Norway’s second largest city, Bergen sits on the west coast of the country and serves as a gateway to the western fjords. It’s Bergen’s location and proximity to the fjords that brings the tourists each summer, but the surrounding mountains and fjords of Bergen itself make it a stunning place to visit in its own right.
Bergen is a relatively small city but it has been a hugely important port for Norway for nearly 1000 years. At first glance it doesn’t appear that old; functional 20th-century Nordic architecture dominates Bergen due to multiple large fires that mar its history, but the waterfront Bryggen offers a glimpse into the past with its proud wooden buildings and walkways.
We used Bergen as a base to explore the western fjords, spending a single night in the city at both the beginning and end of our trip.
We arrived on a flight from Copenhagen with SAS airlines that took just over an hour in the air. We had booked a few months in advance and had purchased ‘SAS Go’ tickets, which included stowaway luggage for €65 each.
If you are planning travel between Copenhagen and Bergen the only real option is to fly. Unless you are making it a road-trip and plan to visit other cities on the way, there’s really no other reasonable choice.
The land journey between Copenhagen and Bergen will take 16 hours at least. You take a bus from Copenhagen central, across the bridge to Malmö in Sweeden, where you can get a train up the Sweedish coast to Gothenburg. From Gothenburg you can catch a bus to Oslo, so at least you are in Norway now. From Oslo it’s a lovely seven-hour train to Bergen. Travelling this route will cost at least €100 per person.
If I had the time I would love to take the land route, spending nights in Malmö, Gothenburg and Oslo, as well as some smaller towns along the way. Make it a week trip between the two cities and it would be a great time, I’m sure.
Once you arrive in Bergen you can catch the airport bus into the city, which takes about 25 minutes. Tickets cost €11 per person one way, but if you are departing from Bergen airport you can get return tickets for €14.50 per person. You can also buy them online here.
Once you’re in the city you can get around Bergen on buses and light rail. If you are staying in the city centre you can probably walk most places as Bergen isn’t very big.
We actually stayed in two different places in Bergen, either side of our road-trip through the western fjords. When we arrived we spent one night in a kind of hostel style Airbnb about a 45-minute walk into the city centre, in Solheim. Our room was one of four others in the house that were rented to travellers. It was very basic but comfortable enough and allowed us to self-cater for €47 (428NOK) for the night, which included a €7 cleaning fee and the Airbnb fees.
Our second night in Bergen was after our fjords trip and was just one night again. Our room right in the city centre cost €25 for the night, absolute crazy awesome value for Bergen and much nicer than our previous accommodation.
**Please note – prices are based on July rates.**
If you are brave, camping is an option in Bergen. Norway allows wild camping, or ‘the right to roam’, which allows camping anywhere you like as long as you are 150m away from the nearest inhabited house or structure, and outside private or ‘fenced’ land. You will find it difficult to camp within the city, but you might get somewhere close. Read up on the full guidelines here.
Private room’s in Bergen bnb’s generally costt from €45 per night for a double, with the upper average being around €80 per night. You can find apartments from €70 per night but you will usually have to pay more like €100 per night to stay somewhere nice.
Hotels in Bergen start at €68 (620NOK) per night for a double room, but they are rare. You will find well-reviewed hotels with rooms between €120 and €150 per night but the majority of hotels price their rooms at over €200 per night.
Try to stay as central as possible, this way you can avoid using public transport too much. If you do stay outside the city centre, at least stay somewhere on a hill with a view!
Hint – Booking well in advance is the key here. There are some cheap accommodation options but once they are gone you will find Bergen a very expensive place to sleep.
In all honesty, we didn’t spend much time exploring Bergen. We arrived to solid heavy rain, made a trip to the supermarket and spent our first evening planning our trip through the western fjords, which we departed for early the next morning. On our return, we dropped off our rental car and camping gear and luxuriated in hot food and showers before walking around the city for a few hours. Food is expensive in Norway (as is everything else), so we only bought it from supermarkets. Booze is even more expensive and they stop selling it after 17:00, so we did nothing on that front either.
I’ll expand on Norway pricing, with loads of tips on how to do it cheaply in the next blog on the western fjords trip.
Here’s what I did notice.
Bryggen is the city’s main attraction. It’s a small district of wooden buildings and walkways along the dock, which offer a glimpse into Nordic life as it was centuries ago. The buildings are all tourist shops or boutiques, but it’s definitely worth a look and a walk through the alleyways.
Fløyen is a mountain overlooking the city and is a popular place to walk and take in a sunset or just a good view. We had planned to walk up here but were discouraged by constant rain.
Bergenhus is the fortress at the entrance to the Bergen harbour. It is one of the oldest and most well-preserved castles in Norway. You can visit inside for a fee, but the grounds around the fortress are free to roam during opening hours.
The Bergen Fish Market has some incredible food on offer. Too pricey for our depleted budget at the time, but worth a visit.
Fantoft Stave Church is an awesome old traditional style church on the outskirts of the city. You need to catch a bus or train there and entrance is 55NOK (€6).
Kode Museum is one of Scandinavia’s largest museums for art, craft, design and music.
For food and drink explore around Skostredet and the adjoining streets.
There are museums and monuments all over the city, take a look at one of the local sites I’ve linked to above and figure out what suits you.
You can easily see the city in a day but there is incredible nature surrounding Bergen. If you are in the city for a few days I would recommend doing some hikes or looking at activities in the nearby mountains and fjords.
Hint – Bergen has a ludicrous amount of rainfall. Prepare for rain in every season.
Bergen for two (separate) nights;
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