Bergen On a BudgetBergen is the second largest city in Norway, and a major tourist destination due to its proximity and easy access to the fjords in West Norway. The nature that surrounds the city is stunning, and you can easily hop into the nearby countryside for some incredible hikes and outdoor adventures. The city itself is well known for its music and art scenes, making it a cultural haven in the country. There are many reasons to visit Bergen, not the least of which is the people that live there. Bergen is the most hilly city within Norway. It is surrounded by the Seven Mountains, which restrict development and keep the city contained. Situated in the far west of Norway, Bergen can be reached by a very scenic seven hour train ride from Oslo.
Bergen is located in the far north very close to the northern sea. It is also surrounded by mountains, so it's climate is unique for the area. There are about 240 days with precipitation every year and the average temperature is about 7 degrees Celsius. Because the weather can be so difficult, it is important to visit during the right time of year. If you happen to be in town during one of the sunny days then you'll find plenty of locals outside enjoying the beautiful outdoors. The city actually has a lot of open spaces, parks, and lawns where locals can soak up the much needed sunlight. July has the warmest temperatures, which averages about 14 degrees Celsius and May receives the least rainfall. Most people prefer to visit Bergen during the month of May because this is when the city hosts many local events and festivals. Alternatively, the summer in general, between the months of June and August, are also a good time to visit.
SightsBergen has no shortage of sights, but a more enjoyable activity is to simply absorb the atmosphere in the city. Give yourself plenty of time to simply sit in a cafe and sip a coffee, take a stroll through the neighborhoods, or go to a concert, festival, or street fair. These are the things that make Bergen truly enjoyable. If you are looking to visit a few of the sights, some of the more interesting options include the Bergen Art Museum, the city's impressive fish market, St. Jorgen's Hospital, which has an interesting leprosy museum, and Bergen Aquarium.
NeighborhoodsBergen's city center is on the western side of the city and it faces the fjord of Byfjorden. The city is surrounded by the Seven Mountains and the urban area stretches to the north, west and south. Outside of the city center are the neighborhoods of Arstad, Inner Laksevag and Sandviken. The oldest part of the city is in the city center near the bay of Vagen. There are only a few buildings in this area that remain from that time.
ActivitiesAs a cultural center for Norway, there are no shortage of activities you can enjoy. Concerts, theater, art shows, and guided tours are available throughout the city. There is also plenty of amazing hiking just outside of town. One popular area is Mount Floyen which takes about 40 minutes to hike up. There's also a funicular available. If you're interested in spending time on the beach then head to the sandy beaches at Arboretet at Milde (Hjellestad), Kyrkjetangen at Nordasvannet and Helleneset.
Food and DiningThere are some wonderful restaurant options in Bergen, but you're best to avoid the very center of the city where prices are too high and the quality isn't as good. Go a few blocks away from the main touristy areas and you'll find some delicious food at much more reasonable prices. You may be hard pressed to find "local" food, as Norwegian food is rarely available in restaurants. If you really want to try some, then some good options are fish soup or cooked cod, both of which are good. Tipping is generally not expected, but if you receive good service and high quality food, a five to ten percent tip is always much appreciated.
TransportationIf you're staying in the city center then it's easiest to just walk around town. The downtown can be crossed in about twenty minutes in any direction. Public transportation is also available around town in the form of buses, light rail, and one local commuter train that operates between downtown Bergen and the eastern suburb of Arna. Major bus routes run roughly every 20 minutes, less frequently in the suburbs. If you're headed from the city center to the southern neighbourhoods of Fana and Ytrebygda, then you're better off taking the light rail to the regional terminal at Nesttun and taking a bus on from there. The light rail runs from the city center southwards to Lagunen. It passes by the railway station, the bus station, Brann soccer stadium, and student housing. It usally runs every ten minutes and the entire trip takes about half an hour.
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