Monday, September 2, 2013

How to travel in Norway on a budget ~Food and Drink

The other day I read an article in a Norwegian online newspaper about the impression tourists had of Norway. (The article via Google Translate in English here.) They had interviewed a group of foreign tourists around Vigelandsparken in Oslo.

I always find it fascinating to read how tourists experience Norway, what they hold up as good things and bad things, and how Norway compares to other countries. I guess my interest in this is simply that I love learning about the culture of other countries, and by hearing foreigner's thoughts about Norway I learn about their culture too.

For instance, a girl from Florida, US, mentioned that what had surprised her the most at first was that no one says 'hi' to strangers in the streets. She said that is normal in the US. Is it? How nice! In Norway, but also Spain, it's not usual to talk to strangers at all (In Norway: unless you are 1. Drunk, or 2. Mentally unstable. In Spain: number 1 and 2 + If you are a guy and you want to flirt.) I think it would be wonderful to greet strangers in the street with a smile without anyone reading anything into it!

Anyway, all in all, the tourists come together on the following about Norway:
  • Beautiful nature
  • Friendly people
  • Everything is waaaay too expensive. People especially mention they haven't really tried Norwegian food or eaten out at restaurants cause it's too expensive. 
That is a shame, but it's understandable too. Anyway, I thought I'd write another (and possibly last) post on how to travel in Norway on  budget, and this time I will cover food & drink.Yet another thing that can leave a big hole in your wallet. 

This is not an easy one though. If you are the kind of person who always eats all your meals at restaurants when on holiday, Norway’s going to be expensive. Restaurants are expensive on a general note. So is drinking at bars and restaurants. 

For the price of one big glass of Coca Cola in Norway I get 1-3 glasses of wine in Spain. 

For the price of one glass of wine in Norway, I’d get about 4-5 in Spain.

Of course there are cheaper alternatives for eating here and there, but self-catering is a good choice. Go to the supermarket, buy your stuff there and have a picnic. Or make sandwiches. Or whatever you’d prefer. There are several supermarket chains, but the cheapest ones are KIWI and Rema 1000. At camping sites and hostels you’ll have access to a kitchen. And a wonderful thing to do on a nice summer night is to get one of those little disposable barbecues (about €1.50  in most supermarkets), buy some food for the grill and head to a beautiful spot out in nature (by a river, lake, the sea! We wouldn't want you to start a forest fire or anything) for the most lovely dinner! (Just make sure to not leave the BBQ behind, please!)

Now that we’re talking about supermarkets, just a few facts about KIWI. They have a few deals that are worth checking out. 
  • Every Friday and Saturday, there’s a “Happy Weekend” offer, (Called "God helg", meaning happy weekend)- a piece of some kind of meat or fish, for just NOK 17 (€2). 
  • If you happen to find any products at KIWI that are expiring the same or next day, you’ll get it for free. If it expired the day before, and they can’t offer you an equivalent, you’ll get the money for the item paid out in cash! (Now that is a great way to save money on food isn't it?)
  • And if you are not happy with something you bought in the fruit and vegetable section you’ll get the money for the item paid out in cash + another new equivalent fruit/vegetable for free. 
  • KIWI (And also SPAR and MENY supermarkets) sell a brand called “First Price” with cheaper versions of the most popular products in most categories, and they are not necessarily worse in taste or quality than the more expensive equivalent although the packaging isn't as fancy as the more expensive ones. Worth checking out too.
(I am not sponsored by KIWI or anything, ha, I just think they have some great ideas going on!)

Other random tips for saving money on food and drinks: 
  • Tap water is pure and delicious in Norway and most people don't buy bottled water. Buying water is really not necessary (and very expensive!) It’s perfectly OK to ask for tap water with your food at restaurants, and it’s free. 
  • If you are a student with a valid student card you’ll get discounts on a lot of things such as transport, museums, sometimes even at restaurants. 
  • At bars, look for happy hour. Usually early in the night you will get cheaper drinks than later on.
  • Look for "Dagens rett" at restaurants/cafeterias (cheaper at cafeterias) at lunch time. This is one chosen dish of the day at a lower price.
  • One food tip is if you are staying at a hotel, breakfast is normally included. And it's heavenly. Huge and varied. So much food. Make sure NOT to miss breakfast and eat a lot! I hear people say they skip a meal later on because they ate so much for breakfast. 
  • Many supermarkets have take away food, sandwiches, fresh ready made hot meals. 
  • Do not buy your drinks, sandwiches and snacks at gas stations and kiosks, the prices are ridiculously high. Hot dogs can be reasonably priced at these places however. (But not necessarily!) 

Here, I've covered What to see and where to go, 
here- how to travel inside the country, 
and here- accommodation on a budget.


  1. I love your travel tips! We really want to travel to Norway next year!

    1. Thank you Katrin! Let me know if you ever go to Norway!!

  2. I wish I had had this guide before I visited Norway in 2011--I was shocked when I went out to eat for breakfast the first day and ended up paying more than 8 Euros for a coffee and a breakfast roll!! Needless to say, after that my friend and I didn't eat in ANY restaurants, we just made sandwiches and simple things from ingredients bought from the supermarket.

    I'll have to keep these tips in mind if I visit again!

    1. Thank you Cassandra! I can understand the shock :-/ Spain and Norway has quiiite a different price level! (Salary level too but that's another story) It's what most tourist experience though, and it's a shame cause there really are some ways to travel/sleep/eat cheaper in Norway!

  3. I did a post on "Norway on budget" in last week's Instagram Travel Thursday linky but I have to say your posts are so much more thorough!!

    One place people do say hi to each other though is in the mountains, I love it how that's one place where strangers can easily strike up a conversation.

    And the Kiwi tips are brilliant, I think every summer the raft guides and kayakers in need (I'm not one of them anymore.... full time job and all that!) raid all the local Kiwi stores in order to find out-of-date produce... :)

    1. I have been so absent lately, I will check out your blog asap :) Thanks for complementing my posts though!

      And you know what, I forgot about the mountains! I love that! It feels a little awkward sometimes, cause you never know who will actually say hi and who won't, and I am not always good at being the first one, but it's so nice when people greet each other in the mountains!

    2. I'm the same, I'm really behind reading the blogs I follow... I used to be at it all the time but with two kids and my "hobby jobs" as my husband has labeled the stuff I do on maternity leave (blogging, freelance writing, helping my friends' businesses out....) I seem to be busy all the time! :)

  4. On a different note... there's a little colour capturing challenge for you in my blog, if you would like to participate!! :)

  5. haha, well the girl from Florida has a skewed version of reality because the south is OVERLY friendly. But living in London did help me realize that yes, in America we talk to strangers more often.

    As you know, Norway surprised me in a good way. I loved it. I didn't find people unfriendly, just a little more reserved at first, like Londoners :) Still one of the more beautiful places I've been!

    1. That is so nice though! I would probably be weirded out at first, but I think I would love to visit such a friendly place. I think it's so nice that you liked Norway so much :)