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Arriving

By Plane -- Planes to and from larger cities such as Copenhagen and London land at the Bergen Airport in Flesland, 19km (12 miles) south of the city. Dozens of direct or nonstop flights go to just about every medium-size city in Norway on such airlines as SAS (tel. 91-50-54-00; www.sas.no).

Frequent airport bus service connects the airport to the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel and the city bus station. Departures are every 20 minutes Monday to Friday and every 30 minutes Saturday and Sunday. The one-way fare is NOK80 ($16/£8).

By Train -- Day and night trains arrive from Oslo and stations en route. For information, call tel. 81-50-08-88. Travel time from Oslo to Bergen is 8 1/2 hours. Visit www.nsb.no for information.

By Bus -- Express buses travel to Bergen from Oslo, Trondheim, Ålesund, and the Nordfjord area. The trip from Oslo takes 11 hours. Visit www.nor-way.no for information.

By Car -- A toll is charged on all vehicles driven into the city center Monday to Friday from 6am to 10pm. A single ticket costs NOK15 ($3/£1.50).

The trip from Oslo to Bergen is a mountain drive filled with dramatic scenery. Because mountains split the country, there's no direct road. The southern route, E76, goes through mountain passes until the junction with Rte. 47, then heads north to Kinsarvik and makes the ferry crossing to E16 leading west to Bergen. The northern route, Hwy. 7, through the resort of Geilo, heads to the junction with Rte. 47, then south to Kinsarvik. Take the ferry and then go west on E16.

Visitors with a lot of time may spend 2 or 3 days driving from Oslo to Bergen. Fjords and snowcapped peaks line the way, and you can photograph waterfalls, fjord villages, and ancient stave churches.

To reduce driving time, motorists can use a tunnel -- 11km (6 3/4 miles), the longest in northern Europe -- that goes between Flåm and Gudvangen. From Gudvangen, follow E16 southwest to Bergen.

The World's Longest Tunnel -- Thanks to a tunnel, you can now drive from Oslo to Bergen without having to take a ferry across water. Opened in 2001, the Laerdal Tunnel, stretching for 24.5km (15.3 miles), is the longest in the world. It lies on E16, the main road between Bergen and Oslo. The entrance to the tunnel begins at a point 296km (184 miles) northwest of Oslo. Costing $1.1 billion, it is said to be the safest road tunnel on the globe.

Along with high-tech monitoring, fire safety, and air treatment, the tunnel features a trio of large turning caverns (in case you change your mind and want to go back), 16 turning points, and nearly 50 emergency "lay-bys." Some 400 vehicles per hour can go through the tunnel, the ride taking just 20 minutes.

The area up above gets severe weather in winter, but all is calm in the tunnel. The high mountain passes at 1,809m (5,934 ft.) are closed in winter. The panoramic, high-mountain road between Aurland and Laerdal, the so-called "Snow Road," is open only in summer.

Visitor Information

The Bergen Tourist Office, Vågsallmenningen 1 (tel. 55-55-20-00; www.visitbergen.com), provides information, maps, and brochures about Bergen and the rest of the region. It's open June to August daily 8:30am to 10pm, May and September daily 9am to 8pm, October to April Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. The Bergen Tourist Office can also help you find a place to stay, exchange foreign currency, and cash traveler's checks when banks are closed. You can also buy tickets for city sightseeing or for tours of the fjords.

City Layout

Bergen is squeezed between mountain ranges and bounded by water. The center of the city lies between the harbor, Bryggen; the railway station; and the main square, Torgalmenningen.

Like Rome, Bergen is said to have grown up around seven hills. For the best overall view, take the funicular to Fløien. The northern section of the city is Sandviken, which is filled with old warehouses. The area south of central Bergen is being developed at an incredible rate.

In the center of Bergen, walk on cobblestone streets as you explore the quayside with its medieval houses and the open-air Fish Market. The center has colonnaded shops and cafes, and in Gamle Bergen you get a taste of the early 19th century.

Getting Around

The Bergen Card entitles you to free bus transportation and (usually) free museum entrance throughout Bergen, plus discounts on car rentals, parking, and some cultural and leisure activities. It's a good value. Ask for it at the tourist office. A 24-hour card costs NOK190 ($38/£19) for adults, NOK75 ($15/£7.50) for children 3 to 15. A 48-hour card is NOK250 ($50/£25) for adults, and NOK100 ($20/£10) for children 3 to 15. Children under 3 travel or enter free.

