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HI Travel Tales Team at HI Travel Tales
HI Travel Tales was born from the passion for travel, the desire to seek out adventures of all kinds, and an eagerness to share everything. Whether those adventurous undertakings are in big cities or small villages, in a mountain wilderness, or on an ocean, they stem from an avid curiosity about people and places. Founders Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian and their team use words, art and photography to take you where they’ve been and hope you’ll enjoy the adventure too.
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The Bergen travel essentials planning guide will help you make the most of your upcoming visit. It is so very easy to fall in love with Bergen, even when it is raining, which it does, on average, 240 days of the year. Little wonder locals rarely leave home without a rain jacket and umbrella. And visitors learn the importance of both quickly enough.

Whether you are arriving in Bergen at the end (or the start!) of a Norway in a Nutshell adventure, using Bergen as a jumping off point to board a Hurtigruten cruise, or perhaps road-tripping through the fjords on your own, you really do want to plan at least an extra 48 hours into your itinerary to experience a taste of what this international city has to offer.

Although it is Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen really is full of small-town charm and atmosphere, begging to be explored.

From Bryggen, the colorful Hanseatic wharf and UNESCO World Heritage site that has become a familiar symbol of Bergen’s cultural history, to nearby fjords and mountains. From music and arts festivals to a vibrant city nightlife. From winding back streets encouraging you to sneak a peek and get lost to green spaces and trails with views, Bergen indeed has something for everyone.

Bergen travel essentials - View of Bryggen wharf in Bergen

After a recent visit, we can easily vouch for the fact that Bergen truly is one of the most magical cities in Europe.

Bergen view from the fort

To help you plan and make the most of your visit, we have assembled the following Bergen travel essentials in our Essentials series of planning guides:

Tourist Information | Useful Apps | Language Basics | Arrival / Departure | Getting AroundCity Discount Cards | Places to Stay | HITT-Recommended Sites & Attractions | Norway Map

Tourist information – Bergen

Visit Norway www.visitnorway.com/en/

Visit Bergen www.visitbergen.com/en/

Useful apps – Norway

  • Visit Norway – The official travel app for Visit Norway (iPhone or Android) provides basic information about nearby businesses and attractions when you are in Norway.

Language basics – Norwegian

Learning at least a few key phrases of the local language will be helpful, even if the locals do speak a lot of your mother tongue, as they do in Norway. There are so many apps, websites, language programs and other resources, so do a little exploring before you go. Here are two for Norwegian:

Arrival/Departure – Bergen

Flights (Flesland Airport/BGO) Flying into and out of Bergen’s airport is easy as the airport is served by numerous international and domestic airlines including: SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe, Air Baltic, KLM, DAT, British Airways and Lufthansa. If you want to get directly to the fjords, consider this as a jumping-off point.

Airport bus (Flybussen) — Flybussen runs efficient bus transport to and from airports in many major cities, including Bergen. Getting to and from Flesland Airport on the bus is convenient. The ride takes 30-minutes (longer during rush hour) and departs every 15 minutes on weekdays from the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, the Radisson Blu Hotel Norge and the bus station. One-way cost as of this writing was NOK 90.

Train (NSB) Think of Norway train lines somewhat like an x-y axis – one major line goes north-south, and another goes east-west, both with a few offshoots or onward connections to, say, Sweden. Click here to download a PDF NSB map. Once you know this, it’s easier to get around. The Bergen main station, Bergensbanen, has several departures/arrivals daily on the east-west Oslo-Bergen route, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. We took it from Oslo to Bergen on an early winter day and can confirm that the route is certainly gorgeous, not to mention convenient and affordable.

 HITT Tip: Click here to read HI Travel Tales’ “DIY Norway in a Nutshell” how-to, also packed with information about NSB’s extremely inexpensive “Minipris” early-purchase tickets and other tips.

Countrywide transit (Ruteinfo Norge) — Use this incredibly useful site to find transportation of any kind (boat/ferry, train, bus, plane) outside (or inside) Bergen’s Hordaland county.

HITT Tip: To do this well, you need to know what county you are heading to or from since navigation is by county, also on many other sites. Click here to refer to a Norway county map.

Ferry servicesShipping and ferry services are Bergen’s connection to the outside world as well as much of Norway. You will arrive or depart from here by ferry for part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour, if you choose that version. And this is also where the well-known Hurtigruten (the Coastal Express) ferry tours depart daily for trips up to Kirkenes in the far north (stopping in numerous Norwegian coastal towns and villages along the way). Here are some website links:

  • To and From: Balestrand, Flåm, Sogndal (Fjord1 Fylkesbaatane) fjord1.no.
  • To and From: Bodø, Florø, Hammerfest, Harstad, Kirkenes, Kristiansand, Molde, Tromsø, Trondheim, Vardø, Ålesund (Hurtigruten) hurtigruten.no.
  • To and From: Leirvik (Stord) norled.no
  • To and From: Rosendal (Rødne) rodne.no.

