Late last night I returned home from a solo trip to Bergen, Norway. Bergen has been one of my dream destinations since I began traveling, and approx. 6 months ago, I stumped upon a not so expensive flight! And before I knew it, 2015 zipped by and I was soon boarding my flight to Bergen.
In 2014, I visited Oslo, Norway with my dad, and had mixed feelings about the city. Norway had been at the top of my wanderlist for some time, but the city itself failed to impress. In all fairness to Oslo, because of flight delays out of Warsaw, our time in Oslo was cut mega short, and I missed out on a full opportunity to get to know the city. However, after visiting Bergen, I DEFINITELY recommend this smaller city over Oslo. The natural beauty that Bergen has to offer makes it an excellent city for both nature lovers and city slickers. It's also extremely well connected to the rest of Norway.
If you only have 48 hours in Bergen, here are my recommendations of what to do.
I stayed at the Marken Guesthouse, which is kind of a hostel, but I'd say a little nicer and less sociable. There were older people and younger people there, which is a good mix, and I was feeling like enjoying my privacy this weekend, so I was happy about the fact that it wasn't quite the social hostels that I'm used to. The hostel itself was extremely well located, within a 15 minute walk from everywhere I needed to be. And it felt clean and safe. So overall, I was happy.
Norway is expensive as hell, so I was quite conscious at all times about my food expenses and tried to keep them to a minimum. But on the recommendation of a friend who completed her undergrad degree in Bergen, I visited a sushi place called Sumo. While really expensive, I opted to splurge, mostly because I'm obsessed with sushi, and it's the only food that deserves splurging. Besides I guess Chicago pizza. And cheesecake. And Olive Garden. Whatever. I like Olive Garden. Hate me.
AND HOLY SHIT. My taste buds nearly fell off. I opted for the 'Ebi Ringo' AKA sushi with strawberry, cream cheese, tempura shrimp, and nuts crumbled on top!?!?! It was like candy!?!!?!?!?! So confusing but wonderful and perfect. And despite the minor set back of a middle aged man staring at me eating my sushi for my entire meal, I was on top of the world.
V recommended to anyone in Bergen. While most of my other meals consisted of grocery store items, my lovely friend Michelle has given a few other restaurant choices:
- Søstrene Hagelin - fish soup & fish cakes
- Bastant - good soups and sandwiches!
- Nama - more sushi
- Zupperia - mix of lots of things to eat
- Ruccola - Italian! Om nom
- Zen - Vietnamese
- Inside - phenom burgers
Stuff to Do
Now that you're well slept and well fed, it's time to hit the town. Bergen is small enough to see in a day or two, especially in the low season where there's not so much going on. I'll be honest and say that I was slightly disappointed at how far away Bergen is to lots of the natural parts of Norway! I thought it would be a lot simpler to go visit the fjords from the city, but they make it actually quite difficult.
Norway in a Nutshell - I didn't do a NIAN tour, so I can only speak objectively about this. NIAN offers "tours" of the fjords leaving from Bergen, however, these tours are all done via public transport, AKA if you're a strong independent woman who don't need no man (or vice versa), you can do it by yourself on the cheap. The struggle is just figuring out exactly where you need to go. These tours can be 1 day, or you can spread them out however long you want them. These "tours" are pretty expensive, so make it worthwhile if you're going to do one!
Hardangerfjord - Since I only had 48 hours in Bergen, I opted for a short bus ride to Norheimsund, which is a small little town on one side of Hardangerfjord. Because it was the off season, I spend a lot of time kind of wandering around this town (where everything was closed), however in the summer, I believe they have ferries that allow you to actually see the rest of Hardangerfjord. The bus was only an hour and 15 minutes, and the scenery along the drive makes it well worth it too!
Bryggen - This is Bergen's most iconic street, with all the beautiful crooked houses in a row, which are now packed with tourist shops. While it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be, I was still stoked to see it after all this time!
Fish Market - It's a pretty small but cute fish market. It smells fishy.
Bergenhus Festning - AKA Bergen Fortress. It's nothing too fancy but definitely worth a walk around. It's just on the end of Bryggen near the water. It makes for a good photo opportunity and a nice walk if the weather is nice.
Fløyen - There's the option to take a funicular about 5 minutes up to the top of a small mountain for gorgeous views over the city of Bergen. Or you can hike, which takes a little under an hour. I'm hella out of shape and looking a little blobby, so I had to stop and rest a couple times, but it's by no means a difficult hike. And it's $5ish to take the funicular one way, so may as well take the hike! I ended up taking the funicular down on my way back, but only because I was in a crunch for time. The views of the city are lovely, although it was hella foggy so all my pictures turned out not so great (IF THERE'S NO PHOTOS THEN WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT!?!?!?!), but still worth while. There's a little cafe up at the top where you can indulge in some hot chocolate.
All those activities brought me to about 48 hours! Bergen is a small, extremely walkable city. And I also found it really simple to navigate, and I hardly had to whip out my phone for directions. Don't waste your money on public transportation, it's not worth it. I can't speak for other cities in Norway like Voss or Stavenger, but Bergen is beautiful and worth a stop.
And not only is the city beautiful, but the PEOPLE ARE BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, I was walking around and didn't see one ugly person (even though we are all beautiful snowflakes). I don't know if there's something in their water but if there is, I'd like some of it plz.