Ask Joan: Bergen, Northumberland and an overnight near Dublin

Bergen’s beauties; discover Alnick, Alnmouth, Bamburgh and Beadnell; take the girls away from the city

Bergen is known as the cultural capital of Norway

Bergen is known as the cultural capital of Norway

 

I am a student travelling to Bergen, Norway in August, for three months as part of the Erasmus programme. While there, I am hoping to see as much as possible. Can you recommend some good activities and weekend trips on a student friendly budget? MW, Cork.

Bergen is a city surrounded by seven mountains and is great for hiking – from Fløyen to Ulriken takes about four hours and is worth the view.

Bergen is known as the cultural capital of Norway and has some great museums to visit like the KODE – which houses the art collections. Composer Edvard Greig is from here and there are lunchtime concerts in his house until the end of September.

The Hanseatic League is remembered with a museum and original wooden buildings. Street art is popular in Bergen so keep your eyes open for street works. Local bands to watch out for are Kings of Convenience indie folk and Datarock, electronic rock.

Around Bergen there are a number of small islands. Sotra is connected by a bridge and you can go sea kayaking. There are other smaller islands used as outposts during WW2 and you will find memorials and museums.

Consider exploring the coast of Norway by ferry. The Hurtigruten line operates all year round from port to port and is a reasonable way to see some of the magnificent fjords, see Hurtigruten.com.

There is a train service to Oslo, book in advance to pay around €70 return student price, nsb.no/en/, it takes about seven hours. Hostel accommodation will be around €35 a night. See visitbergen.com, visitnorway.com, visotoslo.com.

My wife and I, with our baby, have been invited to a wedding in Alnwick, Northumberland this September. We would like to make a week-long holiday of it. We are planning on driving via Larne through Scotland. Would you be able to recommend some nice one or two-night stops on the way there or back. We were thinking Edinburgh, but would like some nice smallish towns with some walks. CF, Dublin.

A loop around from Larne to Edinburgh, Alnwick, a stay on the Northumberland coast and back via Hadrian’s Wall and Gretna Green would be interesting. Edinburgh is not cheap – most hotels will be more than €140 per night. The coast of Northumberland is lovely with long beaches and great castles to visit. Alnwick itself is extraordinary and you should definitely visit the castle and gardens. Alnmouth on the coast is a lovely small town as is Bamburgh and Beadnell. One of these places would be nice to stay for a few days and explore the area. See visitnorthumberland.com.

We are five school friends who try to escape together every year for dinner and a night away. Could you suggest a nice place that has a pool and spa, within an hour or so of Dublin and near a nice town to ramble in on a September Saturday afternoon? JP, Dublin.

Carton House has fabulous grounds with pool and spa and close to Maynooth, rates from €160pps for B&B and dinner, carton.ie.

The Heritage Resort at Killenard is on a golf course in Co Laois. It is close to Kildare Village for shopping. Dinner, B&B will cost from €130 each, theheritage.com.

Dunboyne Castle Hotel in Co Meath has a spa, pool and lovely grounds. An overnight with dinner will cost from €130pps. You could explore some historic sights of the Royal County, or visit the castle at Trim, dunboynecastlehotel.com.

Send your travel queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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