Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world for Americans to visit. But it has almost nothing to do with the currency conversation rate. Currenly $1 USD translates into approximately 6 Norwegian krones, which sounds positive, but consider that a single beer will run you about 60 or 70 krones. Yikes. There’s no getting around the price of a meal in most cases, but we found a few ways to save cash in this spendy destination…
Get Your Tax Back: Even though it is not widely advertised, Americans can shop tax-free at many stores in Oslo. A participating shop will have a tax-free logo displayed in its window, so keep an eye out. And even if there’s no sticker, it’s worth asking at checkout. When you make your purchase, ask for a “tax free cheque” and hang on to it. To get your money back, find a refund checkpoint when exiting the country at the airport or cruise terminal and present the cheque. Tax is factored into the sticker price in Norway and not added in at the end like in the States, so it will feel like you shopped at a discount. And it’s a pretty steep discount: for retail shopping, taxes make up 25 percent of the sticker price!
Buy a Pass: Lots of cities offer discount attraction and museum passes or “passports” to the city, and some are better than others. If you plan to visit a lot of museums during your trip to Oslo, definitely pick up an Oslo Pass ($46 for 24 hours, $69 for 48 hours, and $86 for 72 hours), as it will save you quite a bit of money on entrance costs. Single museum admission fees can be as high as $15-$20, and there are 35 museums included in the Oslo Pass. It will also get you free public transportation around the city, including local ferries. You should also download the city’s free app for more guidance and ideas.
Time Your Visit: Norway celebrates the signing of the Norwegian constitution each May, and locals take to the streets in a massive party. There’s no need to spend money in bars and restaurants indoors when the festival is happening outside. Savvy travelers might even find themselves invited back to a local’s house for a party. This year, the atmosphere should be extra festive for Norway’s bicentennial on May 17th. Pick up some duty-free alcohol when you land at the airport to avoid inflated prices in the city center.
Search for Free Events in the City: Tourism board web sites aren’t always the most helpful resources, but Visit Oslo has a great feature on its site that allows you to search for free events, from nightlife (concerts, clubs, comedy) to art workshops. The listings are worth a quick look to see what’s happening, especially for those looking to connect with locals while they’re out and about.
Get Outdoors: In the summer, day trips out to one of the seven islands off the coast of Oslo are popular with the locals (the cost of the ferries is included in the Oslo Pass). The water during the summer is still chilly, but the beaches are good for sunbathing. Or, head out to the Marka, a forested area that’s accessible from the city center via a 20-minute subway ride. Hiking is popular there in the winter, and locals ride the cross country skiing trails all season.