Tips to Visit Norway on the Cheap(ish)

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:


Public 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, 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.


Supermarkets 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.


Take 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).


Stay 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.


Nature 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.

Driving around Norway (from Bergen)

I did a lot of preparation before arriving in Norway to maximise our week long stay out there. This post is all about the driving trips and tours we did around Norway from our base in Bergen. We were staying with Katie's cousin Jadz, who was on her year abroad there. She joined us for all of the day trips and we had a great time - thanks Jadz!

We utilised the national tourist website which details the Norwegian tourist roads – these are STUNNING, with lots of places to pullover and rest / take photos.

We also made sure to keep an eye out for these signs as they indicate a site of interest – it could be a quaint, small town, a museum, a large stone monument – whatever the signs led us to, they were almost always worth the extra few miles.

Anyway enough jibba jabba, let’s see where we went.

Day 1: Sotra

Time taken: 7hrs driving, 3hrs stopping and walking (Google Map)

We started with a trip around the nearby island of Sotra, to the west of Bergen. This a shorter trip than others we had planned, just to get me warmed up and used to the Norwegian roads. I quickly learnt that Norway has very low levels of road rage and very empty roads. Anyway, Sotra was also a great place to spend a day - it was beautiful and a great intro to the holiday. Our first proper stop was at Fjellparken and we took a two hours through the woods to the museum and fortress ruins, and back to the car. This provided us with a great panoramic view of the island and was well worth the time and effort.

We then went to the fishing villages of Televag and Glesvaer – both are must-sees when on the island and provided a great place to eat our sandwiches.

In the end, we never made it to the north of the island, as it was getting dark and we had an early start the next day!

Day 2: Hardanger, Oystese, Steinsto, and Hardangervidda

Time taken: 12hrs driving, 2hrs stopping (Google Maps)

Day two was an early start from Bergen because we had two national tourist routes to do! We were blessed (thank you Thor and the other Norse gods!) as weather was on our side with no rain all day and beautiful skies throughout. The highlights from the morning were the gold fish lake in Oystese and driving to the top of Steinsto for an unbelievable view of the Hardangerfjord.

Actually, forget that. There were many highlights - the Steinsdalstossen waterfall was also unbelievable and our minds were blown by a roundabout in a tunnel!

The pleasure of seeing this tunnel and roundabout came with a toll charge of 150 NOK (~£15) so it wasn’t all roses, but this was maybe the best day of the trip. The weather definitely helped but the views were absolutely breathtaking. We also had the added company of Jadz's friend Lizzie, who was not “problematic” at all :p

After the tunnel roundabout, we drove down the second tourist road of the day: Hardangervidda. Snow enveloped the road and we got treated to a snow fight and some absolutely sublime views.

We reached the end of the road and then turned around and drove back the same way (crossing the £15 bridge again!). Seeing this stunning bit of road from both perspectives was worth it, as it looks different approaching from the other direction. What a day!

Day 3: Voss, Vik, Hella, Sognefjord, Laerdal, Stegastein, Flam, Undredal, and Gudvangen

Time taken: 12hrs driving, 3hrs stopping - (Google Maps)

We left at 6.30am and drove to Voss in darkness along the E16. It is actually a pretty cool road with some good sights that we could sometimes see when the moonlight was kind. I loved this waterfall we came across and it made my top three of the holiday (we saw ~60).

The weather wasn’t as kind this day (damn you Thor!) and the mountain pass to Vik was foggy, the views shielded from us. When we did get a glimpse, it was very impressive and we also got to use our winter tyres as the snow thundered down! We approached Vik from upon high and saw what a lovely town it was.

We then took the first of two ferries of the day (123 and 170 NOK) to Hella to drive down the Sognefjord. We were treated to some real nice views.

The town of Laersdal was beautiful and the surroundings were stunning.

Unfortunately the national tourist road (Aurlandsfjellet) was closed all the way to Flam so we had to take the WORLDS LONGEST TUNNEL - a whopping 24.5km long! It was eerie as fuck for the 20 odd minutes it took us to drive it. I kept wandering what would happen if there was a nuclear war while we were under-mountain and we then had to survive on our car snacks (or padkos as the South Africans call it) of shitty pretzel sticks and custard creams!

We doubled backed along the Aurlandsfjellet to see Stegastein, which turned out to be one of the best viewpoints of the holiday. A must see!

