Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget?

This post was last updated on February 21st, 2017

How To Travel Norway On A Budget

The response from our most recent post, 35 Photos of Norway That Will Make You Want to Pack Now, was overwhelmingly cohesive. Basically you all said: “Yep-Norway is absolutely stunning. I’d love to go. Too bad it is way out of my travel budget.”

It’s true. Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Although we were mentally prepared for the exorbitant prices, sticker shock still set in the moment one teeny tiny black coffee (no refills) set us back $5 USD—and that wasn’t even the worst of the prices that were yet to come.

That said it IS possible to travel Norway on a budget, provided you do as we say, not as we did. More specifically, Norway is not exactly a country where you just want to ‘wing’ it (like us).

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Norway

After having regulated travel itineraries in Lapland, we were ready to slow down and see where the Norwegian air blew us. It worked well enough. Having no plans meant we could add a week in the Lofoten Islands, a destination we originally had not planned on visiting but that ultimately proved the highlight of our entire trip. However, we also learned a lot in the process, and it was a bit painful to discover all the ways we could have—and should have—saved money.

 

So don’t make the same mistakes we did. By following a few of the tips below, you’ll be well on your way to budget travel in Norway.

 

The Right Season To Travel In Norway

 

     1. Go to Norway in the summer.

 

Longer days and more sunshine will make it easier to enjoy Norway’s main (free) attraction—its natural beauty. There are also more travel deals and packages during the summer months, some of which we’ll list below. Plus, some of Norway’s fjords and hikes are only accessible from May to September.

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? HIking Pulpit Rock

YAY! Hiking is free!!!

 

Though we were traveling during mid-April, it was still quite chilly; a lot of the hikes and climbs we wanted to experience were closed due to snow or ice.

 

     2. Avoid traveling over the holidays.

 

We were traveling in Norway over Easter, which was basically a horrible idea. One-way train tickets during Easter week cost $200 USD per person; I just found the same journey in May for only $41 USD. Also, everything in Norway shuts down over the holidays, including the supermarket, so it’s not the most convenient time to explore the country anyway.

 

Save Money On Accommodation In Norway

 

     1. Camp

 

Norway has a law called ‘The Freedom to Roam’. It allows all people access to public lands, wilderness and uncultivated countryside. That means that it is legal to pitch a tent just about anywhere, provided it is no closer than 150 meters from an inhabited house or cabin. This is the best way to keep your accommodation costs to a minimum (or zero) while also experiencing Norway’s immense beauty.

There are numerous campsites all across the country if you prefer to have a shower and toilets. Prices vary, but this option is of course much cheaper than a hostel or hotel.

 

     2. Join the Norwegian Trekking Association

 

The Norwegian Trekking Association is Norway’s largest outdoor activities organization. They operate 400 lodgings across the country, ranging from self-service cabins to staffed lodges in the wilderness. The basic cabins only cost around $16-$30 USD, and you pay via an ‘honor system’ when you leave. These are perfect if you want to do a lot of hiking/skiing/climbing, but don’t want to carry all of your gear along. You have to pay for a one-year membership to receive a key, but the cost is minimal compared to the money you’ll save.

 

     3. Couchsurf

 

Unfortunately camping will only get you so far if you are visiting cities like Oslo and Bergen. However, Norway has a very extensive couchsurfing network, and we met some truly wonderful hosts during our journey across the country. We even had a private room in this mansion:

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Couchsurfing Bergen

 

Not a bad deal, right?

 

     4. Consider business hotels

 

Hotels and B&Bs are all extremely expensive, but there isn’t a huge price difference between a basic room in a guesthouse and a comfy room in a large hotel. With hostel beds averaging at $40 USD per person, these really don’t make sense for couples.

Sometimes hotels will offer special rates during the summer months and weekends. We got half-off one night at a beautiful hotel on the water by asking if they had any last minute deals for that night.

