Scandinavia has the name to be expensive, and it is true that the countries in the North are somewhat pricier than other parts of Europe. However, there are smart ways to keep costs down.
Here are six tips that might save you a few Euro, krone and krona on your next trip.
1. Avoid peak periods and book ahead
A tip for getting a good deal on flights is to book ahead. There’s no point planning your trip last minute, the best time to book your trip is 3-6 months in advance. And if you are flexible with dates, you have the possibility to score a great deal on your airline tickets! Summertime (from June to August) is everyone’s favorite travel period, but also the most expensive one. If you’re looking for the ideal combination of pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices, plan your trip in April/May or September.
2. Get creative with sightseeing
There are many exciting places to see in Scandinavia, but some require admission costs that may exceed your budget. This is where you need to choose for some creative alternatives. Begin by looking for free attractions, self-guided walking tours, and free admission days at museums. Take notes in your travel diary and plan your days around it.
Another sure way to keep costs down is to spend your time people-watching and strolling around the cities. Scandinavia won’t disappoint you neither in one or the other. Enjoy being outside, rent a bike, go out for a hike or relax at the beach, and most of it is free. You can also admire natural phenomena at no cost, especially in the region of the Arctic Circle in northern Norway and Sweden. Seeing the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun is an experience that will last all one’s life!
3. Bring a tent, (wild) camping is free
Those who are reluctant to rent a home or private room through websites like Airbnb, or do not find a bargain deal for a Scandinavian hotel should consider bringing a tent and go camping like the Scandinavians do themselves.
Scandinavia has lots of campgrounds in beautiful locations, and many campsites also rent very affordable cabins (a great solution for a rainy day). For those looking for more adventure, you can pitch your tent just about anywhere you want throughout Scandinavia. A prime position with magnificent views over a fjord, all for free. Can you ask for more?
4. Be smart with food and drinks
There is no question that going out for dinner is the number one reason of overspending for most travelers, especially in Scandinavia where food and drinks in restaurants can get pretty expensive.
The solution? You may need to become the best friend of the grocery stores. They are one of the best ways to save money on food as they often stock pre-made meals like sandwiches and salads as well as items that are ready-to-eat (bananas, yogurt, bread, cheese, and meat). Also for beer stick to the grocery stores when you can – because a few drinks in a bar will empty your wallet quickly.
5. Watch out for ATM and credit cards fees
Often travelers don’t anticipate ATM and credit card fees. Instead of using ATMs, pay with your regular debit or credit card. Before traveling, give a call to your bank and credit card company to know the cost of using your card abroad. Today there are several credit cards that offer zero foreign transaction fees and no-fee ATM cards, with which you can withdraw as much foreign cash as you need with no transaction charge. A little bit of research will help to stay on budget!
6. Explore by foot
Walking is good for you, so consider on your trip to discover more things by foot. It is an excellent way to experience real city life and stay in shape at the same time. You may even stumble upon places you might otherwise never discover, like a local food market or a relaxing neighborhood park. If you are not fond of walking, make sure you research the costs and benefits of (multiple) day passes or city cards. City cards in Scandinavia offer together with free local transportation complementary admission to museums and other attractions. City cards can be bought online for one or more days.