Before February, I’d been to many places in Norway, but never Oslo. I’d always wanted to take a city break there but had been deterred by the cost. It’s no secret that Norway is expensive. It was my fiancé’s choice, which was limited by my insistence for snow. OF COURSE he was going to chose the most expensive place in Europe.
We’re both recent graduates so we’re not exactly rolling in it. It did require budgeting. BUT, it wasn’t difficult to do.
For me, flights are always the first thing I book. There’s no point booking accommodation if you realise you can’t get there. I’m lucky that I haven’t got children yet and I’m in a full-time job. It meant that I could go on holiday in whatever month I wished. So with the help of Skyscanner I found return flights for two, to Oslo, for £38. Bargain (thank you Ryanair)! We did pay an extra £16 to be able to bring a carry-on each. Given the wintery weather we were going to need as many layers as we could get.
*TIP: Skyscanner may show you the cheapest prices, but it’s almost always cheaper to book directly through the airline. You get access to deals and they’re often the cheapest rates. For this reason, we were offered 50% off parking.
While the flights to Oslo are extremely reasonably priced, accommodation was the opposite. HOWEVER, it is possible to get a cheap hostel in the city, we just wanted our own private space. For example, a room in a hostel, could be anywhere from £20 to about £40 a night, depending on how comfortable you are sharing with strangers.
If you’re on a budget it’s possible to go for a weekend and spend £60 on accommodation for three nights, which isn’t bad at all. But we valued our privacy, it was our first holiday abroad as a couple and we didn’t want to share with strangers. So of course, we went in search of places on Airbnb.
We ended paying about £240 for three nights, for two of us. It was probably the most I’ve ever spent on accommodation for a city break, but the location was perfect. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were right on the metro, which could take us all round the city. We were also a 15-minute walk from the shopping centre, the rail station and the sea. In Oslo you pay for location, so if you don’t mind travelling about then you can get away with paying for less by staying just outside the city.
What was surprising for us was the price of the metro. IT WAS CHEAP. I know, I know, shocking. A 24-hour ticket was the equivalent of £10. With that you could have access to an unlimited rides on metros all round the city, up the nearest mountain, and even to some landmarks just outside the capital.
What made it better than a day ticket, was that it was valid for 24 hours regardless of when you bought it. This was particularly useful on our last day when we bought our ticket at about midday. It meant that we didn’t have to worry about getting a ticket to the station.
Train prices to the airport were slightly on the steep side, but that was the same whether you were one hour outside of Oslo or in the capital. The journey to the airport was 20 minute by train, which was perfect and cost us about £20 each. BUT, we didn’t get a return because we went on to visit other places on our trip to Norway.
I can’t vouch for taxi prices because we never had to use them. The transport links were so good that we could walk everywhere, even if the snow made it difficult at times.
We were quite frugal with our money when it came to sightseeing. We didn’t go to any of the museums, and we didn’t pay for many experiences in Oslo, but we didn’t need to. The good news is, if you have your eyes set on the Munch Museum, or the Olympic museum, for example, you can easily do the rest of the trip for next to nothing.
We did manage to do so much without having to pay for entry anywhere. A walk round the city centre on the first morning was fantastic. Our location meant that we didn’t have to pay to get there. We made our way to the seafront where we climbed the roof of the Opera house, which you can do at any time of the year free of charge. This is the one thing I recommend because the views of Oslo are spectacular.
During our three days in Oslo we visited The Vigeland Park, which is Oslo’s sculpture park. It’s full of interesting sculptures and is right next to Oslo’s ice rink. It was a lovely afternoon. You do have to get the metro there, but a single ticket was only £3 and as I mention above a 24-hour ticket was only £10.
We spent a whole day going up the nearest mountain on the metro. It took about 35-40 minutes from where we were staying but it was worth it. The views were spectacular, despite it being a foggy and snowy day. For £15 you can hire a sledge for a day and do the sledging route, which looked so fun. We decided against it as we already had plans to go sledging at another place but everyone seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.
On our way back down, we visited the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump Tower. It was £16 entry, but we didn’t feel the need to go inside. I really wanted to see the ski jump and we could within metres of it and see the full length of it without having to go inside the museum. I am sure the museum would have been good but for the views of the ski jump was enough.
By the end of our sightseeing, excluding travel and food we hadn’t spent a single penny on experiences in Oslo. There’s so much to do without having to pay an entry free and it is possible to do everything on a budget in just a couple of days.
Food and drink
Food and drink was always going to be the biggest dent in our pockets. We’d heard that pints would be no cheaper than £10 and a £20 meal, excluding drinks, would be very reasonable in Oslo. We were prepared for the worst.
We mostly had sandwiches for lunch. We went to a local supermarket on the first day and bought what we needed, which really saved a lot of money. Despite being warned about alcohol prices, we were determined to fit it into our budget so that was the compromise.
Of the three nights in Oslo we cooked our own evening meals but on the final night we decided to go out for dinner. I finally had a chance to experience Norwegian food in the form of Reindeer stew. It was fantastic and the evening meal cost around £40 for two of us, which was what we were expecting. Having only one taste of Norwegian food in the capital wasn’t an issue for us because it wasn’t the only part of Norway we were visiting so we had many more chances.
But during the day we’d often go for a coffee or a drink. On average a coffee was about £3, which is more expensive than most other places but affordable. We found a lovely student bar in the evening, which we picked because we knew that the prices of alcohol were likely to be cheaper than the £10 we were warned about. In fact, we had a drink every day of the trip and we didn’t once have to pay the £10. It ranged between £5 to £8, much more than what we were used to paying in England but better than expected.
Overall Oslo was a fantastic trip. We spent three days there, we could easily have done it in a weekend. We probably won’t go back because we’ve done everything we wanted to do there, but we would definitely return to Norway in the future.