Norway; a Scandinavian country, neighbour of Sweden, birthplace of the vikings, surrounded by a perimeter of fjords and yes it really is full of blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties. It is also the third richest country in the world and not the usual suspect for a student holiday. It’s not impossible however, and its deep cultural history and stunning landscapes make for the perfect break from student life and deadlines.
Budget airlines such as Ryanair can offer return flights from London Gatwick airport as low as £30, including the cost of a suitcase (ryanair.com) which is perhaps the easiest part of the trip financially but once you’re in the Kingdom of Norway, getting around and sight-seeing on a budget is part of the adventure. Let me convince you…
I stayed two days in Norway’s capital, Oslo, and three in a gorgeous village, Fagerstrand which literally translates to ‘beautiful beach’. It was February and the temperature was an average of -11°C which, considering my talent of turning an inhuman shade of beetroot at the slightest breeze, was an alarming fact. But the air in Oslo is dry and the breeze is less biting than in the UK so it was almost an anti-climax when I arrived at Rygge airport and didn’t instantly freeze.
Oslo is surprisingly clean and spacious and a calming quiet hangs over it. There are rarely police sirens and, being one the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, you don’t have to elbow your way through the streets. Architecturally and socially, Oslo is gorgeous and peaceful.
It is a hotspot for museums and if you buy an Oslo pass (visitoslo.com) for £18 (student concession) then you have free access to all of them as well free transport which is essential. The museums range from the life of playwright Henrik Ibsen to original viking ships to science and technology. There are also galleries including Edward Munch’s who painted the famous ‘Scream’ and ‘Madonna’.
The pass will also give you discount on the endless cafes and restaurants but to stick to the budget, try buying food from cheap chain stores such as Joker. This way you’ll come across some unusual, traditional Norwegian food and will have time to stroll through the streets at night as the snow is falling.
Access to Frogner, or Vigeland, park is free 24/7 and features 212 sculptures which represent the cycle of life. It’s the perfect place for a picnic and make sure you bring a camera to get a shot of the infamous ‘The Little Hot-Head’.
Oslo may not be the best place for bargain-hunting or nights out (one beer is an average of £6.00) but it is ideal for the student traveller who likes a little history, art and nature for a very cheap price. It’s a great alternative to Lanzarote.