Lisa Owen

With its unpredictable weather and the formidable cost of living, Norway is a country that rarely reaches the standard Euro-trip itinerary. Whilst its' natural beauty is no mystery, the hefty price tag associated with a trip to the Nordic wonderland is more often than not a deterrent for the average backpacker.

Last summer, two friends and I decided to brave the expense and spend a week road tripping along the west coast of Norway. We hired a car from Bergen and spent the week slowly meandering through the rolling mountains and dramatic landscapes of the west coast, exploring all the little nooks and crannies of the Fjords and trying as we might to avoid Norway's extortionate living prices. We lived off a diet of tuna, sweet corn and ryvita – less than desirable if you ask me (I will never eat tuna again), but hey – a girl's got to prioritise… at least it meant that we could afford to pay for petrol, road tolls and unexpected ferry prices, all of which add up very fast.

Our seven day trip took us from Bergen to Odda (where we hiked the infamous 10-hour trek to Trolltunga), to Geirangerfjord, to Trollstigen, to Hardangerfjord, to Ålesund and back to Bergen. The drive is scenic from start to finish. From the glaciers that stretch from mountain to road, to the lakes that shine like dreamy apparitions – nothing will disappoint.

Our first stop was the highly anticipated hike to Trolltunga – a grueling 22km scramble that culminates into one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. At 700m above sea level, and with an almost-vertical track incline at times, it was undeniably tough. But the views are unparalleled, and as I stood at the top, looking over the valley and across the snow-tipped mountains, I was convinced there was no more beautiful country anywhere on earth. Bring water, snacks and warm clothing – it's a long day, and the weather can change in a matter of minutes.


One of my favourite things about Norway is that the fact you can camp almost anywhere you like, providing you are brave enough to face nature. Wilderness camping is allowed as long as you follow the simple rules set out in the right of access ("allemannsretten" in Norwegian).

Naturally, we decided to camp. As three young, broke backpackers, we almost felt we had no other choice in a country often considered the most expensive on earth. This was no doubt one of our best decisions. Some of our camping spots left us feeling as if we were on the set of Man vs Wild; wedged on a cliff face next to a running cascade, in a flowerbed beside a lake so clear we could see our own reflections in it…


We were exceptionally lucky with the weather during our weeklong trip, which meant that thankfully camping was a piece of cake, but it is important to be prepared for all sorts of weather – no matter what the season. Even peak summer temperatures in Norway can come in at single digits, and the nights can easily fall as low as a few degrees above freezing point (if you are unlucky). On the plus side, summertime also means that it is light until around midnight in many areas in northern Norway.

Another essential stop for any road tripper is the small island town of Ålesund. Nestled on a coastal peninsula, the city is a unique mix of art nouveau architecture and Nordic charm, set against a backdrop of snow-tipped summits and azure blue fjords.

More than anything, a trip to Norway gives you the chance to sit back, relax and get in touch with nature. Think painted timber houses, light summer evenings, dramatic fjords, forests, mountains and waterfalls. Don't rush from city to city – instead take time to appreciate the rugged beauty of the coastal islands, camping, hiking and fishing in the wild, whilst all the while not breaking the budget.

Budget-friendly tips:

  • Hire a car - we paid around £280 for 7 days. Book in advance for price savings.
  • Be prepared for road tolls and unexpected (yet necessary) ferry trips to cross the fjords. Road tolls usually apply whilst travelling in and out of big cities. Ferry prices range depending on distance and car type, but prices are usually no more than 300 NOK per average sized car)
  • If possible, bring camping gear (we brought the bare necessities: a tent, sleeping bags and an undermat). There are thousands of great campsites scattered along the coast, or alternatively you can just set up camp wherever you feel like, if you want to save more money.
  • Steer clear of beer – alcohol prices in Norway are exorbitant to say the least. A single beer costs around 60-100 NOK at a regular café or bar.
  • Stock up at budget supermarkets such as Kiwi, Rema and Prix. Don't buy bottled water as the tap water is free and of excellent quality.
  • Fuel prices are relatively high due to environmental laws, and prices can vary dramatically from place to place. Try to refuel in the bigger cities, as petrol prices tend to more expensive in more remote locations.


Pia Marsh is a freelance journalist and writer, originally from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and now permanently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. She writes about her travels (and her undying love for Scandinavia) at Instagram: pialoui

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the terms available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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