Three Days in Bergen: The Perfect Introduction to Norway

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Kate in Bergen Norway

Norway. One of the most beautiful countries in the world. One of the most expensive countries in the world. A unique and cold and clear and precise destination — yet one that until recently had been out of my price range.

But I finally had an opportunity. Norwegian Air is now flying to New York, and at this time, I’ve found it to be the cheapest way to get across the Atlantic. I booked myself two one-way flights: London to Bergen for about $75 (not including luggage) and Bergen to New York three days later for about $350 (not including luggage).

A three-day trip to Bergen would be the perfect opportunity to get a taste of what Norway had to offer.

Once I had booked my flights, I reached out to Visit Norway and they offered to host me in Bergen for a few days, providing me with accommodation, a Norway in a Nutshell day tour, and a Bergen city press pass.

It turns out that three days is the ideal amount of time to visit Bergen. Being a small city, you can cover its main attractions on foot and still have time left over, yet not so much time that you get bored. I spent my first day sightseeing, my second day on a self-guided Norway in a Nutshell tour, and my third day relaxing and exploring on foot before jumping on the bus to the airport.

Bergen Norway

A Beautiful Waterfront City

Bergen’s old town is built right on the water and on the edge of mountains. In my opinion, it’s one of the world’s most beautifully situated cities (along with Cape Town and Sydney!).

One of my greatest pleasures in traveling is simply wandering and getting a feel for the place. (Though if you’d rather learn more from a guide, there are plenty of city walking tours.) Here’s what you might see on a walk through Bergen.

Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway

Wandering Bergen made my heart swell with happiness. It made me realize how much I adore the Nordic countries — their beauty, their design, their architecture, their colors.

Bergen Norway

Things to Do in Bergen

Bergen’s most famous site is the Bryggen — its World Heritage-listed Hanseatic wharf, whose brightly painted wooden buildings have been standing for hundreds of years.

The Bryggen is a beautiful place to explore. Try to see it from the inside, too.

Bryggen
Bryggen
Bryggen
Bryggen
Bryggen

Catch it at different times of day if you can. The light is beautiful.

Bergen Norway

The Fish Market is located right by the Bryggen and is a nice place to window-shop or grab a bite to eat. They sell far more than just fish! Just keep in mind that this is one of the biggest tourist attractions in town and thus extremely overpriced, even by Norwegian standards.

Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway

Whale steak, anyone?

Bergen Norway

I didn’t partake this time around, though I did try whale in Iceland a few years ago.

Bergen Norway

I was extremely disappointed that the Leprosy Museum was closed — it’s only open from May through August.

Bergen Norway

But I did discover its pretty courtyard.

Bergen Norway

There are two options to view Bergen from above: the Fløibanen Funicular and the Mount Ulriken Cable Car.

The Fløibanen Funicular is located in the center of town and a short journey to the top. The view is pictured above.

Bergen Norway

The cable car is about a 20-minute drive outside of town, and the ticket includes a ride from near the Fish Market. I went in the afternoon, and as you can see, it was the worst time for light. Go early in the day for better photos. The light was perfect in the other direction, though!

Want more of a workout? Consider hiking up Mount Floyen. You can join a guided hike or rent a bike to explore on your own.

Bergen Norway

Between the two of them, I preferred the Fløibanen Funicular. Even though it didn’t go as high, I thought the view was prettier and being right in the center of town, it was less of a journey to get there.

Bergen Norway

Finally, I allowed myself one splurge — a four-course dinner with wine pairings at To Kokker, a restaurant literally inside the Bryggen. The place feels like a time capsule, with low ceilings and slanted wooden floors.

If you ever head far north, you have to try reindeer. It’s my favorite exotic meat — rich yet lean and extremely tender. At To Kokker, the best course was an absurdly soft reindeer steak in a berry and brown cheese sauce. Also on the menu: elk carpaccio, mussels and turbot, and panna cotta.

