Many foreigners coming to visit Norway get a little surprised, or shocked is probably the best word, when realising the price of things in this country. From transportation to food in restaurants, everything except maybe for smoked salmon is more expensive in Norway than most Western countries. The kroners (NOK), Norway’s currency, confuse you at first and then when you convert it to euros or dollars it’s like “Whhaatt? That was the price of a single beer? Not the whole pack?”. Yes Norway is damn expensive. There are a few tips to get around it and have a cheaper stay in Norway. And remember, looking at the country’s many beautiful sceneries is always free (if you manage to get there in the first place).
1. To drink cheaply, I suggest to all of those who want to live or travel in Norway on a budget to stop drinking alcohol. Your liver will be jolly, and your purse will be happy. A beer costs around 60 NOK in a bar out.
2. If you cannot live without alcohol you can try to make it yourself, learning from locals living in the countryside of Northern Norway. The risk here is 1- jail, 2- getting blind and/or 3- dying from the explosion in the learning process.
3. Another alternative to drinking cheaply is to travel only on Norway’s border with Sweden or even move there. You will be able to cross the border as often as necessary to get your authorized quota of alcohol (which, by the way, was just raised to 6 bottles of wine instead of 4!). Depending on your level of alcoholism you can also decide to live in the boat between Denmark and Norway where you will travel with fellow drinkers from Norway.
4. Get train tickets a little in advance, it is called Minipris and can go as low as 199 NOK to go as far as you like. It used to be that price but now the minimum seems to be 249 NOK. Still, for a trip lasting 17 hours or more it’s worth it. For a train ride all over Europe Interrail passes are always an option.
5. Challenge yourself by going on a trip such as cycling from Bergen to the North Cape or hitch hiking accross Norway. I met people doing such things while traveling around the country. One of them was cycling from North Cape to Brittany in one month and slept in barns and old farms in villages (she asked every evening where she could sleep). It is tiring but definitely cheap!
6. Couchsurfing involves maybe having to sleep on a smelly couch in a flat full of strange people, or maybe meeting amazing people who will feed and entertain and host you for free. In any case it is mostly a great experience to learn to meet people who live in the country. Couchsurfing is a platform where people become members (also for free) and host travelers and/or sleep at peoples’ houses around the world. Be aware that many people, seeing the crazy prices of hotels in Norway, become instant members on CS. But CS is not only to get a free bed it is about the exchange and the experience so if your only aim is to Norway is to spare some cash you won’t find many people to host you. The key is to spend some time writing requests to get locals to open their house to you (and host people yourself in your home country).
7. Camping will lead to some costs such as buying a tent. However the costs stop there, because while staying one night in a hotel can be very expensive, it is legal in Norway to camp in any forest (except those which are privately owned). You can drink in rivers and also swim in them instead of taking showers. You will smell a little after a while, which isn’t so good for social life. But this post is about traveling on a budget, not finding a friend or your soulmate. Note that the latter usually involves a small investment in soap and hygiene facilities.
8. Wwoofing is a system where you work in a farm and in exchange you will get food and a place to sleep. This costs nothing but your time and will lead you to stay in mostly very beautiful areas of remote Norway.
9. To eat cheaply, the main option is to buy food in supermarkets. Do not go out in restaurants, your budget will melt faster than snow. There are a few restaurants which are cheap, such as Asian restaurants in Grønland in Oslo where a meal will cost around 80 NOK.
10. A trip to Norway can be a great opportunity to start a new diet based on knekkebrød and mild cheese. And muesli and berries. If you are hiking across Norway you will have access to all sorts of wild fruits: blueberries, blackberries, Strawberries, multer and rasberries which are also, by the way, very good for your health, and are also free if you are the one to pick them. Fishing yourself from lakes and rivers can also be a way to eat for little money. Potatoes usually cost nothing as well as cabbage (local products). There you go, a meal full of calories to continue your trip!
If you are looking for a little more serious, you can go on the official link of Visit Norway with their page on traveling on a budget. Also remember to bring clothes for all sorts of weather because in Norway you never know what is coming your way: sun, wind, snow or rain. Checking Norway’s weather forecast website can be an option and also the Trekking Association which will have good tips on where to go at what time of the year. If you want to read more about traveling in Norwegian cottages in the middle of nowhere there is more here.
Finally, if you are on a very tight budget I suggest you go somewhere else than Norway. It is, after all, an expensive destination so you might want to wait until you have a bigger budget to come here. Tents and berry picking will take you so far, especially if it rains every day and the moose eats the roof of your tent. If your host on CS is a sexual predator and the farmers in the wwoofing place give you rotten food to eat (this is a true story of one wwoofing farm in Norway). But if you are full of courage and still want to come over to this beautiful country, all I can say is welcome and god tur!