If you’re thinking of doing a vanlife Norway trip in 2023, you’re in the right place!
Vanlife is the best way to see this beautiful country filled with mountains and fjords galore while keeping costs down!
While Norway is known for being expensive, living in a van makes it affordable to live or travel in Norway while exploring at your own pace on your budget.
As an English speaker – you’ll find that Norway is as easy as pie to navigate, with the vast majority of locals speaking near fluent English!
There’s a strong culture of adventure and being outdoors in Norway, with a right-to-roam law making it easy to camp legally, easily, and without worry (we’ll talk more about this later in the post).
Read on for some of the top frugal tips I learned while living in my 1969 VW bus as a full-time vintage vanlife nomad traveling around Norway.
Remote working in Norway as a vanlifer is pretty easy, thanks to the country’s high-quality internet, the abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces, and copious amounts of coffee shops.
So if you’re looking to combine the freedom of vanlife with the ability to work remotely, Norway is the perfect place to do it.
Coffee Shops for Remote Work
Whenever I can, I try to give my business to local independent coffee shops, but they aren’t always easy to find.
My next best option is Espresso House.
Espresso House is one of Norway’s most popular coffee shop chains for remote working.
Their coffee shops usually have good WIFI, plenty of seating, a combo of table and couch seating, a nice ambiance, and lots of charging outlets.
Oh, and did I mention they even have gluten-free and vegan food and drink options?!
I’ve worked out of dozens of Espresso House locations in Norway and Sweden, and other than some central locations being a tad loud, they make for a great remote work spot.
Top Tip – Espresso House offers monthly coffee memberships from 489 NOK per month, which includes one drink every other hour.
That means if you get two drinks per day, five days per week, they work out to only 12 NOK each.
WIFI for Vanlife Norway
Wifi coverage in Norway is great, with built-up areas boasting fast internet speeds and even more remote locations having decent coverage.
You know what that means…
Yes, you can park up beside a fjord, set up your nomadic vanlife office, and work with the best view of all time!
Of course, Norway is a vast country with mountainous terrain and wide uninhabited expanses, and that means there will be areas where you have no WIFI coverage.
If you want to spend time out in the countryside but have meetings scheduled, I’d suggest booking into (or having a backup plan of going to) a campsite with good WIFI!
You’ll have no shortage of options for campgrounds around Norway, and many have even better views than the most expensive hotel in the area!
One of my favorites is “Geiranger Camping” located in Geiranger and sits right on the edge of the fjord.
Want a change of scenery from working in the van? But don’t fancy the noise of a coffee shop? Norway is home to a large number of co-working spaces, most of which offer day passes!
Some of Oslo’s best coworking spots are Mesh, WeWork, and Spaces.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a coworking space or feel compelled to buy a coffee and lunch from a coffee shop – boy, do I have the best insider info for you!
In Norway, public libraries are exceptional.
In Oslo, you’ll find Deichmanns Bibliotek, overlooking the Opera house and Oslo Fjord, and only steps from the central station – this is my top remote work spot pick for Oslo!
Inside this library, you’ll find hundreds of seating areas across countless floors, a coffee shop, charging outlets galore, free wifi, and a lovely atmosphere.
In smaller towns, the public libraries, while not quite as grand, are still very nice spots to pitch up and work for the day.
Showering and Bathrooms
Norway is home to some of the most incredible public bathrooms in the world.
Out in the countryside in Norway, there are public bathrooms along trail routes, at rest stops, and around hiking areas.
Public toilets usually cost 20 NOK in the city, but cafes and restaurants have free restrooms for their customers.
So, if you’re a couple, it works out better to buy a muffin for 40 NOK, and both make use of the facilities!
For showering, you’ve got a few options:
Bring Your Own
A lot of larger van rigs have a built-in shower so you have nothing to worry about!
For small and medium vanlife rigs, you might want to buy your own portable hot water shower; this can make a huge difference when you get back to the van after a day of hiking, when the last thing you want to do is have to drive around and find a shower!
Gyms and Swimming Pools
Signing up for a day pass at a gym or swimming pool is an easy way to find showers on the road.