Still, though, I’m not sure I would recommend it unless you’re really into food. It’s pricey at 395/595 NOK ($60/91 USD), though I had a 50% press discount) and though it was delicious, it wasn’t quite the rhapsody I expected. I’d rather spend big bucks on a meal in France, Italy, or Spain.

Bergen Norway

Cafe-Hopping

One of my priorities when traveling is to get in some cafe time. Taking a break with a coffee is my favorite way to decompress in between rounds of sightseeing. Popping into Starbucks will get the job done, but I’d rather find an independent cafe if possible.

When I walked past Bar Barista, I had to go in. I mean, look at it!

Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway
Bergen Norway

Despite the lack of wifi, it was a cool spot to take a break. Nice soundtrack, too — the owner is passionate about vinyl records.

Bergen Norway

Another cafe I loved was the very Nordic Kaffemisjonen. They served one of the best lattes I’ve ever had. With a side of wifi.

Bergen Norway

Norway in a Nutshell

I spent a full day on the Norway in a Nutshell tour, taking in the most beautiful landscapes in western Norway’s fjords by train, boat, and bus. If you’re in Norway for a limited time, this is the absolute best way to get a taste of the country’s dramatic landscapes in a single day.


More from Norway in a Nutshell:

Norway’s Fjords in Photos

Scenes from the Flåm Railway


You can see my fjord cruise photos here; above is a photo from the Flåm Railway.

Bryggen

How much does it cost to travel to Norway?

Two years ago, I was in Stockholm and aghast at how expensive everything was. As I chomped away on my $18 margherita pizza, two older couples at a nearby table were laughing, eating, and ordering bottle after bottle of wine.

“They’re from Norway,” the waiter told me. “They come here because it’s so cheap.”

?!?!?!!!?!!

That, right there, gives you an idea of just how expensive Norway is.

Here are some of the costs I paid:

  • One-way ticket on the Flybus (Bergen Airport to Bergen city, about 20 minutes): 90 NOK, or $14 USD
  • Raspberry smoothie at a cafe: 66 NOK, or $10 USD
  • Cup of berries at the market: 39 NOK, or $6 USD
  • Four-course meal with wine pairings at To Kokker: 595 NOK, or $91 USD
  • Bottle of water at the train station: 27 NOK, or $4 USD
  • Reindeer burger and cappuccino at a casual restaurant in Flåm: 192 NOK, or $29 USD
  • Toilet at the train station: 10 NOK, or $1.50 USD
  • Two cheeseburgers and a small fries at McDonald’s (no judgment!): 49 NOK, or $7.50 USD
  • Double latte at a cafe: 49 NOK, or $7.50 USD
  • Hot dog and water at a convenience store: 52 NOK, or $8 USD

I found Norway to be the most expensive place I’ve been in Europe, even more expensive than Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. That said, I found it to be worth it — for a short weekend trip in a city as beautiful as Bergen, anyway!

I stayed at the Thon Hotel Bristol, a beautiful mid-range city center hotel that I loved. With low-season rates starting at about $170 per night and high-season rates much higher, it would have been out of my price range if I hadn’t been hosted (then again, most nice city center hotels are out of my price range); however, if it’s in your price range, I highly recommend it.

The cheapest city center accommodation in Bergen’s city center I could find is at the Bergen YMCA, where dorms start at about $30 USD; Marken Gjesthus is a more upmarket hostel with dorms from around $40 USD and doubles from around $110 USD.

Bergan has an excellent selection of rentals on Airbnb. See all Bergen’s Airbnb rentals here.

A three-day trip to Norway will do considerably less damage to your wallet than a two-week trip. With all there is to do in Bergen, I couldn’t think of a better destination to try Norway out for the first time.

Bryggen

Bergen: The Takeaway

Bergen is one of my new favorite cities of Europe, and if I fly Norwegian Air again, I see myself working in another stopover here in the future! Three days was the perfect amount of time to explore it.

If you’re in Europe — or even in New York, if you don’t mind a seven-hour flight and six-hour time difference — I recommend that you consider Bergen for a long weekend trip. I hope you love it as much as I did.


