Norway in 4 Days. A Say-it-All Itinerary with Prices – Part 2. Bergen
31st May 2018
After a dayful of city trekking and sightseeing in Oslo and a scenic night ride on the train to Bergen (read all about it in part one), our itinerary is going to take us to the north’s largest city, the seat of royalty, and a former capital. Bergen.
Welcome to the City of Fjords!
Bergen, although compact, has so much to offer, that I had to do my fair share of head scratching to figure out what to include in the travel plan, and what to discard (with a heavy heart).
Naturally, fjords are a must-see. And there’s no shortage of them in Bergen, called The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway.
The city sits on the rugged Byfjord and is within a short range of the picturesque Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord.
Cruise or Car?
One practical way to reach fjords from the city is by boat, usually with the local operator, Norway in a Nutshell: https://www.norwaynutshell.com/, which offers a wide choice of tours.
They vary from a three-hour boat ride inside the local creek to a two-day excursion cutting inland & covering several hundred kilometers. Prices correspond to the cruise length.
An alternative to that would be a car hire. Surprisingly, the rental itself is not that expensive, especially considering where we’re at. You can get a compact car that accommodates a couple for about 120-150 EUR (for about 30 hours’ rental). But there’s a but.
First of all, consider the gas prices – currently, the price per liter is about 1.56 EUR (or 6 EUR per US gallon). It’s 1.5 times more expensive than in Poland, and still, we claim our fuel to be ridiculously expensive.
Secondly, the car deposit in a majority of the well-known rental companies was insane!! 😲😲😲
Possibly it depends on dates and the number of people, or other factors, but all companies asked for over 1000 EUR deposit for one-day car hire! Not going to happen.
Hardangerfjord + Eidfjord Day Trip
In the end, we have decided to go for one of the fjord cruises and treat ourselves to the ultimate package 🎁
We’re hopping on a full-day trip to the world’s fourth-longest fjord, Hardangerfjord, stretching 111 miles into the land from the Atlantic Ocean.
The tour starts at 7.25 am from Bergen (it’s also possible to head off from Norheimsund), and it will take us all the way up to the lovely area of Eidfjord. In Eidfjord, we are going to change to another pre-booked, optional trip that includes a visit to the spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall.
After researching a variety of options, we booked both trips with GoFjords. Frankly speaking, other operators have precisely the same prices and itineraries, and when I calculated what the cost of the trip would be if we’d like to book the ferry and bus on our own, the savings were not spectacular enough to be worth the hassle.
The price? All together (with the optional Eidfjord trip), we were charged 252 EUR for two people.
Bryggen and Ulriken
The 11.5-hour fjord cruise will take us an entire day, but we will still have another day to spend. As I mentioned, Bergen, although small, is surprisingly exciting.
To name just a few local attractions:
- Bergenhus fortress – now presenting an exhibition dedicated to women in the resistance movement during the WW2
- Bergen Kunstmuseum (KODE) – exhibiting the collections by such prominent artists as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, or Paul Klee.
- Mount Floyen – offering over 10 trails with varied length and difficulty. The Mount is accessible also via a funicular.
Nevertheless, our choices for the trip are:
- Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, possibly no.1 Norwegian landmark, which has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s iconic, delightful, central, and… free.
- To juxtapose old with new and feel the spirit of modern Bergen, we’re planning to visit Mount Ulriken. Visit, not climb. After I barely managed to crawl atop Sri Padaya in Sri Lanka, I am always keen to find a more convenient way to reach the peak than clambering. Fortunately, there is a Cable Car that runs every 7 minutes and supposedly offers spectacular views. The price is about 12 EUR per person one way. One way is enough. I don’t mind the descent;) Altogether, 24 EUR for this attraction. Not bad.
- Last but not least, a pleasure I cannot deny. It may turn out to be tacky, miserable, and utterly unworthy of time and money, but it seems so right to try it out in Norway that that’s a yes! for me. I’m absolutely tempted to visit an ice bar and experience some chill out in sub-zero conditions. There are numerous bars of this kind around Norway, but I’m going to try out this Ice Bar in Bergen. Price for two people: about 40 EUR including a welcome drink.
Let’s Talk About $$
In the first part of this blog, our bill amounted to 761 EUR, minus the food (apart from breakfasts), Bergen, and the last half a day in Oslo.
When we return from Bergen to spend the last night in the capital, we’re planning to visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump Tower. That will be the last attraction on our list. The cost? Admission is 30 EUR for two people plus 15 EUR for transport for two people return. The pleasure will cost us 45 EUR in total.
It all adds up to the lump sum of 1122 EUR for two people, inclusive of the flight and accommodation with breakfast, and all the attractions I’ve described in the two posts.
What’s not covered? Any food other than breakfasts. And this can get quite steep too.
Whether that’s too much, not bad, or just perfect, that’s up to you. However, I’ve got some tips on saving a few NOKs up my sleeve.
Tips & Tricks on Saving Some Money on Your Next Trip to Norway
- Bergen Card / Oslo Pass: if you’re staying more than 24 hours in any of the two cities, plan to use public transport a lot, and visit several museums, consider investing in the city card. They cost between 27 EUR (Bergen) / 42 EUR Oslo) per 24 hrs 42 EUR / 79 EUR per 72 hrs, adult, and offer you free transport and some free or discounted entries to a variety of local attractions. You can get them online or in tourist info spots, but calculate if that will pay off for you first.
- Cheaper accommodation. If you book your stay farther fromthe center, the prices will drop. However, prepare to spend more on transport, which – in my opinion – is overpriced. B&Bs will be even more affordable than hotels. Airbnb – not necessarily so, especially if you enjoy discounts on Booking or another agent or a hotel chain.
- Booking.com has introduced a neat feature for its Genius members (loyal customers). I received an email with discounts to almost 30 places around Oslo, including the Kon-Tiki Museum, Ice Bar, Fjord Cruise, or Bike Rental. The discount applies to the dates of your stay in a given city. An excellent way to save, which cost me nothing, as opposed to Oslo Pass.
- Revolut – if you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a money vault that lets you pre-load money before you travel to your vault and later withdraw cash and pay in the local currency using a dedicated MasterCard (you also have to use a mobile app to authorize purchases). Where’s the saving? On transactions with foreign currencies (i.e., non-EUR, USD, or sterling), Revolut gives you the spot rate with no commission. We haven’t tried it yet, and as I see, the English-speaking travelers are quite cautious about it yet. However, we, Poles, are always very eager to try out gimmicks that help us save, so Polish globetrotters have been using the vault since day one, mostly in Asia, and the reviews have been quite positive so far. We’ll see;)
That’s it for now. I’m packing my Ryanair-compatible suitcase and get ready for my trip according to this itinerary.
And what about you? What are your experiences with Norway? Do you have any more tips on Oslo and Bergen? What are other places worth visiting beside these two areas? Share your ideas!
PS The featured image of Bergen is work of Ignacio Ceballos. Found on one of my favorite free image banks, Unsplash.