 

     5. Travel with friends

 

If you have a group of around six people, cabins and lodges become much more affordable. We stayed in a fully equipped cabin that could have slept six and cost only $130 USD—total.

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Cabins in Norway

Cozy and affordable cabins in Lofoten Islands at Eliassen Rorbuer.

 

Transportation In Norway

 

     1. Purchase train tickets up to 90 days in advance to get the ‘mini price’.

 

Pretty self-explanatory. Train tickets can be bought up to 90 days in advance. There are a certain number of ‘mini price’ tickets available, priced from 199-499 KR, but they go quickly.

 

     2. Consider flying, or even purchasing an Explore Norway Flight Ticket.

 

There’s more competition between airlines than train companies, which means that you can often find plane tickets for less than other public transport. During the summer months (June 19 – August 27 for 2014) you can get an Explore Norway Flight Ticket with Wideroe, valid for two weeks of unlimited flights. Various zones cost different amounts; the cheapest ticket is $500 USD. Not the best for the environment, but if you plan on doing a lot of extensive traveling, this could be a good deal. Like we already said in the holiday tip, we paid $400 USD for the two of us to take a 10-hour train ride one way…

 

     3. Rent a car.

 

Norway might be one of the only oil-producing countries in the world with high gas prices. But if you can get a good deal on a rental car, then this can become an affordable option. We rented a car for three days for a total of $180 USD.

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Rent A Car in Norway

 

In our opinion, driving is the best way to experience Norway, with many scenic routes along fjords, countryside, and ocean.

 

     4. Hitchhike?

 

We’ve heard from other travelers that Norway is a hitchhiking-friendly country, but we can’t really speak from experience on this one. Most Norwegians speak near perfect English though, so communication likely wouldn’t be an issue.

 

     5. Walk within the cities

 

Even Oslo, the capital of Norway, is a very walkable city. Save money and get a better sense of the cities by walking from place to place.

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Walk or Bike in Norway

 

Save Money On Eating and Drinking In Norway

 

     1. Cook your own food.

 

Restaurants in Norway are all absurdly expensive. Even most locals cook on a regular basis, only eating out if it is a special occasion. Luckily, most cabins, houses, and even small hotels will come with a fully equipped kitchen. Rice and beans, anyone?

 

     2. Have a picnic.

 

There are plenty of picnic tables and public huts to use throughout the country. Pack some picnic goodies and enjoy them.

 

     3. If staying at a guesthouse or hotel, ask if you can pack a lunch.

 

It’s not all that cool to stash food from breakfast in your backpack, but many hotels have a system where you can legitimately pack a few sandwiches for lunch for only a few dollars.

 

     4. Purchase your alcohol from the Vinmonopolet

 

A local brew at a restaurant is going to set you back around $11 USD. Don’t even think about a cocktail. If you want to drink, do it in your room. To buy alcohol above 4 or 5 %, you must go to a Vinmonopolet, or liquor store. They’re only open Monday-Friday until 6pm, and Saturday until 3pm, so plan your weekend accordingly.

 

Must-See Attractions In Norway

 

     1. Nature is free, and it’s probably what Norway does best.

 

Get outside and enjoy the beauty that is Norway. You’ll find epic hiking, cycling, climbing, and skiing opportunities, just to name a few. Norway’s quaint and colorful cities are worth visiting as well, but we found it to be the landscapes that were out-of-this-world gorgeous.

 

Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget? Pulpit Rock, Norway

 

     2. Buy a Fjordpass or City Pass

 

The Fjordpass gives you discounts at hotels, on rental cars, and on various attractions around the country. You need to do some money crunching to see if it is right for you. Similarly, if you enjoy museums and such, both Oslo and Bergen have city passes that get you into multiple attractions. Again, it just depends on your personal travel preference.

 

Even utilizing the tips listed above, Norway won’t be as inexpensive as your Southeast Asia backpacking trip. But it doesn’t have to be outlandish, either. We reckon that if you do your planning correctly, you can easily—and enjoyably—stick within a budget of $50 per person per day. Hopefully one day we will be able to return to Norway and put our own tips to use!