READ NEXT: Copenhagen in Photos


Essential Info: If you’re interested in doing lots of sightseeing in Bergen, consider the Bergen Card, which includes free or discounted admission to many sites in town. The card costs 260/200 NOK ($40/$30.50 USD) for 48/24 hours for adults and 100/75 NOK ($15/$11.50 USD) for 48/24 hours for children. I recommend adding up the costs of the places you want to visit and seeing if it’s cheaper with a card.

I highly recommend traveling with a digital guidebook on my own. I use Lonely Planet guides and recommend Lonely Planet Norway — you can buy just the Bergen chapter if you’d like!

The Bryggen and the Fish Market are free to visit.

The Leprosy Museum is open from May through August only. Admission is 70 NOK ($11 USD) for adults, 35 NOK ($5 USD) for students, and free for children.

The Fløibanen Funicular costs 85/43 NOK ($13/$6.50 USD) round-trip/one-way for adults and 43/22 NOK ($6.50/$3 USD) round-trip/one-way for kids. You can also walk up a paved path for free.

The Mount Ulriken Cable Car costs 150/90 NOK ($23/$14 USD) round-trip/one-way for adults and 80/50 NOK ($12/8 USD) round-trip/one-way for kids. You can also hike up for free, but keep in mind that this is a mountain you’re climbing. The ticket includes a transfer from the city center, near the Fish Market.

Prix fixe menus at To Kokker start at 395/595 NOK ($60/91 USD) for a four-course meal without/with wine pairings.

The Norway in a Nutshell tour includes a train ride on the Flåm Railway, a cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen through the Aurlandsfjord and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nærøyfjord, and a bus ride down 14 hairpin turns in the countryside, plus train transportation from your departure point.

The tour runs from Bergen, Voss, or Oslo, though it’s closest to Voss and Bergen and runs year-round from those cities. The tour costs 1145 NOK ($178 USD) from Bergen, 775 NOK ($120 USD) from Voss, 1550 NOK ($241) as a one-way trip from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa (keep in mind that you’ll need to carry your bags throughout), and 2100 NOK ($326) from Oslo.

I stayed at the Thon Hotel Bristol, where low-season rates start at about $170 USD. Find deals on hotels in Bergen here. See all Bergen’s Airbnb rentals here.

Don’t visit Norway without travel insurance. It could save you if you get ill, injured, or lose your luggage. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Norway.

Many thanks to Visit Norway for hosting me in Norway. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Have you been to Norway? Is Bergen your kind of city?

82 thoughts on “Three Days in Bergen: The Perfect Introduction to Norway”

  1. Loved Bergen! I was there for three days in May this year and it sparked off a new Norwegian obsession. A bit of a pricey obsession, but it’s one of those places that is well worth the cost for a few days. We stayed in an AirBnB rental which was great – very central as the city is pretty small and it meant we could cook a few of our own meals (grocery shop prices were not too bad). Keep away from the wine if you’re on a budget though – even in the state-run Vinmonopolet liquor stores the cheapest bottle was about £12!

  2. I was last in Bergen in 1970 on a school trip, we stayed in Youth Hostels, I was 12 and it was my first time abroad.I loved it then and have always wanted to go back. I have relatives there (my paternal grandparents were from Norway). Think I may have to start saving.You have made we want to go even more so now.

  3. I’ve been eying Norway a lot lately thanks to the new Norwegian Air routes. Even though I’ll get a lot of ribbing from the family if I do go since my family is Swedish, I may do it anyway! 🙂

  4. Wow! Bergen looks absolutely beautiful! Being part Norwegian, I’ve always wanted to visit Norway, but cost and the logistics of getting there have been a huge problem. Hopefully I’ll be able to get there this year while I’m located in Spain, but if not, I now know that I can get there from New York for responsibly cheap! Thanks, Kate!

