We found really cheap flights from the US to Norway, but we quickly found that finding cheap food in Oslo is a challenge. Even before we left, an Oslo native at the airport in Boston warned us that we should be prepared for $40 per person meals.
Undeterred, we found some good options for delicious, reasonably priced food that kept our family of 4 (with #5 on the way!) fed for an average of $56 per day total.
A big part of our strategy was to lean heavily on the free breakfast included with our hotel room, go for a very light lunch and some snacks, and then an early dinner.
Also, just about every restaurant has glasses and pitchers of tap water available at no charge, which is what we drank almost exclusively.
Cheap Food in Oslo
Below are some ideas for where to eat cheap in Oslo (or as inexpensively as possible).
Verona Pizza Og Kebab
Verona Pizza Og Kebab is a hopping counter service place near the Brugata tram stop. As the name implies they offer kebabs (in the form of shawarma/gyros) and pizza, and we knew it had to be good by the big crowd of locals inside.
Very popular with families, we fit right in with the twins. No worries about being the loud ones!
We ordered one kebab plate (comes with fries and a salad) and one by itself, as well as a falafel plate. It was more than enough food for four people, and it was delicious. We didn’t try the pizza, but lots of other people were ordering it and it looked good too.
Total cost for those three dishes was 287 NOK ($35), and we would have been fine with just two plates so it could have been less.
We stopped in at the Kaffebrenneriet on the waterfront near the Aker Brygge tram stop to warm up and grab a light snack lunch. Various rolls and pastries are about 20-25 NOK (about $2.50-3.00) and a cappuccino is about 40 NOK ($5). This cafe is a chain so there are various locations around the city for a quick bite.
It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and good way to recharge before heading back out into the cold.
One evening we headed out to the Olaf Ryes Plass area looking for Mogador, a place recommended in this post for good meze dishes. Sadly we found out it went out of business and had been replaced with some type of bar, which was also closed that evening.
Wandering about, we came upon Mangiamo and had a really nice Italian meal. Perhaps not exactly cheap at 320 NOK ($39) for a pizza and a pasta dish, it was quite delicious.
The pasta was excellent and tasted homemade, and the pizza had a crunchy thin crust.
Free Breakfast at Your Hotel
A key part of our cheap food Oslo strategy was the generous free breakfast at our hotel, the Saga Hotel Central.
We’d read that this was a good way to save a buck and happened to luck out in that the Saga Hotel has a really great spread including everything from scrambled eggs and toast to pickled herring (nothing like pickled fish to wake you up in the morning).
Hit up one of the numerous 7-11 or other convenience stores throughout the city to grab supplies for light picnic lunches and snacks. Avoiding restaurant meals is an important part of eating cheap in Oslo, so grab some fruit, bread, or pastries for your backpack. 7-11 is especially good on days where you are visiting the museum peninsula or going on a boat tour – where food is limited and pricey.
Kaffistova is a counter service restaurant near Stortinget, the home of the Norwegian Parliament. Serving Norwegian fare such as reindeer cakes and salmon, the prices are fair and you don’t have to worry about gratuity as it is counter service. You can also add sides to your main meal (or even an extra reindeer cake) for minimal costs – so food sharing is easy. If you have purchased the Oslo Pass – this entitles you to a 10% discount at this restaurant (and others that are advertised in the brochure or online).
Kaffistova is also a good bet for families with young children because it’s quick (no waiting for servers to take your order, prepare the food, etc.) and the atmosphere is very informal. The kids ate the lingonberry sauce by the spoonful.
Total cost for us was 286 NOK ($35).
We love Indian food so we stopped in at this place right across from the Grønland Metro stop.
The counter service area is fast and furious, at least at the rush time we were there (right about 5:30 p.m.), but the staff are friendly and were happy to help me out as I clearly looked confused. This place is clearly very popular with locals as a cheap option.
Chicken tikka masala and a lamb curry were both excellent, as was peshawari naan. It’s a miracle they can keep anyone’s order straight, but when your’s is ready they flag you down and you go pick it up at the counter.
270 NOK ($33) total.
Pastel de Nata
Aurora and I grabbed take out from this cafe across the street from our hotel right after arriving on our red eye. Vegetable quiche, squash soup, and a ham and cheese toasted sandwich hit the spot. Everything was very flavorful and fresh tasting.
225 NOK ($27).
Our Oslo friend that we met in Boston did tell us that our best bet for cheap food in Oslo was the Grønland area.
Two of our suggestions above are in the neighborhood (Punjab Tandoori and Verona Pizza Og Kebab) but there are dozens of other spots you could try. Competition is good for the consumer right!?
Eating Cheap in Oslo – Can it be done?
Well, between carefully choosing where we ate and taking advantage of food we already paid for (breakfast at the hotel) we did OK. Oslo is no Boracay as far as eating out, but there are still plenty of places to grab a bite for a reasonable price and enjoy the culinary offerings of the city.