If you’ve dreamed of traversing the tantalizing landscapes of Norway, you’re not alone. But a simple search into the dollar exchange and you’ll see that the krone means a trip like this won’t come cheap. In fact, it might be downright expensive. On the flip side, though, that just means you have to get creative with your budget. Sure, it would be nice to stay in fancy hotels in Oslo or float through a waterfall-riddled fjord on a luxurious cruise ship during your visit to this Scandinavian paradise. But to make a memorable Norwegian experience, you don’t need either. This is a country that can be experienced on the cheap, and this guide will show you how!
Lucky for you, Norwegian Air made headlines in budget airline circles in 2018. As of now, one-way flights from New York City to Oslo are priced at a reasonable $200 (USD) when booked well in advance, and the airline also offers flights out of the U.S. to other Norwegian cities like Bergen, Tromsø, and Trondheim.
When booking your flights, also take into account Norway’s high, low, and shoulder seasons. The country is at its busiest between May and September, and while April and October can be a little chilly, they are still enjoyable and will save you some dollars on flights as there will be a dip in demand for tickets. The winter months are not for the light of heart but do offer unique adventures — not to mention that airfare, accommodation, and transportation will be at its cheapest during this time of year.
Norway is definitely a place for nature-lovers. If that’s you, you’ll be happy to learn about the country’s Right to Roam policy, which allows anyone to pitch a tent pretty much anywhere, as long it’s 150 meters from an occupied house or cabin. Not only will this allow you more time amid the beautiful Norwegian mountains, trails, and forests, but avoiding hotels will save you a ton when budgeting for your trip.
Other options include Couchsurfing, a cool way to meet locals and gain a bit of cultural insight, and Airbnb — if you can find a steal, go for it! Even if you splurge a bit on a night or two in a downtown apartment, it should come equipped with a kitchen where you can make your own meals and, in turn, save some cash.
Lastly, if you plan on taking any long-distance trains (see below), look into overnight rides. Norway’s trains are notoriously comfy, complete with free WiFi, and serve as adequate accommodation for those trying to save every cent they can!
No matter which cities or regions you plan on visiting, the reality is that getting around Norway is going to cost you. That said, the easiest way to minimize this expense is to use your own two feet whenever possible. Not only is this a chance to see your surroundings up-close-and-personally, but it’ll allow you to stay active and interact with more locals.
To move freely outside of city centers, though, renting a car is never a bad idea. A vehicle affords the luxury of traveling at your own pace and pulling over to explore all of the countryside’s nooks and crannies. But rental costs can add up over a week or two, so if you do decide on a car, sharing the cost with another traveler or two will surely help.
Another option for covering bigger distances — like, say, a trip from Oslo to Bergen — is to look into NSB trains. These tickets work somewhat like airfare, in that the farther in advance you book them (90 days is ideal), the cheaper they’ll be. Day-of tickets can be double or even triple the price of those bought months prior, so the sooner you can lock in your itinerary, the better. NSB also hosts monthly “mini-price” sales, and though these tickets aren’t refundable, they can be life-savers for budget travelers. Student rates are offered as well, which is always a bonus if you’re still enrolled in university.
A final note on transportation: larger urban centers such as Trondheim, Bergen, and Oslo offer bike sharing programs, which is a great way to save money and see the city and surrounding countryside at the same time. In addition to bicycles, you will find public transport in these locations as well, which you can also save on by booking ahead. Just be sure to download the country’s AtB app beforehand!
Eating out will undoubtedly rack up quite a bill in Norway. Because the country pays such high taxes on much of their imported goods, proprietors have to charge accordingly if they want to turn any kind of profit. But you have to eat, and a good way to make that biological necessity cheaper is by cooking for yourself. If you’re camping, that’ll be your only option anyway, but even if you book a hostel or an Airbnb for a night here and there, be sure to stock up on options at a nearby grocer. Like many countries, supermarkets in Norway have their own in-house, non-name-brand goods. Opting for these items could save you a fortune throughout your stay, so we suggest going with the cheapest choices. Though, it’s completely understandable to splurge on a meal here and there, as it’s an interaction with the culture that’s hard to beat.
When it comes to drinking during your trip, you may want to reconsider. Alcohol isn’t spared from the country’s incredibly high taxes, especially beer (a pint in a restaurant costs on average 80 krone, which equals $9.39 USD). So, remember that limiting your drinking will go a long way when trying to keep things affordable.
ACTIVITIES AND SIGHTSEEING
To stay within the limits of your budget, you’ll want to be on the lookout for free entertainment. Even in Oslo, there’s plenty to do that won’t sink your savings. The capital is known as the “City of Museums,” some of which are free on certain days (usually Mondays and Thursdays). Other activities that won’t cost you a krone include: relaxing in Frogner Park, touring the Akershus Castle and Fortress, and appreciating (or walking upon) the architecture of the Opera House.
Additionally, if you find yourself in Bergen, look into the Bergen Card, which provides discounts to certain museums and other points of interest across the city.
Most people, however, come to Norway for the nature, and that should be music to your budget’s ears. Fjords, glaciers, hiking trails — they’re all free, so make sure you take advantage and your bank account will thank you.
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