Back in February, I finally visited Bergen for the very first time. While Norway's second biggest city and the capital of the fjords had been on our list of potential places to move to last year, I had meant to visit ever since we moved to Stavanger instead.
I actually planned my trip to Bergen three times before I finally made it, but visiting in February, while the city was covered in snow, couldn't have been a better time - not only did I avoid the summer and Christmas crowds, I also saved a huge amount of money on accommodation!
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In fact, I only spent roundabout $250 - not bad for a weekend trip in Norway! In this article, I therefore want to give you a detailed overview of how much I spent, what I did, and how you can travel to Bergen for under $250 too - even if you don't live in Norway!
2 nights in Bergen - How much did I spent?
In total I spent 2181.89 NOK (so, precisely $273) on my trip to Bergen and almost half of it was spent on food. I spent a ridiculous 1043.91 NOK ($131) on eating out and snacks, which can totally be reduced to half the amount if you prepare and bring your own food for the day.
I spent the least amount of money on sights, which goes to show how much there is to see and do in Bergen for free!
Here's the detailed rundown of what I spent over 2 days in Bergen:
I visited Bergen from Stavanger and before you think that the journey had got to be cheap as the two cities are only hours apart from each other, wait a second! I had looked into flying to Bergen but it's actually a whole lot cheaper to fly to Bergen from abroad than it is to get there from within Norway (more on that later).
Domestic tickets in Norway can be quite insane price-wise with one-way tickets from Stavanger to Bergen - a 40 minute flight, might I add - starting at ca. 700 NOK ($88). Taking the bus (a 5 1/2-hour journey) comes in being the second-most expensive, with prices ranging between 480 and 600 NOK ($60-75) for a one-way journey.
I thus opted for the cheapest option to get to Bergen from Stavanger: the ferry! A one-way ticket with Fjordline, without car, costs only 200 NOK ($25), plus 100 NOK ($13) for the shuttle bus to the harbour at Risavika outside of Stavanger.
In total, I paid a surprisingly cheap 600 NOK ($75) on transportation to and from Bergen!
The journey takes exactly as long as the bus (5 and a half hours) but I found relaxing on the couch of the lounge onboard way more comfortable than being crammed on a bus for that long. Plus, there are restaurants/cafes/bars onboard to keep you entertained.
Pro Tip: If you want to save some extra money, you can opt to take the public bus from Stavanger to the ferry terminal at Tananger instead (a one-way ticket costs 35 NOK / $4). Just take bus 2 to the last stop of the line at Tjora, but keep in mind that it's a 20-minute walk to the actual ferry terminal from there.
Whenever I want to travel somewhere on a budget, I pretty much always check Airbnb for accommodation first. Airbnb is where locals rent out their spare room or entire flat and it's a good platform to find bargain accommodation - even in Norway!
For my little 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Bergen, I paid in total 393.98 NOK ($49). That's less than $25 a night and I didn't even have to share bathroom or kitchen facilities with anyone else!
Of course, I was lucky to visit during off-season. Accommodation prices in Bergen double, if not triple, during the summer months, so visiting during the winter can totally pay off!
Pro Tip: If you haven't registered with Airbnb yet, use this link and receive $44 starting credit as a gift from me!
As I said, I spent surprisingly little on sights and attractions in Bergen. In fact, I only spent 95 NOK ($12) to take the funicular Fløibanen and get to the top of Mt Fløyen.
Bergen has an abundance of free things to see and do (see more in my latest video), but the ticket to the funicular ride is money well spent! Not only does it give you access to one of the city's best viewing platforms, but also to the city's best hiking trails in the woods!
No matter whether you're visiting in summer or winter, a visit to Mt Fløyen is a must!
Pro tip: You could, of course, save the money for the funicular as well and hike to the top of Mt Fløyen. It takes about an hour (3 km) to get there from the city centre by foot, though, I wouldn't advise the hike when there's ice and snow around.
