From the 13th century Bergen was Norway's first capital and up until the 1830's Norway's biggest town. Its placement has made it a natural point through which foreign influences penetrated to Norway and Scandinavia and the Norwegian export was leaving the country (centuries of membership in the Hanseatic League with export of fish and timber). Many of the wooden houses and larger facilities from the Hanseatic times survived fires and modernisation and make up today a charming town centre. Nowadays Bergen is small by international standards, but it has always been a meeting place for people and a centre for commerce and culture. Spectacular fjords and mountains surrounding the town, combined with a lively and sociable atmosphere, make it a worthwhile place to visit.
Norphoto has a large collection of photos from Bergen.
The conference will be held at Grand Hotel Terminus in the centre of Bergen. The hotel will handle room bookings individually.
The map of Bergen city centre shows most of the interesting places within walking distance. The conference hotel is located close to point J (the railroad station). The panorama of Bryggen (on top of the web page, photo by Rolf Rose Jensen, Rose Foto) is taken from a vantage point between E and K.
You may also familiarise yourself with Bergen using Google maps. The conference hotel is in Zander Kaaesgate 6, just opposite of the railway station.
The best overview of transport connections to and from Bergen is http://www.visitbergen.com/.
A somewhat official list of direct connections and airlines serving Bergen is available at the airport information pages. Direct flights are mostly operated by Norwegian and SAS-Braathens. The main international flight hubs are Copenhagen, serviced by SAS-Braathens, Amsterdam, serviced by KLM, and to some extent London (Gatwick), serviced by SAS-Braathens. For some routes Oslo may also be a convenient hub. Early booking of air transport is advised. Fares, especially on the direct connections, vary significantly during the booking period, with a tendency to increase as the planned travel dates approach.
The University of Bergen provides some information on getting to, and around, Bergen.
The international traveller should note that using a Norwegian airport as a hub, you will need to pass through customs there, then take your luggage to the check-in counter and pass through security checks once more.
1. leave the bus at the first stop in the city, "Bus station" (blue square on the enclosed map; the large building is the Bus station), and
2. walk from there following the main road (turning right), past the Bus station, then straight ahead through the traffic lights at Kaigaten and past the train station (NSB) in the block just after the lights; the hotel is in the next block, around 5 min walk (red square on the map) from the bus stop. If you are staying at another hotel in the city center, you will most probably leave the bus 1 or 2 stops after the first one - ask the hotel or us about that. In any case, the walking distance between the first and the last stop (also in the city center) is only around 20min, so you will not end up in the wilderness even if you miss your stop.
You will find some places to eat and/or drink already walking "Marken" from the hotel towards the harbour (``Vågen''). "Bryggeloftet" at "Bryggen", approx. red circle nr.9, offers Norwegian food for reasonable prices (by Norwegian standards) and comfortable surroundings also for having a beer. Like at most places around the harbour, though, one can risk a lot of traffic. More local and, in the turist season, more quiet places can be found around "Engen" and "Vaskerelven" (east/north-east from the black circle nr.16).
Walking roughly north-west from the railway station, you will pass much of the historic centre. Marken is now a pedestrian area, still containing many small wooden houses typical of Bergen. Leaving Marken you will face the police station. Take a right, then second left into Kong Oscars gate. This part of town still has a medieval street layout. On the right you will see Domkirken. Looking carefully on its facade, you should discover an embedded, small cannonball. It remains from a 17th century fight between battleships on Vågen. Following Kong Oscars gate further on, you should soon see a square opening up, and another church, Korskirken, on the left. In the general area ahead and to the left are many restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs.
Continuing onward, Kong Oscars gate ends, and you are on Vetrlidsalmenningen. On top of this square you will see the lower station for the Fløybanen funicular. This will take you to the top of mount Fløyen, where the conference dinner takes place. The building straight ahead is Kjøttbasaren, an old slaughterhouse and meat marked. Today a collection of speciality food shops. Towards the left the fish-market and Vågen with its harbour/marina opens up. Walking onwards along Bryggen you will pass some 18th century brick houses, before you get to the wooden houses of the world heritage site Bryggen. This was were the Hanseatic league had their offices and controlled the lucrative tørrfisk (dried cod) trade for centuries. Cutting diagonally in through the maze of alleyways (or walking around the complex) you should find Mariakirken, a medieval church with two parallel towers. In the white wall along this part of Bryggen, behind the church, there is a door to Schötstuene, where the Monday evening reception takes place.
From Mariakirken you may follow Øvre Dreggsalmenning, take a left where the street ends, and take the next right towards a stone gate. Now you are entering Bergenhus, where the 16th century Rosenkrantztårnet and the festive hall Haakonshallen, erected by a viking king, are situated. Take a stroll in the park overlooking Bergen harbour, before you return to the busier parts of Bergen city centre.
If you want to get away from the city centre, mountain hiking is a popular pass time. You can choose between the (almost) park like structures on Fløyen or the high mountain wilderness of Ulriken. There you may even find wild cloudberries. Or choose any of the other mountains around Bergen. Officially there are seven. Feeling extra fit, you may walk them all in one day. Thousands do this as an organised event every spring. Alternatives, for the still very fit hiker, are the shorter 3 mountain and 4 mountain walks.
A different approach is a trip to sea. The conference excursion will be a boat trip in the Bergen archipelago. But there are other trips going further out to sea for fishing. Or you can take a day trip, by a classic fjordabåt (boat) to the fjords around Osterøy.
A popular trip is Norway in a nutshell, a full day excursion. It takes you by train from Bergen through Voss up to Myrdal at the edge of Hardangervidda, Norway's central high mountain plateau. Then by train down to Flåm, a steep descent. Here you board a boat on Sognefjorden. The boat will eventually drop you off so that you can continue your return trip by bus via Voss to Bergen. Or continue on to Oslo. The railway between Bergen and Oslo is considered among the world's top rail trips by enthusiasts.
1 EUR = approx. 8 NOK
1 U$ = approx. 6 NOK
There are three expensive items in Norway: restaurants, alcohol and hotels. These happen to be the items travelers seem to run into quite a lot during visits to Norway, giving the impression that Norway is an expensive country.
When it comes to other items, like consumer electronics, clothes or shoes, this is not the case. But then, if you are looking for something specific, you may not be able to find it as the selection may be somewhat limited.
Doing the tourist thing, like eating and drinking at restaurants, you will find that there is a correlation between price and quality, though there are some gems of high quality restaurants at a reasonable price (for Norway). Finding really cheap restaurants may be very difficult, but pizza, hamburgers and kebab typically are on the low budget end. And of course sausages and hot dogs, or the more traditional pølse med lompe.The cheapest beer (around 6 euro for a pint) is at the student hangout places. These are closed/semi-closed during the summer, but should be opening up for the new students starting in August.
When arriving in Norway you will notice that the international section of all Norwegian airports are well equipped with duty free stores where you may buy goods both on arrival and departure. If you want to bring duty free goods home, note that officially sealed carrier bags from tax free stores may be brought through intermediate airport security checks in Europe the same day. However, this does not apply to flights to the US, where no liquids are allowed in the hand luggage. You may probably put such items in the checked luggage, making certain it is well packed.