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Trip budget: Bergen and the Norwegian fjords

Bergen harbour, Norway

Think of Norway and you probably picture sailing through the deep blue waters of the fjords, hiking through the mountains or watching the Northern Lights from a husky sled in the Arctic. Or maybe the cosmopolitan cities, with their sleek architecture and great nightlife, are more your thing. Either way Norway is overflowing with riches – but there’s one big problem, and that’s that you need your own riches to pay for it. Yes you can’t mention visiting Norway without the issue of price coming up. The country has a reputation for being one of the most expensive in the world, and those horror stories of £12 beers are enough to scare people off from visiting. But how expensive is it to visit Norway really? Here I share my trip budget for five nights spent exploring Bergen and the Norwegian fjords (prices as at May 2014).

Park in Bergen, Norway

Colourful flowers in a Bergen park

Transport

I cashed in a stash of British Airways Avios points to pay for our London–Bergen flights, so just paid a £50 redemption fee for a Business Class return ticket (yes we were back on the free Champagne and lounge access again – I’m definitely getting a taste for the Business Class life!). Flights from the UK are pretty reasonable though, starting from £78 for a return with BA or Norwegian. We took the Flybussen shuttle bus to and from the airport, which cost 160 NOK/£16 return. To get to the fjords we travelled by train from Bergen to Mydral for 286 NOK each way (£57 return). If you plan to use the Norwegian trains, it’s worth booking online in advance as they have a limited number of reduced price ‘Minipris’ tickets available. The Flåmsbana scenic train between Mydral and Flåm cost 300 NOK/£30 each way – this is run privately so the only discount available is 30% off if you have a Interail/Eurail rail pass.

Total transport cost: 1332 NOK/£133 per person (about £27 a day), plus flights, so £183 each in total.

Views from the Bergen-Myrdal train

Gorgeous views from the window of the Bergen-Myrdal train

Accommodation

Hotels and food are two of the biggest expenses in Norway, but one way to save on both is by renting an apartment. As we were spending three nights in Bergen at the start of the trip we rented a place via AirBnB for £291 (£97 a night or £48.50 per person per night). We ended up getting moved to a bigger two-bed house with open-plan kitchen/living room, an easy ten-minute walk to the harbour. Out in the fjords, Flåm’s a small place so there wasn’t much choice of accommodation, so we chose the historic Fretheim Hotel at £105 (£52.50 per person). Back in Bergen for our last night we had an early start for the flight home so stayed at the Radisson Blu, right next to the Flybussen stop, for £132 (£66 per person).

Total accommodation cost: £528 or £264 per person – an average of £53 a night each.

Boat through the Norwegian fjords

Boat cruising along the Nærøyfjord from Flåm

Activities

So many of the things to do and see in Norway revolve around the outdoors, so you can easily get away with not spending much on activities. In Bergen we wandered around the harbour and historic Bryggen district for free. We spent 43 NOK/£4.50 on a ticket for the funicular railway up to the top of Mount Fløyen, but then walked back down. You need to get out on the water to see the fjords properly, so we spent 365 NOK/£36.50 on a boat trip through the Nærøyfjord to Gudvangen, which also included a transfer back to Flåm by bus. The scenic train between Bergen and Flåm is covered under transport, but would also count as an activity too – and even the regular Bergen–Myrdal train passed by some amazing scenery.

Total activities cost: 408 NOK/£41 per person – an average of £8 a day each.

Viking food, Aegir Brewery in Flam

Eating like a (fancy) Viking at Flåm’s Ægir Brewery restaurant

Food and drink

Our apartment in Bergen had a fully equipped kitchen so we did a big grocery shop on the first day, spending 329 NOK (£16.50 each), which covered three days’ worth of breakfasts and two dinners. We also spent around 116 NOK/£12 each on various drinks and snacks while we were out and about. The last two nights we had breakfast included at our hotels and ate out for dinner. In Flåm there were only a couple of options, so we ate at a brewery where two mains, a dessert and two glasses of wine set us back 860 NOK/£86. In Bergen there was more choice so we only paid 525 NOK/£52.50. Alcohol is pricey in Norway, with a small glass of wine costing around £9. We had a couple of drinks out, and bought some wine for when we were self-catering. You can only buy alcohol from the state-run Vinmonopolet shops which have limited opening hours, where a couple of bottles of (practically their cheapest) wine cost 225 NOK/£22.

Total food and drink cost: 2233 NOK/£224 or £112 per person – an average of £23 a day each.

Timber houses in Bergen, Norway

Wooden houses in Bergen

The grand total

So the overall cost for our five days in the Norwegian fjords came in at £600 per person, including flights. This works out at about £120 a night each. So it’s not exactly a budget destination but it’s also not scarily expensive, and to me it was totally worth it – it’s a fascinating and beautiful place to visit.