Finally we stopped in Undredal, which was quaint and known for inventing the brown goats cheese that we and the Norwegians love. It was very cute but we got there late and everything was closed, with not a waffle and cheese option in sight. We did see a 12th century church and another great fjord view though so it was well worth the detour.

Our final stop of the day was Gudvangen and we surprised Jadz because after telling her for the whole day that we'd be sleeping in the car, she discovered we'd actually booked a little lodge. It was gorgeous and a wonderful place to lay our heads!

Day 4: Gudvangen, Odda, Hardanger, Buerbreen Glacier in Folgefonna National Park

Time take: 13hrs driving, 5hrs hiking and stopping (Google Maps)

Our first stop was the beautiful roaring Skjervsfossen waterfall, which is a refreshing way to wake you up. It was a bit different to most waterfalls as you could drive right up to the top of it and then take the winding road down to see it in all of its glory.

It was delightful driving down Hardanger’s roads like we did on day two, but using slightly different roads. This was the day where we must have seen 30-40 waterfalls – one benefit of there being a load of rain! We decided to hike Buerbreen at midday which took longer than expected, and we weren’t back at the car til 4:30pm. We kept a steady pace but the rain made rocks slippy and the hike had some physically challenging moments. Disclaimer: We only hike a few times a year but we are avid gym goers and are reasonably fit. This hike was harder than expected and the weather didn't help!

We had to climb rocks using ropes to pull ourselves up and then abseil down. It was worth every strain and wet bottom because the blue ice of the glacier was something else! There was a cabin at the top where we ate our sandwiches and warmed up out of the wind and rain.

We hiked to the blue ice glacier at the top of the image!
After the hike, we stopped off at another waterfall, Latefossen, south of Odda that was very cool. These two streams flowed very close to the bridge!
We were now pretty tired and so took a shorter route than the map shows, heading back to Bergen via another expensive toll (100 NOK) and ferry (180 NOK).

Day 5: Radoy Island

Time taken: 7hrs driving, 1hr stopping (Google Maps)

We chose a shorter day trip closer to Bergen, with fewer tolls to end our road tripping in Norway. I considered a much longer route but the weather was shocking so settled on this simpler day. It was a good decision because the wind and rain did not cease and concealed much of the beauty of this island. We did go to the most northern point we’d ever been to when we hit the top of the island. Actually, scratch that, we went further north on day three.

This Radoy trip was the worst day but the shitty weather, tiredness, and now slight lack of novelty of Norwegian beauty probably account for this jaded opinion.

So let us know if you use any of these maps and/or have done your own Norwegian driving tours in the comments below.

**All prices from our trip in early October 2017.

Romania In My Mouth

The food in Romania was, generally speaking, pretty good. It did lack vegetables so we sought out salads whenever we could, especially in the heat. But the meat was of a high standard and everything was seasoned well and presented in a pleasing way.

This epic feast was from a quaint but touristy tavern in Cluj. The huge platter contained every kind of grilled meat you can imagine, piled high with roast potatoes, cheesy, bacony polenta and garlicy sour cream. Be still my pounding, overworked heart!

The meal below was from a slightly odd self-service restaurant in a basement near the botanical garden in Cluj. The food was basic but fine, with the highlight being the rice salad, which actually turned out to be orzo. I've hardly ever eaten orzo and I must say I do quite like it. I definitely prefer rice, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Dave was absolutely delighted by the pizza he had in Pitesti - smoked salmon, cream cheese and spinach! Washed down with a few cold pints, this was exactly what we needed after a long day of driving up and down the Transfagaras.

My favourite meal in Brasov was the one we ate on the balcony of our hotel, comprised of bits and bobs we bought at the supermarket, accompanied by some wine and a lovely sunset view. But the restaurants in the city had a lot to offer too. 

The following were from a very busy restaurant in the city centre called La Ceaun. We started with a really tasty aubergine spread, which had a very fresh flavour. I then had some slow cooked ribs with delicious roast potatoes and a spicy sour cream dipping sauce, and Dave had braised pork knuckle with saurkraut and horseraddish sauce. Both meats were falling off the bone, and the portions were HUGE!

