You’ve probably heard Scandinavia is an expensive region to visit. Yes, it’s true the food and drink in Oslo Airport are super expensive compared to the States or southern Europe. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel well in Scandinavia on a budget. Learn 5 ways to travel well in Scandinavia while on a budget.
The trick is to plan ahead. Here are 5 tips to help you plan your visit to Scandinavia and keep your costs low.
- Go offseason
For some strange reason, most visitors to Scandinavia want to go in summer. In summer, you don’t get to see the amazing Northern Lights and you can’t have fun on a snowmobile or go skiing.
It’s not always as cold as you might expect during other times of the year. In fact, the name “Norway” is said to derive from the fact the coastline of Norway stays free of ice for much of the winter making it the best route north that time of the year. Warm air off the Gulf Stream keeps Norway warmer than other nations at the same latitude even within the Arctic Circle.
If you visit Scandinavia during the shoulder season (spring and fall) then you can expect to find more affordable flight deals, cheaper hotel rooms, and discounted tour tickets. If you can put up with the cold and go in winter, the effect will be more so.
But there are always exceptions to the rule. Hotels in Stockholm are sometimes cheaper in the summer if most of their guests are business travelers. They get fewer business travelers during summer and weekends, so they charge cheaper room rents at those times.
- Book in advance and be flexible
You will get much better deals on flights and accommodation if you book between 6-3 months in advance. Otherwise, you’ll find that only the most expensive tickets and hotel rooms remain. Booking in advance also allows you to avoid any unwanted flight delays or cancellations. In the event that this does happen, make sure that you know that you do have the right to claim compensation for cancelled flights.
If your timing is flexible when booking, this will enable you to seek out the lowest costs. Some online air ticket sites, like Skyscanner and Momondo, can be set up to alert you when your ideal flight has dropped in price.
If you’re headed for Norway or Sweden, don’t automatically book a flight there. Copenhagen Airport in Denmark is by far the busiest airport in Scandinavia, which means you’re more likely to pick up discounted flight deals.
Because of the Øresund Bridge linking Copenhagen to Malmö by road and rail, it’s actually easier to get to parts of southern Sweden from Copenhagen Airport than from Stockholm Arlanda Airport. And a convenient and affordable ferry link between Copenhagen and Oslo means a cheaper flight to Copenhagen will allow you a more affordable entry into Norway.
Related: Christianhavn in Copenhagen
- Don’t be too fussy about accommodation
Yes, the top hotels in Scandinavia are expensive. However, Scandinavia has a very developed backpacking culture. That means you’ll find a good selection of economy options for budget travelers.
If you don’t mind sharing a room with between five and ten people of the same sex, hostels are an affordable option for traveling around Scandinavia. And if you’re travelling in a large family group, you might even be able to book one room for all of you. You can find more information on hostels on sites like HostelWorld.
If you shop around, you can find budget hotels in most cities in Scandinavia. And renting a self-catering apartment is always an affordable option. You can find apartments to rent on AirBnB and BookingDotCom. These sites have options to search for apartments in preference to hotel rooms.
- Eat grocery food ready-made meals
You will find many restaurants in Scandinavia to be expensive. However, regular grocery stores outside of the main tourist traps won’t be that much more expensive than back home. There are discount grocery chains around Scandinavia, such as ALDI, Lidl, ICA, and Netto. Watch out for these.
You can purchase pre-made foods, like salads and sandwiches, at reasonable prices. Plus, if you’ve gone for the self-catering apartment option, you can cook your own meals for much less than eating in restaurants.
Alcohol is expensive in bars but reasonably priced in grocery stores. Alcohol in night clubs is super expensive. In fact, you’ll often find Scandinavian nightclubbers sticking to bars until they close and then moving on to nightclubs because it’s so much cheaper for them that way.
- Be smart about sightseeing
Sightseeing tours can be expensive. However, if you do your research, you can often find free activities in major Scandinavian cities. Try Googling “Free things to do in Stockholm” and see what you find.
Quite often you’ll find museums and art galleries that offer free entry. And observing the best architecture and monumental sculpture never costs anything. The most famous attraction in Copenhagen is The Little Mermaid, and it cost you nothing to visit!
While some attractions are free, for most you must pay. However, sometimes you get super cheap deals because you stumbled across them. For example, if you purchase a City Pass in Copenhagen, not only will it cover public transport around the city, but it also provides free entrance to a wide range of popular tourist attractions and some organized tours.
Do your research and plan ahead
As you can see, there are lots of ways you can keep costs low when visiting Scandinavia. The main thing it to research well and make plans.
That doesn’t mean you must always take the cheap option. Budget carefully for most items but allow yourself some treats along the way. Use what you save on discounted air flights to pay for that gourmet meal in Oslo you really want.
Be flexible in your planning, and you’ll have a wonderful time.
Remember these 5 ways to travel well in Scandinavia while on a budget, it will save you a lot of hard cash.
Feature image (on top): Troll’s Tongue, Lysefjord – Norway
5 Ways To Travel Well In Scandinavia While On A Budget, written for Daily Scandinavian by the editors at Outsidepursuit.