Is it possible to travel to Norway on a budget? Is Norway expensive? After living and traveling in Norway for over 6 years, I know how to travel Norway on a shoestring and I share with you all of my tips.
“Norway is expensive. It’s one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Scandinavia is too pricey. Can I even travel to Norway on a budget? You need to have a lot of money to travel to Norway. How can I travel to Norway on the cheap? I will visit you in Norway when I have some more money. The Norway budget, that I need for the trip will ruin me financially!”
I keep hearing those sentences and questions, more and more even since I moved to Norway. Every time I go abroad and people find out I live in Norway, the first thing they say is – Ah nice. Norway is very expensive, right?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TRAVEL TO NORWAY ON A BUDGET?
Well, Norway is expensive. I am not going to deny that. But there are ways that you can have amazing Norway holidays without breaking the bank. And I made sure to find the best tricks on how to travel to Norway cheaply.
Below, I prepared for you some tips on how you can travel to Norway on a budget. I used similar tips when I was traveling in Iceland on a budget, but because I’ve been living in Norway for almost 6 years now, I have learned even more tricks and tips applicable specifically to Norway, that can be easily used to lower your spending.
I group them into the sections for cheap accommodation in Norway, what and where to eat in Norway on a budget, and how to travel cheaply around Norway. I also wrote a post specifically about tips for visitng Oslo on a budget, so check it out. And for tips about Oslo accommodation head to the link.
I also list the current prices in Norway for the general items, that a traveler would spend money on when traveling in Norway. They are as up-to-date as possible – I do shopping here every day 😉
Hopefully, this will give you more understanding about the Norway prices and the ways of minimizing the expenses.
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Top Norway budget travel tips
# Where to stay in Norway on a budget – budget accommodation in Norway
Accommodation in Norway will probably be one of your biggest expenses in this country. There are, however, a few options for cheap hotels in Norway and budget stays.
Cheap hostels in Norway
Normally, in every country that I visit, hostels are the cheapest accommodation choices. Unfortunately, in Norway, even the hostels can be painfully expensive. However, they are still good places for socializing and usually have a good standard. And compared to the normal hotels, yes, they are cheap(er).
Couchsurfing is a great concept that allows for staying on strangers’ couches and creating meaningful interactions. I’ve used it multiple times all around the world. It also works in Norway. You have a better chance of finding a Couchsurfing host in the bigger Norwegian cities like Oslo or Bergen, but you can also try in the smaller areas. I stayed through Couchsurfing in Stavanger and Lofoten and I made great friends that way.
If you are traveling in Norway and want to explore nature, staying in a traditional cabin “hytte” in Norway is the best (and relatively cheap) idea. The prices vary depending on the standard, but the cheapest ”hytte” can be found for around 200 NOK per person when shared with more people. It’s my favorite accommodation during Norway’s winter. But, in some cases, expect the outdoor toilet and no running water.
Another popular way is using one of the DNT cabins dotted around the country. They are often located on the hiking and skiing trails, so are a perfect stop after a long day of trekking. You can find the locations of the cabins and hiking trails here.
Watch out: for the unmanned cabins, you (or someone from your group) need to be a DNT member in order to get a key.
Norwegians love camping, so the country is full of campsites. They are normally located in very picturesque locations – by the lake or at the edge of the fjord. Never camped before? Find some useful camping equipment tips here.
Apart from the spots for pitching your tent, the campsites also offer small cabins to rent and places for the caravans. One of my favorite campsites near Oslo is in Rjukan, located just by the lake with available sauna in winter and kayaks in the summer. Check prices and availability here.
If you want to look for campsites in a particular area of Norway, you can usually find them on Booking.com by typing the name of the place and selecting the type of accommodation.
This is my favorite way of budget accommodation in the summer in Norway. Thanks to the “Allemansretten” law (Right of access), everyone is free to roam and enjoy nature.
Wild camping is allowed in most outdoor places. You need to make sure to follow a few rules – show respect to nature, do not pitch your tent on private property, and keep a distance from the buildings. Always take all the rubbish with you and leave no trace. You can find more tips for wild camping and camping equipment here.
