Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Introduction › Cost
One of the main concerns about a outdoor holiday in Scandinavia is the cost. Norway, and to a lesser extent Sweden, are expensive. However, with a little knowledge and planning it is possible to keep prices down.
Fuel is of a comparable price. Food in the shops is only slightly more expensive but the quality of the food is of a high standard. Hotel accommodation is expensive but there are numerous cheap alternatives. Clothing and climbing equipment are expensive and it would be prudent to get it all before you go.
Vices are very expensive and if you are a chain-smoking alcoholic you will embark on a financial diasaster unless take your supplies in with you.
Resturants are expensive but good quality, while snack bars are expensive but poor quality. Pubs, where they exist, are expensive. Public transport is relatively cheap, very clean and extremely reliable and punctual.
Perhaps the easiest way to overcome the expenses is to go in a well stocked camper van. Offset against this are the additional expenses involved in the ferry crossing and summer restrictions imposed on camper vans on the ferries.
Additionally, a campervan sometimes encourages people to be more insular and self-sufficient and mingle less with the very friendly Norwegians and Swedes, most of whom speak excellent English and love to practice it. The camper van is perhaps best suited to visits of a month or more.
If a camper van is not an option then going over in a car is sensible. Again, a fair quantity of supplies can be taken.
The most reasonable type of accommodation is hytte (huts). These are small, usually one-roomed, log cabins clustered in towns and villages throughout Scandinavia. They cost about £50 for the night and sleep four people in bunks. They have a fridge, a simple cooker, cooking utensils and a sink. Toilets and showers are usually in a shared block.
It is very feasible to drive around and stop at these hytte when convienent each evening. If three or four are sharing they are extremely reasonable and are even good value for two people.
Camping is largely free and allowed most place in Scandinavia where it does not impinge on people's privacy. Camping is discouraged near settlements and beside roads but is no problem in the wilderness.
If a car or camper van is not an option then public transport is a must. This is clean and punctual and, although relatively inexpensive, the huge distances usually involved mean the cost is not insignificant. Furthermore, arrival at a bus or train station in a town will limit one's choice of accommodation.
The aforementioned hytte may not be easily available, especially in the cities where a youth hostel or equivalent is the best option. These hostels must be prebooked. In the towns near the mountains like Lom, Stryn, Otta, and Kiruna there are hytte within walking distance of the bus stop.
Oslo Gardemoen airport is very well connected to trains and buses to Olso. The day and overnight trains and buses also pass through the airport after leaving Olso on their way to the mountain regions, allowing you to be whisked off to the mountains at once. Oslo Torp airport is used by Ryanair. It is two hours south of the city, inconvient and a false enconomy to fly there. Bergen Flesland is close to the city, while Haugesund, which Ryanair use for Bergen, is over three hours away and should not be considered.
There is a airport at Kiruna in North Sweden with flights from Stockholm. Kiruna is also served by the train from Stockholm to Narvik. This journey is best taken at night when sleeper accomodation can be comfortable and a convienient way of travelling.
On the periphery of the mountains are a number of hotels, lodges and converted farms. These places provide full board and lodging for about £50 a day. They provide good value for money, a wealth of local information and weather forecasts and make a good base from which to make day trips into the mountains. It is also possible to leave extra stuff at these place if you are going into the interior for a longer expedition. More details on these places are given in the accommodation section.
Nights out are naturally expensive in the cities. Oslo has a vibrant and thriving cafe culture, especially in the Grünerløkka area, but generally resturants are expensive and pubs are culturally bankrupt. What Oslo lacks in down to earth culture though it more than makes up for in its location, with an island peppered fjord to the south and a vast idyllic forested wilderness on its northern doorstep.
Bergen is an old city and has a vibrant music scene. The pubs, especially by the Brygge, are lively and interesting and the resturants are confidently modest. The area around Bergen is also nice but the town, its people and culture are the main attractions.
Stockholm is a beautiful old city with a few ghastly 1960 flaws in the centre. It has a very quiant old town. The real beauty of Stockholm like Oslo is coast. Outside Stockholm is an archipeligo with 1000’s of small forested islands.