Budget Guide to Norway
Fjords, crashing oceans and northern lights, Norway is undoubtedly one of the most diverse adventure locations in Europe.
That said, it is also known to be one of the most expensive in Europe. Everything from the beer to public transport is more expensive than most other places in Europe.
Here are some typical costs for Norway in 2018:
- B&B: 50€ per person night in a twin room
- Bed in a dorm room in a Hostel: 30€ per night
- 2 Bedroom rural cabin: 100€ per night
- Public ferry ride: 20€ per ride
- Restaurant meals: 15-25€ for a main course
- Local beer in a restaurant: 10€
- Local beer in a supermarket: 5€
- Domestic flight: 50-100€
- 5L bottle of water: get it from the tap – drinkable & free
- Island-hopping: 20-30€
- Northern lights tour: 100€ with a guide or free independently
That said, there are ways to avoid costs in Norway without sacrificing the experience.
Did you ever think you couldn’t afford Norway? Here are some budget tips that I picked up to make Norway an affordable destination!
Stay for free: you can camp anywhere in Norway providing it is within 150m of the nearest cabin. This enables you to be spontaneous, live wild and enjoy Norway at its best.
B&B or Hostels: this is a great way to sleep on a budget – especially in winter. There are however no B&Bs or Hostels in remote areas of Norway; therefore camping or self catering could be your only choice here. The only down side to a B&B or a hostel is that you have to find somewhere to eat, which can be very expensive in Norway, so self catering is a budget alternative.
Self catering: this is always the cheaper option and even more cost efficient when travelling in a group. There are limited numbers of self catering cabins in rural areas of Norway, but it is a great option to enable you to explore in summer and winter on a budget (albeit, camping is the ultimate budget option here!).
Food in a restaurant could set you back around 15-20€ for a pizza and 10-12€ for a beer. If you are staying in a remote location then your restaurant options will be limited, so self catering might be your only option. The food in a supermarket is more expensive than in central Europe, but there are ways that you can avoid those additional costs.
Bring a reusable water bottle and fill up – the tap water in Norway is drinkable and free!
Where to get food
- Supermarkets budget alternative: a loaf of branded bread in northern Noway could set you back as much as 5€, but the supermarkets budget alternative could be half the cost. Some argue that the budget alternative doesn’t taste as nice, but if you’re on a budget then who cares!?
- Bring your own food: if you have extra luggage allowance, then you could bring your own food. On our last trip to the island of Senja, we had an extra 20kg baggage allowance which we filled with cereal, dried beans, raw brownie bars, tins of sweetcorn and produce that would last longer like carrots and cauliflower, which upon arrival we turned to soup. We then used the supermarkets to buy fresh things like milk and cheese.
- Camping? Then you can bring your own camping foodie options which will automatically keep the costs down.
If you’re staying in a B&B or a hostel, you could always take a gas stove and rehydrate food sachets. Then pick up a gas canister when you land and then cook your food while out and about.
Some hotels, especially in the city will offer half board. If you’re staying in Oslo, this can be the cheapest option – shop around. We found an offer at the Thon Hotel Terminus directly in the centre of Oslo for 54€ per person per night half board. We ate a large late breakfast and then that was enough to go through until the meal in the evening. Drinks usually aren’t included, but remember that tap water is free!
When you’re out and about, prepare your own lunch, drinks and a flask of tea (or coffee).
If you are flying into northern Norway via Oslo, then there is the option to buy duty free alcohol. We bought a 6 pack of local beer for 5€ (compared to 5€ for 1 can of beer in a supermarket or 10€ in a restaurant).
When flying domestic in Norway (as of 2018), each person is allowed 1 litre of spirits, 3 litres of wine (4 bottles) and 2 litres of beer (6 x 0.33 l)
A rental car in Norway will give you absolute freedom and the ability to see things for the cost of the rental and fuel.
We paid around 33€ per day for a Nissan Qashqai in Tromso. If you take a northern lights chase tour, it will cost you around 100€ per person (including hot drinks, a thermal suit, biscuits and photos from the trip). We used our car through the day to see local areas and on an evening to see the northern lights. If you are looking to get out of your accommodation, then a rental car is a cost effective way to see Norway.
Damage Waivers for Rental Vehicles
When renting a vehicle, there is always the possibility that it could be damaged or stolen. In this case, you’ll be liable to pay the damage excess. This is similar to the excess you’d pay on your own car insurance if your car is damaged or stolen. This can be anywhere from 200 – 1500€.
At the car rental desk, they’ll ask if you’d like to purchase a “damage waiver” insurance, which means you won’t be liable for the excess if the car is damaged or stolen.
Be aware that you can purchase this type of insurance online.
I paid around 50€ for an annual European Union policy. The car rental company wanted to charge me 14€ per day (140€ for the 10 day rental!). As you can see, it is worth taking out an external policy. I used Insurance 4 Car Hire, but shop around for the best deal.
