Read on for a detailed overview of all ways you can drive from Stavanger to Bergen - whether you prefer to drive yourself or use public transport.
Summer is just around the corner and maybe you’re thinking about visiting Western Norway this year? You can’t quite decide on whether you should head to Stavanger or Bergen and would actually like to see it all?
No problem! It’s actually super easy to get from Stavanger to Bergen and it doesn’t have to be super expensive either!
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Stavanger to Bergen
Western Norway is THE tourist hotspot in the summer with thousands of tourists coming either by cruise ship or independently, to see the fjords and go for a hike to Pulpit Rock. Both, Stavanger and Bergen, have lots to offer and can easily keep you busy for 2-3 days - even if you don’t have/want to rent a car.
Driving is, of course, the easiest way to get from Stavanger to Bergen and also around Western Norway, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you don’t feel comfortable driving abroad. Here are 4 different ways to travel from Stavanger to Bergen, along with travel times and costs!
Whether you’re driving your own car or plan on renting a car when you get to Norway, going by car is certainly the easiest option to travel around Stavanger and Bergen. However, you have to keep in mind that it’s not necessarily the cheapest option. Not only do you have to factor in expenses for fuel, but also the costs for ferries, road tolls and parking.
The journey is relatively easy on paper: you just follow the national road E39. However, there are 2 fjords in the way of getting from Stavanger to Bergen - meaning, you have to board (and pay for) 2 ferries on your trip. There are construction works to build an underwater tunnel system to reduce the travel time between Stavanger and Bergen, but as of 2019, the tunnel isn’t finished yet (it’s scheduled to open in 2025), and you still have to take the ferry.
The first ferry that goes between Mortavika and Arsvågen costs 240 NOK for a car and driver (2019 price) - you have to pay extra for other passengers that might be joining you. The second ferry between Sandvikvåg and Halhjem costs 311 NOK (again, in 2019). In addition to the cost for the ferry, you also have to pay for road tolls. For the stretch between Stavanger and Bergen, you’re looking at 41 NOK - as long as you don’t travel during rush hour, as road tolls increase between 7 am and 9 am, as well as between 3 pm and 5 pm.
The journey to drive from Stavanger to Bergen takes approx. 5 hours, with 25 minutes to spend on the first and 40 minutes to spend on the second ferry. Despite the costs and the hassle of having to board (and possibly wait for) 2 ferries, driving yourself gives you the option to at least take a break while you’re on the ferry to eat or use the restroom. Also, if you’re driving an electric car, you don’t have to pay any road tolls and the ferries only cost half the price of a standard ticket.
If you rent a car in Norway, you don’t have to worry about road tolls as the rental provider will automatically bill you for the costs after your trip. If you’re visiting with your own car, you have to register for AutoPass in order to pay for the road tolls.
When renting a car in Stavanger to go to Bergen, keep in mind that rental costs will be a lot higher if you plan on staying in Bergen to drop the car off there.
The bus journey from Stavanger to Bergen takes approx. 5 1/2 hours and the bus drives more or less the same route as you would by car (meaning, you’ll also take 2 ferries). The ferry tickets are included in your bus ticket, so you don’t need to pay extra.
The bus company traveling between Stavanger and Bergen is called Kystbussen. You should book the tickets in advance to reserve a seat and get the best price (there are student and youth discounts available as well). If you pay for the ticket when boarding the bus, you’ll have to pay 15% extra. Ordinary adult tickets cost between 400 NOK and 600 NOK (one way) when booked online.
Less popular departures (early in the morning and late at night) are often the cheapest.
Taking the direct ferry with Fjordline to get from Stavanger to Bergen is BY FAR the cheapest option if you don’t have a car. The ferry has daily departures and goes from Hirtshals (in Denmark) to Bergen, via Stavanger. I did the trip in winter, but I’m sure it’s even more stunning during the summer!
Ferry tickets without car cost 250 NOK (one way) and with car 690 NOK, though, during school holidays, you can often also find sales for car tickets at 500 NOK (again, one way).
The only downside is that the ferry terminal is situated in Tananger, approx. 10km from Stavanger. You can take public transport (bus number 2 towards Tananger/tickets cost 35 NOK) to the last stop at Tjora, from where it’s a 20-minute walk to the ferry terminal, or you can book the Fjordline bus that’ll get you directly to the terminal for an additional 100 NOK.
On the ferry itself, you’ll find a cafe, restaurant and bar, so that the 5 1/2 hours go by in no time!
What about trains, planes and hitch-hiking?
There are no train lines immediately north of Stavanger, so no, unfortunately you can’t take the train to Bergen.
You can certainly take the plane, but personally, I would never do so for such a short distance, and would thus urge you to consider the more environmental friendly options of going by bus or ferry first. If you do wish to go by plane nonetheless, keep in mind that the flight time might only be approx. 40 minutes, but that you’ll have to be at the airport at least 1 1/2 hours before departure, and that you’ll also have to get tickets for the airport bus as there’s no direct public bus going to the airport from Stavanger.
You can either fly with Norwegian (generally cheaper) or SAS (they do have frequent sales, though). Prices vary between 779 NOK to 1557 NOK with Norwegian (one way), and between 949 NOK and 1649 NOK with SAS (also one way). If you insist on flying, make sure to at least book a direct flight instead of an absolutely unnecessary detour via Oslo (considering that those kinds of flights are being offered by Norwegian and SAS, it apparently does not go without saying).
Last but not least, hitch-hiking is always an option as well, though not one I’ve personally tried and tested. I’ve heard mixed reviews of people trying to hitch-hike in Norway, but I guess if you really want to give it a go, you should be strategic about it - meaning, you should stand somewhere along the way to Bergen. In Stavanger, the gas station at Tjensvollkrysset would be a good place, since it’s along the way of the E39.
Long story short, what’s the best way to get from Stavanger to Bergen depends on the way you like to travel and your budget. Taking the car, bus or ferry takes about equally as much time, whereas taking the plane puts a huge impact on our environment and should be avoided, if possible.
If you’re travelling without a car, though, your cheapest option is, hands-down, to take the ferry. It’s a comfortable and environmental friendly way of travelling and also comes with the added bonus of a mini-fjord sightseeing cruise when entering the fjord system of Bergen.
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