Backpacking in Norway: The Ultimate Guide From A Super Cheap Foreigner Living in Norway
As a foreigner, living in Norway for almost 4 years now, I can’t help but admire how beautiful Norway is. We started as foreign language students with the hopes of landing a job. Fast track the story, we landed regular jobs after a few months to renew our stay and everything went smoothly from there.(Perhaps not going to write this article if we were sent back home.LOL) But I can tell you, I was “backpacking in Norway” the first few months. I’m going to show you everything you need to know travel to Norway on a budget.
Life in Norway for a foreigner is all about learning the Norwegian language to integrate and to find a job.
Straight out from an 18-hour flight hour flight from the Philippines and just depended on my parents’ money, I can’t help but converted local prices to pesos the first few weeks. Spell my name. C-H-E-A-P.
Not frugal but cheap. Imagine eating tons of hotdogs and ready to cook foods when I started. Those were my staples back in the day.
So definitely, I’m the right person to talk to about backpacking in Norway. I tell you “it’s backpacking on steroids” There’s no other level beyond that.
Here are my Top tips and everything you need to know on backpacking in Norway:
1) Cook your own food
If you’re in it for the long run always buy your food from the groceries.I’m not saying the “ready to go” foods but the ingredients that you need to cook your own food.
It took us 6 months to eat out in restaurants when we had a decent income from our regular jobs. That’s how cheap we were and still are.
2) Where to do the groceries?
My top 2 groceries are KIWI and REMA 1000.
Kiwi will always be my go to grocery and REMA 1000 if there isn’t a Kiwi store nearby. But do keep a lookout for some good deals in REMA 1000.They have some marked down items from time to time.
3) Cheap and healthy-ish foods to buy for a quick snack:
Yogurts– Yoghurts never fail to keep me full while I’m on the go. Look for the brand TINE and it’s the best deal you get. For gym rats that want to maintain their high protein diet, SKYR yogurt packed with 16gr of protein for each serving.
The prepacked baguettes and salads are always available in the groceries. Maybe not the best in town but definitely could deliver. Subway is always an option but it’s on the high end.
4) Foods to buy when hiking
In Norway, chocolates are the “in thing” to bring with you when going on hiking up in the mountains. Try out Norway’s popular chocolate brand Freia.
Another option would be Crispbread (“Knekkebrød” in Norwegian) and top it up with Norway’s best mackerel sardines, Stabburet.
5) Where to go out?
It’s never a mortal sin to eat out when backpacking. We have to splurge a little to live life. Here are my top places to eat:
Cheap treats? Try out a kebab diner! It is all over Norway and they serve good burgers too.
Prices range from 50kr-100kr.
The ever-popular Chinese restaurants are all across Europe with decent prices.So any Chinese restaurant is a sure thing to go to when on a budget.
Risbolle and Taste of China are my favorites here in Oslo.
Best coffee in Norway?
Baker Hansen & Espresso House(Swedish counterpart of Starbucks)
Best Norwegian Restaurant?
Opt for Theatercafeen.
6) When is the best time to travel to Norway?
It really depends on what your goal is. The best time is always to visit during highs and lows. If you’re planning to go skiing and fulfill your bucket list to experience the Northern Lights, go for it anytime from December-February where it’s cold and dark up northern Norway. That’s hitting two birds with one stone.
And June or July for the hiking season. Sun is shining already sometime in spring but the weather could be unpredictable. With rain happening anytime which makes trekking a bit challenging.
7) Where to stay?
Just a few people around the world know that Couchsurfing too is popular in Norway. Get started by creating a profile months before the trip and try connecting to with the locals to find your place in Norway. You get a free accommodation, a Norwegian friend and the best travel tips around the place from a local.
Although there are a limited number of hostels in Norway, it is still an alternative to staying in Norway for a few days. If you want something that resembles more of a hotel then Hostels are the way to go. Click here to check out the rates in Booking.com
Nature is always a part of the country’s heritage. As the sun shines, it’s camping time in Norway. Ideal for travelers who want to experience a taste of fresh air in the mountains. It is though allowed to camp anywhere provided that it’s 150 meters away from the nearest privately owned house.
If camping in the wilderness and the idea of being disconnected from the homely comforts aren’t your thing, then campsites are an option.There are over 800 campsites which offer tent and cabins varying in sizes. Cheapest price for a cabin costs NOK250.
6) Best places to visit in Norway to Search for the Northern Lights
Perhaps, one of the biggest cities in the North which is widely known for Northern Lights hunting . Here you can find a number of guided tours to drive you to the best spots of the Northern Lights. All of the excursions are led by professional Northern lights hunters.Due to its milder winter compared to the other places,Tromso is a no-brainer to being the top choice for Northern Lights hunting. The city has a variety of tours such as snowmobiling, whale watching and dog sledding.
Definitely one of the best chances here to see the Arctic Lights. The town up the northern part of Norway has more polar bears than humans. It has the Polar Night which displays three whole months of darkness. That means 24/7 of zero sun.So chances are big in spotting the Northern Lights.
