Many people refrain from travelling to Scandinavia because they fear it will be too expensive. We had thought so, too. But this year we dared to do it even twice and visited Iceland in March and Denmark and Norway in July. Well, yes, Scandinavia is expensive, Norway even more than Iceland or Denmark. But so beautiful at the same time! So how to travel to Scandinavia for the not so wealthy?
To support you we want to give you an overview about the local prices. And secondly we tell you some of our tips, how to save money. So you can enjoy your trip without being poor in the end. You should never be too stingy, because, well, you are on holiday and maybe this is a once-in-a-lifetime-trip, so you should enjoy it!
We spent between 500 and 600 € for one week in Norway/Denmark and in Iceland per person. Including transportation, accomodation and food. Well that’s not expensive, you might say. True, so there is no reason aynmore not to visit Scandinavia!
One more thing: Here is what we mean when talking about Scandinavia.
Prices in Scandinavia
Maybe the most important topic in most Scandinavian countries is transportation, because distances are huge. At least if you want to see more than one place. We decided differently on our two trips.
Iceland in March
Return flights from Frankfurt to Reykjavík including one free piece of luggage were around 230€, while the rental car (economy) was less than 200€ per week. We didn’t take any extra insurances, but you have to decide this for yourself.
Ferry for 2 persons + one car from Denmark to Norway was roughly 100€ (shortest connection) and 350€ from Hirtshals to Bergen, including a cabin for the night. We decided for the latter, because on the one hand side we saved on gasoline and lots of time. On the other hand we could enjoy the amazing fjord landscape from the sea.
Luckily, my brother borrowed us his Volkswagen minibus, so there were no further costs here. There are some agencies where you can borrow similar cars.
In Iceland the only toll fee was for one tunnel on our way from Reykjavík to Snaefellsness (around 10€). In Norway there are several toll roads. On our itinerary we payed around 30€. In Fjord Norway you have to take some short ferries furthermore. Each one is around 10€.
In low season you’ll find really nice accomodation for less than 50€ per night. In summer it’s more expensive, of course. We like booking.com. Here you’ll find great deals if you don’t book flights and accomodation as a package.
In Denmark and Norway, Camping sites charge you less than 30€ per night (2 persons + 1 car). Hot showers are often not included. We spent three nights on parking places, sleeping in our minibus. Obviously that was free. If there is a public toilet and a basin on this parking place, it becomes a good alternative. Compared to Southern Europe or Germany these places are always very, very clean in Norway.
Iceland and Denmark seemed to be expensive to us. This is true for supermarkets, but not too much. Restaurants were really expensive. Even basic restaurants charge you at least 20€ for a meal. Drinks, especially alcoholic beverages are even more expensive. You won’t get a glass of wine for less than 10€.
BUT: In both countries we always found a snack bar or a fast food place with delicious burgers, hot dogs & more for fair prices. Well we didn’t say, travelling is always healthy…
Norway is one step further and that really shocked us, to be honest. We expected a lot and still it was somehow depressing. It started in the supermarkets with higher prices but restaurants are just extreme here. Most of the times there is no meal for less than 25€ and even burgers and pizza cost more than 15€ in fast food places. Low budget is really hard here, but more on that later.
Sights, museums, national parks
We have good news, exceptionally. Lots of these things are for free or have fair prices. National parks seldomly charge entry fees, museums aren’t expensive. In Norway there is a parking fee instead of an entry fee, sometimes. For example at the Preikestolen parking place, they charge around 10€. Not really cheap, but in Norway we weren’t shocked by this anymore.
How to save without being stingy
In the following we give you some tips on how to save money in Scandinavia but still enjoy your trip.
Sometimes we also spent more money on purpose just for having it more comfortable and relaxed. We didn’t take the shortest (and cheapest) ferry connection to Norway, but took the night ride to Bergen. It was more expensive but we arrived in Bergen before noon and were perfectly relaxed.
The ‘right’ season
Iceland in spring is just cheaper than in summer. At the moment, more and more tourists visit the island in spring and fall so this might change in the future. In our opinion, Iceland in spring is worth a trip due to the amazing snow landscapes and Northern Lights.
We visited Norway during high season, in July. As we didn’t have to book flights and accomodation, this wasn’t too important. We only had to pay more for the ferry cruise than in low season.
Scandinavia in winter might be hard for those suffering from the cold, but sometimes it’s worth the shivering. It is best, to be flexible and start early with planning and comparing prices.
Your own car
Of course, that’s not valid for Iceland.
Food and drinks
To anticipate the most important part. If you can make it one week in Scandinavia without going to restaurants, you will save lots of money. The rest is not even that important.
As mentioned before, we did without restaurants for one week. Of course, sometimes it would have to been nice to go inside, but after having a look at the menu, we quickly left the place. We often made sandwiches for lunch, which is super easy, economic and tasty. In the evening we cooked or had fast food. As mentioned, it was just for a week! You can buy some super delicious hipster smoothies for your daily dose of vitamins.
Tip: Watch out for an acoomodation with kitchen. And if you want to save even more, bring (nonperishable) food from home, if you have some spare place in your luggage.
Dear Mr. Alcohol
If you don’t want to (like us) or can’t (like others) do without wine, beer or whatever you prefer, BYOB! It’s more fun to enjoy your glass of wine, knowing that you didn’t spend a fortune on some mediocre wine.
Be informed and compare prices
It’s essential to be well informed and to compare prices. Rental cars and accomodations vary widely in prices depending on the booking platform, region or time of your trip. You can save a lot of money here or get better value for the same amount. We liked most of our choices so we can give you detailed information, if you are interested.
What do you think of the tips? What would be your suggestions? We’re looking forward to your feedback!