?Gorgeous and cultured, surrounded by seven mountains and seven fjords, Bergen doesn?t flaunt its charms. Indeed, it?s been dubbed "the world?s most underrated city." Once Norway?s capital and largest metropolis, modern Bergen has just under a quarter-million people.
SAY IT RIGHT: BAHR-ghen
WHY GO: Perhaps not for the weather (it rains here more days than not), but Bergen?s sheer beauty is hard to beat; as the starting point for many a Hurtigruten cruise up the Norwegian coastline, it?s also the gateway to the grand and glorious fjords.
WHAT'S ON: The ninth annual Homodagene (or Gay Days; May 18?22), slated to include parties, films, and lectures, plus the Parodi Grand Prix, a send-up of the Eurovision Song Contest.
DON'T MISS: The scenic ancient wharf area of Bryggen, one of Bergen?s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen, offering stunning views of the city and its coast.
GET THERE: Direct SAS flights are just under an hour from Oslo, about an hour and a half from Copenhagen; the train from Oslo takes about seven hours, but it?s one of the most gorgeous rides on Earth.
?STAY: Right on Bryggen, the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret (Slottsgaten 1; +47-55-601-100) is a recent luxe renovation of a 90-year-old neoclassical Bergen Port Authority building.
EAT: Named for the ancient potato cellar in which it?s housed, the intimate Potetkjelleren (Kong Oscars Gate 1 A; +47-55-320-070) serves up some of Bergen?s best contemporary Norwegian cuisine, including hearty specialties like ox cheeks and smoked whale ham.
SHOP: Much of the city?s top shopping is on Torgallmenningen, where you?ll find the 70-shop Galleriet (+47-55-300-500) at number 8, and the modish Moods of Norway (+47-92-872-298) at number 12; for more Euro/Brit hipster-wear, try Tillsammans (Kong Oscars Gate 26; +47-55-325-555).
CLUB The eclectic Fincken (Nygårdsgaten 2a; +47-55-321-316) is the oldest (and basically only) gay-friendly bar in town; it fills nightly with the wide cross section that makes up Bergen?s gays and friendlies, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, when there?s a DJ.