When Anthony and I started tossing around the idea of traveling to Norway, the online feedback was redundant: Norway is expensive. The cooler temperatures, fishing villages, and fairytale landscape was too enticing though, so we bought a ticket anyway.
In retrospect, it is one of the best decisions we’ve made on our trip so far. Norway is an absolute dream, and although we had to change a few habits to keep our budget, it was worth it.
My encouragement to anyone backpacking Europe? Don't forgo Norway just because you hear it's expensive. While the country is definitely not backpacker budget friendly, it can be with a little creativity and flexibility.
10 Tips From Our 10 Days in Norway:
1. Buy Train Tickets Early.
This was the hardest lesson for us to learn as we are now used to living on a backpacker schedule of minimal planning. Early on in our travels, we had to say no to a spontaneous road trip because we had purchased our plane tickets for the entire month. Now we try not to plan too far in advance.
In Norway though, planning is the key to cheap train tickets. When we first researched our train from Oslo to Voss, it was $50 per person, but we decided to wait until morning to buy them. When we went online 12 hours later, the price had more than doubled.
Check out this site to book train tickets in Norway: https://www.nsb.no/
2. Take Night Trains.
In addition to buying your ticket earlier, you can cut the cost in half by taking a night train. Don’t expect to get much sleep unless you pay extra for a bed, but the money you save is worth it. As a bonus, they give out blankets, pillows, eye masks, and ear plugs to everyone on the train.
3. Wild Camping.
Don’t ever pay for a place to sleep in Norway, you have no reason to - especially if you are trekking. Wild camping is legal there, meaning you can camp almost anywhere that is not private property without having to pay.
4. Use Storage Lockers.
One of our biggest concerns with hiking and camping in Norway was where to keep our stuff while trekking. Even though we are only traveling with backpacks, our bags hold everything we need for the entire year - they're not exactly light enough for backpacking in the mountains.
Thankfully, Oslo Central Station (the main hub for all train travel) has storage lockers that you can rent out. You have to contact them for rentals last longer than a week, but lockers cost about $2.50 - $5.50 a day, depending on the size.
5. Eat Like a College Kid.
I’m not necessarily proud of what we ate while camping in Norway, but I’m proud of how much we saved. Most days our diet consisted of the following:
Breakfast: Instant coffee ($5 for a big container), bananas (around $1) and Quest Bars (brought from home).
Snacks/Lunch: If we were camping and hiking, it was yogurt cups, berries, and nuts (all costing around $5 each and enough to share between us). If we were driving or traveling, it was gas station hot dogs ($4), Burger King cheeseburgers ($3), or a bag of tortilla chips and salsa ($5 combined and enough for both of us).
Dinner: Ramen (less than $1 a pack). After a long day of hiking in rainy weather, a bowl of ramen noodles was a perfect way to warm up.
Dessert: Chocolate bars ($2-4) were often consumed while we tried to warm up in our sleeping bags.
Aside from the items listed above, we splurged on pizza and beer twice. We always got the cheapest pizza option which was usually just cheese. It ran us about $25 total, which was decent for 2 people. Lager beers were $3-4 a can from the grocery store.
While I didn’t love eating like this, it saved us a ton of money and I didn’t gain any weight because of all the hiking we did. It was definitely worth it to experience Norway, especially because you can easily rack up a bill at the grocery store if you’re not careful.
6. Drink Water.
After traveling in the Mediterranean and having to buy water all the time, I could not drink enough of Norway’s water. Like Colorado, you can drink from the tap and it is delicious! Invest in a Platypus before your trip and fill it up anywhere and everywhere.
7. Hitchhike (if you have time).
We didn’t do it, but we saw a few hitchhiker. It seems the best option is to hold up a sign with the name of the city you're headed to, making it easier for the driver to know if he or she should stop. It’s definitely worth a shot to save money on transport.
If you plan on renting a car (which is great if traveling with a group to split the costs), check out Rent-a-Wreck. The car isn’t shiny and brand new, but it works and it costs way less than a rental through Enterprise, Hertz, etc. Just be aware of the toll road fees in Norway before setting off.
9. Bring Rain Gear.
This summer in Norway has been abnormally rainy and cold, but it’s a safe bet to have rain gear when camping and hiking anyway. It rained almost every day we were there so rain covers for our tent and bag, waterproof clothes, and extra socks were a must. It's worth bringing or buying these items before the trip since clothing in Norway is pricey.
10. Go Kayaking.
We splurged and did a kayak tour through Nordic Ventures and I would HIGHLY recommend it if you have some extra cash. We also saw a lot of reasonable kayak rental prices for self-guided tours. We were even offered a free kayak by a Norwegian man we met - Norwegians are very friendly! Whether you want a guided multi-day tour or a few hours on the sea alone, seeing the fjords from the water is like nothing I've ever experienced.