With its expansive fjords, famous archipelagos, and undeniable beauty, Norway sits at the top of many traveler’s bucket lists. Like many people who dream of visiting this country, we put it off for years because of the expense compared to other travel destinations. During our recent visit, we realized traveling here can be done affordably with a little planning.
Discover some of our best tips for finding cheap accommodation and how to save money on food and transportation in Norway.
How to Travel to Norway on a Budget
Set a Daily Spending Limit
Set a daily spending limit and stick to it! This might mean staying in a hostel, camping, couchsurfing, or cooking your own meals. Before my visit to Norway, people warned me that it wasn’t possible to find a hotel for less than $400 US per night, but I found plenty for under $100 US in the places we visited.
Eating at restaurants, on the other hand, is very expensive. We were able to stick to our daily budget by buying alcohol and food for lunch at the local grocery stores.
Book in Advance
Hotels: As soon as you book your flights to Norway, you should start researching your accommodation. Many areas of Norway have limited accommodation available and the inexpensive hotel options tend to get booked up first.
Before booking your hotel check to see if your rate includes breakfast. Many hotels offer this included in your stay. We filled up enough at breakfast so we didn’t need much more than a snack for lunch, which made spending money on dinner a lot less painful. We recommend Booking.com to find affordable accommodation in Norway.
Transportation: If you decide to skip renting a car, then booking your transportation in advance is recommended. If you do rent a car, look into credit cards that offer car rental coverage. The car rental insurance costs in Norway can easily blow your budget, but it’s not something you want to go without.
Stay With Locals
This will save you money on accommodation and food. If you book an AirBnb with a kitchen, you won’t have to eat at a restaurant for every meal. Keep in mind that most hotels include breakfast, so make sure to take that into consideration when comparing prices on hotels versus AirBnb stays.
Couchsurfing is another option that I have not personally tried, but many travelers love it. I like to have my own place when traveling (I always book my own apartments when using AirBnb) and I’ve found it can be time consuming to try to find a Couchsurfing host, but it’s a great way to save money if you are on an extremely tight budget.
AirBnb Tip: If you sign up through our AirBnb link, you’ll get a free credit towards your first stay.
Travel in the Off Season
High season in Norway is May through August, when the weather is not too chilly. However, if you are traveling to areas where you can see the Northern Lights, then December through about March will be high season. The months of April and October are your best bets for lower prices on flights and accommodation.
Saving Money on Food & Alcohol
I was told that the locals rarely even eat at restaurants because it’s so expensive in Norway. We loaded up on healthy snacks at the supermarket to take with us on hikes and exploring by car. We also bought most of our beer at the Kiwi. Look for Rema 1000 and Kiwi — these two stores are the discount supermarkets.
Similar to Sweden, drinks with an alcohol content of more than 4.7% can not be sold in Norwegian supermarkets. Wine, spirits, and strong beer are only sold at the Vinmonopolet and their prices are not exactly cheap. If you drink hard alcohol, you might want to bring a bottle in your luggage.
Head for Asian or family-owned restaurants when you do eat out. These tend to be cheaper. Tips are not required in restaurants and remember to pay close attention to your bill because it’s common for gratuity to be included. If you do decide to tip, 5 to 10 percent is sufficient.
Drink the Tap Water!
The tap water in Norway tastes better than any tap or bottled water I’ve ever tried. Even if you are not on a budget, you should drink the tap water anyway.
Explore the Outdoors
Hiking in Norway: The best part about Norway, in my opinion, is the stunning natural beauty and luckily hiking is free! We spent almost every single day hiking and it was one of my all-time favorite trips abroad.
We spent a week in the Western Fjords and hiked in Geirangerfjord and Sognefjord. During our time in Alesund, we woke up at sunrise to walk the 418 steps up from town park to Aksla Viewpoint for a stunning view of the archipelago.
Camping in Norway: You can also pitch a tent in the wild for free as long as you are at least 150m from houses, you don’t stay more than 2 nights, you don’t require a campfire, and you carry all of your trash out.
It’s very expensive to buy camping gear in Norway, so I recommend bringing your own. We’ve come up with the ideal camping kit for travel which includes a tiny camping stove, miniature cookware set, extremely warm sleeping bag, lightweight 2-person tent, Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads, and internal frame backpack.
For more ideas on what to pack for a trip to Norway, visit our Norway Packing Guide.
Do you love to photograph your travels?
Norway is an extremely photogenic country and one of the best travel destinations to take stunning photos of your vacation. For travel photography tips, read our posts about how to choose the best travel camera, how to take great travel photos, and our ultimate packing guide for travel photographers.