Bergen Travel Essentials – Getting Around

Local/county transportation (Skyss) — Skyss organizes almost all public transport in the Hordaland county, including bus or the Bergen light rail. Bergen and even some of the nearby magnificent west Norwegian fjords are accessible via Skyss. For example, Skyss will take you to, Troldhaugen (Edvard Grieg’s home), Fantoft Stave Church, Old Bergen, Lysøen Island, Voss, the Hardangerfjord or the Aurlandsfjord. Tickets can be purchased at a Skyss ticket machine or on board the bus. Trips are free with a valid Bergen Card.

City discount cards – Bergen Card

The Bergen Card (available for purchase from the Tourist Information office, Radisson Blu and other locations) is worth purchasing IF you plan your time and museum/attraction visits well. Many museums and historical sites are free with the Bergen Card, as is riding the bus and light rail lines in the city. Discounts are also available at many restaurants and attractions (discounts range from 10 percent to as much as 100 percent, depending on the season, so check Bergen Card details).

Places to Stay – Bergen

Certainly choices are broad, from pensions and guesthouses, to private homes/apartments or camping. If however you choose hotels, you just can’t go wrong with the Nordic Choice Hotels’ Clarion Collection brand. Rooms are comfortable, staff always friendly and helpful, and the food is simple, plentiful and delicious. Best of all, included in the price of your Clarion Collection stay is a breakfast buffet (normal at almost all hotels in Norway), afternoon tea (with pancakes or waffles, of course) and even a light evening meal that includes salads, soup, breads, cheeses, dessert and even a hot main dish. In Bergen, one choice is the Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret.

HITT Tip: The Fjord Pass is promoted as offering discounts at non-brand specific hotels all over the country. Feel free to explore it, but we found prices to be no different than hotel rates and definitely more expensive than pre-paid rates.

Bergen Travel Essentials – Recommended sites & attractions

Theta Museum — It was a secret room then and, for many, it still remains a secret museum and hidden room today. It is the itty-bitty Theta Museum, a minute 170-square-foot (16 square meters) low-ceiling room hidden away on an upper floor of the Bryggen wharf area in Bergen. The museum was the headquarters of the Theta Group, an important part of the Norwegian Resistance during WWII. Its hours are quite limited to plan around them to not miss this gem! Getting There (Find Theta Museum on our Norway Map Below): Follow the directions for Bryggen below and then find the museum hidden on the Enhjorningsgaarden in Bryggen.

 HITT Tip: Click here to read HI Travel Tales’ “Bergen’s Theta Museum: tiny room with a huge story”, for more information about this fantastic museum.
Bergan travel essentials - Theta Museum view from the door

Looking into the tiny Theta Museum from the doorway.

Bergen Maritime Museum — The Bergen Maritime Museum presents the history of shipping, its development and importance to Bergen and Norway. We loved the museum’s vast collection of ship models – including Viking ships. Getting There: The museum is situated 150 meters from Johanneskirken (the red church), in the middle of the University campus.. Admission is NOK 50 or free with a valid Bergen Card. Getting There (Find Maritime Museum on our Norway Map Below) Haakon Sheteligs plass 15, 5007 Bergen; closest bus stop: Møhlenpris.

University Museum of Bergen — Although the Natural History Museum is undergoing restoration and will not reopen until 2018, the History Museum is well worth a look, containing some of the largest cultural collections in Norway. Since it is adjacent to the Maritime Museum, time your visit to enjoy both on the same day. Admission is NOK 50, or free with a valid Bergen Card. Getting There (Find the University Museum on our Norway Map Below): Håkon Sheteligsplass 10, 5007 Bergen.

Bryggen — This is what you likely think of when you think of Bergen. In 1360 the Hansas – a German guild of merchants – set up one of their import/export offices on Bryggen and dominated world trade for the next 400 years.  Though destroyed many times by fire, each time it has been faithfully rebuilt, on top of foundations that were created in the 11th century. Now on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Bryggen is made for wandering, slowly. Meander through narrow passageways and enjoy the myriad of tiny shops, offices and artist studios. Getting There (Find the Hanseatic Museum on our Norway Map Below) From the Information Center, walk around the harbor toward the brightly colored building right in front of you.

