This blog post contains tips for travelling around on the cheap. We were based in Bergen and we have detailed all the trips we made, with maps, in our previous post, so readers can recreate the journeys.
When Katie’s cousin Jadz applied was accepted to do her Erasmus year in Bergen, we booked our flights and reserved the airbed in her little student flat for a week. It was a real chance to see Norway for cheap(ish), despite the pound being at its lowest level since the Great Fire of London, and Norway being hella expensive. How expensive? A chocolate bar (200g) is £4 at the cheapest supermarket and some road tolls cost us £15 each time we passed through them. My credit card was physically heavier after this holiday! But it was worth it, we had a great time and are very thankful to Jadz for her hospitality.
Norway is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It reminded me of Scotland (geography wise) but with a shit tonne more waterfalls and snow covered mountains. The roads are excellent quality (thanks to the tolls) and it's a great place to rent a car, with not a pothole in sight!
Tips and tricks for seeing Norway on the cheap:
TransportPublic transport in Norway is quite expensive and won't get you into the nooks and crannies of the fjords and mountains, so you'll miss out on a lot or end up spending loads on taxis. Renting a car is therefore a very good option, just watch out for tolls. Use ViaMichelin for toll prices. The good thing about the tolls though, is that the roads are excellent quality so driving really is a dream.
We rented a car through the comparison site easycar.com, and used Quidco to get cashback (use our affiliate link to get £10 off!). It cost £310 for the seven days. One thing I didn’t really minimise was cost of the tolls, which totalled £130 plus another £50 in ferries over the week. This was a considerable tax, averaging £1.20 every 10km for our trip!
Petrol costs about the same as the UK (~£1.20 a litre). We did three day trips from Bergen and one trip with an overnight stay in Gudvangen, driving 1476km in total - a considerable feat. Again, maps and details of our driving routes can be found in our previous post.
A big way to save when renting a car is to buy separate, annual excess car hire insurance from a provider via Quidco. Google it to understand what it means but basically you then get zero excess on hire cars for ~£30 a year.
FoodSupermarkets are expensive but brands like “First Price” and "El Dorado" available in Kiwi are the cheapest options. Eating out is very expensive so if you can, only have a couple of meals out and make sure they are at fancy restaurants – the price difference between fancy and standard is about 10% so if you‘re eating out, you may as well go all out and get a really delicious meal.
Buy and prepare food for your day trips and always have snacks and some bottled water. Tap water is drinkable (and delicious!) but there aren’t many potable water points out and about when you’re visiting the fjords.
As with out budgeting advice for Japan, make the most of lunchtime deals when available, as these may be a better choice than the more expensive evening option.
PackingTake toiletries as these are hella expensive in Norway. You may even want to take caffeine tablets if you'll be driving a lot because coffee is 25NOK (£2.30) minimum, and that is for a crappy coffee from a petrol station vending machine.
Take all your waterproofs, and cold weather clothing because surprise surprise, clothes are expensive so you don't want to get caught short, especially as it rains a lot in Bergen (wettest city in Norway).
AccommodationStay with a family member on Erasmus (shit advice but it saved us loads!). Alternatively, camping is widely available and there are a some “budget” hostel/cabin options in Norway.
ActivitiesNature is free and Norway has a lot of this to offer. However there is an off-season and in mid October when we visited, hikes were closing for the winter and only allowing guided treks, which are expensive. The reason for this is, of course, the worsening weather as winter draws in, which makes hiking difficult and dangerous without proper equipment. Things begin to reopen mid-April to June, so look into this if hiking is your bag.
Finally, don't forget you're on holiday, so don't get too worried about pinching every penny. Life is to be enjoyed and savoured!
*All prices are from October 2017.