The Norwegian crown (norske krone) NOK is the currency of Norway. It is often shortened as kr or kr., although on price tickets, only the amount is displayed. A 1/100th krone is referred to as re. When crossing borders, be sure to distinguish the Norwegian krone (NOK) from the Swedish (SEK) or Danish (DKK) krone. The exchange rate between the Scandinavian currencies is about one to one. In September 2014, the exchange rate was about NOK8.24 to one euro. Euros are usually not accepted in stores, with the exception of certain airports and international transportation (flights, ferries).
Coins are available in denominations of one, five, ten, and twenty kroner. Paper notes are available in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 kroner. While price tags still contain re, for example, NOK9.99, since there are no coins smaller than 1 kroner, prices are rounded.
Minibank ATMs are used in Norway. In metropolitan regions, it is easy to find an ATM machine. Euros, dollars, British pounds, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian kroner may be withdrawn at major airports and Oslo Central Station. Almost all shops accept major credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa (carry your passport/license driver’s with you, since you will be asked to identify yourself while using a credit card).
Norway is an expensive destination for tourists. While it is feasible to travel in Norway on a tight budget, some caution is advised. Because labor is expensive, everything that may be considered a “service” will be more expensive than you anticipate. Because the nation is vast and the distances are lengthy, travel expenses may be prohibitively expensive, therefore a train or plane ticket can save you a lot of money.
As a general rule, living on less than NOK500/day will be tough, even if you stay in hostels and self-cater, with NOK1000/day allowing for a more comfortable mid-range lifestyle and more than NOK2000/day required for nice hotels and restaurants.
When purchasing alcohol or cigarettes, use caution. It will almost likely cost more than you anticipate. In a bar or restaurant, a 400 or 500mL beer will cost about NOK60, while a 500mL can of 4.7 percent beer in a supermarket would cost around NOK25. Cigarettes cost about 100 kr for a pack of 20, while a bottle of 500mL Coke costs around NOK20 in stores. On the plus side, Norway boasts high-quality tap water. Purchasing bottled water is both useless and prohibitively costly.
Due to labor expenses, fast food outlets such as McDonald’s and Burger King are also more costly in the United States than in most other nations. A big BigMac menu will cost you about NOK90, as would a Double Whopper Cheese meal. Also, bear in mind that most bakeries, fast food chains, and other kinds of eateries that provide takeaway charge more if you eat it at the restaurant than if you take it with you owing to VAT rate variations.
If you are a little frugal with your spending, a daily budget of about NOK1,500 (€190) per day is not out of the question.
You may save money by bringing your own materials. Be aware of Norway’s stringent border rules, which allow a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 litre of hard alcohol and 1 1/2 litre of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 3 litres of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 5 litres of beer. Tobacco, alcohol, and meat will all be more costly than usual. Vegetables, flour, baby items, vehicle supplies (oil, window wiper fluid, and so on), and clothing will be (nearly) the same, if not cheaper, as in neighboring nations.
Many Norwegians who live near the borders with Sweden, Finland, or Russia go there to buy food since the prices are considerably lower. While most visitors will not be able to enter Russia owing to Russia’s onerous visa requirements, those visiting regions near the Swedish or Finnish borders may explore this alternative before venturing further, since there are no border checkpoints between Norway and Sweden or Finland. Sweden and Finland are relatively sparsely inhabited along the Norwegian border, with the exception of the border regions near Oslo. There are still businesses along the border that would not exist without Norway.
The advice has not been widely used in the past, but it is becoming more popular as a result of outside influence. Tipping should be offered solely as a genuine expression of gratitude for the service provided.