 

Does Norway sound more affordable to you now? Have you traveled Norway on a budget? Any tips to add?

 

40 Comments

  1. This is by no means a criticism as I love the idea for this post but let me just add a few things: First of all, if you go to Norway in the summer this means that you have to deal with loads of tourists everywhere so you can’t really get an insight into Norwegian culture. Also because so many people want to visit Norway during the summer months, hotels and flights will be a lot more expensive! And regarding the Freedom to Roam: ONLY ONE NIGHT! Many people take the rule literally and try to camp on somebody else’s ground several days. You’re only allowed to stay for one night and you should ask the owner beforehand because foreigners taking the rule too seriously are every Norwegian’s worst nightmare ;)
    And if you’re a student you can also do a Hurtigruten cruise and save 25% in the summer (which I wouldn’t recommend as the ships are crowded at that time) and 50% during off-season. I could only afford my cruise because I was a student and it was unbelievably amazing!! ;)
    VanBerry @ On the Road again recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge: LettersMy Profile

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    • Thanks for the feedback! The point about student discounts is really great. As we are no longer students, often we forget that this is a really great option for a lot of people!

      It’s true that there will be lots more tourists in Norway over the summer months. I guess it’s one of the drawbacks of getting to experience the climate, as well as some of the attractions that are only open during that time. Maybe by visiting later or earlier in the summer you could avoid it a bit?

      For the Freedom to Roam, according to the Fjord Norway website, “If you are planning to stay for more than two consecutive nights you need the landowner’s permission. However, you do not need the landowner’s permission if the tent is far from habitations and in the mountains.” So our advice would be not to camp in someone’s backyard ;) That’s kind of bad form anyway, even if it is 150 m away from a cabin. Thanks for bringing up the point though that people shouldn’t take the rule too literally! :)

      Also, it might be more expensive to fly to Norway, and you would have to scout some deals, use frequent flier miles, etc (check out our post on saving money on airfare) but you could save money on flights within the country by purchasing the two week flier card we mentioned which is only available during the summer months. A lot of hotels we found offer summer discounts, but you could easily save money by camping in the perfect summer weather conditions.

      I hope that’s a bit helpful and maybe clarifies some of our points! We appreciate the feedback!

      Reply
      • I go back to Norway every 2 years. This is because I am from Norway. I have never paid more than 800 round trip. Do some looking around the deals are out there
        Ha det godt så lenge

        Reply
        • Wow! Would you please elaborate on how is it that you keep your trips to no more than $800. I’d love to know how you do it. Thanks!

          Reply
          • Kayak, I just paid 333.00 round trip out of Boston to Oslo.
            We’re flying in January because we ski and want to see the borealis lights.

  2. Hey guys! Wow, this is a very comprehensive and informative guide. Well done. We both really want to go to Norway as well and we’re glad to hear that you think $100/day for a couple is possible (that’s our usual budget).

    Sometimes you just have to splurge a little. Otherwise, what’s the point in going to a country like Norway or Sweden? It would be a shame to miss out on everything because it’s “overbudget”.

    Cheers!
    Dariece @GoatsOnTheRoad recently posted…A Guide To Must-Have Travel Electronics for the Modern NomadMy Profile

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    • Thanks Dariece!! You’re definitely right about just having to splurge sometimes. We always try to remind ourselves that we shouldn’t have spent any of the money in the first place if we’re just going to mope around and be miserable about prices! I do definitely thing it’s possible though to do $100 a day- if you guys give it a try be sure to let us know your feedback!
      A Cruising Couple recently posted…Is It Possible to Travel Norway on a Budget?My Profile

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  3. You could very well have been describing Denmark in that post… I was constantly converting you mentions of prices to the Danisk Krone, and it’s pretty much the same prices. Want a nice cafe latte? Yup – that’ll be $9 USD. Oh GOOOD, I don’t want to go back in July…

    But I like the Freedom to Roam thing. That sounds super cool! I was canooing with my parents one summer as a kid and they have the same. We camped on lonely islands for a week without seeing any other people! It was amazing. So I can definitely recommend that. :)

    I think when we go back to Denmark I’ll write a similar post about Denmark. We have looots of saving tips, and Denmark is a bit cheaper than Norway but still insane. Would be good info. And even though everybody in both countries speak good English, I feel like most of the great saving advice is only available in Norwegian/Danish.