Some gyms offer nationwide membership, meaning you’re free to use their other training centers across the country.
The biggest gym chains in Norway are SATS, Fresh Fitness, EVO, and Fitness24Seven.
Even if you’re not staying at a campsite; it’s common to be able to pay a small fee to use their shower facilities.
We’ve done this countless times in Norway, and it has saved us from using a solar shower on chilly days!
Food in Norway can be shockingly expensive, especially if you don’t know where to shop or what to buy.
Hopefully, this little cheat sheet will help you not only stick to – but go under budget while you’re in Norway!
If you’re planning on driving through Sweden on your Norway vanlife journey, my biggest tip is to stock up in Sweden.
You can easily save 30-50% of the price by buying the same items in Sweden.
The cheapest grocery stores are Kiwi and Rema 1000; the latter’s own brand items are very affordable.
The most expensive grocery store is Meny; however, they sell a “first-price” range that often beats everyone else’s prices.
It’s going to be cheaper to cook for yourself during your van life in Norway adventure, but for those occasions when you need something on the go or want to try the local cuisine – here’s where to go!
The best spot for a frugal vanlifer to grab some food is Backstube; they have locations around Norway and sell breads, sweet baked items, savory baked goods, homemade sandwiches, and fresh juices.
Items start at only 20 NOK each.
Narvessen or 7-Eleven
Another affordable option is grabbing food from the local kiosk; the most prevalent are 7-Eleven and Narvessen.
You can buy a hot dog for approx 30 NOK or a wrap for approx 40 NOK.
Ice cream is a year-round treat in Norway, and their famous “softis med strøssel,” aka whipped ice cream with sprinkles, is a must-try.
The ice cream sizes in most places, including Mix, are very shareable, making them a very affordable treat!
On average, whipped ice cream with sprinkles in Norway will be around 40 NOK
DNT stands for Den Norske Turistforening, aka The Norwegian Trekking Association.
They have little cute and cozy cafes across the country that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to a more magical place.
Search on Google Maps for DNT cafe, and you’ll find plenty of options pop up no matter where you are in Norway.
And you absolutely must be sure to order the Norwegian staple, a waffle with brown cheese, jam, and sour cream.
The average price for a waffle with toppings will be around 60 NOK
Culture and Rules
Norway is a pretty chilled-out country, but as with visiting or living anywhere – it’s important to be respectful of local culture and follow the rules.
I’ll touch on a few of those rules here, but please take the time to read the full details before starting your vanlife adventure in Norway
It’s pretty common for friends to get together and have a campfire in Norway – BUT this is only at certain times of the year.
Having a campfire is illegal between April 15th and September 15th in Norway, as there’s a risk of wildfires during the hottest months.
Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and also an incredibly environmentally aware nation.
Help keep it in tip-top shape by disposing of your trash properly.
Grey and Black Water
Dump stations are widespread throughout the country, making it incredibly easy for vanlifers to empty their tanks frequently.
Park4Night is a good resource for finding dump stations near you.
Many gas stations have dump stations that are free to use, or you can pay a small fee and empty them at a campsite!
Allemannsretten, also known as the right to roam, is a strong part of Norwegian culture.
Norwegians love the outdoors; they can always be found hiking, biking, skiing, and camping – and no matter what the weather, they’ll have a great time!
There are two fun phrases in Norwegian relating to this that you might want to learn.
- Ut på tur, aldri sur = Out on a walk, never sad
- Det finnes ikke dårlig vær bare dårlige klær = There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
And both of those phrases sum up the get out and have fun attitude of Norway!
The right to roam includes the right to wild camp in wilderness areas, and you can find plenty of free camping spots on the Park4Night app.
Don’t forget to read up on the rules of the right to roam before your trip.
There’s one problem with camping in Norway, and it’s that there are so many beautiful spots that you’ll find somewhere you want to park up and camp every five minutes!
The app Park4Night is a great resource for finding not only camp spots but bathrooms and dump stations throughout Europe.
You’ve got a few options for doing van life in Norway right:
- Free Camping – Finding a random quiet spot to park where signage doesn’t forbid it.
