Bergen is my favorite city in Norway. It’s small, historic, beautiful, and filled with great seafood. Being a university town, there is a very vibrant energy to the city, too (plus this city had the most cheap food options I saw and in a country as expensive as Norway, that’s pretty important!). The only downside to the city is that it rains most of the time so you rarely see sun. But don’t let that deter you! The city is spectacular, so much so that I would even consider moving here — something I don’t say about most cities.
Hostel prices – Hostels in Bergen cost between 200-400 NOK per night for a dorm room. Private rooms come in at around 700-1,000 NOK for a single and 1,200 NOK for a double. Every hostel offers free WiFi. Being a smaller city there aren’t many options for hostels so you’ll want to book in advance during the summer months. There are a handful of campgrounds around the city with basic facilities, as well. Prices are around 130 NOK per night.
Budget hotel prices – Hotels in Bergen cost between 900-1,500 NOK per night for a double room. If you want a budget hotel, stick to something local. All the major chains charge around 1,600 NOK per night or more. Occasionally prices will be lower in the off-season. Airbnb is a more reasonable budget choice, with shared rooms averaging 450 NOK per night. A private apartment or home will cost closer to 950 NOK, making Airbnb a good choice for groups or pairs looking to save money on accommodation.
Average cost of food – Eating out is expensive, with fast food starting from 80 NOK and sit-down meals in a decent restaurant nearly always topping 300 NOK or more for a main course. McDonald’s or Burger King are around 120 NOK. For a cheap snack, Norwegian-style, look no further than the nearest outdoor grill or convenience store. You can eat a hot dog or sausage for around 30-50 NOK. Avoid buying imported food whenever possible as the costs are extravagant. Also, with such a meat-heavy diet, vegetarians will need to keep their eyes peeled — there are not many veg-friendly restaurants in the city (or country!).
Transportation costs – Bus tickets in Bergen start at 36 NOK for a single zone. There is a light rail system that costs the same as the bus but Bergen is so small it’s easy to walk around unless you are going to one of the places on the outskirts of the city. Additionally, you can get a 24, 48, or 72-hour Bergen card for 200 NOK, 260 NOK, or 320 NOK, respectively. This entitles you to unlimited travel on the public transportation, and free or discounted admission to most museums. Bike rentals are available in the city, as well, making for a convenient way to see the city at your own pace while getting to enjoy some of the fleeting summer weather. Both self-guided and guided tours are available, with prices starting around 1,000 NOK.
Suggested daily budget – 675-750 NOK / 77-85 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Cook your own food – Go grocery shopping, but skip buying lots of fresh vegetables such as peppers or whole chicken fillets as they are very expensive. Minced chicken is cheaper. Buy local as much as possible to avoid hefty import fees. Avoid eating out!!!
- Couchsurf – The best way to avoid expensive hostels is to not stay at them. Couchsurf (i.e. stay with locals for free) so you can save your money for what is really important — sightseeing and beer. Being a smaller city, you might not have as many options here so be sure to send requests in advance.
- Get the Bergen Card – The best way to afford all the attractions is to get a city tourism card so you can get free entry into all the attractions as well as free transportation. Using the Bergen card, you can get unlimited travel on the public transportation, and free or discounted admission to most museums. The card is available in 24, 48, or 72-hour options, with prices set at 240, 310, and 380 NOK respectively. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and children.
- Walk – The center of Bergen is small and easily walkable. Save money on transportation and walk everywhere. It’s a much better way to explore the city anyways. There are walking tours available in the city, as well, if you are craving some context to your explorations. Guided tours will cost around 100 NOK per person and generally last a couple hours.
- Stay sober – At about 80 NOK per drink (at a minimum!), going out will destroy your budget. While the Norwegians love to go out and have a good time, if you are on a tight budget, skip the drinks. Better to save your money for sailing around the fjords.
- Camp – Free public camping laws allow you to camp in the parks and public lands for free as long as you have your own tent. You can generally stay 1-2 nights in an area as long as you are quiet and respectful. Make sure to leave the area as you found it! If you plan on camping a lot, make sure to get the Camping Key Europe card. It’s 130 NOK and offers discounts to most of Norway’s campgrounds.