Lower budget? The easiest way to save would be to steer clear of wine! There are also hostels in Bergen and Flåm where you could save a bit by staying in a dorm (but private rooms are as much as hotels).

Higher budget? With more money to spend you could stay in hotels the whole time and eat out more – Bergen has some great high-end restaurants. There are also other boat trips and tours you can take to see more of the fjords, or could hire a car and explore independently.

56 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post – it’s good to see the price break-down. Oslo is the most expensive place I’ve been to, but prices seem fairly similar to Bergen. The cost wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was just so restricting – it left very little margin for error or spontaneity.

    Still, the pics look great and I wouldn’t mind seeing the fjords!

    June 23, 2014
    • That’s very true – it’s not so expensive that it’s impossible to visit but you do feel like you need to keep an eye on your spending all the time!

      June 23, 2014
  2. alexberman123 #

    Norway sounds amazing. Not too stoked on the price, but maybe one day when Im actually making money! Btw, Im in the process of posting about my trip to Israel right now, feel free to check it out!

    June 23, 2014
    • Yes it’s probably one to avoid for now if you’re travelling on a budget! Israel sounds really interesting, I’ll check out your posts.

      June 23, 2014
  3. Awesome cost break-down! So helpful for travelers.

    June 23, 2014
  4. Great trip report! Awesome breakdown of the expenses and destinations.

    June 23, 2014
    • Thanks, it was hard to find much info about costings when I was researching the trip so I thought it’d be useful to post how I got on!

      June 23, 2014
  5. Sounds like an Airbnb apartment with kitchen and duty free booze are made for Norway!

    June 23, 2014
    • Duty free booze would’ve been a good plan! Did even think about packing a bottle or two of wine but couldn’t face carting them around.

      June 23, 2014
  6. Thanks for the detailed breakdown Lucy. Sounds like you had an amazing time.

    June 23, 2014
    • Thanks Madhu, it was a fantastic trip – such a photogenic place, I still have a huge number of photos to go through!

      June 23, 2014
  7. This is fantastic! It’s so helpful to see the full cost breakdown- Norway is high on my to-go list but I was wary of the cost. This makes it seem very much doable but makes me realise it shouldn’t be on the list for this year (especially after being in Iceland earlier in the year – also not a budget destination!) Thanks for sharing 🙂

    June 23, 2014
    • Thanks, hope it comes in useful – it’s a fantastic place to visit but probably a good plan to spread out the pricey destinations and mix in a few cheaper ones!

      June 24, 2014
  8. That doesn’t seem too scary. I desperately want to do the cruise up the coastline to Russia. This would be a good time when the sun hardly sets. And with a few bottles of duty free wine 🙂

    June 24, 2014
    • It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting given all the scare stories! That cruise up the coastline would be fabulous, though definitely pack your own wine!

      June 24, 2014
  9. This is great! I’ve dreamt of Norway since childhood and it’s eluded me somewhat because of the costs. But your final tally really doesn’t seem so bad. I completely agree with renting an apartment to save a few bucks. It’s become my family’s travel accommodation of choice.

    June 24, 2014
    • Me too, I’m a big fan of apartment rentals – it’s great to get to know a neighbourhood and I have a fondness for exploring grocery stores abroad!

      June 24, 2014
  10. Wow, Bergen looks sooo pretty. I have always put off going to Norway because of the costs, but it seems you can get good bargains locally.

    June 24, 2014
    • It is just beautiful – I have a few posts to come with more photos about the city too. It’s such a shame that Scandinavia is so pricey as it’s an amazing part of the world and it does put people off visiting.

      June 24, 2014
  11. Reading your post, I realize that maybe I was expecting a lot worse from Norway. I’m mostly concerned about the food prices, but we have decided to self-cater as much as possible on our upcoming trip. 🙂

    June 24, 2014
    • Self catering is a really good plan to save money – I didn’t find the grocery stores to be too expensive and you can save so much compared with eating out every night.

      June 24, 2014
  12. Great tips and photos Lucy. Staying at the Radisson close to the bus stop was a good move and maybe some duty-free from the airport would help swallow the cost of meals out! Such a useful post which I’ll definitely refer back to.

    June 24, 2014
    • Duty free would’ve been a really good idea – one I’ll definitely do if and when I get back to Scandinavia!

      June 25, 2014
  13. I would LOVE to go to Norway but being Canadian I need to double you budget in pounds. About 1200 is a lotttt of money for 5 days! One day though- it looks gorgeous!

    June 24, 2014
    • It’s definitely no budget destination but it is an amazing place, glad I did it – though I do have to not think what else I could’ve got for the same cost in places like SE Asia!

      June 25, 2014
  14. Great pointers I can’t wait to visit so I can put them to the test! Thanks for sharing

    June 25, 2014
    • Thanks Heather, hope you get to visit someday, it’s a spectacular place.

