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Welcome to ESN Bergen's very own student guide!

We want to be sure that your life in Bergen will be as good as possible! Here you can find information about accommodation, nightlife, eating out, Norwegian traditions and practical info like how to get to the airport with public transport. If you have the feeling that anything is missing, don't hesitate to contact us!

Read more on life in Bergen on the following pages:

Accommodation - Practical info - Fun facts - Hiking - Nightlife - Eating out

Some facts on Bergen

  • 2nd largest city of Norway, located in Hordaland county and Bergen Kommune.
    • Often referred to as the capital of Western Norway. 
  • 270 000 inhabitants
  • Surrounded by 7 mountains
    • Also often referred to as the city between the seven mountains.
  • 2250 mm rain every year according to Meterologisk institute. 
  • The Prime Minister of Norway(election 2013), Erna Solberg, is from Bergen. 


  • The name Bergen comes from "Bjørgvin" which means the green field between the mountains. 
  • Bergen was given status as a city in 1070 by King Olav Kyrre, and from 1299 the city was the kings main seat and the capital of Norway. 
  • Bergen has always been a natural junction for international trade.
    • In the mid 1300 Bergen was 1/4 of the offices of the Hanseatic League, Bergen was for several hundred years the centre of a prosperous trade between Norway and the rest of Europe. One of the main trade items were stockfish from northern Norway 
    • "Bryggen" (wharf) is a series of old Hanseatic commercial buildings, and has since 1979 been on the UNESCO list over World Cultural Heritage sites. 
    • During this time Bergen became one of Northern Europe's biggest cities and most important cities of trade. 
  • The "Fisketorget"(fishmarket) was already in 1200 an important trade area. 
  • The black plague first arrived in Bergen 1349 with rats on the ships. This consequently hit Bergen hard and reduced the city's economy and inhabitants dramatically.
  •  Bryggen continued as an important maritime trading centre until 1899, when the Hanseatic League’s Bergen offices finally closed.
  • The local symphony orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, was founded in 1786. It is one of the world's oldest orchestral institutions. 
  • Bergen was the home of Norway's great composer, Edvard Grieg. Go visit his home:
  • Henrik Ibsen, the famous playwright, started his career in Bergen as manager of Den Nationale Scene.

Cultural life

  • Bergen is one of the most important cultural centers in Norway. 
  • Bergen host a number of annual music festival.
    • Including amongst others: Nattjazz (jazz) and International Festival (folk music) in May, Bergenfest (pop) in June and Ekko festivalen (electronica) in October.
  • Around 2000, a number of artists from the rhythmic music scene in Bergen gained international fame. In the domestic press, this became known as the Bergen Wave. Musicians and bands with roots in Bergen include Annie, Burzum, Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Erlend Øye, Kings of Convenience, Röyksopp, Sondre Lerche, Datarock, Kygo and Kakkmaddafakka.
    • "Bergensbølgen" or the Bergen Wave never stopped and artist from Bergen are famous both domestically and international. 
  • Every October Bergen international film festival "Biff" is held.


  • Bergen is one the most important economic centers in Norway.
  • Shipping and trade have traditionally been important businesses in the city.
  • Many fisheries and aquaculture industries have their headquarters in Bergen.
  • The last 50 year, petroleum related industries have also become significant for the economy in the city.
  • Banking and insurance are also important parts of the city's economy.