    Oh! And it’s suuuper cheap to get to Norway! We’re flying from Fort Lauderdale to Oslo with Norwegian Air on the way back: $225 USD per person! Love iiit.

    Thanks for this amazing post! :D Next time you’ll be prepared for a cheaper way to travel Norway! :)

    Reply
    • That sounds awesome! And glad you got the good deals on Norwegian Air. We spent about the same amount, and that was really what inspired us to go to Scandinavia in the first place! I would love to read a post about traveling Denmark on a budget! I’m not sure if we’ll have time to make it there when we finish housesitting in France or not, but it would be really good to know all the same, and super helpful for lots of people I bet! :)

      Reply
    • Thanks Amanda! That’s one of our favorite things about new cities too. If they’re walkable, they always get some extra love from us :)

      Reply
  4. I’ve been wanting to get to Norway for years… hoping to go next year, so have bookmarked this fab guide. I’m also not so worried about costs anymore as it seems on a par with everyday costs in Australia (which are exorbitant at the minute), so many won’t be as bad as I thought.
    Here a cheapo cabin that hasn’t been refurbished since the ’70s will set you back $200 a night, and a a teeny tiny coffee (never get refills here) is around the same $5.
    Thanks for the post :)
    Linda @EcoTraveller recently posted…Great Tips for a Green HolidayMy Profile

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    • You should definitely be ready for it if you are accustomed to prices in Australia. Haha maybe you’ll even thing Norway is cheap then! Hope you get to make it soon- it is really beautiful :)

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  5. Thanks for the tips guys! Booking trains 90 days in advance is something we usually do because we never really plan at least not that far ahead, but I guess if we were going to Norway we would need to adapt. Thank you!
    Franca recently posted…The 7 Things We Miss From AsiaMy Profile

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    • Glad you found it helpful!! Yea we are no good at being that organized and planned ahead, and normally we don’t really want to be! But for a place like Norway, it’s definitely not a bad idea :)

      Reply
  6. OH MY GOD YOU STAYED IN A MANSION FOR FREE?! Amazing! This is all great advice. I definitely found Norway more expensive than neighbouring Sweden, though I only visited Oslo so that might not be the best judge, and while I found Sweden reasonably expensive, it didn’t seem crazy compared to London (which is expensive, but seems more or less normal to me because I’m used to it!) But yes, overall Scandinavia is probably a place where it’s better to have things planned out in advance.
    Sam recently posted…April 2014 ReportMy Profile

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    • Yes!! Isn’t that the most amazing thing ever? Haha the owner rents it out occasionally, but when he’s not doing that he uses it as this crazy couchsurfing abode. We met like 30 people from around the world while we were there… and we still had our own room and workspace! I shouldn’t give it all away because we’re going to write a whole post about it eventually, but I just found it to be the coolest thing!

      Reply
  7. Casey, You have a fantastic list. We were in Norway last summer and we were saved by staying with friends. Meals and accommodation, let alone gas, will kill your budget fast! We didn’t camp, but will on our next trip. Depending on how you get to Norway, you can buy food before you get there…they only works if you are ferrying not flying. Great info!
    Corinne recently posted…I’m Showing my April!My Profile

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    • Great tip about bringing food on the ferry! It is truly amazing how expensive even the essentials from the grocery store are. That’s awesome you had friends to stay with though! How did you find Norway in the summer? Did it feel super touristy?

