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DISCOVER NORWAY

How tourists in Oslo can save money and live like a local

It’s no secret that Oslo is an expensive city, but visitors can both save some cash and step off the tourist trail at the same time. Here’s how.

Oslo
Here are our tips for making sure you can live like a local in Oslo, on a budget. Pictured is Norway's capital. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

When visiting a new country or city, the thing at the top of most people’s list is to live and do as the locals do for a more authentic experience. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can do this in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Furthermore, ‘doing as the Romans (or, in this case, Oslovians) do’ can often help you save money and make you feel like one of the locals. 

Enjoy an engangsgrill 

Norway didn’t invent the disposable BBQ (engangsgrill), but it’s undoubtedly a summertime institution in the country. 

There are several perks to the portable and widely available BBQs. Firstly, they will typically only cost between 25 and 30 kroner. Secondly, you can have an engangsgrill in almost every one of the capital’s parks. And finally, you’ll get to sample some typical Norwegian foods for very little money. 

This can be combined with seeing some of the city’s most iconic sights too. So, for example, you could take an engangsgrill to Vigeland Park and grill some pølser or fish burgers with a decent view of the monolith, which takes centre stage at the park. 

You’ll be in good company, too, as many of Oslo’s parks will be filled with locals grilling almost every day of the week. 

READ MORE: What are the rules and culture of park life in Norway?

You don’t need to pay for an expensive tour of the Oslo fjord, take public transport instead

If the weather is clear, then many will be tempted by the proposition of a trip out the Oslo fjord. However, you can get a decent view of the fjord for a lower price by using public transport. 

You can take a trip out of the harbour for as little as 35 kroner if you take the B1 Ruter boat and don’t get off at any of the islands, although this route won’t take you out into the fjord proper. However, many locals like to get off at these islands to go swimming and walking in the summer, so for around 70 kroner (two 1 hour singles), you can have an afternoon spent in the sun amongst the residents of Oslo rather than being crammed onto a tour boat. 

If you really want to see the fjord proper, you can take a trip to Drøbak, a charming summer town outside Oslo, and see a good chunk of the inner Oslo Fjord. This will cost around 228 kroner for two single tickets

Adopt the local eating habits 

The cost of eating out in Norway can leave you feeling queasy if you aren’t used to it, and that’s before the lutefisk is brought out. 

Norwegians don’t eat Norwegian food 100 percent of the time, so you shouldn’t either. If you don’t know much about Norway, you’d be surprised how much of the typical diet in Norway consists of tacos and frozen pizzas. 

Instead, there are plenty of ways to save cash and have an authentic Oslo experience. Oslo Street Food on Torggata is a favourite among residents. The food is great, there are plenty of choices, and the bars have some of the cheapest beer in Oslo on tap. 

For lighter meals, you won’t need more than a hotdog from a Narvessenn or a cinnamon bun and coffee for lunch to eat like a resident. For an extra budget-friendly hack, consider downloading Too Good to Go. Bakeries will often offer goods at discount prices on the app later in the afternoon. 

Skip the airport train 

Flytoget, the airport train, is fast and efficient. However, there isn’t really much need to take it unless you are in a rush. 

Instead, by downloading the Ruter app used by locals to get around Oslo, you can save a decent bit of cash. 

This is because the Ruter app will allow you to take regional trains between the capital and the airport. This will typically be around 100 kroner or so cheaper than the airport train and only takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes longer, depending on which train you get on.

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: Which Schengen area countries have border controls in place and why?

Borders within Europe's Schengen area are meant to be open but several countries have checks in place but are they legal and will they be forced to scrap them? Claudia Delpero explains the history and what's at stake.

EXPLAINED: Which Schengen area countries have border controls in place and why?

The European Court of Justice has recently said that checks introduced by Austria at the borders with Hungary and Slovenia during the refugee crisis of 2015 may not be compatible with EU law.

Austria has broken the rules of the Schengen area, where people can travel freely, by extending temporary controls beyond 6 months without a new “serious threat”.

But Austria is not the only European country having restored internal border checks for more than six months.

Which countries have controls in place and what does the EU Court decision mean for them? 

When can EU countries re-introduce border checks?