  5. I have always been interested in visiting Bergen, it looks a lot more beautiful than Oslo. I was meant to go a couple of years ago but just couldn’t stomach the prices in the end. I will definitely make it there some day and it’s good to know that three days is enough time to explore

  6. Definitely sounds like my sort of town (if pricey). I’m planning to go to Norway next year – good to know that 3 days here is enough to experience plenty!

  7. Norway looks so beautiful! The only reason I did not go there on my last trip to Europe was due to the cost. I’m reconsidering on my next Eurotrip!

  8. Gorgeous pictures and I’m so keen to get back to Norway. The scary part is that those sample prices you give are pretty much the same as prices here in Perth, Australia. In fact some things here are even more expensive. On the positive side at least I won’t feel like Norway is too expensive!

  9. Hi Kate,
    I’m a 34 year old girl from Norway who loves reading your blog. It was wonderful to read how much you enjoyed Norway, although it is extremely expensive to live here

  10. Bergen is super beautiful! The cafes look cool too. I wanted to ask why are umbrellas hung in the air? I have seen it in many pictures. I think it’s a tradition in European countries. Am I right?

    1. Hi! Bergen is known to be the city in Norway with the most rainy days. That’s why they have umbrellas displayed several places. ☺️

  11. I am not gonna lie, I have been curious about Norway since watching the Frozen making it. They went to Norway to get ideas and it looked beautiful. Its sad to say that because I live in SoCal these prices are do not fall as expensive.. (but then again we have 7-11s sooo) . I really enjoyed this post and learning about Norway totally going on my bucket list.

  12. Bergen looks delightful Kate!

    I haven’t been to Norway yet but I have been to Denmark and yes, the Nordic countries do leave you in a bit of a splutter however, they’re known for being quiet and peaceful and I have even spent a fortnight (2 weeks) in the Nordic region!
    The trick? Go by car and take all your stuff with you LOL! Being that I live in Germany, it’s easier to do I suppose.

    I have been thinking of taking a short cruise to Sweden and Norway but perhaps, I might even stay a little longer as Bergen looks like a lovely place to stay in winter!

    Thanks for letting us know. 🙂

  13. I was in Bergen over 4 years ago and in March so not the best time to visit but I loved it big time! After Oslo that is kind of bleh I didn’t have my hopes very high but it turned out to be such a beautiful destination! And now, judging from your pictures and words, I’d probably like it even more as it got pretty hip and quirky 😀 Guess I need to plan a trip back 😉

  14. Norway looks gorgeous. I hope everybody will forgive me for saying that the prices don’t seem that expensive! But then again I’m Australian and I WOULD say that, lol.

    I love the way the waterfronts of Scandinavian cities look, with those colourful wooden buildings. I once heard a guy from Stockholm who has travelled a lot say that when he walks around his city he feels like he’s in a postcard. I’m guessing now that anybody from any coastal Scandinavian city could say that. 🙂

    I can’t like that picture of the whale meat though…it makes me nauseous and sad. But if you’ve visited my blog you’ll know I have some pretty clear and strong opinions on whaling. 🙁

    Not trying to judge or criticise or start an argument with anybody – just saying I hate whaling. 🙁

    1. Just had to reply about the whale meat. The whale is vågehval, dont know the english Word. The fishing for it is 1000% sustainable and the way they fish for it ensures no pain when killed. Your local sheep in your meat marked endured more pain and is less sustainable. For the environment. You can never compare norwegian whaling with what you see on tv, like whale Wars.

      1. Hi Ole, thanks for replying to my comment. The word you’re looking for (the translation for vagehval) is Minke. I know it is a little difficult to convey tone when speaking online, so before I say anything I want to assure you that my reply is intended with the greatest respect and kindness. 🙂

        I’m actually a Sea Shepherd supporter, and so I am very familiar with the differences between the hunting of Minke whales in the northern Atlantic and hunting of Minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which is what is depicted on Whale Wars. Yes there is a difference in hunting techniques, but the killing process is far from painless. It may be an improvement on the techniques used in the Southern Ocean, but still very cruel.

