bergen has been named European City of Culture for 2000.
Photo: Johan Berge/NTR
If you arrive by sea, Bryggen, the city's famous Hanseatic wharf, will meet you. Fires have always plagued the city, but Bryggen has been rebuilt in the same likeness each time. That is why this old merchant quarter still looks the same as it did when the city was young. The Hanse had its huge offices on the Brygge for several hundred years; and it was a city within a city. Bryggen is not just Bergen's profile, it is a part of our common heritage and has been placed on UNESCO's list of cultural places worthy of preservation and is as such a World Heritage City.
It is easy to get to the top of Bergen's highest mountain Ulriken by cable car. Or you can settle for taking the popular funicular railway to the top of Fløien from where you will enjoy a spectacular view of the city. Edvard Grieg's splendid home Troldhaugen is certainly worth a visit, and our first internationally famous violinist, Ole Bull, once built a strange and wonderful home - Lysøen - that is now a museum. Take a walk along Bryggen to the old fortress called Bergenshus, where Håkon Håkonsson made Bergen Norway's first capital. He had the beautiful Håkonshallen built in honour or his son Magnus Lagabøter's wedding and coronation.
Nothing can compete with the funicular railway up to Mount Fløyen
and the view of Bergen offered from the top
Photo: Johan Berge/NTR
Bergen is also the gateway to the fjords. These deep, sometimes narrow, sometimes wide fjords with snow-peaked mountains towering in the water's reflection and waterfalls cascading down their craggy sides, are attractions for foreign tourists and Norwegians alike. Boats that are both rapid and comfortable are available for trips to Hardangerfjorden, Sognefjorden and Geirangerfjorden and among the fascinating skerries along the coast.
Festivals & Events
Kristiansund Opera Festival, February
The Kristiansund Opera Festival is hosted and produced by the district opera in the city of Kristiansund. It runs for 14 days and has been staged in February every year since 1972. The festival presents a comprehensive menu within musical theatre and offers two to three opera productions, large church music productions, ballet and concerts.
Førde Folk Music Festival, July
Over 250 artists perform music and dances from all corners of the world, around the clock! Concerts, courses, exhibitions, club nights, festival parades, dance fun. There are festival activities going on at local museums, hotels, churches and in the downtown streets, leading to more than 80 events.
The Peer Gynt Festival, August
The Peer Gynt Festival is a ten day long cultural festival with an open air performance of Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt, with music by Edvard Grieg, open air consert "Ved Rondane", art exhibition, and much more.
The Hamsun Festival, August
The Hamsun Festival has been arranged every other year since 1982 with a focus on Knut Hamsun's literar work, his life and ties with this part of Norway. The festival is held on the island of Hamarøy, where visitors can enjoy the scenery and the local indigenous colour that characterises much of Hamsun's literary work.
Lillehammer Jazz Festival, October
The Lillehammer Jazz Festival is considered one of autumn's most beautiful adventures. The festival profiles Norwegian and Nordic jazz, but has always included renown foreign performers as well.
The Festival of North Norway, June
The Festival of North Norway is the most important art event in Northern Norway. During a hectic week the town of Harstad, located 300 km north of the Arctic circle, is turned into a cultural melting pot for artists with completely different outlooks.
The Northern Lights Festival, January
Each year, in the middle of January, Tromsø comes to life after the long polar night. The programme offers music in concert halls, churches and pubs, as well as dance, theatre and music ensembles of different sizes and types.
Tromsø Film Festival, January
Tromsø International Film Festival is Norway's largest film festival. It is the world's northern-most film festival and presents a cutting-egde international program, consisting of more than 40 feature films plus the latest in short films produced in northern Norway.
Telemark Folk Festival, August
The Telemark Festival presents traditional folk music from all over the world. With more than 50 concerts and work-shops for all ages one can learn traditional Norwegian dances, play a traditional instrument or study with our guests from abroad.
Oslo Jazz Festival, August
The Oslo Jazz Festival has been an annual event since 1986 and has grown to more than 60 concerts taking place in six days. The Festival presents the elite of Norwegian musicians in traditional, swing, modern and bebop styles, as well as many world famous performers.
Ibsen Culture Festival
The Festival offers pieces and impressions produced by great artists both from Norway and abroad. There are performances in the great Teater Ibsen and events in the town's art galleries and cultural venues. Young people from all over Norway participate in Ibsenstafetten.
The Ibsen Stage Festival, September
The Ibsen Stage Festival in Norway is one of the most significant international festivals in the country, receiving attention far beyond the national boundaries. Actors from all over the world arrive to meet Ibsen at center stage.