Sure, Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on your trip -- especially if you know where to find the most value for your dollar. Here’s how to stick to a budget in Tromso, a gateway to the Arctic and a prime location for spotting the Northern Lights or basking in the Midnight Sun — and that, if done right, can be a welcome relief to spending the big bucks in Oslo.
A Midnight Concert at the Arctic Cathedral
Norwegian folk songs fill this iconic A-framed church most nights and the show is nothing short of ethereal, especially in summer when rays from the Midnight Sun stream through the stained glass. The experience costs around $20.
Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden
It’s free to enter this floral haven, which is open year-round. Its 25 collections of flowers — from pink rhododendrons to blue cushion plants — are best seen in bloom from May to October.
The smart splurge: You’ll never regret crossing the Northern Lights off your bucket list if you visit on an expedition from November to March ($165 with Active Tromso), or kayaking among the mountains from June to September ($129 with Active Tromso). The price tag is well worth the cost for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
The best restaurants along the harbor in Tromso tend to be expensive, that is, with the exception of this cozy casual restaurant where you can order a juicy reindeer burger for under $20.
Mack Pub and Brewery
There are 67 types of beer on tap at this bar, made next door in a brewery that’s been around since 1877. Try the Nordlys (Northern Lights) lager or a Polar Bear Pilsner, or book a tour of the brewery for $20 per person, which gets you two samples.
The smart splurge: Harborside restaurant Fiskekompaniet serves delectable fresh catches like steamed arctic char and panfried whale steak, worth the $40 cost on a special night out.
This hotel in the city center costs around $115 per night per person for a standard room on a weekend this July. (The same hotel in Oslo would be around $60 more per night.)
A standard room with a view of Tromso harbor on the weekend of July 28-30 is $124 — also less than Oslo’s Scandic Byporten, which is around $40 more on the same weekend.
This town is usually a stop on Norwegian coastal cruises and can serve as a great weekend trip from Oslo. Roundtrip flights from Oslo cost around $225 this July (14-16), which is prime time for catching the Midnight Sun. But you can save if you visit just after this busy season, with flights in early to late August at about $189 roundtrip. Later in the year when you can spot the Northern Lights in, say, November on a weekend, prices are around $150.
Another option — one that even locals use — is a cruise down the coast of Norway with Hurtigruten, a line that specializes in 5-day trips from Kirkenes in the far north to Bergen in the South. You’ll not only stop in Tromso but also cities including Trondheim and Alesund. It costs $843 in the summer for an ocean-view room, or about $169 per day. Prices are even lower in the winter months ($510 for a 5-day cruise from Kirkenes to Bergen in an ocean-view room on the MS Vesteralen, coming down to $102 per day) — a better deal than many hotel rooms you’ll find in Oslo, and you’ll get to see multiple cities, too.