- Wild Camp/Boondocking – You can use the Park4Night app or find your own new spot!
- Campsites – Check out this list of campsites on Visit Norway or just use Google Maps!
- Ask Locals – For the extroverted vanlifer, ask locals if they have a spot to recommend!
- Workaway – Sign up to this cool platform to find a place to stay for a while and work.
Free and Cheap Activities
Whether you’re visiting Norway during the sunny or snowy season, there’s always something to do here.
I have to be entirely honest and say that I think vanlife is more enjoyable in Norway during the summer, as the temperatures can be extreme in the winter.
There is no better feeling than jumping into the fjord on a hot summer day in Norway!
Pack a picnic, bring your favorite book, and set up by the water’s edge!
Just remember, if you stay into the evening – there are strict rules on having no campfires during summer months!
There is over 10,000 miles of marked hiking trails in Norway, and being such a popular pastime – most paths are well-worn and easy to walk.
One note, if a Norwegian tells you that a hiking route is easy – don’t believe them; I’m convinced they’re all part mountain goat.
Why? Well, a few years ago – a lady at tourist information told me and my group of friends all about a quick and easy trail we could do in Geiranger.
A few hours later, I was at the top of a mountain with a broken ankle waiting to be rescued by a helicopter! Fun times.
If you want a change of scenery from your van for a night or two, you can join DNT and rent one of their incredibly affordable cabins!
They have cabins ranging from unattended shelters up to cozy bed and breakfasts.
With prices starting from around 150 NOK per adult per night.
One of the more protected aspects of Norwegian culture, foraging is an important annual event for many Norwegians.
It’s very common to see individuals out in the forest picking blueberries and raspberries during the season.
Mushroom foraging is very big in Norway, but good mushroom spots are closely guarded secrets within families.
Can you live in a van in Norway?
Yes, it’s possible to live in a van in Norway – even during the winter months!
It’s important to be considerate of the environment around you and follow local parking laws.
There are many full-time van lifers across Norway, with some stealth camping, others renting plots of land, and others constantly on the move – making the most of the right to roam!
And with vanlife anywhere in the world, of course, there are pros and cons.
Can you park your campervan anywhere in Norway?
No. While Norway is a very campervan-friendly country, you can’t park anywhere.
Finding parking for a campervan is relatively easy, especially for short-wheelbase vehicles.
Where do vanlifers go in the winter?
Some vanlifers stay put in Norway and make the most of the breathtaking winter scenery and Northern Lights.
Many others go to “syden” aka The South – which refers to any of the warm weather countries to the south, such as Spain or Portugal.
How does a full-time vanlife nomad make money?
Most vanlifers have regular remote jobs; they simply work from the road.
Can you do vanlife in Oslo?
Yes, it is possible to do vanlife in Oslo, or rather – nearby.
Many full-time vanlifers are working in Oslo, but it’s worth noting that many commute into the city from their rig.
Can you do vanlife in Bergen?
Yes, you can do vanlife in Bergen.
In close proximity to the picturesque areas of Hardangervidda, Jotunheimen, and Geiranger, the outskirts of Bergen could make for a nice vanlife base.
Can you do vanlife in Stavanger?
Yes, Norway’s west coast is likely the best part of the country for vanlife.
With utterly rapturous landscapes and adventures at your fingertips.
Can I rent a van life in Norway camper?
If you don’t open a camper but want to experience the best of Norway by van, there are rental companies with fully kitted out vanlife rigs!
Wrap-Up: TL;DR Vanlife Norway
Norway is an incredible country to experience through vanlife.
With good internet speeds and remote working options, it’s easy for vanlifers to get their day job done!
Public bathrooms are pretty easy to find outside of the city centers, gyms are an easy option for showers, but campsites are the cheapest option.
Food is expensive; cook at home whenever possible, and if you eat out, use my tips above!
Be respectful of local laws and cultural practices; this is a great country – let’s help keep it that way.
There are five options for finding camping; the easiest is Park4Night.
It’s not hard to find activities that don’t cost a penny here in Norway; it’s all about getting out in nature.
Keep Living Tiny xx