The cost of getting around Norway
When it comes to visiting Norway, it’s actually super cheap to get there from mainland Europe. The low cost carrier, Ryanair even do deals to Oslo for 4,99! But, surely there is a catch to flights being so cheap...yes, it’s expensive when you get there!
Anyway, you can use Skyscanner to compare the best deals for visiting Norway on a budget.
Once you land, you’ll need to decide what is the best way to get around Norway. You have a few different options available to you…
Hire a car
When Brad and I road tripped through Norway, we had our own vehicle thanks to our awesome collaboration with Tinggly. We could NEVER have seen all the amazing things we got to see in Norway without having our own vehicle. We got to explore so much and the views when driving through Norway are amazing.
I totally suggest you rent a car to get the most out of your Norway adventures. Fuel in Norway actually changes throughout the country. It ranges from around 1.3 euro to 1.6 euro depending on where you are!
Norway is also famous for its road tolls. So there are a few things to know to help you with your road tolls and managing Norway on a budget:
- The north of Norway has no road tolls (yay!), so from Lofoten upwards to the North Cape you can explore free of charge!
- If you’ve got your own vehicle, then you can register for a toll pass before you visit Norway and get 20% off the toll roads.
- There are very few physical managed tolls (by people) left in Norway, and most are automatic. They scan the car then send a bill to the car owners address. If you’ve rented a car, you’ll pay via your chosen car rental company.
- You can avoid toll roads by taking longer routes, but when driving through the fjords, the chances are you’ll still need to take ferries.
- Ferries range from 120 nok to 220 nok (around 12-22 euro) and you can pay on board via card or cash.
Take the Train
There are a variety of great train networks in Norway and actually some of the train routes are regarded as some of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.
Brad and I did a journey in Flan and it brought some beautiful views. Popular routes include Oslo to Flan and Bergen to Flan, so it’s totally possible to see some of the most amazing landscapes in Norway with train travel.
There are quite a few airports all across Norway that connect the country very well. We have seen some TINY airports when driving, so it’s totally possible to fly yourself around Norway. However I can’t say that’s going to be budget friendly, but certainly is convenient.
You can book flights on Skyscanner and prices vary, but for example, a flight to Kirkenes from Oslo is around $90.
The cost of food in Norway
Eating out in Norway
There is no denying it, eating out in Norway is expensive if you’re trying to visit on a budget. But, in some places, it’s actually pretty average for Europe. For example, in Northern Norway you can get food for around 120-180 nok (which is around 12-18 euro), whereas in typical tourist areas, you’re looking at over 200 nok.
The cheapest place you can eat in Norway is probably McDonalds. So if you’re looking for cheap, fast food then opt opt for that, especially in busy cities.
Before going to Norway, I was warned a cup of coffee would cost me around 7 euro, other than possibly some places in Oslo, that’s not the case. Espresso coffee is more expensive, coming in at around 35-50 nok.
Filter coffee is cheaper, a couple of Euro and you can get cheap or free refills.
Top Tip: If you’re looking for a cheap (free) coffee, then when you shop in a supermarket, there is often complementary filter coffee on offer, (sometimes cookies if you’re lucky!).
So, if you’re wondering how much a cup of coffee is in Norway, then I’d average at 2 euro for filter coffee and 4 euro for espresso style (cappuccino, latte).
Grocery shopping in Norway
If you plan on making your own food whilst backpacking Norway, or road tripping Norway, then you will cut costs dramatically. We found cooking our own food the best way to visit Norway on a budget.
Mexican food in Norway is weirdly the cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere in the world, I’ll never know why! But basically all your pastas, potatoes, vegetables, etc are all normal priced and if you stick to own brands it’s even cheaper.
Meats are more expensive, but the cheapest thing to buy is sausages. There is a range of frozen vegetarian and vegan cuisine too, and these are more expensive than other parts of Europe.
The most common supermarkets in Norway are
- Rema 1000
- Coop Extra
My favourite is Rema 1000 and that’s the major one we used.
Smaller shops like Joker and Circle K are more expensive, but Circle Ks often have good value hot food and drinks deals for when your on the road.
Cost of alcohol in Norway
Alcohol in Norway is expensive, there is NO escaping that.
