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Budgeting for Norway

A post I saw in the Reviews forum in regards to prices in Norway almost made me choke. (Soup for 2 = $100). I did know that it was one of the more expensive countries, but can anyone give me some feedback from a recent visit about what kind of prices I should expect there. We have an AirBnB in June in a rural area between Lillehammer and Oslo and that price seemed very reasonable. But what about going out to eat, or buying groceries? Is it comparable to London, or more than that?
I checked an online menu for a restaurant in Lena, which is not too far from where we'll be, and it did not seem too outlandish to me ($12-$20 entrees by current exchange rates). Maybe the person in the other forum just went into the wrong place.

Posted by
918 posts

Unfortunately, Norway is outrageously expensive, even for Swiss tourists.

Posted by
168 posts

We traveled through Norway a few years ago. Expensive! But with an Airbnb you should have some kitchen facilities. We make our own breakfast and dinner at the Airbnb. Finding a reasonable lunch out is usually easy. Simple cafe style. Google the biggest grocery store near your location. Many have good price precooked food like bbq chicken and meats, also a variety of ready made salads. Try some unusual specialties like squeeze tubes of cheese and fish.

If you are covering any distance investigate a rail pass. Norwegian trains are great for comfort and reaching unusual towns but can be expensive also. It’s a gorgeous country. Worth the $s.

Posted by
23007 posts

According to this article, the average price of a Big Mac is $4.33 in the US and $7.06 in Norway. That's 63% higher.

I'm planning a trip of my own to Norway, and my attitude about food prices is more or less "La la la--I see nothing." I'm not going to let that concern spoil my anticipation. From my reading I've formed the impression that it's primarily a matter of labor rates. In Norway everyone gets a living wage. The CEO isn't paid 200 times as much as the burger flipper at McDonalds. It's a much fairer system, if painful for the tourist. At least you won't be expected to tip 20%.

I've decided on this strategy:

  • Relax a bit about the cost of my restaurant meals since I haven't been to Europe since September 2019--think of the money I've saved!
  • Put together more meals from supermarket purchases than I usually do. I'm sure that will still cost more than I pay at home, but it will be a lot cheaper than eating out.
  • Try to use strategic, healthy snacking on supermarket items to avoid arriving at a restaurant ravenous.
Posted by
22 posts

I appreciate the context and everyone's viewpoints. We will save where we can and limit our eating out. Visiting foreign grocery stores is always a fun part of a trip for me anyway. And like you say, this is our first international trip in a couple years.

And heck yeah, I'm eating some squeeze tube fish.

Posted by
3759 posts

We spent a week in Oslo a few years ago . Our hotel was a few blocks from the Oslo City shopping mall . A great grocery store is on the basement level , with a lot of variety and extremely reasonable prices . Our favorite was freshly roasted chicken and a couple of greek salads to go . I don't think we paid much more for that than we do here at home . Never went to a restaurant there or anywhere else during our sojourn in Scandinavia,10.7512982,17.75z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x46416e61f267f039:0x7e92605fd3231e9a!2sOslo,+Norway!3b1!8m2!3d59.9138688!4d10.7522454!3m4!1s0x46416e62300dada1:0x3c7c2249bb653fd8!8m2!3d59.9129403!4d10.7526987

Posted by
5818 posts

Our last trip to Norway was the winter of 2019 (pre-pandemic). Our travel package was half-board (breakfast and dinner included) with pricing not memorably high. That said, we were in a rural winter resort town. In Oslo Peppes Pizza is one of our economy go to and if you avoid alcohol, resonable pricing for a big city meal.

Keep in mind that Norway has a first world economy and pays living wages, even to immigrant labor. Generally Norwegian waitstaff are adequtely paid and don't expect big tips but do appreciate a tip. What can blow out resturant budets is the price of alcohol. If you really need alcohol, consider visiting the duty free shop at the airport BEFORE you exit past the nothing to declare customs gate. The alternative is to do what Norweginas do and self-medicate before the resturant dinner with alcohol purchased at the Vinmonopolet (Wine Monopoly). Use Google Maps to search for "wine monopoly" or "Vinmonopolet" to find the local government monolpoly.

Eat a big breakfast, light lunch and enjoy your dinners. You are on vacation in a first world country.

Posted by
9158 posts

My husband and I had the pricey soup lunch at a normal cafe in Bergen recommended in Rick Steve’s’ Norway tour book. It was quite a jolt and a wake up call to be ready to pay more. Norway was the most expensive of the Scandinavian countries we visited and all of them were more expensive than other European countries we had been in.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks everyone. I've got lots of time to do some research on the best stuff to buy at my closest Coop during our stay. Really looking forward to it.

I've heard Norwegian summer strawberries are one of the best things to eat ever. Does anyone know when they are in season?

Posted by
22 posts

Y'all can keep the delicious suggestions coming. Food experiences are pretty much my #1 motivation for traveling.

I will definitely splurge on some waffles. it's not that we have a really tight budget, I just like to be informed about what to expect so I can spend the money how it will be most enjoyed.

Posted by
3992 posts

The strawberries were excellent last half of June. I recall paying about $8 for something larger than a 16 oz US clamshell. They are definitely not the usual hard, white-ish California strawberries, but very juicy and flavorful.

There are some very expensive restaurants in Norway, and for regular food, however it really isn’t so expensive a country. Take advantage of cabin rentals, they are cheap. Open jaw (in my case into Trondheim exit Oslo) is worth the effort to reduce backtracking costs. Also supermarkets offer free WIFI. There are Peppes pizza places all over.

I would say Norway is similar in cost to London.

Posted by
49 posts

We found that even while staying in a hotel we could save money by getting meals at grocery stores. We were in Oslo for 5 days a few years ago and typically ate lunch on a park bench after assembling a hearty salad at a grocery store salad bar. We also found that some restaurants charged much less for take-out than if you sat at a table inside the restaurant. Also agree that having alcoholic drinks in a restaurant was VERY expensive. I remember thinking that I had just had my first $14 draft beer. That said, we could go to a liquor store and buy wine/beer for about the same price as home, then have cocktail hour in the hotel room.

Posted by
2049 posts

When we were on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo, our guide advised us to buy wine at the duty free shop on the boat. It was a great suggestion as alcohol is very pricey in Norway. On numerous occasions, I simply had an appetizer instead of a full meal for dinner. I found that was plenty (and better) for me.