*Simple customer Tiffiny C uses Goals to budget for her adventures around the world. Follow along with her adventures at TiffinyEpiphany.com.**
While the Scandinavian countries are some of the most beautiful countries in Europe, they are also by far the most expensive to visit. However, if you take the time to plan, and are prepared for the difference in what things cost, you can more easily make the most out of your budget.
First, you’ll want to decide when and for how long you wish to visit Scandinavia. There are high-season (summertime) and low-season (wintertime) differences in hotels and airfare, so choose according to your budget.
If you plan to go during high-season, you will get to see the beauty of Iceland’s waterfalls flowing full-force. In the low-season, the waterfalls are still just as beautiful, however most will be frozen.
Wintertime also brings about the famous Northern Lights a truly life-changing sight! You can see this spectacle in most of the Scandinavia countries, starting in September, and then peaking in November before they begin to hide in March.
Create Your Budget
Because prices in Scandinavia are higher than you may be used to, you’ll want to have more than enough money on hand to enjoy your vacation.
Once you decide when to go, you will want to create a Simple Goal to save money incrementally over time. Give yourself two to three months to save, and set the Goal to complete one week before travel.
It’s also a great idea to have a backup or “emergency” Goal in case something goes wrong during travel, or you decide to tack on an excursion or other pricey item that you did not include in your original travel budget.
Once you get going on your adventure, you can take a chunk of your travel budget and put it into another Goal labeled with the date you intend to start using it. Rationing out your budget funds will help prevent you from overspending your budget at the beginning of your adventure, leaving your broke towards the end - oops!
By flying with airlines like Icelandair or Norwegian Air, who both usually run excellent deals, you can keep your airfare cost below $800. You can also save money by being flexible with your dates, and using websites like Skyscanner to find the best deal on flights by plugging in your destinations with no preference for travel days.
Once you’re in Scandinavia, you can take ships between cities like Oslo and Stockholm for around $40-$60 for a round-trip ride.
*Goal includes a round trip ticket from the U.S. to Iceland ($400), flights to Norway, Sweden, and Finland ($80 each), and a flight back to Iceland from one of those countries ($120). *
You could take the hotel route and spend quite a bit, or you can look into renting a house or surfing on someone’s couch, or book a bed in a hostel. Using these options, you can easily drive down the cost of lodging to less than $50 per night.
If you’re travelling with a buddy and want to splurge occasionally, splitting the cost of a hotel room once in awhile is easier on the wallet.
*Goal includes 13 nights in a hostel at $50 per night. *
Most hostels have fully-equipped kitchens, so cooking for yourself is another opportunity to keep your expenses manageable. And since the grocery stores are stocked with foods of the region, you still get to enjoy local cuisine.
Of course, part of traveling is dining out and trying different restaurants. In Iceland you have The Sea Baron and the famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. In Norway, there’s the fish market with freshly caught seafood, ready to be thrown and the grill and devoured. And of course, you can’t go to Sweden without trying Swedish meatballs.
Traveling to Scandinavia is all about getting out and seeing the sights! Each country has something special to offer, and there are excursion companies willing to take you to see it all.
In Iceland, you will find there are many different types of single or multi-day tours to choose from. The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa surrounded by lava fields, is very popular, and an easy spot to hit due to its proximity to Keflavik Airport. You can snorkel or scuba dive between two tectonic plates in Silfra. You can also enjoy the Golden Circle tour and see the Gullfoss waterfall, watch geysers erupt, and check out the North American and European fault line in Thingvellir National Park.
Norway is famous for its fjords, which are deep, narrow, sea inlets, usually the result of glacial erosion. Cruising through the fjords on a boat is a must, especially if you plan to visit Bergen. You can also hike the famous hiking locations in Norway: Trolltunga, Preikestolen, and Kjeragbolten.
Spending time in the museums of Stockholm is a great way to learn about the Scandinavian culture from the Swedish perspective. Don’t miss a visit to Gamla Stan or a meal at one of the many outdoor patios. The picturesque buildings make for a great travel-photo opportunity!
*Goal includes three or four of the activities listed above. Take your pick! *
Much of Scandinavia is inaccessible by train or bus, so you will want to rent a car to explore the more remote (and beautiful) parts of the country.
Car rentals are a bit pricey in Scandinavia. Most require a 2-day minimum rental, and since you’ll be accessing remote parts of the territory, you’ll want a spendier 4x4, high clearance ride. If you are traveling solo and want to keep transport cheap, consider using a car- or ride-sharing service.
*Goal includes an 8-day car rental or 2-week car share *
What Do Things Cost in Scandinavia?
After you have a general travel budget worked out, getting a sense of what things cost will help you work out how much spending money to save.
Here is what you can expect to pay for a fun day in the following countries.
*Goal includes cup of coffee ($6), checking out museums ($10), a visit to the Blue Lagoon spa ($60-$80), dinner out at a nice restaurant ($30), and a White Russian the Lebowski Bar ($8). *
*Goal includes a cup of coffee and a breakfast bagel with lox ($9), a Fjord cruise ($45), dinner and a beer at the Bergen fish market ($56), and a night in a 5-star hostel ($30). *
*Goal includes a morning espresso from a roaster in Gamla Stan ($5), a ferry tour under the bridges of Stockholm ($30), visits to a couple museums ($25), and a Swedish meatball dinner ($18) with a shot of vodka ($5). *
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Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA USA, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.