There’s no denying it; Norway is an expensive country to visit as a tourist, and one of the major expenses will be food. Eating out at restaurants can easily cost 400 – 500 NOK per person, and this will quickly add up to thousands of Norwegian kroner during a holiday visit.
Eating in Norway is almost guaranteed to be expensive if you just arrive here without a plan, but there are also some tips that will make it cheaper to eat in Norway. So, let’s take a closer look at how you go about to make it cheaper to eat in Norway.
1) Book an accommodation with a kitchen to make your own food
If you want to survive on a budget in Norway, having some sort of method to make your own meals is essential. Most Norwegians only eat out once in a blue moon, but rather prepare their own meals at home. If you don’t have thousands of kroner to spend on restaurants, you should do the same.
So consider paying a little extra for booking a cabin, room or apartment with a small kitchen. You might not need something fancy, but it will save you a lot of money if you can make some of the meals yourself. Most cabins will come with some small kitchen appliances, which should be enough to let you make your own food.
You certainly don’t want to go out for breakfast or lunch unless you have a hotel breakfast, so a kitchen that allows you to make your own breakfast should be the absolute minimum. A microwave and utensils can do wonders, but a stove with a frying pan is even better.
Fortunately, kitchens are pretty common in apartments and cabins in Norway. Hotel room don’t have them, but most other types of accommodation do.
2) Eat a lot of food at the hotel breakfasts
If you do stay at a hotel, it’s common to have breakfast included in the price. Most hotel breakfasts are pretty good, and you should aim to eat up on these breakfasts so that you won’t have to go looking for lunch just a few hours later.
Some hotels allows you to pack a niste, typically a few sandwiches to take with you for lunch. Some hotels allow you to do this for free, while others charge a small sum for it. These are typically a good deal for both you and the hotel. It allows you to buy a cheap lunch that you can save for later, while the hotel gets rid of some food that would otherwise probably get thrown away.
3) Bring a reusable water bottle
The spring water in Norway is fine to drink, and it’s in fact considered among the best spring water sources in the world. So there’s absolutely no need to pay for water in Norway!
When visiting Norway, make sure to bring a refillable water bottle that you can fill up whenever you have the chance. All spring water is suitable for drinking, so any faucet that disperse water will do. Some people think it’s fine to use a regular plastic bottle, but I suggest to rather buy a refillable bottle. These can be as cheap as 10 – 20 NOK in certain places.
It’s also possible to fill your water bottle in nature during hikes, as long as you take precautions to check that the water has a decent taste and is clear. Most Norwegians just bring a filled bottle with them when hiking, then fill it up again when the opportunity to do so presents itself.
4) Stay away from pubs and nightlife
Drinking at pubs and night clubs in Norway is prohibitively expensive, and you might end up having to pay several thousand Norwegian kroner if you want a full night out. It’s really just one of the most expensive things about Norway, so this is something to stay away from if you want to visit Norway on a budget.
Norwegians tend to solve this issue by getting drunk before going out, but this is not really that much fun if you’re all by yourself.
A beer in Norway typically costs around 90 NOK for a 0.5 liter glass at a pub, but it can be even more expensive to order a drink or a glass of champagne. So at least make sure to check the cost before you order a drink, because most people are going to be surprised by how expensive it is to drink out in Norway.
5) Stick to the low-price grocery stores
Norway has several different grocery store chains, and some of these are considerably cheaper than the others. So if you want to pick up some snacks, ingredients for making your own meal, or just need to pick up some food items, make sure to shop at the low-price grocery stores.
Rema 1000 is generally considered to be the cheapest grocery store, followed closely by Coop Extra and Kiwi. All three of these are good options for buying cheap groceries.
Stay far away from Meny, Joker, Spar or Bunnpris if you want to eat cheaply in Norway. These are considerably more expensive than the cheaper chains, and regular non-premium groceries cost around 20 % more in these stores.
6) Learn which brands are cheap
As with the cheap grocery stores, there’s also cheap grocery brands. All the big grocery stores sell what they call own brand items, which are considerably cheaper than the regular brands. Despite this, they are often just a good and just as healthy as the premium brands.