      June 25, 2014
  15. Looks pretty pricey but I do love to splurge in places worth spending and I have no doubt Norway is one. Thanks for the tip, very useful indeed!

    June 25, 2014
    • Thanks Aggy, yes there are some places where the splurge is worth it – I’ll be compensating with a few cheaper destinations for a while now though!

      June 25, 2014
  16. So so pretty. (That VIking meal looks amazing, yum!) 🙂 Wonderful post!

    June 25, 2014
    • Thanks – that was a really great meal, sure the Vikings didn’t present theirs quite as neatly but apparently the dish was pretty authentic!

      June 25, 2014
  17. It does sound worth it. And totally doable. Certainly none of these costs would put me off. Thanks for a really helpful post!

    June 25, 2014
    • It’s definitely worth it – and not quite as scary as I expected from all the price horror stories that get around!

      June 27, 2014
  18. Amy #

    Thanks for sharing the details! It really doesn’t seem horrible for the most part, but those wine prices are still ridiculous! Good tips on ways to save!

    June 26, 2014
    • The wine was a bit of a shocker – but it’s pretty much an integral part of a trip for me so it had to fit in the budget somewhere!

      June 27, 2014
  19. Great tips, Lucy! It helps to make some meals in the apartment, I need to start doing that more while I travel. Thanks for sharing!

    June 26, 2014
    • I’m really good at cooking when I can now as I’m on a diary/gluten free diet at the moment so eating out is tough, but even if you can just get breakfasts sorted it can save a lot.

      June 27, 2014
  20. You certainly know how to live well on a budget. Thanks for the Norway tips. I haven’t used AirBnB yet, but getting the idea they’re worth a try. Easy to get used to Business Class life, isn’t it?

    June 26, 2014
    • Business class is fantastic – I’ve never been the biggest fan of flying but being up the front of the plan definitely helps. AirBnB is well worth a try too, I’m staying in a couple more of their properties in an upcoming European trip and with a few people especially it can be a really good deal.

      June 27, 2014
  21. I’ve been wanting to go to Norway since … forever! It seems such a diverse country! Thanks for letting me daydream 🙂

    June 27, 2014
    • It really is diverse – the fjord areas where we were are so green and lush, then you have the snowy arctic, and the city life in Oslo – plenty to see for a few more trips (after I’ve done a bit more saving!).

      June 27, 2014
  22. Travelholic Nomad #

    Thank you for the cost break-downs ! I’ll be going to Norway in a couple months, and this was really useful 🙂

    June 27, 2014
    • Hope you have a great trip – it’s an amazing country!

      June 29, 2014
  23. This post is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m considering going to Norway over New Year and was wondering about budget and whether its as bad as people have said. The standard of accommodation seems great and I’m sure it would be worth it for the experience! Photos are stunning. Thanks for sharing

    June 27, 2014
    • New Year in Norway would be amazing. Hope the post comes in useful, and definitely get a few bottles in the duty free for toasting the New Year!

      June 29, 2014
  24. Norway is definitely one of those countries that you have to visit, but not without making a bit of hole on the pocket! We’ve been to Norway twice, but never so far to Bergen. This year we had our most expensive trip so far to Tromso, and we are yet to recover from the financial shock it gave us. Might take us some time before we venture to the country again 🙂

    June 28, 2014
    • Yes it’s a shame about the high prices as I’d be spending a lot more time in Scandinavia if it was a bit cheaper! Til then it’ll have to be mixed in with some cheaper places to balance it out I think.

      June 29, 2014
  25. Great post. I have been wanting to visit Norway for a while now so its always great to see the price breakdown. I will have to have another think before spending £120 a night…

    Dubai | A Visual Diary

    June 28, 2014
    • You could probably manage it a bit cheaper than we did, but it’s never going to be a budget destination I’m afraid! Well worth the trip one day though.

      June 29, 2014
  26. marghenick #

    Great post with lots of budget tips. I’m bad at budgeting so it really helps to read posts like this. I’ve wanted to go to Norway for a while and I was convinced it was much more expensive. I might go then!

    June 29, 2014
    • Thanks, I’m not the best at budgeting in advance but it’s always really interesting to see the end result and how the prices stack up. I expected the prices to be really scary for this trip, but in the end it wasn’t as bad as I expected!

      June 29, 2014
  27. wow.. is very beatiful. tanks for information

    July 4, 2014
    • You’re welcome, it’s a really gorgeous part of the world!

      July 7, 2014
  28. I must have eaten cheese sandwiches for 4 days straight when I was in Norway… Dull, but certainly helped pay for those husky sledding luxuries!

    July 9, 2014
    • Haha, yes sometime you have to make a few sacrifices – but I’m sure the husky sledding experience more than made up for it!

      July 10, 2014

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