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The city Bergen lies on the Norwegian west coast, hemmed by mountains which together are called the Seven Mountains and from which the city derives its name. Bergen is about a thousand years old and has a rich history as one of the Hanseatic cities.
The fact that Bergen was a real commercial city in medieval times, still shows in the old harbor, the "Bryggen". This is without a doubt the main attraction of the city and rightly so, because the old trading houses still breathe the atmosphere of yesteryear. Now it houses shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes. It is lovely to sit on one of the terraces and enjoy the sun.
Considering the fact the houses were (and are) made of wood, Bryggen was often struck by fire, most recently in 1955. After that fire the foundations of much older wooden houses were discovered. The city authorities decided to not rebuild houses on the site, but to turn it into a museum. The Bryggens musem provides a unique insight to the way of life in Bergen, almost a millennium ago.
Another Hanseatic House from the eighteenth century has been turned into a museum, the Hanseatisk Museum. You can see how a typical merchant lived. Not far from this museum is Schøtstuene, where old buildings from Bergen and its area have been rebuilt.
The Bergen Kunstmusem is one of the largest art museums in Scandinavia. It has a fine collection, from the Renaissance to modern art, including works by Norway's most famous artist Edvard Munch.
Many a tourist visit the daily (Sundays excepted) fish market at the harbor. But it has to be said that the Fisketorget is not what it once was. It seems like it is more organised for tourists than there is actually a lively fish trade going on. There are mainly stalls with souvenirs and just a few fish stalls, which offer their goods for way too high prices on top of that.
One of the seven mountains near the city is Fløyen. There is a funicular (Fløibanen) which runs to this mountain. You are at the top within ten minutes. Naturally, you'll have a lovely view over the city and the sea. But that's not all. Several hiking routes have been plotted over the plateau, through pine forests and along mountain lakes. For more extensive hikes through the Byfjellene (the city mountains) it is best to buy a map of the surroundings, available at most bookstores and at the tourist office.
Gamle Bergen, or Old Mountains, lie just north of Bergen. Here too old wooden houses have been rebuilt, a total of around fifty. You can walk through it on your own, but there are tours available too, where you can learn more about the various building styles.
Bergen is the ultimate base for people who want to see the Norwegian fjords. Just north of Bergen lies one of the most famous, the Sognefjord. This fjord is breathtakingly beautiful. In Fjærland at the end of the Fjærlandsfjord - a branch of the Sognefjord - is the Norks bremusem, where you can learn all about glaciers and the influence of climate change. On the other branch - the Lusterfjord - stands the famous wooden Urnes stave church, which dates back to the twelfth century.
When you drive towards the west from Bergen - following the N555 - and then to the north - via the N561 - you will eventually end up at the island Hellesøy. The road towards it is stunning, over the oddly shaped islands that form the Norwegian coast, but Hellesøy is the highlight. Climb the rocks, try your fishing abilities or just enjoy the view. If you wish to stay in this "empty" area for longer: simple rooms and rental houses are for rent.
Bergen has plenty of hotels. Most hotels are concentrated around the fish market, in the center of the city. In the summer you have to book your accommodation well in advance. Keep in mind that room rates in Bergen (and throughout Norway) are high.
Bergen wants to decrease the use of cars in the city center as much as possible. This is why there is a low speed limit and most streets have been set to a one way system. Note that some streets are solely accessible for buses and taxis. Parking on the street is mostly reserved for residents and the disabled. Fortunately, you can park your car in one of the large garages, like the parking garage Bygarasjen near the bus station or Klostergarasjen to the north of the center.
The international airport, Bergen Airport Flesland, lies 17 kilometers south of the city. The airport is easily accessible by rental car via the E-39. The exit to the airport (Flyplassvegen) is clearly indicated.