Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Oslo & Drobak, Norway - How to Visit Norway on a Budget

Chris booked our flights from Wroclaw to Oslo (really Moss, Norway) for roughly $25 USD each round trip on Ryan Air. Our cheapest flights to date. You would likely spend more on a nice dinner out than we did on our flight. But buyers be warned - the rumors that Norway is the most expensive country to visit are true! It's not that you can't afford it but it's more like - really $30 for 2 beers? Our cheapest flights but one of the most expensive weekend getaways. That being said - there are plenty of ways to save while traveling and a few things we would do differently.
First, we arrived in Moss, which is about 1 hour by bus south of Oslo. As with most Ryan Air flights - there is a bus company ready for you when you land to take you into Oslo - it is roughly $100 USD for 2 people round trip - it's cheaper if you buy your return ticket at the same time, so we did. There is also a free shuttle from the airport to train station and trains that run to Oslo where you can connect to other locations if you wish as well. The bus to Oslo drops you off right in city center bus station and our hotel was located in the middle of the all the action. Our first money saver was choosing the right hotel. It was still a little pricey but the location was great and comparable in price to other "budget" hotels in the area without slumming it.
Harbor Area - Great place for a stroll
Oslo is a great city - as with all the cities we travel, the best free activity to do is go out and walk. See the city on foot and it costs you nothing.
So many little marinas
Marina in Thief Area (main area)

Sunset over Oslo
Oslo Fjord at Dusk
The famous Oslo Opera House - a lot of fun to climb on it - it's a thing to do here for sure

On top of the Opera House - looking to the new town area

They offer free swimming in the Thief Neighborhood - pretty cool - scroll down to see people actually swimming.
Sculpture  Park
You can find cool festivals going on and don't be afraid to go into the cut and explore not only the sights but the local neighborhoods. Oslo has some great, very distinctive neighborhoods - all with their own thing going on.

Neighborhood Festival

Yard Sale
We knew we wanted to do at least one day trip out of the city to see a smaller town so we decided on Drobak. You can take a local bus from the city center, about 45 minutes south, to a small town on the water which is famous for being the narrowest point in the Oslo Fjord and also the home of letters to Santa. We even got to meet Santa's cousin who helps with the mail. (You can mail your letters here for Santa: Tregaarden’s Julehus  Havnebakken 6, 1440 DRØBAK)

Local Library

Street Signs

After touring the small town, we picked up a few beers at the local store (because finding wine is next to impossible) headed to the water and chatted for a few hours before catching the afternoon bus back to Oslo. Unfortunately for when we were visiting - the ferries weren't opened yet for the season but you can also take a ferry to and from which would have been a neat way to get there but the drive is pretty as well.

Amazing Views of the Fjords
Nothings says safety like a cement diving board into a bed of rocks - I'm sure people actually use it when it's warm enough

Old Man and the Sea
A good place to post up - taking in the views
The bus back to Oslo
All in all - we loved Oslo, it's a great city. They are investing a lot in the infrastructure and making it a great place for locals and tourists alike.

And then there's these crazy kids...
We were watching in our coats from the docks
Our tips for people looking to visit Oslo on a budget.

1) They stop selling alcohol at food stores after 6:00PM everyday and none on Sunday. Our suggestion - pick up at duty free at the airport - or if checking luggage - pack it. We missed the 6:00PM deadline on Saturday by 45 minutes (because we didn't know about this fancy little law) and didn't want to pay $30USD for 2 beers that weren't even good beers - so let's just say it was a sober weekend till Monday.

2) Pack any and all foods you can from home that will take well for travel - nuts, apples, cheese... the food stores in Norway, while are still a way to save money - can still be pretty expensive for simple items. For everything else, don't be afraid to skip meals out and try to make meals at the hotel. You will find way better pricing and you can still get what you want to eat. If you do want to go out - try getting away from the main tourist areas as prices are a little higher so you can save a little by going a little further out.

3) Pick the right hotel for your budget - an obvious suggestion but there are nicer budget hotels which some may even offer breakfast. Our hotel offered a fridge and mini kitchen to prepare meals if you wanted - which for us was great. We even heard the little island right outside Oslo offers free camping - you just have to take a ferry back and forth but I think would be a blast with a group of friends.

4) Walk and take public transportation. 

5) Go when you have more money - For other travelers who have lots of money to spend, we were originally looking at renting a car and driving to Flam. You can also take the famous train there but for the weekend getaways - the train schedules didn't match up. There are so many neat places to explore outside Oslo but can be pricey to get there between transportation and lodging but worth it if you have the time and money.

Norway has so much to offer in the way of natural beauty and we hope to be back on day with more time and money to spend to explore. Until then...

Review of Hotel: Oslo: Citybox Oslo:Location, Price and Facility are Great

Yup these are for real - Cool American - and no we did not spend over $6 USD to see if they tasted the same...