# What to eat in Norway on a budget – how to eat cheaply in Norway
Everyone needs to eat, so even though you could minimize your accommodation cost by wild camping, you would probably still need to spend something on food. How to find cheap food in Norway?
Bring food with you
This is probably the easiest way of minimizing the food cost in Norway – just bring it from a cheaper country ;-). For that to work you need to have some space in your luggage and also follow the customs regulations, as not everything and not in any amount is permitted without the tax fee. More information about customs for food in Norway here and customs for alcohol here.
Don’t eat out, cook by yourself
Another important piece of advice for cheap food in Norway is to not eat out or not buy prepared food. Even sandwiches in the shops are very expensive, so you are better off buying ingredients separately and making them yourself. Eating in restaurants is also quite pricey, however, the food there is usually of good quality and the prices don’t vary a lot from the high-end London prices.
You can have a main dish for around 150-300 NOK. Starters are from 55-200 NOK in mid-range priced restaurants. Deserts are around 100 NOK.
Find cheap eats
In Oslo, I especially like falafel places, where they can make you a filling falafel wrap for 60 NOK.
The cheapest supermarket in Norway
Even cheaper are the Asian food stores. They also have a much bigger choice of products imported from abroad and the freshest vegetables. You will recognize them by outside stalls full of fresh fruit and veg. The popular one in Oslo is Grønland Frukt Og Grønt.
A shop called Meny is a bit more expensive, but it has a bigger choice. The same goes for Coop. Very often, you can find items that are close to the expiry date and are on discount.
Prices of items sold at petrol stations or in small convenience stores are much higher, so avoid those.
Don’t buy bottled water
Tap water in Norway is perfectly drinkable and also very tasty. Bring a reusable water bottle (help the environment at the same time) and save money! You can fill it up at any tap. Make sure the water is cold – let it run for a bit, then it has the best taste, yum.
Avoid alcohol in Norway
Alcohol is extremely expensive in Norway, especially in pubs and restaurants. Even in the shops, alcohol prices in Norway are crazy compared to other countries. In a restaurant or a bar expect to pay from 60-120 NOK for a small beer and more for a glass of wine. In a shop, the beers start from around 30 NOK.
Wine and stronger alcohol can only be bought in special liquor shops. The alcohol buying times also are regulated – you cannot buy alcohol any time you want.
Skip the booze, or buy it on duty-free after you land – it’s much cheaper.
Tips to find cheap food in Norway
When you try to find cheap food products in Norway there are a few tips that you can follow.
- Store-brand food is normally the cheapest. So if you go to one of the grocery stores like Coop, the Coop branded food is the cheapest, and so on. In other shops, you will see products marked the “First price” brand that is also very cheap. They are normally located at the very bottom shelves, so look out for them.
- A very useful app for finding good food deals is “Too Good To Go”. It shows you the deals on food that is leftover from cafes or restaurants. Very often you can get perfectly fine food for a very cheap price. For example, a bag of sandwiches, tortillas, or even some leftover food from an Indian restaurant can be bought for around 35 NOK.
- For coffee drinkers – the coffee from small Narvesen shops is normally the cheapest, and not as bad as for filter coffee. Narvesen also often has an offer for a sweet bun for 10 NOK when you buy coffee for 20 NOK. If you install the Narvesen app, you will get every 5th coffee for free, and a free coffee on your birthday.
- Do not throw away plastic bottles and cans – in the shops, you can get money back for them in the special machines.
- When you shop, look out for “Tilbud” – it means “discount”
# How to travel cheaply in Norway – cheap transport in Norway
The cheapest transport in Norway is… to walk. Unfortunately with the huge distances in Norway, this might not take you very far. Although, it’s perfectly doable in the smaller cities and even in Oslo.
Hitch-hiking in Norway
For the adventurous ones, I can recommend hitchhiking. It worked for me many times. Unfortunately in the more remote areas, you might have a problem with finding any passing car.
Public Transport in Norway
Public transport in Norway is good in some areas and very bad in others. In the cities, you can easily hop on the bus, tram, or train (especially in Oslo). The tickets, however, are not the cheapest.