By Bus -- The Central Bus Station (Bystasjonen), Strømgaten 8 (tel. 55-55-90-70), is the terminal for all buses serving the Bergen and Hardanger areas, as well as the airport bus. The station has luggage storage, shops, and a restaurant. City buses are marked with their destination and route number. For bus information in the Bergen area, call tel. 177. A network of yellow-sided city buses serves the city center only. For information, call tel. 55-59-32-00.

By Taxi -- Taxis are readily available at the airport. To request one, call tel. 55-99-70-10. A ride from the Bergen Airport to the city center costs around NOK280 ($56/£28). Sightseeing by taxi costs NOK500 to NOK750 ($100-$150/£50-£75) per hour, depending on the day of week and the time of day.

By Car -- Visitors can park on most streets in the city center after 5pm. For convenient indoor parking, try the Bygarasjen Busstation (tel. 55-56-88-70), a large garage near the bus and train stations, about a 5-minute walk from the city center. It's open 24 hours a day and charges NOK20 ($4/£2) per hour. You can park for 24 hours for NOK90 ($18/£9).

Rental Cars -- You might want to rent a car to explore the area for a day or two. Budget (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S.; www.budget.com) maintains offices at the airport (tel. 55-22-75-27) and downtown at Vestre Strømkaien 5 (tel. 55-27-39-90). Its least expensive car is NOK770 ($154/£77) per day, which includes the 23% government tax, collision-damage waiver, and unlimited mileage. Rates per day are lower for rentals of a week or more.

Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S.; www.hertz.com) has locations at the airport (tel. 55-22-60-75) and downtown at Nygårdsgate 89 (tel. 55-55-08-20). For a 2-day rental, the smallest car, a Volkswagen Lupo, costs NOK1,795 ($359/£180).

Avis (tel. 800/331-2112 in the U.S.; www.avis.com) has branches at the airport (tel. 55-22-76-18) and downtown at Lars Hillesgate 20 (tel. 55-55-39-55). For a 1-day rental, its smallest car, an Opel Corsa, costs NOK1,300 ($260/£130) with unlimited mileage. The price includes the 23% tax and the optional collision-damage waiver. Of course, rates are subject to change. The lowest rates are almost always offered to those who reserve their cars from their home country before they leave.

By Ferry -- You can take a ferry across the harbor Monday to Friday from 7am to 4:15pm; they don't run on Saturday or Sunday. One-way fares are NOK20 ($4/£2) for adults and NOK15 ($3/£1.50) for children. Ferries arrive and depart from either side of the harbor at Dreggekaien and Munkebryggen. For information, call tel. 55-55-20-00.

By Coastal Steamer -- Bergen is the cruise capital of Norway, home to a flotilla of well-engineered ships that carry passengers, cars, and vast amounts of freight up and down the coast. At least 10 of the boats begin and end their itineraries in Bergen and make about 30 stops en route before landing 5 to 6 days later at Kirkenes, far north of the Arctic Circle, near the Russian border. You can book a berth on any one of these ships for short- or long-haul transits and do a quick bit of sightseeing while the ship docks in various ports.

The most popular tour is a 12-day unescorted northbound cruise -- Oslo-Bergen-Kirkenes-Oslo -- starting at $2,999 (£1,500) per person, based on double occupancy. It's best to book these cruises through the New York City office of the Bergen Line (tel. 866/552-0371; www.hurtigruten.us). The line owns some of the ships and acts as a sales agent for the others. If you're already in Norway, talk to any travel agent. You can make arrangements through Bergen-based Cruise Spesialisten, Lillemarkev 1-3 (tel. 55-23-07-90) or with its competitor, Kystopplevelser, on Strandkaien 4 (tel. 55-31-59-10). Both companies distribute brochures and lots of information concerning the stalwart Norwegian cruise ships that make frequent runs up and down the Norwegian coast. They include the Narvik (1995); Nord Norge (launched in 1997); Polarys (1996); Nordkapp (1996); Trollfjord (2002); Finmarken (2002); Midnatt Sol (2003); and Lofoten (1995), which is sometimes pressed into duty on an as-needed basis.

Other routes head south from Bergen to Stavanger and other ports, and tours go to some of the fjords to the south. For information and reservations, contact the Bergen Line, Cruise Spesialisten, or a local operator. The best operator is Fjord 1 (tel. 55-90-70-70), which runs fast ferries from Bergen to Sognefjord, the world's longest fjord.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.