The possibilities to go on a city trip these days are pretty much endless – but if you’re up for a little Scandinavian adventure, and are looking for a charming place (cute colored houses by the water, check), with out-of-the-ordinary activities (mountain hikes or fjord exploring, check) – I’d suggest to give Bergen a try! Bergen is Norway’s second biggest city (after its capital Oslo), and it’s a fun mix of student areas, places that ooze history, hotspots and those cute well-known Norwegian houses – all surrounded by mountains .
Bergen is known for being one of the rainiest cities in the world, so it seems quite obvious to state that you shouldn’t go here to work on your tan. We were quite lucky with the weather during our stay and even saw some sun and blue skies, but also got a taste of the rain. I was relying on the weather predictions that day – which indicated it would stay dry – but that was before I really got to know the craziness that is Norwegian weather. Lessons learned: it can go from sunny to rainy to dry again in a time span of fifteen minutes. Or it can suddenly start raining for an hour or two, in which case a jean jacket really isn’t the best type of clothing. Take my advice on this one: when in Bergen, it’s probably best to always have a light rain jacket with you – better safe than sorry (and wet).
What you’ve read about the prices in Norway is true – it is by far one of the most expensive places I’ve been. It’s not impossible to do Bergen on a budget, but it will mean cutting back on some of your usual habits on a city trip – aka not going out for every meal, and skipping the alcohol. To give you an idea: for lunch, you’ll easily pay 17 Euros per person – for dinner it can easily go up to 30 (I’m not taking alcoholic beverages into account here). We went for an experience that offered something in between – like eating out at more budget-friendly places, having a refillable water bottle and not ordering alcohol.
Coffee & food
As mentioned above, eating and drinking out in Norway is certainly on the expensive side but that shouldn’t stop you from discovering at least a few of the hotspots. Bergen has a mix of hip and more traditional, touristy places to eat or drink – and since the city is so small, they’re all within walking distance of each other. A cute place for coffee is Det Lille Kaffe Kompaniet, right next to the Fløibanen. It’s a small, cozy spot that serves some excellent coffee and is closeby some fun shops, like Blekk. Another good option for coffee or lunch is Bastant – as an added plus, you’ll surely spot some cool street art in the neighborhood. A dinner favorite was Tempo Tempo, where they serve reasonably-priced thin crust pizzas and gin tonic in a cool interior. We didn’t get to try it, but Siam Ratree seemed like a very good budget option for Thai food, especially for lunch.
Activities & Sightseeing
Bergen is small and walkable – two days are more than enough here. If you’re here on a city trip, you could stay longer to discover more of Norway – there are a lot of options to see the nearby fjords. If you’re just staying in the city or are traveling through Norway afterwards like we did, it’s fun to stay in the center and walk through the famous Bryggen area (the wooden, colored houses by the water). For a full view over the city, you can go up to Fløyen Panorama (easiest to take the Fløibanen, a tram that’ll take you up which will cost you around 5 Euros for a one-way trip per person). You can take it back down (and pay more), or walk back to the city. It’s an easy road but it’ll take between 30-45 minutes to reach Bergen again.
I’d also recommend going to Johanneskirken – it’s equally beautiful from the inside as the outside thanks to its unique wooden interior – and the entrance is free. Here, you’re close to the university where you’ll see all sorts of fancy houses with a slight San Francisco-esque feel. Last but not least, take some time to discover all the cool street art – you’ll find it scattered throughout the city.
Have you ever been to Bergen or Norway? Share your thoughts or hotspots below!