Norway is expensive - no one would quibble with you over that fact. When we travelled to Norway last July (2008) we had a modest budget to play with. We weren't at the point of staying in hostels along route or hitching rides to the next town, but we did try to save money where we could along the way.
Here are some of our tips for travelling to Norway on a small but modest budget.
1. Bring you own plastic cutlery, sandwich bags and packets of biscuits/cereal bars/snacks.
- Buying food at the supermarket to make your own lunch is a great way of saving money in Norway, however, do come prepared with your own cutlery, sandwich bags, and even snacks that will keep. Everything costs dear in Norway, so anything that you can bring with you that you won't have to buy with be an advantage.
2. When possible have your main meal in the middle of the day, with a smaller dinner/snack in the evening.
- We found quite a few restaurants/cafe's had better deals at lunchtime than at dinnertime for the same dish on the menu. We also planned ahead, reading up in our guide book to see whether there were many eateries in the next town we were heading to. If there weren't, chances are they wouldn't be as many reasonably priced restaurants, and so we would have stopped somewhere earlier in the day, and taken up a meal deal at lunchtime.
3. Stock up on the breakfast at the hotel.
- A lot of the hotels that we stayed in did not stop guests from taking fruit with them from the breakfast room, and we watched numerous people do this. Some hotels have signs up asking you not to do so, and therefore we didn't at these places. We were usually able to take enough fruit for our lunch/dinner that day, as well as little disposable packs of butter, which we used to make up our own sandwiches, rather than having to buy a large tub of butter. Hotels all offer fresh cold water in the breakfast room, so we usually just refilled our own bottled of water daily at the hotel rather than buy a new bottle every day, since even this will set you back about 18Nk (£1.80). Don't be fooled either when some of the hotels offer to make you up a pack lunch, as these will usually cost you a lot more than you simply going to the supermarket and making you own up.
4. Buy a fjord pass
Most tourists to Norway who are independent travellers arranging their own accommodation will have read about the fjord pass. You should research the type of accommodation you will be staying in to see if Fjord pass offer discount. We found that we were able to get discount at a lot of the hotels we stayed at, particularly the smaller hotels, and even though you have to pay for the fjord pass, we saved a lot more than we paid for it, making it good value for money. Do be careful however that you book through the fjord pass website, as we nearly got caught out. A hotel told us they didn't have any fjord pass rooms left and we would have to pay the full amount, but we instead booked it through fjord pass and got the cheaper deal.
5. Check out the price of car ferries as a means of getting somewhere.
In most cases in Norway, you have to take a ferry, however sometimes when it isn't essential it is still worth checking the car ferry out as a potential means of getting somewhere quicker and cheaper.
A typical example of this, is the summer car ferry between Fjaerland and Balestrand, stopping at Hella. To travel on this ferry with our car, it cost us 520Nk (£52) which is a lot of money for a 1 and 1/2 hour trip. However, when you look more closely, the road we would have had to travel on to get to Balestrand entailed one of the heftiest tolls on a Norwegian road, not to mention the cost of fuel in doing the trip, and the time it would have taken to get there by road, compared to ferry.
There are other ways of saving money in Norway, such as staying out at an airport hotel, and getting the very efficient and very frequently running Flybussen into city centres.
Hope this is of use to anyone wanting to see Norway, without spending a small fortune doing so. We never once stayed at a hostel, and neither did we stay in 5 star accommodation, but we managed to stick to our budget whilst there and see this wonderful country at its best.