Travel Norway on a Shoestring Budget
I guess I am doing something wrong when it comes to travelling. My budget is quite tight and I really need to start putting my money aside, so I should wisely choose destinations that fit to my financial situation.
But no. I chose Norway – the most expensive country in Europe, where you spend insanely huge amount of money on literally everything. If that was not enough, I went to the most expensive city in the country, which makes my behavior even more illogical. Stavanger happens to be the center of the oil industry in Norway, so already high prices are even more pushed up.
Many of my friends who have visited Norway before me claimed that you cannot really save up on anything. The only way is not to spend at all. But unless you want to spend the whole trip at the airport it’s impossible. Thus, I was prepared for the worst. It was not that bad though. Altogether the 3-day trip cost me around $130.
Night at the airport
We’ve landed late in the evening at Haugesund airport and our flight was the last scheduled for this day. We did not have any specific plans on how to spend the first night, but we were not into the idea of booking a room for that night. Eventually, we decided to sleep at the airport. We have not thought about one thing – it was closed between 1am and 5am.
We took a risk of being kicked out of the departure hall after midnight and fell asleep on the only 3 (in words three) chairs that were available there. You can see them on the picture below. Luckily, a woman and her child left the seats to us. The airport service did not really care about us. Apparently, they were busy partying on the upper floor.
Sure enough, a guy from the airport service came around 12 and politely informed us that we couldn’t have stayed there any longer. Before we even got the chance to respond he already was showing us a way to arrivals where “we could safely spend the night in much better conditions”. Best customer services you can imagine.
To be honest, sleeping conditions were not of the highest quality, so we were up early. Our bus to Stavanger was leaving at noon from Haugesund and thus we made our way towards the town that was about 14 kilometers away. We did about 5 and then hitchhiked.
Against the popular opinion, hitchhiking in Norway is not that easy, but possible. Much more effective is asking drivers on gas stations or ferries (yes, did that too!), but it’s not always feasible. We waited more than we expected, but eventually thumbed a ride straight to the bus station.
Haugesund is an adorable town, typical for Scandinavian landscape. Nothing special if you’ve already visited such towns before, otherwise worth spending and an hour or so. The town is located on a sea channel with the colorful buildings on its banks. What’s also typical for Scandinavian cities (at least to those I’ve visited), there are many great murals. I found Haugesund similar to towns in Iceland.
The easiest and cheapest (except for hitchhiking) way to get to Stavenger from Haugesund is to book Nettbus. I paid around $17 for a youth ticket (the 16-28-year-olds). Normal one is worth about $20. I remember that we had some problems with payment, as the reservation service accepted few not-Norwegian cards. However, now it’s possible to pay with PayPal as well. Anyway, I totally recommend a ride with Nettbus, which was the only thing in Norway that was worth its price. Standards on these buses are comparable to airline’s first class. On top of that, the ride includes ferry, so incredible scenery with fjords and mountains during a 40-minute cruise are gratis.
If not for the climate (and insane prices), would Stavanger be the city that I could live in. It’s charming, lively, has lots of cool and unique pubs and is close to many mountain trails. What’s more, it has a cool playground that was made of old crap from the offshore oil industry. The city did a great job recycling and reshaping elements from petroleum installations into a GeoPark that is a top attraction not only for kids. Lots of fun.
Pay with unconventional currency
Stavenger was cool, but main destination on my Norwegian trip was Pulpit Rock (nor. Preikestolen), a steep 604-meter cliff that overlooks at winding fjord. In order to reach a place where you can start hiking to the top, you need to take a ferry first and then a bus.
That was the moment when we discovered (actually we were told about that by our host), that another currency is available in Norway. We got on the ferry and stayed outside. They guy that sells ticket apparently does not go out and walks around only inside. It came as no surprise to us, he had a short-sleeved shirt. We had really good weather for Norway during our stay there. It was freezing on the ferry though, so instead of cash we decided to pay with cold.
- Take a bus
First was not an option as it would take us another two hours or so and we did not have much time. The bus was also out. They did not accept cold, only cash or credit, so we were forced to go for a third option – hitchhiking. Not to waste time, I decided to start thumbing a ride on the ferry. Our try was successful, so we “got off” a ferry in the car with two other hikers.
The hike to Preikestolen is not hard. There are still some parts covered with snow at this time of the year so you should be careful on slippery rocks, but besides it’s a piece of cake. It takes more than one hour up to two, depending on how sensitive to terrific landscapes you are.
The views were unreal. It was like live PhotoShop, but better. Norway gives you a high dosage of natural wonders and at some point you cannot stand more awesomeness. You just wish for a break, but no. Everywhere you turn you see terrific views that are hard to believe to be from this world.
When we finally got to the flat platform, I suddenly felt the adrenaline rush. We were standing on the top of the 604-meter cliff, having only a winding fjord below our feet. Naturally, I could not resist the temptation to sit down on the edge and look down. Then, I could sense discomfort somewhat, but no fear or anxiety. Now I feel sick just by looking at the pics with me on the cliff.
Last stop in the itinerary
Sola beach is beautiful, especially right before the sunset. It is not much different than any other beach. No great shakes. If you happen to be nearby and you have time to spare, go there. Otherwise, you’ll not miss anything special.
The reason why I was a bit disappointed with the beach resulted from my misconception about that place. Then it came from the fact that my travel mate supposedly read on the Internet that Sola was one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the World. I couldn’t find this fact afterwards on the web, but if someone have claimed that, he or she lied. What’s more, the sea breeze in the already cold place makes it even more unpleasant.
Of course, it was not that bad. The two of us went there for an evening walk to celebrate the last night in the most expensive European country with the cheap Polish alcohol.
This is how the story ends, but I’d be happy to share more if you want to know anything else!
If you have any question, leave a comment!