One hot afternoon we stopped in the town square to people-watch and load up on some greens! Sometimes all you need is a nice, fresh salad and a cool, fruity drink. And on the right is a picture from when we climbed the hill to the castle and came across the traditional festival. We thought it was only polite to do as the locals were doing and have a sausage and a beer. Definitely not the wurst thing I've eaten!

When we're on holiday, Dave has to have at least one ice cream each day (yes that's right, at least!) and this "freakshake" certainly ticked that box. Thick chocolate milkshake in a glass rimmed with nutella and cookies, piled high with cream and ice cream, with a cone of mint-choc-chip and an after eight. Even Dave thought sharing was a good idea with this one, which was a first for us!

A fair amount of seafood was eaten on our trip, including this (apparently) delicious tagliatelli with shellfish at the rooftop bar of our hotel in Tulcea. The only problem was all of the shells - who wants to get their fingers in their spaghetti?!

The next day during our delta tour we stopped for lunch and had a fishy feast! Some of this was catfish, but I can't remember what the other fish was. It was served with some more of the delicious garlic sour cream we had become so addicted to, and the fried fish was accompanied by polenta. For pudding we had a yummy cake/shortbread, topped with homemade strawberry jam and crumble.

In Constanta we went to a restaurant in the marina called Reyna, which didn't look like much from outside but was super fancy inside, with a swimming pool in the middle of the outdoor seating area! I had grilled fish, probably sea bass, with roasted veggies which Dave took half of to go with his calamari and octopus combo. Both were well presented and very tasty.

Here's another seafood-spaghetti combo which Dave had on the beach, just before it started chucking it down. I had chicken fajitas which were really good. The restaurant was huge and looked like it probably turned into a nightclub during peak season, but it was completely empty while we were there. Well, apart from the group sitting next to us, who looked like they had stepped off the set of "The Only Way is Constanta", complete with blinging necklaces and a tiny, yappy dog.

This is a meal we'll never forget. Turkey egg omelette with a freshly picked salad from Alex's beautiful vegetable garden. It was so simple but somehow tasted incredible. I'm sure the restaurant he was opening will be doing really well, if this modest breakfast was anything to go by! 

Finally we have our last meal in Bucharest. This platter of grilled Indian meats was really tasty, with a nice minty yoghurt and herby chutney. And we couldn't resist the ultimate decadence - bone marrow on toast! It was a good meal, but unfortunately it was tainted by the fact we had to wait well over an hour for it, in an empty restaurant, because the oven had apparently broken, which the waiter didn't think it was worth telling us until we were about to walk out of the door. Truly terrible service but nothing could spoil the trip for us at that point. It was an absolute delight, a true adventure and the culinary treats along the way were the icing on the cake! 

Weird & Wonderful: Romania

There are so many weird things about this painting, especially when you consider
it was on the wall of a church!

When we were on the cliff-top with Alex we spotted this in the water below - a snake swimming to shore with a catfish in its mouth! Very cool!

Peles castle is apparently very popular with bears...

And we did spot this tree which looks rather bearish!

Bran Castle housed a few oddities, including this Iron Maiden...

...this very real bear-skin rug, complete with glass eyes and huge claws...

...and this chair which looked like it was vibrating!

This strange sculpture at the fortress in Fagaras was interesting. That poor wire horse seems to be
struggling under the weight of the wire man. What a mesh!

The saddest sculpture of a man on a church!

We spotted this house on the side of the road and were curious about what happened. I think the
responsibility finally got too much for the roof and it just gave up, literally buckling under the pressure.

Katie was a fan of this funky oil and vinegar bottle,
and resisted the urge to sneak it into her bag.

Here's another shout-out to this delicious wine,
complete with a naked lady on the label. Perfection!
One of the many carriages of the Roma people in Romania.

This freaky doll collection scared me!

Very cool and odd looking photos promoting trans rights.

I'd love to see someone out with this half-half look. Very bizarre.

Nature can be simultaneously weird and wonderful, as demonstrated by this severed snake's tail, which was still wriggling on the pavement as we watched. It may also have been some kind of lizard of salamander, but that remains a mystery as there was no sign on the rest of the creature. There was a very guilty looking cat hiding in the bushes nearby though. 

When we got in the boat for the delta tour we saw hundreds of discarded insect skins in the water - gross.

So as not to give you nightmares about severed tails and skinless insects, we'll leave you with this picture of a beautiful green beetle. It was crawling around near the big Brasov sign, and if you hurry he might still be there!