Is Norway Really As Expensive As Everyone Says?

During my four months traveling Central America at the beginning of 2017, I had met several people from Scandinavia who had been absolutely shocked when I told them that after Central America I would be going to Norway.

They’d look at me with their head cocked to the side, laugh in confusion, ask if I was serious, and note that I was about to make a major jump.

They were shocked not just because of the great distance between Central America and Europe geographically, but because there was a vast difference in price. Norway in particular is known for it’s high cost of living.

But Norway has been on the top of my travel bucket list for years for it's mystical forests and iconic fjords. Plus, I had a friend whom I'd met at ESSEC in Cergy, France (the suburbs of Paris) currently living in Bergen that I wanted to visit. And it was meant to be a week long layover on my way to Asia. Then my plans changed and I stayed in Europe all summer. But I digress...

I listened as they gave me examples, particularly the prices of beer and food. As a listened, I knew it was much more expensive than Guatemala, Nicaragua, even Costa Rica, however it didn’t seem too unreasonable, particularly being from California.

In California, it’s not unheard of to pay $10 for a pint of beer. It’s not something I do often, but I have before. Many times, in fact (oops).

However, a pint of beer I’d pay $10 for in California might be the Watermelon Dorado Double IPA from Ballast Point. A highly crafted and delicious local beer. And at 10% ABV, it’s really a good bang for the buck.

But Norway, that's not quite the case. You’re going to be paying upwards of $10 for a pint of their local, cheap beer. Not craft beer. Therein lies the difference. You’re not paying a premium for better quality. You don’t have the choice.

So yes, Norway really is as expensive as everyone says it is. A bit shocking how expensive things can get, particularly gas, basic meals out, and "crap" beer. However, I did find that we were able to find some pretty good deals.


The Cost of Traveling in Norway

---Local beer Hansa roughly 32 NOK / $4 for a 12oz can in the grocery. At a restaurant, roughly 90 NOK / $11 for a pint.

*NOK is the local currency called the Norwegian Krone.

---Starters roughly 150 NOK / $19, entrees between 250 to 300 NOK / $30 - $38. The crayfish pictured above was 79 NOK per gram, and the mussels were 129 NOK. We happen to pick two of the least expensive things on the menu.

---Round Trip ticket up to Mount Fløyen 90 NOK / $11. One way tickets are 45 NOK / $5.50. We bought one way tickets and took the tram up to the top, then hiked down.

Sapphire & Elm Travel Co-founder   Stephanie   on top of Mount Fløyen in Bergen, Norway

Sapphire & Elm Travel Co-founder Stephanie on top of Mount Fløyen in Bergen, Norway

---Kebabs roughly 90 NOK / $11, which was the cheapest meal we could eat out. Plus kebabs in Europe are what burritos and tacos are to California. They're everywhere, and damn good. We ate lots of kebabs.

---Lamb hot dog (local from Voss, which we passed through on our road trip through the fjords) on the Geiranger ferry for 59 NOK / $7.

---One-way tram ticket in Bergen Zone 37 NOK /$4.50.

---2 cocktails 270 NOK / $16 per cocktail.

---Latte for 40 NOK / $5 per latte.

---Rental car for 2 days 1085.40 NOK / $135.

TIP: We only needed our California Driver's License to rent the car, not a special or international license.

---Gas: 36 liters for 600 NOK. Roughly 16.5 NOK / $2 per liter or $8 per gallon!

---Hellesylt to Geiranger by ferry for 2 people and 1 car 790 NOK / $95-$100. However this was the tourist ferry. The ferry to cross Sognefjord for 2 people and 1 car was 140 NOK / $17.

Stephanie & her fjord road trip buddy, JOhn, on the geirangerfjord ferry

Stephanie & her fjord road trip buddy, JOhn, on the geirangerfjord ferry

views from the geirangerfjord ferry

views from the geirangerfjord ferry

views of geirangerfjord, Norway from above

views of geirangerfjord, Norway from above

---Bergen to Oslo train ticket 799 NOK /$100 online or 950 NOK / $120 at the station.

---Roundtrip bus Bergen to Stavanger 480 NOK / $60 each.

---Ferry/Bus from Stavanger to Preikestolen 350 NOK / $44 in person or 320 NOK / $40 online.


Ways to Save Money while in Norway

Contrary to popular belief, you can do things to save money while traveling in Norway.

---Book tickets online. Both the Stavanger to Preikestolen bus + ferry combination and the train from Bergen to Oslo cheaper online.

---If traveling roundtrip, book roundtrip initially. It will save you money.

---Bring a reusable water bottle and refill at any sink. Absolutely no need to buy water out at a market or restaurant.

---Buy from the grocery store. On numerous occasions we bought food for our road trip, train travel day or picnic while hiking Preikestolen:

a. 4 rolls of bread for 9 NOK / $1.10, cheese, salami, fruit

b. package of 10 lompers (a sort of wrap or tortilla made from potatoes) for 10 NOK / $1.20 and potato salad for 22 NOK / $2.70. Add items like sausages, tomatoes, cucumber and arugula for a filling, local and delicious meal! 

TIP: Norwegians rarely eat out! In fact, they mainly eat bread, cheese and meat from the store, pizza, homemade tacos and kebabs. So don't feel like you're missing out if you're not eating out! 

---Walk up to viewpoints like Mount Fløyen, Bergen instead of using the tram

---Opt for free activities like hiking, parks and sculpture parks

TIP: Since you're already in Europe, why not combine your trip with another fascinating but less expensive country like Hungary or Poland?


So my advice on the cost of going to Norway, and if the cost is worth it?

Yes, it's absolutely worth the cost to visit Norway! See this stunning country. Stand in awe of the fjords. Hike amongst the trees and spacious sky. Explore the majestic lands.

The people I met here are some of the nicest I've come across! Plus they speak perfect English making it really easy to get around and get advice from locals!

It is going to be more expensive than a trip to Belize or Greece, but I promise you, you will not regret it. 

Contact us to plan your trip to Norway. You deserve a personalized and stress free trip.


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