Norway travel tips: how to budget for Norway

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Norway has so much to offer: whale watching, winter sport activities, fjord cruises, and more. However, it’s no secret that Norway is expensive. In this guide, we provide you with Norway travel tips for an affordable adventure with tips for how to budget for Norway.

(But don’t forget to book your eco-friendly hotel in Oslo).

Norway travel and budget tips

oslo norway
Olso, Norway
  • Skip Tromso city if you can. Tromso city is very expensive, so if you plan to drive around on your own or do campervan trips, you can avoid Tromso city. However if you are travelling solo and/or not driving, then Tromso city is a good place to be. All the tours for northern lights, reindeers excursion etc. depart from here. Just bear in mind that hotels and food are expensive (e.g. a chocolate croissant from a coffee shop can cost €5, and a simple toast with avocado can go for €15).

  • Avoid using international third parties to book your activities in Norway, because while that makes sense in many countries where small tour companies don’t have their own websites, in Norway you usually can book directly on local websites. In fact our tour guide said that if you book directly with them, it’s easier to get flexible options. Some may even be able to offer a better price, because they are not being charged commission when you book with them directly.

    This is an official website to look for tours, they offer the same prices as the actual company, though it’s always best to book directly on the company page if they have one. Note that sometimes the details don’t match 100%.

    You can also easily do some things on your own. 

  • If you’re booking northern light tours, book small tours on the local website mentioned above (those that go in a minivan, max 8 ppl) and get the ones that offer “aurora portraits” and chase the lights, not the tours where you just go somewhere to a farm/tourist attraction and wait. The ones that chase look for the best spots and can alter their routes depending on weather conditions.

    However they tend to not be as comfortable because you won’t have facilities like bathrooms, and you will be outside the whole time (warm coats and special snow boots are usually provided). And the dinner is basic and will most likely consist of sausages and fish cakes grilled on the bonfire – but this can also be cool (we enjoyed ours), plus smaller tours are more personal, and the guide can take more photos of you since it’s a small group. 
tromso norway
Tromso, Norway
  • For transportation, buy bus and train tickets directly from the service provider, e.g. Skyss Billett app in Bergen or VY app for Oslo, or Troms (without o) Billett for Tromso. If something goes wrong through no fault of your own, like train delays, you can file a complaint and get some refund. 
  • Don’t pay for airport express buses or trains. All regular local buses, and trains/trails also go to the airport, in major cities like Oslo, Bergen, and Tromso, use the apps i mentioned above. 
  • Don’t buy from vending machines, the prices are not just “a bit” more expensive – they are usually about 3 times more expensive.
  • Norwegian tap water is delicious and very safe to drink. Most people just for a glass of tap water at restaurants, also because drinks are so expensive. This is also a great way to avoid buying bottled water, save money, and reduce your plastic waste.
norway travel tips
Reindeers in Troms County

When to visit Norway?

This depends on what you want to experience. Norway has harsh winters and mild summers, so check to see what are the things available in which season. 

Summer is the best time to see polar bears in Svalbard and do the famous Geirangerfjord cruise (UNESCO site). However the other UNESCO fjord Nærøyfjord can be visited year round, which you can visit during your journey from Oslo to Bergen.

PS: Here are the best eco-friendly things to do in Oslo.

Winter is best for orcas spotting (from October to January), and the northern lights (aurora borealis) from September to March.

Local tip: Shops generally tend to close early, like pharmacies and groceries seem to close around 7pm. Many don’t open on Sundays. 

A final important Norway travel tip about ethical animal activities

If you’re tempted to do a “husky” sleigh or feed the reindeers activity, do some research to understand how the animals are treated, if they are meant solely for entertainment, etc.

For instance, we found out that reindeers are usually treated quite well and serve a purpose according to Sami Culture. With a “feed the reindeer” activity, you usually also get to learn about Sami culture. We did not do the sleigh however, it just did not feel right to make these animals pull so many carts of people around.

The dogs are bred only for entertainment purposes. They are also chained and kept outside all year. Also, most of the dogs are not actually huskies, but are medium-sized dogs with some percentage of the husky breed. They are not made to withstand such harsh winters since they don’t have the husky fur and natural insulation.

Engaging in those activities only increases demand, and for the sake of the animals we find it best to avoid these.

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