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READER QUESTION: Is it better for tourists to use cash or card in Norway?

For many heading to the bureau de change and getting their money exchanged into a foreign currency is a holiday tradition. However, as card is king in Norway, is cash necessary, and are there any better alternatives? 

Pictured is somebody getting cash out of their wallet.
Should you bring cash when visiting Norway? Pictured is somebody getting cash out of their wallet. Photo by Emil Kalibradov on Unsplash

Question: I am travelling to Norway soon, should I exchange cash for the trip and do many places accept it? 

Getting your money transferred into the local currency is usually up there with packing and taking out insurance when most people prepare for a trip away. 

However, nobody wants to be lumbered with unspent foreign currency, nor do they want to lose out when they exchange it back into local money when they return home. 

So, when travelling to Norway, do tourists need to have their money exchanged for Norwegian kroner? 

Well, it’s up to what you feel comfortable with, but if you prefer to pay with cash, then you may actually have trouble getting rid of it. 

This isn’t because Norway doesn’t live up to its reputation as one of the most expensive European countries, but because physical money is becoming far less common. Many shops and restaurants may refuse to accept it- even if it is legal tender. 

Additionally, very few shops accept foreign currency such as euros and dollars, so you’ll have an even harder time trying to get rid of that than you would the local currency. 

Norway’s government itself wants to try and reverse the decline of cash to try by attempting to solidify customers’ rights to pay with cash in Norway

In short, Norway’s government has submitted a proposal that means all shops, restaurants and service providers in Norway, excluding pop-up shops, food trucks and the like, will need to accept cash. 

But, the bad news for those who prefer to use cash on trips abroad is that the proposal will probably not enter law until 2023 at the earliest- and that’s if the rule change is given the green light to go ahead. 

On the other hand, cards are accepted everywhere in Norway, from the large cities and tourist hubs to remote mountain villages.

Many will be eager to point out that using a card has drawbacks. The biggest of these is that many banks will offer less than competitive exchange rates and charge fees on every card purchase you make while abroad. 

Foreign transaction fees can range from 1-5 percent, which can soon add up if you are spending a long time in Norway or spend quite a bit of money. 

Another drawback to using the plastic square abroad is that while Visa and Mastercard are accepted pretty much everywhere, not everywhere will take American Express. 

There may be a better option

Although, there may be an alternative that offers the best of both worlds. 

These days, many cards are available that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. This means you won’t get lumbered with cash you can’t spend, nor will you have to stump up for using your cards abroad. 

Furthermore, many of these cards will not charge any fees for using foreign ATMs, meaning that if you need cash in a pinch, you can always draw some out. 

As well as getting out of being lumbered with any foreign fees, you can transfer the amount of money you wish to spend into an account with no foreign fees. This also helps you budget and prevent overspending while on a trip to Norway. 

If you are reading this before heading on holiday and are worried that your card with no foreign charges won’t arrive on time, you can typically link the account to your Apple Pay or Google Pay before the card comes and you activate it. 

For an overview of where you can set up a bank account with zero transaction fees in the UK, click here. For other countries, click here. If you can’t find an option for your own country with the links provided, you will need to search for accounts with the option for zero transaction fees online instead. 

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WHAT CHANGES IN NORWAY

Seven unmissable events in Norway in December 2022

Getting in the Christmas spirit, an advent calendar with a twist and winter sports feature heavily in our look ahead to December 2022's most unmissable events in Norway. 

Seven unmissable events in Norway in December 2022

The opening weekend of the ski season

The first weekends of December will see the majority of ski resorts in Norway open their doors to winter sports fanatics. Some resorts, like Geilo, decided to open at the end of November- but other resorts, like Hemsedal, will open at the first weekend of December. 

If you are considering upgrading your gear or splashing out on a pre-Christmas treat, the opening weekend might be your best bet. 

The biggest resorts will hold brand test weekends. Various manufacturers will be present and allow skiers to test out all kinds of equipment for free. 

For those hoping to hit the slopes on a tighter budget, we’ve put together a guide on how to save cash on winter sports

Christmas markets 

By the opening weekend of December, all the country’s Christmas markets will be up and running for those looking to get in the festive mood, buy a handmade gift, or snack on some tasty treats. 

Here, you can get an overview of some of the best dotted around Norway

Our pick for Oslo residents would be the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History’s annual Christmas fair. This event is spread across the first two weekends in December, and in addition to the market, there will be folk dances, sleigh rides and all the usual exhibitions on offer. 

World Cup 2022 events 

This year’s tournament, much maligned for the decision to hold it in Qatar, will run throughout December. 

During this period, bars across Norway, at least the ones not boycotting it, will be holding events where fans may need to book tables to see a game. 

If your home nation, or adopted team, make a run deep into the tournament, booking a table may be a great way to cheer on your team with others. 

Torshov Advent Calendar 

Residents in Torshov, east Oslo, will be putting together an advent calendar with a twist every night in the run-up to Christmas. 

As part of the performance, there will be a new cultural performance, be that carols, live music, and recreations of famous scenes from Norwegian Christmas classics like ‘Tre nøtter til Askepott’ from a different resident’s window each night. 

You might not need to see each and every performance, but it’ll definitely be worth heading along to watch a couple. 

Interested? You can learn more here

Christmas shows

Similar to pantos in England, Christmas shows are a big tradition in Norway. There will be more than one to choose from, with some touring all over the countries- while some will play select dates in a specific region, such as the south-east- 

Juleshow 2022 will travel the country this year, making stops in most of Norway’s big towns. 

All of these shows will be in Norwegian, so these events are more catered towards those who are fully up to speed with the language. 

The world’s largest gingerbread town 

Gingerbread towns can be found all over Norway in December, but the one that takes the cake (sorry), is Bergen’s gingerbread town. 

Now in its 31st year, the edible town in Bergen is the world’s largest. Pepperkakebyen is essentially the gingerbread equivalent of Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg. 

It features plenty of tiny gingerbread homes, local landmarks, trains, cars, boats and replicas of famous buildings from across the world. Profits generated by the gingerbread town are donated to an organisation that helps children in need. 

Christmas and New Years

The perfect time to embrace new traditions and learn about Norway’s culture is Christmas and New Year’s. Norwegians celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (December 24th). There are plenty of traditions to try, whether hunting for marzipan in porridge or enjoying typical Norwegian festive delicacies

In addition, your social calendar may be filled with traditions such as your work’s julebord. If you are just visiting or don’t fancy the hassle of cooking- here is a list of restaurants in Oslo with festive menus

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