The Schengen area, taken from the name of the Luxembourgish town where the convention abolishing EU internal border controls was signed, includes 26 states: the EU countries except for Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania, plus Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, which are not EU members.

The Schengen Borders Code sets the rules on when border controls are permitted. It says that checks can be temporarily restored where there is a “serious threat to public policy or internal security”, from the organisation of a major sport event to a terrorist attack such as those seen in Paris in November 2015.

However, these checks should be a “last resort” measure, should be limited to the period “strictly necessary” to respond to the threat and not last more than 6 months.

In exceptional circumstances, if the functioning of the entire Schengen area is at risk, EU governments can recommend that one or more countries reintroduce internal border controls for a maximum of two years. The state concerned can then continue to impose checks for another six months if a new threat emerges. 

Which countries keep border checks in place?

Countries reintroducing border controls have to notify the European Commission and other member states providing a reason for their decision. 

Based on the list of notifications, these countries currently have controls in place at least at some of their borders: 

Norway – until 11 November 2022 at ferry connections with Denmark, Germany and Sweden. These measures have been in place since 2015 due to terrorist threats or the arrival of people seeking international protection and have sometimes extended to all borders.

Austria – until November 2022 11th, since 2015, at land borders with Hungary and with Slovenia due to risks related to terrorism and organised crime and “the situation at the external EU borders”. 

Germany – until November 11th 2022, since November 12th 2021, at the land border with Austria “due to the situation at the external EU borders”.

Sweden – until November 11th 2022, since 2017, can concern all borders due to terrorist and public security threats and “shortcomings” at the EU external borders. 

Denmark – until November 11th 2022, since 2016, can concern all internal borders due to terrorist and organised criminality threats or migration.

France – until October 31st 2022 since 2015, due to terrorist threats and other events, including, since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Estonia – until May 21st 2022, from April 22nd 2022, at the border with Latvia “to facilitate the entry and reception of people arriving from Ukraine”.

Norway, Austria, Germany and France also said they are operating checks on non-EU citizens. 

Can Schengen rules survive?

Despite the exceptional nature of these measures, there have been continuous disruptions to the free movement of people in the Schengen area in the past 15 years. 

Since 2006, there have been 332 notifications of border controls among Schengen countries, with increasing frequency from 2015. In addition, 17 countries unilaterally restored border controls at the start of the pandemic. 

In December 2021, the Commission proposed to reform the system to ensure that border controls remain an exception rather than becoming the norm. 

According to the proposals, countries should consider alternatives to border controls, such as police cooperation and targeted checks in border regions. 

When controls are restored, governments should take measures to limit their impacts on border areas, especially on the almost 1.7 million people who live in a Schengen state but work in another, and on the internal market, especially guaranteeing the transit of “essential” goods. 

Countries could also conclude bilateral agreements among themselves for the readmission of people crossing frontiers irregularly, the Commission suggested. 

If border controls have been in place for 6 months, any notification on their extension should include a risk assessment, and if restrictions are in place for 18 months, the Commission will have to evaluate their necessity. Temporary border controls should not exceed 2 years “unless for very specific circumstances,” the Commission added. 

At a press conference on April 27th, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the EU Court ruling about Austria is in line with these proposals.

“What the court says is that member states have to comply with the time limit that is in the current legislation. Of course we can propose another time limit in the legislation… and the court also says that it’s necessary for member states, if they would like to prolong [the border controls] to really do the risk assessment on whether it’s really necessary… and that’s exactly what’s in our proposal on the Schengen Border Code.”

Criticism from organisations representing migrants

It is now for the European Parliament and EU Council to discuss and adopt the new rules.

A group of migration organisations, including Caritas Europe, the Danish Refugee Council, Oxfam International and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) have raised concerns and called on the EU institutions to modify the Commission proposals.

In particular, they said, the “discretionary nature” of controls in border regions risk to “disproportionately target racialised communities” and “practically legitimise ethnic and racial profiling and expose people to institutional and police abuse.”

Research from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in 2021, the groups noted, shows that people from an ‘ethnic minority, Muslim, or not heterosexual’ are disproportionately affected by police stops.

The organisations also criticize the definition of people crossing borders irregularly as a threat and a new procedure to “transfer people apprehended… in the vicinity of the border area” to the authorities of the country where it is assumed they came from without any individual assessment. 

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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