Norway on a Budget: An Oslo to Bergen Itinerary

by madelineraeaway

Looking to explore Norway on a Budget? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

I don’t know about you, but I have dreamed of visiting Norway for a long time. I scrolled through pictures of turquoise fjords, scaling mountains, and lush greenery and knew it was a place that I had to see in my lifetime.

However, my dreams of visiting Norway were conflicted by one thing: Norway is infamously expensive. I heard this over, and over, and over again. And settled for the fact that you must be wealthy to visit Norway. So, alas, this dream trip was put on the back burner.

However, when my parents decided to visit me in Scandinavia, I began to revisit the idea of Norway. I wanted to show them the absolute best of Scandinavia after all. So, I began doing a ton of research and suddenly, the thought of visiting this dreamy country didn’t seem so unattainable anymore. So, it was decided – we were off to see the fjords!

Is Norway Expensive? Simply put, yes.

I am not going to see here and lie to you and tell you that Norway can be a super cheap vacation.

But, is it impossible to visit Norway on a budget? Not at all.

And I’m going to share with you the best way to venture across Norway on a budget with my 5-Day Oslo to Bergen Itinerary.


DAY 1: VISIT NORWAY’S CAPITAL, OSLO

Oslo may not be what you imagine when you visit Norway, because it really is just a modern city. However, it is the perfect gateway to seeing everything Norway has to offer. This means that one day in Oslo is plenty of time to explore. And best of all – there are plenty of affordable and free things to do in Oslo.

Things to Do in Oslo

Oslo Islands: In the summer months, take a (very affordable) ferry across to Oslo’s island archipelago. In the interest of time, we went to Hovedøya, which is the closest of the islands. It was a lovely little island suitable for walking around, exploring old ruins, and swimming in the Oslo fjord. You can find more information on all of Oslo’s surrounding islands here.

Oslo Harbor Front: Walk along the harbor front to take in beautiful sites of the city. If you’re feeling brave, take a jump into the water!

Oslo Opera House: The Oslo Opera House has a very unique design and absolutely must be visited. They often have events going on that you can check out as well.

Akershus Fortress: Make sure you take some time to walk around the grounds of the impressive Akershus Fortress.

Best Restaurants in Oslo on a Budget

The Salt Village: Here you’ll find a small village of food trucks serving a variety of food – suitable for all diets. Once you get your food, you can sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the Oslo Opera House. They also host tons of cool events, so check out their website to see if anything is happening while you’re there. (Tip: we ordered the grilled cheese from Good Mood and it was soooo good. And better yet, only 90 NOK for a huge lunch portion).

Skur 33: Looking for the best Italian food in Oslo? Okay, you probably weren’t because when you think of Norway, you don’t associate it with Italian food. But I’m telling you, Skur 33 is the real deal. They have the most gorgeous waterfront space where you can sit along the water and admire the views. This isn’t necessarily a “budget” place, at about 225-275 NOK (or 20-25 EUR) for a main course, but when you factor in the quality of food and the incredible patio views, it is a very good value for your money. (Tip: I have nothing to say but you must get the lobster risotto).

Where to Stay in Oslo on a Budget

City Box Oslo is centrally located, affordable, and offers clean and spacious rooms starting as low as 999 NOK (100 EUR) a night.


DAY 2: OSLO TO FLÅM BY TRAIN

On day two, you’re up early and ready to see what you (hopefully) came to Norway for: NATURE.

We booked all of our Norway transportation through Norway in a Nutshell. I offer so many more details about this service, and answer the question “Is Norway in a Nutshell Worth It?” later in this post, so be sure to check it out!

Part 1: Oslo to Myrdal

I would highly suggest leaving as early as you feel comfortable to make the most of day two. We left around 8:00 am and began the four and a half hour train ride toward Flåm.

Many people ask which side of the train is better to sit on from Oslo to Myrdal. From my experience, if you are able to choose your seat, it is the left side (although it may seem like the right side is better in the first hour or so). However, either side of the train is great and scenic. And there is always an option to go to the dining car for views of the opposite side.

On the way to Myrdal you’ll pass some incredible views. You’ll begin the journey venturing through some small picturesque Norwegian towns as you make your way to the top of the mountain range.

Once at the top, you’ll see snow capped mountains and bright turquoise waters, like this one. In fact, this very location was used as a Star Wars filming location!

See Also: If beautiful views are your thing, then you must check out my Douro Valley, Portugal itinerary – and prepare to be blown away.

Part 2: Myrdal to Flåm

Next, transfer trains in Myrdal to the legendary Flåm Railway – which is often coined the most picturesque train ride in the world. This old-fashioned train way a bit touristy, and very busy, but all the hype about the views was REAL. I mean, seriously, just look at these pictures.

