bergen vs oslo
Last Updated: September 21, 2021

Bergen Vs. Oslo: Exploring Norway

Not sure if you should visit Bergen or Oslo first? This detailed comparison of the two largest cities in Norway should help you make up your mind!

Oslo and Bergen are both beautiful cities, but they’re very different. Oslo is much bigger and more urban, whereas Bergen is more popular for its scenic views and excellent mountains. That alone should give you some idea which city is the better option for you, but keep reading to see all the things you should know about Oslo and Bergen before you decide where to travel!

Answer: Oslo

Oslo

Oslo is the capital city of Norway and it boasts more attractions and things to do than Bergen. That’s why it’s the best option for travelers, especially people who are visiting Norway for the first time. If you want to visit museums, galleries, see some fjords, and admire the Scandinavian architecture, Oslo is the perfect city to visit.

Bergen, on the other hand, is a much more scenic place. It’s a better destination for travelers who would rather spend their time in nature. Bergen is the better option for people who would rather go hiking and mountaineering, so go there and not to Oslo if that’s what interests you more.

How Are They Different?

Best Places To Live In Norway

Oslo and Bergen are both the largest cities in Norway, but Oslo is almost three times bigger. It has more attractions, landmarks, museums, and just interesting sights in general. Bergen, on the other hand, is surrounded by mountains. It boasts scenic views, spectacular nature, and a plethora of hiking opportunities.

Those are the main differences between the two cities. It’s worth noting that Bergen has some interesting museums as well, just like Oslo also boasts beautiful nature if you go outside the urban area. But, Oslo remains the better option for people who are into city breaks, while Bergen is the better destination for people who prefer to spend their time exploring the great outdoors.

Oslo is also the better option for people who are visiting Norway in the summer and would like to swim in the sea. It’s further south than Bergen so it’s generally warmer in the area, plus it boasts more beaches in and outside the city center.

Highlights And Attractions

Oslo Fram Museum

Whether you decide to visit Oslo or Bergen, you’ll have lots of things to see and stuff to do. Both cities are packed with fun and exciting attractions for tourists, but the nature of those attractions is very different in Norway’s two biggest cities.

Oslo is a very modern city with a rich history and an even richer culture. It boasts fascinating examples of Scandinavian architecture, Norway’s best museums, art galleries, and stunning fjord views wherever you look. If you want to learn more about Vikings, discover some amazing Norwegian art, and see some of the country’s most famous buildings, Oslo is the perfect place for you.

Bergen is just as interesting, but it’s different from Oslo. The city is smaller and it’s surrounded by seven mountains, which means ample hiking opportunities. It’s possible to hike from the city center to the top of most mountains in under an hour, meaning you’re always less than 60 minutes away from fabulous panoramic views.

Cost Of Travel

Bergen Mountains

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world and neither of these cities is exactly affordable. Everything about them is expensive, from the cost of a hotel room to the amount you’ll need to pay for museum tickets and public transportation.

In general, Oslo is the more expensive of the two cities, especially when it comes to accommodation restaurant-bar prices. Public transportation is also pricier in Oslo, especially taxis and Ubers.

If you’re trying to explore one of the priciest countries in Europe on a budget, you’re better off staying in Bergen. You’ll spend less money on accommodation, going out, and museum tickets, plus there are just so many natural attractions that you can see without spending a dime.

However, it is important to highlight that Bergen is only a little more affordable than Oslo. The biggest difference is in accommodation prices – with everything else, the price difference is generally under 10%, so it’s not like you’ll save a lot of money if you decide against visiting Norway’s capital.

Top Sights In Bergen

Bergen Aerial View

With a rich maritime history, a charming old town, and seven spectacular mountains, Bergen is a city everyone can enjoy. Whether you’d rather spend your time hiking or admiring Viking ships, Norway’s second-largest city does not disappoint!

Bryggen

Bergen Bryggen

Bryggen is one of Bergen’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s a medieval wharf in the harbor district and it is best known for the colorful boathouses. Bryggen is also home to the Bryggens Museum, which is a great place to visit if you want to see some very cool Bergen artifacts.

It’s worth noting that this neighborhood also boasts a fish market and some great seafood restaurants, so you can admire the scenic waterfront views while enjoying some traditional Norwegian dishes.

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus Fortress is a 13th-century fortress right at the entrance of the Bergen harbor. It’s one of the oldest stone fortifications in the city and it’s incredibly well-preserved considering just how old it is.

The waterfront fortress boasts spectacular views of the Bergen harbor, and it features a museum detailing the history of Bergen during WWII. Bergenhus Fortress also boasts displays on the history of both the building and all the members of the (Norwegian) Royal Family who used to live there.

Fløyen

Floyen View

Bergen is famous for being surrounded by seven mountains and Fløyen is the highest of them all at 320 meters. It takes about 45-60 minutes to hike to the top of the mountain from Bergen and there are three main hiking trails you can take.

