Norway is one of the most beautiful countries we’ve ever visited (it’s a close tie with Iceland and Ireland and the Scottish Highlands). We spent about 4 days getting to know Bergen, and the surrounding areas over the Easter holiday while we house sat 2 cats. We totally got to stay for free, and it was an amazing experience. If you are looking for a cheap way to travel and you love pets, Trustedhousesitters.com is the way to go.
We are slowly knocking off the Nordic countries off our list, so we were excited when we got the opportunity to visit Norway. We are missing Finland only now.
All the Scandinavian/Nordic countries are known to be very expensive, although Norway is probably the most! So be prepared to pay some high prices, especially eating out. You got to find ways to save as much as you can!
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, after the capital Oslo. Bergen is also known as the gateway to the fjords. For this reason, I’m glad we found the house sit there (although I’d love to have the chance to visit Oslo…one day).
We spent some time in the city center of Bergen, but we also had a rental car the whole time we were there so we could do some fjord driving. There are lots of tours you can book, if you choose to go this route. The most popular one is Norway in a Nutshell. Like everything else though, it’s quite expensive.
Below is an example of how you can do a 3-day tour while in Bergen. You will take in so much beauty at once it just becomes insane after awhile. This itinerary will also take you along the longest tunnel in the world if you’re up for it!
Day 1 – Bergen
It’s pretty simple to see Bergen in one day. It’s a harbor city surrounded by mountains, islands, and fjords in the southwest coast of Norway. It’s known for its old traditional wood buildings called Bryggen which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Walk through the streets around here and admire the buildings enjoying the views.
Go to Bergen’s Fish Market and have a look at the biggest live crabs and lobsters. We were impressed. Try sampling smoked whale meat too! We grabbed some fish nuggets and fries to go and ate by the waterfront. There are sit down places to eat as well if you don’t mind the prices.
Two other main attractions are to go up the mountains for a city view. There’s a cable car to go up Mount Ulriken and a funicular you can take up Mount Fløyen. Mount Fløyen is literally at the foot of the city and the one we went up. We chose to do this in the morning because of the location of the sun. We took the funicular up and hiked back down. It only took us 45 minutes and was an easy path.
Day 2 – Aurlandsfjord, Nærøyfjord & Sognefjord
With our rental car, we did lots of driving! Our stops were at Stalheim Hotel (for a view), Gudvangen, Flåm, and Stegastein Lookout for sights of the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. We continued on to Sognefjord by a car ferry, and then another ferry back through Vangsnes to make our way back to Bergen. This drive allowed us to admire so much of the fjords. This journey also includes the longest road tunnel in the world called Lærdal Tunnel – it took about 20 minutes to drive through it and is about 15 miles long. There were a ton of tunnels through our whole trip in the fjords.
The Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord are actually joined together in a V-shape and are a branch of the Sognefjord. The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. The Stegastein Lookout was my favorite view of the trip.
If it’s too much driving in one day for this trip, only the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord can be done. We left the house at 8:30AM and were back by 8:00PM and did the whole trip.
Day 3 – Hardangerfjord
Hardangerfjord is more south of Bergen compared to the previous day trip. Hardangerfjord is Norway’s second largest fjord. We stopped at two beautiful waterfalls, Steinsdalsfossen and Skjervsfossen.
We were hoping to stop by and get an apple tart from Steinstø but the place didn’t open until May and we were there in April.
Other Things to do
If you have more time in Bergen, enjoy the city more, take the cable car or hike up Mount Ulriken! We saw many people skiing when we drove through mountain tops if it’s the season for it. A fjord cruise would be great too. Check out Tripadvisor or the official tourism page on Bergen for more ideas.
Since we were there over a holiday weekend, it was frustrating that the grocery stores and shops were never open. We were fortunate our hosts knew this ahead of time and left us a few groceries to make pasta, etc. Otherwise, we stopped at the gas station for minor foods, and found a pizza shop that stayed open and a McDonalds near the house!
Our House Sitting Experience
Below are the two precious cats we house sat, Hugo and Toffee! They had a cat door and let themselves in and out of the house as they wished! Hugo only had one eye, which is the second cat we have house sat that only had one! (You can see a picture of the other one-eyed precious here on a post on spending a whole month in Europe without paying for accommodation!) The house we stayed in was great with a beautiful view from their top story.
How Much We Spent
Our flights were more than we would normally pay for a European destination while in the UK, but with the free accommodation and free rental car, it made up for it for us. Being a destination we both would love to experience, also pushed us to go for it. Comparing to our other trips and expenditures, Norway was definitely more expensive, and we were ultra conservative on spending.
We were shocked at how much the toll roads were. On the rental car, there was a transponder so we went through the tolls freely without paying at the time. The rental companies subtract what you spent in tolls from a deposit they require at the start of the rental and refund you the difference once they get billed for it. With all the tunnels we went through, I guess they have many tolls to pay for those.
As usual, all prices reflect traveling as a couple.
|Accommodation||Free with Trusted Housesitters (Click the link for 25% off membership which also gives us 2 months free!)|
|Car Rental||Free using our credit card points! (Capital One Venture is our favorite)|
|Travel Insurance (World Nomads)||$29, £23|
|City Parking Fees||$21, £17|
|Car Ferries||$30, £24|
|Floyen Funicular 1-way||$12, £9|
|Toll Fees||$125, £100|