- Book in advance – If you can plan your transportation in advance, you can save up to 50% off the cost of your train or bus tickets. Buying last minute means it’s going to be more than any budget traveler can afford, especially if you want to visit a number of destinations in Norway. Book in advance and save yourself some money!
Top Things to See and Do in Bergen
- Visit the Bergen Museum of Cultural History – This is an awesome exhibit of Norse and Scandinavian culture, both rural and urban. It includes everything from archaeological artifacts to furniture and folk art. Admission is 60 NOK for adults and free for children.
- Admire the Fresco Hall – Painted by local artist Axel Revold, in the 1920s, the Fresco Hall is comprised of four panels, featuring illustrations of each region of the city from the time. Considered to be a ‘local treasure’, this is a must see.
- Ride the Fløibanen Funicular Railway – If you want the best view in the city, this is the vehicle that will take you there! Mount Floyen is 1,050 feet above sea level and overlooks the surrounding islands. Sit back and enjoy the view or take a stroll through the woodland terrain and around the lakes. Roundtrip adult tickets are 90 NOK.
- Visit Gallery Nygaten 7 – Considered one of the most stunning galleries in Norway, Gallery Nygaten 7 will catch your eye with its bold, dramatic architecture and exhibits.
- Check out Gamle Bergen – An outdoor museum featuring 40 houses, depicting life during the 18th and 19th centuries. If you are looking fore an interesting and informative tour, this is the place to go! It is located near the center of Bergen.
- Go on the White Lady Fjord tour – This is a four-hour boat tour that offers an amazing look at the famous fjords and the beautiful landscape surrounding Bergen, including various islands, bridges, cliffs, and waterways. It’s a casual way to spend your day and offers a nice chance to get away from the typical city bustle and tourist excursions. Tickets are 480 NOK for adults, with discounts available for students and children.
- Walk through the Arboretum and Botanical Garden at Milde – Occupying 125 acres of land, the garden is home to thousands of trees, plants, flowers and shrubs. May and June are great months to go because the rhododendrons bloom. July and August is good too because everything else blossoms. The gardens are located outside the center of Bergen and admission is free!
- Visit the Bergen Aquarium – For aquatic lovers and families alike, this aquarium offers Europe’s largest seal and penguin exhibit, a highly-extensive marine fauna collection, and one of Europe’s largest collections of fish and invertebrates. Admission is 200 NOK for adults, 150 NOK for children.
- Attend the Bergen International Festival – Every year at the end of May, the Bergen Int. Festival offers a wide array of performing arts. including music, opera, ballet, theatre, and more. It’s a great way to check out amazing contemporary performances, on various stages throughout the city.
- See the Folgefonni Glacier – Just north of Bergen lies Folgefonni glacier. Climb the ice precipices or stroll across the thousand-year-old ice desert. If you can’t make it north to see the fjords, this is a good consolation prize.
- Climb Rosenkrantz Tower – Dating back to medieval times, this tower served as a residence as well as a fortified tower. It offers a beautiful view of the sea, as it is just a short walk from the fish market, and an inside glance at life of the past. Be sure to check out the dungeon. Guided tours are available for 20 NOK, and child enter free.
- Get your Art Fix at Bergen Art Museum – In addition to altering exhibits, the Bergen Art museum contains three primary collections, offering everything from contemporary art to traditional Norwegian art from the 1400’s, to works dated to 1700 up to 1915. Adult admission is 100 NOK, and there are discounts available for students and groups.
- Hang out in Festplassen – This is a recreation area used for various fairs, amusements parks, feast days, festivals, and more! If you are looking for something engaging, check here to see if anything is going on, or just come to enjoy the scenery.
- Take a look at Ole Bulls Plass – One of the most well known meeting places in the city, Ole Bulls Plass is also home for various sculptures. Be sure to stop by and see: The Lying Poet, Ole Bull, and The Blue Stone.
- Hike Runemanen Mountain – One of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, and host to some of the most popular hiking trails in the area. If you are looking to get outside, this mountain has a trail for you! There are trails for beginners and intermediates alike.