5 things to do in Bergen (on a budget!)

By Zoe Watson, University of Bergen

  1. Treat yourself to at hot chocolate at Mount Ulriken

Mount Ulriken is the highest of the ‘Seven Mountains’ surrounding Bergen and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. There are panoramic views across the city, sea, fjords, and mountains. chocolate here costs around £4 which I have discovered is a very reasonable price for Norway! Stay warm in the restaurant and enjoy the views, and maybe even a pastry too.  

If you choose to reach the summit on foot, then you have the choice of the Sherpa Steps (1,333 steps built by Sherpas themselves) or if you do not like to climb stairs, you can take a different path from the same starting point that is less well marked. It must be noted that in winter the steps are slippery from snow and ice, and thus you need spikes on your shoes. The walk to Ulriken is suitable for all ages and takes about 1.5 hours from the base. However, you will probably see a lot of very fit Norwegians running past using the steps as exercise rather than leisure! Alternatively, there is the Ulriken Cable Car, though it is fairly expensive with a return journey costing around £28.  

2. Host an international dinner

Eating out is very expensive in Bergen, so, instead, why not host an international dinner with your friends from around the world! The concept is simple: everybody prepares a traditional (or stereotypical) dish from their home country and then everybody eats together. As food is more expensive in the supermarkets compared to the UK, this dinner is not only a cultural exchange, but also a chance to have a more exciting meal than you are used to!

Personally, I made an Eton mess dessert to represent the UK. Though, German potato salad was a firm favourite at the dinner I attended! Challenge yourself to invite a range of nationalities to make for a more exciting and diverse dinner.

3. Enjoy a bathe at the Nordnes Sjøbad

Generations of locals have enjoyed an outdoor swim at Nordnes Sjøbad. Nordnes Sjøbad is a 25m long, saltwater swimming pool found next to the Aquarium in Nordnes Park, just a short walk from the city centre. In the winter season, which begins in October and ends in April, the fresh seawater pool is heated to an inviting 30 °C (86°F). You can also take a dip in the sea and then run back into the heated pool! The atmosphere is great; there is music (Christmas songs, too), LED lighting and views of the city at night, if you choose to take an evening swim. A winter swim costs around £7, and also gives you access to the saunas.

4. Relax at a movie night

A simple, but effective and cheap way to socialise and relax in the winter months. Many of the common rooms in UIB’s student accommodation have TVs or even projectors, so make the most of this and enjoy a film night with your friends. Why not try some international films too, with English subtitles, of course! Bring popcorn or ask everyone to contribute some snacks to make for comfortable viewing.

5. Take a boat trip to visit beautiful Rosendal

The cruise takes about two hours one way, and you can spend 3 1/2 hours in Rosendal, where you can stroll around this beautiful village, visit the Barony Rosendal and its rose garden, The Folgefonn Centre or go for a walk in lovely scenery. In the summer months you can also visit the Barony in Rosendal, which is Scandinavia’s smallest castle and the only one of its kind in the country. The castle is within walking distance to the center of Rosendal and is famous for its magnificent landscape park with the rose garden and a rich cultural program with concerts, bourgeois theater, lectures and art exhibitions. Bring a packed lunch and make a day of it!

Tickets for this boat seem expensive, at around £22 each way. However, this is significantly cheaper than the ‘fjord tours’ and ‘day cruises’ available from Bergen city centre, which can easily cost £70-£100. For less than £45, you can enjoy stunning scenery and fjords for significantly less than on other cruises. Furthermore, with the youth ticket transport pass (aged 20 and under), the Rosendal boat is included!

Quarantining in Bergen

By Nia Thomas, (University of Bergen, Norway).

‘Scandic’ hotels are scattered around the beautiful city of Bergen, Norway. Currently, these lodges are full of international students; all patiently waiting (for at least seven days) to be set free, and to be allowed to start a new chapter of their student experience in unfamiliar surroundings. I arrived at my quarantine hotel three days ago, shifting a massive suitcase through the reception area and up into a room where I will be spending my first ever week as an erasmus+ student. 

The rooms within these hotels are spacious, with ivy green walls and grey curtains that contrast against the bright light which emanates from a large window. There is an ironing board, a hairdryer and seven different types of lighting for me to choose from. However, unlike any British ‘Travelodge’, there is no kettle- my first culture shock so far. 

I’m required to spend every day here; with breakfast, lunch and dinner served straight to my door for the whole week- graciously paid for by my host university. Before arriving, I was told horror stories of what these meals would consist of and taste like. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised when I was given the breakfast of a peanut-butter jam sandwich with a passionfruit yogurt, and a carton of orange juice. Although consistently packaged in the same brown paper bag with disposable wooden knives and forks (very eco-friendly), the lunch and dinner have been different every day so far. My meals have ranged from cheese tomato wraps, to feta salads, to some sort of onion soup. As a vegetarian, I missed out on the ‘ham and cheese squeezy tube’ given to the other students, and part of me is bitterly disappointed in this fact. 

Of course, quarantining has connotations to boredom and dullness. But I have tried to disassociate myself from this negative conception of isolation, preferring to view this short period of time as a chance to prep myself on understanding what the year ahead of me is going to look like. In other words, I’ve read up on my course modules and installed ‘duolingo’. To add weight to this beneficial use of my time here, I get to take unlimited walks for fresh air! Plus, there is no time cap on these strolls- something I have taken full advantage of. I have only had a glimpse of the city so far, and already I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the area. Gazing at the mismatch of colourful architecture, seen both on the seafront and down cosy lanes, is like looking at a traveller’s mood board on Pinterest. 

Even though I am only really viewing Bergen through the literal lens of a hotel window, I feel like it has now sunk in that I am actually in a foreign country; with no real connections or familiar faces to turn to. There’s no way to sugar coat the feeling of uneasiness that comes with this realisation. The only way for me to feel better about it is to think about the next ten months ahead of me, and all the experiences that ultimately attach themselves to studying in a country that’s not my home. I’m scared but I’m mostly excited, and I’m glad I have this week in quarantine to think about these feelings- before I delve straight into my new life as a student in Norway.