The 2015 KPMG report entitled “Poles holiday trips” confirms what most of us already suspected – Poles chose to visit southern countries. Croatia, Spain and Italy are at the top of the list. But, what if you desire visiting an unconventional and inspiring place? Our suggestion is to go north. We present a few hints regarding a fabulous stay in one of the most amazing cities in Scandinavia.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway. As if it wasn't enough that Bergen is full of monuments and charming spots (including the famous Bryggen wharf), it is surrounded by mountains and fjords. Apart from Fløyen mountain, which can be reached by funicular, the outskirts tempt travelers with many unforgettable places and views. Apart from monuments and museums, Bergen offers us many cultural events. The city is famous for its rich cultural presence which includes annual festivals of Norwegian folklore and music. This has always been an attraction for many tourists from Norway and abroad.
You can travel to Bergen directly from Poland. The cities that have flight connections with Bergen are Gdańsk, Warsaw, Katowice and Kraków. Flights won't cost you a fortune, against all appearances. They can be bought for 39 PLN at Wizz Air. Of course, prices depend on how early you book your flight. Airports in Norway are located on the outskirts of cities. Thus, you need to brace yourself for a bus trip after landing. The Flybussen buses leave every fifteen minutes on working days and a one-way ticket costs 115 Norwegian krone, which is approximately 53.57 PLN* (all exchange rates given by Cinkciarz.pl on 26.07.2016). Tickets can be easily booked via the website flybussen.no. Of course, you need to keep in mind that it only has English and Norwegian language versions.
You can also go to Bergen by car. However, this method of traveling is definitely more expensive, not to mention more timely. It could even take up to two days. Going by car is a good idea if you're planning to visit a larger part of Norway. Regardless of how you get to Bergen, you will do very well in the city thanks to very thorough public transportation, and as always in the worst case scenario you can explore on foot.
We have already mentioned that the most distinctive spot in Bergen is the historical complex of wooden buildings named Bryggen. It consists of colorful houses (mainly intense yellows and reds) with the faces of these houses directed towards the bay. The roots of this place, that is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, can be found in the fourteenth century. At that time, the Hanseatic League established a trading post in Bergen. The Hanseatic tradition can be found in the city today as well. When in Bergen, you will have an opportunity to visit the Hanseatic Museum. It consists of two buildings – a medieval house of the German merchant and Schostuene. The latter was a place of social meetings for merchants and their employees. You will find a few more museums in Bryggen, including Theta Museum. It's dedicated to the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War.
If you wish to commune with the town's history, you must visit the Old Bergen Museum. It's only two kilometers away from the city center and consists of approximately fifty reconstructed houses from the period between the eighteenth and twentieth century. What's interesting is that you will also meet reenactors there as well. They play scenes showing the life of the old Bergen inhabitants.
For those who prefer more active forms of relaxation, we recommend a hike up the Fløyen mountain. The mountain is definitely not demanding since it's only 399 m.a.s.l. However, its height is not directly proportionate to the aesthetic impressions offered by the majestic view from its peak. From those heights, you can see the city’s panorama, fjords and the mountains that surround Bergen. The feeling is incredible, especially if you're lucky enough to be there during pleasant weather. You can walk up the Fløyen on foot. Walking one way takes approximately thirty minutes. Those who prefer to spare their legs may catch the Fløybanen funicular in the city center.
It would be a pity if you were in Bergen and didn't see Sognefjord – Norway's longest and deepest fjord. You can sail there and return to Bergen by train. On your way back, you will be able to visit a picturesque place called Flåm. Cruises through Sognefjord to Flåm are organized every day between the 1st of May and the 30th of August. If you decide to attend one of them, you will be admiring the wild and raw nature of the fiord, as well as the Jotunheimen mountains that dominate Sognefjord. The cruise ends in a compelling village named Flåm that is surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. One of Flåm's biggest attractions is its breathtaking vantage point. It is possible to return from Flåm to Bergen by train. However, it won’t be by just any train because Flåmsbana is one of the steepest railways in the world. Moreover, you may continue to admire the beauty of Sognefjord from the train's windows. Flåmsbana will take you to Mydral, where you will catch a direct train (a normal one, this time) to Bergen.
Refocusing on the attractions in the center of Bergen, we must not forget the famous fish market. Seasonally (from the beginning of May until the end of August), the Fisketroget is open every day between 7AM and 7PM. This is a true paradise for seafood gourmands. However, it is only for those who are relatively wealthy. The prices in the Bergen fish market are quite high. The good news is that each stand has free samples. Therefore, it won't be a problem to taste smoked salmon, king crab or even a whale.
It's no secret that Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. However, it's possible to spend time in Bergen and not extensively strain your budget. Instead of booking a hotel room, you can sleep in one of Bergen's hostels. The most popular is the YMCA. It's located in the direct center of Bergen, near the fish market. A price for a bed in a dormitory is at least 195 kroner (approximately 90.85 PLN). For a slightly lower price of 190 kroner per night (approximately 88.50 PLN), you can rent a bed in Intermission hostel, located in a similar spot as the YMCA. To compare, according to the website visitbergen.com, the cheapest hotel in the center of Bergen costs 300 kroner per night for one person (approximately 139.74 PLN).
As for food, it's definitely more profitable to buy groceries in supermarkets, instead of regular shops or eating in restaurants. The majority of tourists who visit Norway recommend buying food in the Rema 1000 franchise. It has many stores, the prices are relatively low as for the Norwegian standards, and the products are of high quality.
It's for the best to move around the city on foot, in order not to miss any of its attractions. However, if you feel really exhausted, you should use trams. The tickets cost up to 50 kroner for adults (23.30 PLN) and up to 25 kroner for children and seniors (11.65 PLN).
And finally, we will touch on the cost of the tourist attractions that we described above. Entrance to the museums, Fløybanen funicular, and not to mention the trip through Sognefjorden, cost quite a lot. To visit the Hanseatic Museum, you need to pay at least 70 kroner (approximately 32.63 PLN). A visit to the Old Bergen Museum costs 50 kroner (approximately 23.31 PLN). A ride on Fløybanen is at least 45 kroner (approximately 20.97 PLN; moreover, you need to pay twice as much if you want to buy a round trip ticket). The cruise in the fjord and the return to Bergen by train will make your budget total 770 kroner (approximately 385.82 PLN). In order to not go bankrupt while experiencing all of the attractions that Bergen has to offer, it is worth purchasing the Bergen Card. It allows you to use public transportion, as well as some cultural institutions in the city, for free. In the case of other cultural institutions, it gives you a discount amounting to up to 50% (it includes some restaurants as well). The card can be bought for one, two or three days. A three-day card costs 380 kroner for adults (approximately 177.08 PLN), 304 kroner for students and seniors (approximately 141.66 PLN) and 150 kroner for children (approximately 69.90 PLN). You can buy them online on booking.visitbergen.com.
A good way to save money while visiting Bergen is to exchange currency in Poland. - It's worth exchanging currency in a tested online currency exchange company. As long as you don't have a currency account in the Norwegian krone, and most likely not many tourists do, it's the best idea to exchange zloty for dollars or euro. Accounts in these currencies are a couple of the most popular currencies. If you have such an account, you can withdraw a specific amount from your bank and exchange it for kroner in Norway – said Marcin Lipka, Cinkciarz.pl currency analyst. In his opinion, the exchange rate of the Norwegian krone in relation to the euro or the dollar moves in a similar direction as the exchange rate of the zloty. Thus, the value of krone against the zloty is relatively stable.