You can buy booze that’s under a certain percentage in supermarkets, so basic ciders and beers. If you want anything stronger than that you have to go to one of the state run liquor stores.
In order to save yourself some money, I suggest you bring in your 1 litre allowance from the duty free airport. Since Norway isn’t in the EU, you’re subject to non EU prices, which makes the alcohol cheaper!
Drinking in bars or restaurants is very expensive, and there is no real way to do this on a budget, unless you catch a happy hour deal, (Which won’t be happy hour deals you normally expect!). So avoid drinking alcohol out if attempting to visit Norway on a budget.
Activities in Norway
If you’re wondering why Norway is so expensive, then you’ve got to consider the wages. People get paid more here, so they’ve got more to spend, so it’s all relative. But, because they get paid more, it kind of means their activities and tours tend to be a little on the more expensive side….
BUT a lot of the amazing things to see and do in Norway can be achieved completely free, if you’ve got a car with you.
Some of these activities include:
- Finding the Northern Lights. You’ll need darkness, a strong KP, clear skies and luck. You’ll also need to be North. Don’t go on a Northern Lights tour if you don’t have the money, just simply drive to secluded spots. There are many picnic areas beside lakes and in parks that are perfect for searching for the Northern Lights.
- Seeing the Fjords: The Fjords in Norway are beautiful and you don’t need to take a Fjord cruise or flight to see them if you can’t afford it. Simply amongst the fjords and pull over at different viewpoints to get some epic sights and photo spots.
- Nature is free: Norway has many beautiful hikes and waterfalls and 99% of them are free.
- Get your guide offer some great deals on tours around Norway so that’s a good place to start
Exchanging money in Norway
Norway uses the NOK and basically if you divide any number by 10 you’ll get the equivalent in euros. EVERYWHERE in Norway accepts card, after 3 weeks of travelling, I never found one single place that didn't.
The best way to get a good exchange rate is to use the likes of Starling, Monzo and Revolut. All free travel cards to order, and you get the best exchange rate that’s on the market (it’s constantly changing in line with the official exchange rates). So you will always get a good deal, no fees, and you if you do want to withdraw money, it won’t charge you for up to £200.
Tip: Starling has no limit on withdrawal for free, but we found the exchange rate a bit “worse”, (not that you would even notice, we are talking pennies of difference) and if you get a Monzo and Revolut you can use both and get £400 a month free withdrawals!
Don’t change your money before you enter Norway. Just withdraw from an ATM there. They don’t charge! If you want to visit Norway on a budget, avoid the terrible exchange rate in your home country and wait until you arrive to Norway.
Shopping in Norway
One good thing about buying souvenirs in Norway is it’s actually tax free shopping. When it comes to shopping, generally items are more expensive than they are elsewhere in Europe.
If you want to buy gifts for families and friends, then you can get fridge magnets, shot glasses, tea towels etc for around 40-60 nok.
Accommodation in Norway
Okay, so I’ll be straight with you and say that Bradley and I didn’t pay for hotels in Norway because we lived in your campervan.
But there are ways to save money on hotels in Norway.
- Visit in the off season. We visited in Autumn, and hotels are readily available and often have sales on to get customers in.
- Use Airbnb, we have a sign up code that gets you money off your first booking. But generally Airbnb is much cheaper than hotels and you can get rooms for 2 people for as cheap as $30 a night.
- If you do want to stay in hotels in norway, then I recommend you use booking.com to search for all the best prices. It’s what we use too.
If you’re travelling via campervan/caravan/tent, then there are lots of campsites throughout Norway. Prices vary, but on average a campsite with electricity and access to shower/toilets is around 200-250 nok per night.
If you’re looking for wild camping spots in Norway, I suggest the app CamperContact. It was fantastic for finding camp spots in Norway that were free to stay!
So there you go, my guide to visiting Norway on a budget. It’s totally possible to visit Norway and not splash the cash. Of course it all depends on what you are doing, but basically slow travel is the best way to spend less on a Norway holiday.
Shop around, plan ahead and don’t spend frivolously and you can see all that this amazing country has to offer, without worrying about spending too much money.
If you’ve got any other tips for seeing Norway on a budget, then drop a comment below!