Cheap brands to keep an eye on are First Price (found at Kiwi), Rema and Prima (found at Rema 1000), and Coop and X-tra (found at Coop Extra).
7) Bring a thermos with coffee on it
If you’re like me and want to drink at least 4 or 5 cups of coffee every day, consider making some to fill in a thermos. This is common when hiking, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing your own coffee with you when visiting tourist attractions in Norway.
You might even notice that this is something Norwegians do if you pay close attention.
Most hotel rooms, cabins and rental apartments will have equipment to let you brew your own coffee, so make sure to fill a thermos with nice and hot coffee before leaving in the morning.
8) Buy cheap vegetables at Asian food stores
If you are making food at where you’re staying, consider look for a Asian food style store. These are found in pretty much all cities in Norway, and has a cheap range of vegetables. You will find that things like rice are far cheaper at these stores than in regular Norwegian grocery stores.
You can absolutely make some good deals by stopping by Asian food stores, so stop by one of these to see if they have some things you want.
9) Don’t be tempted to buy “exotic” vegetables or fruit
Norway has a pretty limited range of vegetables and fruit at most grocery stores, and anything not considered common is usually priced insanely high. So while potatoes and bananas are pretty cheap, picking up exotic fruit and vegetables like avocados, passion fruit, mango, dragon fruit or pomegranate will be super expensive.
If you can wait, it’s best to just stay away from exotic fruit all together when visiting Norway, and rather get that craving out of the way when you get back home to a cheaper country.
10) Don’t buy food at kiosks or gas stations unless you are smart about it
Kiosks and gas stations are generally very expensive in Norway. Expect to pay 100 NOK or more for a burger like the one on the photo below, and it’s not even that great tasting. This food is mainly for people who are very hungry from traveling and want something quick to eat, but that are willing to pay for it.
While gas station or kiosk food is pretty convenient, it’s not very nice if you want value for your money. So stay away from these if you are visiting Norway on a budget.
Also keep in mind that all items for sale at the gas station comes with a premium price, and you can typically expect to pay 50 % more then if you buy the same item at a regular grocery store!
The only exception that comes to mind are hot dogs. Some gas stations sell hot dogs for 15 – 20 NOK per hot dog in a bun, and these can often be a good deal that gets you a bit of food for a low sum.
11) Make a food plan, then stick to it
The best tip we have for people who are visiting Norway while on a food budget is to make a plan for eating, then sticking to it. It’s OK to eat out a some days, but the important part is to make a budget, then trying to not spend more than you plan for. It’s often very easy to pick up some fast food at a gas station, but it will easily make your stay more expensive than planned if you don’t plan for it.
I recommend to buy in groceries in advance and have them ready, so you don’t have to stop by a grocery store for every single meal. Keep some cheap food items in your backpack that you can crank out if you suddenly get hungry.
12) Stay away from restaurants
If you want to visit Norway on a reasonable food budget, you pretty much must stay away from all restaurants. While it can be a great experience, most restaurants are incredible expensive in Norway. Expect to pay around 130 NOK for the starter course, 300 – 400 NOK for the main course, and 150 NOK for dessert.
Add a few glasses of wine, and you’re looking at almost 800 NOK per person for a single visit to the restaurant! And this is just a regular restaurant without any awards or something like that.
It’s even more expensive if you want to try restaurants that are famous for their food, fine dining or Michelin-awarded restaurants. A single fine-dining experience can easy cost 2 – 5 thousand NOK per person!
13) Cafés are not really cheaper
You might think that since restaurants are expensive, cafés must be cheap. That is completely wrong. Cafés also also a pretty luxury in Norway, and come at a premium price.
Eating lunch at a café can be a nice experience, and most of them serve pretty good food, but they are much more expensive than it would be to make the equivalent yourself. A big sandwich suitable for lunch can easily cost 90 – 130 NOK, and if you add a caffè latte to the bill, the visit easily adds up to 180 NOK for a single lunch.
What are your best tips for eating cheaply in Norway?
I’ve covered my 13 best tips for eating on a budget in Norway, but I’m sure there are some other hidden tricks that I haven’t thought of. So please share your best tricks for making your meals a bit cheaper when visiting Norway in the comment section below.