“But Norway is expensive” I hear you shout. True, but you can visit Norway on a budget without missing out on a lot of fun…
Visiting Norway on a budget
Okay, so I had envisaged this as being a nice, short, bullet-pointed article. But once I started writing about how to actually visit Norway on a budget, I had so many ideas that I’ve ended up with the blog version of War and Peace. Rather than delete what might be helpful information to one of you, I’ve broken this post into sections. Check out the contents section, below, for links to each part of the blog post:
Table of Contents
You can buy city passes for both Oslo and Bergen. These come with a number of benefits, as explained below.
The Oslo Pass
The Oslo pass is available for periods of 24, 28 or 72 hours, costing 395 NOK 595 NOK or 745 NOK for adults. Discounted prices are available for children and seniors). Purchasing the Oslo Pass provides free entry into various museums, free use of public transport as well as joining city centre walking tours for free.
The Oslo Pass also allows unlimited free travel by bus, tram, underground, boat and local train (zones 1 and 2 only). This map sets out the various zones. The airport is in zone 4 and is not covered by the card. Transportation to and from the airport is relatively simple – the Flytoget shuttle train runs every 10 minutes from 05:35 to 00:35. The journey time is approximately 20 minutes and a one-way ticket will set you back 160NOK.
The Oslo Pass allows free entry into the National Gallery
The Bergen Card
In Bergen, you can purchase the imaginably named Bergen Card. As with the Oslo Pass, it is also available for 24, 48 or 72 hour time periods. For a single adult, the Bergen Card will set you back either 260 NOK, 340 NOK or 410 NOK, depending on how long your stay is.
For more information on the Bergen Card, click here.
The views that await you at the summit of Mount Fløyen
Are the cards worth it?
It all depends on what activities you are looking to do (for ideas/ information on what there is to do in both of these cities, have a look at my posts for Bergen and Oslo). After writing all of that, I didn’t actually buy one of the passes. Haha!
Food and Drink
If you’ve decided to visit Norway on a budget, food and drink (in particular) can be rather expensive and eat into your funds. We chose to keep it cheap for the majority of the trip so that we could indulge ourselves from time to time (some of the food in Bergen was absolutely fantastic!).
- Cut down on the alcohol intake. I know! I know! It’s not what you want to hear on holiday, but alcohol is eye-wateringly expensive in Norway. The most I paid for a beer during the trip was approx £13 (and it wasn’t even a full pint!). If you are like me and can’t go without (in my view, it’s not officially a holiday until I’ve had a holiday beer. The same goes for ice cream), you could just limit yourself to one drink with dinner. Your bank balance will certainly thank you. Alternatively, grab a beer (or three) from the supermarket, which is always cheaper than in a bar.
- Stay in a hotel which includes breakfast in the price. Additionally, you could always sneak a couple of bread rolls out and use them for sandwiches at lunch.
- Visit the grocery store and prepare sandwiches for lunch and/or cook your own meals (particularly if you are staying somewhere with it own kitchen, as our accommodation did in Flam). Two of my friends take this approach to the extreme when visiting notoriously expensive countries: when they travelled to Switzerland, for example, they included a number of cans of tuna and bread in their check in luggage so that they could prepare cheap sandwiches every day.
- Take a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water (which, unsurprisingly, is safe to drink in Norway). Both your wallet and the environment will thank you.
- If you don’t fancy making your own sandwiches, you can buy fairly cheap sandwiches and hot dogs from the Deli de Luca sandwich shops and 7-Elevens. Both of these are plentiful in Bergen and Oslo.
We opted for cheap food for the majority of the trip, which allowed us to splash out in Bergen
Accommodation in Norway can be rather expensive. Obviously, you can be sensible – planning the trip and booking your accommodation well in advance for cheaper rates. Naturally, I failed to adhere to my own advice and planned the trip last minute (and accommodation was either more expensive or the cheaper places were sold out).
The time of year will also affect prices. You might want to think about visiting in the shoulder or low seasons (although, on the flip side, certain hikes etc are not advisable in the depths of the Norwegian winter).
Aside from hotels/ hostels you may wish to consider using Airbnb (especially if you are thinking about preparing your own meals!) or even couch surfing.
The cheapest option is to camp. In Norway, you can camp in the wild for free (as long as you stay at least 150m from houses, don’t stay more than 2 nights and don’t make a campfire). Norway also has many campsites where you can pitch your tent (or rent a cabin if that is more to your taste). If you are going to camp, bring your own gear – it will be much cheaper than buying or renting once you get to Norway. For full information about camping in Norway, check out the Visit Norway website.
The Brekke Gard Hostel: cheap and homely accommodation in Flam
Norway is spectacularly beautiful. As I have alluded to in other blog posts, the nature here is something else. You will be treated to majestic fjords, snow capped mountains, jagged coastlines, lush green forests, crystal clear lakes and the ethereal Northern Lights. Most of these, with the exception of the fjords (where a boat comes in handy), can be seen and enjoyed for free. For tips on visiting the fjords, read this.
When we stayed in Flam, we spent a good proportion of our time out walking and enjoying the countryside. For more information about these walks, take a look at this post.
Similarly with the cities – explore them on foot. If you are anything like me and love to walk about and take photos, this is a completely free and fun activity!
Views like the one above can be enjoyed for free
Public transport in Norway is excellent. Rather than hiring a car, take the train. NSB, Norway’s premier train provider, have an easy to use phone app and if you book in advance there will be discounted tickets available.
We took the train from Oslo to Bergen and used the NSB app to book these tickets. It was simple and straightforward. This train journey is also the easiest way to reach Flam and take a trip on Norway’s most spectacular train ride: the Flamsbana Railway.
The Oslo-Bergen train journey
It is possible to visit and enjoy Norway on a budget. Hopefully the above will provide you with some food for thought and help to plan an amazing trip to Norway!