Find out how to enjoy Bergen on a budget
Monday, 29 November 2021
Bergen is considered the gateway to the Norwegian fjords and is a picturesque city located on Norway’s southwestern coast.
Although it’s a UNESCO World Heritage City and a European City of Culture, Bergen is far from your average holiday destination as it perfectly combines nature, culture and an exciting urban life all year round.
The city is a popular destination for a Fjords cruise as it’s surrounded by seven fjords and seven hills and is the perfect starting point being situated between the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord.
Despite being widely known that Norway isn’t the cheapest country to visit, Bergen holds many opportunities for the budget-minded traveller, and you can still go on a cruise to the Norwegian fjords and enjoy an affordable stay in the city.
With no shortage of things to keep you entertained and occupied, find out more about how you can enjoy this charming destination on a budget.
Attractions and activities to do in Bergen on a budget
Bergen’s art galleries
The art galleries are some of the top attractions in Bergen and Norway as they boast an impressive collection of unique Norwegian and international treasures.
These range from the classical to the contemporary and are housed in a row of galleries lining the picturesque Lille Lungegårdsvann lake in the heart of the city.
Vanessa of the blog Expert World Travel highly recommends visiting the art galleries of Bergen:
“If you’re interested in art, visit KRAFT, S 12 Galleri and/or Kunsthall 3,14. All three galleries are free to visit and are a great alternative to Bergen’s art museum Kode if you want to save money and are short on time.
“While you’re exploring the city centre, you should also look out for street art of which Bergen has quite a few stunning pieces to offer in places where you wouldn’t necessarily expect them.”
Hire a bike and go sightseeing
If you are only in Bergen briefly, perhaps during a Northern Lights cruise, you should look at hiring a bike as you will see a lot more of this historic city than you would on foot.
There are lots of places you can see with the likes of downtown Bergen ready-made for cycling. If you head here you should look to explore districts like Marken and Nygårdshøyden, Nøstet, Nordnes and the city centre.
Steve Vickers from Routes North, a Scandinavian travel guide, says hiring a bike is a great idea: “It's true that Bergen is a very expensive place to visit, but there is good news: lots of the city's best attractions are totally free. You can admire beautiful wooden buildings, soak up some spectacular mountain scenery, and enjoy vibrant street art – all without spending a single krone.
“If you're prepared to dig into your holiday savings a little bit, there are some great low-cost things to do. Hire a bike (around 49 NOK per day) for some laid-back sightseeing or ride up the side of Mt Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular railway for epic views back over Bergen (around 100 NOK for a round trip).”
Take the Fløibanen funicular
The Fløibanen funicular is a railway that takes you to the top of Mount Fløyen in just six minutes and it’s one of Norway's most famous attractions.
The trip is special but once you get to the top, which is around 320 metres above sea level, you can take in the stunning views of the cityscape, sea and fjords.
It’s also only a 15-minute walk from the pier to the Fløibanen station – perfect if you are arriving by cruise ship. On the way, you'll pass by a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old wharf area of Bryggen.
Despite being a hugely popular attraction, the funicular is a very affordable activity to do as it only costs 95 NOK (around £8) for a return ticket.
Explore the Bryggen area
The Bryggen area in Bergen has been a vibrant area of the city for many centuries and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Bryggen is comprised of colourful wooden houses that are beautifully dotted around the old wharf. The area is 900 years old, but locals and visitors today can enjoy the carefully restored wharf that boasts a collection of lovely shops and restaurants.
During your time in Bergen, you should certainly stroll through the narrow alleyways and overhanging galleries of Bryggen as you’ll be transported back in time to a bygone era.
Thanks to the area now being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is no concern about the area becoming modernised and those who choose to stop by can enjoy this characteristic Norwegian local for many years to come.
Where to eat and drink in Bergen?
The fast-food restaurant known as Trekroneren is a popular choice amongst locals, and it is one eatery you should certainly look to add to your itinerary, especially if you are on a budget.
Trekroneren is known for having the very best hotdogs in Bergen and that’s saying something as the Norwegians certainly know what they are doing when it comes to sausages – a staple of the country’s cuisine.
The cost of food and drink in Bergen can vary, but Trekroneren offers you some affordable yet delicious traditional cuisine.
The city’s cafes
There are lots of cosy cafes in Bergen and these are perfect for hanging out in over a cup of coffee or eating something delicious from their bakery.
There are trendy newcomers and more historic establishments located throughout the city, which just gives you more reason to visit more than one.
Steve Vickers talks about the affordability of the city’s cafes: “The city's cosy cafes provide a (relatively) affordable escape from Bergen's sometimes drizzly weather. They can also be significantly cheaper than proper sit-down restaurants. Try Godt Brod, a chain of organic bakeries with branches across town – they serve up strong coffee, healthy salads, and yummy Norwegian almond buns.”
Kafé Spesial is a popular stop for students in the city as the food served is good and it isn’t very expensive either. The eatery is in the centre of Bergen and has a cosy atmosphere that is suitable for diners of all ages.
The food ranges from pizzas to vegetarian burgers, but if you’re all tired out from exploring the city then you can also enjoy a quiet drink.
Check out their menu here.
The Daily Pot is Bergen’s ground-breaking vegan restaurant that opened in November 2016 and aims to promote healthy food.
The restaurant uses local produce that reflects the changing seasons and the raw nature of Norway. There are small twists from around the world, however.
All the food is homemade, and every dish aims to reflect multicultural influences that in the Daily Pot’s words “truly inspire us to eat and serve beautiful food”.
Check out their menu here.
READ ALSO: What to eat in the Norwegian Fjords
Tips for enjoying Bergen on a budget
- Go to Bergen’s art galleries
- Hire a bike and go sightseeing
- Take the Fløibanen funicular
- Explore the Bryggen area
- Dine at the city’s cafes and cheap local restaurants