Before I flew to Tromso, I KNEW I was going to have my work cut out in making it an affordable, yet fun, trip. My weekend jaunt to Oslo in 2012 saw me getting almost zero change from £200 spending money, and that was just from a few trips to McDonald’s, plus one short excursion!
Costs in Tromso were just as extortionate as I remembered in Oslo. I remember staring in confused silence at a basic pair of gloves that were on sale for 990 NOK (around £91), as well as a burger that would have set us back around £26. It’s easy to spend a small fortune in Norway, especially if you’re not prepared, but I managed to keep costs of my Tromso trip to an absolute minimum. To give you an idea, here’s how much I spent for 4 days in Tromso:
Before the trip:
Flights and hotel: £764.35 (for 2 people)
Northern lights chasing tour: £234.30 (for 2 people)
Husky and northern lights experience tour: £129.85 (for 2 people)
OVERALL: £1,128.50 (£564.25 per person)
Thermal underwear: £32.80
Thermal socks (x2): £17.98
Turtle neck base layer: £8.99
Thermal hat: £11.99
Neck warmer: £14.99
Ski bottoms: £30
*Note: I was quite lucky as I had a number of items (including solid boots) from previous trips. I’d always recommend having a look for good quality but cheap items of clothing at places like Decathlon or Go Outdoors.
While in Tromso:
Bus to/from the airport: £29.34 (return ticket for 2 people)
One dinner with a drink: £18
Two hot chocolates and 2 cinnabons: £14
Two drinks at Ølhallen: £23
Two tickets up the Fjellheisen Cable Car: £34.85
Two hot chocolates at the top of the mountain: £9.17
Entry to the Polar museum: £4 (with 25% discount thanks to the Cruise Pass)
OVERALL TOTAL: £1,402.61
I’m massively shocked at how little I actually spent out there – I’m pretty certain I spent more than that on my 2 days in Oslo, and that was just paying for myself! So how did I manage to do Tromso on a budget? I’ve popped some of my biggest tips below. While they mostly relate to my time in Tromso, they can just as easily be applied to any trip in Norway, or anywhere else!
How To Do Tromso on a Budget
- Pick your hotel carefully
If there’s one thing I would recommend 100%, it’s to choose your accommodation wisely. Because I was taking my boyfriend for his 30th birthday, I wanted a hotel that was stylish and romantic. However, I also wanted it to be central (so that we could save money on transport to/from the town), and I wanted something that included breakfast (which would save us money each morning). In the end I plumped for the Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora. It was perhaps a little pricier than I was looking for, but in the end we saved SO much money.
Not only did the Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora give us a buffet all-you-can-eat breakfast each morning, but it also offered a complimentary afternoon treat (waffles) and dinner. That means we never once paid for lunch while we were there! The hotel also had a rooftop jacuzzi overlooking the harbour which we used every single day. Initially I was a little gutted that we couldn’t get booked into the Vulkana spa which is a hot tub on board a boat – but truthfully, the hotel’s jacuzzi was just as good. AND it saved us £73 per person 😉
2. Invest in a Cruise Pass card
The Cruise Pass offers discounts of up to 40% on various shops, sights and tours around Norway. I was given a complimentary Cruise Pass to try out on my trip to Tromso, and it was fab – we got 25% off our entrance fee at the Polar Museum, and we could have got even more off elsewhere if we weren’t budgeting as much as possible. The Cruise Pass would be especially invaluable to those visiting several places in Norway, as there are deals and discounts to be had all over the country.
3. Pay for as much as you can in advance
It goes without saying that things are much more affordable if you start paying it off months in advance! I booked our trip to Tromso last May so (including April’s pay cheque) I had 9 months’ pay to save. This made things a lot more manageable.
4. Buy warm clothing before you go
Some of my costs could easily have been avoided. For instance, my boyfriend left his thermal gloves at home, so I picked him up some more while we were there. And I also bought another jumper because a) I have a knitwear problem, and b) I was pretty darn cold.
There are so many places you can buy good quality and affordable items of clothing before you go. I particularly recommend Decathlon, Uniqlo, Heat Holders and Go Outdoors for everything from thermals to outer layers.
5. Combine experiences
Another way I could have saved money was by doing just one tour that combined husky tours and the northern lights. However, I wanted to maximise my chances of seeing (and being able to photograph) the northern lights so opted for a second tour as well.
In the end, we did sort of save money by booking tours that offered us an evening meal (and hot drinks) as well. That meant we only had one dinner to buy the whole time we were in Tromso!
6. WALK WALK WALK
This is a rule I abide by on most of my trips. I love walking everywhere, because not only do I see a lot more, but I also save a heck of a lot of money while doing it. Walking around Tromso during the winter is an experience and a half, thanks to the thick, hard ice, but walk with confidence (or invest in some walking crampons) and you’ll be absolutely fine.
7. Save the souvenirs for another trip
At around £2 just for a postcard, Norway isn’t really a place you’ll want to promise to bring people gifts back from… You’ll just have to make up for it with some awesome stories 😉
8. Take snacks with you
If you’re really wanting to save the pennies, consider taking some snacks with you. We picked up a load of cheap snack items from the supermarket before we left, including protein and breakfast bars. These were perfect for a mid-morning snack, or for taking out on evening tours with us.
What are your best tips for seeing a destination on a budget?
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