Similar to the previous leg of the journey, I would also recommend sitting on the left side of the Flåm Railway, if possible. Also, if you’re looking to get the best pictures (without a glare) you’ll want to select a seat that has windows can be pulled down.

Things to Do in Flåm

Once you arrive in Flåm, I highly recommend resting your head here, and spending the rest of your day admiring this picturesque town. Here, you’ll be at the head of beautiful hikes through the surrounding mountains. You can also rent boats (we rented a paddle boat), swim in the fjord (if you’re lucky enough to have warm weather – which IS possible, even in Norway), or have a quiet waterfront meal.

Here’s some highlights from our time in Flåm.

Where to Stay in Flåm

We loved Flåm Marina & Apartments. If you are just one couple, this spot would be a bit of a spurge at around 300 euros a night for a two bedroom apartment (luckily, we were two couples sharing the cost). However, if you have room in your budget to splurge one night, this is the night to do it.

Located around the corner from town, away from the hustle and bustle of tourists, I think I can safely say this spot was the highlight of our time in Norway. With balconies facing the fjords, a dock that we could jump off into the water, boat rentals, and a beautiful waterfront restaurant, I couldn’t recommend staying at Flåm Marina & Apartments enough.

Another great perk – this spot has it’s own kitchen. So, you can save money by buying groceries, cooking in the apartment, and eating at home – all while enjoying the fjord views from your private balcony.


DAY 3: FLÅM TO BERGEN BY FJORD CRUISE, BUS & TRAIN

Ready for another early morning? Well, if you want to see the best of Norway in five days, you gotta start early.

Fjord Cruise

We were up and onto our next leg of the Norway in a Nutshell tour around 9am. The next step is a fjord cruise through the narrowest fjord in the world: the Nærøyfjord. Like everything in Norway, the pictures will never do this experience justice. It was simply breathtaking.

My #1 tip for the Nærøyfjord fjord cruise: dress warm. Even though it was warm outside (around 25 degrees), it was still VERY cold on the deck of the fjord cruise. It seemed like most people got a memo that our group must have missed, because my thin jacket was not cutting it. Luckily, I had coffee to keep me warm.

Bus Trip

Once you arrive in Gudvangen, you’ll transfer to the most thrilling part of the Norway in a Nutshell journey: the bus ride. En route to Voss, you’ll scale the side of mountains on winding roads on a massive bus – don’t try this at home, kids. The whole journey was equal parts thrilling, terrifying, and just simply incredible.

And, One Final Train Ride

White knuckled, we arrived in Voss for the last leg of the journey by train to Bergen. This one hour journey highlights so much more of Norway’s undeniable beauty and offers the perfect opportunity to have some down time before arriving in Bergen.


DAY 4 & 5: EXPLORE BERGEN, NORWAY’S MOST POPULAR COASTAL CITY

Things to Do in Bergen

Bergen is a beautiful coastal town and there are tons of things to do in Bergen on a budget. Here ar some of my favourites!

Visit the Top of Mount Fløyen: You can take the Bergen Funicular up the mountain to see the best views of the city. Or you can walk up, which take about 45 minutes up a moderate, steady incline. The benefit of walking up is that you’ll navigate through some of Bergen’s prettiest neighbourhoods (where I swear every house had a luxury electric car parked in the driveway).

Go for a Hike: The top of Mount Fløyen serves as the head to many of Bergen’s most popular hiking trails. We hiked to the lake made famous by the “Death in Ice Valley” and the walk there was absolutely gorgeous. My parents were a bit more adventurous and hiked all the way to the top of the mountain, and the views were incredible.

Visit Bryggan: The iconic harbor area in Bergen is beautiful and is great for walking around and taking pictures.

Mariakirken i Bergen: This beautiful church is located right behind Bryggan. Also, take a walk around the surrounding neighbourhood. I completely fell in love with all the colourful sided houses.

Nøstet Neighbourhood: Speaking of colourful sided houses, if you love them as much as I do, you must visit the Nøstet neighbourhood.

Best Restaurants in Bergen

Pingvinen: This super cutesy little restaurant with delicious moderately priced food (TIP: try the Norwegian meatballs!).

Bergenhus Brewery: Also moderately priced with good food, a good craft beer selection, and amazing views of Bryggan.

Where to Stay in Bergen

We stayed at the most perfect Airbnb in Bergen. It was centrally located, around the corner from a grocery store, and most importantly affordable (about 1,350 NOK or 130 EUR per night for a two bedroom apartment). Click here to read more about it.


Is Norway in A Nutshell Worth It?

When I first began researching transportation in Norway, the “Norway in a Nutshell” route kept popping up everywhere. Then, when I looked at the price that starts at 2,200 NOK (or roughly 220 EUR) per person, I thought it seemed like a scam. That is, until I began researching the cost of transportation in Norway (which, similar to everything else in Norway, is expensive).

