Ultimate Budget Travel Guide in Scandinavia: Is It Possible & How?
If you Google ‘the most expensive travel destinations in the world’, cities in Scandinavia will easily find a spot in the top 10. Norway, Denmark and Sweden have high costs of living and rightfully so because of their great welfare, infrastructure and quality of life.
Unfortunately, these expensive costs weigh upon visitors and travellers to these countries. A budget trip there could easily be the equivalent of excessively splurging in trips across Southeast Asia. However, some sights in Scandinavia are truly breathtaking and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
So is it possible to really get by and execute a budget trip in Scandinavia? We think it’s possible.
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Flights usually take up a bulk of your budget when planning a trip. Ever since Norwegian Airlines cancelled its budget route from Singapore to London, there has not been another alternative budget hack when booking flights to Scandinavia.
One reliable method of getting cheaper tickets to Northern Europe is simply to book early in advance. A good time would be around more than 6 months in advance.
Accommodation in Scandinavia is generally expensive no matter where you look. Rather than stay somewhere absurdly far away from the city centre, there are a few spots to stay in that go easy on the wallet.
1. Cochs Pensjonat
In the centre of Oslo lies Cochs Pensjonat, a guesthouse accommodation which is literally a block away from The Royal Palace.
Cochs is rather cosy with a wooden interior and charming appeal. There’s free WiFi and it is walking distance to the shopping district.
If shopping doesn’t appeal to you, there are also parks, bars and restaurants near where you stay. This is definitely convenient if you want to fully explore Oslo.
90 bucks might seem steep but it is already considered rather affordable for accommodations in such a convenient location. Due to the location, you are bound to save on transport costs from travelling around the capital city.
- Price: Approx. SGD 90 per night (single room)
1. Woodah Hostel
Don’t mind bunking with other travellers? Woodah offers 30 bunk bed cabins in different dorm rooms for the backpacker. If all you require is a bed, Woodah should be your top choice. Each bed cabin is equipped with a privacy curtain, reading light and private locker.
The hostel is located in the area of Vesterbro where things are hip and happening. Parks, galleries and museums are also located nearby so you’ll always have things to explore and do.
If you’re a yogi, Woodah has mats and other yoga equipment within the hostel free for you to use. Get discounts at local yoga schools as well if you happen to discover a class you fancy.
- Price: From SGD 65 per night (mixed dorm room)
2. Copenhagen Backpackers
Easily access the city centre from Copenhagen Backpackers which is only a minute’s walk from Copenhagen Central Station.
The hostel is outfitted with dorms filled with bunk beds perfect for travellers who still want a comfortable stay. Bed curtains are included and there’s even a breakfast buffet for all guests!
Looking to explore beautiful Copenhagen more quickly? Rent a bike from the hostel for a small fee each day. The hostel promises to match the price of other bike rental stores if they come at a cheaper price as well. One way to go budget.
- Price: From SGD 60 per night (mixed dorm room)
3. Bedwood Hostel i Nyhavn
Feel at home at Bedwood Hostel. The backpacker hostel is simple and cosy, much like a bed and breakfast. The rooms consist of bunk beds with privacy curtains and reading lamps. If you happen to be on the tall side, the beds are also 2 metres long so you’ll have enough space.
At the common area, you’ll get to interact with other guests and get a hot drink to pass the night along. If you prefer some outdoor time, there is a courtyard where you can relax.
Top up SGD 9 more to get a breakfast buffet to your stay which serves muesli, oatmeal, ham, sausage and home baked bread.
- Price: From SGD 69 per night (mixed dorm room)
1. City Backpackers
This hostel opened its doors back in 1994 and has been thriving since. City Backpackers in Stockholm offers mixed dorm rooms as well as female-only ones. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you can opt for double private rooms or private apartments.
