Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Visiting Norway Without Breaking the Bank

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. If you look up ways to save money while there (or ask a Norwegian) you'll get the same answers-"Camping is free!" "You can fish and forage for mushrooms and berries all you want!" "Stay in one of the free hikers cabins!"

True, these are all ways to save money in Norway. But let's be honest, unless you're some Bear Grylls type who loves 10 hour hikes, throwing up your tent wherever, and then foraging for your dinner, these "tips" aren't very helpful at all.

Sorry, Mr. Grylls, you're on your own for this one

There's no way around it-Norway is NOT cheap. But, with a few tricks, you could come home without maxing out your credit cards.

1. Prepare for the wallet assault
If you're planning on visiting Norway, save a little extra cash beforehand to cover the cost. Fionn and I only decided to go once we'd stashed up some money to put toward the trip so we wouldn't be stuck eating ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of the month.
2. Go with nontraditional accommodations
Hotels were CRAZY expensive in Norway, so we decided to book an apartment rental through Air BnB. For $120 a night we got an apartment big enough for 3 people, including our own kitchen, which helped us save on food costs. Hostels or couch surfing are also other less expensive options that can help you save in the long run. Or, you can take the classic Norway advice and pitch your tent somewhere ;)

3. Avoid the booze
Alcohol is incredibly expensive in Norway. We went out for a beer one night and it ended up costing us $16 for a small glass!! Better to skip the booze entirely if you're on a budget.
4. Buy groceries in the grocery stores, not the convenience stores.
While food in the grocery stores was expensive, it was twice as much in the convenience stores like 7-11. Save yourself the kroner and find a Rema or Kiwi (Norwegian groceries) instead!

5. Check out the thrift stores for souvenirs
The Norwegian branch of the Salvation Army, Fretex, has a lot of giant thrift stores around the country. If you're looking for traditional hand crafts, try your luck there. We found Norwegian sweaters, painted wood ornaments, pewter items, and wood crafts all for way less than in the souvenir shops.

6. Consider staying for a short amount of time. Less time in the country, less assault on your wallet. Makes sense.

7. Go camping. Ok, the Bear Grylls people have a point. Camping IS cheap in Norway. But don't tell them I'm admitting they're right.

Norway is an awesome country that's worth visiting, but it'll require a little extra planning that your normal trip. Don't let the sticker shock put you off though! Soon enough you'll be in a cheaper country and you'll appreciate that a sandwich is no longer $20! :)


  1. Norway is definitely a super expensive country - remind me again why I chose to go study here? ;) Well, I suppose you get used to it after a while and traveling a country is usually more expensive than living in a country any way, so that is the only way I can cope.

    I completely agree with all of your tips! I think the biggest thing is to skip eating and drinking out. Groceries are more expensive than in the rest of Europe, too, but not as ridiculously expensive as going to restaurants. If you're traveling through the country, I would also recommend staying renting Cabins on Camping Sites - they're a lot more comfortable than people think and a classic Norwegian way of traveling the country without sleeping in a tent all the time! ;)


    1. Do you know why it's so expensive there? We couldn't figure it out. Thanks for the tips! We definitely started cooking our own food after a day of paying restaurant prices...

    2. Norway is an obscenely rich country due to its oil. So insanely rich that the country doesn't have any debt, but a fund for the post-oil times that contains more than 700 billion US-Dollars. The government is worried that low prices will lead to inflation thus weakening the strong economy, so prices are kept high with tons of taxes. That's about as good as I can explain it. :) It should be noted, though, that Norway doesn't seem so expensive to Norwegians, because people here earn so much more money, even if they work in professions that are typically low-paying: A cleaning lady in Norway would earn more money in percent than a cleaning lady in Germany, for example.