2016 is a great year to take advantage of lower prices for travel in Scandinavia, Norway and Sweden specifically. The combination of low cost flights to Scandinavia with Norwegian Airlines and WOW Airlines over the past two years, combined with the more favorable exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar and British Pound to Norwegian Krone NOK and Swedish Krona SEK currency makes your travel budget go much farther. In real terms, your travel budget needed for six days in Norway in 2013 will now cover about ten days of ground travel expenses.
Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden all call their currency krone or krona, however, each country has its own national currency and each country’s krone has a different exchange rate to the USD and GBP.
Norway and Sweden have seen a significant devaluation in their currencies relative to the USD and GBP. The USD is stronger against the Danish krone too, but not nearly to the extent the USD has gained value in Norway and Sweden. US Dollars are actually slightly weaker for Iceland travel in 2016 compared to 2013.
Firstly, I’ll give the currency exchange rate data showing how much Norway and Sweden exchange rates have dropped over the past three years in favor of the US Dollar USD, British Pound GBP and Euro. The data is followed by commentary on what this means to the U.S. traveler visiting Norway and Sweden in 2016.
US Dollars have exchanged for as much as 50% more NOK in the past two months compared to March 2013.
Norwegian krone exchange rate NOK to USD
- 5.71 NOK = 1 USD March 12, 2013
- 8.41 NOK = 1 USD March 21, 2016.
- 1 USD buys 2.70 NOK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 47% more NOK for US dollar compared to three years ago.
Norwegian krone exchange rate NOK to GBP
- 8.50 NOK = 1 GBP March 12, 2013
- 12.10 NOK = 1 GBP March 21, 2016.
- 1 GBP buys 3.60 NOK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 42.3% more NOK per British Pound compared to three years ago.
Norwegian krone exchange rate NOK to EUR
- 7.44 NOK = 1 GBP March 12, 2013
- 9.45 NOK = 1 GBP March 21, 2016.
- 1 EUR buys 2.01 NOK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 27% more NOK per EUR compared to three years ago.
The prices in Norway are basically the same for most items with relatively low inflation rates around 2% in the country.
Swedish Krona exchange rate SEK to USD
- 6.36 SEK = 1 USD March 12, 2013
- 8.21 SEK = 1 USD March 21, 2016.
- 1 USD buys 1.85 SEK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 29% more SEK for US dollar compared to three years ago.
Swedish Krona exchange rate SEK to GBP
- 9.47 SEK = 1 GBP March 12, 2013
- 11.84 SEK = 1 GBP March 21, 2016.
- 1 GBP buys 2.37 SEK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 25% more SEK for GBP compared to three years ago.
Swedish Krona exchange rate SEK to EUR
- 8.29 SEK = 1 EUR March 21, 2013
- 9.25 SEK = 1 EUR March 12, 2016
- 1 EUR buys 0.96 SEK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 11.6% more SEK for EUR compared to three years ago.
Danish krone exchange rate DKK to USD
- 5.72 DKK = 1 USD March 12, 2013
- 6.61 DKK = 1 USD March 21, 2016.
- 1 USD buys 0.89 DKK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 15.5% more DKK for US dollar compared to three years ago.
Danish krone exchange rate DKK to GBP
- 8.52 DKK = 1 GBP March 12, 2013
- 9.53 DKK = 1 GBP March 21, 2016.
- 1 GBP buys 1.01 DKK more in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 11.8% more DKK for US dollar compared to three years ago.
Danish krone exchange rate DKK to GBP
- 7.45 DKK = 1 EUR March 12, 2013
- 7.45 DKK = 1 EUR March 21, 2016.
- 1 EUR buys same DKK in March 2016 than March 2013.
- No exchange rate difference for EUR to DKK compared to three years ago.
Denmark shows that the currency exchange rate has had a different impact on Scandinavia with Danish krone maintaining better value against the US Dollar.
I included Icelandic Krona ISS to USD below, simply due to cheap flights to Iceland now compared to three years ago.
Icelandic krona exchange rate ISS to USD
- 126.56 ISS = 1 USD March 12, 2013
- 125.10 ISS = 1 USD March 21, 2016.
- 1 USD buys 1.46 ISS less in March 2016 than March 2013.
- 1.1% less ISS for US dollar compared to three years ago.
- GBP (4% less) and EUR (15%) have devalued even more than USD.
- Iceland is more expensive in 2016 than 2013, except cheap airfare!
Why 2016 is great year to visit Scandinavia
In simple to understand terms, spending $1,000 USD in March 2013 would have purchased 5,710 NOK in goods in Norway. The same $1,000 USD in March 2016 buys 8,410 NOK in goods in Norway. Considering the inflation rate in Norway is low and probably negligible for many tourist related items like transportation, food, activities and admission fees, it is like $1,000 USD buys about 40% to 50% more stuff in Norway in 2016 than it did in 2013.
Norway’s North Sea oil-rich economy is in a slump with the fall in oil prices over the past year. As oil climbs, so will Norway’s Krone likely strengthen its currency exchange position. This is why the time to visit Norway and Sweden is now. A steep rise in oil prices could mean Norway resumes its position at top of the list for world’s most expensive countries to visit.