After biting the bullet and purchasing the Oslo to Bergen trip with Norway in a Nutshell, I think our whole group is in agreement that the package is a very good value. Here’s what was included:

  • Four and a half hour train ride from Oslo to Myrdal
  • One hour train ride on the legendary Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm
  • Two hour fjord cruise through the Nærøyfjord, the world’s narrowest fjord
  • Two hours on a bus, scaling the side of a mountain
  • One hour train ride from Voss to Bergen

Sure, you can book each of these legs separately and save a marginal amount of money (and I must stress that during the summer months, the savings are truly marginal). However, what I appreciated about “Norway in a Nutshell” is that each leg of the tour was timed perfectly with the next leg, and there was no guesswork about where we needed to go next. Additionally, all tickets were emailed to us in a comprehensive package.

If you’re considering booking Norway in a Nutshell, ultimately you need to consider how much your time is worth. Because I am confident that if I would have booked this tour on my own, the amount saved would not have been worth the hassle.

Should I start Norway in a Nutshell in Bergen or Oslo?

This is a question I asked myself prior to booking my Norway in a Nutshell Tour. The most popular Norway in a Nutshell option is to complete the entire tour in one day, and to start and end in Bergen. However, in my opinion, this is a very long tour to do in one day. Additionally, one of my favourite parts of the trip was the journey from Oslo to Myrdal, where we were able to witness firsthand the exceptional diversity of Norwegian landscapes.

On this journey, we gradually climbed to the top of the mountain range, drove through snow-covered mountain tops, and even saw Star Wars filming locations. This entire experience would have been missed if we began the tour in Bergen.

With that being said, the Oslo to Bergen tour would be very very (very) long to do in one day. Which means you should stop en route and spend time in the mountains. There are many locations you can stop, but we ultimately chose Flåm. Although a bit touristy (there is a port for one cruise ship), the town is so incredibly picturesque. And despite the cruise ship being there, it wasn’t very busy – likely because the tourists all leave on tours during the day.

In the late afternoon the ship left and we felt like we had the entire town to ourselves. This experience is not something we would have had if we had chosen to do Norway in a Nutshell in one day, which is why I think it is so beneficial to do the tour over two days if your schedule allows for it.


TIPS FOR VISITING NORWAY ON A BUDGET

  1. Grocery Shopping. We saved a lot of money by preparing breakfast and lunch at home. And truthfully, we didn’t feel like we missed out on much – because, generally speaking, you don’t visit Norway for the food. I also always had a couple protein bars, or some fruit, in my backpack for when the hunger struck.
  2. Apartment Rentals. When I was looking for places to stay, the Airbnb properties were often significantly cheaper than hotels. Additionally, this gave us the flexibility to cook at home, since we had a kitchen. Add in text about Airbnb credit here.
  3. Camping. Apartments are great, but if you’re the outdoorsy type, consider camping. Have you heard about “the right to roam?” Basically, it is a national law that gives you permission to pitch a tent in nature, almost anywhere you would like. For more information on the right to roam in Norway, click here.
  4. Cut Back on Alcohol. The cost of alcohol was crazy, starting around 90 NOK (or 9-10 EUR) for a small beer. And don’t even get me started on the cost of wine. So, if you enjoy a few drinks on vacation, it may be wise to stock up at Duty Free before arriving in Norway. Or head to the grocery store to save a bit of money.
  5. Nature is Free. What makes Norway so magnificent is the nature – and exploring this doesn’t cost a penny.
  6. GO NOW. Did you know the Norwegian krone is the weakest it has been in years? Sure, Norway is always expensive, but it is less expensive now than it has been in the past. So don’t wait any longer and just book that flight!

HOW TO GET TO NORWAY

Looking for the cheapest airports to fly into in Norway? The answer is Bergen and Oslo. This is because they are international hubs to both Europe and the rest of the world, and serve as a connection point for those travelling to more remote Norwegian locations. We were able to cut costs by flying from Copenhagen to Oslo, and home from Bergen, whereas remote airports were significantly more costly. In addition, outside of these hubs, many locations are only accessible by car. And have you SEEN the price of gas in Norway?


WEATHER IN NORWAY

It should be no surprise that Norway is a rainy country. Additionally, even the south of Norway is quite northern compared to the rest of the world. This means that warm weather is never guaranteed – even in the summer months.

With that being said, if you’re planning to visit, pack accordingly. I’m talking clothes for warm weather, cold weather, and most importantly, rain. And don’t trust the weather forecast, because it is almost never correct.


READY TO VISIT NORWAY ON A BUDGET?

Using this Oslo to Bergen itinerary, I am confident that you will fall in love with Norway just like I did.

And if you’re travelling around Scandinavia, don’t forget to check out my hometown using my Malmö Sweden City Guide. Or if you’re crossing the Oresund Bridge top Denmark, don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the best spots to take pictures in Copenhagen.


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