Whether you are an adventurer or an adventurer in training, there are plenty of activities and restaurants to suit you and your clan in Norway. However, in our opinion, there is only one lodging option while in Bergen, Norway: Marken Gjestehus. This place is more than just another space to rest your head.
We took the NSB train from Oslo to Bergen; the views from our seats were incredible due to the winter holiday bringing on plenty of ice and snow on those breathtaking mountains and lakes.
We highly recommend purchasing the NSB Komfort seats, which includes complimentary coffee, hot cocoa, and tea, as well as extra leg room and a table. Public transportation is widely used throughout Norway, unlike in other countries who primarily use personal cars, so we took full advantage of it!
The entire train ride was approximately 6-7 hours long, which may seem like a long while, but with a cafe on board and plenty to look out the window, the time flew by.
Once we arrived to Bergen, we walked about 5 minutes to the Marken Gjestehus, which is located on a pedestrian street area. There are over 80 restaurants and over 25 attractions in walking distance, as well. Are you sold yet?
As we entered the building and waited to take the lift to reception on the 4th floor, we met a family who was also staying at the Marken Gjestehus, and then a variety of travelers while walking to our room! This place is for everyone!
We arrived after closing hours, so the manager, Guro (a traditional Norwegian female’s name meaning God’s sword) had us use our credit card as our key to get us into the building, the hostel itself, and our room. All we had to do was email her the last couple digits of our credit card beforehand and then BAM, everything was ready for our arrival. Stress free!
The next day we officially met Guro, and she told us about how they have won Best Hostel in Norway and are in the running again for 2018. Fingers crossed they win! They absolutely deserve it! She also expanded on her vision. The hostel has been in service for over 20 years. The goal has been to offer travelers a more affordable option, so that they can use their money to create memories and explore the land! I love that! Norway is very expensive, so to keep travelers in mind like that is admirable and says a lot about their character.
When we first walked into our room, we were overly pleased at how clean and decorative it was. With its wooden floors and colorful walls, we spent a fair amount of time admiring the interior design and how well the space was used. With 29 rooms in total, there are a variety of room types to choose from. For us, we had a double bed and a private bathroom, which we absolutely loved! Make sure to contact the Marken Gjestehus Hostel directly to request rooms with private bathrooms and for 2 bed rooms with double beds.
In addition to your sweet room or dorm, there is a TV lounge, a guest kitchen with seating and laundry facilities. There are also soda and coffee machines available.
These are great spots to meet new friends and hear their stories. Having unique people share their thrill for exploration and passion for culture in one place is what sets this place apart. Marken Gjestehus favors their guests unlike any other lodging accommodation I’ve ever stayed at. As we spoke with Manager Guro, she told us how they keep their fees low so that guests can use their money on the attractions and build memories, instead of going bankrupt on lodging. This foreign concept is one I wish other businesses would model. Hey! All other businesses! Take note! Care more for your guest’s itinerary over their money.
Stuff You Need to Know
Marken Gjestehus has many amenities. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer to their guests!
- 24 hour security
- Free, high-speed wifi
- Free bed linen (sleeping bags are not permitted)
- Towels for rent – or you can bring your own.
- Book exchange
- Breakfast not included
- Cable tv in the Common room
- Telephone/fax facilities
- Free city maps
- Hair dryers for rent
- Hot showers
- Key card access
- Self-catering facilities
- Laundry facilities
- Security lockers
- Reading light
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- Vending machines
- Washing machine
What to do in Bergen
Because of the time of year we went, the daylight hours are short with the sun coming out at around 10am and going back down at around 3pm. In addition, it rains 2/3 of the year in Bergen. Due to this, many businesses are closed for the holidays or have different hours of operation – so, make sure to do a little research before planning your itinerary.
With that said, we highly suggest you use the Fløibanen funicular to travel up to Mount Fløyen, Since 1918, over 50 million people have used the blue (Blåmann meaning Blueman) and red (Rødhette meaning Little Red Ridinghood) carriages up the mountain. They run on electricity and travel between 4m-6m/sec. Today’s carriages were built in Switzerland and are fourth generation, so don’t worry! These are not the same carriages as the ones from 1918.
At the top of the mountain, you will have a stunning view of Bergen! If heights don’t impress you, there is a restaurant, café, gift shop, troll garden, playgrounds and plenty of independent hiking! If it’s not too cold, you may be interested in renting a mountain bike or even ziplining. For hiking, check out these different hiking tours.
While on Fløyen, we created our own journey, without a map, and just relied on signs. We found beautiful, private views of Bergen where no one else was, a preschool of sorts, and the iciest lake I’ve ever seen! You could easily spend an entire day here, and that is exactly what we did!
In addition to Fløyen and Fløibanen, we recommend you take a Fjord Cruise, which we did through Fjordcruise Bergen – Monstraumer. Bergen is known as the gateway to the Fjords, so we couldn’t leave without taking a tour. We chose the 3 hour tour, but there are many to choose from – some are overnight!
This round-trip cruise takes you through Osterfjord and makes a quick pit stop at a waterfall to catch a bucket of ice-cold mountain water. Then, the crew passes out samples to all the guests. It’s delicious! While on the cruise, you have the option to sit inside the ferry and enjoy the warmth or venture to the top deck and get some Instagram worthy snaps of the steep mountains, quaint homes on hillsides or the many waterfalls you’ll pass by.
Although the cruise is open all year round, it is important to note that Norway is a different country in the winter; it can be foggy and rainy, obstructing your views at times. It reminded us so much of Ireland. In the summer months, it looks like a totally different country – so much greenery and color… and a lot more people! It’s up to you when you visit, but just make sure you do!
It’s Time to Eat and Chat!
When we asked the Marken Gjestehus where we should eat, they recommended Anne Madam! This Scandinavian joint serves the most delicious fish and chips and reindeer burger. The fish is cod, whereas you’ll find pollock is what is normally in Bergen’s fish and chips. The reindeer is from a local farm!
We had a wonderful talk with the owner who informed us of how they bought the space next door and are expanding! He was kind and gave us free bread with Norwegian cheese and butter.
He then outdid himself and brought us a complimentary plate of Norwegian Taste, which is like fisher’s pie (similar to shepherd’s pie).
We told him we were from the states, and he told us about how we had studied in San Francisco but eventually returned back to Norway. We had a great talk with him about all sorts of things! He was so kind!
Another place you MUST visit is Duggfrisk. When we visited, they had no cook and were only offering Norwegian beverages, but something told us to stay and we’re so glad we did. We recommend Hansa and Solo! We talked with the staff for about 3 hours and made great friends. We learned about their country and about them as people. Their stories were fascinating. We came back another night just to hang out with them again. If you visit, tell them Josh and Jenny from the U.S. sent you! So, although we cannot speak on the food, the company was well worth the visit… twice.
Let’s go to Bergen!
All in all, Bergen is a top-notch place with something for everyone. After spending 5 days in Oslo, we realized quickly how these two cities are so very different from each other. Guro even mentioned how Bergen people have a different sense of humor and style of living from those in Oslo. They were a lot friendlier than those in Oslo, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting Oslo. Create your own opinions. Just know that Bergen will always have one thing that Oslo doesn’t – and that’s Marken Gjestehus.
Make a trip to Bergen and stay at Marken Gjestehus for a central, safe, clean, and fun experience!
Our special thanks to Marken Gjestehus for partnering with us and exceeding our expectations of how wonderful Bergen, Norway would turn out to be! Thank you!