Friday, May 10, 2013

Traveling In Norway Will Kill Your Budget. I Want To Show You How To Save It… Part 1.

After moving abroad I have come to appreciate my home country in many ways that I just didn’t before. I had grown up in that country, with all its good bits and annoying bits, but I think it’s pretty common to simply take things in your home country for granted. You don’t know anything else. I never stopped and thought about the fact that Norway has a strong welfare system compared to many other countries, or that Norway has been voted to the world’s best country by UN a number of times. That the salary level is among the very highest in Europe neither. It just didn’t really mean anything to me. It was just how it was. I hadn’t lived in any other countries and didn’t have anything to compare with.

Then after a stay abroad when I was 20, my eyes were opened to a different way of living. I got to see so many new and different things, and I learned a lot about this other country, just as I learned a lot about myself. Fast forward some years and I moved to Spain. This time with different goals and plans, and it has been the most wonderful adventure for me on so many levels. But living away from Norway has taught me things about Norway too.

One thing that I find curious is that I keep meeting people who go all dreamy when I tell them where I am from. Here in Las Palmas, I have heard on several occasions that many people dream about going to Norway, even that it’s a typical destination people would choose for their honeymoon! If someone told me that, a few years ago, I would think they were seriously disturbed. I just couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to go there at all- let alone on their honeymoon! But it turns out Norway has quite a bit to offer the tourist.

Personally, I loved traveling to old cities abroad with a lot of history and architectural beauty, and Norway doesn’t have a lot of that. What Norway has more than anything else is Nature. Beautiful nature. Wild, raw nature. There are just about 5 million people living there and it’s a big country. Lots of space/nature in other words. In fact, if you look at the map of Europe, flip Norway upside down, North Cape (in the north of Norway) would reach Rome in Italy. Just as an illustration of how long streched the country is. I grew up with the mountains and the fjords, and I didn’t see it as anything special. But thanks to being abroad, and also seeing through the eyes of foreigners, I have opened my eyes to it.

Many people here talk to me about going to Norway. But the bottom line is always that they can’t afford it. They have heard it’s an expensive country to visit. Which is true. If you come to Norway on an average Spanish salary it would be painful. Cost of living and salaries go hand in hand in Norway, more than here in Spain. Spain is cheaper than Norway in pure price comparison, but if you compare salaries and then the prices, Spain is actually more expensive than Norway on most, or at least many things. But again- coming to Norway as a tourist can be tough on the bank account.

Once I took 3 foreigners visiting Norway to see some highlights of the Fjord-part of Norway, and once my penpal from the USA (!!!) which whom I wrote old fashioned letters with since I started learning English, and then almost daily emails for years when we finally got email addresses came to visit, and I showed her fairly big parts of the country as well. (We probably wrote together for about 10 years before meeting, but she had always had a deep curiosity for visiting Norway seeing as she was part Norwegian somewhere quite far out in her family tree!) It was through seeing the enthusiasm of other people about the beauty of Norway that I started noticing as well. 

I have been giving advice about how to save money while traveling in Norway and still be able to see good stuff to so many people individually I thought I might just write a blog post about it. Maybe someone would find it useful?

Where to go and what to see?
As I said, the country is large/long. And there are a lot of mountains. And a lot of long fjords. This means that there’s not one great highway from north to south, or east to west. Short distances can take (much) longer than expected due to narrow and curvy roads, and even ferries here and there.

And if you want to come to Norway you’ll want to see more than just Oslo, I hope (or maybe even skip Oslo and get right on to the better bits?). So first- you’d need to decide what part of Norway you want to cover. Unless you have a lot of time (and money) it’s not very realistic that you’ll cover all of it. (Again, long country!) 

So, normally the first thing to decide is north or southThe south has a lot to offer. The landscape changes a lot from east to west to south. The west coast has stunning nature, steep mountains and fjords. Two popular cities in this region would be Bergen and Stavanger. For example, it’s good to combine a day or two in Bergen with a fjord or three, and this is what many people choose to do. 

Geiranger fjord, see my post about this fjord here
The north is something completely different, but truly beautiful. If you’re not tempted with the idea of all those fjords, but think dramatic mountains, long white sandy beaches, small fisherman’s towns, reindeer and the midnight sun in summer / or the aurora borealis in winter is tempting, then north is where you should go.

Lofoten, see my post about Lofoten Islands and the Midnight Sun here

Once that is decided you’d need to work on your itinerary. It’s best to plan a little before arriving, at least to a certain extent, if not you risk losing a lot of valuable time ending up not seeing as much as you could have. (Distances look shorter and quicker on the map than what they really are.) 

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This post is now already so long, that I think I should stop for today. 
But I was thinking that I would continue this post post once a week, and cover subjects such as TRAVELING INSIDE THE COUNTRY, ACCOMODATION, FOOD & DRINK
and any other subject that I might think of. Always with spending as little money as possible in mind, 
while really getting to see good stuff. 

If someone would like me to cover something in particular, let me know in the comments section!


  1. I think this is a great idea. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet up in Norway last year :( I often find it difficult to decide/limit where to go. When I went to India I really just wanted to see it all! If you were to decide for me in Norway, would you send me to the north or south? :)

    1. Thank you Vanisha! I am sorry too, but maybe one day? :) It would be hard to decide for you! Both North and south are quite wonderful each in their own way! If you did south you might need to choose west, south or east, and then I would say west! So we're down to south-west or north!

  2. What a great idea! I can't wait to read more. I would love to travel there someday! I always wanted to!
    And you are right, you see your own country from a completely different perspective once you moved to another country! There are so many things about Germany that I haven't even thought about before I moved to America!

    1. Thank you Katrin! It's too expensive to travel in Norway when coming from abroad, but it can be quite nice! Funny how we learn so much about our country when moving abroad.

  3. I have in my mind to go to Norway. Going there id not expensive at all but staying there yes it is! Thank you for all this info and I am waiting for next post.

    1. Nice to hear Monika! Shame it's not an easy-to-do-on-a-budget-destination, but I hope I can bring out some good suggestions :)

  4. Norway surprised me by how beautiful it was! I loved it, and I recommend to everyone to visit now. But you're right, it's totally up there in price, just like Switzerland!

    1. I understand people get scared off because of the high price levels, but there are ways to make it work :) and I want to share those.

  5. even for someone living in Norway, this country is too expensive. This is due to the hard taxation that inhabitants and tourists are subjected to. You pay 25 % mva to the government on everything you buy, even on your hotel- or guesthouse bill. If this government were not so greedy, I agree Norway would be a good place to live or vacation.

    1. There will always be people who agree with you that Norway simply is too expensive (me personally!) but if we'd compare income vs expenses, in general/on average Norway isn't that bad. But coming to Norway as a tourist from for example Spain / any country with a lower average salary can be brutal!