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The essential things you'll only know if you live in Bergen

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
The essential things you'll only know if you live in Bergen
Living in Bergen reveals unique aspects of the city that go beyond commonly known features like the persistent rain and the distinctive local dialect. Photo by Daria S on Unsplash

Bergen, Norway's second-largest city, is well-known for its amazing seafood and persistently rainy weather. There are, however, some aspects of life in Bergen that only locals are privy to.


Surpassed in terms of size only by Oslo, Bergen is a vibrant city with a rich history and culture, as well as a vigorous international community.

READ MORE: 24 hours in Bergen: Everything you should see and do

However, while some aspects of city life there, such as the seemingly endless rain and infamous Bergen dialect, are common knowledge in Norway (and even abroad, in some cases), there are several pretty interesting things that you'll discover only by living in Bergen.

Avoiding the tourist traps

It's hard to move to Bergen and not be attracted by some of its most prominent features, such as Bryggen (the Old Wharf) and the Fish Market.

The problem is that a lot of stores in the Bryggen area – and the Fish Market in particular – drive up prices to take advantage of the year-long stream of tourists (especially during peak season).

While the Fish Market is definitely a must-see, with a broad range of fish and seafood on display, expect to pay 30 percent or more for seafood than you would at any better supermarket chain, such as Meny, which tends to have a great selection of fresh seafood.

You can find a Meny at the centrally located Torgallmenningen Square, just a five-minute walk from the Fish Market.

Just know that while you'll likely find better deals there than at the Fish Market, generally speaking, Meny is among the pricier supermarkets in Norway (Kiwi and Rema 1000, for example, are usually cheaper than Meny).


Finding eateries that offer traditional food (that won't bankrupt you)

Regardless of whether you're just visiting Bergen as part of a short trip or if you just moved to the city, you'll likely be tempted to try the local cuisine.

Bergen is quite famous for its seafood dishes, such as bergensk fiskesuppe (Bergen fish soup), a rich and traditional soup usually containing salmon, pollock, carrots, leeks, celery, sour cream, and vinegar, and its bustling sushi scene.

Unless you have local friends to point you in the right direction, you will likely overspend and potentially end up being underwhelmed by the food.

For a budget-friendly (but not cheap) option, visit the fantastic Pingvinen pub. In operation for more than 15 years, Pingvinen serves almost exclusively traditional Norwegian food – something that your friend's Norwegian grandmother might prepare for you for a special weekend meal. They also have a rich selection of beers, both on tap and bottled. A starter (for example, shellfish salad or smoked halibut) and a dinner (gratinated fish pie, cod mixed with mashed potatoes, or deer casserole) will cost you around 400 kroner per person (without drinks).

If you want to treat yourself, and have the budget to support it, head to the Bryggeloftet & Stuene Restaurant in the Old Town. It's a historic restaurant with a reputation for being among the best in Bergen when it comes to serving authentic dishes (you'll usually find both seafood and meat on the menu). Expect to pay around 700 kroner per person for a starter and dinner (drinks not included).


Bergen panorama

The view of Bergen from the top of mount Mount Fløyen. Photo by Guy Vanhoof on Unsplash

In search of a good cup of coffee

Coffee is a big deal in Norway. A few years back, a survey showed that Norwegians consumed around 9.9 kilos of coffee per capita each year (they're surpassed only by Finland with 12 kilos), landing the country in second place globally in terms of consumption (per capita).

However, the most common way to enjoy a cup of coffee in Norway is a bit unexciting (though cheap by Norwegian standards, at 20 to 40 kroner a cup) for a lot of people, as Norwegian tend to have their coffee black and filtered.

That's what you'll find at many cafes and what you can expect to be offered if you're visiting a friend in Bergen.

But where can I enjoy a delicious cup of coffee? I hear you ask.

A great café and bistro that locals swear by is Plassen, located in Tårnplassen 1, close to the central square. Plassen serves both great coffee and numerous tasty brunch options.

Plassen is quite popular, so you'll need to get there a bit early – or reserve a table in advance – to grab a spot outside, especially during the weekend.

Dromedar is another spot with solid coffee, and there are two Dromedar cafes in the centre (the one at Vestre Torggaten 1 has tables placed outside, so you can enjoy your coffee outdoors if the weather allows for it).


Keeping up with festivals, concerts, and cultural events

Bergen is widely known for its vibrant cultural scene and hosts numerous concerts and festivals each year.

However, while Bergen residents are usually well acquainted with these events, it might be more challenging for newcomers to keep track of everything that's happening.

Your best bet is to keep an eye on several sources to ensure you have a solid overview of renowned artists, musicians, and performers visiting the city.

Start with the Visit Bergen site - they have a "What's On in Bergen" section which provides an excellent overview of events year-round.

Then, depending on your fluency in Norwegian, you can complement your information sources with a subscription to Bergens Tidende (BT) or Bergensavisen (BA) or become part of local social media groups – such as Det Skjer i Bergen and Hva skjer i bergen i dag - that regularly inform members about new events. The Local also publishes a monthly roundup of the best events happening in Norway each month, with many Bergen events often making the cut. 

Last but not least, having locals as friends and broadening your social circle will also help you keep your finger on the pulse of Bergen's cultural offering.


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