Norway is an expensive country. That is not something I am even going to try to sway you elsewise about. What I WILL try to convince you, because it is the truth, is that Norway probably is less expensive than you think. This astoundingly beautiful country can be enjoyed no matter what your budget is; exuberant or that of one more closely related to that of a backpacker.

There are a few different articles around the website on things you can do for free in Norway, how to find cheap airline tickets, travel on a budget, feel free to just click on through them. This is a more concentrated  list of helpful hints on how to cut cost on holiday so you can spend more time basking in Norway’s beauties and less time fretting over balanced checkbooks.

Listen to them all, listen to any. I hope at least one of these can help you out!

Pack or purchase items from home that you anticipate needing

Going hiking or headed to the Arctic? Pick up or bring along those boots or parka from home. There is nothing worse than going on vacation and spending money on items you readily have at home or could have gotten for the fraction of the price. If you are concerned about luggage weight limits, depending on how much you are bringing, the extra baggage fee can often be less than purchasing lets say 4 new arctic temperature resistant coats.

Cover your bases when it comes to packing for your specific type of adventure

This goes along with the previous point. Remember the terrain and weather can be fickle in Norway. Go ahead and throw in the sunscreen as well as the umbrella into your bag. It will save you the costly aftersun cream you need from being burnt off the snow and water reflections. Take layering clothing. The sun might be out when you start your day cruise, but might have long been gone by the end of it, or by the time you reach the top of that mountain you are exploring. Norwegians are masters of the layering technique. Like the Boy Scout’s motto “Always be prepared”, I think it’s better to over pack, a little, than to show up missing essentials in your bag and having to spend valuable time and money tracking them down. If you are outdoors, just go ahead and do yourself a favor, bring along the bug repellent, the daypack, and itch relief.

Eating out is not the only option

Eating out anywhere can get expensive, Norway is no exception. While there are fabulous foods to feast on in Norway, the country also has surprisingly great products in the supermarkets and bakeries. Norwegians take pride in what they do, from baked goods to the quality of products in stores.  The most popular budget supermarkets are Kiwi, Rema, and Prix. One of my most enjoyable meals was baked bread, salmon and butter by candlelight in Voss. We pretended like we lived in the olden days of Norway before electricity which added a sense of novelty to the whole experience.

Cabin food
Trying to recreate olden times. Salmon by candlelight.

Spend more time in fewer places than short durations in too many places

Norway is huge. There is a lot to see, and frankly, you’re not going to be able to see it all. The good news though is that almost anywhere you are in the country, you have all the essentials within arms distance. The key is to slow down, stay in one spot, and explore. If you came to see nature, nature is everywhere. If you came to see the midnight sun or the northern lights, get to the best viewing destination for your interest, and then explore outward from there. It is truly remarkable that Norway is beautiful the country over. Transport can incur unnecessary cost and time. I am all for seeing fjords and hiking, but maybe there is a closer fjord by a destination you’re already set on, instead of having to transverse the country to see one that just has more name recognition.

Drink the local water- it’s delicious

The water from Norway is famous. Voss water, named after the area of Norway it is produced, is the favorite water of Hollywood stars and high end restaurants worldwide. The water is delicious. Drink from the tap. Invest in a water bottle, camel bag, or platypus bag. You’ll be able to use them while driving, hiking, or stored in your bag for cruises without having to stop by the store constantly for bottled water.

The best attractions- nature- is free

Most people come to Norway to explore nature, which fantastically is free! Think of the landscapes, the fjords, islands, coastline, forest, lakes, mountains, and waterfalls, all can be enjoyed without spending a cent.

Yes, sometimes it helps to have a car to get there, buses also work. Sometimes a cruise is the best way to transverse a fjord, but the scenery itself has no price tag. Besides the transportation cost, it is completely feasible that you could enjoy many of the best sights in Norway without paying for anything else beyond lodging ( which you can get around by camping) or using the very convenient cabin system they have set up through the country, and food. Fjords are everywhere, there are over 250,000 lakes in the country to take in, and you basically couldn’t escape the mountain sides if you tried.

Pack your own alcohol (up to the custom’s limit)

I know this is a bit of a stretch, but hey, if you are flying in internationally and are a fan of a libation or two, this is a good way to save some cost. Different countries are allowed to bring in different amounts of liquor, so it is best to just do a quick customs check before packing that 3rd bottle of vodka.

Helpful chart on allotments

From the States, I was allowed to bring in 2 bottles of wine and 1 liter of spirits. From mainland Europe, I believe you are allowed to bring in 4 bottles of wine. A quick pit stop in at the duty free section in your departing airport makes this a simple tasks if you are so inclined. Last I saw, I think a bottle of wine was almost 40 USD in Norway at the shop. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled upon this discovery.

Limits for Alcohol
Stop by the duty free shop on your way!

Know when to take the tour and when to explore on your own

I am not a tour person. Let’s just get that out of the way. However, I can completely understand the appeal of tours and how useful they are. I personally do not care for them because they never encompass all the sights in a country I want to see, thus I chose to explore on my own. That being said, because of this decision, I have missed many a flight, gotten on and kicked off a wrong train in the middle of nowhere at 2 in the morning, and ended up stuck in the middle of a revolution in a war torn country because I had no transportation out. Tours in all of these instances would have allowed me to more calming, secure, relaxing trip, while maximizing my time.

Norway is a large country, difficult to navigate, and can be frustrating if you don’t know the language or how to get to the spot you set out for. Sometimes it is the best option to sign up for Norway in a Nutshell, or take that day cruise around the fjords in Svalbard. Somethings are not worth the headache of trying to arrange yourself. In another article we write about the pros and cons of doing the Norway in a Nutshell as a tour or by yourself. It might help you decided just how adventurous you want to be in arranging your activities.

Search different companies, same product less brand recognition

If you do decide to take a tour, check out more than one operator and compare: prices, itineraries, and quality. Like cereal, shampoo, or Band-Aids, brand recognition often increases prices of services for one carrier when another comparable product can sometimes be found at a fraction of the cost. I will try to include as many links to operators throughout the website that I am able to, but in case I miss some activity or place you are keen on, a quick web search will often tell you if there are any other options or operators to consider. If you come up with something, leave it in our comments section and I will look into it. Most recently I found a 4 hour cruise through the arctic in Svalbard that was 20% cheaper than the same excursion from the more well-known company. It never hurts to look!

Remember prices in Scandinavia already include sales tax

Forget that 9-20% added at the register you have to incorporate into actual cost. What you see is what you get in Norway. Thus, the initial price seems inflated, but you don’t have to worry about mentally calculated percentages in your head at lightning speed.

What other tips have you come across? Share them with us!