Before deciding to study abroad, I had never heard of Bergen. I would have struggled to name one Norwegian city aside from Oslo, let alone imagine that I would be living in this second-largest city in Norway. After spending five months living and studying there, Bergen has quickly become my favorite city in the world. Here is an unofficial guide and list of my favorite things for anyone who is planning to visit this wonderful place.

Bergen From Above Bergen from above

Bergen is perhaps most known as one of the rainiest cities in Europe, a claim I (luckily) can only partially agree with. There is indeed a higher-than-average chance it will rain every day, with some weeks only having a few hours of total sun, but in my experience, there is an equal chance of absolutely gorgeous days with 18 hours of sunlight. In the middle of the semester, there was a period of 2-3 weeks when the weather was about as perfect as you could ask for: about 15-25 degrees Celsius (60-75 F) with sun and a bit of a breeze. Even when it is not sunny, the weather is very consistently around the same temperature due to the proximity to the ocean and mountains. This brings me to my absolute favorite part of Bergen: The 7 mountains. Norway is much more mountainous than its Nordic neighbors, and Bergen is no exception. While there are many mountains in the area, there are a specific set of seven that outline the city area and have become a part of the culture and atmosphere of Bergen. Each one individually only takes 1-3 hours to hike up and down, but you can easily traverse many mountains at a time, and there is even an annual event to hike all 7 in the same day. Even if there is no mountain attached, Bergen has so many hiking trails so even after five months, I was still discovering new places to go each time I hiked. Additionally, each trail is drastically different depending on when you go, so hiking never gets old. As an example, each of the three times I hiked up Lyderhorn (my favorite mountain of the group), it felt like a completely new hike. From snow everywhere to rain pelting my pack, to accidentally taking the long way down, each hike was its own unique, memorable experience.

View of Bergen from Lyderhorn mountain My favorite of the 7 mountain hikes: Lyderhorn

My next favorite thing to do in the city was to visit museums, concerts, and events. Some of my favorite places in the city to hang out were the Bergen Kunsthall, Bryggen, Edvard Grieg’s home (Troldhaugen), the Royal House (Gamlehaugen), Grieghallen, and the University of Bergen museum. Each brings something different to the city, and I enjoyed discovering each of these places and experiencing the memories attached to each one. The best part of these places is that they urge you to find your own interpretation and meaning within them, letting you think deeply about yourself and the world around you. Bergen also has the opportunity to host various exciting events, and I got to experience a student festival, experimental music festival, national day, and international festival. In my opinion, the city is the perfect size: not so large that there are too many people, but still large enough to effectively hold these events. Couple all of this with a simple and very effective public transport system and Bergen has become the model for my ideal city to live in.

Lake with mountain in view View of Ulriken from a lake near my housing

I highly recommend anyone that is traveling in the area to check out this gem of a city nestled in the fjords of western Norway, and I hope this short list will help guide you in finding things to do!

Studying abroad in Bergen has changed my life, and I cannot emphasize how much I recommend it to anyone who has ever had a wish, dream, or thought of living abroad. It is easily the most influential experience I’ve had in college, and has shifted my career plans, goals, and entire worldview. If you are reading this thinking “this sounds like something I would enjoy,” just start by exploring the many opportunities you can find through your university or institution. You will not regret it.

Ha det bra, Bergen. I will always carry a part of you with me wherever I go, and I hope we may see each other again one day.