HITT Tip: We had the pleasure of off-season early winter timing. The narrow passages are likely very crowded in the high season, so consider going early or late.

Fløibanen Funicular — Do not miss the breathtaking view from atop Mt. Floyen, 320 meters (1,050) feet above sea level). Certainly one of Norway’s most-often mentioned attractions, the Funicular runs every 15 minutes from early morning until 11 p.m. The journey lasts approximately 8 minutes up or down. We watched for Northern Lights from the summit one evening during a recent visit, though swirling mist obscured a view of the sky, but not the twinkling lights below. Admission is NOK 85 round trip or NOK 43 one-way. Bergen Card is valid for a 50% discount May 1 through September 30 and gives you a free ride the rest of the year. Getting There (Find the Funicular on our Norway Map Below): Vetrlidsalmenning 23 A, 5014 Bergen.

HITT Tip: The mountain offers great trails for running, walking or hiking that extend far beyond the top. You can even perambulate up or down by foot. Click here to download an official Floibanen Funicular PDF hiking map.
View of Bergen at night from the Funicular - Bergen travel essentials

Nighttime view of Bergen from the summit station of the funicular.

Bergenhus Festning – A bit further up the road from Bryggen Historic District, take the time to visit the historic fort, Bergenhus. Here you will see the Rosenkrantz Tower, considered one of the most important renaissance monuments in Norway and, when open, offering an impressive view of Bergen. Plus, there is Hakon’s Hall, built by King Håkon Håkonsson as a royal residence and banqueting hall in the 12th century – granted you won’t need a lot of time there. Bergenhus Festning, 5003 Bergen. Admission to each is NOK 70 or free with a valid Bergen Card. Getting There (Find the Bergenhus Festning on our Norway Map Below)Continue walking up the road away from Bryggen with the water on your left, and you’ll soon arrive.

Hakon’s Hall Bergen Fort - Bergen travel essentials

View of Hakon’s Hall.

Hanseatic Museum — One of the best-preserved buildings in Bergen, the Hanseatic Museum shows how the German merchants from The Hanseatic League lived and worked. From 1350 to 1750 these merchants traded stockfish (chewy, dried fish) and grains from their office in Bergen. It is the only house on Bryggen that has kept its original interior. In summer, there are daily guided tours in Norwegian, German, French and English. Admission NOK 90. Getting There (Find the Hanseatic Museum on our Norway Map Below): Finnegården 1A, Bergen, 5003, Norway.

Bergen Aquarium – The Bergen Aquarium claims to house one of the largest collections of North Sea fish and invertebrates in Europe. The aquarium features indoor 60 tanks, a shark viewing tube, and two outdoor pools with seals and penguins. Cost – From March 1 to October 31, entrance runs NOK 200. A Bergen Card discounts that by 25%. The rest of the year, entrance is NOK 150 or free with a Bergen Card. Since the aquarium website is only offered in Norwegian, click here to find aquarium information on the official Tourist Information website, thankfully in English. Getting There (Find Bergen Aquarium on our Norway Map Below)The aquarium is on Nordnes Peninsula, around a 20-minute walk from the fish market and Tourist Information. You can also jump on Bus 11 from the city center. Nordnesbakken 4, Bergen, 5005, Norway.

Just wander

The city is made to get lost in on foot because it’s so compact and so walkable, albeit hilly. Explore narrow side streets, particularly those around the base of the funicular’s lower terminal off Lille Øvergaten. Just follow your nose. Also worth exploring is the hilly area all around Skottegaten just west of the main part of the old town and between there and the Hurtigruten terminal. Your nose and your feet will be your guides.

Bergen Det Lille Kaffekompaniet

Take the time to sit and enjoy a coffee and delectable in one of the many small cafes you will encounter … we loved Det Lille Kaffekompaniet in the Lille Overgaten.

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Map of Norway

In the map below, pins mark the location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on Norway. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information. For more detailed planning help, refer to our What to do in Oslo and What to do in Bergen travel guides.

