The plan – drive by car, bring the food with us from Estonia, sleep in couchsurfing houses & learn stuff about Norway
When I found out that we had 1 week after our IM Kalmar race, I thought it was good to relax on Swedish south coastline, but eventually Swedish coastline is very much like Estonian coastline – very boring. And Masha came up with a bright idea of going to Norway. Norway is close to Sweden, right?
Hm… pretty much but still it takes 2 days to drive from Stockholm to Bergen. Not to Oslo, as Oslo is not about scenic at all, the fjords are on the west coast. Go there.
The plan – drive by car, bring the food with us from Estonia, sleep in couchsurfing houses & learn stuff about Norway. We spent in total 700 EUR in a week for 2 people.
The biggest expense is fuel, when combined with ferry tickets and parking it’s 400 EUR or nearly 60% of what we spent, next comes groceries (those we bought in Estonia), lodging we kept at absolute minimum 70 EUR.
1. Fuel. It took 5 50-liters tanks to run to, in and out of Norway for 3000km 7-day trip. We drove pretty carefully yet the consumption was sub-optimal with all Norwegian twisty roads. Where a normal country would have a coastline of 2 500km, Norway with it’s mind blowing fjords has 28 000 km worth of coast, which makes logistics… hmmm… complicated. So, there are no highways in Norway, but a ton of tunnels, bridges and ferries.
This said, driving your own non-Norwegian car is still cheaper vs plain/train/car rental.
Here is why:
i. Bridges and tunnels are literally free for foreign cars. Otherwise it would add extra ca 150 EUR for Norwegian plates.
ii. Train\plane + rental car would be significantly more expensive.
iii. Good thing if you can sleep in the car, we ran out of lodging options and had to spend two nights in our MINI, it was more fun than it sounds, cost us only 30 EUR as well (cheapest cabin/hostel fee would be 3 times as much).
iv. 3 out of 7 days were scenic drives with 1 day of very slow and fantastic driving through mountains and waterfalls.
v. Car trunk is better for food storage than a suitcase: more space and less possible damage, yet, truth be told, it can get a bit messy.
The only cheaper option is hitchhiking and tent camping. So grab your old tent and a backpack before coming to Norway.
2. Food. We estimated groceries at 230 EUR with only 30 spent in Norway itself. Whatever you choose to stock up, remember: Norway is 2-3 times more expensive (both supermarkets and dining out), unless you are from Iceland 😀.
Camping could be a good alternative to everything since the camps are close to main attractions and cheap
3. Lodging is just 70 EUR – 10% of total. Once Couchsurfing failed completely – had to AirBnB in Stockholm. Another time the host we found was so far away, we’d spend more on fuel than sleeping in a camping.
Camping could be a good alternative to everything since the camps are close to main attractions and cheap. Prices vary if you stay in a caravan or rent a cabin, we just slept in our car. Btw putting up your tent can be free in Norway though, just do not bother the sheep and you can stay anywhere you want for 2 days (imagine a sunrise at the TrollTongue), alas that does not come with showers, kitchen and wifi.
What we did to save €:
1. Stock up on food: canned fish, sausage, cheese, potato chips, chocolate bars, instant noodles, tea, etc. Masha will write more there.
Pro tip: any gas station will offer you free hot water for your ramen with sausage or instant mashed potatoes
2. Fuel up before the border. Usually the most expensive fuel was around major Fjord attractions. 1.7 EUR/lt vs 1.3 in Sweden.
3. Camp or couchsurf – it can be cheap or even free and fun! Just imagine an Italian guy playing Deep Purple with an indian Sitar music instrument on the fjord… surreal, cool and an awesome story!
4. Avoid taking the car on the ferry. We saved 80 EUR just by parking our car in the port of Forsand for free when we went to Kjerag Hike. We paid the ferry only for 2 persons, hitch-hiked from the ferry to the starting point of the hike and this is it. There are always people ready to help you and give you a ride, so do not be shy.
5. Avoid tourist ferries and shuttles. In Lysefjord (to be able to go for a Kjerag hike) there are 2 normal ferries which are 2x cheaper vs. advertised tourist one and the experience is the same.
Could we make it cheaper still?
Fly to Bergen with your bicycle 🚴♀️🤣
i. pack a tent and camping supplies and you could cut another 30 EUR,
ii. Be more basic with food supplies and cut another 50-100 EUR off,
iii. Hitch-hike – there is a sizable traffic of trucks from Sweden to Norway – you could save 400 EUR, but it would take you 2x more time and patience to do the same trip as ours.
iv. Fly to Bergen with your bicycle – a part of roads is open for bicycles, the cycling maps are available. With a tent and a bicycle you can save almost all we spent on fuel and camping, but find a cheap flight to Bergen.
How much would it cost if you want to be a bit more comfortable?
2 nights in a camping cabin for 2 – 100 EUR
Some coffee and sandwiches in Bergen – 30-40 EUR
Beer and Cola for 2 when you want it – 30-40 EUR
Easy access to hikes (shuttles and better parking) – 60-100 EUR
And so on…