Restaurant Prices in Scandinavia
Behind lodging and transportation, food is the next biggest travel spend category for most travelers. Food in Scandinavia is expensive by U.S. standards.
I photographed an Indian food fine dining restaurant menu in Malmo, Sweden last September. Meals were 120 to 180 SEK for a chicken curry or chicken thali.
At an exchange rate of 8.21 SEK per USD, the cost of a main entrée at the restaurant is $14.61 to $21.92. That is comparable to U.S. prices or only a bit higher. Certainly not high for western Europe restaurant prices. Three years a go that same meal with an exchange rate of 6.36 SEK per USD would have cost $18.87 to $28.30 USD. This meal would have been 29% more U.S. dollars three years ago.
On my first visit to Norway in March 2013, Oslo was listed as the most expensive city in the world on many travel surveys. Oslo had a ‘Big Mac Quotient’ of $19.23 USD at 105 NOK as the price of a Big Mac sandwich in McDonald’s. Big Mac $19, glass of beer at bar $13, burrito at Oslo Mexican restaurant $29 were the cheapest prices I saw in Oslo. No wonder most Norwegians are thin and athletic. You can’t afford to get fat on fast-food around there. And exercise takes your mind off hunger.
A few months ago we stayed at Radisson Blu Uppsala, Sweden and market groceries cost around $30 to $40 per day for two of us to buy vegies, bread, cheese, fish or chicken and some beer.
Hotels are outrageously expensive, but hotel loyalty programs provide bargain rates in Scandinavia
After my initial 2013 ‘hunger winter’ day in Oslo, I went back to Norway in September 2014 for a two week vacation. Clarion Collection hotels in the Nordic Choice Hotels chain provide complimentary breakfast and a light evening buffet. I stayed 7 of 13 nights in Clarion Collection hotels and did not need any other food for much of my time in Norway.
Loyalty Traveler – Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9, 2014).
With hotels and most of my meals covered using 16,000 Choice Privileges points on average per night, my room cost averaged about $64 per night, based on the $4 per 1,000 points price I paid for 16,000 points through U.S. Travel Association Daily Getaways. Most of my money spent in Norway was transportation flying Oslo Torp TRF to Bergen BGO on Norwegian Airlines and train on Bergen Line to Oslo, airport train and bus tickets for connections.
Airfare to Scandinavia is the best bargain to Europe of 2015-16.
I have posted several great deals recently on Loyalty traveler for Scandinavia travel.
Club Carlson 4-for-2 low rates July 2016 survey (March 15, 2016) survey of several hotel deals around Europe including Norway and Helsinki.
Scandinavia Travel Posts by Loyalty Traveler
- First impressions of Malmo, Sweden
- Humanitarianism is the serious side of Sweden
- Sweden 2.8 beer is great at Scandinavian average prices
- Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo, Sweden food alone worth 8,000 points
Copenhagen, Denmark Oct 2015 (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
- You may find yourself traveling to Copenhagen Airport. Part 1 – Are you experienced?
- Copenhagen Get Your Mind Together then come on across
- Copenhagen on the waterfront
- Freewheelin’ Copenhagen Dealin’
Norway September 3-17, 2014 Trip Posts
Norway for two weeks on a budget with a $541 United Airlines round trip ticket SFO-OSL and $300 spending cash for the trip.
Climbing hills for a few days in Bergen was the highlight of my trip. While Norway is expensive, in top three countries worldwide for cost of living, the hotels I picked for stays provided most of the food I wanted to eat. I only needed $25 or about 150NOK for food and I spent about $275 for train and bus tickets and a plane ticket to travel OSL (airport) – Oslo Central-Larvik (southeast Norway)-Sandefjord TORP Airport – BGO Bergen (Norwegian Air) – Express Bus Bergen Center – Bergen Line to Oslo (bus/train) – OSL (airport).
There was no corporate or tourist board sponsorship for this trip. My objective was to find out what value Choice Privileges have in Norway. Answer: Terrific value. Sweden and Norway have about 170 Nordic Choice Hotels. The focus of my trip was checking out Nordic Choice Hotels with stays at six hotels and site visits at four other hotels in Oslo, Bergen and Larvik and also a visit to Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic, a unique hotel/whaling museum in Sandefjord, 75 miles south from Oslo, Norway. Sandefjord, on the southeast coast of Norway, was the whaling capital of the world a century ago.
I redeemed 216,000 Choice Privileges points for 13 nights with $6,000+ in hotel stay value. Most of the points were purchased at a rate around $4.00 per 1,000 points through U.S. Travel Association annual Daily Getaways promotion, generally held between April and June each spring and limited to U.S. residents. Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways Choice points are good deal for Europe Hotels (May 14, 2014).
Bergen seen from Mount Floyen
- Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
- Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
- Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
- Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
- Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
- Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
- USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
- Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Sep 12)
- Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
- Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
- Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
- Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
- Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
- How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
- Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
- The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
- Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is recommended Nordic Choice Hotel (Sep 27)