        I do agree with you though that the factory farming of sheep and other animals inflicts a lot of pain (as a result, I’m vegan.) I’m glad we can agree on that. 🙂

        Have a lovely day Ole! Regards, Karyn

  15. “Wandering Bergen made my heart swell with happiness. It made me realize how much I adore the Nordic countries — their beauty, their design, their architecture, their colors.”

    EXACTLY what I’ve been telling myself for the past two years. Bergen is one of the few cities in Europe I would consider moving to permanently, should I ever settle down for good.

  16. I had no idea Norway was that expensive! More than Switzerland?! Sheesh! I once paid $40US for a crappy burger and small pizza (for two) in Switzerland. Bergen is super cute and quaint though, I’m sure it’s worth it, just like Switzerland was! 🙂

  17. Love, love Bergen – it’s just the best, and so perfectly situated to explore the fjords, while still being able to come back to a tremendously civilized city of great beauty!

    Do stay in an apartment – I stayed in one during both my visits and I enjoyed it MUCH more than being a sterile hotel. I was there for a week, it cut down costs, and you really felt like you were living a Norwegain life.

  18. Lived in Bergen for a year and we absolutely loved it. One word to the wise, though: it rains all the time, at all times of the year. That doesn’t stop the locals from pretty much anything (they all have great rain gear), and over time we adapted. But a 3-day trip to Bergen should be taken with the full knowledge that you might be getting wet!

    1. Also lived a year in Bergen, and love the city, but bring rain gear and carry an umbrella.
      If one likes to hike there are plenty of nice walks in the 7 mountains surrounding the city.

    2. My fiancé and I are starting off our honeymoon in Bergen the last week of October. I was hoping to spend a day or two cruising through the fjords but our options are very limited that time of year. What type of itinerary or activity would you recommend for 3-4 nights in Norway in later October? We were hoping to see the fjords, natural landscape, and take in the local culture and food.

  19. How was Norwegian Air? I am booked with them next month from San Francisco to Stockholm. My flight was $410 RT and direct- they have ridiculously cheap fares right now!

  20. Fun reading about my home town. But the best way if you want it cheap is not to go to tourists info’s etc etc. They There to sell the typical sights for tourists. Recommend google and learn the ‘tips from people Whois have Bern here before, if not you can either Ask the locals, Norwegians Are very open and easy to Get help and tips from. Or if you got a friend or someone living here to give you a grand tour through Bergen for free. PS: the restaurant to kokker is a overcharged place designed for tourists.

  21. Beautiful photos! Loved reading all of this post, you’ve got me reaaaally excited to make plans to go to Bergen and do the Norway in a Nutshell tour!

    I’m actually quite relieved when you listed the prices, because i’ve heard Norway is expensive, however that is about on par with Australian prices for things. I was worried it would be even more expensive still, but now I’m less worried about the “expensiveness” of Norway – ha one of the “perks” of living in an expensive country, at least most other travelling seems cheaper, or even in the case of Norway, not so bad!

  22. how fun to read your bergen-experience! So glad you had a good time. If you ever return, renting a bar or taking the bus (routes to Øystese at skyss.no) to Øystese is highly encouraged. It’s so beautiful.. And the bus is normal fare, so it’ll take you two hours but won’t cost all that much.

  23. Norwegian Hayles

    Your trip looks amazing, and even though I´ve actually lived in Bergen and am from Norway, you actually did things I´ve never done. Ha! I just wanted to say that if you ever get back to Norway, just let me know. I’m from Stavanger, another lovely city south of Bergen. It is the home of the oil, the pulpit rock, skjeragsbolten, great food and culture, and a lot more. I love your blog and used it a lot when I was traveling Australia and south-east Asia.
    So let me know if you want any help geting around, being hosted or taking a hike to a mountain without being with a tourist group. Its always cheaper and a great way to see what locals do in their coutry!
    xx

  24. Love that you did this in three days. I always think of those huge, two, three four week trips to fit it all in. Norway is next on our list to visit extended family. Good to know of the prices. It sounds like it rivals the prices in the South Pacific.

