How to travel Norway on a budget
My dear motherland, Norway, is known as one of the world’s most expensive countries, but also one of the most beautiful (and yes, I am very objective in this case). When trying to sweet-talk Norway to people, the first thing I get asked about is if it’s true that a beer cost 10 euros and how one can afford to travel there. During my three years of studying in Bergen I found ways to cope with the prices on a student budget, so I’ll let you in on my best tips on how to survive in Norway on a budget. If I can do it, you can do it too! Or you could try hooking up with a Norwegian with an own apartment and a car…
First thing first, Norway is not a part of the Euro zone and the local currency is Norwegian Krone (NOK). Currently 1 euro is around 8NOK. Have a look here for a currency converter.
How to get to there
Check out Norwegian’s Low Fare Calendar for flights down to 20 euros. Ryanair also flies to Oslo, but be aware of that what that the airports are located quite far away from central Oslo (Torp is about 160 km outside of Oslo, and Rygge around 60 km from the city center). You should also check out Katja’s tips on how to find the cheapest flights. Airport transportation is normally quite expensive, so keep your eyes open for student/age discounts. An alternative might also be to take the bus instead of the train.
- Check for domestic flights at Widerøe, Norwegian or SAS pages.
- Between Oslo and Bergen you can have a beautiful train ride over the mountains, try to buy Minipris tickets (from NOK 249) at the Norwegian National Railway (NSB) pages. These tickets are normally cheaper than tickets with student discount.
- If you’re heading to Stavanger, Kristiansand or Trondheim (Minipris might be an alternative here as well) you should check out Lavprisekspressen’s bus offers. This page is only in Norwegian, but with a little help from Google Translate you should be able to find the information you’re looking for.
- Norwegian towns are in general not too big, and if you’re a fan of walking or biking that will save you a lot of money compared to public transport. In Oslo it might be a good idea to rent a city bike, you can get a tourist day card for this at the tourist information for about NOK 100.
- The Norwegian Costal Express (Hurtigruten) going along the Norwegian coast is a beautiful way to see some fjords. Hurtigruten is not the cheapest way to travel, but they offer student and group discounts that makes it affordable. If you travel overnight you can also skip booking a room, and just stay in the hallway or lounge to save money.
Photo: Aslak Raanes
- Again, going out to restaurants in Norway can be quite expensive, but ask the locals for the best and cheapest tips.
- In Oslo you should check out Grønland, which is an area with a lot of immigrants and some reasonably priced restaurants/cafés. VisitOslo also has a nice overview over places you can drink and eat cheap.
- Alcohol and tobacco are definitely the most expensive pleasures in Norway. The prices on a glass of beer varies from NOK 29 to NOK 90, so you can definitely save a lot of money going to the right place. See here for price list of beer in different bars in Oslo.
- Norwegians normally have a pre-party at home to save money (and get drunk) before they go out. For the Germans among you, you will be pleased to learn that we Norwegians call this a Vorspiel (foreplay). The after-party is called Nachspiel (afterplay), and since the bars/clubs close quite early, this is where the party continues.
- The cheapest beer in the supermarkets costs around NOK 10-12. For wine or spirits you will have to go to the government owned alcohol retailer Vinmonopolet (be aware of the opening hours), you can find a decent wine for about NOK 75.
- It also might be a good idea to buy alcohol (and tobacco) at the airports duty free store (also possible on arrival). This is also a perfect gift idea if you’re visiting Norwegian friends..
- Drinking in public places is illegal in Norway, so observe how the locals do it before you pull out your beer bottle.
- Since eating out is quite expensive you might want to cook yourself, and there is a lot of money to save by going to the right store and buying the right products.
- The supermarket chain REMA 1000 normally offers the best prices; you can also save a lot of money by looking for special offers in the more expensive stores.
- Another supermarket chain that is worth a visit is KIWI, here you can buy a range of cheap products labeled “First Price”. They also have an interesting guarantee that can save you a lot of money: If you are not satisfied with your fruit or vegetables you will get the double price back. And if you find an item that is expiring the present or next day you will get it for free. If it expired yesterday, and they can’t offer you an equivalent, you will get the money for the item paid out cash.
- Couchsurfing is definitely the cheapest way to stay in Norway, especially if you can do some cooking at home.
- You may also find hostels with decent prices around the country. See here for an overview.
- Many hotels have special offers for tourists in the summer, check with the local tourist information if they can give you some information about the best deals.
- If you bring your own tent you are free to camp almost everywhere (200 meters away from the closest road or private property), and campsites normally offer cheap places for tents or low budget huts if the weather gets too bad.
Have a good trip, and share your best saving tips with us!
She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at anchoredpaperplane.com.