The biggest factor putting people off visiting Norway is undoubtedly the cost. Norway’s reputation as an expensive place to visit is fully-deserved, as high labour costs and protectionist policies driving prices up, especially at the lower end of products and services.
But all that may be about to change. As with many currencies around the world, the recent dip in the oil industry has affected the strength of the Norwegian Krone. Right now it’s at its weakest point for 5-6 years, which is great news for tourists.
When I moved to Norway in 2011, the exchange rate with the British Pound was 8.4. Today, it’s 11.5. To put that into perspective, a 1,200kr hotel room would have cost a visiting British tourist £142 in 2011 compared to just £104 today.
The difference is equally as stark with the Euro and US Dollar too. At one point in early 2011, one US Dollar would have bought just 5.23kr, compared to 7.42kr as I write this. That same hotel room would have cost a visiting American tourist $229 in 2011 compared to just $162 today.
Be wary, of course. Currency movements can be volatile, but because of the crash in the oil industry, most economists seem to believe these changes are more than just temporary.
Norway remains an expensive country to visit, but if you found yourself frustrated when visiting a few years ago, you may be pleasantly surprised this time around. And as for why you should visit Norway, here are some highlights from the three and a half years of this blog:
Norway’s capital, and my home for two years, remains an underrated European capital. From the islands of the Oslofjord to the miles of trails in the city forest, Oslo offers terrific access to the great outdoors. Holmenkollen Ski Jump, Vigeland Sculpture Park and the boutiques of Grünerløkka are just some of the attractions worth seeing.
Surrounded by mountains, Bergen is one of the rainiest places in Norway but is the perfect base from which to explore the Fjord Norway region. It has a different atmosphere to Oslo and the journey by train from the capital will take you past some of the country’s most impressive scenery.
The biggest city in the Norwegian Arctic, Tromsø (and the entire Arctic region) is known for its spectacular light. In the summer, the midnight sun casts its spell over the town, while in the winter the aurora borealis dances its way across the skies.
Yet another Norwegian city with fantastic outdoor facilities. Trondheim’s city forest is perfect for hiking, cycling, swimming, skiing or even berry-picking, depending on the time of year. In the city itself, Nidaros Cathedral and the Rockheim interactive music museum are must-sees.
Deep in the heart of Fjord Norway lies Trollstigen, the Troll’s Path, a hair-raising drive up a 700-metre twisting mountain road, but well worth it for the views from the top. If you’re driving to Geiranger, allow an extra couple of hours to stop by here, but bear in mind the road is only open from May to October, depending on when the snow shows up.
Thanks to the currency shift, 2015 could be the perfect year to visit Norway. Where will you go?