- City transport – For city transport, it usually makes more sense to get a daily or weekly pass. In Oslo, a weekly pass for zone 1 is 285 NOK (it includes all types of transport – buses, trams, trains, metro, and ferries). DO NOT buy tickets from the driver as they are much more expensive. The best way to buy tickets in Oslo is on your phone with the Ruter Billett app.
- Trains – For longer journeys, a budget travel tip in Norway is to book trains well in advance. Trains can be very expensive, but when you book in advance, you can often find something called “Mini Pris”. It is a cheaper price for the train journey. You can check the train prices and search for Mini Pris tickets on Train in Norway website. Another alternative is to try Interrail Norway Pass or Eurail Norway Pass. It allows you to travel by any number of trains in Norway during the specific day limit.
- Buses – there are local buses in every city in Norway. For international travel, cheap tickets can be found on Flixbus.
Budget car rental in Norway
Car rental in Norway is my favorite way of transport and it usually turns out the cheapest if you share the car with other people. There are always costs of petrol and tolls involved, but it usually works better on long distances rather than taking public transport. For the cheapest car rentals in Norway, I use the comparison tools like Rentalcars.
- Tolls – annoying part of driving in Norway are tolls. They are common on the main roads, as well as on tiny roads in the middle of nowhere. They can cost anywhere from 20 NOK to even 150 NOK. I recommend checking in advance if the route you decide to take, has any tolls. You can check it on the map here.
- Ferries – another problem with driving in Norway is that to get to some of the popular places in the fjords, you need to take a ferry. And those are more expensive for the car than just for the passengers.
Flights in Norway
Flights within Norway are not as cheap as I would like them to be. Often, it’s cheaper to fly out of Norway or to Norway from abroad rather than within the country. The cheapest airlines to travel to Norway is Norwegian, Ryanair, and Wizzair.
# Cheapest time to fly to Norway
I’ve been asked several times when it’s the cheapest time to visit Norway. I am not sure if there really is one, but for sure, the prices of accommodation and tours go up in the high season (summer). I love Norway in the winter, so you can also visit many places then and avoid the crowds. One recommendation would be this unique Norway winter travel road trip.
# What to do in Norway – budget activities in Norway
Most of the guided tours or activities in Norway are quite expensive. Luckily, the best things to do in Norway are free! Norway is famous for its nature and nature is free and accessible to everyone (the Allemange law). So just go for a walk or a hike and explore.
In some cases, it is worth taking a guided tour to experience something unusual and amazing, like dog sledding in Norway, a snowmobile tour, or Northern Lights chasing. You can compare prices and find the best ones on Get Your Guide or Viator (a Trip Advisor company).
# Current prices in Norway
I will soon share with you the average cost of a trip to Norway. In the meantime, here are the current prices in Norway, to help you calculate how much daily spending money in Norway you might need.
Food prices in Norway
Bread – from 8 NOK (usually only available in the morning) to 40 NOK
Water-free in the tap
Can of beer – 30-40 NOK
Tube of cheap fish/kaviar paste – 25-30nok
Can of chickpeas – 15-20 NOK
1L milk – 17 NOK
12 eggs – 28 NOK
Tomatoes – 35 NOK per kg
Pasta 0,5 kg – 20 NOK
Eating/drinking out in Norway
0,4l beer in a restaurant/bar – 60-100 NOK
A glass of wine – 120 NOK
Good Italian pizza – 180 NOK
The main dish in a restaurant – 250-350 NOK
Coffee in a coffee shop – from 30 NOK
Public transport prices in Norway
One journey ticket in Oslo (valid for 1 hour in one zone and increased time for additional zones, and valid for all transport within Oslo, including buses, trams, metro, and train) – 40 NOK
Train Oslo Bergen – from 300-1000 NOK
Ticket Oslo Gardermoen – Oslo city center – 115 NOK
Read more about Norway:
Here you have it – the local’s tips on how to travel to Norway on a budget! Is it possible? Yes! I hope I showed you how you can make your trip to Norway happen sooner than later. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas for cheap traveling in Norway.
Published: 2020, Updated: 2023
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