      Reply
  8. Marvellous pictures and quite a comprehensive guide indeed! The Nordic countries are insanely beautiful and probably made for lengthy trips. However, they are probably not among the budget traveller favorites. Still good to see that you can explore a country like Norway without breaking a fjord into the travel fund… :)
    Have fun and take care, Oliver
    Oliver recently posted…SequoiaMy Profile

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    • Thanks Oliver! Scandinavia is definitely a place that is worth saving up for and it’s very easy to spend a lot. There are certainly ways to lessen the blow to your bank account though! :-)

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    • Thanks Rachel! I don’t always love camping, but when it is as beautiful as Norway, I can make do ;)

      Reply
  9. Given how close Latvia is to Scandinavia, I hope to spend some time exploring all the countries. It’s nice to know there are ways to save money, which means I can go more often and/or stay longer!
    Heather recently posted…How to Have Fun Almost AnywhereMy Profile

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    • Super jealous! After seeing Scandinavia in the winter, we would love to explore during the summer. I really hope you get the chance to go :-)

      Reply
  10. This is an awesome list! $50 is not bad at all! I need to look for friends who will go with me! ;)
    Sarah recently posted…What’s in Macau?My Profile

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    • Do it!! With a big group of people it would be a lot more manageable :)

      Reply
  11. I love what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the good works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.
    Elinor recently posted…ElinorMy Profile

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  12. It’s great to know that you can visit Norway without completely crippling yourself financially. Norway is a country that I have wanted to visit for a long time and I admit that I have put it off because of the costs so thanks for the tips! I am writing an article at the moment about travelling through Canada on $37 per day for 5 months, another country that is known to be expensive to travel. It can definitely be done!

    Reply
    • Wow, sounds like a great guide to Canada! You would definitely be pinching pennies, but as long as you enjoy camping and hiking, then I think Norway on a budget would still be phenomenal :)

      Reply
  13. Just wanted to chime in and say that hitchhiking in Norway is totally possible! My family is from Norway and we often pick up hitchhikers and I’ve used it to get around in the past as well. Norway is such a safe country that people are generally pretty trusting of strangers, as long as they look fairly clean and friendly ;)
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    • Thanks so much for adding your experience Silvia! Great to hear. We’ll have to give it a try next time we’re in Norway :)

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  14. I spent only several euros a day average in my month in Norway :) Just camped and hitchhiked everywhere and went hiking into the mountains. A lot of the time hitchhiking you would be invited to stay at the peoples homes. Only expense was food, and that was cheap instant noodles etc in the stores. The main reason to visit Norway is to get into nature. You don’t need money to enjoy it!
    Jonny Duncan recently posted…The Art Of The Amsterdam BicycleMy Profile

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  15. Nice to read your experience of Norway , the information you provided is really helpful for me because i am planning to visit there , but steel waiting for right deals of air transportation . According to these seasons the air frights are hiked so waiting ..

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  16. Thank you for a fair description of my beautiful country – nice you had so good experiences. Yes, it is quite expencive, but still….
    I guess the “unknown” secret of Norway is The right to Roam – known as Allemannsretten in norwegian. By law everybody (alle mann) has the right to live and harvest the nature (a few exceptions) for fish, berries, mushrooms, wild flowers etc – for free. Outside the cities the freshwater is tasty and safe to drink from taps, even directly from the rivers and creeks.
    Please read more, and come visit: http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/Documents/publikasjoner/M86/M86.pdf

    Reply
  17. Please correct; The water is safe to drink from taps everywhere, and outside cities it is safe to drink even directly from rivers and creeks…

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  18. So many great ideas! We love travelling on the cheap, I always feel like you see and do more when you aren’t secluding yourself in a hotel or going with tour groups.

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  19. For the Freedom To Roam, if you have done this, did you bring your own gear or can you rent equipment when you arrive? I don’t think we’d want to “roam” the entire two weeks of our trip but would consider renting tents along the way to not have to haul them around every place we tour.

    Reply

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