It’s even possible to take the funicular from the center of Bergen, which also happens to be the trailhead for most trails up Mount Fløyen. The mountain top boasts a restaurant, so if you get hungry after the hike you can grab a bite to eat while admiring the panoramic Bergen views.

Bergen Maritime Museum

The Bergen Maritime Museum was founded in 1914 and it’s a must for people who are really interested in the history of this fascinating city. It contains ships, boats, and various other artifacts that tell the story of Norway’s seafaring history and its importance for the city’s economy.

The museum also boasts a collection of films that help educate visitors on this topic, and it’s certainly one of the top things to do in the city for people who are eager to learn more about Bergen and its rich history.

Ulriken

Ulriken

Ulriken is one of the seven mountains that surround Bergen and it’s the best place to visit for epic city views. It’s possible to hike to the top of the mountain from Bergen and you can also ride the aerial tramway if you’re not up for the hike. There’s a restaurant near the tramway station, as well as an observation deck with telescopes that are perfect for admiring scenic city views.

Norway Fisheries Museum

The fishing industry has always been important for Norway and there’s no better place to learn more about it than the Norway Fisheries Museum. Situated in an old fish warehouse, the museum boasts nautical exhibits and interactive displays on the history of the fishing industry in the area. It’s fun for both kids and adults, and it’s certainly one of the best places to visit while you’re in Bergen.

Leprosy Museum

The Leprosy Museum in Bergen is situated in a well-preserved 18th-century hospital complex and it boasts extensive exhibits on the history of leprosy in Norway. The museum also provides insight into the research and studies that help eradicate leprosy in Norway. It’s a very interesting place and certainly one of the most interesting attractions in Norway, especially for people who are into history.

Top Sights In Oslo

Oslo View

Norway’s capital city is the perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about the country’s history and culture. Discover Viking ships, see where the Norwegian Royals used to live, and admire scenic fjord views from the roof of a waterfront opera house – that’s just an afternoon in Oslo. Read on to see what else there is to see and do in this fascinating city!

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House is a spectacular waterfront building in Oslo Harbor. It’s the home of Norwegian Opera and Ballet so head here if you want to see some interesting performance arts.

If not, just visit the area to see the magnificent building. It boasts an iceberg shape with angled roof slopes that are connected to the ground. This means that you can easily climb on top of the building and enjoy some beautiful views of the Oslofjord.

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral is a 17th-century church in downtown Oslo. It is the main church for the Church of Norway and it often hosts state and royal events. The church building is rather interesting, but it’s smaller than most people expect. Touring the inside of the cathedral is definitely worth it because you can see the beautiful stained-glass windows, ornate ceilings, and the decorated altar.

Akershus Fortress

Oslo Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress is a 13th-century fort in Oslo Harbor and one of the oldest buildings in the city. It’s home to two military museums that are worth visiting, but your time is better spent wandering the grounds. The view of Oslo from the fortress walls is spectacular!

This castle originally served as the royal residence, but it has had lots of different functions since its initial construction. At one point it was even a prison, but nowadays it’s mostly just the temporary office of the Prime minister of Norway.

Holmenkollen

Oslo Holmenkollen

Holmenkollen is a hilltop neighborhood above downtown Oslo, and it’s popular for excellent skiing opportunities. Holmenkollbakken ski jump is here, as well as the oldest ski museum in the world. It’s worth noting that evening views of downtown Oslo from HJolmenkollen are exceptional, and well worth the trip up the hill.

The neighborhood is also home to a few other fun things to do like zip line rides and a ski simulator, so head over there if you’re in desperate need of an adrenaline rush that doesn’t end with you jumping in the ice-cold sea.

The Munch Museum

Munch Museum

Visit the Much Museum to see an impressive collection of works by the famous Norwegian artist. There are more than 28,000 works by Edward Munch on display in the museum, so it’s the perfect place in Oslo for art lovers. The museum was recently relocated to a new waterfront building, which is just as unique and fascinating as the art it houses.

Aker Brygge

Oslo Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge is the most popular neighborhood in Oslo. The former industrial area is nowadays the heart of the city, with some of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Oslo.

The waterfront area is very scenic, with some of the best fjord views you can experience in the city of Oslo. Aker Brygge is also home to several art galleries and museums, the most notable of which are the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and the Fineart Oslo gallery.

The Royal Palace

Oslo Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Oslo is one of the most popular spots in the city. The palace grounds are huge and include a 22-hectare park with a museum in former stables, ponds, and lush gardens. You can tour the interior of the palace in the summer, so definitely don’t miss out on that if you get the chance. The palace is also very close to Ibsenmuseet – a museum dedicated to Norway’s most famous playwright, Henrik Ibsen.

Frogner Park

Oslo Sculpture Park

Frogner Park is the largest public park in Oslo and one of the top sights in the city. It’s also home to Vigeland Park that’s best known for its vast collection of Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures. The most popular attraction here is the 14-meter tall monument, which is one of the artist’s most famous works.

Frogner Park also houses a museum dedicated to Gustav Vigeland, as wall the Oslo City Museum. Both are very interesting and a great way to learn more about the history, culture, and art of the area.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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