How You Can Tackle Norway on a Budget
Norway is one of Europe’s most expensive travel destinations, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. With a few tips and a little preparation, Norway on a budget is perfectly possible. Budget travelers can also take in the awesome landscapes, Oslo’s trendy Nordic food scene, some epic rail rides, a whole lot of unbridled nature, and some of the best winter sports this side of the Arctic circle.
Once you’ve given Norway sufficient time, you can travel on the rail lines that connect the country with the rest of Europe via Sweden and Denmark. But before you travel onward, here’s how to experience the best of Norway on a budget.
Tips for seeing Norway on a budget
Getting there: Budget airlines
First, you’ll have to get to Norway. Surprisingly, this can be cheaper than you thought. Oslo makes a great entry point into Europe because often it’s the cheapest port of entry from North America. Leading the pack for airlines which offer good quality and service and low prices is Norwegian Air. There are some unbelievably low fares, especially in the winter.
Transport: Get a Eurail Pass
Point-to-point train tickets in Norway are expensive. Buying a rail pass will save you money in most cases. Norway is an elongated country, stretching north past the Arctic Circle, so rail journeys are long. Use Eurail’s handy Rail Planner App to get train times and connections. This is important in a sparsely-populated country like Norway, where departure times are limited.
Also, make note of the 7 p.m. rule. This rule means that you only need to use 1 travel day when you travel on a direct night train that departs after 7 p.m. (19:00) and arrives at its final stop after 4 a.m.
Accommodation: Pack your tent
Not everybody is a camper, but sleeping in a tent will save you money in Norway. Norwegians have a good relationship with the outdoors – they have to in this harsh northern climate. There’s a lot of open land and one law in particular that vagabonds will hold dear. It’s the “Right to Roam”, which entitles people free access to the countryside – as long as you tread lightly.
This gives you the freedom to put up a tent or sleep under the stars for the night, anywhere in the countryside, forests, or mountains, as long as you keep at least 150 meters away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. For travelers on a budget, this is good news and a practical solution to save money in the summer. But in winter you’d better be following the play book of Roald Amundsen, or else stay indoors for the night.
Consider alternative accommodation
Alternative accommodation is becoming more mainstream these days. Apartment rentals through services such as Airbnb can save money over hotels, especially if you’re traveling as a group. Solo travelers are best in hostels and will save more money if they bring their own sleeping bag or liner. This will also come in handy when Couchsurfing. Making new friends via Couchsurfing can cut your budget and will also connect you with locals, leading to more interesting experiences and a better insight into Norwegian culture.
Hot dogs from the convenience store are just about the only things cheap to eat in Norway. Money-saving travelers take advantage of supermarket shopping. Norwegians typically eat a breakfast of eggs, open-faced sandwiches including smoked salmon, cured meats, and cheese. Bread usually includes dense rye and whole grain as well as flat bread, which stay fresher longer. These picnic-type foods are plentiful, which is good for travelers. If you’ve got kitchen facilities, fish is fresh and well-priced.
Huge taxes on alcohol make drinking in Norway prohibitively expensive. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to pick up a bottle (or two) at duty-free and nurse it for as long as you can. Norwegians tend to party more at home. When they do plan to go out, they don’t exactly leave the house thirsty. Bottom line: minimize drinking out in Norway. Save your bar-hopping for Poland.
Extras: Look for Eurail Pass benefits
If your Eurail Pass is valid in Norway, you can get discounts on boat crossings to Denmark, cheap bus travel, and other benefits. The discount benefits only apply while your pass is valid. Eurail Pass holders get a 30% discount on the Flåm Railway route between Myrdal and Flåm. This 13-mile scenic train route takes riders up a steep mountain path (sometimes at a 55% gradient). The Rauma scenic train is another highlight of Norway and is included with a Eurail Pass.
Norway is a quiet giant of tourism. While most backpackers stick to the canals of Amsterdam, the art museums of Florence, and the clubs of Berlin, travelers in the know have their sights on something greater.
The fjords and wild beauty of Norway are unparalleled in the rest of Europe. Using a Eurail Global Pass means the potential to save money on Norway’s pricey point-to-point rail tickets and the convenience of spur-of-the-moment travel decisions. Dress for the season and live up the essence of Norway on a budget.