Right below the arctic circle which is the auroral oval, winter time in Lofoten becomes colorful because of the Northern Lights a.k.a Aurora Borealis. The experience is just breathtaking when the lights’ colors reflect in the sea. In addition to that,Lofoten is known for its iconic fishing villages.
7) Where are the best hikes in Norway?
Trolltunga/The Troll’s tongue
Trolltunga is one of the most popular scenic hikes in Norway. The long and demanding hike takes about 12 hours on average round trip. Not much of a leisure hike, the journey towards the iconic cliff has an elevation of over 900 meters sea level. The adventure is best done in summer between June-September.
The Kjerag Hike or otherwise known as”The Kjeragbolten hike” is an intense hike mixed with a great deal of climbing and holding to the chains going up. The ulitmate goal of the hike is having a picture taken standing on top of the boulder .
The popular hike to Preikestolen is the main tourist attraction in the Rogaland county. The 4-hour hike which comprises of somewhat steep terrain towards the cliff tower over Lysefjord is a must for avid hikers. Despite some steep and challenging areas along the way , many families managed to finish the hike. Once at the top, the view of fjords is just second to none.
8) Do-It-Yourself Norway In A Nutshell Itinerary (Winter season)
Day 1 and 2 -Oslo
The whole trip starts in Oslo, the capital and the most populated city in Norway. A day or two is needed to explore the city.To experience the most out of Oslo, the best way to explore is by bus and tram. So, a quick stop at any 7-Eleven or Narvesen convenience store to buy the ticket is on the list. Price for a 24 hour-ticket costs 105 kr for adults.
There are a lot of things to see and do in this city. Since it’s backpacking style, everything is free on this list. Here are the must go to places in Oslo:
- Opera House(just a few meters away from the train station)
- Karl Johans Gate(shopping district )
- Akershus Castle/ Fortress
- Ekeberg Park
- Vigeland Sculpture Sculpture Park
- Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower
Day 3: Do-It-Yourself Norway In A Nutshell Day Trip Starts (One-way)
If you are looking to enjoy a day trip in Norway, there are two ways you can take. You can sign up for a Norway In A Nutshell Day Trip or a Do-It-Yourself Norway In A Nutshell Version. Both are self-guided tours and the only difference is that the official package offers a one-time payment for the bundle of tickets you need on the trip. But booking the tickets independently is very much doable on your own. I believe planning and doing it yourself is way cheaper but you must make sure you have all the information you will need to make sure connect each leg of the trip.
With great planning comes with great responsibility. -Fake Spiderman
That includes booking tickets ahead of time and making sure you have the complete timetable with you. Furthermore, you will need to know which tickets cannot be purchased ahead of time. We have broken down the day trip by the different legs and which tickets you will have to purchase when you arrive.
Note that prices and schedules change without prior notice.
Be updated with the rates at Norway in a Nutshell.
The First Leg Of Your Journey (Oslo to Myrdal) 8.25- 12.58
This is where the trip begins. In order to get to Myrdal, you need to hop on one of the Norwegian state trains that leave from the Oslo S Station at 8:25 am and arriving at 12:58 pm. If you plan ahead of time, you can book your train tickets early and purchase their mini price or “mini-pris” tickets. These tickets are at discounted rates and are a great deal cheaper than the average cost on some days of the month. Try to plan for a trip either on a Wednesday or Thursday. Tickets are cheapest on these days based on what I observed.
It’s really easy to book your tickets by visiting the Norwegian railways’ official site NSB. Luckily, there is a link to peruse the site in English. The website is pretty much straightforward and easy to use. You can either get the tickets from the ticket machines when you get to the station or print them after booking online, which we preferred to do. The nearest internet cafe is on the 2nd floor of Oslo S.
The price of the tickets ranges from 380 Norwegian Krone (if you’re super duper lucky) per person to 800 KR. The average cost is 600 kr which shows that buying in advance and will save you a good amount of money. Check for updated prices at NSB.
The booking comes with an advanced seat reservation.
Want to get the best seats in the house?
We highly recommend you book a seat on the left side of the train because as you get closer to Myrdal, you will enjoy the spectacular views. The trip takes 4 hours and 30 minutes to arrive at your destination.
The Second Leg Of Your Journey (Myrdal to Flåm) 13:05-13.55
The Famous Flam Railway
For this leg of your journey, you can still book ahead of time through the NSB site. The trip costs around 390 Norwegian Krone per person. Contrary to the train to Myrdal, you cannot book a seat on this train. The train departs at 1:05 pm and arrives at 1:55 pm.
As you get off the train in Myrdal, you need to transfer to the Flåm railway right away, which is one of the highlights of your trip and it only takes an hour. This steam train takes you to Norway’s most picturesque mountains right up close and dozens of waterfalls.
And considered by some as one of the most breathtaking train journeys in the entire world.
