Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, situated on the Western coast, surrounded by mountains and the sea. Bryggen on the waterfront, with its houses from Hansa times, is protected as a World Cultural Heritage monument. Other attractions in the historic city center are the fish market and harbor, the aquarium, the funicular Fløibanen, the Hanseatic museum and several other historical and art museums.

Popular winter sports in Western Norway include cross-country, downhill skiing and snowboarding, but December is very early in the season. Bergen has ski and hiking trails.

The official language of Norway is Norwegian, but most people also understand English quite well. While some of the Norwegian way of life remains anchored in tradition, Norway is a modern, well-to-do country with a high per-capita income. Its tourism industry is highly developed and offers a wide range of services to visitors. Norway has a level of infrastructure similar to the rest of Northern Europe, with good transportation, telecommunications and medical care.