Oslo Main Train Station

Think of Norway train lines somewhat like an x-y axis – one major line goes north-south, and another goes east-west, both with a few offshoots or onward connections to, say, Sweden. Click here to download a PDF map.  Once you know this, it’s easier to get around. The Oslo main station, Central Station (more commonly known as Oslo S), has several departures/arrivals daily on the east-west Oslo–Bergen route, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. We took it from Oslo to Bergen on an early winter day and can confirm that the route is certainly gorgeous, not to mention convenient and affordable. Of course, there are frequent departures to all points in Norway from Oslo’s Central Station. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Bergen Main Train Station - Bergen

Myrdal Train Station

Flam Train Station

Gudvangen Ferry Terminal

Roros Visitors Center

National Museum of Decorative Arts - Trondheim


Ringve Music Museum - Trondheim


Trondheim Museum of Art


Old Town Bakklandet - Trondheim


Nidaros Cathedral - Trondheim


Archbishop's Palace and Museum - Trondheim


Old Town Bridge - Trondheim


Kristiansten Fort - Trondheim


Sverresborg - Trondelag Folk Museum - Trondheim


Stiffsgarden Royal Residence - Trondheim


Medieval Church Ruins in the Library - Trondheim


Alesund and Sunnmore Tourist Office


Centre of Art Nouveau - Alesund


Fjellstua Viewpoint - Alesund


Theta Museum - Bergen

Bergen Maritime Museum - Bergen

University Museum of Bergen

Bryggen - Bergen

Fløibanen Funicular - Bergen

Bergenhus Festning - Bergen

Hanseatic Museum - Bergen

Bergen Aquarium - Bergen

Det Lille Kaffekompaniet - Bergen

Skottegaten - Bergen

Bergen Visitors Center - Bergen

Hurtigruten Terminal - Bergen

Hurtigruten Terminal - Kirkenes

Hurtigruten Terminal - Trondheim

Vigeland Park - Oslo

Don’t miss the Frogner neighborhood and the Vigeland Park with its spectacular lineup of Gustav Vigeland’s works. If the weather is nice – remember, this is Scandinavia – the park is a popular destination for jogging, walking and picnicking. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Royal Palace - Oslo

Take the time to wander down Karl Johans Gate, starting at the Central Station. Karl Johans Gate is the main street in central Oslo and features a tree-lined promenade bordered by restaurants, cafes and upscale stores. There is, naturally, great people watching and at the end of the walk you will find yourself at the Royal Palace, home of the Norwegian royal family. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Old Aker Church - Oslo

Old Aker Church – The church is and old medieval building and is listed as the oldest remaining building in Oslo dating back to the 11th century. Admission: Free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Oslo Domkirke - Oslo

Oslo Domkirke (cathedral) — This is considered the most important church of Oslo where all the royal ceremonies have been held for centuries. It has a delightfully rich interior. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Edward Munch Museum - Oslo

Edward Munch Museum — Edvard Munch – probably best known for modern painting known as “The Scream” — has a unique position among Nordic painters and is considered a pioneer in expressionism. The Munch Museum’s collection, left to the city of Oslo by the artist, consists of paintings, graphical prints and drawings. By constantly changing the exhibitions, the museum presents the variety in his life. Be sure to visit the museum website prior to planning your trip as the museum does close for short spans due to exhibition changes. Admission: NOK 100. Free with valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History - Oslo

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History — Located on Bydgoy next to the Viking Ship Museum the Museum of Cultural History is a large open-air museum that is full of wonderful replicas of traditional Norwegian buildings throughout Norwegian history. The most famous building is the intricately carved stave church – which is truly stunning. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

The Viking Ship Museum - Oslo

The Viking Ship Museum — The Viking Ship Museum presents historic Viking ship discoveries discovered during excavations at Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. Most significant are the displays of the world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships, built in the 9th century. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Akershus Fortress - Oslo

Akershus Fortress — Akershus Fortress, located in the city centre overlooking the Oslo fjord, is a great place to take in wonderful views of Oslo as well as the surrounding fjord. The building of Akershus Castle and the fortress began in 1299 under King Håkon V. The medieval castle, which was completed in the 1300s, was strategically located at the end of the headlands overlooking the fjord. King Christian IV (1588-1648) modernized the castle and had it converted to a royal residence. Admission is free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Resistance Museum - Oslo

Norway’s Resistance Museum — The Resistance Museum is located in a 17th century building on the grounds of Akershus Fortress, right adjacent to the memorial for Norwegian patriots executed during the war. It is a fantastic museum – plan on a couple of hours (or more depending on your passion) to view the displays covering five years of occupation recreated with pictures, documents, posters, objects, models, original copies of newspapers and recordings. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion


Honningsvag is a small fishing port far up the northern coast of Norway, nestled in a pocket among islands and fjords north of Tromso. From the Hurtigruten ship heading north, the town is uber-cute, hugging the base of a hill. Aside from fishing, it is the capital of the “North Cape” areaRead our Photographer’s Diary story on Honningsvag here.
Heads up! This information on What to do in Bergen, Norway was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.