The Norwegian currency is the Norwegian crown norske krone, abbreviated kr. A 1/100th krone is called Ã¸re. When you need to disambiguate the Norwegian krone from e.g. the Swedish or Danish krone, use the official three-letter abbreviation NOK. As of May 2010, there is about 8 NOK to one euro.
Coins come in 1, 5, 10, and 20 kroner. Paper notes come in 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 kroner.
ATMs in Norway are called Minibank. There is no problem locating an ATM machine in urban areas. At main airports and Oslo Central Station, you can withdraw euros, dollars, british pounds, swedish, danish and norwegian kroner. Nearly all stores, with the notable exception of grocery stores and the post office, accept major credit cards such as Mastercard and Visa bring your passport/driver's license, as you are required to identify yourself when using a credit card.
Opening hours in Norway are better than they used to be, though many smaller stores still close early on Saturday 1 PM or 3 PM is typical and nearly everything is closed on Sundays. Grocery stores particularly in the cities have long opening hours frequently until 10 or 11 PM on weekdays. You'll often see opening hours written as "9-21 9-18" on doors, meaning 9 AM to 9 PM weekdays, 9 AM to 6 PM Saturday. The grocery market is dominated by a handful of chains covering most of Norway: Rimi, Rema 1000, Kiwi, Prix and Bunnpris are low price shops with a narrow selection of items; Coop, ICA and Spar have wider selection and better quality at a slightly higher price; Meny, Mega and Ultra have fewer shops and higher prices.
Convenience stores, notably the major chains Narvesen and Mix all over the country, Deli de Luca Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen only and 7-Eleven bigger cities only, are open from early morning until late at night every day, with 24 hour service in the biggest cities. All over the country you will find gas-stations, Statoil, Shell, fresh/selected, YX HydroTexaco these days turning into 7-eleven with gas and Esso, On the Run. Virtually all gas-stations serve fast-food, especially sausages and cheese. Also hamburgers, pizza, and so on. The gas-stations have long opening periods, and the bigger stations in cities and near bigger crossroads are open 24 hours. Convenience stores and gas stations are relatively expensive.
Most big cities have over the years been almost exclusively dominated by shopping malls. Although you do have shopping streets like Karl Johans Gate in Oslo, Strandgaten in Bergen and Nordre gate/Olav Tryggvasons gate in Trondheim, you are bound to find malls around the country by Thon Gruppen and other major companies. Norway is also home to Scandinavias biggest mall - Sandvika Storsenter - located 15 minutes outside Oslo by train. In Oslo you have Byporten Shopping Senter, Oslo City and Gunerius located right next to Oslo S train station and PalÃ©et and Arkaden Shopping in Karl Johans Gate, as well as several malls and shopping centres a bit further out.
Getting "good deals" and bargaining is frowned upon, and the caterers are not authorized to give you a better price. The price you see, is the price you pay. Although asking for a discount is perfectly ok, getting one will in most cases never happen. If you plan on buying tax-free, a good practice is to bring with you the necessary forms. Most stores will have these forms at hand themselves but it is a good precaution. Also, if you pay with credit card, you might have to sign the receipt which will require some form of ID, drivers license and passport are both ok. This is due to the strict nature of money transactions.
It is possible to exchange money in most banks near tourist information offices, in the post-office or withdraw the money in local currency from the ATM. In some places, however, they don't handle cash in the banks so they only way to exchange money is in the post offices where the exchange fee might be up to 75 kr 9.5 â¬, US$ 12.2!
You will get the best rate when you withdraw money from the ATM or simply pay with a credit card. Note that the country is currently upgrading to a new system using computer chips embedded in the card and a pin number. Credit cards with magnetic strips are still accepted throughout the country; however, you will have to let the merchant know that the you do not have a pin code you need to sign instead. It is also important to note that sometimes a merchant system will not allow signatures, so it is a good precaution to have cash on hand to pay if needed.
For example August 2009 the exchange rate in the bank was 8,75 NOK for â¬1 taking into consideration that it is not possible to exchange an amount for more than 5000 NOK per one transaction and there is a comission of 100 NOK for each transaction; in the tourist information office the rate exchange was 7,28 no comissions, by withdrawal from ATM the rate was 7,74 taking into consideration all the bank comissions.
Norway is an expensive country. While it is possible to travel in Norway on a limited budget, some care must be taken. Because labour is costly, anything that can be seen as a "service" will in general be more expensive than you expect. Travel costs can also be a killer, because the country is large and distances long, so a rail or air pass can save you a lot of money.
As rules of thumb, subsisting on under 500 NOK/day will be difficult even if you stay in hostels and self-cater, with 1000 NOK/day allowing a more comfortable mid-range lifestyle and over 2000 NOK/day needed for good hotels and restaurants.
Take care when buying alcohol and tobacco. It will most certainly be more expensive than you expect. A 400 or 500 ml beer in a pub or restaurant will cost around 60 NOK whilst a 500 ml can of 4.7% beer in a supermarket costs about 25 NOK. Cigarettes cost about 90 kr for a pack of 20, and a bottle of 500 ml Coke will usually cost 15 NOK. On the positive side: Norway has good quality tap water. Buying bottled drinking water is unnecessary and hugely expensive.
Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King are also more expensive than in most countries due to the labour costs. A large Big Mac meal "Big Mac Meny" will set you back around 90 NOK, and the same goes for a Double Whopper w/ Cheese meal. Also, keep in mind that most bakeries, fast food chains, and other types of restaurants that offer takeout, charge more if you eat it at the restaurant than if you take it with you, due to differences in the VAT rate.
In Norway, waiters are not dependent on tips from customers as they are in the US, as they are well paid. However, tipping is not unusual in mid- to high-end cafÃ©s and restaurants, but only if you feel you have been treated well. Tipping cab drivers is usual if you travel for more than 200 NOK, but you will get no reaction from the driver should you choose not to tip, so this may be a new experience to American and English tourists. Tipping is never considered offensive, but not tipping is also rarely frowned upon.
If you are a bit careful about your expenses a daily budget of around 1500 NOK â¬190 per day is not unrealistic.
You can save some money by bringing supplies. Be aware of the strict Norwegian border regulations, which allow a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 litre of hard alcohol and 1 1/2 litre of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 3 litres of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 5 litres of beer. As a general rule, tobacco, alcohol and meat will be comparatively expensive. Vegetables, flour, baby articles, car supplies oil, window wiper fluid and so on, and clothes will have almost the same price as in neighbouring countries, or even be cheaper.
When in Norway do as the Norwegians do, and venture into Sweden for supplies, when you have the opportunity.