Scandinavia is notorious for being an expensive place to visit. Many travellers are put off from visiting Norway, Sweden, and Denmark (as well as the Nordic countries, Finland and Iceland) because of the high prices associated with eating, drinking, accommodation and transport. However, if you plan your trip well, it’s possible to visit Scandinavia without spending a fortune.
Here are our top tips.
Cook your own meals
Eating out can be pricy in the Nordic countries, especially if you’re visiting one of the capital cities. Save money by opting for self-catering accommodation and cooking some or all of your meals yourself. If you want to sample the local cafes and restaurants, consider eating out for lunch when prices are usually cheaper and cooking your own evening meals.
Bring your own alcohol
Alcohol prices are very high in the Scandinavian countries and there are strict regulations for when and where you can buy alcoholic drinks. If you want to enjoy a few drinks on your trip, buy your alcohol at Duty-Free in the airport or pack it into your luggage. Depending on where you’re travelling to, from, or through, check for any restrictions on carry-on alcohol before attempting to take it with you into the cabin though.
Consider travelling by train
Train fares in the Nordic countries are surprisingly affordable, especially if you book your tickets in advance. If you’re planning on travelling in Norway, Sweden or Finland, book an overnight train rather than a flight. Night trains offer private cabins, and prices are often cheaper than internal flights.
Avoid capital cities
Scandinavia’s association with being expensive is largely down to experiences in its capital cities. You can have a much more affordable trip if you visit the smaller towns and cities that are no less interesting. You’ll get much more for your money in destinations such as Bergen and Malmo than Oslo and Stockholm.
Explore the wilderness
The beauty of visiting the Nordic countries is that so much of their appeal is the beautiful landscapes. Rather than spending lots of money exploring a city, escape urban areas altogether and get out in the wilderness. It’s completely free to hike through the woods, alongside a fjord or up a mountain.
Invest in reusable bottles
Avoid expensive bottles of water and cups of coffee by carrying your own reusable bottles and flasks. In most of the rural areas of the Nordic countries, the spring water is fresh and clean and you can fill your bottle straight from the source for no charge at all.
If you’re visiting in summer, why not spend a few nights camping in the wilderness? Most of the Nordic countries have a right to roam, allowing anyone to explore the wilderness and camp overnight for free.
Areas such as Sweden’s archipelagos and cities such as Copenhagen are more expensive for accommodation during the warm summer months. Whereas Lapland and Iceland hike prices during mid-winter for tourists hoping to admire the snow and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Travel in shoulder seasons for the best prices.
Avoid tourist traps
Stay clear of the ‘must visit’ attractions, such as Iceland’s Blue Lagoon and get off the tourist track to find cheaper prices. For example, countless hot springs in Iceland are completely free to visit if you’re prepared to explore.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.