From the modern Scandinavian architecture of the waterfront to the emerging art scene, Oslo has a lot to offer the curious traveler in 2023. However, while there are many great things to do in Oslo, a traveler can easily run up a big bill as Norway is one of the most expensive countries to visit in the world.
Yet there are some simple things you can do or avoid that will save money for other things in your trip. From making smart transport choices to adopting a more flexible approach to food and beverages, here are some top travel tips to save money in Norway’s capital city.
This first travel hack will save you more than $10 per person before you’ve even arrived in the city. Oslo Airport is just 20-25 minutes away from downtown Oslo yet there is a substantial difference in price between the two train services.
The airport express train Flytoget is a direct service that runs every 10 or 20 minutes throughout the day. It’s convenient and sometimes more frequent than regular trains, but it’s much more expensive than the local commuter train.
It makes no sense to fork out 230 Norwegian kroner ($22) for a one-way ticket when the local train costs just 118 Norwegian kroner ($11.50). The journey time is exactly the same on half the services, but even the slowest take just 10 minutes more.
Search for timetables on vy.no and buy a ticket using the Vy app or from one of the ticket machines when you arrive.
Embrace the outdoors
So many of the usual attractions and museums on travel itineraries come with an entry fee. There are some in Oslo well worth paying for, such as the vast new National Museum.
But some the best attractions in Oslo are entirely free thanks to the Norwegian love of the outdoors. Only a public transit ticket is required to visit the handful of peaceful islands with historic sites and nature reserves, just minutes from downtown Oslo on a fleet of passenger ferries.
The same is true for the hiking trails of the Nordmarka forest and the world-famous Vigeland sculptures in leafy Frogner Park. Take advantage of these free activities to save money and also experience the nature Norway is known for without even leaving the capital city.
Stay in an apartment, not a hotel
Following years of new building projects and renovations, there is now a great range of hotels from luxury to budget available for visitors to Oslo. But even if you can find a cheap hotel room, consider the overall cost of your trip before you book.
Staying in an apartment is a fantastic option especially for couples or families. The reason is simple. Cooking your own meals saves a small fortune especially for larger groups. Options range from serviced apartment blocks at the heart of downtown to local rentals through AirBnB in a leafy suburb.
Saving money by limiting your meals out doesn’t have to limit your experience of Norwegian cuisine either. Supermarkets stock local favorites including fresh salmon, brown cheese and lefse.
If you’re used to enjoying a bottle of wine with dinner or a few beers in the evening, consider whether that’s a necessary part of your travel plans. If not, you’ll save considerably. A regular pilsner will cost $8-10 in a bar or restaurant, more for craft beers, while wine and spirit drinkers should budget even more.
If you choose to shun alcohol, you won’t be the only one. There’s a growing trend among Norwegian breweries to produce non-alcohol versions of popular pilsners and IPAs, while mocktails packed with intense fruity flavors are often available in bars and restaurants.
If you want to enjoy a bottle of wine with your dinner and you choose to stay in an apartment, be sure to make use of the airport duty free store upon arrival. Otherwise you’ll need to visit the state-run liquor store Vinmonopolet, which has short opening hours and far from budget prices.
This final travel tip won’t save huge amounts, but if you’re staying for a few days it will quickly add up.
Keeping hydrated is an important habit to get into on any trip, but just one small bottle of mineral water costs $2 in a supermarket and more from convenience stores. Tap water in Norway is perfectly drinkable, so bottled water is an unnecessary expense.
Take or buy a reusable water bottle and you’ll save money over the duration of your trip, and also use a lot less plastic. Keep an eye out for water fountains in airport terminals too, as bottled water is even more expensive there.