Weak kroner means optimism in tourism
Traveling to Norway from the US doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you follow these simple tips
There is a lot of optimism in the tourist industry these days. One of the reasons is the lower price for Norwegian kroner. Compared with the US dollar, NOKs have been 10 percent cheaper. The Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise’s economic index shows that the tourist sector is the only industry in Norway where optimism has increased during the fall. No other industry is so positive heading into 2014.
Traveling in the country can be done affordably. Norway doesn’t have to be more expensive than the rest of northern Europe. And, as is often the case with travel, by spending less, you may actually experience more.
With or without your own tent, mountain hiking is free of charge. You may pitch your tent almost anywhere on unfenced land for free, as a result of the right of access. A bicycling holiday with your own tent is a cheap way to explore Norway. If you don’t like tents, order affordable cabins at the many camping sites before you start your trip. If you don’t want to go on your own, you can book an organized bicycle trip. Train is also a comfortable way of traveling. Remember you can only go as far north as Bodø. Rental cars are handy in the countryside, but expensive to park and unnecessary in the cities. Norway’s city transit works great and day passes make it cheap.
To rent a room in a private home, look for a Værelse, Rom, Rum, or Hus Rum sign, or ask at the local tourist office. Business hotels in Bergen and Oslo and other cities offer big discounts on weekends year round and all of July and August. Although these rooms are still expensive, you get a huge breakfast and a lot of extra comfort for little more than the cost of a cheap hotel.
Bring your fishing rod when bicycling or driving around Norway. A good way of getting free dinner, fishing in the sea from shore is always free of charge. Buying your food in a supermarket is the cheapest way to get it. Most grocery shops and supermarkets will carry ordinary beer, but to buy strong beer, wine or spirits, you need to find your nearest Vinmonopolet outlet. As this is a government-run business, there is no aim for profits, so the really expensive wines and spirits are actually relatively cheap in Norway. Norwegian laws on alcohol can be complicated, so be prepared and plan ahead.
Tap water is drinkable and ordering a bottle of mineral water with your meal is unnecessary. Most restaurants will bring a jug and some glasses to your table. If they don’t, it is perfectly all right to ask for tap water.
Foreigners say we are wonderful people and everyone speaks fluent English. My favorite sights in Oslo are the Vigeland Sculpture Park and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. Both of them are free!
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 31, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.