During my 2 full days in the city, I also visited Bryggen, the fish market, Bergenhus Fortress (and its museum), as well as KRAFT - Rooms for Artwork - all completely for free! I, furthermore, explored what Bergen had to offer in terms of street art and went on a hike in the woods at Mt Fløyen.
Scroll down to read what else there's to do and see in Bergen for free!
So, when I first made my travel plans, I, of course, planned to not eat out at all and save a ton of money. For some reason, though, that never seems to really work out for me and I always end up spending more on food than I thought I would...
In total, I spent 1043.91 NOK ($131) on food:
223.91 NOK for coffee, 2 Cokes, 1 sandwich & 1 wrap with fries on my 2 ferry journeys
100 NOK for a falafel burger at Akademisk Kvarter - the student cafe of the university of Bergen and one of the best places to eat out on the cheap in the city!
39 NOK for a coffe at Kaffe Dromedar
302.50 NOK for a chicken sandwich with fries, Coke, and a shared dessert at Egon -my favourite Norwegian, semi-cheap, chain-restaurant
171 NOK for 2 sandwiches and tea at Godt Brød - an organic bakery that serves pastries from heaven, but at a steep price!
207.50 NOK for bread, pasta, pesto, chicken and cheese at the grocery store - I did use the kitchen of my Airbnb and prepare a packed lunch after all ;)
I couldn't resist buying a fridge magnet of the warehouses at Bryggen, which set me back by 49 NOK ($6).
How you can visit Bergen on a budget
Here's how you can visit Bergen on a budget, no matter whether you're travelling from within Norway or abroad, whether you'd like to see all the sights and attractions or rather explore the city like a local, and regardless of whether you'd rather stay in a hostel, hotel or your own rented apartment - there are plenty of ways to save money when visiting Bergen!
Free and affordable Sights and Attractions
This is what you can do and see in Bergen for free:
visit KRAFT - Rooms for Artwork, S 12 Galleri and Stiftelsen 3,14 - the budget-friendly alternatives to Kode, Bergen's Art Museums
visit Bergenhus Fortress Museum - if you're interested in history and WWII
visit Arven - a gold and silver factory from the 18th century
go for a stroll around the Botanical Garden
visit the Fish Market
go for a hike up Mt Fløyen and in the surrounding forests
explore the old warehouses at Bryggen
discover Bergen's street art
This is what you can experience in Bergen for under $10:
visit Old Bergen Museum / 50 NOK in spring and autumn
(1st - 14th May / 1st to 17th September)
visit Bergen Contemporary Art Centre / 50 NOK
visit Fantoft Stave Church / 60 NOK - an example of a classic Norwegian wooden stave church
visit the History Museum of the University of Bergen / 60 NOK
visit Bryggens Museum / 80 NOK
visit Bergen Maritime Museum / 80 NOK
visit Håkon's Hall at Bergenshus Fortress / 80 NOK
visit Rosenkrantz Tower at Bergenshus Fortress / 80 NOK
visit Hordamuseet / 80 NOK - an open air folk museum
visit the Leprosy Museum / 80 NOK
The Bergen Card - Is it worth it?
If it's your first time in Norway, you might want to visit several museums, take the funicular ride to Mt Fløyen AND the cable car to Mt Ulriken, and maybe do a fjord cruise as well. If that's the case, you might benefit from purchasing the Bergen Card.
Priced at 240 NOK ($30) for 24 hours and 310 NOK ($39) for 48 hours, the card gives you free admission or a discount to 34 museums/attractions, as well as 5 sightseeing tours and 5 local concerts.
Whether or not it's worth it, depends on what you're planning to do and where you stay. As public transport is free if you have the card, it might already pay off itself if you stay outside of the city centre and depend on the bus to get around.
Keep in mind, however, that some discounts of the card are seasonal. Admission to, for instance, Bergen Aquarium, the funicular at Mt Fløyen and the Hanseatic Museum is only free, respectively discounted, in the winter season, so make sure to check the benefits of the card properly before purchasing it.
