Plane, ferry, train, coach, car: Here are your best options for travelling between Stavanger and Bergen. Travel planning notebooks at the ready!
From UNESCO World Heritage sites and picturesque old town neighbourhoods to easy access to the fjords, these two cities are full of top attractions. But despite how close they look on the map, it’s not so easy travel between them.
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Western Norway’s geography problem
The mountains, glaciers and fjords of western Norway are the region’s star attraction. However, they also make it difficult to move around quickly. That’s one of the reasons flying continues to dominate Norwegian transport, despite the flygskam movement in neighbouring Sweden.
The roads are interspersed with time-consuming ferry crossings, although these are gradually being replaced with tunnels and bridges. Still, these projects take time.
So, which option should you choose? As with many travel decisions in Norway, it comes down to a question of cost and convenience. Hopefully, once you’ve read this article, you’ll know which option is right for you.
Flying from Bergen to Stavanger
It may seem absurd to fly such a short distance, but many hundreds of people do, every day. The reason? The flight takes just 20-30 minutes, depending on the time of day and weather conditions.
Read more: The New-Look Bergen Airport Flesland
Of course, you have to factor in travel time at either end too. There are business parks reasonably close to the airport in both cities. That means business travellers can often achieve a door-to-travel time of under two hours, even factoring in the time at the airport.
It is, however, a different story for tourists. Typically, you'll be staying close to the city centres, which increases travel time. Also bear in mind factors like an unfamiliarity with the airport, the likely need to check-in baggage, and the likely use of public transport rather than expensive taxis will all increase travel time.
In this case, the door-to-door time is more likely to be up to four hours. That's still the quickest option, but it does make the decision much less clear-cut.
Bergen Airport is linked to the city centre by a recent extension to the city's light rail network, Bynanen. At just 38kr the ride is cheap, but takes 45 minutes and still leaves a bit of a walk to Bryggen, where several hotels are located. Alternatively, you can take the airport coach or a taxi.
The coach is quicker than the light rail and stops at Bryggen, but at 119kr it's much more expensive. A taxi is quickest especially if you are staying in an out of the way place, but is of course the most expensive option.
From Stavanger Airport Sola, the airport coach is the most convenient option in terms of price and duration to reach the city centre. The 25-minute ride costs 160kr or 136kr if you buy online in advance.
Bergen to Stavanger by coach
The bus between the two cities is known as Kystbussen, the coastal bus. The service, numbered NW400, runs approximately every hour during the daytime. There is less frequency on weekends, however.
The big advantage over air travel is its simplicity. There is plenty of room for luggage in the hold and the coach takes you from city centre to city centre. Another plus is the cost. Even the full-fare 690kr if you pay on the bus is much cheaper than a regular plane ticket. If you're able to book in advance, you can pay as little as 299kr.
Finally, another advantage is the possibility to see some of Norway's scenery. There's even the opportunity to leave the coach as it makes a 40-minute ferry crossing. This provides a natural break and the chance to buy some snacks.
The downside? Well, it's slow. The service makes several stops including at Leirvik, while some also stop at Haugesund.
The full journey takes around 5-5.5 hours, depending on the time of day. That's for the few services that don't call at Haugesund. Most of the services do call at Haugesund, however, and they take around six hours in total from Bergen to Stavanger.
Bergen to Stavanger by train
Bergen is well-known for its train station thanks to the world-famous Bergen Line railway. As Stavanger has a station too, that means you can take the train between the two cities, right? Well, yes and no. It's perfectly possible to take the train, but you need to connect and that connection takes place in Oslo or Drammen. That's hundreds of miles away!
The time it would take to make the full journey including the change in Oslo/Drammen would be at least 14 hours, but more likely 16 hours. The scenery on the Oslo to Bergen line is spectacular, although the Stavanger line isn't so engaging.
To better illustrate the possibility, here's an example itinerary. Leave Bergen at 7.57am to arrive at Drammen at 2.08pm. You then have just under an hour to stretch your legs and wander around Drammen, before picking up the train to Stavanger at 3pm. You would then arrive in Stavanger at 10.04pm.
There are also possibilities involving a night train on one of the lines, but the overall duration would be longer. Of course, if you're planning to travel from Bergen to Stavanger but would be happy to spend a day or two in Oslo on the way, then the railway could be an ideal option for you. Plan your trip on Vy.no.
Driving from Bergen to Stavanger
If you live in Norway and have a car, or you're visiting and renting one, then driving is an obvious option. The E39 highway runs between the two cities so your chances of getting lost are slim. As explained earlier, this isn't as fast as you may expect from looking at the map.
The main reason for that is the 40-minute E39 ferry crossing from Sandvikvåg to Halhjem. Although regularly scheduled throughout the day, you may have to wait a while for the next departure once you arrive at the ferry terminal. On the plus side, the ferry provides a natural break in the journey.
Bear in mind though that driving in Norway is an expensive business. That's especially true when entering cities, thanks to high road tolls and parking charges. With that in mind, you may be better off only hiring a car when leaving the cities, for example when heading off on a road trip around the fjords.
Bergen to Stavanger by ferry
Last but not least, there's one more option that few visitors think about: the ferry! Bergen is famous for being the first stop on the Hurtigruten coastal voyage. However, the Hurtigruten sails north from Bergen and so doesn't call at Stavanger. There is another option, though.
Perhaps more than any other method, the Fjordline ferry from Bergen to Stavanger enables you to truly relax. If the weather is kind, the coastal views can be stunning. If not, the on board restaurants and lounges provide plenty to keep you occupied on the 5.5-hour voyage.
The two ferries—MS Stavangerfjord and MS Bergensfjord—were the first ferries in the world to be powered by “green” LNG gas. So if you're environmentally minded, this makes a great alternative to flying.
The daily service leaves Bergen at 1.30pm and arrives in Stavanger at 7pm. Coming the other way, you'll leave Stavanger at 7am to arrive in Bergen at 12.30pm. The best part? If you're travelling without a car, fares start from just 24 Euro. At the time of writing that's just 240 Norwegian kroner. That makes this ferry the cheapest option we've looked at.
However, there is one downside. Isn't there always!? At the Stavanger end of the voyage, the Fjordline ferry does not arrive nor depart from the city centre. The terminal is at Risavika, which is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Stavanger. Passengers are provided with direct bus transport to/from Stavanger, although it comes with an additional cost of 100kr.
Well, that's all folks! I hope you enjoyed this guide and that it's helped you plan your travel. If you found the article useful, why not share it on Pinterest so others can find it too? Here's a pin for that: