Norway has a reputation as being one of the most expensive countries in the world, so I expected to finish my week there either starving or broke. The cost of the train from Oslo airport to the city's central station seemed a bad omen: 170 NOK, about $28.
Surprisingly, I departed Norway with my finances mostly intact and only slightly thinner than when I arrived. It definitely isn't easy to travel Norway on a limited budget, but with the right amount of creativity, resourceful backpackers can enjoy the most iconic Norway travel experiences.
Lodging and Food
Norwegian cities aren't generally popular among hostel dwellers, so you shouldn't expect to find the same quantity of hostels in Oslo or Bergen as you might in Amsterdam or Barcelona. Prices are also expectedly higher: Even dorm beds average 280 NOK, or about $40 per night.
Like hostels elsewhere in the world, Norwegian hostels generally have kitchens, which allows you to circumvent the astronomical cost of restaurant food in Norway. Norwegian supermarkets are surprisingly affordable.
If you're on an extreme budget when you travel to Norway, you could alternatively try couch surfing. Couch surfing, if you haven't heard, involves meeting people online, and sleeping in their living rooms. Bohemian, for sure, but very cost-effective.
As is the case elsewhere in Scandinavia, the sale of alcohol in Norway is a monopoly controlled by the government. The high cost of alcohol notwithstanding, you should also make sure to purchase your booze before the stores close at 6 p.m., a time that can be hard to gauge in summer with the midnight sun.
Another way for budget travelers to save when they visit Norway are transportation passes. Within cities like Oslo and Bergen, for example, you can purchase a pass that affords you not only unlimited use of your city's public transportation, but also museum entry and more.
If you want to venture out of Norway's cities -- and let's be honest, as amazing as they are, you will -- take advantage of the "Explore Norway" ticket offered by regional airline Widerøe. For prices as low as 2775 NOK (around $500), you can enjoy two weeks of unlimited flights in Norway.
Backpackers who prefer to travel via Norway's amazing railways can do so via NSB, Norway's national railway provider. If you can't snap up one of the "mini" fares offered far in advance of your travel date, consider the multi-use "Norway Pass" from Eurail, starting at $187 for students.
The highlight of Norway is undoubtedly its fjords, the finger-shaped inlets that jut in and out of the glacial mountains along Norway's west coast. A quick Google search of fjord sightseeing options might terrify you.
If, that is, you don't come along a company called "Fjord Tours." Fjord Tours sells fjord packages from both Oslo and Bergen, which stop at some of Norway's most iconic fjords. These tours are affordably priced -- well, relatively.
Even better, Fjord Tours packages can always be done in a day or two, which is great if you're limited not only in money, but also is time. Popular options include "Hardanger in a Nutshell," which takes you to Norway's second-largest fjord, and the all-inclusive "Norway in a Nutshell."