Why might you ask? Because with low-cost, long-haul carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle, getting to Norway from the United States, Continental Europe, and even Asia is extremely budget friendly. So much so, that you can fly one-way from international long-haul hubs like Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, and Bangkok to Oslo-Gardermoen Airport in Oslo. Check out my article, Norwegian Airlines: The Most Bang for Your Buck on how to find those prices.
That being said, once you land in Norway and exit the airport, you will soon realize that Norway is far more expensive than the cheap flight it took to get there. U.S. News & World Report ranks Oslo, Norway as The Most Expensive Place to Visit in the World. And it has been at that ranking for quite some time, according to their rankings;
Oslo’s prices may be staggeringly high, but at least they’re consistent. Norway’s capital has held on to the No. 1 spot on the UBS Prices and Earnings report’s most expensive list since 2006. And it’s not just hotels that will gouge travelers’ pockets: In 2009, the New York Times noted that a bottle of water costs roughly $6 USD. Money-saving tactics — like visiting in July or August when most residents are on vacation — do little to curb the expense of an Oslo trip.”
And that is half of the battle for a budget traveler. I remember when I was at a 7/11 in Oslo, a slice of pizza was 45 Krone. Which is the equivalent to 5.50 USD. When in the States, you can buy an entire pizza pie from 7/11 for 5 dollars. Then again, one has to keep in mind what my Couchsurfing host in Oslo told me, “We have high prices because a McDonald’s employee makes around 3000 Euros a month.” The price they pay for higher base wages and a social democracy is a higher cost of living, so it is all relative.
So, what are a few things to remember if you still want to see majestic views like these?
Trolltunga by Håvard
Here’s a few helpful tips if you’re trying to budget in the most expensive country in Scandinavia.
Without a doubt, this tip will save you the most money. Because in Norway, especially the capital of Oslo, rooms average around 170+ euro a night. Also, your host is bound to tell you even more helpful tips for saving money. They are definitely aware that you are budget-traveling, because you are already using Couchsurfing, a free service. But never forget, it is not a free hotel. You must be respectful, self-sufficient, and generous with your hosts if you want to be a good surfer! Check out These Do’s and Don’ts of Couchsurfing, an absolutely essential how-to for Couchsurfing.
2. Use BlaBlaCar
Most people aren’t familiar with BlaBlaCar, it is a ride-sharing service where travelers with a vehicle that have empty seats charge you a small fee for the ride. And trust me, the price you pay is going to be well below what you would pay for a flight, bus, or train ride, but it doesn’t hurt to compare. So, you could take a BlaBlaCar from Oslo to Bergen, or Oslo to Stockholm for a fair price, and meet new friends in the process.
3. Fly Instead of Taking Trains
Flying between the Scandinavian countries, or even within Norway itself, can be extremely dirt-cheap. A flight from Oslo to Stockholm cost me roughly 50 euro, when a train ticket price (one way) would be nearly double that, and take around six hours, unless you want to pay more for the high-speed train. Flights within Norway can be even cheaper. If you are on a longer trip in Scandinavia, or a full-blown Eurotrip, I highly recommend a Eurail Global Pass. It will save you hundreds of dollars, as it did for me when I went through 9 countries in 40 days around Europe.
4. Grocery Shop
This tip is a must if you are staying in a hostel or Couchsurfing. Both your Couchsurfing host or hostel concierge will be able to direct you to the cheapest supermarket where you can purchase food to cook. Many have pre-made sandwiches and such which are a big help for a budget traveler who is mobile. Eating out in Norway can be incredibly pricey. The first afternoon I was in Oslo, my host, the other Couchsurfer, and I all had dinner at a local Norwegian restaurant. He recommended for us to order the daily special which came out at a price of 119 Krones, which is roughly 14.50 USD. That was the cheapest we would find at a sit-down restaurant, he said.
5. Don’t Complain About How Expensive Norway Is
Look, Norwegians know their country is exorbitantly expensive to foreigners, but they also expect you to not repeat to them what they already know. Also, Norwegians, and Scandinavians in general, are extremely well-read and value intellect and logic. So, they would hope that you did some research about the cost of visiting before you hitched a cheap flight there to begin with. In conclusion, once you arrive in Norway, do not gripe to the locals about how expensive everything is. They will patronize you for not keeping a positive attitude when you should have done your homework before you flew to the most costly foreign country in the world to visit.
Posted outside of a glass door in the Oslo mall. It’s about the only “free” thing in Norway!
So, put a smile on your face and keep traveling!