Six essential tips to make the most of life in Bergen
If you're looking for a dynamic but safe city with incredible nature and rich history, Bergen might be the place for you.
As Norway's second-largest city, Bergen is just big enough to keep some of its small-town charm while being sufficiently populous to offer its residents a rich cultural life.
However, if you plan to move to Bergen, these are at least six things you should know that will make the transition – and subsequent life – to the city much more manageable.
Don't underestimate the "rain capital of Norway"
A guide on life in Bergen that doesn't address the weather wouldn't be much of a resource. So let's get the most talked-about aspect of Bergenser life out of the way.
It's wet in Bergen. Very wet. According to data its amongst the rainiest in Europe.
This is due to its particular microclimate. Nestled between seven mountains and located by the sea, it gets rain between 202 and 239 days a year.
That doesn't mean it rains all day long, but you'd be justified in expecting at least some rain on most days.
So, if you plan to live in Bergen, you must embrace raincoats, umbrellas, and quality water-resistant clothes. As the locals say – if you spend your days waiting for nice weather in Bergen, you end up staying home.
Bergen is a (relatively) safe city – but stay alert
Despite being the second most populous city in Norway – with roughly 272,000 inhabitants – Bergen has quite a low crime rate, and both tourists and locals generally feel secure in the city.
The city is also considered quite family-friendly, and it has a number of green areas where families and friends often spend time together on any and every occasion of sunny weather.
However, in recent years, the number of theft and crime, in general, has somewhat increased, which means that you should stay alert – especially if you're visiting tourist hotspots.
If you want to avoid getting targeted by pickpockets during the high tourism season in the spring and summer, exercise particular caution in the area close to the old town.
Make use of Bergen's amazing nature
In those precious spring and summer days when the entire population of the city seems to flock to its parks and meadows, make sure to join in on this "public holiday."
Organise a picnic, a barbeque, or a quick hiking session (multiple hiking trails are easily accessible from different parts of town).
A short trip to the top of Fløyen – one of the city's mountains – or a simple walk around town become almost sublime experiences in the rare, beautiful weather.
Remember to stop and smell the roses on days such as these when the entire city is abuzz with life and laughter.
Public transport is your friend
Whether it's the light rail system (Bybanen) or busses, Bergen is well covered when it comes to public transport.
Parking in the city centre can be quite a hassle, so getting familiar with the available public transport options (all the local busses and the Bybanen are operated by Skyss) is often the first thing people do after moving to Bergen.
Tickets are readily available at the Tourist Information checkpoint in downtown Bergen, but you can also get tickets via the Skyss Billett application.
Remember, while most places in the city centre are within walking distance – and most tourist attractions are located in the centre – you'll most likely need to hop on a bus or the Bybanen if you plan to venture outside the central area.
Also, with all the rain the city gets, you'll find that public transport will often come in handy even for travelling shorter distances.
Explore the city's history – Bryggen is truly special
The Bryggen area is considered Bergen's old town and the very heart of the city. Situated on its waterfront, Bryggen is one of the most historic and picturesque areas to be found in Bergen.
Its old Hanseatic wharf and buildings are internationally famous, and Bryggen is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Apart from the Hanseatic structures, the world heritage site also includes charming urban areas from the Middle Ages.
Crooked alleyways between the wooden houses offer a special ambience, serving as portals to a different time – it is well worth visiting Bryggen multiple times if your schedule allows for it.
Don't miss out on the seafood
Last but not least – the food. Seafood, to be specific.
Seafood has always been a key part of gastronomy in Bergen, as the waters surrounding the area are full of world-class fish, clams, crabs, and prawns.
Regardless of whether you want to try the famous Bergen fiskesuppe (fish soup) or if you're a sushi aficionado, you will find a host of restaurants and venues serving fresh seafood.
Pssst! If you want to combine a trip to Bryggen with traditional Bergen fish soup or other exciting seafood dishes, make sure to visit Bryggeloftet & Stuene, one of the best places in town when it comes to traditional Norwegian cuisine focused on seafood.