Hiking on a budget in Norway: is it possible?
As the author of Cicerone's upcoming guidebook to 'Hiking in Norway – South', Ute Koninx is an expert in hiking in this stunning Scandinavian country. Here she shares her tips on how to make hiking in Norway more affordable.
While Norway offers some of the most pristine alpine landscapes to explore in Europe, it is admittedly not a budget destination. Even for hikers that are prepared to stay in shared, sometimes basic accommodation offered by the Norwegian Trekking Association, the price tag is not insignificant. Here are some tips to help stretch your budget.
1. Take your time and opt for slower transport options
with many other destinations, if you have more time to spend, you can
save by choosing your mode of transport into the country. Most people
fly into Oslo, but increasingly long distance bus companies are offering competitive services into Oslo. Look at comparabus.com for information on the largest European bus companies. Another option could be to share a ride via companies like BlaBlaCar.
The earlier you book, the better a deal you might be able to secure. This holds also for internal travel by public transport within Norway, as last minute train tickets are much more expensive.
2. Save on accommodation by wild camping or bivvying
If you are fit enough and willing to carry a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment and food, you can stretch you budget by a long way. Norway’s ‘Allemannsretten’ law allows you to pitch your tent on ‘unfenced land’ as long as you keep a distance from any house (this includes the mountain huts). This ‘right to roam’ comes with some responsibilities, so best to inform yourself before setting out, for example in this article about the right to roam: joys and responsibilities in Norway.
You could even bring your own dried food along if you want to ease weight and cost concerns, but this requires more preparation. Be mindful that the additional weight that you carry slows you down, so plan accordingly. The quality of water in streams and lakes is generally excellent.
Another lighter and faster option would be to go bivvying and use the huts on the trail during daytime for preparing a meal, warming up or drying off if necessary. Day visitors to a mountain cabin pay a reduced fee and are entitled to use the facilities of the hut until their departure time of 18:00. Given the long hours of summer Norwegian daylight, a bivvying hiker could set off at 18:00 and find a spot in between huts for the night. This approach requires additional experience of the outdoors, but is feasible if you are willing to exchange comfort for a higher level of adventure.
3. Choose your hiking destination within Norway carefully
You can also stretch your budget by choosing your hiking destination. Some well-known
and great hiking areas such as Jotunheimen offer mostly fully serviced
huts. Unless you bring your tent, your chances to economise
are limited to such things as not buying alcoholic drinks at dinner or
bringing along your own snacks for the trail.
Other areas, such as Dovrefjell, Trollheimen and Ryfylke, offer a wider range of DNT huts which can be self-service or unserviced huts. If you are able to start a trail in a self-service or unserviced hut, you might bring some of your own supplies and prepare your own meals for the first few days. While grocery shopping in Norway will set you back more than is likely in your home country, it is a way to economise and it offers fresh ingredients for the day.
Final tips for hiking in Norway
I have often used a combination of these strategies. Hiking with a tent and all supplies is slower, but takes you to places where there is no-one else around, making for a special experience of the trail.
By bringing some supplies along when hiking and staying in self-service huts, you ensure that you eat something you enjoy. It also enhances the variety of your diet if you are on the trail for a longer time. In some huts, other hikers might leave perfectly good food behind because they don’t want to carry it out and are hoping it will be enjoyed by others.
While these tips can go some way, hiking in Norway is not a budget holiday. But there is value in the magnificent, accessible yet challenging nature, combined with the access to warmth and creature comforts at night. It might be a choice you are willing to pay for.
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