The perks of visiting in off-season
Visiting Bergen in off-season has plenty of perks that might make you want to reconsider the dates of your trip. For example:
beating the crowds at sights, cafes and restaurants
cheaper admission fees to popular sights, respectively higher discounts, with the Bergen Card to some sights/attractions (for example Bergen Aquarium, the funicular at Mt Fløyen and the Hanseatic Museum)
cheaper accommodation (in fact, summer prices for hotel rooms can be 30-60% more expensive than during winter)
cheaper airfares if you're travelling by plane
Spring and summer (May to August) is considered the main tourist season in Bergen, though Christmas is quite a popular time despite the weather as well. If you'd like to avoid the crowds and excessive prices, you might want to visit during the shoulder season in late winter/early spring (February to April) or early autumn (September-October).
Weather-wise, summer is, of course, the best time to visit Bergen. Known as the rainiest city of Norway, Bergen can surprise you with a nasty downpour at any time of year, however, so if you'd like to visit, a raincoat should be the no. 1 item in your suitcase!
As mentioned before, Airbnb is the best and cheapest option, in my opinion, but Bergen also has a couple of hostels and budget hotels that might be worth a closer look:
P-Hotels Bergen - basic but clean rooms in the heart of the city centre! >> Find available rooms and rates of P-Hotels Bergen here
Bergen Budget Hotel - simple but modern, close to Bryggen! >> Find available rooms and rates of Bergen Budget Hotel here
Citybox Bergen - cosy Scandi charm in the city centre! >> Find available rooms and rates of Citybox Bergen here
Marken Guesthouse - hip hostel right in the centre of Bergen! >> Find available rooms and rates of Marken Guesthouse here
Basic Hotel Bergen - hotel rooms with fridge and kettle - perfect if you'd like to save at least some money on eating out! >> Find available rooms and rates of Basic Hotel Bergen here
City Apartment Hotel - rooms in charming old building with kitchen and lounge access! >> Find available rooms and rates of City Apartment Hotel here
Bergen Hostel Montana - 5 km from the city centre but right next to Mt Ulriken and a grocery store, this hostel comes with kitchen access AND full breakfast included! >> Find available rooms and rates of Bergen Hostel Montana here
Bergen YMCA Hostel - Hostel with rooftop terrace and the best view of Bergen from above! >> Find available rooms and rates of Bergen YMCA Hostel here
Here's how to get to and around Bergen by public transport:
Bergen can be reached directly from all major airports in Europe, such as London, Amsterdam and Paris. The airport has connections with budget airlines such as FlyBe, Wizzair and Vueling, so that you might be able to get a bargain ticket during off-season!
In November 2018, the cheapest tickets to Bergen, according to Skyscanner, can be found from: Poland (Szczecin, Gdansk, Katowice), Hungary (Budapest), Latvia (Riga), Lithuania (Kaunas), Austria (Vienna), Germany (Berlin), and Denmark (Copenhagen) - all return tickets for under 700 NOK ($88)!
Bergen also has (seasonal) direct flights to Asia (Tokyo) and the US (New York), though with prices starting at 2400 NOK ($300) for a return ticket, it might not be a budget trip after all...
From within Norway:
You can reach Bergen by plane from 16 destinations in Norway (among others, from Oslo, Stavanger, Trondheim, Tromsø & Ålesund) though, with domestic airfares of SAS, Widerøe and Norwegian being everything but cheap, you might want to consider taking the bus, train or ferry instead.
Getting around Bergen:
The city centre of Bergen is pretty small and super easy to navigate by foot. If you're however staying on the outskirts, you might want to use the local bus or light rail (Bybanen). You can get single or day tickets, and the use of public transport is free if you have the Bergen Card.
To get from the airport to the city centre, you can take the airport bus (Flybussen), which departs every 15-20 minutes and gets you to Bergen within half an hour (cost: 105-135 NOK - book online for the cheapest fare), or the light railway, which takes 45 minutes and costs only 37 NOK.