Credits: Jorge Láscar
You have 7 minutes to change trains as the Myrdal train arrives at approximately 12.58 pm and the Flåm train departs at 13.05 pm. The good news is that the next train is just a short walk on the opposite platform so the transition is quite easy. The train makes a few stops along the way for some photos.
Where’s the best seat in the train?
Doesn’t matter! Both sides of the train give you the best views Norway has to offer!
The train takes a quick stop at the very famous Kjosfossen waterfall which is one of the most popular attractions in Norway. Its fall is approximately over 700 feet. You will be allowed to get off the train and take pictures!
The Third Leg Of Your Journey
Attribution: User: Tine at wikivoyage shared
THE FJORDCRUISE NÆRØYFJORD BOAT TOUR
(from Flåm to Gudvangen )-15:00 -17.00
Now, you are halfway through the journey. The trip is by boat along the icy fjords of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord.
The scenic boat trip takes around 2 hours. These two fjords mentioned above are considered to be among the world’s steepest. And in fact on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Depending on the number of tourists, the boats are immediately available to board. But the waiting time could be a bit long during the peak season. In this case, an alternative option is to travel to Gudvangen by bus is possible. So, I highly suggest going on this journey on the winter season when there aren’t so many tourists.
Booking the boat trip in advance at the VisitFlåm website is strongly advised as the boats have limited space and you will be traveling with everyone on the Norway In A Nutshell tour who have their tickets in advance.
It costs roughly over 300 Norwegian Krone per person and the tickets can be emailed to print out. Check out the updated rates at Visitflam.com
The port is on the right side of the train station and very easy to see. As the train arrives here at 1:55 pm, you should book the 3:00 pm boat. As long as there are no problems popping up, it is really very easy to go from the train to the boat. The boat leaves at 3:00 pm and arrives in Gudvangen at 5:00 pm.
The Fourth Leg Of Your Journey (Gudvangen to Voss) 17.25-18.20
As the scenic boat tour ends in Gudvangen, the bus ride to Voss is up next. At the port, right across the shops, you can find the bus stop easily. Usually, the “950 bus” to Voss Stasjon is already at the designated area ready to take you on your next journey. The local bus is operated by Skyss and the tickets can be purchased several ways:
- Through Skyss app (assuming you have mobile data coverage)
- Shops nearby(7-Eleven, Deli de Luca, Narvesen,Matkroken,Bunnpris,Ica)
- Ticket Machine(Accepts BankAxept, Visa, and MasterCard)
From the driver
The last option which is highly discouraged is buying the ticket from the driver. Note that the driver only accepts cash(Kroner) and the price comes with an onboard charge of 23 kr.( Same concept with buying tickets on board in other local transportations.)
Sit back and enjoy the view as the bus passes by the alluring villages and the stunning scenery in the town.
The Final Leg Of Your Journey (Voss to Bergen) 18.39 – 19.55
The bus arrives at 19:55 pm at Bergen’s main station which is in the center of the city. As the night falls, you will arrive in Bergen.After a long and an “amazing race-like” adventure, your body is tired and needs to recharge. You can either take a leisurely stroll around Bergen and enjoy a sumptuous dinner at the city or head off to your accommodations for the night.
If this Do-It-Yourself trip through Norway is something you are interested in, check out the rates when you are getting ready to put together your tour package. As the rates can change, it’s worth your time to look into it before taking off or purchasing your tickets ahead of time.
Schedules may vary depending on the season(Winter/Summer ) and holidays/weekends.
As a day trip, all the stops and connections are well laid out. You just have to follow through on the plan.
Overall, the only difference between A Do-It-Yourself version and the official trip is the cost. You save almost half of the amount creating your own itinerary. Bloopers may come along the way, but the wonderful experience throughout the journey is priceless.
The Schedule (Winter Season) & Ticket Prices:
Oslo to Myrdal (by train) –8:25 am to 12:59 pm.
620 Norwegian Krone(average price for mini pris) per person & can be purchased ahead of time through NSB.
Myrdal to Flåm (by train) -1:05 pm to 1:55 pm
390 Norwegian Krone per person & can be purchased ahead of time through NSB.
Flåm to Gudvangen (boat) – 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
430 Norwegian Krone per person & can be purchased ahead of time at VisitFlåm.
Gudvangen to Voss (bus #950) – 5:25pm to 18:20pm
120 Norwegian Krone per person &must be purchased on the bus. Check for updated prices/schedule on Skyss.
.Voss to Bergen (train) -18:39 pm to 19:55 pm
219 Norwegian Krone per person & must be purchased at the train station. Check for updated prices/ schedule on NSB.
The beauty of putting together a day journey through Norway is you can take on as many legs as you want to and even turn it into a 2-day itinerary, if you prefer. You do all the planning, get the best rates for your budget. I highly recommend that you visit the sites mentioned here and get all the tickets you can ahead of time.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, visit the sites, check out the schedules, and start planning. Once you hit the road, you will have a great time. Hopefully, this information will give you some ideas for planning your next summer day trip in Norway.