Waiters in Norway, like in the rest of Europe, are not as reliant on client tips as they are in the United States since they are highly compensated. Tipping, on the other hand, is not uncommon at mid- to high-end cafés and restaurants, but only if you believe you have been served properly. Even though there is a service charge at restaurants, rounding up is the standard, and 10% is considered kind. Outside of restaurants and bars, it is not customary to tip, although in circumstances where change is frequent, it is courteous to leave the change (for example, taxis). Tipping taxi drivers is customary if you spend more than NOK200, but you will get no response from the driver if you do not tip, thus this may be a novel experience for American and English visitors. Tipping is never considered impolite, although not tipping is seldom frowned upon.
Money may be exchanged at most banks near tourist information offices, at the post office, or through an ATM in local currency. However, in certain areas, banks do not accept cash, thus the only option to convert money is through post offices, where the conversion charge may be up to NOK75 (€9.09, USD11.78)!
When you withdraw money from an ATM or just pay with a credit card, you will receive the greatest rate. It should be noted that the nation is presently transitioning to a new system that employs computer chips integrated in the card as well as a pin number. Credit cards with magnetic strips are still accepted throughout the nation; however, you must notify the retailer that you do not have a pin number and must sign instead. It is also essential to remember that a merchant system may refuse to accept signatures at times, so having cash on hand to pay if necessary is a smart precaution.
For example, in August 2009, the exchange rate in the bank was NOK8.75 for €1 (taking into account that it is not possible to exchange an amount for more than NOK5000 per transaction and that there is a commission of NOK100 for each transaction); in the tourist information office, the rate exchange was NOK7.28 (no commissions), and the rate by ATM withdrawal was NOK7.74 (taking into consideration all the bank commissions).
Opening hours in Norway are better than they used to be, but many smaller shops still shut early on Saturday (usually at 13:00 or 15:00) and almost everything is closed on Sundays. Grocery shops (especially in cities) often stay open until 22:00 or 23:00 on weekdays. Opening hours are often printed on doors as “9-21 (9-18),” which means 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. The grocery market is dominated by a few chains that cover the majority of Norway: Rimi, Rema 1000, Kiwi, Prix, and Bunnpris are low-cost stores with a limited selection of items; Coop, ICA, and Spar have a wider selection and better quality at a slightly higher price; and Meny, Mega, and Ultra have fewer stores and higher prices.
Convenience stores, particularly the major chains Narvesen and Mix (which operate throughout the country), Deli de Luca (which operates only in Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen), and 7-Eleven (which operates only in larger cities), are open from early morning until late at night every day, with 24 hour service in the larger cities. There are gas stations all throughout the nation, Statoil, Shell, fresh/selected, YX (HydroTexaco) (which is now changing into 7-Eleven with gas) and Esso, On the Run. Almost every gas station serves quick food, particularly sausages and cheese. Also available: hamburgers, pizza, and so on. The gas stations offer extended opening hours, and the larger stations in cities and at major intersections are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Convenience shop and gas station items are generally costly.
Most major cities have been almost entirely dominated by retail malls throughout the years. Although there are retail avenues such as Karl Johans Gate in Oslo, Strandgaten in Bergen, and Nordre gate/Olav Tryggvasons gate in Trondheim, malls built by Thon Gruppen and other large businesses can be found across the nation. Norway also has Scandinavia’s largest mall, Sandvika Storsenter, which is situated 15 minutes by rail outside of Oslo. In Oslo, you’ll find Byporten Retail Senter, Oslo City, and Gunerius immediately close to Oslo S railway station, as well as Paléet and Arkaden Shopping in Karl Johans Gate and a few malls and shopping centers farther afield.
Getting “good bargains” and negotiating are frowned upon, and service employees are usually not allowed to offer you a cheaper price – only bigger goods, like as automobiles, are susceptible to haggle. The price that you see is the price that you pay. If you want to purchase tax-free, it is a good idea to carry the appropriate paperwork with you. Most shops will have these forms on available, but it is a smart precaution to take. Also, if you pay with a credit card, you may be required to sign the receipt, which may need some kind of identification; a driver’s license or a passport are both acceptable. Because of the rigorous nature of money transactions, this is the case.