  25. Wow Bergen looks absolutely beautiful, the bright buildings remind me a bit of Playmobil!

    Those prices are a bit scary though, and I live in the UK…

    I’m going to Stockholm next year, so I’ll see how bad that is before considering Norway, tempting as it is.

  26. I went to Bergen in February for about three days- it was really easy to get there since I was studying abroad in Copenhagen! I fell in love with it as well, and agree completely that three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in this city. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! It was raining every day when I went, but still gorgeous. We hiked up Mount Fløyen and stayed in the YMCA Bergen hostel for about $40 a night. I loved reading about your experience!

  27. I’m planning my 10 day trip in scandinavia which will end in bergen, I’m going to spend most of my time in bergen and i’m so glad to have found your article 🙂
    Perfect! Will definitely take the norway in a nutshell tour!

    X, Carina

  28. I didn’t find the price list for food expensive. Then again, I live in New York City.
    I will be in Oslo for 4 days and Bergen for 10 days visiting college friends in May. I am going the airbnb route and cooking most food unless I go to a special dinner with friends.

  29. How did I miss this post????? I just uncovered it while brousing for something else … but I was totally already following AK at the time of writing….

    ANYHOODLE. I was considering Norway for this summer but the price thing put me off, esp after the Russian rouble crashed last year. Is Oslo a must-see, or is Bergen + the fiord cruise kind of enough to get a feel for Norway?

  30. Thanks for this post- love the airfare tips for next time we go (we already spent to much for our upcoming trip!) We are only going to have one day in Bergen- would you recommend spending it exploring the city alone or including a 3 hour fjord cruise of Mostraumen with a company? We are planning out our day and can’t decide! Thanks for the tips!

    1. You couldn’t go wrong with either — it’s down to your personal preference! Would you feel awful if you missed out on doing either one? That should answer your question.

  31. Thank you for this post – I was currently debating whether to take the trip given prices etc but I’m going to do so!

  32. Love this post! Thank you for sharing! I’m thinking about going for my birthday in October but I know they say the weather is a bit unpredictable? Can you tell me what time of year you went and what the weather was like?? Thank you!!

    1. Honestly, Bergen is one of the rainiest cities in Europe. It could rain anytime (and may rain every day)! I visited in September, but please don’t take that as standard September weather. I lucked out while I was there.

  33. Hi. I am planning to go to Norway in December with my 3 kids and Husband. I am planning to stay 1 day in Oslo and than take Norway in Nutshell from Oslo to Bergen to stay in Bergen 2 days. You wrote that we have to take our luggage with us throughout the journey, that’s mean when we take bus or ferry in the journey we bring our luggage with us or leave in the train? thanks

  34. Just saying

    where did you buy all of this expensive food
    i live in norway and i have never seen a Four-course meal with wine pairings at To Kokker: 595 NOK, or $91 USD and the cable car for 90 kroner is actually 11 dollars not 14 dollars

    1. I didn’t drive, so I can’t say personally, but I really loved this tour and recommend it highly. Norway is expensive. Plus, you have to take a boat, which you couldn’t do in a car, and you won’t get to experience the Flam railway scenery in a car.

  35. This was so helpful!!! thank you!

    I’m a 33 year old girl from NYC traveling with a male friend in July of this year. We want to be near some of the attractions, plan on doing some hikes, but stumbling distance from restaurants/bars is a high priority when it comes to accommodations. What area would you recommend we stay in? not sure if we will do airbnb or hotel. Thanks!

  36. Great article. Looking for validation that we are making a good vacation choice. Norwegian Air is flying out of Providence, RI direct to Bergen (among other locations). Our round trip tickets cost TOTAL $560 for the 2 of us. I used credit card points for 3 of the 4 nights we are staying; we are staying an extra night in Balestrand during a Nutshell tour and none of the available lodging accepted Citi Thankyou Rewards. So for 4 nights lodging and airfare we are in for less than $700. Even with the pricy nature of Norway, this is a no brainer right?

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