Are you travelling to Norway for the first time?

Posted by JM on Dec 12, 2013

Then I hope you’ll find this brief little introduction helpful and useful.



It’s not uncommon to hear the mantra that Norway is expensive. Having lived here for five years now, all I can say is that the cost of living in Norway is relative. It all depends on what your spending habits are, what you need to survive and be happy with, how much you earn and what your budget is.

Norway is not a budget destination like Thailand, so it’s not possible to compare the two. The average income in Norway is quite high compared to the EU, the UK and the USA. So, that makes coming to Norway seem very expensive. For people in Norway though, the average wage compensates for the cost of living, although there are certainly things that cost too much, and some things that are quite cheap.

I come from Australia and I regularly go back home. I’ve found some prices in Australia on par and equal to the prices in Norway, as well as sometimes more expensive and sometimes cheaper. So when it comes to price, not everything is black and white.

I’ve read on some other web sites that it’s difficult to save money in Norway. This is something that I disagree with. You can save money in any country, if you know how. And you can most definitely save money in Norway.

If you plan on drinking in bars and nightclubbing the whole time, then yes, Norway will burn a hole in your pocket. So don’t come here for that, there are certainly cheaper places to do that in. :)

Norway is probably one of the most spectacular countries that you can visit and its landscape will leave a lasting impression on you. So, I can imagine that the majority of people who come to Norway, come here for its fantastic scenery and unique natural environment. If this is the case, then I can guarantee you’ll save money.

The good news is that being outdoors in Norway costs very little. This is because Friluftslivet (outdoor culture) in Norway is huge - in fact in most of Scandinavia (Sweden and Finland too). As a result, Norway has a law called Allemannsretten or Right to Access. This basically means you’re entitled to camp and pitch your tent wherever you like (within the rules), for free, as long as it’s on uncultivated land and out of the way of others (150 metres from farms or houses). So not on farmer Jonsen’s potato fields. Please do a search for the Right to Access and read it thoroughly to know what you can and cannot do. Some tourists got into trouble for thinking they could camp at a graveyard and use the water there for free. That’s just not on. So use common sense. :)

The Right to Access law exists in Scandinavia because people here respect and care for their natural environment. They ‘leave no trace’ and keep things in working order for the next person. This philosophy is expected to be observed by each and every visitor and traveller, so that the law can stay the way it is.

Where else in western Europe can you stay outdoors for free, virtually anywhere you like?

Recently, a 16-year old Norwegian girl, Maria Grøntjernet, spent 50 days alone (with her dog) walking 650 km across Norway. She didn’t spend a lot of money doing it. She camped out in the wilderness in her own tent and sometimes in Turistforening huts.

This should give you an idea of what kind of country Norway is and what type of holiday it’s best suited to. Once you have worked out what you want to do here, then you can easily find ways to save money.



Norway is pretty unique in its geography. It has thousands of lakes, fjords, islands, and mountains. It’s not an easy country to get around in a short amount of time . If you would spin the map of Norway 180 degrees around, the length of the land would reach down as far as northern Africa. This just goes to show you how long it is.

There are no autobahns a la Germany here, so driving in Norway is about driving with patience. Most of the time the national motorway is a two-laned country road, where you can’t drive faster than 80 kph. But why would you want to drive fast here anyway? The scenery is far too stunning.



If you plan on staying in a hotel in Norway, then expect to pay quite a lot of money. Hotels are not cheap. However, there is an alternative if you don’t mind lowering your standard from 5 stars to affordable stars.

I don’t think you have much to gain by staying in a major hotel in Norway. These types of hotels around the world all look the same, so why throw money out of the window? You’ve decided to come to Norway to experience something unique that you can’t find anywhere else, right?

One option is to join the Turistforening (Norwegian Tourist Association) and gain access to their fantastic network of huts and cabins throughout Norway. The membership is paid annually, and you get a key (with a deposit) that opens the door to every cabin and hut. To stay in a cabin isn’t free, but the price to stay is often minimal. Plus they’re open all year round – winter and summer.



Norway is a country that you can visit any time of year. Of course it depends on whether you want to ski or swim. You’ll be surprised by just how warm most of the coastline is considering how far north Norway is. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream the coastal cities and towns in Norway experience mild winters but also very changeable weather every other day.

Norwegians love to be outdoors. It’s a simple fact. They also love their country. As soon as a bit of sunshine shows its sunny face, they will flock outside to enjoy it. If nothing else, coming to Norway will make you appreciate every bit of nice weather, and also learn to see bad weather in a completely different light. Instead of ‘horrible’, you’ll think ‘atmospheric’.

I hope this short introduction to Norway has given you some food for thought.

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