I have heard so many people talk about how expensive Norway is. I was really bracing myself for the worst. To be honest I needn't have. It's not any more expensive than London, apart from maybe a beer, then again I don't drink beer, so that's that. Everything else was great, the views, the people, the mountains, even the weather was behaving itself for the majority of the trip.
The plan for Norway was to visit Bergen, explore for 2 days then head off on a road trip through the fjords, hopping on and off ferries, this plan would later bite us in the arse at the end of the road trip as we forgot that the last ferry leaves at 11 pm. I scoped out where to stay, what see and do in the city and where to get the best views too. Seven mountains surround the city center of Bergen so finding a spot for a good view is not that had.
First things first we hired a car, surprisingly reasonable. For four days we paid about £115. I booked this in advance and it's more or less what I would pay in London if not less. A tip on booking the car rental online is to go directly to the site of the rental cars. I booked twice via Avis and then Europe car for an Avis car. When we picked up the car I ended up having to give them my details again because Europe car hadn't passed on all my details when I was collecting the car. Shop around for the prices and once you find one book directly with the car rental. This way you will save a lot of time when you pick up your car as the middlemen websites don't transfer your details over to the car rental company. So now imagine if a few people book through this middlemen sites you will all have to wait a long time in the queue for all your details to be taken down again when all that was required was to reconfirm them and collect the car. One most of my recent trips around Europe I have found renting a car a lot easier to explore as I can do it on my own timetable than having to figure out buses, trains, and all sorts. Our trip around Andalucia and Iceland we explored via our own self-guided touring and exploring. It feels a lot more relaxed too.
For Bergen, if you are only visiting Bergen you definitely do not need a car as getting around on their buses and trams are so much easier. The majority of sights are also within working distance. We stayed right in the heart of the city, just a few meters from the fish market and harbor. We stayed at P-Hotels but you have several hotel options in Bergen that are close to tourist sights. Below I am sharing places and things to do in Bergen.
1. Food First - Located between the fjords and Bergen's 7 mountains. Explore the fish market and sample freshly caught seafood. You can also dine alfresco or grab something on the go.
2. Visit Bryggen - Check out Hanseatic out the old historical buildings. Bryggen is also known as Tyskebryggen and is a series of commercial buildings that line the harbor. These have historical significance to Bergen and are now listed as UNESCO world cultural heritage sites.
3. Shop till you drop. Bergen is known as the leading shopping city of the west coast of Norway so you will have plenty of place to spend that cash or hide from the rain.
4. Take a short Fjord Tour - I will be sharing more on this with tips and length of these tours. Tours can be as short as 3 hours or as long as a couple of days involving a part train and part boat cruise as you explore Norway's beautiful scenery.
5. Practice staying fit while you travel. If taking the cable cars up Mount Floyen or Ulriken lacks adventure or adrenaline kick for you, you can opt to take the bike in the cable car and then ride them down the mountain dirt tracks. You can also hike up the mountain and back down by foot or cable car. We saw people running up the mountain and made it look as easy as eating a bowl of cereal. Having hiked 22km to see Trolltunga a few days before, there was no way my legs were up for anymore Tomb Raider antics. The third adrenaline kick is by way of paragliding! You will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of the city.
6. Check out Hanseatic Museum - Housed in one of Bergen's oldest buildings and shows how German merchants from The Hanseatic league lived and worked. You also have plenty of galleries in the city. Another set of galleries that stood out for us were Kode art museums. This sits right by a beautiful park perfect for a little picnic after getting a little culture.
7. Explore beautiful parks - With seven mountains surrounding Bergen, you are not short of green spaces. We loved the small park near Green Park and right next to Kode museums. This has Lille Lungegardsvannet, a small natural lake that has gotten smaller over the years as the city reclaims the land.
8. Visit Fantoft Stave Church - This was originally built in 1150 in Sogn then moved to Fantoft in 1883 but then burnt down in 1992. It has since been rebuilt. Not the easiest of places to get to but easier if you have your own car.
9. Get the best view of Bergen. There are two popular viewpoints in Bergen. Both offer superb views. I particularly preferred Ulriken643 Mount Floyen.
10. Cafe hop - The city is filled with cute and quirky shops to cafe hop.
11. Wander the harbour for an evening walk. See Bergen's beautiful harbour at night.
12. Stay right in the heart of the capital while exploring the city. We stayed at P Hotels which is only a short walk from the fish market, harbor, and shops. You also have Radisson Blu that sites on the other side of the harbor but only a few meters from the Fish Market and cafes and shops. Other option like Scandic Bypark, Ole Bull Hotel and Apartments and Best Western Plu.