I have had cases where a certain global rental company (while renting in Germany) tried to scare me into paying their whopping excess waiver by saying that I’d be liable for the entire cost of the car if it was damaged or stolen. This is not the case, they’d pay an excess to their insurer who would then replace or reimburse the amount for the car. Don’t be cornered by scare tactics.
If you refuse the car rental’s damage waiver, they will freeze an amount on your credit card, which could be the amount of the excess. This is unfrozen after the car is returned undamaged.
Believe it or not, getting to Norway is more affordable than you think. Their major hubs in the UK are Manchester or London. We flew with Norwegian from Munich and got return flights to Bardufoss via Oslo (4h stop in Oslo) for 112€ per person one way including baggage. 2 x 2h flight for 112€ per person!
I admit that I searched through Skyscanner to find the cheapest site to book on. I didn’t book directly through Norwegian Air.
Book in advance
If you opt to use public transport or rent a car, like in the UK and other European countries, they are usually cheaper in Norway when you book them in advance. The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) offer Minipris tickets: advanced discount tickets.
If you’d like free activities and to experience Norway at its best, then head for the rural areas. There are some free attractions within the cities, but cities are generally more expensive. Nature is what drew us to Norway, and that is what we enjoyed the most.
As you drive around the fjords, you might be lucky enough to see seals popping their heads up above the water or sea eagles perched on the rocks. At certain times of the year, whales can be seen from the shores such as Mefjord, Senja.
If you appreciate natural beauty, then you will not be disappointed by the never ending fjords, mountains and picturesque red cabins dotted along the shorelines. There are many opportunities for sitting and taking in the landscape, watching the sunset glistening on the waters of the fjord or enjoying a cuppa while overlooking the mountains of neighbouring islands.
Norway is full of beautiful hikes. Some are easier than others and easy to navigate. Information online is limited in rural areas, but your accommodation will be able to point you in the direction of walking.
If you are unsure about walking outdoors, then opt for a walk where it is straight along a shore or up a hill, as opposed to across numerous peaks that could lead to potentially getting lost.
If the weather isn’t on your side, take the time to relax. Put on some cosy clothes, fluffy socks, drink a cup of tea while enjoying a book with views of the local areas.
The northern lights can be done independently if you have your own way to travel or if you are staying in a rural area with no light pollution. If you are a beginner at hunting the northern lights, you can read more about chasing and photographing the northern lights here.
– Independent Travel –
Sightseeing in Norway can be done independently and free. This is a more flexible way to travel. We rented a car and used this to explore the surrounding areas and access trail heads. Additionally, this is great if you want to see the northern lights independently!
– Buddy up –
Things are cheaper in bulk: renting a car, room, guide and cooking is cheaper when you do this with a group. So buddy up and help to avoid more costs by doing things alone.
Transport to the cities
As a rule of thumb, it is good to be in nature when visiting Norway, but most flights include a stopover in Oslo. If you opt to visit the city, there are some must knows about transport to the centre…
The NSB departs every 30 minutes from Oslo Airport to the main station in Oslo. The journey takes 23 minutes and costs around 10.50€ one way.
If you’d like a slightly faster and frequent option, the Airport Express train runs every 10-20 minutes and will take you to the centre of Oslo in around 20 minutes. The cost is around 19.50€ one way.
If there is a big group, then check at the taxi rank for the cost of a minibus, this could work out cheaper for larger groups.
In the cities and towns, there is an abundance of ATM’s. However, if you are travelling to rural areas, bring cash. Not every village will accept credit cards or have an ATM. The currency is Norwegian Krone (NOK).
Wi-Fi and phone connections in Norway are really great, but if you’re heading to a rural area then expect to be disconnected for a little while. This is the best part!
If Wi-Fi is a must, then check with your accommodation prior to booking.
Get away from the tourist crowds
If you really want an authentic Norway experience, venture away from the typical tourist spots and backpacker meccas. Do your own northern lights trips, book a cabin in the middle of nowhere and watch the stars and northern lights from your hut.
It is recommended to use a guide for adventures that require specialist local knowledge such as ski touring, climbing and whale watching from a boat.
Bring a portable battery
There really is nothing worse than being out all day and then the photo opportunity of a lifetime appears, then you whip off the camera lens to find out you’re out of battery! Be prepared and bring a spare or portable charger.
Some areas of Norway are still some of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Due to the remoteness of some areas, some adventurers don’t make it to these untouched places. My time in Norway was always memorable with the most incredible untouched nature. I hope to return back to enjoy more northern lights viewing and watching seals from the shores. Norway is one of my favourite countries in northern Europe. Get there before more people visit the untouched areas!
Have you got any experience in Norway? I’d love to hear from you 🙂