How to Travel Norway on a Budget

These Tips Will Help You Afford a Trip to One of the World's Most Expensive Countries

Discussions of Norway’s immense beauty are almost always followed by lamentations of its costliness. However, a trip to Norway doesn’t have to break the bank. Follow the tips below to explore one the world’s most expensive countries on a budget.

Save on Accommodation

Camping at Å in the Lofoten Islands, Norway by: Steve Cadman (CC)

By bringing a tent on vacation you can enjoy overnight stays in beautiful locations at absolutely no cost. Right of Access laws allow you to pitch a tent almost anywhere on unfenced land for free. If you’d prefer access to some facilities, such as a shower and kitchen, opt for one of Norway’s reasonably priced campsites. Of course, winter visitors may find it too cold to camp; if you need a roof over your head, consider staying with a verified Couchsurfing host for free or spending some kroners on a hostel or budget cabin.

Eat Affordable Food

While it may not be glamorous, eating all your meals from supermarkets will go a long way in cutting down on vacation costs. Rema 1000, Rimi, and Kiwi are all popular supermarkets among cost-conscious shoppers, selling food you can eat right away or prepare at your hostel’s or campsite’s kitchen. If you’re eager to check out Norway’s restaurant scene, go at lunchtime, when a number of eateries run set-menu deals. A handy website called Norway on a Budget lists a number of affordable restaurants in major Norwegian cities.

Use Discount Transportation

Di 4 on the Nordland Line by Kabelleger/ David Gubler (CC)
Di 4 on the Nordland Line by: Kabelleger/David Gubler (CC)

Driving in Norway offers unmatched freedom and accessibility to the country’s more remote sites but can be prohibitively expensive. To travel Norway on a budget, stick to public transportation and plan in advance. Trains run between Norwegian cities both large and small, with most routes offering a limited number of discounted tickets called minipris. Starting at just 249NOK, minipris tickets can sell out fast so you’ll need to book ahead of time. If you want to access some of Norway’s pristine islands, make sure to go with a local transport ferry rather than the much pricier mini-cruises aimed at tourists.

Find Free Things To Do

Vigelandspark by: Samuli Lintula (CC)

You’ll find a surprising array of zero-cost ways to have fun in Norway’s capital city. The free-of-charge City Museum is the ideal place to begin your tour, providing information about Oslo’s history and culture alongside fascinating artifacts. If the weather is good, you can then spend your afternoon wandering through Vigelandsparken, a park exhibiting over 200 sculptures by one of Norway’s premier artists, or the grounds of Akershus Fortress for stunning views over the harbor. The Museum of Contemporary Art and National Gallery (home to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”) both operate with free admission on Sundays.

Bergen by Jenni Douglas (CC)
Bergen by: Jenni Douglas (CC)

In Bergen, encircled by seven mountains, simply appreciating the surrounding scenery is one of the cheapest and most enjoyable things to do. The city itself also offers a number of picturesque sights, such as the iconic Bryggen wharf houses, a World Heritage Site dating back to medieval times. To get a no-cost taste of local culture, take a stroll through the city’s fish market and then wander the streets of its more residential neighborhoods, such as Sandviken and Nodnes. A one-hour hike up Mount Floyen makes a great finish your trip, but remember to bring snacks to avoid over-paying at the summit cafe.

Vinterdag i Storgata by The Municipality of Tromso (CC)
Vinterdag i Storgata by: The Municipality of Tromso (CC)

Situated within the Arctic Circle, the Northern Lights are Tromso’s best-known free attraction. Though little can compete with this spectacular natural show, the city plays host to a handful of other interesting gratis sights. Start your Tromoso trip with a leisurely walk down Storegata (“big street”) and take in the quintessentially Scandinavian architecture. Once it’s time to warm up, you can head to Art Museum of Northern Norway, home to a number of fine landscape paintings, or Perspektivet, a diverse museum set in a charming 19th-century house.

Spend Less, Experience More

Although Norway presents a few challenges to the cost-conscious traveler, managing your money can lead to unexpected pleasures, such as getting off the tourist track and experiencing the country more as a local. Planning and research are key to enjoying Norway on a budget, so craft your itinerary in advance to get the most from your bargain getaway.