If you want to cook your meals to save on your spending, City Backpackers has a guest kitchen for all your basic needs. There’s free WiFi throughout the hostel as well so you can Google recipes on the fly.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day arguably and you can’t start exploring Stockholm on an empty stomach. This hostel has got you covered with breakfast served at the reception every morning which includes yoghurt, fruit and sandwiches!
- Price: From SGD 90 per night (single room)
2. Interhostel – Stockholm, Sweden
This could possibly be the cheapest accommodation in Stockholm. Interhostel labels itself as a youth hostel which is comfortable and has the best location. Despite its price point, the hostel ensures quality for their beds and facilities.
Stockholm’s most popular shopping street is just a walk away and train stations are not too far off as well.
Another great thing about Interhostel is the guest kitchen. Since a cheap supermarket is only 5 minutes away, you can easily cook yourself meals and save your moolah.
If you’re too lazy, there’s also a microwave which can be used by guests. For SGD 61 per night, this might seem like a steal in Scandinavia.
- Price: From SGD 61 per night (dorm room)
This is the ultimate budget accommodation choice you have when travelling in Sweden. There is a ‘freedom to roam’ law which allows people to camp in forested areas as long as they abide by certain rules.
You basically can only camp in forested areas even if it is on someone’s property. Crops, gardens and open fields of another person’s property is not allowed. It is encouraged that you only stay for two nights so others do not think you’re squatting in the area. Some areas also have exceptions which you need to take note of.
If you love camping and want to really save on that budget, go on right ahead.
One tip we discovered about saving on food in Scandinavia is simply to cook most of your meals. Groceries are not too expensive and budget supermarkets can be found easily in major cities. All you need is a kitchen.
Even if you don’t have access to a kitchen, many travellers advised on putting together simple sandwiches which do not require cooking.
For Norway, there are a few options for discount groceries and ingredients. Our first recommendation is Coop Prix which is a discount store chain which sells ingredients and other types of groceries.
Other popular ones are Kiwi and REMA 1000 which are basically no frills supermarket chains which would work just fine for travellers looking for basic and simple ingredients for cooking.
If you’re a big eater but don’t want to break the bank, Denmark has Dalle Valle which is a buffet restaurant which comes rather cheap, for buffets at least. You can get Western dishes and salad here for between SGD 16 -20 depending on the meal and time of day.
There is an increase in popularity of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine across Sweden which come at wallet-friendly prices. We recommend trying kebabs or hotdogs from food trucks which usually have big portion meals at under SGD 10.
Another Swedish fast food chain you could try is GOOH! which has meals all under SGD 10 as well.
Free or cheap attractions
The only thing that is better than cheap is free. Visiting sights and attractions at no cost is the ultimate tip for keeping a low budget. Below are some recommendations for attractions that can be visited at no cost (with a few really cheap exceptions).
- National Ballet and Opera House
- Akerselva River
- National Gallery and National Museum
- Akershus Castle & Fortress
- Old Aker Church
- Black Diamond Library
- Christiansborg Palace Tower
- Frederiksberg Gardens
- Amager Beach
- Botanical Gardens
- Gamla Stan
- Courthouse Radhuset
- City Library
Your starting point in Scandinavia will determine how you would be travelling from each country and city. But this also depends on your flight destination.
If you happen to travel from Copenhagen, we recommend looking for overnight cruises or boats to Oslo, Norway. They usually come very cheap and will minus one day’s spending on accommodation.
From Sweden, we recommend taking highway buses Swebus or Nettbuss to other cities or countries nearby. If you can find an overnight one, that would help a lot.
Should I see the Northern Lights?
To watch the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, you’d have to travel as close to the Arctic Circle as possible. Unfortunately, the cities up North in Scandinavia are pretty far from the capital cities and travelling there will take a portion of your budget.
If you do want to catch a sure glimpse of Aurora Borealis, travel up as far as Bodø in Norway. Any lower and there might not be a sure chance of catching the lights. If you can afford to set aside a portion of your budget, go on right ahead.