The best part of my Year Abroad experience in Bergen has undoubtedly been the opportunity to take weekend trips. They are the perfect chance to explore Norway, try something new, and make memories to last a lifetime (cringe, I know, but true). Here are 5 trips I have taken, of varying budgets, and different styles.
Hike to Trolltunga (one night, low budget)
This was the first trip I took in Norway, back in early September. Every weekend, from early August to mid September, hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of Bergen’s exchange students make the journey to Odda, in order to hike to the Instagram famous Trolltunga rock formation. Trolltunga is the most spectacular rock formation in Norway. At 1180 meters above sea level, is lies about 700 meters above the lake Ringedalsvatnet. From the top, you have a fantastic view. The hike to Trolltunga starts in Skjeggedal and leads through the high mountains.
There is a direct coach running on weekends from Bergen to Odda, which was so packed full of exchange students that the company had to put on an extra three coaches! The journey is free with the youth ticket transport pass, and a return for those aged over 20 costs around £30. It’s a 3 hour journey with incredible views and even a couple of ferry trips, during which you can get off the bus and take some photos of the fjord.
The hike from the highest car park to the rock itself is around 10 kilometres, and walking at an easy pace with plenty of photo stops and a lengthy lunch break, it took our group around 5 hours. The hike was very busy but I think you have to embrace the atmosphere and not go here for peace and quiet! The rock formation is truly breathtaking, and you can even carefully walk onto the rock and have your photo taken. We then camped on the plateau, which was very cold but worth it to see the sunrise in the morning. Although we had seen a lot of people hiking with camping equipment, at night we couldn’t see many other tents, which was nice. We borrowed our tents, sleeping bags and mattresses from BUA and Fantoft TU for free, making this trip surprisingly inexpensive. I only had to pay for the buses.
Visit Stavanger and climb Preikestolen (two nights, medium budget)
Stavanger is a city in southwestern Norway, 200 kilometres south of Bergen. For this trip, we hired a car in order to take a road trip. We stopped at various locations during the 3 hour drive. There were also two ferry journeys which were very fun. However, it is also possible to reach Stavanger on public transport (bus or ferry). For three days, a five person car cost us £50 each. This included the car hire, road tolls, ferry prices, and petrol.
We stayed in an Airbnb an hour away from the city, on a remote island with incredible views and plenty to explore. It was very reasonably priced. Having a car allowed us to do this, and avoid the overly priced accommodation in Stavanger itself. There are also options to camp during the summer months. Over the weekend, we hiked to Preikestolen (pictured above), or Pulpit’s Rock as it is more commonly known, where Tom Cruise filmed part of Mission Impossible. It took less than two hours to reach the summit, much shorter and easier than the Trolltunga hike. We also visited the city of Stavanger, including the Old Town, and went kayaking on our host island.
Cross country skiing in Hallingskied (one night, low budget)
Cross country skiing is a truly Norwegian pastime! In early March, I went with a group of friends to the DNT cabin at Hallingskied, about 90 minutes away from Bergen on the train. The cabin sleeps 60 people and felt more like a luxury chalet than a Norwegian ‘cabin’; there is electricity, running water, and fully equipped and very modern kitchen. It is very sociable and a popular cabin, generally full of Norwegian families. Once you’ve bought a yearly membership for £30, a bed costs around £13 a night. Or, without the membership, around £27. You only need to make a couple of trips to DNT cabins for the membership to be worthwhile!
We spent one night at the cabin and enjoyed two days of cross country skiing from the cabin itself. I had never tried skiing before coming to Norway, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially with the glorious sunshine! We split into a beginners group and an advanced group. In the beginners group, we spent the day practicing on the small slopes around the cabin, while the other group left for a four hour return trip. We borrowed the skis for free from BUA, meaning we only had to pay for accommodation and transport.
Explore Tromso in the Arctic Circle (three nights, high budget)
Tromsø, a city in northern Norway, is a major cultural hub above the Arctic Circle. It’s famed as a viewing point for colorful Northern Lights that sometime light up the nighttime sky. The city’s historic center, on the island of Tromsø, is distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses. The 1965 Arctic Cathedral, with its distinctive peaked roof and soaring stained-glass windows, dominates the skyline.
I spent four days in Tromso, in late February. The city and landscape is very different to Bergen, and so, so, so much colder! To save money, we didn’t hire a car and instead used the local buses. Amongst other things, across the four days we hiked, visited a sauna and dipped in the sea, went to the Polar Museum, took a cable car to a beautiful viewpoint, went cross country skiing on an already made course, visited local beaches, and explored a frozen lake. Although most people choose to hire a car and visit nearby islands, we found there was plenty to do in Tromso itself, without a car. We also caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
If you have a higher budget, dog sledding is a very popular activity in Tromso, as well as whale watching excursions, boat trips and meeting the Sami, Norway’s indigenous people. The direct flight from Bergen to Tromso, which lasts two hours (it’s the same distance as going from Bergen to Rome!) costs £45 each way. However, accommodation is very expensive as Tromso is immensely popular with tourists from places like the USA, China and Japan. So, try book in advance to find some good value for money options!